How to Maintain a Large Houseplant Collection

Large houseplant collections can be beautiful, especially if you love the idea of having lots of greenery in your home.

However, it can also be lots of work. Have you ever wondered how in the world people keep so many houseplants alive?

This post will answer that question from my personal perspective, as someone who has many, many houseplants.

Table of Contents

#1 The most important step is to have the desire to care for all of your plants

It might seem obvious to state that you actually need the desire to care for lots of plants in order to keep lots of plants alive. But I’m convinced it’s not.

I’ve had friends and family make comments about how they think that my plants are beautiful, but they don’t know how I keep up with the work and care for so many. It’s always stated as if it is a huge burden and they are wowed that I’m willing to take on that burden.

These comments typically end up with them saying something akin to “I could never do it. “

The truth is that I wouldn’t do it either if I didn’t want to. But caring for lots of plants doesn’t feel like a burden to me.

And that makes maintaining them much easier than if I were being forced to do something I didn’t feel a desire to do.

In other words, if you want to care for a large houseplant collection, go for it. If you don’t want to, then don’t!

#2 Find joy in the work and maintenance of your plants

Most hobbies require some amount of work to participate in it, but people often do not concentrate on the work aspect because they enjoy the experience.

For some people (like me), sewing clothes and such doesn’t sound like fun; it just sounds like work. Other people find sewing incredibly stimulating, fun to do, and even relaxing.

The same is true of caring for houseplants.

It feels incredibly joyful to me to observe and care for my large plant collection.

I feel at peace and happy when I care for my plants.

I’m guessing that this is true for nearly anyone else that chooses to have a large number of plants in their home.

I’m not saying that every task or every day with plants is guaranteed to be joyful and peaceful. It isn’t peaceful to find and deal with houseplant pests, for example.

But overall, the positive experience of having a large houseplant collection outweighs the challenges.

#3 Be as consistent as possible in your care routines

One of the keys to successfully growing lots of plants is to have a system.

Walking around your house and trying to guess when the last time was that you watered or fertilized a plant can be pretty difficult and frustrating. I know because I used to do just that.

This is especially true when you have 50, 100, or even more plants to keep a mental note of.

Some people choose certain days of the week to check all of their plants for thirst and other care needs.

I used to do something similar to this, but I found that some plants were still being underwatered. It did work quite well for a lot of my plants though.

Instead of having certain days to check certain plants, I maintain a monthly calendar where I simply write down what I’ve watered and when.

Sometimes I list the individual plant that I watered. Other times I list the area of the house that I watered. It just depends on what makes the most sense to me.

For example, I have one window in our office that is pretty much devoted to African Violets and their relatives. All of these guys are thirsty at pretty much the same time so 99% of the time I water all of them together.

When I note this on my calendar, I just write “Office.” I know what that means and it would be silly to take the time to list all of the individual plants.

On the other hand, in my living room, I have a large Ficus Audrey tree. It doesn’t get watered at the same time as the rest of the plants near it because it dries out at different lengths of time. So, when I water the Ficus Audrey, I write the individual plant name.

When I water the rest of the plants sharing the corner with the F. Audrey, I just write Living Room. As long as I know what that means, it really doesn’t matter if it seems confusing to others.

Then, a week from now when I can’t remember when I last checked some of these plants, I can look at my calendar and know exactly how long it’s been.

This method helped me to realize that I was accidentally underwatering my Rhipsalis collection and gave me the opportunity to fix it before they began to go downhill.

It is better, to me, than having a day of the week to check because then I water the plants whenever they need it and it doesn’t feel like I’m messing up my schedule by watering them on a day that hasn’t been designated their “official day” each week.

This simple method allows me to provide consistent care and reduce the mental load it would require me to remember it all otherwise.

It also allows me to make a to-do list for myself by looking back at the calendar or to use this same to-do list for a plant sitter when I need to be away from home.

I also write other notes on the calendar, like the weeks that I fertilize, release beneficial insects, etcetera.

This practice has been key to keeping my large houseplant collection mostly happy and thriving!

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#4 Accept that pests are going to be in your home

If you have a large houseplant collection, it is incredibly likely that you have at least a few pests lurking somewhere in your home.

Houseplant pests are incredibly common and even more common with larger collections.

I can say, with certainty, that I have found spider mites, mealybugs, scale, thrips, and fungus gnats so far this Spring.

Spider mites have been the most prolific this year and have taken some effort to get under control. At least I think they are under control now. Time will tell. Haha.

I’ve been lucky, so far, that the others haven’t created the same level of issues.

I wouldn’t be surprised if I also have aphids hiding somewhere. I usually do see some in Spring, but maybe I lucked out this year.

It isn’t that I’m negligent with checking my plants and that’s invited all the pests. It’s exactly the opposite; I go out of my way to observe my plants, magnifying glass in hand, to find the little buggers before they create too much chaos.

I know that things can be hiding, dormant, waiting for the right time to emerge. I also know that I’ve introduced some new plants since the beginning of winter and those guys might have pests hiding in them too.

And, lastly, I’ve done a lot of repotting over the last month and wouldn’t be incredibly surprised if some pests rode in with the potting mix. It happens.

I used to freak out about having houseplant pests and now I just realize that it’s going to happen and the best I can hope for is to find it early enough to prevent a massive problem.

When I do sometimes miss a brewing infestation, I’ve had to compost some plants to save the others from whatever it is. It’s one of the realities of trying to keep a very large amount of plants alive and thriving.

#5 Accept that not every plant is going to be perfect

Plants are living things and react differently to different environments, care routines, and more. Some plants may thrive in your care and never look better. Others may slowly deteriorate for one reason or another.

The more plants you have, the more likely you are to experience these two extremes (thriving and slowly dying) as well as every possibility in between.

This doesn’t mean that you are bad at caring for houseplants or that you are necessarily doing something wrong. It is likely just part of caring for living things.

It is true that when a plant begins to struggle, it’s easier to intervene if you have fewer plants competing for your attention.

And for some people, this might be a good reason to keep a smaller number of plants.

For others, the joy of having many plants outweighs trying to maintain perfect plants.

#6 Adjust your numbers, your types of plants, and your setup as needed

Nothing needs to remain stagnant in your indoor jungle – not the number of plants, the placement of plants, your growing methods, etcetera.

If you begin to feel overwhelmed by the number of plants you have to care for, it’s okay and recommended to reduce your numbers to a place that feels more comfortable and joyful.

If you are battling a huge infestation and that’s sucking the joy out of the houseplant hobby for you, it’s okay to let some plants go to save the rest and protect your happiness and mental health.

If life is presenting you with a lot of challenges and you are struggling to find time to keep up with all of your plants, make any adjustments you need to alleviate some of the stress.

Some people will ask a plant friend to adopt some of their plants temporarily while they are going through a challenging life event. Others give the plants away permanently, try to sell them, place them on the side of the road for someone else to love, or compost them.

And that is so totally okay.

Over the past year and a half, I’ve gone through several personal life struggles that took a toll on how much time I had to care for plants and how well I was doing mentally.

For both of these reasons, I’ve reduced my plant collection by about 25% and will probably continue to make reductions until the number feels right for the amount of time and energy that I have. This has included reducing numbers through every method I listed above – selling plants, giving them away, and placing them in the compost bin.

As I’ve reduced my numbers, my ability to appreciate and care for my plants has increased exponentially. That’s how I know it was the right move!

Common Questions I Receive About My Large Houseplant Collection

#1 How long does it take you to care for them daily?

It depends. Most days I probably spend about 20 minutes caring for plants. However, I do regularly take an hour or two during the weekend to catch up on anything I haven’t done during the week.

Since implementing the system I described above, the amount of time I spend checking plants has been greatly reduced because I’m no longer doing a lot of guesswork to figure out what I need to tackle each day.

#2 How many plants do you have?

I honestly don’t know. I have a vague idea, but I rarely actually count.

I also don’t like publicly sharing how many plants I have because that number comes with lots of opinions, both positive and negative, based on whether people think it’s cool to have so many plants or people think it’s atrocious to have so many plants.

The reality is that I have enough plants for me and that amount is one that my wife isn’t upset with me about. And that is the most important part: my wife and I are happy in our home with lots of plants and all.

#3 Why do you have so many plants?

First and foremost, I have lots of plants because I like them. I enjoy looking at them, caring for them, and seeing lots of greenery around me. Caring for plants is very relaxing and a form of meditation for me.

Also, I really enjoy researching various houseplants and their care as well as writing about my experiences on this blog.

I’ve also purchased plants because I write a plant blog. But I’m not at all sad about that. It keeps my love of and interest in houseplants alive and thriving.

There are so many plants out there that I won’t ever run out of new plants to try or things to research and talk about. That is just one aspect of the hobby that I really enjoy.

#4 Isn’t it so much work!?

No, not really. Because I enjoy the time I spend with plants, it doesn’t feel like a lot of work the majority of the time.

The only times my plants can feel burdensome are during large pest outbreaks or during intensely stressful life events that limit the amount of time and mental energy I have for anything else, including plants.

In general, having plants feels like self-care and happiness to me.

Do you have a large plant collection? What are your secrets to keeping your plants alive and happy?

Happy growing!

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