And while shopping, what do I spy among the annuals? More ivy! And these are different from the ones I already have. There is a variegated type whose leaves remind me of yellow-edged flames, (possibly Hedera helix 'Yellow Ripple') and a beautifully patterned green and white variety, which I have tentatively identified as Hedera helix ‘Kolibri’ Of course I buy them. At this point, I’m not even pretending that they are for my wreath. These will be houseplants.
So I was up to six plants. And I’ve made a little pact with my husband: Starting on June 1st of 2008, I’m not going to buy any more houseplants for six months. My husband is a great supporter of my houseplant hobby. However, he was a bit worried about me back then. I had been suffering from plant care burnout. And our budget needed a break. So I stop visiting the houseplant sections of nurseries, and my ivy acquisitions ceased.
Summer comes and goes, and I bring my ivies indoors, to live in my bedroom window shelves. This window is ideal for ivy in the winter. It gets quite cool at night, because I break a cardinal houseplant rule: I let the plants stay between a window and the closed curtain during the night. I’ve never had a plant object to this treatment, though I might remove a few tender plants temporarily when the Chicagoland night temperatures hit the single digits, Fahrenheit.
The six months of our pact pass relatively quickly. The ivies have all done well under the mist-and-wash regimen described in Part I. And since I think they look so lovely in the red pots, I decide that if I do buy more ivies in the future, that is what I will use for them all.
In late January, Bob and I are in Lowes shopping for who-remembers-what, and I wander into the houseplant area. And what do I see? Another Hedera helix that I don’t have. This one has small, lobe-less leaves, with a hint of chartreuse coloration.
And so it continues. A trip to my favorite nursery yields a Heart-shaped Hedera. I don’t know if this is actually Hedera hibernica ‘Deltoidea’ or one of the heart-shaped H. helix varieties, but I had to have it. Then I’m at the supermarket, and I decide that if I’m going to have an ivy collection, I need a plain green variety in the classic ivy shape, so another plant finds its way into my cart.
And then there were nine. A midwinter trip to Home Depot finds me scooping up an ivy with curled leaves and stems, and another with small, nearly lobe-less leaves and white variegation (maybe H. helix ‘Little Diamond’)
I’m up to eleven now. Another nursery trip nets me a Hedera with gray-and-lime green variegation.
And last but not least, a mail-order purchase, pictured below:
There have been some setbacks. In early May, a crisis in my personal life, which involved a certain amount of travel, caused me to neglect my ivy regimen. This, combined with a warming trend in the bedroom window, causes an outbreak of mites. (Just as it gets cold between the window and the curtains on winter nights, it gets quite warm in the spring and summer.) I was heartbroken, as two of my favorites, the original plant that started it all, and the needlepoint, are the most affected.
I immediately move the ivies outside, where I spray them down with soap, then blast them with the hose. I also pick off the most damaged leaves. A couple of days later, I spray everyone with fish emulsion, in the hopes it will help the leaves that were only minimally damaged to green up a little. This actually seemed to work pretty well. I promise myself to never let the mites take hold again.
So, here I am in October 2009. I added a few more plants, so I now have 15, all in their red pots. (I did have two more, but they were tiny plants that didn’t survive the summer.) I’ve started the regimen again, and I’m hoping in the future, the transition from winter to spring will be easier. I’m not as obsessive a collector as I pretend to be; I do pass up plants, even Hederas, that don’t appeal to me, all the time. I don’t find every ivy beautiful (or every Aloe, or every Sansevieria–these are the other genera that I always look for.) But there are a lot more out there that I will find beautiful, and quite of few of them will be coming home with me.
This, and the plant below, are two Hedera NoIds I've added this year, but aren't mentioned in the text of this post.