Plant Chat: Baby Plants

A set of small terra cotta pots in a cardboard box on a white desk, with a lamp, water bottle and plastic box behind.

Image description: A set of small terra cotta pots in a cardboard box on a white desk, with a lamp, water bottle and plastic box behind.

Potted up some propagations today! It’s so exciting to take what are essentially just pieces of plants and coaxing them into life of their own. Starting at the top and going clockwise:

– marble queen pothos (from cuttings I’ve been babying since my friend K. gave them to me last year)

– spider plant – teeny pot with Thanksgiving cactus, turtle vine and peperomia ruby cascade (from cuttings my friend C. originally gave me years ago)

– bridal veil tradescantia, which has been a freaking pain (these are cuttings salvaged from a big plant that died dramatically), hence the “I will survive” figurine

– tradescantia nanouk (the pinkish), purple inch plant that lost its purple (I got nothin’), and some more bridal veil

– in the middle, a bunch of pearls and jade and n’joy pothos, which I can’t tell apart, so in about two years I’m going to look back at this and curse myself for planting both in the same pot

At back right you can see my propagation box, which is a plastic sweater box with the lid propped open a bit, sitting on top of a seedling heat mat and under an Ott-lite I had from my jewelry-making days.

These weren’t grown from seed, but from cuttings. (Or, in the case of the spider plant and the Thanksgiving cactus, things that accidentally fell off. Or, in the case of some of the pothos, the plant had root rot when I bought it and I chopped it up to salvage it.) Many tropical plants can be reproduced this way.

It’s low-key magical to take what’s basically a leaf and a stick and Make A Living Thing.

The combination of strong light, heat and humidity is magical; some of these babies are ones that did jack all for months until I put them in the box, like the marble queen. There are little jade plants in the prop box that I’ve had for YEARS that did basically nothing until I put them in there. I kind of want to live in there myself. Seems like my jam.

At back left, because I forgot to move it, is a water bottle with a little watering-can tip that I keep around. I mostly bottom water plants these days by putting them in a container of water and letting them absorb from the bottom, but with pots as tiny as the ones in front, sometimes it’s easier just to water from the top with a couple of squirts and be done with it.

Behind the black light in the middle of the photo is a glass cloche (or bell jar) on top of the tiny, delicate regrowing remnants of an antenna fern I bought last year. Even sitting right on top of a humidifier wasn’t humid enough for it, so all the big leaves died. I figured I had nothing to lose, so I put its “feet” (the bottom of the pot) in a dish of water, shoved a cloche onto it and let it go.

And it’s suddenly very happy! Such a drama queen. It’s got two new leaves that you can barely see, plus just the bare pinpoint of a third. I love ferns, but sheesh. I need to get a terrarium and be done with it.

That fern is also one of the ones I’m using to test special potting soil mixes from Oh Happy Plants. Veronica Oh Happy, the owner, is incredible — she actually makes soil for different *types* of ferns, so my maidenhair is in different soil from the antenna fern, which is in different soil from the heart fern. It’s that specialized. I’m really liking these mixes because even with the ferns having their “feet” wet, the soil isn’t getting compacted and soggy — the water distributes evenly up through it.

Hi there! I'm Lindley (she/her, pronounced LIN-lee). I create artwork that celebrates the unique beauty of bodies that fall outside conventional "beauty" standards at Body Liberation Photography. I'm also the creator of Body Liberation Stock, which provides body-positive stock photos for commercial use, and the Body Love Shop, a curated central resource for body-friendly artwork and products. Find all my work at https://staging.bodyliberationphotos.com.