Houseplant Heaven

By Teo Spengler | February 17, 2022
Image by
by Teo Spengler
February 17, 2022

As a confirmed plant rescuer, I have more houseplants than anyone else I know. This may qualify me as a crazy plant parent, since I love them all dearly, but, given the sheer number of abandoned plants I bring home, I do try to find them forever plant homes on a regular basis. Of course, I adopt many of them myself, so there is a regular team that stays with me.

The Rescue Setup

When I moved back to San Francisco, I had no houseplants. I can hardly remember how the house looked that first day, since the plant-free status did not last very long. The very first day I walked down Balboa to find a coffee shop, I stumbled on two pots of philodendron on the sidewalk, looking sad and neglected. They were my first two rescues, brought inside even before my bags were unpacked.

I had lived in San Francisco years before but had never noticed the trend of dumping houseplants that were beyond their prime. Now, out in the Outer Richmond, I found dumped plants almost every day, from small jade plants to a tall and imposing corn plant. I went out looking on my scooter and would bring home something almost every day. In short order, I became a plant rescuer. When all flat surfaces in the new place were filled with plants, it was clearly time to get better organized.

Plant Recovery Space

Fortunately, I had a garden space out back surrounded by 8-foot (2.4 m.) wooden fencing. While plans for flower beds and veggie plots filled my dreams, my first action out back was to set up a plant recovery space, a large table against the wall in a partial-sun location. I added shelving beneath it to store houseplant tools, potting soil and different size pots. 

As new plants came into my rescue, I would immediately take them to the plant recovery space. Most were desperately in need of water, so water came first, then a quiet week of sitting in a peaceful backyard. After that, I trimmed off dead branches, checked the roots and often repotted them. Some died. Most thrived.

Adoption Events

Naturally, as the plants recovered and came into their beauty, I fell in love with each one in turn. Many were brought into my apartment and found refuge on sunny windowsills or shady corners. The two first philodendrons grew fast, and both were given permanent resident status in the living room. The corn plant grew a few more stalks and moved into a corner of my bedroom. The spider plants all were potted up in hanging baskets and cycled in and out of the kitchen.

One day, a new neighbor told me she was going to the garden store to get some houseplants. I urged her to see if anything I had in the rescue fit her needs. She went home with a spider plant, a few succulents and a pothos, and wrote me a thank-you note. 

The next day I advertised a plant adoption event (under the heading Free Plants in my NextDoor website) for the following weekend. Seventeen neighbors came, 25 plants found forever homes. And it became a monthly happening, bringing neighbors closer together and placing dozens of houseplants in good homes. But more dumped plants come in to take their places in the plant recovery space.

If this qualifies me as plant-crazy, I guess I have to plead guilty. And I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon. It feels so good to bring plants and people together.

This article was last updated on
Read more about Backyard Stories
Did you find this helpful? Share it with your friends!

Browse Dozens of Our FREE Gardening Guides Today

Whether your dream garden is a houseplant sanctuary, a bountiful vegetable garden, a pollinator paradise, a bright and bold flower bed, or a backyard oasis – Gardening Know How has the perfect gardening guide just for you.

Click the button below to access more than 3 dozen of our completely free and completely comprehensive guides to growing your dream garden.

Join Us - Sign up to get all the latest gardening tips!