Just two days ago here in the lovely state of Minnesota, it was 80s degrees and humid. Really quite summer-like for an autumn day.
Today, however, is a different story. Right now, it’s 56 degrees and dropping. It won’t get to freezing temps here in the metro, but it will be cold enough that meteorologists are advising we cover up any delicate flowers or plants.
So I did just that. I covered up my plant, which has been sitting on my balcony since late April. But I’m also feeling guilty and sad for having done so.
Sad, partially because it signals the end of summer and the transition to the season which starts with a ‘w’ but shall remain unspoken until such time as necessary. Sad, also, because my plant’s tendrils were wound around the balcony’s railing and I felt so guilty unwinding each one and setting them next to the base of the plant.
I took a light blanket and covered up my girl (yes, I refer to my plant as female, get over it), talked to her and told her it was either the blanket or bring her in until next spring when it warms up again. I think she understood the blanket was the best option. Too soon to bring her in; the days are still in the 60s, but the nights are starting to get chilly.
Now before you start thinking I’m some crazy plant lady with 100 different plants around the apartment, you’d be wrong, it’s just the one.
And this one plant is perfect for me as it requires very little care. Just direct sun (it sits on the balcony which faces east), occasional water and that’s it. High humidity is a plus.
My plant is a Hoya. It’s a tropical flowering plant so it loves heat and humidity. In 2013, we had 100 degree days during the summer months, and my plant spent that summer vacationing on a friend’s front porch. While most of her plants were dying, mine was growing like a weed.
In 2006, a woman I worked with gave me a cutting of her Hoya. Just one lonely leaf on a stem. When I brought it home, I put it in my window facing west.
Since it was summer, the length of daylight was longer, sunlight was more intense and very soon after, BOOM, the plant started to grow. It was almost abnormal how fast it grew. Within a couple of months I had to transplant it into a larger pot, and into an even larger pot the following spring.
Right now, it sits in a 14 inch pot and I’m trying to keep it to this size, but if she grows more, I’ll have to upgrade her housing.
I’m lucky the plant’s so low maintenance, but I do try my best to take care of it. I check the leaves to ensure the color looks good, that there are no bug infestations and that it has enough water. I have failed miserably too many times to count on the last one, yet she still grows. I don’t know why, it really should be dead by now, but not this one; it’s still going and growing.
Whether it was living with roommates, almost living in my car or couch surfing before my apartment was ready to move in to, my plant’s been with me. It’s been one of the most constant things in my life during the last nine years. It’s outlasted jobs and relationships. Kinda strange when I think about it.
My plant’s clearly the happiest when she’s outside, where it’s sunny and warm. But the weather’s changing and within a month, it’s not going to be so warm anymore and I’ll have to bring her inside. There she’ll be in front of my window staring outside and not actually being outside.
And when that day comes, I’m going to feel like such a bad plant parent.
My Hoya's spray of flowers
One happy Hoya on balcony in summer
(Left, my Hoya covered up to keep it safe from cold overnight temperatures)