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This is somewhat embarrassing...

16 years ago

I started buying plants about a month ago. I've now filled most of my office and some of my space at home with plants.

I think I am being compulsive with buying plants, and I need to stop before things get out of hand. With the holidays coming, I've been spending money on plants and pots, etc., that I really need for other things.

I realized I was developing something of a problem when I took some time during work "just to look" and ended up spending 20 bucks (on my credit card, no less!) on a sans and a pot I just HAD to have.

This is quite odd, as I don't have an addictive personality, although I am gung-ho with new hobbies. Poker, drinking, smoking- never had a problem either keeping within limits or stopping altogether (in regards to smoking and drinking.)

So, I'm not spending any money on gardening (with the exception of any gift cards I get for X-mas) until the 20th of January.

Anyone have any similar experiences? How do you keep from 'impulse buying?' I find I'm buying sub-par plants health wise as well, instead of saving and getting something better at a nursery.

Comments (42)

  • 16 years ago

    oh i know what your going thru!

    when first started my plant hobbie i had this problem. dont worry though, soon you will run out of room--thats what i did....of course i live in a jungle it seems! Plants are like furniture in my house, i hardly have any real furniture at all.

    my advice-save the reciepts....i have taken back many plants when i find out i cant cover my bills....

  • 16 years ago

    Welcome to the club!! I find that lately, in the past couple of months or so, I can't go into a grocery store, Home Depot, Walmart etc and head to the plant section as soon as I go in. I usually come home with someting.

    I have also been fanatical about buying exotic (to me) fruits etc only for the seeds to sprout and see what grows. I currently have pom. seedlings sprouted and other kinds that I am waiting for them to show.

    I know that my DH will be getting me a gift cert. at my favourite nursery for Christmas.

    Tabletops and floor space is at a premium.....dh also says it makes for a smaller area for him to vacuum, so he's not too concerned!!! lol


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  • 16 years ago

    I had the same problem up until August of this year and all last year. I swear it's like an illness. You know you don't need anymore plants, you can't imagine where you'll find the room to put another one but you MUST have the plant you're in the store looking at. Or you MUST have one of the plants you keep reading about on the forum. I can't tell you how many plants I bought and then actually felt ashamed of myself right after buying them.

    Now I've pretty much got things in check. I can't say I know exactly how or when the tide turned, but I'm glad it did. I've also stopped obsessing over my plants. The problem I have now is that I have way too many plants for my apartment. Every now and then I look them over and try to decide which ones I can give away. Of course, I can't part with any of them! lol

    It feels good to finally be able to walk through the store and not feel compelled to go through the plant section. Or to not make some compulsive trip to Lowes or Home Depot just to see if they have anything new. The only plant I want, but don't have, is a peperomia graveolens. Because I'm not willing to go out of my way to find one, or overpay for it by buying it online, I doubt I'll ever own one.

    I really wish I could become as obsessed with cleaning or exercise. :-)

  • 16 years ago

    You certainly are not alone but that doesn't stop one from worrying a tad, does it? I have also spent money we could not afford to buy yet another plant. I continue to do so. I have to put a clamp on myself, as well. We have had such a tight budget for several years now and I justify plants by saying they are much less expensive than if I bought clothing, had a massage, etc. But the simple truth is, I have a problem and I need to address it. Congrats on having the courage to post this - you may get many more answers than you could have imagined.

  • 16 years ago

    I can't say it's ever driven me to financial ruin, but yes, I know the general compulsion you're talking about. Physically running out of space has worked pretty well for me, though it's not the perfect solution, as I am right this minute contemplating bringing home three more plants from work. The odds are that what's going to happen is, I'll bring home two and applaud myself for showing some restraint, and then I'll bring home the third sometime next week "because it looks so good, and anyway you're just going to keep wanting it like you did last week so you may as well just get it already."

    I'm not aware of any good ways to stop, though there are occasionally things that can minimize the damage. Practice saying things like:

    -"But I won't get it because I have one of those already."
    -"But I won't get it because I don't have that kind of humidity."
    -"But I won't get it because I can find it cheaper somewhere else."
    -"But I won't get it because I have nowhere to put it."
    -"But I won't get it because it grows too slowly."
    -"But I won't get it because that would put me up over [arbitrary number] of plants, and I have to draw a line somewhere."

    I'm not saying that that'll stop the purchases entirely, but it'll slow you down a little. At first.

  • 16 years ago

    ohhh goodness! i know how you feel! it is hard sometimes to walk into a store that you know has plants or pots or stands...on days off i will sometimes suggest to my boyfriend that we go to this nursery called mulhall's 'just to look'. and i never 'just look'. the good thing about mulhalls is they have smaller cuttings that they have rooted that they sell for 3.99-4.99...and that helps...SOME! its fun to watch them grow into the bigger more expensive plant. i've started to run outta space...and since i have soooo many its hard to take care of them all. so there's been some casualties. good luck with your plants though!

  • 16 years ago

    Oh, and --

    You probably noticed this already, but we're really not the right group of people to be asking about solutions. We're more the bad-influence friends who pull you back in after an extended sobriety.

  • 16 years ago

    I too have this need to just look in the plant section.Why not?I'm already there?Why waste the gas to come back? lol The only 2 things that have slowed me down are
    1.I have become very picky about what I will buy.I look them over better now.
    2.I don't like clutter,if there is no space I won't get it,but when spring comes I will probably move plants around to look like it is less cluttered.I can live with that illusion.

  • 16 years ago

    I'm not especiallty impulsive in my shopping or my plants, but for the rare times I have been (or when I'm unemployed like now), LEAVE THE CREDIT CARD AT HOME! Put a specific amount of cash in your pockets & commit to not buying anything you weren't scheduled to buy.

    If I were you, I'd try 2 things, 1st is to stop buying pots. It's the plants that matter to me, not the pots, so I do not buy pots, ever. I only use clay terra cotta (unglazed clay) pots or small green or terra cotta colored plastic. So it'd be one less expense right there.

    2nd: Why are you buying what you say are sub-par plants healthwise? What's the point of that, that you have to have the plant? If it were me, I'd just as soon wait 'til I could have a healthy one w/ stronger odds of surviving. (Personally, I don't feel that buying from a nursery will necessarily yield healthier plants).

    Time for some self-discipline & restraint??

  • 16 years ago

    pirate, i buy subpar plants because i 'gotta have them' instead of waiting to find something better/healthier.

    that's part of the reason why i put a 30 day ban on buying new plants as well.

  • 16 years ago

    I too suffer from plantmania. :) I gave up fighting it 40 years ago. When the sun room and all windowsills were packed with plants my husband bought me a small Harbor Freight greenhouse. When I filled that we bought a larger 8' X 16' Rion. That's just about full now too......

  • 16 years ago

    I don't recall ever feeling guilty about buying a plant--the ones I've regretted have been the ones I *didn't* buy! And when I was starting out, I used to buy plants that were suffering to 'save their lives'. Often didn't know what they were--but by paying attention to how they reacted to light especially, and water and feeding and stuff, I learned a tremendous lot about how to give plants the care they need. 'Course, that was back when we were living in caves and didn't have good sources of information like these forums and the internet in general. Don't do it now--I need to know what plants are before I buy 'em now, or at least have a pretty good idea I can track 'em down. Addidted? You bet! Keeps me moving when I'm not so sure I would otherwise, too.

  • 16 years ago

    Here's what you do when you can't afford your addictive plant hobby.

    1. You troll craigslist and freecycle and snap up any free plants.
    2. You shop for pots at the local thrift store, garage sale and get them from craigslist and freecycle.
    3. Even if you don't want the plant from CL or FC take it anyway because you could always use the pot later.

    Don't feel bad about your plant addiction just think cheaper.

  • 16 years ago

    Mr BT, that's a good idea, I'm going to try it.

  • 16 years ago

    Yes, there is something addictive about it. You have to exercise control (unless you do have unlimited money AND unlimited prime window/light area!). A while ago I told myself NO MORE PLANTS, yet when I get groceries I would still like to drive my cart through the small but well taken care of houseplant area and check it out. Lucky for me, we will be moving to a larger, more windowed home in the upcoming months, but I've been disciplined in not bringing home more plants till we do, right now they are all stuffed together growing well but fighting for the cheap sunlight we get at this time of year, but once they are spread out in the bigger house...well, we'll see. I also realize some of my plants would look better if they could be viewed in smaller groups (right now it looks like a jungle, phals tucked in behind sans and ficus and begonias etc.).

    One thing I credit my plants for is their calming quality on me after a long day at work, or just a busy day. Just checking them over, dusting up a few, cleaning up spent blooms on the AV's and watering whom needs it quiets me down, gets me back to where I need to be. For me they are a necessity, not a luxury.

  • 16 years ago

    The trick is specialize in one type of plant, mine are epiphytes. i won't buy any plants that do not climb or grow in trees. So when I go to the grocery store, chances are, i won't find what I'm looking for and walk away without. I also tell myself when i go inot a nursery, if I can't find X plant, then I won't buy any. I still have over 100 epiphyllum though ;)

  • 16 years ago

    Mr. BT, thank you for the freecycle advice. less than a day later and I've found someone who has a sans. to offer.

  • 16 years ago

    I know what you mean about the plant mania....

    For me, it started with a few jade cuttings -
    then, when these did well, I needed proper pots.
    Then I started learning about different jade plants.
    And so I needed some of those....
    which meant that I'd need more soil, pots, et cetera.

    Now my window-sills are full of potted plants, and
    cuttings in water....

    I can't wait to give some of these jades away!

    Like Sauron's Ring, the only way to overcome the lure of the Ring is to give it away freely!


  • 16 years ago

    Like my fellow Garden Webbers, I too have a disease called plant mania. However, as many have mentioned above, this is a disease you can fight and live with! Whenever I go anywhere that has plants, I never hesitate to look around. It is a field of great interest to me. I do have several methods of reigning myself in though, and here they are:

    *First and foremost, my girlfriend constantly berates me not to bring home any more plants (even though she contributes to this by bringing home sick plants for me to nurse back to health or receiving them as gifts)

    *There are tons of nurseries here in the bay area with so many plants being so common, I try to only stick to rare things that are hard to find

    *I am really picky and only apt to spend my money on healthy specimen plants. I don't buy raunchy looking plants, even if I really want them.

    *Space is always at a premium, especially in an apartment so I try to buy plants as small as I can find (even though I do realize that small plants eventually become large plants)

    *I grow plants, I don't decorate with them so function always takes preference over form. It's unglazed terracotta for me, almost without exception. I don't buy pots unless I'm repotting something

    *As far as space goes, keeping plants in the house is great, but there's far more room outside. I know the idea is to try to keep it "less plants" not more, but if you simply can't stop yourself then why not buy some plants that are hardy enough to be kept outside? I tend to be more impulsive with cacti and succulents because I keep them outside in full sun. I've also made some room on my desk at work (which gets great light) so plants are starting to find homes there, one at a time....

    Just some ideas. Hope that helps!

  • 16 years ago

    Oooo, I feel yer pain.

    Here's a coupla things I do when I feel the need to buy plants:

    1. Buy pots at Goodwill. Cheap, good for the plants I already have, and it doesn't add to the plant care I already have. And I've gotten some really great pots there!

    2. Buy marked down plants from the stressed-out racks at Lowes and other similar places. I recently bought about 30 phalaenopsis orchids, normally priced $15-$30, for ONE dollar apiece. They make great trades (see #3 below).

    3. Frequent the "plant exchange" forums here on GW and on Dave's Garden. You can get great stuff for only the price of postage and a coupla your extras.

    4. Go to plant swaps!

    5. Pick a favorite plant or plant group, and emphasize that type in your purchases. Mine is variegated plants. :-)

  • 16 years ago

    Hi, I am also a plant nut.
    I can't help passing by my closest Home Depot, or even $.99 store and go look around and I always end up bringing home a new plant. My husband has also told me no more plants and then he will take me himself to the nursery to buy me one. I have also received some free plants or purchased some low cost ones from craigslist.Just always be careful.

    It also helps me relax watching my plants and watering them.

  • 16 years ago

    I started getting plants after my first semester of college last year, when I moved to (rather large) single dorm. Which led to me buying an aralia (five to a pot or something) and a ponytail palm. In the dead of winter. And it kind of snowballed from there. Although I'm probably not going to get anything for awhile because I've run out of space.

    I guess I'm not really concerned, though, because they're pretty inexpensive. The snake plant was the most expensive, and that was only sixteen, and it's very bushy and like, four or five feet tall so I'd say it was worth it.

    That, and they do make Ohio winters actually bearable for a change.

    As I said though, space is low, so I don't really see myself getting anything else until, say, Wollemias become affordable. Because I think they're awesome. But not awesome enough to spend 200 dollars on.

    Assuming I don't develop cleptomania again and start taking random cuttings from the stuff I find growing on campus, at least.

    Well, and tulips from Walmart, but they're cheap and they get stuck outside when they're done blooming so they don't really count.

    "2. Buy marked down plants from the stressed-out racks at Lowes and other similar places. I recently bought about 30 phalaenopsis orchids, normally priced $15-$30, for ONE dollar apiece. They make great trades (see #3 below)."

    I've noticed that most of the plants really aren't in terrible shape on these racks. They just need pruned/watered/debugged. So I guess you're investing more time in getting them cleaned up, but it's less of a monetary drain.

  • 16 years ago

    So blutarski, I love that you've here seeking help for your problem. I agree that to overcome denial is the first step...

    ....but yeah, coming here for help is a little like an addict going to a crack house to get clean! ;)

    Now, in all seriousness, in reponse to your question:

    When buying plants stops being so much fun, you'll stop. Honestly my plant collection got entirely too big this past year, and it was way too hard for me to care for them properly. The stress of trying to water/feed/repot/dust leaves became too overwhemling, and started to be to much WORK. Personally, that's when I stopped (and a little later, I down-sized my collection). When you look at a plant and feel only the burden of caring for it, and it no longer brings you joy, that's the time to stop.

    Until then, plan on having to exercise heroic levels on self control everytime you leave your house. Good luck to you!

  • 16 years ago

    Dang, sorry for all the typos in the above message. Sometimes my brain doesn't connect with my fingers---even after double checking!

  • 16 years ago

    i'm glad i'm in good company here. reading these posts are always informative...and funny! i discovered plants on ebay recently. i looked around for a little bit but my boyfriend will spend hours looking at all the pages of plants! he's already made the jungle bigger...buying cuttings and plants galore!! it seems like every time i go home he says 'look what i got on ebay'. haha. i was also sorta naughty when i went to the zoo about a month ago. some cuttings just managed to climb into my purse...

  • 16 years ago

    Goodness Sasha! lol

    The last time I went to the zoo, I was tempted to take cuttings, but I was too scared. I'm one of those people that always get caught, so I have to keep my nose clean.

    What types of cuttings did you get? I'll bet they have you on video! :-)

  • 16 years ago

    I went to Home Depot today... I DIDN'T BUY ANY PLANTS!!! Simply AMAZING!
    I went to a great garden center yesterday... I DIDN'T BUY ANY PLANTS!!!

    Don't ask me how I didn't buy any, it's a MIRACLE I TELL YA!

    Happy Holidays!


  • 16 years ago

    I have been keeping myself away from places where plants are sold for the past month by telling myself how many bargains I'm going to snap up in the days after Christmas when all those Shlums and Amaryllis go on sale!

  • 16 years ago

    well...i was in the lied jungle at the omaha zoo. most of the stuff i already have dangit! but there was one that looked a little similar to an antherium(i hope i spelled that right) and one was sorta waxy like maybe a different variety of hoya. my boyfriend was my 'look out' but there wasn't a lot of traffic since it has been cold and it was almost closing time. i figured if i got caught, they'd just ask me to leave and not come back with bonsai scissors ever again! i mean its not like i took a shovel and walked out with a huge dief or palm tree. they were small cuttings that had some aerial roots. this next bit is off topic but one morning on my way to work, i heard that bill nye (the science guy) put a restraining order on his wife because she 'attempted harm to his garden with a toxic substance' and the radio people were laughing and laughing! i called in and said that if anybody tried to mess with MY plants, i'd do the same thing! they laughed at me, too. :(

  • 16 years ago

    blutarski, welcome to the world. Everyone collects something. Cars, coins, spouses, stamps... ad nauseaum! The problem with plants is that they take up space for which there is competition, from other collectibles like artworks, books, CD's, and photographs. I have defined the role of plants in my modest collection; I try to find out how they react to conditions which I set up. When I find out how a particular plant reacts to, say, the extremes of drought and flooding, I am mostly done with it. I often give it away. I can 'visit' it occasionally to see how it is doing, have a drink and/or chat with a friend and/or acquaintance and move on. I have a job that allows me to bring out the best in plants in other people's spaces. That is a winning situation for me.

  • 16 years ago

    Hi my name is TamiK and i am a plant addict. LOL blutarski i can totally relate with your problem. I look at it that theres worse addictions i could have, i consider plants a healthy one. But i do have to put limits on myself. As someone else mentioned it will kind of take care of itself just by the limits of space. I finally hit my space limits this year, so i have to be much pickier now when buying plants. Hubby built me a greenhouse this fall so that the house wouldn't look like a jungle. Well and only the strong will survive in my greenhouse. Space is limited once a plant starts declining, after some babying, and no response its out of here. Some tips i have for saving money is get in good with your local junkman. I have a friend that is a "junker", goes around looking for metal scrap to cash in. Well i ask him to keep a eye out for pots for me. WOW did that pay off, i got them coming out my ears now. Plus it was alot of fun to come home and find a assortment of pots in front of my garage once a week. Was like my birthday ya know. Its truely amazing what people will throw away. The other thing i did was go get a job at a greenhouse. Yea i know kind of like the addict working for the dealer. LOL But this works nice for me. Its a great summertime job, helps support my plant addiction and i work doing something i truely enjoy. This summer will be my 3rd summer working for them and i can't wait. I have learned sooo much from my boss and we also work out trades as well. Since i had a few things he didn't. He also just sent me a 40 dollar Gift certificate for xmas. Hubby said "great more plants". LOL The rest of the year i work at a micro managed pharmacy chain, blech, so the summer job is a nice change. Like someone else mentioned my plants help calm me after a long day at work. Its very serene to go into the greenhouse and piddle around or just sit and listen to the rain coming down. So with some minimal limits and creativity we can all still have our plants. Take care TamiK

  • 16 years ago

    All things considered, though, plant collections offset your carbon footprint, whereas, say, doll collections won't. Maybe houseplant addiction is the planet's way of getting back at us for inventing SUVs.

  • 16 years ago

    I'd collect plants were there zero (ecological) benefit at all!
    Carbon is the last thing on my mind.

    Merry Christmas,


  • 16 years ago

    Last night I stopped by the grocery store after work. Naturally, the first place I always head is the floral and plant section, "just to look." Their selection vary and usually isn't too exciting, but last night they had an incredible new selection of plants. Two incredible pothos; a golden (erroneously labeled as philodendron)and a white marbled as well as several nice hedera ivy. I had to drag myself away, it was tough. We're planning on putting some more hanging plants out on the balcony anyway, but this isn't really the time of year to do so (at least that's the excuse I use).

    And just now, someone offers on freecycle a bunch of pots and three potted aloe plants. I keep telling myself I don't "need" them. But I do....

  • 16 years ago

    I've actually been through rehab, and attend AA meetings, and it's very easy to go addictive on this stuff. The good part is that at least with gardening : you have something to show for it, there is no stigma involved, it's not like you just smoked or drank your money away, and eventually your house gets full, and you just can't physically buy anymore so you have to stop, unlike with booze gambling cigarettes pornorgragphy chat rooms discussion forums, and you can attend horicultural society meetings, meet new people, talk about interesting things and get some exercise and relaxation - THE PERFECT ADDICTION :)
    Paul Mozarowski.

  • 16 years ago

    Agreed! The perfect addiction!
    What else lowers the stress levels so well?
    And for those with the proper constitution, I'm sure
    a glass of red wine might lend itself to gardening as
    it does a fine meal or a good book!


  • 16 years ago

    LOL, I keep costs down by hitting Lowe's too--just last month, they marked down several plants (Including some very nice LARGE chinese evergreens) to $1 apiece to get them outta there. Of course 2 came home with me, along with a pot of sans, two fire stick pencil cactus, and 3 other sad little plants (anthuriums and a corn dracaena) that I thought I could pull thru'...still hoping they are going to make it. Hubby is NOT happy, but house plants clean the air in the house (and he just built himself a large wrokshop for a heck of a lot more than I spend on ANY of my hobbies) so I'm not worrying about it too much.

  • 16 years ago

    Indeed, relaxing, very green, self-nurturing, lots of good things to show for itself & I quilt too. My idea of the 2 perfect hobbies (except that it keeps me from having a cat which I figure would go nuts btwn the plants, the quilts & the bits of fabrics everywhere).

    As to relaxing, well, the last SO who lived here w/ me later told me he learned to steer clear of me when I came home from work until after I'd had a cup of coffee & taken a walk around the entire apmt to give all the plants a quick check. Then, I'd sit down & relax, I had no idea I was even doing that!

    So I really do credit the plant collection w/ helping to keep me sane: cheap, fun therapy!

  • 16 years ago

    I have a cat and he knows how much my plants mean to me and does not touch them. He sits in between the ones I have on the floor when he wants to plant jungle cat. He gets down low wiggle his butt and jumps out at anybody that comes by. LOL!!!!

    I have more problems with him sitting on the computer monitor.

    Without my plants life would not be rich and rewarding. I have to own every plant at least once before I die. I do not have a problem.

  • 16 years ago

    I tell my mom that plant addiction is a lot cheaper than whiskey or cocaine. And not nearly as bad for your health!

    Like Dr. Phil says, "and how's that workin' for ya??".

    If a plant addiction adds more positives to your life than negatives, then go for it. If it gets so out of hand that it is actually making your life worse, then you need to change something. As long as it works, don't fix it.

  • 16 years ago

    The best thing about a plant addiction is that it is self-limiting. As the number of plants increases, eventually you run out of space, time, or energy. And even if you don't, the plants have a way of declining as they compete for limited windowsill spots, or when they are so close together that the bugs have a little highway to zip from pot to pot. So, unless you are unusually involved, there is likely to be some natural attrition.

    I'm addicted to plants, no doubt about it. But I tend to cycle and collect plants in a certain family. After several years, I've mastered the culture for those, or else I've decided they don't work well in my conditions or they are simply too darn fussy. Then I give them away, or throw them out, or leave them outside too long in the fall until they freeze. After about a year, I start obsessing with a new plant family.

    My first love was african violets. Then big foliage plants to fill space when I was younger and couldn't afford much furniture. Then fancy foliage plants after I started working for a plant company and fell in love with all the exotic, expensive ones! Then pond plants. Then hibiscus. Currently getting into orchids.

    I can really relate to marquest's comment, "I have to own every plant at least once before I die." I guess I'll live a long time!

  • 16 years ago

    There is a name for our disease. It is CHAD (compulsive horticultural acquisition disorder) and I am afraid it is uncurable!!!! Every surface in my house is covered in plants which means there are plant lights all over my house. Here lately I have been collecting amaryllis, african violets, brugs, orchids and now I have a bonsai. Just a small addiction. But the alternative to plant addictions are using bad for your health. Christina

    Also I can not walk into a store with out checking out the plant section and making at least one purchase.

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