Houseplantitis: Symptoms and Treatments

By Jesse Eastman

Do you or someone you know suffer from Houseplantitis? This common but underdiagnosed condition affects plant lovers around the globe. Common symptoms include:

  • You can’t see out your windows because they are full of plants.
  • You have no more small dinner plates because they’ve all been repurposed as plant saucers.
  • You regularly have to apologize to houseguests because there is nowhere for them to sit or set their coats when they visit without disturbing a plant.
  • You regularly use “I’d love to but I have to water my plants” as an excuse to avoid social obligations.
  • You’ve already gone through the exhaustive searches for plants that will thrive in the more marginal areas or your house – poor light, high traffic, drafty spots next to doors – and have reached the point of plant saturation.
  • You seek out ever more rare and extreme plants, as you no longer find “basic” plants thrilling.

If you struggle with any of these conditions, you may have Houseplantitis.This affliction is defined in medical literature as “A condition that manifests in patients when the quantity of houseplants in a given domicile has swollen to levels that exceed any reasonable use of space.” Sadly, there is no known cure for Houseplantitis. There are, however, several treatments to deal with its symptoms.

The best treatment is acquiring more space for plants. Whether moving to a larger house, building a sunroom or a greenhouse, or simply relocating to a tropical climate where houseplants can happily survive in the much larger space of the great outdoors, more space means less plant crowding. The downside of this treatment is that it can often be impractical and expensive. Furthermore, it can require moving all your plants to a new home, a process which can be traumatic for both plant and plant owner alike.

If this first option is not viable, there are several secondary treatments that are widely available to most consumers that are generally successful in preventing a catastrophic overflow of plant material. One can give away plants to friends, family, coworkers, people you just met, and complete strangers. This may be difficult, as it requires you to pick and choose which plants to keep and which to part with, but has the benefit of endearing yourself to others. It should be noted that this treatment becomes less effective the more often it is used, as those around you will eventually catch onto your ploy and realize you’re simply using them to feed your plant habit.

Another method of reducing your plant inventory is to stop fighting the inevitable death and decay of living matter. It may feel morbid at first, but learning to love the complete life cycle of your plants can be a truly freeing experience. Is your hibiscus showing signs of mite damage? Mites can be a pernicious little beast, often quite difficult to completely eradicate. Instead of putting yourself through the stress of repeated pesticide applications and the anxiety of wondering if you caught the little buggers soon enough, just take a quick trip to the compost pile. Now you get to experience not only the intense emotion of loss but the ecstatic joy of choosing a new plant to take its place!

Naturally, each of these treatment methods has its benefits and drawbacks. We do not recommend choosing a particular approach until you’ve consulted with a horticulture professional to help determine which is best for you. The good news is we’re here for you. Whether you’ve been suffering from houseplantitis for years or if you simply suspect you may be showing the early stages of this often crippling ailment, our expert staff can help you decide the best way to manage the symptoms and regain control over your life, because nobody should have to agonize over something as joyous as introducing one more beautiful plant to their home!

Originally published on February 1st, 2019. Updated on September 3rd, 2019.