There are some things that you absolutely cannot do in Japan

Posted on 23.02.2015


I’ve learned this year that I can’t keep plants alive through the winter in my house. Or maybe I should say, ‘the plants I’m USED TO HAVING’, I can’t keep them alive in my house.

IMG_0409I’m not talking about my immortals, like Kalanchoe or Jade/Money plants. I’m talking about things that bloom, or seem to bloom. Like a Peace Lily.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m effing excellent at finding and rehabbing plants at the ends of their lives. I also managed to keep a Peace Lily my mom had given me for Easter alive until I left for Germany (over 6 years), when the plant stayed back in the USA with my best friend. I bought and brought back to life numerous Orchids while I lived in Germany.

Here in Japan, however, we have a serious issue: winter.

The winters here aren’t that bad. It rarely drops below freezing. We get snow once a year, maybe twice. It’s routinely in the 50’s in January and February. The weather outside isn’t the issue. It’s the weather INside, which is ultimately THE SAME as the weather outside.

I might have explained this before. But if I haven’t: these houses are built to withstand earthquakes. When the ground shakes, these houses sway, rather than crumble. Our walls are effectively as thick as plywood. In the mornings in the winter, I hate getting out of bed first, because it means my house will be freezing and I’ll have to turn the heaters on and WAIT for them to kick in. I’ll see my breath walking in the hall.

This doesn’t bode well for plants, and I’m not sure what to do.

As you can see, my Peace Lily is NOT happy. I’m really hoping that once it warms up, the plant will just wake up and be ok, and maybe next winter I might not water her so much. I think the water was too cold and maybe froze her a little. I’m not sure. I know it’s not a sunlight issue (and I know better than to make that one), so I think it has to be the cold.

Likewise, most of my Jade plants are also pretty mad at me, and my plan to make a curtain wall out of them has failed on multiple occasions as I’ve tried to pull them apart, transplant them, get them to root, etc. I’m just going to buy individual plants in March and try again.

It’s all got me thinking how my flower shop can even stay open during the winter, and maybe I should be trying out different plants. Ones that will make it through all of the seasons. Will I finally get my succulent garden I’ve been wanting? Will I find out that I’m only allowed to have Thyme and Rosemary from now on? I’ve been thinking I need to research plants that handle winter well in the UK, since that’ll be all the literature I’ll find in English on the topic. I’m actually afraid to buy orchids, since I know they might not last through a winter without proper heating.

commence research.