As anyone who has ever invested in house plants will know, it’s kind of like taking responsibility for a child, in that if they don’t get adequate care, well, we won’t go down that road … Looking for house plants is a big commitment and can take up a fair bit of time – and that’s just taking care of two or three leafy green kids.
This self-confessed ‘jungle boy’ is at the opposite end of the spectrum, spending hours watering his 1,400 house plants every day.
Joe Bagley, 20, converted his one-bedroom coach house into an indoor jungle of tropical plants, trees, cactus, succulents and vineyards – and some of them even stay in the bathroom!
‘I love it when I wake up and walk around every morning, it’s lovely,’ Joe said. ‘There’s no single room without plants in it, and every room is chockablock.’ Not only will the 477 terracotta pots housing his leafy family cover all Joe’s spare floor space, but you’ll find a plant on every bookshelf, staircase, dining table, bedside cabinet and practically almost every area not already occupied.
There’s plants on the stairs, dinner table, my bedside cabinet. I’m always thinking of new places to put more.
The 20-year-old, who works in a garden centre, has spent his hard-earned pennies on his plants amounting to about £3,500 and devotes many hours per day to keep them fed and watered.
Yet Joe has a bond with his plants like no other, as he’s even confessed to waking up in the middle of the night with a ‘sixth sense’ that his plants need some TLC.
I have a sixth sense for knowing when something needs watering. I can just be walking past a plant and I know.
I have even been known to wake up at 1 am and think ‘hang on, one of my orchids needs watering’.
Despite his ever-growing greenery, Joe has no plans to avoid adding to his collection and acknowledges that it has become an ‘addiction.’
Joe’s grandma, who lives just across the lane, has always told him he’s got too many plants, so he often brings them home in the night to ‘smuggle’ so she doesn’t see the new additions.
‘We had plants blocking the door at one point and only I knew how to get through without knocking them over,’ Joe explained. ‘I’ve had to clear the doorways now and create a bit of a path so people can get around.’ Joe spends several hours tending to his plants every day, and he regularly takes them out to hose them down and get rid of any dust. Then he cleanses big spring every two weeks and prunes everything.
And it seems as if all his TLC is working, as Joe also has a plant that has grown as large as four meters in length, he explained: ‘It has begun to get into the shower with vines growing between my Head and Shoulders and shower gel.’
Green-fingered Joe added:
I have read so many articles and studies that say humans need to be around plants. When I’m somewhere without any plants I feel a bit weird. I don’t feel like a jungle boy anymore.
Joe’s love affair with plants started when he was just 13 years old when his grandma gave him a cut of her spider vine.
When the flowering plant in South Africa rose and blossomed so did Joe’s obsession with all things related to horticulture.
Joe moved out of the family home in 2018 and had 100 plants already. But, as soon as he had his own room to fill in, his collection expanded to the 1,400 he now has.
Over the years, Joe has developed an ability to take on dying plants he finds in sales and restore them back to complete health.
I love the process of looking after them and watching them grow. I love having something that relies on me to look after it.
These plants would be dead if I wasn’t there to look after them.
People have started to see me like a plant hospital. If a plant has died, people bring it to me and I revive it and give it back a few months later.
The plants need that winter dormancy period. It’s also the best way to get them to live for years. Plants can last for at least 20 years.
I have a Christmas cactus from my step-uncle that his mum got in the seventies. That plant has been around since the days of Abba, It’s quite crazy.
It’s just something a bit different. I am a bit addicted to buying plants but when they’re only £3 that’s only a Tesco meal deal.
If I starve myself for a day that’s it. That easily seals the deal for me.