The five telltale signs of a ‘hortaholic’

It may be an addiction, but it’s the good kind that enriches your life.

We all have passions and hobbies, when time and money permits. Sometimes, when these interests disrupt the balance in our lives, we call them addictions. Not all addictions are necessarily bad or destructive, but it never hurts to have them pointed out to us, in the interest of self-awareness. Therefore, I am going to take this space to make you aware of the telltale signs of an addiction near and dear to my heart, that I unabashedly enable anyone and everyone to support.

Here are five signs that you might be a “hortaholic.”

1. You are a compulsive plant purchaser. If you have a stash of more than a dozen plants waiting to find a home in your garden, and/or a dozen houseplants waiting for a permanent spot somewhere in your house, then you are probably a hortaholic. I like to tell my customers that there is always room for one more plant, so I suppose that isn’t helping the situation. But doggone it, the concept that you need to know ahead of time exactly where you are going to put your next plant purchase is nonsense. The thrill is always in the purchase, and over time you will undoubtably find a spot for your new little friend. Here’s to a codependent relationship with your local garden center!

2. You follow countless gardening profiles on social media and/or possess multiple subscriptions to gardening magazines. My kids and grandkids are always showing me interesting plants they find on their numerous social media platforms, and at last count, my wife and I subscribe to eight monthly gardening magazines. While our sources are different, we all seek out the new and exciting things to add to our gardens and indoor spaces. Chalk it up to FOMO if you want, but being well-informed keeps me on the cutting edge of what’s happening in the world of plants and gardening. I simply can’t bear to be the last one to find out about the latest and greatest gizmo or plant on the market. If you relate, you are probably a hortaholic.

3. You plan your vacations around botanical gardens. I can’t begin to tell you how many trips we have taken that had a garden-focused theme. It is always at the top of our list of places to see when we go to somewhere new and different. Even when we are aren’t necessarily planning a garden tour, we always somehow manage to find a few gems to fit into the itinerary. Sometimes even an old park in a small town gives us a chance to view a heritage tree or magnificent specimen that we would never encounter in a recently developed subdivision. While a person can only absorb so many cathedrals and castles before they all start looking alike, plants will always be unique. If you agree, then you are most likely a hortaholic.

4. You have a license plate frame that says “I brake for nurseries,” “I’d rather be gardening,” etc. What can I say — at least you aren’t hiding your obsession. Self-denial is never healthy, no matter what the addiction. And you never know, advertising like this can attract kindred spirits who are usually more than ready to enable you. Three cheers for our fellow plant lovers and gardeners!

5. Finally, the ultimate sign that you are an incurable hortaholic. You have one of those silhouette stickers on your car’s rear window that not only shows the size of your family including all the kids, the dog and cat, but also some of your plants. Hey, plants can be family members, too, so why not tell the world.

Any combination of these signs could put you at risk of being a hortaholic, but I wouldn’t worry about it too much. I am pretty sure it is a healthy addiction — I wouldn’t be in this business if I felt otherwise. Keep on gardening, and stay safe!

Steve Smith is the owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville, and can be reached at

Learn more

Sunnyside Nursery, 3915 Sunnyside Blvd., Masrysville, offers two free classes: “Winter Pruning for Happy Trees” at 10 a.m. Nov. 7, and “Hellebores: Winter Jewels,” at 11 a.m. Nov. 8. For more information, call 425-334-2002.

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