Just one week until my talk/book signing in Vancouver at @thegardenstrathcona - get the details in my profile link! - Plant: Oxalis triangularis (18 hours of action) ~ ~ #houseplantjournal #houseplants #plants #urbanjunglebloggers #houseplantclub #plantdad #plantobsession #plantparenthood #greenthumb #foliage #leaflove #oxalistriangularis #oxalis #planttimelapse #timelapse #livingwithplants #plantaddict #botany #scienceiscool
When it comes to plants, there’s something magical about the time lapse format. Movement is both natural and unnatural. It can’t be real, but at the same time, of course it is. This is particularly true when it comes to a plant like the oxalis triangularis, a delicate, plum-colored plant that’s colloquially called the false shamrock. In Cheng’s video, the plant’s clover-like leaves flutter like butterflies toward the sun, moving as daylight does. At sunset, the wings fold into arrow
heads to rest for the night. The video spans 18 hours but only takes a few seconds to play. I like to watch this video on loop, replaying the false shamrock’s days, weeks, and years. New wings will sprout from the ground and continue to open and close.
He’s project, Grow Slow, sometimes indulges in the rare time lapse video of its own. On May 21, for the account’s third anniversary, He posted a video which illustrated the dramatic change obscured by the format of her slow internet project. It was a compilation of three years’ worth of growth and movement, totaling more than 1,000 photos since its start. And it all happens in just over one minute.
Three years ago exactly, I started a slow internet project - mundane every day, but interesting over the course of time. @grow_slow has now tweeted a pic of itself over 1000 times. 🥳— Nicole He (@nicolehe) May 21, 2019
🌱 Here’s a birthday time lapse of every photo of @grow_slow so far: pic.twitter.com/5jabBfToOq
I like these videos because they force me to think about my own plants in different ways. I know they grow and move and change, but it happens so slowly that I can barely notice it. It’s like when my two-year-old basset hound mix, Major, was growing into his full size. I saw him every day, from 14 lbs to 50. Each fraction of a pound he gained from day to day was hardly worth recognizing on its own, but those numbers added up over months worth of time. Once he was small, but now he’s big.
Last week, I precariously balanced my webcam on the shelf where all my plants live. Using a program I discovered online, I instructed the camera to take a photo every 20 seconds for two hours — the longest interval with the free version of the program. I left the computer alone and climbed into bed for a nap, because I couldn’t imagine another way to keep myself from peeking at the progress or poking and prodding at my plants and camera. I returned to my computer two hours later, groggy from sleep, to find a soundless video that had compiled each of those images into two five-second clips. And my plants moved, just like Cheng’s. The green leaves of my calathea turned up into prayer to show off their purple bellies.
look, my plants move!!!!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/0nSLfWprHU— Nicole Carpenter (@sweetpotatoes) July 26, 2019
It shouldn’t have been surprising to me that my plants, too, moved. I know this is a thing, and it has a name: nyctinasty, or the “circadian rhythmic nastic movement” of certain plants. (Two hours is much too short a time to see any meaningful growth in these plants, but I am able to see the plant’s nastic movement.) I’ve watched my videos, back to back, on repeat, as if I’m checking to make sure they’re real. It’s so satisfying to see the ways my own plants grow; I live with them every day, water them as needed, and sometimes struggle to understand what they want. But when I watch the clips, all 10 seconds of them, it feels wonderful, like I’m peeking in on something I shouldn’t be able to see.