Dear Duana,

I'm a huge fan of your column but, having no kiddos or pets, wondered if I'd ever get to ask you a naming question. Well, Duana, the time has come: after 8+ years of marriage, my husband and I have bought our first two plants. The idea to write you for help with plant names started off as a joke but quickly turned into a legit plan.

Here we go - as you can see from the photo [N.B – The letter writer has asked us to protect the plants’ privacy at this sensitive time.] the plants are a bit spiky. Which, of course, led us to names inspired by '90s boy bands (with their spiky hair and frosted tips). However, I don't want a plant named Nick Carter in my house. So I started thinking about '90s girl groups instead. Destiny could be a cool plant name, perhaps? (I'm a proud member of the Beyhive.)

These are, of course, only plants, so we're very much open to your directions and suggestions. And there's no real rush, although we have no idea how long we'll be able to keep these green lovelies alive.

Thank you!


Hello, and a warm congratulations on this wonderful addition to your family! I understand that this is an exhausting and overwhelming time but I hope you are finding a few moments to just enjoy. Enjoy them, even when you’re up late worrying about whether their leaves feel a bit dry or whether your mother-in-law was right that plants sometimes need to be gently ‘dusted’ with a damp cloth. 

I think the key here, as in all names, is to remember that they are new and adorable to you now, but that they will someday be big independent grownups – but don’t worry, they’ll still need you! So you want a name or names that can grow with them. 

Therefore, I think you want names that will be enjoyable to say for their long, long lives, and that are both copacetic together and yet not two of a kind. Remember, they’re individuals! 

My first thought was that the boy band idea was amazing and you’d blown past it too quickly – but that maybe you want kind of a ‘round’ name to counteract the spikiness. As I thought of all the boy band names – Nick Carter and Lachey, initial names like AJ and JC, anachronistic names like Bob and Dave and Scott Moffatt (look up the Moffatts, guys), and the fact that you knew just looking at the members of Hanson that one would be named Taylor – I didn’t come across the kind of name I was looking for, and I’m someone who knew the difference between Take That, Take 5, and 5ive. 

Take 5 actually offers the improbable ‘Tilky’ as a person’s (and plant’s?) full name – but what I was really searching for was something like… Joel. “Ohhh, look at your plants!” “Yeah, I really wasn’t sure what to name them but then this guy really turned into a Joel for me.” You can see it, right? Joel needs taking care of, but he’s gonna give love back in return. Maybe? 

Then once I was off on the ‘boy bands and girl groups’ train, which you undoubtedly instigated but which I may be taking to an unorthodox place, I thought about the vastly underrated girl group Cleopatra. 

This group has ALL OF MY THINGS. They are sisters, and they have incredible names – Yonah, Zainam, and of course, Cleo, the titular Cleopatra. Their one real hit, "Comin’ Atcha", is a nostalgia jam that includes the instructions “get a pen and paper, write down our names”, and there’s the sibling inequality going on because the whole band is named after Cleo, the lead singer. Even Beyoncé didn’t do that! 

Can you think of anything better than introducing people to your two plants, Cleopatra and Joel? 

Look, I would stop here. But if not, some of the other 90s/00s boy band names twigged this for me: Matthew Morrison was in a boy band called LMNT that had a Jonas (which I’d love on a plant), everyone remembers Ashley Parker Angel from O-Town but I would submit that his bandmate Erik-Michael (both names, every time) has the spiky feeling you’re thinking about. You might want to go with Wayna, from Boyz II Men, or, at a stretch, go with BabyFace – I would die at a plant called BabyFace, wouldn’t you? 

I’m not assigning any gender identities to your plants who will obviously show you who they are, but if you’re looking for more female-identified names (and those sisters in Cleopatra aren’t enough for you – come on!) you might want to go with: Maiko, (from Sugar Jones, born out of Popstars Canada), Maxine (Jones, of En Vogue) which also has ‘spiky’ vibes for me. Rozanda is Chilli from TLC’s real name, or maybe you want to go with Keavy from B*Witched. (You didn’t know how deep I was going to go, did you?) 

I really want to know what you’re going to choose, or whether you’ll spread the choices out in front of the plants and see whether they lean towards one, like how we’re told they grow in the direction of people talking to them. I have a lot on my plate in my life right now but maybe it’s time to adopt a little Joel of my own. 

Let us know!