22 August 2012

Flora Death and Destruction, by the Author

I am beginning to accept the notion that I am not competent when it comes to growing houseplants.  I am in fact the Grim Reaper when it comes to green things that thrive indoors.  Well, actually I'm not that good at growing some outdoor plants, either.  Here's what my last attempt at growing tomatoes looked like:
It's like what tomatoes would look like in Mad Max.  Tomatoes of the Apocalypse.
I have ended all attempts at growing vegetables.  Jay has pretty much made me vow that I will not spend the money on any more plants in the spring, only to have them look like the above by late July.

Back to the houseplants.  My intentions are always good.  But something on either end of the plant care spectrum happens when I bring a new plant home.  I either over-love it and water it too much or I totally abandon it and forget to water it after a week, leaving it to die a Saharan death.  You know how before people get a pet they are supposed to get a plant, and if the plant lives then they know they can take care of a pet?  It's pretty much the opposite for me.  Well, not even the opposite.  I have pets and they are living happy, healthy lives.  So you'd think a plant would be able to live with me taking care of it.  Yeah, no.

Last year my sister, Laura, gave me two jade plants.   I had admired the behemoths she had growing in her living room and she was kind enough to root, pot. and bring me two of their offspring.  Laura, by the way, has the gift of a very green thumb.  I don't think plants have the nerve to die in her house.  That's how good she is.  "There is no way you can kill these things," she told me with the utmost confidence.  Oh, really?  Within six months all that was left of one of them were two sad, leafless stems standing forlornly in the dirt, like two abandoned fence posts in a ghost town.  This is what is left of the second plant: 

There used to be a LOT more leaves.
I sadly know where the story will end up for this poor thing.  Have I watered too much?  Not enough?  All I know is that the fat, succulent leaves turn to a mushy brown, dry out, and fall off in my care.  Impending death is certain.  I'm sorry, Laura.  I feel like I've done you an injustice.  Do not give me any more of your beautiful plants.  I'm not worthy!  On a happier note, the plant to the left in the picture is a bamboo plant that is something like four or five-years-old.  That thing dries out to near death and I water it and it perks right back up.  It is the one plant that I cannot kill.  Kind of like a cockroach.  And it was given to me by the parent of an obnoxious student of mine when I was working as a preschool teacher.  It's a constant reminder of all the bratty things he pulled (sorry if this is offensive to any parents of preschoolers--even teachers have their limits).  Go figure.

Last winter I was also inspired to plant some African violets because Martha Stewart said that they perk a room up in the middle of those bleak months.  She made it all sound so easy.  They sat out in full bloom on my coffee table through last February and March.  I thought I had nailed it.  And then they took on that death look.  They were retired to a corner where they wouldn't depress everyone.  Perk up a room, my non-green ass, Martha!  This is what they look like right now:

How did my grandmother make growing these things look so easy?
There is some green coming out of the middle of a couple of the plants.  Maybe there is hope for them yet.  I'm not holding my breath.

And that brings me to today, when I found myself at the grocery store eyeing a rosemary plant.  Look out, this was the last one among all of the other potted herbs.  I resignedly put it in my basket, trying to be positive and upturning my thoughts to, "YES!  I can and will grow this plant to a huge rosemary bush...maybe even a...a...TOPIARY!"  This is what it looks like now:

Perhaps my positive attitude at the store was a little overkill.  Let's see if my latest conquest can make it to the end of August.


  1. My MIL the Master Gardener would tell you to take the coffee grounds you put down the disposal into your plants (both indoor and outdoor). That may solve two things for you...

    1. Jay gave me the same exact advice directly after reading this! Great minds think alike! Thanks!