Throw out a plant? Never!
In our family, we do everything in our power to save them: repot, fertilize, move it to another window, take it outdoors or bring it in. We take a cutting and put it in water hoping it will grow roots. Then we can start a new plant all over again!
My brother has it bad. He collected a jungle of plants over the years, some of which grew up to be taller than most in my family. He fusses over his plants more than I fuss over my writing. Then he moved in with my folks. Between his plants and mom’s, something had to go. So he farmed his babies out to all his siblings for care-taking duty.
I was gifted with his schefflera (Umbrella plant), which grew so leggy, I gave it a haircut. Unfortunately the plant didn’t survive. My mom felt so sorry for my brother she bought him another one. I think she’s feeding his habit.
My brother also had a tall cactus which his dog, Sasha, chewed into bits. Mom rescued the pieces and now she has lots of “Sasha plants” growing in her house and on the deck.
The biggest one is three feet tall. I don’t like cactus so it was easy for me to resist.
Dad’s office has been home to the biggest, ugliest plant in the entire household. You couldn’t pay me to adopt that one. Its days are numbered though. It’s bad if Mom plans to get rid of it. She’s afraid it’ll reach over and grab the nearest person, while demanding “Feed me Seymour!”
Mom has so many plants in her gardens that it’s a major production if hail is predicted. And we get a lot of hail! Dad built a contraption with plastic sheeting so she can cover her plants when the skies darken. It’s like Mission Impossible trying to cover all her flowers.
Dad likes to cut things back. He pruned their corkscrew willow almost to the ground and put a bucket over it. He wanted to open up the view of Pikes Peak from their dining room window. But Mom noticed green shoots growing out from under the bucket. “Just a little fertilizer and water should do the trick,” she laughed. (Bwahahaha!) Now her corkscrew willow is ten feet tall and Dad is under strict orders not to touch it again!
Mom asked me recently, “Laurie, I’ve been rooting some plants. Would you like one?” She’s so sneaky! She can’t find places to put all her plants as the weather turns colder, and she can’t bear to throw out the babies. So she pawns them off on all her kids. Last year she gave me a small spider plant and it grew so fast, I split it into three parts. And here she is trying to give me more. She’s devilishly clever.
I’m careful about plants I bring into the house. I hate those pesky little gnats that lay eggs in the potting soil. That’s the only thing that’ll make me toss a plant. I’ve tried everything to kill them (the bugs, not the plants): soapy water, “green” insecticides and even rap music. Nothing seems to work.
Last year I had tons of daylillies and a beautiful clematis with purple flowers. But something ate all the blossoms. I suspect it was those adorable deer and rabbits. Or maybe the moles are to blame. They’re all evil. Evil, I say! So this year I told my husband, “I’ll fix those pesty varmints,” and planted lots of marigolds. There isn’t a critter around that will eat marigolds.
But now it’s like a scene from Sophie’s Choice. Decisions, decisions. Which plants will I bring indoors and which will die a horrid death during our wicked winter? My geraniums are beautiful right now, sportin’ a bevy of peach colored blossoms. I want to save them all but we don’t have the room.
It’ll be different at our new house. We’re almost done with the plans and hope to dig dirt in the Spring. (My husband calls it soil; remember he’s an engineer.) We’ve made sure there are wide window sills for all my plants. And I’ve already transplanted “hens and chicks” from our property into pots rather than lose them to the jaws of construction equipment. Once the house is complete, I’ll transplant them back to grow and prosper. They will live to see another day!
Of course, none of my plants survived our 2013 wildfire. I lost my big, beautiful jade plant. It was about three feet tall and two feet around. I had rooted part of it for a friend. And after we rebuilt, she gave it back. She couldn’t have given me a better gift!
Yes, I’m a lost cause when it comes to plants. It’s in my genes. Dad grew up on a truck farm and Mom was in the local Garden Club. My sister has a spider plant the size of an elephant in her powder room. My other sister has a beautiful patio covered in flowers, bright foliage and mini-lights. One of my brothers married a landscape designer and ran a landscaping business. My little brother has an eight foot ficus in his house.
He’s the same one who grew a marijuana plant and hid it on top of the chimney when we were kids. The neighbor came over one day and asked my folks, “Hey, what’s that green thing growing up there?”
Just to be clear, we all moved to Colorado for the skiing.