I have started growing plants, as I have noticed that many adults engage in this activity, and it seems to be about time I adopted a few adult behaviors. I also read somewhere that a woman ought to be able to keep a houseplant alive for a year before she turns thirty. It was in one of those books that made a long list of demands one must do before turning thirty, a list so daunting that I couldn’t help but melt into inadequacy before reaching page two. I don’t usually believe in those kind of books, but the plant suggestion seemed like a good one. It does seem like I should be able to keep more than just a cactus alive. During this plant growing process, I have learned a great many things:
- It is possible for a plant to get too much sunlight. When this happens, they shrivel up and die a slow death, first turning brown, and then losing leaves and stems. I know this because I have witnessed it several times. My slow intervention is not because I’m a sadist; I just couldn’t imagine why a plant with plenty of sunlight and water would engage in such self destructive behavior. It still baffles me. It was such a nice window with plenty of sunlight. Some living entities are just never happy.
- If indoor plants complain about the sun, outdoor plants are picky about the cold. I, too, do not like the cold, wintry weather, but I don’t typically go and die over it, but my plants do. Even if it is merely one cold night, instead of enduring it and waiting for sunnier days, they will choose to die. It is very perplexing.
- It is possible for someone to give me a perfectly healthy plant, claim she has been caring for it for months with success, for me to care for it in the same way, and for the plant to die in a matter of weeks. I can only conclude foul play. Or, again, it may be another suicidal attempt on the part of the plant. They seem prone to this.
- In contrast to the picky variety of plants just described, mutant plants exist that cannot be killed. When we bought our house, the yard had been neglected for a number of years. Nothing had been watered, yet there existed tenacious, thriving plants. One was a flowering vine that grew around the stem of the broom leaning, entwined itself in the trees, and wove in and out of two hoses. (I speculate the second hose was purchased because the first was lost in the savage vine.) This vine, a good four inches thick and stretching across the yard, resembling a nefarious carpet, clung to life despite repeated hacking with a pick axe. I would have repotted it as an indoor plant if its tenacity hadn’t terrified me.
- One of the best things I have learned about growing plants is that, when I leave on vacation and take them to stay with my mother-in-law, they come back healthy and happy. Her house is a wonderful plant hospital. Sometimes they come back in new pots. Apparently, plants are not happy with merely being given ample sunlight and water; they need to be repotted too. Other times, a brand new plant appears in my original pot. This causes my mother-in-law to apologize for not being able to revive the plant, as I so thoroughly annihilated it. Thus, when I take my plants to her, I am instantly an adult, as my plants are thriving and happy.
- When you own a plant, people are constantly giving you more plants. I love this, as I have typically recently killed one, and there is a free space for a new one. Sometimes I cannot keep up with the constant influx, however. I worry I am becoming a boarding house for plants, and each one wants a different amount of sunlight and water but doesn’t want to freeze in the cold—and the list of their needs and desires just goes on and on.