Avert your eyes, plant lovers.
This is what passes for a thriving plant in my house:
This poor succulent meets my standards for ‘thriving’ simply because I have not killed it – yet. I received it as a gift last year for my birthday, so it has survived almost a solid year in my care, but I think it’s just about had enough. Look at it, desperately trying to climb out of the window to find a better home.
In spite of what it looks like, this picture of botanical suffering is the result of my best plant-tending efforts. Honestly. See the brown, dry spots on this plant? That damage happened when I was trying to be a good plant owner – the family was going out of town for a week, and I thought it would be super to have the plant outside, breathing fresh air and getting good light while the house was all shut up and dark. (My mother has now informed me that this is the equivalent of kicking an indoor-only pet out into the wild for a week to enjoy the beauties of nature.) The plant has never been the same since I came home to find it all sunburned and parched on the back porch steps where I left it. Oooops.
And that weak, discolored patch of parsley in the background? Those pitiful sprigs count as a real success story in my book – I grew those from seed packets I picked up in the dollar bins at Target. I planted them in tiny little pots, I watered them and put them in just the right spot in the sun, and I was thrilled when they sprouted and grew towards the light. Eventually, I moved them from the tiny pots to a larger container (only killing half of the seedlings in the process), and they continued to grow. But I have obviously reached the limit of my talents with this herb, as the parsley is just withering in spite of me giving it sunlight and the odd half-cup of water I find abandoned in the living room.
Plants stay low on the totem pole in our household, even though I wish I had the skills to nurture them. I have to say, kids are easier to care for – when they feel hot or thirsty, they won’t hesitate to let their needs be known. But poor, silent houseplants just sit there and allow me to starve or roast them to death without so much as a peep. If only my plants could talk, they would move up in the hierarchy of needs a bit – or maybe I would just hear them screaming.