Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Houseplants Are Taking Over My Life....

I love flowers. A walk through a lovely garden lifts my spirits in a way only matched by a spontaneous hug from one of my girls. A vase of flowers on my battered kitchen table--whether it's a $1.99 handful of daffodils from Trader Joe's stuck in a water pitcher or a $100 bouquet dripping with roses, iris and gerberas--never fails to bring a smile to my face. Trees are a favorite, too--I actually cried when our contractor had to dig up three backyard trees to install our pool (leading my dear friend give me a touching book entitled "Our Tree Named Steve" which actually made me cry even more). 

But perhaps even more than flowers and trees, I have a special connection to houseplants.

I know, I know. The eye rolling starts here--go ahead. It won't make me feel bad. There are times I roll my eyes at myself. 

My home is stuffed with houseplants. With the except of the bathrooms, there is at least one, and more likely two, plants in every room of the house--and it's a fairly large house. The patio, too, is smothered by them. Dieffenbachia, being difficult to kill, (I may love plants, but a more than a few have fallen victim to my over-watering, overfeeding, and, well, over-tending) prevail throughout, but in the kitchen you'll find African violets (I'm especially proud of that one--I got it for a Mother's Day gift 8 years ago and it's still happy and blooming) and an orchid given to me four years ago for my birthday. Going from room to room, you'll also encounter spider plants, Mother-In-Law Tongue (also known as "Snake Plant"--wonder if that was intentional--tee hee), Peace Lily, Philodendrons, Bromeliads, and a 5 foot tall something-or-other (I've never been able to figure it out) that I've had with me for 13 years--it initially started as a cut from a neighbor's plant in a cup of water (she didn't know what it was, either) and it now takes over an entire corner of my bedroom--and shows no signs of slowing! In five years time, I may have to cut a hole in my roof to accommodate it's ambitious growth.

Houseplants are, to me, a bit like pets. They are totally, completely dependent on me. If I don't water them, they die. If I don't feed them, they grow listless and tired. If I don't care for them, their spirit fades. If I miss a Friday morning watering session, I'm wracked with guilt and can't sleep until every plant is watered. Every plant--including the ones on the patio outside. Two weekend ago I was jolted out of a warm, drifting-off-to-sleep doze when I suddenly remembered I'd forgotten to water the plants. I tossed and turned, telling myself they would survive until morning, but at last I got out of bed (it was nearly 1:00am--the cat, cradled in the crook of my bended legs, meowed in protest) and watered every single plant. Feeling vaguely stupid and more than a little worried about this apparent tendency toward OCD, I went from room to room with my watering can. Visions of myself as an old and weird lady (excessive plants, excessive housecats, weird smells) flashed before my eyes. 

This morning, in a sudden burst of industriousness, I decided to clean the leaves of all my houseplants. A spritzer bottle, a soft long could it take to wipe away six months of accumulated dust from the leaves of my botanical babies? After half an hour of spritzing and wiping, I was distressed to realize I hadn't even made a dent in the number of plants to clean. So I decided to do something I've never done before, just to get a handle on the size of my leaf-wiping job. I decided to count my houseplants. And patio plants, natch. 

27 houseplants. 25 patio plants. 4 at my front door. 2 on the balcony. That's...58 potted plants...ooooohh, wow.

I may have officially crossed the line.

So what to do? Well, while the fact that I care for 58 potted plants every day gave me a bit of a turn (if I was the cat-lady, someone would turn me in to animal control), I have no plans to get rid of a single one. They make me happy. And in this world, if you find something that makes you happy, go with it. 

Now, that being said, if there ever comes a time when navigating my way through my house due to excessive greenery becomes a challenge, I officially give you permission to relieve me of a few of them. 

As long as you promise to find them a good home. 

Interested in houseplants? Here's a terrific website:

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