My "Green" Thumb  

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Warning: If you're not into plants or gardening, this story may put you to sleep.

I've killed innumerable plants in my lifetime. I don't try to, but I'm not very good at caring for them. Does that make me an herbicidal maniac? Bad joking aside, I'm what most would consider a black thumb.

I tried tending to the plant beds around my house when we still lived there. Whatever I planted would die within a year or two. Most plants disappeared within days (seriously, I wondered if I'd imagined planting them). We have a lot of rabbits so maybe they ate them? I've never known.

A few I kept indoors, but I still had little success. I'd forget to water them or I'd leave them in the wrong conditions - too much sunlight or too little. But I had two faithful plants that lasted year after year.

The first was given to me by my mother-in-law. I even replanted it once to much success. I've come close to killing it a few times, but it always springs back. The tag on the plastic pot said China plant, but I have no idea what a China plant is.

My mother-in-law is great with plants. She bought one for herself, but it died. So I suppose it's a point of pride for me that it's still alive. It's probably one of those types of plants that doesn't like to be fussed over and that's why it's still with me.

The second is a plant I bought at a gift shop for my cubicle at work. It was very small at the time, but it's grown larger and more "spiky" since. When the leaves started turning brown just a few weeks after I bought it, my sister, who is the green thumb of our family, recommended that I water it less. It has moss along the top of the soil and I touch it once a week or so now to see if it needs watering and it seems to have prospered. I transplanted it once too and it's done well.

A few years ago a guy I worked with gave me a small potted plant for my desk when I moved into my cubicle. It was a nice gesture, especially after our department moved into that row and forced him out. The poor guy had been there for years and had to spend days packing. I felt it was a betrayal after such a nice welcome.

Anyway, the plant sat in a pot no larger than a teacup for years. It did OK, but it looked a little sickly. A few months ago I decided to replant it into a larger pot. As I pulled it out of the pot I saw how terribly crowded it was. There was more root than dirt. I split the plant into 4 and put 3 in a new larger pot and one back into the original.

I brought the larger into work to decorate my new cube. It grew beautifully. Within a couple of weeks it was hard to tell it was the same plant as the sickly looking thing I first re-potted. People at work told me how I had such a great, green thumb. Little did they know...

The plant grew so well that a few weeks ago I decided it needed to be split out again. So tonight I finally got around to it. In the meantime I brought my tiny teacup-sized pot into work and it sprouted two flowers within days. That's the first time I've ever seen flowers.

I suppose the conditions at work are much better for plants. They get 24 hours of florescent light, constant temperatures, watering at least once a week, and no cats nibbling on them.

plants just after re-potting

Anyway, here are my plants re-potted. The tall, spiky plant is my plant from the gift shop, transplanted a second time. The three sickly-looking plants are the plant I sub-divided (after sitting outside for the past week or two while I procrastinated). They were last in the pot with the red flowers painted on it and the spiky plant was in the rounded pot with the handles.

my "china plant"

My china plant is still doing fairly well, but from the shape you can tell it's been through a lot. It rained a lot yesterday, but I don't think it gets much water in the corner of the deck. It looks a bit wilted. I watered it. I'm confident it'll survive.

I can only imagine how good it would look if I took it into work.

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2 comments: to “ My "Green" Thumb

  • John - Evolutionary Middleman
    Friday, September 21, 2007 at 3:48:00 PM CDT  

    Doesn't bore me!

    "It's probably one of those types of plants that doesn't like to be fussed over and that's why it's still with me."


    I like gardening (a relatively new thing for me) but I'm really not much better at it than you describe yourself as being. I'm better with my veggies than with my plants. I think it all comes down to how much time you are willing to spend, coupled with a knowledge of the needs of the plants.

    While I LIKE to do it, I don't like it so much that I've spent the time getting to know the individual needs of the plants. You really need to know which ones thrive with a little water, or a lot; which ones need some vitamins and what type; which ones need a dark space; etc.

    I'm guessing if you know these things about each plant and are willing to do what they require, you suddenly have a green thumb.

  • mamacita chilena
    Friday, September 21, 2007 at 4:10:00 PM CDT  

    I feel your pain. My mother in law gives me plants too...and I promptly kill them all off. What do you call that...the black thumb of death? I'm so far from having a green thumb it's not even funny!


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