Houseplant Tales, Part I – The “Root” of an Obsession

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When I said there’d be silly posts, I meant there would be silly posts.

This is Panda, my parlor palm. He’s the first plant I bought when I moved into my own apartment (but not this blog’s first victim of my sucky camera skills). When I picked him from Fred Meyer’s houseplant jungle, he was small enough to hold in one hand. Now, as you can see, he’s firmly asserted himself in the household.

He’s proven to be my gateway into an addiction to all things photosynthetic. (Can you believe that’s a word? I can’t believe that’s a word.) Since him I’ve tried my hand at upwards of 15 different houseplants, some who unfortunately languished during my last couple of moves, but many who, like Panda, decided my horticultural prowess was halfway decent (unlike what I can do with a camera) and thus stuck around.

Don’t worry. You’ll get to meet every one of them in time.

Why this obsession with greenery? A bit of backstory: one fateful summer, when I was a wee sprout growing up in the Wyoming wastelands, I had a Vacation Bible School experience that would change my life.

(I regret to say, it wasn’t spiritual.)

For one of the day’s object lessons (heck if I remember what it was), each child was sent home with a tiny plant to nurture – perhaps as an allegory of God’s loving care for us? At any rate, we all received a spider plant. You know the one:

Thank you, Wikipedia.

Our teacher informed us that if we kept this leafy delight alive, it would produce babies from offshoot tendrils, which we could then replant endlessly to create the spider plant hedge of our dreams. (What? A child’s fantasy is allowed to go a little wild.)

Oh man. I was SUPER excited. I cradled that baby plant all the way home, convinced my mom to place it in a point of prominence on our kitchen sill facing the windows, and dreamed of the way the little tendrils would trail down the side of the wall. I made plans to water it faithfully and check on it every day to make sure it had all the sun and moisture it needed.

That sucker died in two days, its fronds curled brownly inward much like the way an actual spider leaves this mortal coil.

To this day I blame the Wyoming desert for my plant’s quick demise (though this is likely unfair, considering my mom had a schefflera and aloe plant that both did very well in our Green River home). When I moved to Idaho, I realized it might be the right time to try my green thumb again.

(Southern Idaho is still a desert, I grant you. But at least it’s an irrigated desert.)

Now I happily live the dream of being a plant mama, and despite my friends who say I need an intervention, this fixation has nothing whatsoever to do with guilt at killing my VBS project so many years ago.

(I’m so sorry, spider plant! Will these ten plants I now own atone for my sins? Please forgi-i-i-ive meeeeeee! *sob*)

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