houseplants


I don’t know about you, but I can’t keep a houseplant alive to save my life. Happily, I have never had the need to, nor can I envision those scenarios. (Well, actually I can envision them. My imagination likes to come up with all sorts of improbable scenarios. Like one in which my very life is tied to the life of a spider plant. Or maybe a ficus. Like some sort of living, leafy voodoo doll. A bug climbs on a leaf, I feel my skin crawl. I get weird cravings for plant food. I forget to water it too long, and suddenly I don’t even have the strength to reach the watering can…I imagine I’d last 2 weeks, tops.)

Seriously, though, we have no houseplants. I have killed many houseplants over the years. I like plants. Don’t get me wrong. I just seem to be unable to consistently remember their existence for a long enough period of time to keep them alive. Pets I could handle, because they would typically make their needs known. Well, not itemizing their needs. But they would make it known that they had needs. By making noise, or looking at me with sad faces, or chewing on things, or getting smelly. Or piddling on the floor. Houseplants are just too quiet and too immobile. They just sit there in a pot. They might drop a leaf here and there, especially when they’ve gone a few weeks without water, but beyond that they don’t intrude. And then before you know it, you happen to glance over at the shriveled corpse of the thing.

Surprisingly, I’ve had some success in my life with gardening. Not that the plants are any noisier, but somehow the greater needs of a garden are easier for me to remember than the occasional needs of a potted plant. I wouldn’t call myself a gardener, by any stretch, but the handful of times I’ve gardened, I’ve kept the plants alive long enough to get some sort of rewards.

I also seem to have a remarkably green thumb when it comes to growing vegetables. Not vegetables that I’ve planted, but those vegetables that I have purchased with the intention of using them as food. But then they grow into plants. In the house.

That makes them houseplants, right?


We kept this sweet potato around for several months, and it was the healthiest looking plant this household has seen in years. It stayed on the kitchen windowsill for several weeks. (Eventually, though, we released it to the wild.)


This is our current project. This rutabaga sprouted while I was in California.

How about you? Have you the thumbs of green? Or are you a plant-killer like me?

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10 responses to “houseplants

  1. Oh i have those type of houseplants too! Ha ha. What you want to try is a peace lily. It’s a very attractive house plant thats good at cleaning air and is virtually impossible to kill. I should know. It’s the only type of house plant I’ve ever managed to keep alive.

  2. Cats have taken care of all the houseplants. So, we have none either.

  3. Plants take one look at me and they give up. My husband used to be very good with plants, but over the last few years he’s started to have trouble keeping plants alive, too. I blame my influence…and the kids.

  4. My mother was never able to keep a plant alive when I was a kid–I used to say she had a brown thumb. But now she seems to manage it quite easily, so I think that once your children grow up and move out, you may find it easier to nurture the plants.
    As for myself, when I was housesitting for my parents during their sabbatical, I’m pretty sure I didn’t kill any of the plants. However, I don’t have any houseplants myself at the moment except a pot of succulents I bought recently, which is on the balcony. I expect them to survive without much help from me, since they do not require much water and anyway this is the rainy season already.
    The garden is another question. Too overwhelming. Well, I guess I’m taking reasonably good care of the weeds…?
    I love your sprouting veggie photos! I did once plant (in a pot on my patio at the time) some purple potatoes that sprouted after I failed to cook them. I was delighted to find, some weeks later, some tiny new purple potatoes that I then cooked and ate. Have you actually planted your sprouting root veggies and/or harvested anything from the plants?

  5. Well strangely enough I killed all house plants until I ignored them and from that moment on they all flourished.

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  8. I am married to a Master Gardener. I have houseplants I inherited from my mother 20 years ago. One of them is 40 years old (a miniature orange tree in a pot). My husband is the reason they’re still with us and our house looks like a cottage–all stone walls in the garden with the flowers.

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