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By Pam Burke 

It's still legal to torture plants

 

March 14, 2014



With a high level of self-entertainment and very little sense of self-preservation, my husband told me that I should teach a course on how to effectively torture and kill plants.

Everybody’s a comedian. Too bad he isn’t good at it, I say.

To be fair, evidence of my, um, expertise in this matter abounds in our household.

And to be honest, he did just overhear me in my home office struggling, ineptly, to interview two greenhouse owners and letting slip a few stories of said torture techniques.

I just, it’s that, you know, really, there has to be a trick.

I ask people how they get their plants to grow so well, and they say, “I just water them regularly,” which is a lie. I’ve tried that a few times and things went sickly, and some of them died, anyway, and it was really upsetting to me because it was really, really hard to remember to give them water regularly.

I had to remember to do it every week, on the same day of the week and everything. And they don’t have sad little eyes to remind you that you are neglecting them, or little barks or nickers or meows to say, hey, it’s time.

Honestly, if I had a plant like Audrey Jr. from “Little Shop of Horrors” that would yell, “Feed me, Seymour! Feed me!” I wouldn’t have to be writing this column, would I, but I don’t, so I am.

And they don’t just need “water regularly,” because they don’t like my salty tap water, so I have to give them filtered water, but that lacks some of the nutrients, so I have to add fertilizer, but not just “add” it, I have to add the correct amount, and it’s not like I can remember that twice a year or whatever, so I have to read the fine print, and I’m like, dude, I don’t get paid to read this nonsense, just perk up and drink your water.

So I just go back to the old method of giving them water whenever I happen to be standing back in the deepest, darkest, most-cluttered corner of my house, that kind of place where plants normally thrive.

Besides, I prefer the term benign neglect over torture. It’s not like I wish the plants ill or harm. I actually love them, in my own way, but they suffer from a failure to thrive, which sounds bad, but actually has a positive side because if the plants aren’t growing well, they don’t need as much nutrition, and I don’t risk injuring them as I fumble around with re-potting.

It’s a win-not-totally-fail situation from my perspective.

And, I’ll have you know, that I have a house plant that has been in my care for 30 years. It’s a spider plant with variegated leaves — at any given time it has about a dozen of those leaves, and most of them aren’t brown.

It regularly sprouts out runners, producing cute, cuddly, little baby spider plants that I share with anyone who wants a truly hardy house plant.

My husband, the not-funny one of us in the household, says the plant is throwing its young overboard in hopes that they can escape to a better life.

(Those little plants go to another home and just become burdened with their own leaf growth. That can’t be healthy at pam@viewfromthenorth40.com.)

 

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