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Houseplants Beware » Jolana Malkston
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May 132015

Spring has arrived at last in Michigan. The grass is greening. The trees are leafing. Tulips and daffodils are blooming. Temperatures are staying above freezing.

It’s time for planting, and that means a trip to the greenhouse for Macho Guy and me to stock up on annual plants, both flowers and vegetables. I can already taste those garden fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers.

Outdoor plants thrive in our garden, no doubt in spite of me and because they aren’t trapped with me indoors. Mother Nature waters them and MG weeds the garden when it’s my turn to do it but I don’t because I’m writing and have lost all sense of time.

Houseplants are another story. Houseplants do not thrive in my care. Whenever I walk through a greenhouse in the spring, the fear emanating from the rows of houseplants is palpable. If they could speak, they would no doubt say, “I want to live. Please don’t let her take me home.”

05-13-15 dying-house-plants

For a houseplant, being taken home by me is a death sentence. I’ve killed ferns, lilies, and banzai trees, and I am the only person of my acquaintance who managed to kill a spider plant and a cactus. Even artificial plants aren’t safe in my care. While cleaning house several years ago, I vacuumed a plastic palm tree to death.

I mentioned my “black thumb” and the demise of the plastic palm tree in an online post at the time. One woman in the writers’ discussion group had a sinister take on my relationship with houseplants, hinting that I might be a serial plant killer. Her question: “Did you accidentally kill that artificial plant, found that you liked it, escalated to killing live plants, and now you can’t stop yourself?”

My infamy was widespread in my old neighborhood. A few neighbors, MG, and I were at a charity auction that raised money for scholarships. I bid on two live decorative houseplants to replace the ones that had recently gone to the Great Garden in the Sky. My neighbors banded together to outbid me and kept me from winning. I asked why. Their answer: because you’ll kill them.


On Mother’s Day this year, Little Brother and his family gave me two beautiful hanging baskets of flowers to hang on either side of the front door. Firstborn and his family sent me a charming basket containing four small colorful houseplants and a Mom’s Garden sign. MG’s comment: “I wonder if they’re betting on how long it will take you to kill all of them.”

05-13-15 Blog Post

Et tu, Macho Guy?

  8 Responses to “Houseplants Beware”

  1. LOL, Jolana. I managed to kill off all my houseplants before we moved. I wonder if that was intentional. 🙂

    BTW, I hate math problems. I know it’s to prevent robo-scammers but sheesh. I’m supposed to “think” after jet lag?

    • Diane, if my Mother’s Day houseplants do not survive, perhaps we could have a joint memorial service for your deceased houseplants and mine.

      About the security “math problems,” it could be worse. They could be Common Core math problems. {{{The Horror!}}}

  2. We could have used you during the war with the triffids!!!

  3. Something else we have in common. I, too, have a black thumb. Have personally killed too many poor plants to count. Even those, as gag gifts from family ‘guaranteed to thrive’ no matter what. Uh-huh! NOT.

  4. I have a black thumb too. Hubby is the gardener and so great at it. For Mother’s Day, my son bought me flowers and I put them in a vase but they looked horrible until hubby came home and fixed it. I give up and just accept that my job doesn’t include plants. 🙂

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