Friday, February 27, 2009

Me and My Black Thumb

Do any of you recall that movie from 2000 called "28 Days"? This is not to be confused with "28 Days Later", that scary post-apocalyptic zombie movie. You remember, 28 Days was the one with Sandra Bullock as a woman who goes into rehab after trashing her sister's wedding.

Toward the end of the movie, someone in her support group asks their counselor when they can star dating again after rehab. The counselor tells them to go out and buy a plant. If they can keep the plant alive for 6 months (or some other random amount of time), then they can go out and get a dog. When they have had the dog for a year, then they can think about getting involved in a relationship again.

If I had that restriction on my life I would be in some big-time trouble. I can't keep plants alive for love or money. Let me give you some history...

My bio-mom's house was always a veritable jungle. African violets, split-leaf palm, devil's ivy that spread all around the kitchen, bamboo, cacti, asparagus ferns, spider plants... you name it, she could grow it. Don't even get me started on her garden.

When I was in college, heaven knows I tried to live up to her example. I had a jade plant, an amaryllis, an english ivy, and an angel-wing leaf begonia. Oh yeah, and there were those mini-roses too. Not one of them lasted a full semester.

After college, I figured I would try again. I had more time, I would remember to water them. I would use the fertilizer. I would nurture them, talk to them. I would make them grow. More mini-roses, cuttings from my mom's devil's ivy, spider plants, even tulips... all wilted and faded under my care.

A few years later I gave up on houseplants... I had decided they just weren't my thing. Instead I would start an herb garden. Lavender, chives, basil, parsley, rosemary... you name it, I planted it. The only one to survive was the lavender, because it was within reach of the automatic sprinkler system. The year after the herb garden I tried real vegetables... tomatoes, pumpkins, zucchini. They all did incredibly well, until they were to be transferred outside. Again, dried up stalks, withered leaves, nothing to show for it except a new round of jokes from my family.

When my beloved and I were married, our church threw us a wedding shower. It was very nice. Lots of nice gifts, a collection of great recipes, and 14 houseplants. *sigh*

Three didn't even make it home. They tipped over in the car and never recovered. Soon I was cleaning up fallen leaves, watering and cursing the mess of leaking pots and dumped fertilizer. I used that stuff they claim is miraculous. The only miracle was that I didn't tear my hair out from dealing with the shame and guilt of letting all these beautiful plants die. The last one made it a whole year and a half, until just after we moved into our new home.

If I can't keep a simple spider plant alive, what kind of mother will I be? (I'm 99.9% kidding)

Anyway, the reason I post this is because I'm trying again. I bought a few little herb plants, and while the basil has died, and the oregano is not doing so hot, my parsley seems to be thriving! It's amazing. Every day that it's not showing signs of wilting I do a little happy dance in my living room. Maybe there is hope for my black thumb after all.

Silly I know, but hey... I bet I made you grin. ;)


  1. Last spring/summer is when I was able to keep our rose bushes alive. I have a plant that my mother gave me and it's in the middle of my kitchen and THAT'S the only reason it isn't dead. I see it every day and remember to water it. Usually it's with my left over water in my glass, but I did it! Keep trying, it'll click for you soon. Take pictures of your successes and post them. You should be VERY proud!

  2. I have no absolutely no luck with indoor plants. My outdoor plants do all right, as along as they're not fickle things.

    I'm sure you'll do better at kids: Keeping plants alive is scarier to me than babies :-)



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