Thursday, May 14, 2009

Confessions of a Serial Plant Killer - by Michele Ashman Bell

I have a confession . . . I kill plants. I don't know if it's a curse or a defect, but I am horrible at growing things. I cringe when I receive a potted plant on Mother's Day or when I speak at a ward or community group and they give me a "thank you plant" because I know its fate. The minute the plant is placed in my hand . . . certain death! It doesn't matter how much I want to keep it alive, or how hard I try and be careful, I am as nurturing as a dementor when it comes to plant life. Do you know how easy it is to take care of bamboo? It literally requires no skill whatsoever and a minimal amount of water occasionally. Yea, I killed some. Cacti? It doesn't even require water. All dead. If it's supposed to be green, don't give it to me, it will magically turn to brown. Thank goodness my husband plants the garden. He worries every time he goes out of town for several days that he'll come back to a dead garden. We've never lost the whole thing, but many plants have met their demise this way.
I used to care that I was this way. I would fret and fuss and worry about keeping the hanging baskets of Impatiens and Petunias alive in my backyard. I'd poke little vitamin sticks into their soil and remember to water them. They still died. My poor husband calculates in his head how much money is wasted on buying flower baskets as he's toting them to the garbage.
There have been times that I've skipped the fretting and fussing stage and literally walked the plant straight to the garbage right after someone gave it to me. We know the end result, right? What's the use?
Also, you should know, I'm an equal-opportunity plant killer. From the tiniest sprout, to the largest stalk, I can kill it. Whether indoors or outdoors, it's as good as toast, if it is in my care.
I'm sure that everyone who has a green thumb, could tell me everything I'm doing wrong, but honestly people, I seriously have tried my darndest to grow stuff, and it just won't work.
Thank goodness for silk plants. In fact, one year, I had all of these beautiful geraniums in my window boxes in front of my old house. (This whole notion was a throwback to my mission in Germany and the beautiful windows boxes spilling over with color on every house and lamp post.) You guessed it, they all died. But clever me, I went to the store and bought flowers that looked just like the ones I'd planted and one evening when it was dark, I quickly replaced the almost dead blooms with the fake new ones. Ha! I've never received so many compliments on my flowers. You see, the trick isn't keeping real plants alive, it's being able to buy fake ones that look real. However, this does not work with vegetable plants. Plastic tomatoes do not taste the same as the real ones.
Just in case you were wondering, my children, so far, are all still alive. I guess this is really what's most important, right?
Next time . . . Confessions of a Non-Scrapbooker! Followed by Confession of a Non-Homemade-Bread-Baker.


Kelsi Rose said...

I understand your torment. I too am a plant killer. For some reason, I can keep cut flowers looking beautiful for longer than I can keep a growing plant alive. I have to agree with you on scrap booking too. I actually think that it was invented by men to torment women...I am not a brad maker either. I try, but my bread never turns out as good as everyone else's. I have found that putting brad into a vehicle in the summer though can get a really good rise out of the yeast.

Anna Buttimore said...

Michelle, me too on the plant killing! I even killed a spider plant. This is our first year trying to grow vegetables (recession and all that) and I' convinced we'll get nothing if I go anywhere near the vegetable patch.

Scrapbooking I hope to get into some day. It looks so good when other people do it.

Jennie said...

Michele, your blog made me laugh. I have the opposite problem. People keep giving me houseplants and they hang around forever. Good grief, I even had a poinsetia that lasted for six years. I still have the plant my husband gave me after our first big fight over forty years ago. I have a snake grass plant that was a little bitty thing in a planter someone gave us when my father-in-law passed away thirty years ago. It's now six feet tall. I like houseplants, but I have enough. Now garden plants--I can usually find a spot for one of those even if my flowerbeds are getting kind of full.

Michele Ashman Bell said...

Jennie, you have a gift. I didn't know poinsettias were able to live that long! You are to plants, what Val is to cats.
I appreciate Anna and Kelsi's comments. I don't feel so alone now!

Cheri J. Crane said...

Could we add non-quilter to this list? ;) It helps that my m-i-l is the Queen of quilting. She hasn't asked me to help her, however, since I bled all over one of her quilts. I'm pretty good at skewering myself with those lovely quilting needles. =D

Great post, Michele.

Gale Sears said...

Loved this blog!!! Perhaps because I could relate to it so well. Actually, I'm a mix of you and Jennie. Some plants like me and hang out forever, others run screaming for the dust bin.
You are a funny woman.
Perhaps this plant killer could show up in one of your books. The book could be called "The Marigold Murders"