Sometimes, I Suck at Plants

A few days ago, I waxed phytophilic and gloated a little (ok, perhaps a bit more than a little) about my wee (ok, perhaps a bit larger than wee) urban jungle and coaxing new life out of little leafy pals with seemingly grim futures.

Truth is, I don’t always succeed and, when I fail, I fail miserably. Case in point when it comes to this poor, crispy lavender:

Let us have a moment of silence for the poor, crispy lavender.

Now, I ADORE lavender, but it is one type of plant I simply cannot keep alive. One season, I managed to grow two enviable plants, one English lavender and one French and, knowing my propensity for killing lavender and being fond of the laughably crass nationalism inspired by the 100 years war, I potted them in the same pot to overwinter to see which would survive. Lo and behold, the French outlived its rival (show us yer bows now, suckas), but straight-up croaked about two weeks before it was due to be put back in the earth for another warm season.

Tears. Were. Shed.

I had high hopes for the dude in the picture above. I bought two of them at Passover, long before they needed to be planted (I’ve always blamed my lavender suckitude on purchasing and planting them too late in the season to get well-established) and swore up and down they’d get into the garden as soon as we were clear of frost. But no. I got busy and they got ignored and were not accustomed to the level of neglect I inflict upon my other plants and they croaked.

Now I have a bag of delectable-smelling leafies and flowers which will be great for all manner of crafting, but no beloved lavender plants.

This bag is currently on the counter by the back door, making comers and goers do double-takes because it looks like a big baggie of ganj on the first take.

Other plants I suck at include, but are not limited to:

  • Umbrella trees
  • African violets
  • Rubber trees (but ONLY because they get stolen – I shit you not, I’ve even had a massive rubber tree in a giant clay pot that must have weighed 70 pounds stolen from my porch)
  • Croton
  • Arrowhead plants
  • A million plants I haven’t even got my hands, yet

All of this to say that I don’t actually have a green thumb. I’m not sure anyone does, really. Some plants are just going to do well in some spaces with certain people and others are not going to do so well in those same spaces with those same people. It doesn’t mean I stop experimenting; I do have a wee bit of a jungle, after all and it is very rewarding.

Additionally, my failures give me the opportunity to get all dramatic à la Crowley from that spectacular Pratchett/Gaiman oeuvre, Good Omens:

“He had heard about talking to plants in the early seventies, on Radio Four, and thought it was an excellent idea. Although talking is perhaps the wrong word for what Crowley did.
What he did was put the fear of God into them.
More precisely, the fear of Crowley.
In addition to which, every couple of months Crowley would pick out a plant that was growing too slowly, or succumbing to leaf-wilt or browning, or just didn’t look quite as good as the others, and he would carry it around to all the other plants. “Say goodbye to your friend,” he’d say to them. “He just couldn’t cut it. . . ”
Then he would leave the flat with the offending plant, and return an hour or so later with a large, empty flower pot, which he would leave somewhere conspicuously around the flat.
The plants were the most luxurious, verdant, and beautiful in London. Also the most terrified.”



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