Confessions of a Plant Killer

My mom is, amongst other things, a fabulous gardener and florist. She does wedding flowers, volunteers for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, leads workshops, judges garden contests and can grow just about anything, anywhere.

I, on the other hand can kill just about anything, anywhere.

My mother is very proud of me in most regards but I know, deep down, that my lack of horticultural prowess is ever-so-slightly disappointing to her.

Which is why, I suppose, she cleared out some old galvanized planters and casually offered them to me for my new house.

I love anything galvanized. In fact, the only thing I love more than regular galvanized stuff is free galvanized stuff so I said “Yes!” without a moment’s hesitation.

In my mind, you see, I am a great gardener. In my mind I grow herbs and actually cook with them. In my mind, I have a fantastic urban container garden made of creatively “up-cycled” objects. In my mind, my patio looks so fabulous that magazine editors start calling me to do photo shoots.

Something like this...

Something like this…

In reality, though I have killed everything I’ve ever tried to grow: the aloe my mom gave me when I went off to college, the potted plant my old roommate gave me when I moved into my new flat in London, the bamboo shoot my preschoolers gave me at the end of the school year, even the bean I was supposed to sprout for a science project in third grade.

My brother, by the way, is almost as bad. After planting a row of corn in the backyard in high school, he went through a brief bonsai tree phase. By “brief,” I mean very brief: just long enough to purchase a small jade plant which he promptly began to neglect and nearly killed. Somehow though, our mother was able to revive it.

At any rate, she salvaged six little rectangular containers for me to take to my new house. And last Wednesday, when I got home from work, she mentioned (very casually once again) that she’d picked up “a few” plants for me from the Plant Hospital.

(The Plant Hospital is what we call the clearance rack in the garden section at Lowes where all of the almost-dead plants are given one last heavily-discounted shot at life.)

Far be it from me to question to logic of entrusting a known plant-killer three with three trays of almost-dead plants (then again, I guess I’m not really worthy of the $30 hydrangeas with my track record?) but as I lugged the trays out of my dad’s VW bus, it occurred to me that it wasn’t actually about the plants: my mom could be a coy and casual and nonchalant as she wanted but this was a pre-planned, carefully orchestrated mother/daughter moment.

She was attempting to send me out into the world with something just a little bit pretty to get me started, and as long as I was okay with spending the afternoon gardening, I would get my mom all to myself without my dad or my brother or my grandparents getting in the way.

It was nice, until she told me to go up to the balcony and get some compost— then it was gross— but mainly it was nice. We then drank wine and watched back to back episodes of Toddlers and Tiara’s to celebrate my success:


8 Responses to “Confessions of a Plant Killer”

  1. landlord

    It was also to get your mind off of thinking, “I don’t know if or when I am ever going to close on this house”…you can use them wherever you may settle 🙂 and yeah, I get visitation rights 😉

    • Kat Richter

      Visitation rights??? More like visitation requirements. I’m pretty sure you’re going to be needed for plant resurrection on a weekly basis 🙂

  2. totallytangledandie

    lol I can relate, I think I was born with a black thumb! I seem to kill all plants I bring into my apartment–it’s really very sad …. Good luck to you though! 🙂

  3. Wilma

    If you’re ever on the verge of murder again and The Landlord isn’t around, look me up on Google Helpouts where I freely dispense horticultural knowledge in my Landscaping 911 listing.

    I’m not just a dating blogger.

  4. rastafari369

    I never really believed there are people who couldn’t grow plants because it comes very naturally to me, even if I just throw seeds (pepper, monggo, beans, etc) into my little pots at home, they always seem to grow. I do hope you get to plant your own plant and don’t end up nearly-killing it or totally killing it in the process.

    Have you tried just placing the roots of spring onions or onion bulbs in a glass with water? That should be a start as it SHOULD grow because certain vegetables even grow roots just being left in the refrigerator for a long time. It it does grow, it will be like your first “medal” in the world of gardening…

    Age-old knowledge (at least in our culture in the Philippines) dictates you have to talk to your plants for them to grow – maybe you should try that and see how it goes. Ofcourse, you’d have to water and give them sunlight because apparently talking doesn’t work the wonder by itself. 😉

    The best of luck to you!

  5. rastafari369

    Oh and if all else fails, you can always create your virtual garden on Facebook or with your Plants vs Zombies account…ofcourse you’d have to battle those pesky zombies.. 😉


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