not a book

Not a Book: Houseplants

I think I’m getting old. Well I know I’m getting old, but one of the more startling things across the course of the pandemic has been my growing house plant collection. This is a particular surprise to me because I have always considered myself as having whatever the opposite of green fingers is – because I have reliably killed any plant I have owned*. At the old house, really the only window with a window sill was the kitchen and I regularly killed basil plants there, to the point where Him Indoors told me I wasn’t allowed to buy any more of them. The only house plants we had were a Valthemia – which my mum gave me, and is a bulb so very, very hard to kill – and a Mother-in-law’s tongue, also reputed to be hard to kill.

When we moved to the new house, they came with us and were soon joined by Cecil the spider plant. Then mum and dad gave us a peace lily – which lived in Him Indoors’s office and seemed to be flourishing. When I changed jobs last year, one of my leaving gifts was an orchid and although I have a history of killing orchids, I thought I would give it a go. And lo! The orchid is surviving, in the bathroom near Cecil. Suddenly, I’ve got a little collection of plants and I’m starting to get a little bit confident.

I bought myself some nice pots to put them in. And when I took Cecil to mum and dad’s to repot, I also took one of Cecil’s babies, that I had managed to develop roots on. And I came back with two other plants on top. And I took a little side shoot off the aloe vera plant that Him Indoors’s parents gave us as well. Now I’ve got a little shelf of plants in the utility room and I’m starting to think that I might have a green thumb after all.

We’ve had a few minor setbacks – when the peace lily needed repotting, mum and dad gave us another one. Which I killed within weeks. And now I think I’ve killed the Mother-in-law’s tongue too. It still has one green leave sticking up, but all the rest are brown and withered. So I’ll admit I’ve put the plans to buy more plants on hold, until I can be sure that I can cope with the ones that I’ve got. But I do still want a plant for my office. And if the Mother-in-Law’s tongue really is dead, then there’s a space on my hearth that will need filling with something…

*when I was a child I had a spider plant in my room and sometimes geraniums too, and they survived. But I wasn’t responsible for watering them so they don’t count!

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