I’ve always had plants in my house. I can remember as a child my mum having a Schefflera so big and beautiful (and older than me) that I was perpetually in awe of it. That is, until I killed it with Kool-Aid. See, I decided it would be a good idea to help my poor, overworked mother with the household chores, yet my child brain did not comprehend that the pinknuclearsugarwater! from the fridge was not the same as the stuff that comes out of the tap. It died, but I bet you saw that coming. My mother was upset with me but in the end her good humor won out and she forgave me for my transgression.
Skip forward a couple of decades and I consider myself to be relatively good at the green-thumbery. I can keep my plants not only alive, but in some state of flourish. In the last couple of years I’ve even managed get my flowering plants to actually flower year after year. The one black mark on my plant keeping record is this little bastard:
Now, I do feel bad calling him (yes, him) a bastard. I love my plants and when they aren’t well, I’m distraught. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t harbor fantasies that my plants are my children, or any other sort of projection psychoses, but when something that requires a minuscule amount of care to live won’t stop dying? Well, you start question your ability to do even the most basic of tasks. Eating and dressing myself? Pshaw! I’ll just ooze along the floor naked and earthworm-like hoovering up bits of food that have been dropped, until someone comes along and takes pity on my poor carpet burned flesh and puts me out of my misery.
The first sign that something was amiss was a week after I bought him and found a brown tip on one of the leaves. The next week the whole leaf was brown. The following week, the entire stem. I was told by a plant-y type friend to cut the offending stem off; sort of like amputating a gangrenous limb.
Apparently, in the plant world this is considered an act of psychological war.
For the next two years this plant has done everything he can, short of actually dying, to torture me.
The short list of remedies in order of insanity I have tried to help the my little suicidal botanical friend are as follows:
More water, less water, rain water, poopy fish water, new soil, new pot, super nutrient enriched soil, dry fertilizer, liquid fertilizer, more sun, less sun, intermediate sun, no sun high humidity room, dusting the leaves, ignoring him, doting over him, playing music to him (real and badly played guitar), singing, collecting dead bugs and putting them in the soil, breathing on him, giving up and crying into the pot, launching plant into space, shouting swear words and plant based racial slurs at him…
Nothing has worked. Sometimes the green starts to come back and new shoots start emerging from the soil but it doesn’t last. He lives an eternal cadaverous existence. Wanting to give up, but taking far too much pleasure in watching me run around in fits of hysteria and probably hoping I burst into flames out of frustration.
I’m now fully convinced that it’s the Schefflera reincarnated making me pay for the Kool-Aid incident. Jerk.