Planting a new obsession

Kym Seabolt fern

I am obsessed with ferns. Not any ferns, mind you. I couldn’t care less about yours. I’m just tickled to death with mine.

I have never been a plant person. I am infamous for having visited a nursery and requesting something that was “zero maintenance that can survive without plant food or watering beyond rainfall, and can handle sun or shade, and it won’t matter.”

To this, the young retail associate said, correctly, “so …a plastic plant then?” I’m sure he still makes fun of me in retelling that story. As he should.

Laugh if you will, but I spent many years happily having fake (aka “faux’ if I’m feeling fancy) plants on our porch. Frankly, I still think artificial plants can look great.

At the time, I was busy raising children and animals and our standard of living. Worrying about deadheading and watering plants was not on my agenda.


I come from a long line of people with amazing green thumbs, acres of landscape lush with blooms, and gardens that could feed an army. Then there was me. I like greenery I can dust. I was the girl with the fake fern on her porch. Man, I loved that thing. I hauled it out every year. I had no shame.

This year, in honor of Girlwonder’s wedding, I actually felt like I had to step it up for appearance’s sake. I had what felt like a million people coming to my home and, frankly, my garage sale sourced fake fern was looking kind of wilted. When the faux foliage is dying, you know it’s bad.

I headed out to the local nursery and threw myself at the mercy of the kind plant professionals.  I purchased four “Kimberly Queen’’ ferns. You know that once I saw the name I was all in — how could I not want them?

I brought four of these beauties home and plopped them along various spots on the porch the day before the wedding. They added such elegance and a fresh air of nature and color. Two of them featured prominently in the wedding photos.

So, has everyone else always known how lovely authentic plants are? Was I the lone holdout? I have seen the light!

I am very committed to my ferns — some may say mildly obsessed. I know they actually don’t need much care, but still, I worry. Are they too hot? Do they need more water? Less water?

I read that rainwater has beneficial minerals. I now ferry them on and off the porch at even a hint of rain.

I’m sure there is a deeper issue at work here. After decades of caring for human children perhaps the care and feeding of plants are fulfilling a deeper need? As with pets, perhaps the luckiest plants are the empty nest plants?


I told friends I’m planning to try and overwinter them indoors. They all laughed and laughed. Apparently, ferns are meant to die? They don’t make it? Challenge accepted!

I have plans to give them their own room. I can still use tips though. The internet is conflicted on what my success rate will be. I think I’m supposed to prune them, water them every week, and hope for the best. I might try inspiring songs and pep talks, just to be on the safe side.

Meanwhile, my mother of the genetically gifted green thumb sends me helpful messages to encourage my newfound plant parenting. She says, “I picked up a new Hydrangea to replace the Weigela that died at the corner of my front landscaping.  $121.”

That, my friends, is where nature lost me. $121 for a PLANT? I am never going to be THAT plant obsessed.  I was a little lightheaded at paying $30 for one fern. For $121 that plant better do a little dance, some minor magic and perhaps some light housekeeping.


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