Recovering plant killer develops a green thumb

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house plant

Arctic cold weather swooped down across our area, causing my motivation for walking outside to diminish. It was much easier to admire the view from inside my warm house.

Because the leaves are off the trees, the sunrise could be seen from my living room. The trees filtered the morning light, and the snow glistened on the hillside.

As sunlight flooded our living room, I glanced around at all of our indoor plants. Combining the gorgeous sunrise with the earthy feel of plants, my mood was improving.

We didn’t always have indoor plants. It would seem to make sense that if I enjoy spring flowers and summer annuals so much, I would also enjoy indoor plants.

Dubious plant history

I am a recovering plant killer, however. For years, I killed houseplant after houseplant. Some dried up and disintegrated; others went droopy and became moldy. Each new plant was bound for the same destiny.

I have theories about my floral failures. I was too busy keeping humans alive. I didn’t have a routine for plant care. I never researched or sought out plant advice.

Looking back, I can pinpoint exactly when I began to care about indoor plants. My mom passed away suddenly in May of 2018. Instead of buying sprays or planters, I bought her favorite hanging baskets and potted hydrangeas to place in the church for her service. There were also a couple of gerbera daisies and several wind chimes.

Many friends had sent planters to the church. They looked beautiful and gleamed in waxy perfection. They really were a lovely symbol of life and beauty. However, I knew what would happen if I brought them home to my house. I sent plants home with aunts and cousins.

As they were leaving, I double-checked asking if they remembered to pick out a planter to take to their home. As it turned out, I had three planters left. I looked at them forlornly realizing their fate.

What I should’ve done was ask for advice or research about repotting plants. Instead, I had a pity party. It’s embarrassingly true.

I have to plant these things that are just going to die too, I thought to myself as I filled pots first with rocks and then with potting soil. I had let sadness and bitterness build up inside me as I went through the motions of the calling hours and funeral.

Divine intervention

I watered the plants in their new pots as I wiped away tears. Divine intervention and unending grace changed the narrative. The plants not only lived but thrived in my living room.

A giant philodendron heartleaf with its healthy bright green color extends the length of a barn beam shelf, even though I cut off new starts periodically. A parlor palm waves hello from the other end.

The plants get a good amount of indirect sunlight in the living room. It helps me to have a certain day of the week for watering and plant care, otherwise, I forget.

Family affair

My kids have also become interested in houseplants after the success of the first few survivors. They have added succulents and cacti. We have managed to keep an aloe vera plant alive. Two air plants shake things up by needing to be soaked in water once a week.

Their great-grandpa gave them the starts of a jade tree and an African paintbrush plant. Their uncle showed them a spider plant and then gave them a spiderette to grow. Grandma helped them propagate new plants from her plants.

My youngest daughter is even trying to get an avocado seed and lemon seeds to grow. It seems unlikely, but I have learned that miracles happen. In about 10 years, she might pick her own avocado.

The plants make our house brighter and more welcoming. Indoor plants also clean the air by removing toxins and converting carbon dioxide into oxygen. Having plants indoors also decreases stress levels and increases energy levels.

Apparently, the indoor plants are not having the same effect on my dog. She still wants to walk outside. Our daily half-mile hike to the creek and back is her favorite time of day. She lives for it and won’t let me forget.

The snow glistens and the tree branches are encased in ice. I pick up the pace knowing that afterward, I can enjoy the view from inside surrounded by happy plants and holding a cup of warm tea.

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Julie Geiss lives with her husband and four children in Unity Township, Ohio. Faith and family are first in her life, but she also loves hiking, biking and camping. You can contact Julie at juliegeiss1414@gmail.com.

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