The real question is why I have potted plants in the first place. I am not really a “potted plants” kind of girl.
That does not mean I do not like plants, or like plants indoors. I am just much better with things growing in the ground than in a pot. Why? Because there is less work involved. And it is not that I am lazy, but that I am so busy that I do not have time to remember to nurture those indoor things in pots. Since the plants in the picture have arrived on the scene, I have half-way been able to remember to get water to them by 1) noticing that they are dropping severely and putting water on them, or 2) if they are in or near the dining room, throwing any leftover water from our glasses on them after dinner.
Every single potted plant in this picture arrived in our care due to a funeral. Three came more than six years ago after S’s mother passed away. (We have barely kept them alive for over six years!) The rubber tree one (I’m not sure if it’s a rubber tree, but it looks sort of like one to me) was from some very good friends. They even brought it with a pot for transplanting. One of the peace lilies and the variegated tree-like one (which I have seen grow taller than people and need staking in other homes) were from my parents. The one with the tree-like thing and the philodendron came from a friend I met through stamping after S’s father passed away in September of 2006. The other peace lily came from S’s sister after my mother’s death in December of 2006. The pink anthurium was just one I kept from the other plants at my mother’s funeral. It was beautiful at the time. And the bromeliad came from my very best friend (also someone I met through stamping) after my mother’s death. (By the way, I only knew a couple of the plant names. The others I have because they were still on the card in the pots.)
Not much care has been given to these plants since they entered our lives. The flowering ones all arrived with blooms and the peace lilies have bloomed since. However, the older peace lily did not bloom this year, which was the catalyst for the big transplant today. It was extremely crowded. It was so crowded that many of the leaves had turned brown. It was so crowded that when I put it in a new pot, I had to throw away more than half the plant.
So why do I keep all these plants if I do not have the time to care for them properly? The original three were because of who they came from. Someday I will talk about my mother on this blog, but for now I will just say that I loved her very much. At the time of S’s mother’s passing, my mother had been battling an illness for several years already and no longer spoke. She did not pick out the plants. She had nothing to do with it. But her name was on the condolence card, so it became important for me to keep those. Years later, the day S’s father passed away unexpectedly was the same day I learned that my mother’s life was near its mournful end. His father and my mother passed away 10 weeks apart, and there was a special uncle of S’s that succumbed to leukemia in between them to add to our miserable fall and Christmas season that year.
My mother loved potted plants. She was known for her green thumb and had all kinds of plants, both inside and outside the house. But even she would reach her limit and perhaps not bring one or more inside for the winter. I helped with the turnover by taking a few with me to high school (I went to a boarding school) and college. I had African violets and Christmas cactus and a ficus tree and a lot of smaller things. They got regular water and plant food. They thrived under my care. Life was so much different then.
But once I was on my own, a lot of things changed. I am not one who is ever bored or sits around waiting for something to do. Prince Charming will tell you that my worst fault (at least of the ones he’s willing to disclose to me) is that I take on too many tasks and too much responsibility. If, for some unplanned reason, I have 5 minutes free, I’ll find something else to fill it — and probably something that takes 20 minutes. My life right now does not allow for enough time to keep up with potted plants. I can totally forget about them – sometimes for a week. Sometimes more.
But our collection of funeral plants keeps growing, and after my mother’s death, I decided I wanted to keep them and half-way vowed to put at least some sincere effort into caring for them. There is something about the death of a parent, if they were wonderful and you loved them very much, that makes you want to carry on some sort of legacy for them. There are a few things about my mother that I have wanted to carry on. Some came naturally, others did not. Caring for potted plants was definitely in the second group.
The overcrowded peace lily eventually “demanded” transplanting, and it made me consider the same for our other plants. I made myself go buy some pots for the purpose. (More time I do not have. I ran nine errands that day because going out all the time is just too inefficient.) I have had the pots several weeks but just yesterday managed to get all the required items in the same place (pots, soil, tools, gloves, etc.). It was a big job just getting ready. It was apparent how little I have cared for the plants. You plant lovers out there would probably be appalled at the state of the plants. I also realize that I may not be any better in the future. But I know I WANT to be.
Regardless, I cannot give them up. True, they are just plants, but they are somehow in my brain tied to my mother. They would probably be so much happier somewhere else where there is more light and less activity… where someone would pay more attention to them. But I cannot send them elsewhere. Maybe my next step will be to have Prince Charming pick up some plant food when he is shopping. Maybe lack of plant food is why the pink anthurium has not bloomed again. I will try that. And if it does not work, at least I will have tried. Tending the plants, even as little as I do, connects me to my mother. And while our personalities were nothing alike, our bond was strong.
By Louise Cannon