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Let's Talk About...House Plants

Ok, we all agree house plants are living, sometimes feeling, organisms. We all have a few and some of us have many. In fact, I have a friend who has devoted a whole room (really, the whole house) to plants after her daughter graduated from high school and abandoned her old bedroom. So now her plants not only have a southern exposure, but they also have a hydro light box thing in the bathroom, special lighting, air plants keeping them company from above and lots of desert cacti mocking their need for water from below. Another friend has a whole green house, for Pete's sake, keeping all those tropicals alive throughout our sometimes bitter winter. I notice lights on all night, a gentle breeze from the giant ceiling fan above and sometimes faint chanting sounds above the gurgling fountain.

In Colorado, in my view, it's simple. There are annuals and perennials, and even though annuals sound like they come up annually, let me assure you, they don't. And they often don't live all year in your house.

So, what's my problem? Let me be honest. Plants are one form of responsibility I had hoped to shed when the kids went off to college and I sold my horse. I was hoping for some long-sought freedom.

What I have found is that my nurturing nature has spread to nature and I enjoy nurturing nature. Which means I just can't shed those houseplants that require daily attention but still manage to plague me with yellow leaves and drooping vines. My ficus sheds all over the floor. My jade gets skinny, and don't even start with me about orchids. And although bamboo is good for the soul, well, it's just not keeping up.

So here is my question. When do we give up the ghost and just take those drooping yellow-leaved lilies and silently place them, oh so carefully, into the compost bin with a fond farewell, hoping no one is looking or judging? Guilt? You bet.

Let me assure you I have tried varying watering schedules, different lighting, inside, outside, coffee baths and anything else tells me to do. But, nonetheless, some plants just don't make it in my house. I have concluded that sometimes all the MiracleGro, Mozart sonatas, soothing words, Tibetan singing bowls and general good vibes just don't cut it. Some plants are just done. Making a mockery of Mother Nature gets us nowhere good.

So, my advice in the new year is get rid of all those crumpled, brown, curled up, vexing plants, and start fresh. Yeah, those paper whites look good, baby basil for the spring is great, a Christmas tree shaped rosemary bush is handy. I hear you. However, in the end, in my house, it's survival of the fittest.

Having said that, I am looking forward to the Flower Bin sale in the spring.


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