For the first time maybe EVER I know that I can keep plants alive. I have succulents and cacti that I’ve had for over two years. I can’t stop buying plants and now that we’re moving into fall I’m hoping these new guys survive. Here are some pictures of the new guys and a few memories from the beginning of my plant journey.
I was one of the students in my middle school made responsible for the greenhouse. Before or during our lunch break it was our job to water the many houseplants, ferns, forgotten science projects and tropical trees. These already struggling plants were placed under the care of clueless inner-city kids during the particularly harsh Missouri winter of my seventh grade year and many did not make it. Over-watering.
After the Lincoln Middle School Plant Massacre, I told myself that I was just totally challenged at all things plant related. I watched my mother attempt and fail many times at growing anything in the Missouri red clay soil surrounding our house. Sometimes a random cluster of neglected marigolds survived in the front yard but that was about it. I never really attempted house plants or a garden until I was about 25. It was grown over by weeds but we still harvested some delicious radishes and cucumbers.
Five years ago, I moved into my first apartment in Portland and I received two house warming plants an orchid and the other I’m still unsure what variety it was. The orchid lasted almost exactly four months and then I watered it to death. The restaurant I was co-managing at that same time had great big indoor trees and small succulents on every table. The tallest and most beautiful tree in that place was getting watered once a week by me at the owners request. A few months into this routine, the tree looked pathetic, almost dead. I immediately thought it was my fault, my curse. I had no idea that the bus boys were emptying water pitchers into the soil at the end of the night AND the florist responsible for the living arrangement was watering it bi-weekly. The tree survived but could have suffered root rot under those conditions, and became a very expensive mistake. They had to repot a massive, massive plant, it was so sad.
The first apartment I lived in with James in downtown Portland had the coolest balcony for plants, it was actually the most ornate thing on the whole buildings exterior. When I moved in the box was full of planters and containers of dirt and things did eventually grow but he had NO IDEA what any of it was. Many of the containers had no drainage and the Pacific Northwest region receives a ton of rain in the spring and winter so the balcony would become and pool and many planters were overgrown with moss and sometimes smell like sewage. It took SO much work to organize and remove old soil. I learned in that apartment that succulents and the ornamentals I was purchasing don’t love rain and direct sunlight, that growing and transplanting seedlings is hard. A lonely jade plant and a bunch of cacti (photo below) made the move with us into our new house.
Sadly only a few cuttings of the original jade and three cacti are still with us, a little over two years later.