Confessions of a plant killer

If you were wondering what happened to me (if you weren’t really concerned, just pretend), I just successfully climbed out from underneath a 10-load pile of laundry compliments of child#2. I love when she waits until EVERYTHING SHE OWNS is dirty before dumping them into the laundry room at 10pm and then having the audacity to ask me if they would all be done in the morning. I just say, “maybe” and walk away.

Anyways, I panicked thinking I need to write about 3 more posts to get that horrible zombie picture of me to disappear from the front page because what would someone think if they came here for the first time? If you are new: I am not a zombie nor am I doing any sort of strange science experiments in this blog…yet. It is just that I need a better eye cream and some sleep.

I am plant challenged

Walking down the Fall flower aisle, I enthusiastically selected a yellowish-orange Fall mum to spruce up my front porch for the holidays and placed it in my cart. I assured myself that his time I was going to remember to water it. Then I heard a faint muffled crying followed by, “No…not her! If only that sweet elderly lady had taken me…” and then a sigh of defeat. I think it wilted a bit which I took as a cringe. My reputation has finally reached the local plant population residing at Home Depot.

The life expectancy of a live plant in my house is a week, give or take a few days. I just broke a branch off of my plastic plant, so they aren’t safe either.

My Pride and Joy

When I was young I grew a plant from a seed. I was so focused on caring for it that over time I couldn’t remember if it was an orange or lemon seed. I anxiously awaited the day I could solve the mystery, but it can take 2-15 years for it to bear fruit.

Three years later, it was a two foot stick with two to three leaves, and I began to wonder if I would ever see a fruit. It never progressed further.

When the plant turned six, it accompanied me to college and hung out with me during exams. For over ten years I kept my tree alive. Note: I’m using the word tree very loosely. Eventually it stopped producing leaves and was just a stick in a large container. I was optimistic when I planted it in a large pot. I couldn’t bear to part with it. I couldn’t find a picture of it! I can’t believe my beloved stick was never photographed in all of its grandness, but just imagine a stick in a large pot.

Friends would come over to the apartment and sympathetically ask what it was, and I proudly responded, “It’s my orange tree. I grew it from a seed.” like I was five and saying, “I did it all by myself.” They would giggle, and I would be offended like any overprotective plant mother would be…because my baby is not ugly!

My roommate and I attempted to put Christmas tree lights on it for the holidays. That posed quite a challenge since it was like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree minus all the branches, but some packing tape saved the day. Eventually the day came when I put it out of its misery.


My mother, who is an amazing gardener with a house full of beautiful houseplants, gave me an African violet just after I graduated from college. I was tasked with keeping this gift alive.

Each time she visited, I had to run out to replace the plant…looking for an exact match. It’s like trying to replace your child’s hamster and hoping they don’t notice the difference. Sometimes I had to go to 3 stores to find one. She only lived five minutes away, so this plan was further complicated when unexpected visits occurred. I could claim the plant was out visiting friends or something.

Once I made the mistake of getting one that was much bigger in size, and she complimented me on how well I was taking care of it. I was rewarded with a second plant. The stress escalated, and so did the bill at the checkout lane. It is like going from having one child to having twins. I considered purchasing them in bulk, but realized that is just crazy as I would just kill them in batches. Fifteen frantic replacements later, I couldn’t keep up the charade and gave up.

I wondered how my future children would fair under my care when I couldn’t even keep a houseplant alive. I couldn’t just run out and replace a child I messed up.

One plant at a time

prized plantI learned I can only grow one plant at a time. Here is my baby that I call “Green Plant” and have managed to keep alive for about 3 years. New record! It also helps it gets rained on where it sits. I know Green Plant isn’t even a creative name and maybe I should have named it Dorene or something. However, when I say “go water the Green Plant” there is no confusion about which plant I’m talking about because plastic plants don’t even need water.

Patricia from is one of my loyal commentators and blogging buddies, and she is under the impression that she can turn me into a gardener. Just seeing all the pretty plants on her site is giving me the crazy idea to attempt a garden in the Spring. If it turns out as professional as my drawings, I will be THRILLED! If she ever came to visit my garden, I would offer her some sunglasses with a beautiful garden view painted on the lenses. Won’t she be impressed! Go ooo and aaahhhh at her plants while I quick replace mine.


  1. I *still* have in my office a plant that my brother gave to my mom 30 years ago. It’s this big bulb-like thing that just puts out vines/tendrils and that’s it. Very weirdlooking, no idea what it is (but it’s happy!).

    My favorite plants are carnivorous or succulents. They’re nifty!
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  2. This Melinda is why I do not have plants. I already have a 2 year old who has to tell me sometimes he wants to “eat, eat” or “ba-ba”. So I would never remember to water and feeda plant. Do you feed plants? See I don’t even know.
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  3. Melinda, I did miss you – and so did my oatmeal! Welcome back.
    Unlike you, I have no trouble with plants.
    I would get friends to come over by telling them, “pssst! I grow weed.”
    When they arrived, I would point to the dandelions coming out of the cracks in the cement walkway, proudy proclaiming “weed!” as they passed each one.

    I don’t have any more friends.

    I don’t have any other plants, either. But, the dandelions are lovely.


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    • Ha ha I have a few weeds growing on my fence that I count as plants because they are isn’t that a plant? I have been known to get excited about what I thought was a plant in the flower bed only to find out it was a thorny weed. Dandelions are the best…you can blow those fluffy things and make more dandelions. It is low maintenance planting and fun all rolled into one.

  4. Hi Melinda

    This is your blogging buddy and lavender lover friend 🙂

    I am awaiting the guest post when you plant the lovely lavender and watch it grow. You so can’t kill this amazing aromatic plant…..can you??!!

    Still we can’t be good at everything now can we… are one of the techie geeks who I refer to as a genius on my recent post and I sure am not one of them lol

    Looking forward to you infusing some lavender humour into my blog……waiting, waiting, no pressure but I will be back!

    Patricia Perth Australia
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    • Well it will be a true test of what kind of conditions they can live in won’t it? Like a science experiment. I’m sure I can kill it. It will be a great “what not to do” article ha ha.

  5. Ahhhhhhh, yes! Someone else who shares my gardening abilities! I love the tree story 😉 You should have just told people it was a rare and exotic stick tree that you’ve been nurturing for years!

    My kids used to do that to me with the laundry, too. It would be all over their rooms and I swear, would take an entire day just to clean it and then there would be a massive mountain of laundry that “had to be done in an hour”. It made me crazy so I started making them do their own laundry. Life got much better and there’s rarely any missing items that would get put away in someone else’s drawer or whatever!
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    • Why is it they think the laundry room is like the 1-hour photo place? You are right, the stick should have been a rare, exotic tree with magical powers of some kind. It would have been a coat hanger if it had been a little taller.

  6. Nice story about the violets! I remember the first plant I had was a cactus, and when I moved it from a cold-climate city to a much hotter one, it died within a week even if I watered it every day.
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