Plants live not on worries alone

I thought I had killed it. I was really afraid I had. I had murdered it through negligence.

Well, not really negligence, because I didn’t technically neglect it. I actually worried about it quite a bit. But plants do not live on worries alone. Let’s look at the facts.

Fact #1: A friend of mine went away for the summer, and asked me to take care of some of her stuff, including a futon, a comfy chair, an espresso machine and a plant.

Fact #2: My prior plant experience consisted solety in a cactus I got for my 15th birthday. Before I turned 16 the cactus had died. Of dehydration.

Fact #3: I had informed my friend that I wasn’t very good with plants. She said that it was all very simple, that I only had to water it once a week. This I did. But the plant started to die all the same.

Fact #4: Plants are autotrophs. Which means they’re supposed to make their own food, as opposed to heterotrophs like us, that need to eat other creatures for food.

Fact #5: The friend came to visit last weekend. The espresso machine was very well looked after. So was the futon. The plant, not so much. The friend attributed this to the fact that I put the little plant in a corner, out of harm’s way. It was also out of good’s way, in particular, out of light’s way, something I hadn’t noticed before.

Fact #6: Plants are autotrophs, which does not mean that they generate energy ex nihilo. They produce sugar through photossynthesis. One could say then that light is the food of plants. I had thus put my plant on a water-only diet. My plant was starving.

Fact #7: In the days that followed, I became very aware of how light hits different spots. I put the plant by the window. I discovered that they sun only shines there between 6 and 8 am. I put a 60-Watt spotlight on the plant. I took it for a bit of fresh air and a little tan. I asked friends for advice. I pruned the plant. I took it to the office, where it’s a bit brighter.

Fact #8: Now almost a week later the plant seems to be recovering. Or so I hope. I’d hate to be a plant murderer.

Morals of the story:

1) Plants are hard to feed. Because, as my brother says, quoting a Brazilian songwriter, plants don’t cry, they simply exhale. I exhale too, but it’s a different type of exhale, which doesn’t help (well, it helps, a little bit, in that the plants need the CO2. But we’re still talking oranges and apples).

2) Worrying about things is not enough. Knowing what to do helps.


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