Office Plants

I have almost never been able to keep regular houseplants alive. The exception to this rule has been Epiprenmum and Philodendron plants. These excel under my care, mostly because they are just so very understanding about neglect. I have tortured and malnourished many a bonsai tree; I have overattended dozens of spider plants, African violets, and cacti; I have intentionally introduced carcinogens, pesticides, and herbicides to hundreds of plants for science fair projects; and I have expunged the life out of thousands of other deciduous and evergreen trees, tomato, wheat, soybean, and potato plants, all in the name of research.

But Epiprenmum and Philodendron, no, never them. They stick by me and treat me like a guy should be treated, even when I'm not treating them properly. They're true friends, they are!

So when I moved to DC in 2007, I borrowed a clipping of my coworker's Epiprenmum, which grows crazy in her office with only the fluorescent lighting. I stuck the clipping in a little styrofoam cup with water for a few weeks, waiting for the roots to grow. Then I brought in a little planter and stuck the clipping in the soil. Along the way, my boss added two clippings from her cascading Philodendron, which seems to fancy itself a weed.

Now, it's one year later, and the Epiprenmum has finally started growing a second leaf! For that year (maybe even longer!), I had two Philodendron clippings growing leaves while the Epiprenmum just sat there, green, happy, and single. I didn't admonish him, much, because my coworkers would get upset if I was mean to little Brendan (that's his name). I would quietly compare his lack of growth to the five or six leaves that grew past where I clipped him off of my coworker's plant. But my coworkers said that he was happy how he was, he didn't need to grow any extra leaves. And, for the most part, that was true--he stayed green, perky, and quite alive for many months.

But every parent wants to see their child live up to his or her potential... It's hard, for me, to separate that from the more important happiness factor. As long as your kid's happy, that's what's most important in life. So what if they aren't procreating?

But now, I don't have to worry about this troubling conundrum! Because Brendan is growing his first-ever new leaf!

On a sadder note, I put down the cucurbits last night and reseeded. The plants just didn't look good at all, and they only started looking like that after the transplant. Maybe I messed up their roots? Maybe ones that germinate and grow in the box (next to the fertilizer plugs) will have a better go of it. I really want to make pumpkin pie!

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3 Responses to Office Plants

  1. I always grow about twice the amount of seedlings I need in case they don't germinate properly or have accidents on their way to their 'grown up pot'. As you know this means I end up with too many plants in the end, but it has saved me some sorrows when I mess up.

    PS PS I passed the "I think you're FABULOUS!" award on to you - check it out http://indoorgardener.blogspot.com/2009/03/i-think-youre-fabulous.html DS

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  2. Most cucurbits don't like their roots messed with at all. I think that is why so many people direct seed them and deal with the waste of thinning them. Even the smallest disturbance can utterly halt their growth.

    Next time try this. Make a little temporary cup out of newspaper and plant the seeds in there. Then when you transplant, you don't have to even touch the root area. The newspaper will just melt away in short order.

    That is the best way I've found to work with them.

    Good luck! And congratulations on Brendan's departure from single status :)

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  3. Aha! That might be one reason... I'm totally guilty of, well, not reading up on the plants as much as I should and just assuming they'll be kind to me.

    The newspaper cup sounds like a great idea! I always feel bad just recycling it all when I know it can go to better use. And it's a way for me to get some origami into my otherwise origami-less life. :-D

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