Many moons ago I agreed to take care of my friend’s bamboo plant while she went on a two-week vacation. While it is widely known that bamboo is virtually impossible to kill, even when poorly cared for, I managed to kill her bamboo plant. She was mad and I was shocked. Who knew I had such a black thumb? At 21, I was new to the whole adulthood and houseplant thing. After that experience I decided it was best to keep my home free of plants.
A decade later and my home is still free of houseplants. The memory of my bamboo killing and the fact that I have a cat, which severely limits what it is safe to have in my home have quickly drowned out the little voice that sometimes whispers, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have plants?” When my friend asked if I would take her fern for the winter because it needs lots of sunlight, something my apartment gets tons of and her apartment gets little of, I didn’t hesitate before responding, “Sure.” A few days later when my friend called to see if I was home and if she could drop off the fern major anxiety kicked in. I took several deep breaths and tried to convince myself that all would be okay. Once the fern was placed in a spot my friend and I both deemed aesthetically pleasing, safe from the cat, and bound to receive lots of direct sunlight she looked at me and said, “I’ve had this fern since college. It’s really special to me. Please don’t kill it.” Sheer terror coursed through my veins. I almost spit out, “Take it back! Don’t leave me with this plant!” Instead I stayed calm-ish and promised to take good care of it. My friend comes over often and has keys to my apartment so she would be able to keep a close eye on this fern that apparently was way more than a mere houseplant.
A week into playing fern hostess I woke up panicked because I couldn’t remember the last time I watered the fern (okay, this happened several times). I then established the two days each week that I would water the plant and did my best to stick to the schedule. I would stare at it and count the number of brownish or dull green leaves wondering if the color variations were normal or a sign that I was rapidly killing this special plant. Should I be talking to it? That’s supposed to help plants grow, right? I even had a dream that I had killed the fern. Amidst all the stress I did find it quite nice to have some green in my apartment. I started daydreaming about adding other plants, plants of my own. Maybe the bamboo was a fluke. And maybe I was just killing the fern at a slow pace because it sure seemed like there were more brown leaves then the day before. When my friend came over and declared the fern looked good about a month into its stay at my place I felt a wave of calm wash over me. I was delusional. The fern was fine. My houseplant knowledge is zilch. I wouldn’t know a healthy fern from a half dead one if my life depended on it. (I probably shouldn’t have written that last sentence, my friend will most likely read this.) As I write this I can see the fern and it looks…well, to be honest, about the same as the day my friend dropped it off.