Me: Hey, do you remember when you asked me to watch your aloe plant while you were on vacation?
Friend: Yeah… he never really recovered after that.
I soooo wanted to be one of those people with a green thumb. I wanted vines hanging by the windows and giant fig leaf trees chilling in the corner. Instead, I got an orchid graveyard (cool new band name? I digress…)
If it makes you feel better, Friend, I have since successfully murdered my own aloe plant – and many others.
There’s a snake plant in my office that I regularly forget to water for at least a couple weeks at a time and It’s. Doing. Great.
You know what the issue is? It’s a common problem. I water them too much. I try too hard.
This is a good moment to provide a life metaphor. Do you ever try so hard and it doesn’t go right so you try even harder and then everything explodes? Because same. It took me so many years to understand that “trying harder” is not the same as “trying better“. Work smarter not harder, my friends.
We can take these sentimental lessons from nature: go with the flow, don’t overthink it, let it be.
The practical lesson is to keep a handy calendar marked with watering days but to be honest, I have accepted that my plant-raising love language is “set it and forget it”.
I have what is basically a garden home, although our HOA doesn’t cover private lawn care. Thanks to the plants in my front and back yards, we regularly see hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, cardinals, and even the occasional squirrel. It’s hours of entertainment for me, my son, and the cats (since I’m mentioning the cats, you should know they are not innocent in these plant deaths, either).
The Pride of Barbados, or Caesalpinia pulcherrima,1 is a hummingbird favorite. I don’t prune mine and it gets quite tall. I fondly refer to them as nature’s fireworks.
Purple hearts abound in this area. Did you know purple is the color of royalty? Some were pre-planted by my garage door and along a back wall of the house, and I even planted a few more to continue the border. According to the University of Wisconsin Master Gardener Program, Tradescantia pallida plants “are drought tolerant and thrive on neglect, but also tolerate frequent watering.”2
A plant after my own heart!
Also in place were two pink-flowering crape myrtles, a young mountain laurel, some form of fan palm, and a Texas sage. Occasionally cow parsley and false day flowers will spring up, as well.
I planted this Nandina and it’s been going very well. That foliage! I’m excited for her to grow.
I love having plants at home for many reasons, and one of the big ones is that my son likes to help water them with his little yellow elephant watering can. It’s the cutest!
Thanks for joining me for a brief look at my journey with plants. Have a happy & healthy Tuesday!
- Rodriguez, David. 11 June 2006. https://bexar-tx.tamu.edu/homehort/archives-of-weekly-articles-davids-plant-of-the-week/pride-of-barbados-a-great-heat-loving-plant-and-future-texas-superstar/
- University of Wisconsin – Madison Master Gardener Program. “Purple Heart, Tradescantia pallida.” Accessed on 20 July 2020. https://wimastergardener.org/article/purple-heart-tradescantia-pallida/