Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Annual Christmas Sacrifice

Top Left to Right: Cinnamon Star, Sonora Marble
Bottom Left to Right: Silver Star Red, Carousel Pink
Breeder - Fischer (all)

I've oftentimes thought of posting a Thursday 13 meme with thirteen of the plants that I kill regularly. I have a few friends who are amazed that I even have plants that die. They think that every plant I grow thrives because I have this supposed "green thumb". I am often given plants that are dry, leggy and dwindling with the belief that I can resurrect them to their previously green and luscious glory. Let me be the first to admit that I seriously doubt my "green thumb" abilities. I regularly have seeds that don't sprout, transplants that don't take, trees that unexpectedly die, and "fail proof" plants that drop over dead within the first week. This is the way of a gardener.

Plum Pudding: Breeder - Ecke

I have simply applied a few rules to growing plants, and I think this is the reason why people think I'm "great with plants". And I'm willing to share these rules. Rule one; compost your failures quickly and quietly. Only you will remember that you have once again killed that plant that looked so easy to grow. Fortunately, the worms will never tell your secret. Rule two; learn which plants you kill with ease and never ever bring them back into the house or garden, no matter how attractive they appear in the nursery. You know they will only be a waste of your hard earned cash. It would be better spent on a new and untried plant because that one might just be the fabulous find that is easy to grow and perpetuates the "green thumb" illusion. Rule three; stick with the plants that are winners for you. Use these as the centerpieces and if you must have a "failure prone" plant, use it as a complementary planting or filler that won't be noticed if it "disappears" to the compost pile.

Puebla: Breeder - Fischer

And I have found that every gardener has a different style of gardening. Some people love to water and therefore water loving plants thrive for them. However, their same method causes cactus and other dry loving plants to keel over dead. My advice: don't grow the cactus. Keep with plants that are jungle plants and forest dwellers. Find plants that are their relatives and love the same conditions. You can always try to grow the cactus, but realize that you are going to have to move outside of your comfort zone and do things that are optimal for the cactus and not necessarily for the gardener. Me, I'm just the opposite to someone who loves to water. I like and keep plants that can go through a dry spell and not be too phazed by the problem. I like orchids and have quickly learned which ones are content with the once a week watering schedule. I do not bother with the ones that want a constant moisture or demanding temperatures. The fun thing about plants is that there's bound to be hundreds maybe thousands that fit in with how you want to grow things. Therefore, go with your strengths and admire the other gardeners who can make the plants you kill, thrive.

Sonora White : Breeder - Fischer

One plant that I always kill is Euphorbia pulcherrima or Poinsettia. I adore the pictures of them in the magazines at this time of year. I fantasize about how I can beautify my house with some luscious pink or green hybrid, which is this year's rage. But when I go to purchase the "new fashion", the price makes me balk. Do I really want to spend $20 for a plant that will be dead by February? And I know all the ways you can make them continue to grow, but it's never worked for me. My dad, who really doesn't bother with plants and gardening, seems to keep poinsettias growing and blooming for years. I'm always flabbergasted by this, but have learned simply to admire his little collection with calm subjectivity. Moreover, I buy my poinsettias with the stark realization that they will be dead by February. The nursery industry doesn't seem to mind, in fact, they're banking on it.

So, this evening, I went to the Cabrillo College Poinsettia Sale and Open House, with a certain amount of resolve (I'm here just to look). They had an extraordinary display of many different varieties, propagated by the horticultural students. I was also impressed by the price, so, you guessed it; I have a new set of poinsettias for the season. And despite their helpful culture guide, I believe they'll last until February, perhaps March.


Leslie said...

I find it a challenge to keep poinsettias looking good for more than a month...I guess I have low expectations for them. And I was once given a dead plant by a friend who really hoped I could fix it...I'm still not sure what part of "dead" didn't compute with her...

C.C. said...

LOL! Another Lazarus plant! I'm glad I'm not the only one who receives those. Thanks for sharing that!