Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Lady plantkiller

I moved into my new townhouse last October and spent the first few months settling in. Bought some furniture, houseware, garbage cans, water, and other necessary accoutrements. As I was sharing the house with a friend, I left it to him to decorate, as it's his forte. However, we did have a minor disagreement over plants. I was for it, he wasn't. Partly due to his strange belief that plants equate to dirt, and he's anti-dirt, he didn't want a real, living, carbon dioxide reducing, oxygen emitting plant inside the house. Well, I've lived in enough places to know I needed some greenstuff, and so I plunked down a tidy sum to have a jeepney load of plants brought over one Saturday. I probably spent too much, and yes, I chose a vendor who is all the way in Makati, adding to the delivery charge. But the advantage there was seeing the plants before I got them, and having a nice relationship with the vendor before I had them brought over.

My first plant purchases included bamboos, herbs, spider plants, a nice feathery plant called rattlesnake (something about the leaves), a couple of large palms/palmeras, and some medium sized houseplants good for indoor spaces. Placing them inside the house, as well as in my pocket garden for the larger bamboos, I felt immediate relief. The house was starting to look like a real place, a living space. Yes, there was dirt, and of course watering, but the impact made a difference. Even my anti-dirt housemate changed his mind about what a plant can do to a space.

However, I am not one of the greener thumbed citizens of the world. Probably the biggest surprise of my life is how long I've managed to keep my plant in the office alive, given how little I give it in terms of water and other nutritional benefits. Among the plants I bought for the house, within the first month, the two basil plants were dead, and I was a bit concerned about the spider plants and a couple of the houseplants. I suspected it had to do with the humidity inside, but I also knew I needed to bring them outdoors to get some air. So I've spent a bit of time learning more about the plants, and moving them about the house. I also made the biggest mistake, overwatering them. My large palmera in the dining room is now officially kaput, and the diagnosis was overwatering. The leaves started turning brown in April and no matter how much pruning I did, it would continue along this route. The once proud fronds were limp, lifeless. And wilted.

Yesterday, I got some replacements. I've given up on my palmera, but bought a new ficus like plant, which I'm keeping outside for now to acclimatize. Eventually I'll bring it inside, although what I may need to invest in is some form of wheeled platform to avoid backpain when loading the pots up and down the stairs. I can mourn the 5 plants that have died since January, but at least the majority have survived my care so far. A relative success given my black thumbs. And my virtual thanks to my plant lady doctor, Delia, for making housecalls. I don't know what I'd do without people like her.


ChichaJo said...

Hi Mila! Have just moved into a new place myself...although it's a small apartment and no plants. I probably have a blacker thumb than you so I give them a wide berth...not that I would have that much space to put them in anyway. I wouldn't mind some nice potted herbs though...sigh...Good luck with your new plants! :)

Mila Tan said...

Hi Joey,
There should be a place where for a monthly fee you get brand new plants brought in to your home, the gardeners will rotate them for you and you don't get to completely annihilate them. At least if it's within a month's time, they should be able to resuscitate any that are showing wear and tear.
I'm just glad there's no SPCA for plants!

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