Houseplants, Revisited

Since the last time I wrote about plants, I’ve killed a couple more. However, I’ve acquired still more plants, and some of them are thriving. I also had to come up with some more places to put them in our small-ish house, so I bought this little shelf to stick in our packed-with-bright-but-indirect-light master bathroom:

These plants bring me a great deal of daily joy. It is nice to go to the bathroom and say hello to them and give them a little spritz of mist. Although I’ve got to say that, as cute as the mister on that shelf is, J and I both prefer rinsing out our used fancy Everyone hand sanitizer spray bottles because they are more dense mist-ish and less squirty than the decorative bottle you see. We are working our way through the sanitizers to recycle them into misters that can be available near all our plant-baby collections.

There is one challenge, though: those dang cats. They’re waaay too interested in the moss, for example:

The plants aren’t poisonous or anything, but they can’t enjoy their treatment by Ruth and Dave. I did buy some diversionary cat grass, but certain species are just super-appealing (the maidenhair fern was so oppressed that J has hidden it away from them). I have some cat-repelling spray, but I have to remember to refresh it a couple of times a week to keep it, I don’t know, repellent enough, I guess.

Speaking of remembering, I’ve been using an app called Picture This to keep track of watering my plants. There are tons of different plant apps, and I don’t know if this one’s necessarily the best, but I tried others that definitely weren’t the best for my purposes, either because they were more appropriate for a hiker trying to identify a plant growing on a trail or because they were hard to navigate and 90% of the buttons just asked you to upgrade to premium for almost every function. With Picture This, I take a picture of a plant and it offers up a few suggestions about what kind of plant it might be (usually accurate, not always), and if it “notices” something wrong, like drooping leaves or brown spots, it will offer a diagnosis of the problem and suggestions about what to do. And once you’ve taken a picture, you can save the plant to “My Garden” and set up watering and fertilizing reminders. That’s all part of the free app, and every time you open it, they’re like, want a free 7-day trial of premium? And I politely X my way out of the offer.

Acquiring all these plants was definitely helpful for getting through our long COVID winter, but it’s also coincided with this very special time in a mom’s life when –sniff!–her kids don’t need her so much anymore, at least not in that daily, exhausting, wipe-and-hold-and-feed them way. I remember way-back-when the kids were much younger, we raised some caterpillars and I literally wrote, “Really, taking care of two children, a husband, and a cat takes me to about the limit of my caregiving abilities.  Having additional biological functions to monitor and clean up was almost too much for me.” And while my cat obligations have doubled, those two kiddos were clearly the time-and-attention suck back then. Now, in an era when they cook themselves meals and fold laundry and one of them can just drive herself to the dentist, pay with a credit card, schedule her next appointment, and add it to the family Google calendar, well, if I’m not going to be a tragic, clingy, helicopter mom, I need to put all of this nurturing energy somewhere, right? Perhaps I could be nurturing writing and this blog. But honestly, daily ruminations are not always best for my mental health these days, plus the cute little anecdotes that came with the wipe-and-hold-and-feed days have slipped away, too. Anything occupying my attention these days is usually too private to share. But the plants don’t mind if I write about them, as long as I water them when they droop.


  1. Claire

    I love the paint color of your bathroom walls! When my son no longer needs me on a day to day basis, plants will not be a good outlet for me, because I can’t keep them alive for anything. I’m glad you’ve had good success!

  2. When you’re ready, Claire, the ones I’ve found hardest to kill or injure are the schefflera (but poisonous to pets), rubber plant, and pothos.

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