Friday, February 29, 2008

Our Poor Plant

You wouldn’t know it to look at it, but this was once a vibrant poinsettia with broad red leaves. That is, until me and my black thumb got a hold of it.

It was a surprise from Husband around Christmas time. I thought it was such a nice gesture that I was determined to keep it alive for a long time. (Perhaps I decided to conveniently forget the unfortunate fate of the last 10 plants that were under my care.)

For a while, it looked like it was doing ok. I thought I saw some green shoots and the potential for life. But, then it started to look like the scraggly mess that it is now. Husband was ready to write out the death certificate, but I thought somehow I could nurse it back to life, alternating between frequent waterings and total neglect. (I don’t recommend the “neglect” part of the recipe.)

I’d hope for the best, but I suppose it’s too late for a Christmas miracle. We might be better off starting a new tradition next year, by skipping the poinsettia and getting a Christmas cactus instead.


Kristen M. said...

I'm a plant lover but I end up killing them too.

Leanne said...

I do the same thing with every plant that crosses my threshold! I've finally just given in and try not to take it too personally. Good luck with your sickling poinsettia!

cyberpenguin said...

Hi Tootie,

Don't worry, we've all killed plants at one time or another.

For many years, I used to think I had a black thumb too. I even took Botany in college, but even that didn't have any effect on my notorious record as an unintentional "serial plant-killer." ;-)

Then I began learning about plants, mostly by trial & error, reading plant care books/articles & other materials, & asking questions of people who knew what they were doing. I still killed some plants here & there, but my track record wasn't as devastating as before. ;-)

I've found that the biggest mistake people usually make is over-watering. They "love their plants to death" by showering too much (water!), love, & affection on their plants. Of course, to avoid this, people can use the touch test: If the soil is dry, water the plant. If it's still damp, then it's usually best to wait until it's dry again.

Or, sometimes the issue is the exact opposite: People neglect their plants, usually because they just forget to water them. I have a sheet of paper magnet-ed to my fridge which I check off, so I don't forget to water my plants every couple of weeks. Maybe this idea would help you as well.

FYI, I've found the Christmas cactus to be even high-maintenance than the poinsettia, but you could always get both & make it into a "who-will survive-the-longest" contest! ;-)

Also have got some helpful plant care tips for you: Both the Christmas cactus & the poinsettia require bright indirect light. Also, with both type of plants, it's really important where you place the plant(s). As you may already know, both species are actually tropical plants originating in Central America. In the wild, poinsettias actually grow several feet high in their natural form. They reason you see them in their miniaturized form (when they are sold commercially in the US & other places) is that they've been treated with anti-gibberellic acid to drawf them.

Also, here are two sites containing good information about caring for these plants.

Poinsettia care:

Christmas Cactus care:

Good luck & don't be afraid to experiment via trial & error, even if it means you end up killing a plant here & there! It's OK. That's how you learn. ;-)


cyberpenguin said...

Whoops, I meant to write that I've found the Christmas cactus to be even more high-maintenance than the poinsettia, etc.

Anyhow, hope you found my plant care tips to be helpful. You're welcome to email me if you've got more questions!


Ingram Gang said...

Thanks for stopping by! I, too, have a black thumb. I try, I really do. But try as I might, I cannot keep anything alive. I received a plant for Valentines that I am DETERMINED to nurture into a thriving piece of art. We shall see...
Speaking of, I think I need to water that silly plant.
I enjoyed your blog! Blessings!

tootie said...

All - Thanks for the encouragement. Glad I'm not the only plant-killer :)

Cyberpenguin - Thanks for all the plant care tips! I'll let you know how it goes.