October 09, 2007

End Of Summer (Or Really Beginning Of Autumn If We're Being Honest With Ourselves) Story Thon, Day 14

Today's suggestion is from Dan The Goose: "photosynthesis is a lie"

Dear Houseplant Enthusiast Monthly,

The idea that talking to your plants helps them grow is a specious idea that has persisted in hobbyist circles for far too long. True, there was some research a few years ago which indicated that the correlation between talking to your plants and their growth actually had to do with the CO2 released with the exhalation of human speech, but you would have to talk to your plants for many hours a day to see any real results. So, what we have instead is a generation of spoiled plants who have been convinced they are the center of the universe by the vaguely positive blathering of their idiot owners.

Young growing plants have responded by either refusing to grow or growing too fast, ruining whatever otherwise lovely arrangement they may be a part of, or they may wear their foliage in ever-more-outrageous leafstyles, or, most audaciously, cross-pollinating with other plants not of their species, with the assistance of meddling, anarchist bees. This is why I have instituted a counter-reformation among the plants in my living room and solarium. I do not talk to my plants. No, indeed, I yell at my plants.

My typical houseplant tending routine finds me much as it must find many houseplant enthusiasts, flitting from plant to plant with a water-can and giving each plant its daily drink, except I follow each drink with a stern reminder that this plant is living in my house, under my roof, and therefore it will obey my rules. I shout at each plant, whether it is showing signs of rebellion or not, that I pay for its soil and water and determine its placement in relation to the bay window where the sunlight comes through and as soon as it is old enough to do all those things for itself it may grow or not grow as it pleases but until that time it will do as I say. I then point out that I have two legs, a brain, and opposable thumbs and it does not and therefore it will never be able to do any of those things and I will always be in control so it can just go ahead and shut up. My prize venus fly trap is the only plant really capable of “shutting up” in any real sense, for the other plants it is largely symbolic.

This is the blanket abuse I hurl at all my plants, the one-size-fits-all-harangue. For particular plants I have special manipulations afoot, and these may go well beyond just shouting. For instance, I may tell a geranium “good job, you’re really blooming, you can do it! Bloom!” and it may bloom happily for the next three days but no matter how much or how beautifully it opens on the fourth day I will say to it, “Hmm, I guess that would be considered blooming by some people, but not me, you disappointed me, I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up.” This gentle, patient undermining may actually yield much better results in terms of plant control than my standard yelling. While the CO2 the plant receives from my whispering may be insignificant, it always gets a full dose of low self-esteem. In other successful cases, I off-handedly mentioned to a portly ficus that it could stand to drop a few leaves, and said to a chrysanthemum that was wilting before its time, “Go ahead! Kill yourself! You don’t have the guts.” That particular chrysanthemum did end up taking the cowards’ way out, but I think it served as an educational example to the flowers around it.

So I would encourage my fellow hobbyists to follow in my footsteps, and, instead of treating your houseplants as equal partners in your household, remind them frequently who is boss. Rule with a green thumb and an iron fist. Remind them who wields the spade and who can turn them into mulch at a moment’s notice. They may hate you for it now, but they’ll understand when they have plants of their own some day.

Also: remind them that they will never have plants of their own one day, because they are just plants and you are the human, and you hate them.

Yours,

Kerry Whitebeck
Houseplant Disciplinarian

Posted by DC at October 9, 2007 05:31 PM
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