Why I’m Terrified of Buying Houseplants

Ms. Green Thumb and a ficus or something.
Ms. Green Thumb and a ficus or something.

When I say fear is subjective, this post is exactly what I am talking about. For some, buying houseplants is no more taxing than, say, boiling water. But for those of us who have literally never not killed a plant (ahem, ME), it’s completely overwhelming. They’re kind of expensive and just one more thing I need to keep alive (focusing on myself and two pets, plus the beyonce is hard enough!).

Thank god for Lynn, my botanical guru. Isn’t she a babe?

Lynn is the manager of horticultural services at Phillips Gardens, where she designs & creates gorgeous landscapes (you know, the ones that make everyone else in the neighborhood green with envy, no pun intended… okay, pun intended). She agreed to help me navigate the enormous and delightfully warm & humid Tonkadale Greenhouse, which was clearly necessary for a newbie like me. I mean, look at that pic of Lynn… so many plants!

I arrived at Tonkadale armed with a very specific list of wants/needs:

  • I wanted to buy three plants (preferably of different varieties)
  • I needed plants that thrived on neglect (but not necessarily a cactus… that seemed a little too easy and definitely not cuddly enough)
  • I wanted things that looked pretty in my house. Specifically, something tall to put by the window in our dining room.

That was basically it. Lynn immediately led me toward their ficus selection– a type of plant I’ve probably, maybe heard of. They don’t need tons of direct sunlight and they can dry out a bit and not die immediately. Perfect.

I fell in love with this one immediately and named her Debbie:

Meet Debbie the Ficus!
Meet Debbie the Ficus!

With Debbie the Ficus, we only had two more plants to go. A few of the other contenders included other types of ficus, a terrestrial orchid and some sort of succulent named after The Hobbit (a botanist with a thing for LOTR… gosh golly, I love double nerds.)

Who's going to get Molly's final two roses?
Who’s going to get Molly’s final two roses?

In the end, it was the ficus, the terrestrial orchid (I love it because there are flowers, but it’s not too fragile) and The Hobbit. These are perfect options for me because they’re all fairly resilient plants, different sizes (one goes on the floor, the other two go on counters) and the most “needy” one only needs water about once a week. That was news to me… If left to my own devices, I probably would have watered all of them every other day. Maybe that’s why every plant has died on me.

I guess I loved them too much.

Let's hug it out, beyotch.
Let’s hug it out, beyotch.

Before I get to what happened next, I want to share some photos of Tonkadale’s fairy gardens. There are dozens of these around the greenhouse, plus supplies to make one on your own at home! Maybe next time (?)

Not creepy at all!
Not creepy at all!
I actually love this little trailer fairy. 
I actually love this little trailer fairy.

Next steps: re-potting my new plants! Lynn schooled me in this, too. Apparently with the ficus, we needed to tease the roots a bit before placing it into the new pot (which we’d already filled with a few inches of soil). Note: you’re apparently not supposed to cover the stem (?) of the plant with dirt… just fill the pot up until the soil is level with the base of the plant.

The beyonce took this one... hence, it's a pretty good butt shot.
The beyonce took this one… hence, it’s a pretty good butt shot.

Hubba hubba, Debbie!
Hubba hubba, Debbie!

As you can see, Patsy has a green paw.

I basically did the same thing with the orchid:

And the Hobbit:

It’s been a full week & all of the plants are still alive. And I absolutely love how they make the house feel.

Before leaving, Lynn gave me some sage words of wisdom: “Don’t worry if some of the plants die. That just happens sometimes. I’ve killed lots of plants.” Man, did that take the pressure off.

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Comments (2)

  • Melissa Joulwan 4 years ago Reply
    1. I have literally killed every plant I’ve ever owned. Including a cactus. My friend gave me an orchid once, and I laughed so hard. As if.

    2. Fairy gardens. YES!

    3. I am right now looking out my home office window at a series of planters that were filled with beautiful plants and flowers for our wedding. They are now sprouting weeds, have been taken over by squirrels burying pecans, and are breeding grounds for mosquitos. Plants: really not my thing.

    Best wishes to you! Debbie is gorgeous!

    molly mogren 4 years ago Reply

    I literally had so much anxiety about these plants. Ridiculous.

    I think my longest live plant run was 6 months in college with some bamboo I bought at Ikea. It was probably dead long before I tossed it, but you know how college kids like to procrastinate.

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