Thursday, March 1, 2012

Flowers in February or, how I'm a failure at yet another thing.

   So Orchids are in bloom right now. This is awesome for flower lovers and plant whisperers everywhere, and not awesome for me. It wouldn't have mattered except the Flower Lady at King Soopers convinced me I could keep one alive and she is about to be proved wrong.

   Anyone who knows me could probably guess (if not by experience then by my personality in general) that I shouldn't have house plants. The only reason I remember to feed my cat regularly is because he reminds me, loudly and often.
    But plants are like fish in that neither of them can speak and that I have accidentally killed several of them.
   Usually I can accept this but every so often I get in my head that I can handle caring for a delicate living thing and the end result is always the same: Little fish bodies in the toilet, tiny plant corpses in the trash, and a renewed sense of failure.
     The last plant I had was a gift from my mother, who is one of those annoyingly nurturing people whose motherly essence alone can bring dying things, be they tulips or kittens, back from the brink. She claims it had no deeper meaning, but I still think it was a test to see if I really was a grown-up and whether or not there was any hope at all that I would one day be responsible enough to raise children.
   I accepted the challenge with relish and purchased a cute pot and soil.

      Pretty pink daisy: $0

      Purple flower pot: $5.00

      Potting soil: $8.00

      Daisy food: $6.00

     The overwhelming sense of failure both real and symbolic when aforementioned daisy dies within the week, either from too much water, not enough water, too much sunlight, or not enough sunlight: Priceless

   So I should have known better, but last week when I walked into King Soopers I was greeted by a gorgeous display of pink and purple orchids which, in this colorless and dead winter with no snow, I felt emotionally and physically drawn too. The woman working the flower stand noticed me admiring them and mentioned how much she loved them too. In an effort to make conversation I told her that I had heard they were difficult to care for.
   People with a natural ability to care for plants cannot and will not ever understand people like me. This woman was obviously one of these people.
   "Oh no," She said....
   "They are very easy" She said....
   " I have six or seven of them and they are perfectly healthy" She said....

   So I bought one because it was purple and matched my bedspread and would look just adorable on my nightstand.

   At first glance this is an adorable picture. Please take another look. Notice the flowers are already wilting. Also notice the paper towels underneath the pot. 
    The paper towels are because I'm cheap and quickly discovered that plants are like children in that they are practically free but the things you need to keep them alive are ridiculously overpriced. Allow me to break this one down for you.

    Orchid: $7.00

    Flower Pot :$4.00

    Orchid Bark: $9.00

    Orchid Food: $8.00

    Impending sense of doom as I watch said orchid slowly die despite hours of research and heroic attempts to keep it alive: Priceless

    So price-wise it came down to the "food" or the drip pan for the pot and clearly I made the wrong choice.
   Okay and seriously, why do flowers need food? No one's out feeding wild flowers and they do just fine, but Flower Lady insisted it was necessary. 

    I did have fun painting that adorable owl, which I did while Googling things like "How not to kill an orchid". I discovered they need humidity, which apparently isn't an issue for Flower Lady who must have like twelve humidifiers because Northern Colorado is straight up nosebleed country. I mean seriously even selling orchids here is just irresponsible. It's like sending a husky to the equator or a hairless cat to Canada- it's just cruel.

   The internet was full of helpful advice which I have been following religiously. I move it to certain places depending on the sun, I even used plant-safe paint on the pot and followed a step-by-step transplanting tutorial. This plant hangs out in the bathroom while I shower for crying out loud.
   But the thing just keeps on dying. It's on a kamikaze mission and no amount of love and attention can save it. Not even the kind of tender love and care that includes special plant steroids and Jack Johnson music softly playing in the background.
   So if anyone has any advice, or just wants to offer condolences in advance, please do so. 
   And I'm sorry Mom but clearly the Universe is telling me I will never be responsible enough to keep a baby alive.





  1. omg I told you that was a bad idea. Really cute flower pot though.

  2. I received a beautiful orchid as a house-warming plant and I promptly killed it. And it was supposed to be one of the easy ones-- it only required light and 3 ice-cubes a week in water. So it said. Whatever. I kill all plants, and when someone gives me one that is supposedly "unkillable" I think of it as a challenge. I have killed TWO ivies, a philodendron and a snake plant. Take THAT easy-to-grow plants!

  3. House plants = Overrated. I put them in the trash when no one is looking.

  4. I'm with you on this one: I have a black thumb too. I think it might be because I hate houseplants (in my space) and I also fear them because I believe them to be intuitive and perceptive and I believe that because of this they eventually commit suicide because they know that I resent their very existence... ...or maybe they feed off of my bitter energy which eventually causes their inevitable demise.

    1. The daisy my mother gave me was most definitely suicidal. Not only did it insist on offing itself but it was so disgruntled by the situation that it talked my previously thriving bamboo plant into it as well.

    2. There have been studies on plants sensing your intentions about them:

  5. For orchids, I recommend watering them WAY less than any website or stores say. Keep them in a room near your bathroom (for the humidity), but FORGET to water them for a couple weeks. And water them only a little. Never re-pot them, and wait patiently while they bloom. As in two years patiently.

    Or you could always buy a plant like I had in my classroom. It went an entire summer without water, was watered with gatorade by boys in the back of class, and I'm quite sure that mold grew and died on the soil when an un-named student buried a marshmallow in the soil...

    Or you could just keep writing posts that make us all laugh. With you....I hope!

  6. I just transferred to the floral dept of my store and learned that surprisingly, Orchids like to be left alone. They like low light, and watered maybe once a week, or every other week. You can also put 3 ice cubes on the soily stuff but make sure not to get the leaves wet or they will wilt and die. Ive had a few orchids, they died but I brought them back to life. I also hear they do great in bathrooms so maybe try leaving it in there for a while.