Houseplants really do bounce back if you water them sometimes. So said a friend and fellow blogger on Facebook this morning. It made me think of the one houseplant I own. We had a number of plants when we first got married and set up house. I can’t remember what happened to most of them, but when we set off for Thailand, we gave the plants to my in-laws. We thought that they were a gift. Obviously not a very welcome gift, as three years later we got home, and the plants were duly handed over. The others haven’t survived for various reason, though one flourished wildly when we planted it in the garden.
But this plant remains. It wasn’t my favourite. It flowered only occasionally. But it had survived the three years in the husband’s old play-room, and so we couldn’t abandon it. It is now at least 20 years since we first got this plant, and whilst I don’t really want it, I can’t kill it either. I don’t think about it, I don’t give it plant food, and I rarely water it. It sits on one of my white elephants next to the piano, and I only really see it when its leaves start to droop. I make a mental note to water it, and then about a week later, when it is looking extremely sad and limp, I’ll relent, fetch the orange plastic watering can, and water the wretched thing. It’ll take a litre at a time. Poor, thirsty plant.
Within hours it has bounced back. Its leaves look shiny and perky, and its demeanour is like an eager but neglected puppy, desperate for attention, but preparing for disappointment. I feel guilty when I see that plant. It has responded to our callousness by refusing to flower since last century. But still, I can’t bring myself to turf it out with the rubbish. And so our uncomfortable relationship continues.
At least it won’t eat me. It’s had plenty of time – and let’s face it, motivation – to do that if it were so inclined.