Author Ava Pennington
Author Ava Pennington

I killed another plant today. Yes, another one. This one lived four weeks – a record. You see, I have a reputation with plants…and not a good one.

I realized I had a problem when I walked through the plant department of a local store a few years ago with my husband. We passed a display of potted floor plants, and I made the mistake of asking Russ, “Wouldn’t this one look nice in our living room?”

He answered with a few questions of his own. “Why bring it home only to kill it? What did this poor plant ever do to you?” Problem is, he said it loud enough for several passers-by to hear. I could tell because they scurried past with tell-tale smiles on their faces.

For years I stuck with silk plants. It was safer that way. And I didn’t have to deal with the guilt of being the plant world’s version of the angel of death. Then, one holiday season, Russ purchased a small, potted poinsettia. He said he figured even I could keep a plant alive for three weeks until Christmas.

The next day, the poinsettia looked a bit wilted and the soil felt a little dry. So I watered it. For the next two weeks I gave it tender loving care. Turned out it was a little too much care because in fourteen days the last leaf dropped and the stems stood barren in the moist pot.

I meant to hide the evidence before Russ noticed, but forgot to put it out with the trash. That evening, Russ brought home a replacement poinsettia. I expected a few wisecracks, but all he did was ask me to discard the old one. Then he took the dog for a walk.

When I picked up the old pot, I noticed a slip of paper lying in the dirt. I unfolded it and read:

“I was a lovely poinsettia, full of promise and lush foliage.Then I was purchased for a lovely lady who in truth is a mad killer! She took delight in hydrating me for 14 days and 14 nights until my scarlet petals were sodden and limp. I had no alternative but to
succumb to the deluge. Save yourself if you can!”

I stopped laughing long enough to confront Russ with the note when he returned home. He kept a straight face and expressed surprise that the plant could communicate with me. In fact, his exact words were, “I thought plants could talk only to other plants.”

He didn’t make sense, but I chalked it up to more inane behavior. I kept the note, and buried the dead plant in the trash, putting it (and me) out of its misery. Later that evening, I noticed another piece of paper sticking out from among the healthy leaves of the new plant. Was it a price tag or watering instructions? Nope. It was another note.

“To my nameless friend,
As the former occupant of this home, I say to you…
Be afraid. Be very afraid.

P.S. Ava…step away from this plant!

Russ was right. Plants do communicate with each other. At least those two did.

I made the mistake of trying again a few weeks ago, but I’ve learned my lesson. Silk flowers live forever. And they don’t talk back.

Your turn: how green is your thumb?

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