According to the ancient Chinese art of Feng Shui, houseplants help to create a positive flow of energy throughout a house. On the other hand, dead or dying plants have the opposite effect. Of course, keeping them alive and healthy can feel like an uphill battle.
Water, sun and the correct soil are obvious things to provide for your houseplants, but caring for them is actually far more complex than this. Though some might suggest a degree in botany, what you really need is a psychology degree, or maybe a master’s degree in social work because it’s all psychological.
Here are some tips on how to not become an owner of dead plants:
• Reverse Psychology: “Frankly, I don’t care whether you prosper or not. It doesn’t matter to me whether you’re wilted or perky. In fact, drooping suits you.”
• Healthy Competition: (To the fern) “Are you going let that little jade grow taller than you? And Aloe told me he’s going try and grow two more inches by next week. They’re all going to be bigger than you pretty soon — how is that going to feel?”
• Guilt trip: “I didn’t get my thumbs tattooed green for nothing!”
• Threats: “I can go pick up a whole fleet of fake plants any time I want, and those don’t require any of this high-maintenance TLC.”
• Motherly Nagging: “Please sit up, dear. Your posture looks terrible.”
• Hypnosis: (Waving a pocket watch back and forth) “You’re getting verrrry green.”
• Tough Love: “Look, we come into this world alone, and we leave it alone. What you make of your time on this plant stand is up to you.”
• Guided Visualization: “Inhale. Imagine that you’re in a rainforest, lush and verdant. Exhale. You are surrounded by friends. Inhale. A light mist covers your leaves. Exhale. If you work hard enough and do your share, you’ll protect yourself and your family from deforestation. Inhale. Only you can save the forest. Exhale. But no pressure.”
• Militancy: “Fifteen stretches! Now! And I don’t want to hear all this bellyaching — if you think that’s what plants did back in ‘Nam, you got another thing coming!”
• Begging: (Get on your hands and knees and let a few real tears fall down your cheeks.) “Please?”
(Disclaimer: I have only ever been able to motivate one type of plant with the above methods and that is the extra-hardy philadendrons. I have pushed many of them to the edge, then talked them off the sill. My husband, on the other hand, has two real green thumbs, without tattoos.)
— Jocelyn Jane Cox
Jocelyn Jane Cox’s two-year-old son runs circles around his crib while she types. Her husband is an artist who works mostly with packing tape and wire (true story). She has a collection of decorative mushrooms that she should probably mention less often. In addition to writing, she coaches figure skating — “a cold job but somebody’s gotta do it.” She blogs about the lighter side of parenting and homeownership at The Home Tome and write a bi-monthly humor column, Chronicles of Parenting. Her satirical book, The Homeowner’s Guide to Greatness, was an Amazon bestseller in the humor category. Her writing has appeared on Slate, The Mid, Mamalode, In The Powder Room, BLUNT Moms, Sammiches and Psych Meds and Mock Mom, among others. She can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.