how to kill a houseplant.


If there has is one thing I’ve been consistently good at during my adult life, it has been killing houseplants.


I realize that may sound quite sad and questionable coming from a person who claims to have such intense connection to nature (I really do) and who understands the medicinal ins and outs of plants so well, but it’s true. I have left a trail of dead or dying greenery behind me through every city I have ever lived and travelled over the past fifteen years, with only in the last couple years seeing me be able to keep a plant alive for longer than a month or so.


Why? Many reasons, I suppose, but two for right now. For starters, negligence and a generally scattered mind (though I would always tell myself I definitely watered them last week..), and then perhaps my avoidance in connecting with them, for two.


My logic for not connecting with my plants seemed sound way back when. Sure, I could see that nature out there is lovely and wild, but I thought that these guys in my house who clean the air for me but are restricted in their wildness by the confines of their wee clay homes? They’re not wild. They’re like the art on my wall, the paint color I chose for my kitchen, the bathroom towels.


They were decoration. Benign. Predictable.


This has been my general view, and, understandably, how could something living and full of energy thrive with such expectations?


As I mentioned, however, I have over the past couple of years—through working on my own stuff and developing as a healer and teacher—began to understand my relationship to these living things and all others in a different way, and I managed to keep my plants alive in California for over a year, somewhat happily stagnant though they seemed. When I moved up to Canada I bought a bounty of plants for my house here expecting to maintain them in the same manner, but then recently they started to do something bizarre.


They started to grow.


I’m a bit of a goof, right? Cause…that’s what plants do, yes? But, seriously, I have never had a plant do that for me and with me in my entire life. I have never been privy to the process and beautiful development of an organism that I was responsible for (save for my cat, who I take care of so well that he has a hard time getting up the stairs lately) until right now.


How to put into words how this feels! I feel so…blessed. Literally. To be audience and assistant in the beautiful process of growth in this way, and to be entrusted with a living entity who speaks to me of my capacity to care through buds and shoots and flowers, I am awed. I am humbled by the acts of an aloe.


This is the kind of connection we must cultivate with all of the natural world, I know. Where we cultivate enough mindfulness and open heartedness to bring our attention fully to the living vibrancy that surround and supports us always, and to bury ourselves in the incomprehensible awe that comes from perceiving the world in this way. To see the trees and plants and rivers as our people, our family, and to consider ourselves eternally blessed to be counted amongst their kind, honest and connected and incredible as they are.


I really love my plants. They are an extension of my body in this grey little town right now, feeding my eyes with the green spectrum, acting as the better half of my lungs, and allowing me to return the favor by paying the gas bill and keeping the blinds open. They ask little but give so much.


And when I tend to them well and treat them like the family they are, I am awarded with fluorescent green shoots of optimism and possibility, as I was this week. And my heart feels very full.