The most famous cinematic indoor plant might be the giant man-eating flower in the sci-fi comedy spoof “The Little Shop of Horrors”. The fictional plant was a special crossbred variety between a butterwort and a Venus flytrap. The plant was named “Audrey Junior”.
Thankfully, I have never had a run-in with rogue plants like Audrey Junior. Usually plants are more at risk than me. Unlike many people in my family, I was not blessed with a green thumb.
My first documented attempt at growing a plant indoors was in grade school. For our botany lesson, we were given a single corn seed to plant in a dirt-filled “Dixie Cup”. We pupils planted our corn, placed our cups on a shelf under the classroom window, watered them periodically, and waited for them to sprout. Everyone’s corn sprouted tall enough to transplant into larger pots, except for mine and one other kid’s. Our corn grew perhaps an inch tall, then withered away back into the soil. When mom found out about my failed corn, she wouldn’t let me anywhere near her prized African violets. This experience is probably why I never took up farming as a career choice.
When I moved into my first little apartment, a friend gave me a small cactus plant in a plastic pot. I parked the helpless thing in the south-facing window and watered it whenever I remembered to do so. One day, that friend picked up the container to examine the plant. The shrivelled remains tumbled out of the container onto the floor.
After I moved into the house in San Jose with one of my second cousins, she gifted me with a beautiful coleus plant. This was even after I had warned her about my history of houseplant growing. She explained how much water it needed, what type of fertilizer was required, and when to pinch off dead leaves. I suspect the only reason it survived is because she probably took care of it while I was at work. At least I had one living plant at my bedside.
A couple of years later, a new housemate, Doug, the morning man at the radio station where we both worked, moved into a trailer house with me. As a housewarming gift, the secretary gave us a small aloe plant. Doug was familiar with my dreadful track record with houseplants, so he assumed the responsibility of caring for the aloe.
Within the year, the poor aloe was no more. Doug claimed that the plant couldn’t tolerate the extreme heat inside the trailer due to the lack of air conditioning. That didn’t seem right to me. I blamed the high iron content of the tap water for poisoning the plant. The best thing was, that I found out Doug was just as terrible with houseplants as me.
The next adventure with an indoor plant was with a very ugly, twisted century plant. The big agave made its home in an equally homely planter pot. It had been left behind by the previous tenant who departed after defaulting on her rent. The century plant managed to actually survive under my supervision. When I moved out a year later, I gave the agave to my next door neighbor.
My experience with the century plant gave me a little bit of confidence. So, I bought a couple of succulent plants to live under the east window of my present home. They actually thrived and grew enough to need transplanting to new pots. I still have the originals and have been given a few more as birthday gifts throughout the years.
Even though I prefer dried flowers, and faux flowers for creative projects, the succulents always come through for living adornments in my home.