Little succulent joys from work
October 17, 2016 § Leave a comment
I’ve always dreamed of telling people that I have a green thumb. That I have the capability of creating a stunning garden that is fit for a full-page spread in Better Homes and Gardens magazine one day.
The truth is I haven’t REALLY had much experience taking care of plants. Growing up, I would occasionally help my parents water the tiny flowerbed in the backyard of our Miami home. There was an abundance of sunshine and water, and the vegetation grew as if someone placed an Engorgement Charm on it. As an adult, I like having green plants around the house, but usually opting for durable houseplants, like aloe or philodendron heartleaf, that don’t die easily from negligent care. To be fair, my small Taipei apartment hardly gets any natural light. Even my mother, who is a self-claimed gardening guru, has difficultly keeping plants alive in the apartment. Since moving in, I’ve kept away from plants and gardening, wistfully thinking that I’ll get another shot of it in a not-too-distant-future, when I find a new apartment that has more space and sunlight.
I stumbled across a tiny succulent nursery near Dahu park (大湖公園) during a family outing back in April. My inner-hipster immediately fell in love with the succulents and all the wondrous colors and variety that they come in. The small ones cost about NT. 50-100 (USD $1.50 – $3), a fair price. I decided to get 4 – two for my mom, and one each for myself and my boyfriend.
Succulents are considered low-maintenance. Idiot proof even. The instructions I received were to water them once a week and make sure they receive a lot of sunlight. Easy right?
My mom’s two succulent, which she kept at home, died within a month. My boyfriend’s succulent, which he took to work, wasn’t growing well after a few weeks. I took his plant (which has a nickname, little green 小綠) under my wing since my cubicle gets significantly more sunlight. It was evident that succulents are no philodendrons, that’s for sure.
I fussed over these succulents like a mother hen. Watering became a weekly ritual. I would check in on them often, sometimes moving them around to try to find the best spot, sometimes just to take photos for my weekly status report to my boyfriend.
Luckily for me, both plants absolutely flourished in the next few months. I was ecstatic and the feeling of accomplishment well up inside. It was satisfying to see them flourish, especially after spending the extra time and effort.
Fast forward a few months – I walked into my office to see that little green #2 snapped into two. Typically, I freaked out and looked to Google for answers. Google revealed that it’s possible to propagate succulents, which is quite common practice. I took the broken branch and replanted it in the same pot, hoping for some miracle. However, poor little green #2 didn’t take the break well. I tried everything I can think of; more water, less water, more sun, less sun. One branch started rotting and withering, which affected the other one as well. Within two weeks, little green #2 almost vanished completely from its pot.
I almost gave up. I put little green #2 in the corner of my window so I didn’t have to see its sad state and be reminded of my inability yet again to keep a plant alive. It sounds all very dramatic now when I think about it but these itty bitty succulents have etched a small place in my heart. It’s not just because of the extra care I put in but because seeing them alive and thriving always brought me a little extra joy at work.
Turns out, abandoning little green #2 was the best thing I could have down to do. Two weeks later, tiny green leaves sprouted from where the rotten mush was. Perhaps I was watering it too much. Or exposing it to too much sunlight. Either way, Mother nature, you crazy (amazing).
I learned a few things from these tiny succulents: 1) Over caring is definitely a thing, sometimes things will just find a way and work itself out. 2) Succulents are awesome and I highly recommend them. Not only do they look nice but they are definitely hardy. 3) Succulents aren’t just for hipsters. 4) Taking care of a living thing has made me feel oddly philosophical about life. 5) ) Make sure you have good lighting before you get a plant.
I think I’m ready to get another succulent.