The dirt on my plant obsession

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Kate Ehl

The first plant Kate ever brought home was a Dracaena. She said it is to this plant she is thankful because it "made her thumb as green as it is now."

For some people the word “plant” is a trigger word. Images of dead and rotten plants fill their minds. But for my fellow green-thumbs and I, the word brings smiles to our faces and warmth to our hearts. What triggers us is a cloudy day or an overwatered plant. 

When I walk into my sunroom with my watering can in hand, bliss runs through my veins. Plants are probably my favorite thing in the world. Exaggeration? Maybe a little, but the satisfaction I get when I take care of something that isn’t myself is unreal. Especially when that thing will quite literally die if it doesn’t have you. 

Plants depend on us, and I depend on them.

It started when I got a job at a local grain, feed, and outdoor landscaping store this past August, and lucky for me, they had a greenhouse. 

I applied to be a cashier or stocker, but got put in the greenhouse for the rest of summer and fall. At first, I absolutely hated it. I dreaded going to work every day. 

I had to water beds and beds of thorny roses in the hot sun and pick up heavy trees that fell over with the slightest gust of wind. My farmer’s tan was bad. I mean bad. Inside the greenhouse would get to 110 degrees, and I had to sweep the floor every day. In jeans.

Customers would ask me questions, and I would have to embarrassingly tell them I don’t know the answer. It was like I worked at a car dealership but rode a bike to work every day. 

It was when I was sweeping that I saw my first plant. One cute little plant made my obsession sprout. The plant that fertilized my fire was a Dracaena, which at that time was a baby tree with long, thin, green leaves with lines of light purple surrounding the perimeter. I thought it was the most amazing thing, and with my employee discount, I had to bring it home. 

I put it in my passenger seat and buckled it in—I didn’t want it to spill the soil all over my car if I turned too quickly. I got home, unbuckled myself and it, brought it inside and put it on my sunroom table. And forgot about it. 

About a week later when I went into the sunroom to grab some shoes, I noticed the sad looking plant on the table. I had even forgotten what it was called. The leaves were completely drooped, turning yellow, and very brittle. I quickly brought it to my sink and watered it, giving my best efforts to save it. I put it back in the sunroom and went to school. 

When I got home, I went to the sunroom to check on my lost cause, but to my amazement, the leaves had perked up and some of the leaves got a little pigment back. 

I was in awe. How could a plant do that to itself in a matter of hours?

It was then when I knew that the plant was going to be my own little project, and I was going to take care of it. I did buy the thing after all. 

Every other day I would water it and prune its leaves. I loved–and still love– seeing the progress it makes and how the leaves change position according to the sun. My favorite thing is when you pick the pot up and look under it, and you can see the roots growing. I did that. I enabled life. 

It wasn’t long after that when I got another plant, then another one, and on and on. I now have about 15 plants and know pretty much everything about each of them. I spend hours on Google researching my new plants, their watering schedule, and the amount of sunlight suitable for them. 

Now, I love going to work. I get to be surrounded by the things I love and people who share the same hobby I do. For the fall and winter months, I got switched to be a cashier. Let’s just say I am excited for spring and summer. Although I do always take time to visit the greenhouse and see what new plants we have in. 

Some people are embarrassed about their strange hobbies, maybe collecting marbles or basket weaving. Me? I love my hobby. It calms me down after a long day, and it is something I can put effort and research into. 

Most importantly, it makes me happy, and that is the best reason of all.

 

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