See Sister’s Plant

I was going to title this post “See Sister Love a Plant”, but that felt like a lie. Fact: I have a plant now. I am invested in it’s survival. Do I love it? Hmmmmm, it’s more of a love-hate-kind-of-creeped-out relationship.

I’m not a plant person. The idea of watering and caring for a potted plant or a garden just does not appeal to me in the slightest. I don’t even like cut flowers. I don’t like receiving them; I rarely like the smell; I hate the way the water inevitably starts to stink to high heaven, even if you’ve been good about changing it; I don’t like that they just die and then are gross and dry and shrivelled in stinky water. Ugh.

Anyways, when I hosted Thanksgiving last November, I told the guests that they didn’t need to bring anything. I had the food sorted and Louise had recently gotten a discounted box of wine for changing energy providers or something, so we didn’t need any drinks. But obviously, as my guests were a group of lovely people, they all brought something anyways. We ended up with a bottle of champagne, LOADS of chocolate, and a plant.

The plant – an Amaryllis – came in bulb form with a nice painted pot and soil pellet/disc things. Because I am not big on plants, I left it for a couple of weeks, but then before I went home for Christmas, I decided I should really do something with it. So Louise and I mixed up the soil (it was an add water kind of thing), plonked the bulb and soil in the pot and left it to do it’s thing. When I left for home a day or two later, nothing at all had happened with it.

When I came back in January, it was cautiously poking up from the top of the bulb. Then on the morning of my surprise birthday brunch, as I was waiting for Hayley to come collect me, I looked at the plant and saw this:

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Serious growth, people. From there, it basically just started to rocket skyward. It seemed to grow at least an inch per day. I didn’t do a great job of documenting it’s growth during this time, but once it reached a height of about 18 inches, the bud at the top started to open up, and I started to photograph the progress.

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I should pause here to say that throughout this growth process, I have been both fascinated and completely weirded out. There is something decidedly disturbing about having this living non-sentient thing in your flat that moves and grows significantly from one day to the next. Not only would it grow upwards dramatically in a given day, it would also bend, lean, and shift direction. CREEPY.

Even so, and even with my general plant aversion, I found myself strangely invested in the fate of this organism. I am sure that if I had to give it more actual care and attention, I would have gotten bored and annoyed long ago. But this thing basically grows like wildfire without much help from me. I give it some water every once in awhile, but otherwise, it pretty much cares for itself (which is creepy).

Anyways, once the bulb started to open up, it was like “Right, so it’s flowering time! I’m doing this.” These pictures are literally only one day apart each:

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And this is when I started to be less creeped out and cautiously excited. Flowers! And pretty cool looking ones at that. Sure, I knew they were going to die eventually, but it’s not the same as a vase full of cut flowers, so I was fairly onboard with this whole thing. I should have known better.

This past Saturday, TRAGEDY STRUCK.

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The plant decided to take a suicide leap off the table. The worst part of this tragedy is that I had noticed that it was leaning dramatically that morning, and I thought, “Oh I should prop that up in a better place,” but then didn’t do anything about it. I was coming out of the kitchen with a cup of coffee; I saw The Plunge of Death out of the corner of my eye, and there was nothing I could do to stop it.

I picked it up (trying hard not to look at or touch the disturbing, twisted, dirty Pan’s Labyrinth-mandrake-baby-style roots and bulb), and tried to collect as much of the scattered soil as possible. But the broken neck was beyond salvation.

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I briefly tried to figure out if I could prop up the neck with scotch tape and wooden food skewer things, but the nature of the break made it clear that it was beyond repair. I had to cut off the head and put it out of it’s misery.

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I put the flowers in a small glass with plenty of water. And they’ve been doing remarkably well in that water, which I am changing regularly in an effort to avoid the disgusting stench that is sure to come.


Even that middle bud that hadn’t bloomed when tragedy struck has blossomed in water.

And more importantly, the shorter stem/bud that had been coming up, has now started it’s own skyrocketing growth. This is the progress since just Sunday (and you can see where it was on Saturday in the picture above):

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If you look closely, you can see the pen marks Louise and I made on the beheaded stem to mark it’s growth every 24 hours. We’re now well past the top of that stem.

I did some reading on what to do with a beheaded amaryllis and the general consensus seems to be: cut it back to just above the bulb and let it do it’s thing (I haven’t done this yet as we were obviously using that stem as a measuring tool). It may be dormant for awhile, but it’ll probably bloom again. It’s like a starfish or one of those lizards who can grow back it’s tail after it’s been cut off. In other words, biologically amazing but still vaguely unsettling.

In my reading, I also came across the terrifying mention of a “mother bulb” which can then spawn other bulbs. The idea of that absolutely makes me shudder. If mine does that, it’s definitely getting tossed out. I can’t be having a spawning, alien plant in my flat.

I’ll keep it for now, though, and wait to see if it grows back following such significant trauma. My fascination and repulsion continue apace.

What about you? Are you a plant person? Do you have an amaryllis? Have you ever had a plant grow back after a similar suicide leap?


7 thoughts on “See Sister’s Plant

  1. fixfabulous says:

    Every plant left in my custody commits suicide in one way or another. Because I am a horrible plant owner. They all die. Okay it’s probably me who kills them but whatever.

    Congrats for reviving your amaryllis. I admire your gardening skills. 🙂

  2. Hayley says:

    Obviously I’m no plant expert but I think it leapt to it’s death because the pot is too small for it. Yes I used to watch Groundforce.

    • zuni says:

      Hayley, your (I assume) British cultural reference to “Groundforce” is lost on me. However, I think you are correct about the size of the pot.

  3. Rock Brockman says:

    It’s great to see you experience the wonder and excitement of caring for house plants. I’m surprised by are the “creepy” language!?! I feel like I should have got you out into the garden more — or had the garden become a volleyball court by the time you came along?

    • zuni says:

      I have only the faintest memories of the garden. And I actually don’t think I would find a garden as creepy as a house plant, given that a garden remains outside and isn’t invading your house.

  4. Rock Brockman says:

    Well I have been thinking about the Ameryllis See Sister post. I think the story was told very well. Even dramatic. When I scrolled down and glimpsed the flower and the cup lying crushed on the floor, I gasped.
    It’s a lovely story I really think Disney or Pixar might be interested in making it into a movie. You know, city girl grows up on a plant less, concrete and plastic environment. — is given a bulb. She ignores it, is creeped out but eventually plants it. Gradually, though neglected, it grows. The girl is startled, amazed, fascinated. Then tragedy strikes. But the girl pulls the plant back together even though it seems all is lost. The poor girl can only hope. But once again the persistent plant struggles back to an amazingly heroic recovery. The previously biophobic girl falls in love with her heroic plant. But then, as always the flower fades and dies. Imagine her joy to discover that her deceased beloved plant has left behind 6 children bulbs.
    The closing scene shows our girl in a flat the is FULL of beautiful flowering fauna. Glorious music plays. It will be a great hit.
    What do you think?

    • zuni says:

      Wow, Rocket. You’ve given this so much thought! You should write to Pixar and pitch the idea – sounds like you’ve already got a storyboard. Though I’m still not sure how I feel about the “children bulbs”.

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