Show of hands, who remembers the thing where I’m accumulating plants because, according to my brain ferrets, I can totally handle the responsibility?
Damn. Y’all are paying attention.
“Okay, so straightaway I want it known that I take really good care of Clara. I do. I pay attention to her needs, I’m checking her leaves constantly, I give her flowers a little flick about once a week or so to check for loose ones so they don’t hang on too long, all of it. And I’m watering her exactly the way the garden lady said to do rather than listening to the internet because if you poll a dozen people online about how to care for a phalaenopsis you’ll get 14 contradicting answers. She’s been doing great and hasn’t lost so much as a leaf (her flowers are falling, that’s expected and healthy).
But then, one Watering Day,* I noticed some white stuff in her bark, down near the bottom.
ME: (calling upstairs) HONEY!! We need to take Clara to the vet!!
ME: (paces, worried)
HIM: (sighs) Yeah, sure. (comes downstairs)
HIM: Wasn’t it always like that?
ME: (offended) NO. I take good care of her!
HIM: Okay, but…
ME: We have to take her to the lady!
HIM: (looks over Impossible Orchid) I thought you said we can’t move her while she’s still got flowers?
ME: I… it… ngh!
HIM: Check again next time you water. I’m sure it’s fine.
ME: SHE HAS PLANT CANCER! A FUNGUS!
HIM: Or it’s just white.
It took her a week to lose those last few blooms, and I was pushing Husband out the door as the last one fell.
HIM: So now that she’s lost her flowers, will they ever grow back?
ME: Not on these stalks, apparently. I’m meant to trim them down but I’ll wait until they go brown.
HIM: Can we do anything to make her bloom again?
ME: We should ask while we’re there. You know, assuming she survives.
HIM: Didn’t we do that before?
ME: Yeah, when we put her in the powder room at night to cool her off. But that was after the repotting and she was already stressed so that’s why it went poorly.
HIM: That, and she couldn’t get out.
ME: You’re never going to let me live that down, are you?
HIM: You called your plant!
ME: THIS IS WHY I CAN’T WITH PLANTS! This is how fundamentally I don’t understand them!
HIM: You just need one that comes when called.
ME: Or that can open doors.
ME: I need help. And advice.
EMPLOYEE: Okay, what can I help you with?
ME: (pulls liner out of pot) See this? The white stuff? That’s a problem, right?
EMPLOYEE: Let me… (into radio) Can I get someone to the Help and Advice desk? For an orchid.
ME: (to Husband) See? It’s so serious she needs to call in a specialist.
HIM: (rolls eyes)
GARDEN LADY: Hi, what can I help you with?
ME: Hi, I just bought this plant on… (checks date in phone) and now she’s… actually, it was you! You might remember me—
GARDEN LADY: Oh, I do.
ME: … Right. Yes. Well, I swear I’ve been taking really good care of her—
GARDEN LADY: (spots Clara; is visibly relieved) She looks beautiful!
ME: (glares at Husband over shoulder, sticks out tongue)
GARDEN LADY: (prodding leaves) Really lovely, she’s in great shape.**
ME: Yes, but look (pulls out liner, shows white stuff)
GARDEN LADY: Oh, that’s probably just mold.
GARDEN LADY: Yeah, it happens. Nothing to worry about. Ever been to Florida? You’d grow mold too.
ME: Oh my god, she’s got mold.
GARDEN LADY: I’d tell you to skip a watering, but we’re coming into some dryer months so just keep an eye on it.
ME: But what about this stuff? (points at more white on stalks)
GARDEN LADY: (wipes at white stuff) Oops. Mealies.
GARDEN LADY: (grabs cotton swab and alcohol, swipes at white, shows me) Bugs.
ME: (to Husband) SHE’S GOT MOLD AND BUGS.
HIM: (slumps, defeated)
GARDEN LADY: It’s no big deal, they happen to loads of orchids. She probably picked them up back home—they’re really common in tropical climates. She’s only got a few and we’ll take care of them right here. (continues swiping little cobweb fluffs)
ME: (to Husband) She had mold and bugs. I could have killed her.
* I have a schedule for her Watering Days. And a timer for her exposure. I told you, I’m taking this shit seriously. Beau should be so lucky… I actually haven’t seen him in a while—he might have run away.
** Told you.