I don’t remember which trip to Colorado it was, but since at this point all of them have sort of blurred together I suppose it doesn’t matter—and at any rate, the timing isn’t the point. The point is, I came home, made a spontaneous trip to Home Depot for… something? (Again, the actual purpose of the errand is irrelevant) and came home with a Majesty Palm tree.
Because I have no sense of proportion.
I don’t know what came over me, I just saw her there and she had to come home with me.
Alexander Hamilton saw her and decided she looked delicious.
I was not expecting this because
- Palm trees are not delicious—they are fibrous and pokey.
- He has never shown the least inclination to eat any other plant in our home, including the Christmas tree. Mind, his one and only tree with us was last year’s poisonous Scottish tree, but still!
- Ham is awesome and I really don’t expect him to do shitty things like eat my goddamned majestic tree.
The tree eating led to much research on my part as to what I could safely spray on Madge that would deter Ham’s nibbling without harming either of them, and along the way Ham got to visit his new vet because of the Very Serious Tummy Troubles.
But I did eventually find a recipe that, while less than ideal, was something I could work with and adapt to actually be safe for both of them.
And, while this is absolutely not a gardening blog, we are on the Internet.
Which means, statistically, you have or love cats.
Which means this is basically a public service announcement. Unless you need help killing plants, in which case…
I was about to boast that I can’t help with that anymore, but then I glanced over at my dead poinsettia and realized Husband has taken up the mantle of Plant Killer in our family. So yeah, send any plants you want quietly offed here.
For the rest of you, here follows the actual recipe that now makes Alexander Hamilton flinch away from Madge, who is recovering nicely from his once-daily chomping:
GENUINELY NON-TOXIC CAT-REPELLING PLANT SPRAY
- 3 Tbsp Ground Cinnamon
- 3 Tbsp Dried Lavender
- 3 Tbsp Fresh Rosemary
- 3 Cups Water
- Cheesecloth (technically hardware, but I had to go dig it out of my sfx kit so I won’t assume you keep it in the kitchen)
- Bring water just to a boil, then add cinnamon, lavender, and rosemary and remove from heat.
- Steep overnight (this is, no doubt, the worst pot of tea you will ever make)
- Lay cheesecloth over mouth of second container, preferably one with a pour spout
- Pour liquid through cheesecloth into second container—the cheesecloth is there to catch the goop and chunky bits. These will fuck up your spray bottle—trust me.
- Pour strained liquid into spray bottle of your choice and liberally mist all the “edible” bits of your plants.
- Watch cats avoid lovely fragrant plant like it started selling health supplements and wants them to “host a gathering”
Believe it or not, I didn’t sit down to brag on my palm tree.
There was, as always, a Conversation. And once I got to thinking about that, I got sidetracked.
But, you see, I do have more plants now living than I’ve ever had at any time in my life, and this is sort of amazing to us.
Offspring was skeptical.
ME: I got a tree.
OFFSPRING: A tree? Who’s going to take care of it?
ME: I will!
OFFSPRING: You don’t go outside!
ME: She’s an inside tree!
ME: She’s a Majestic Palm.
OFFSPRING: How dead is it.
ME: SHE’S FINE!
OFFSPRING: Okay, sure.
ME: Her name is Madge.
OFFSPRING: How dead is Madge?
ME: SHE’S DOING GREAT, ACTUALLY, YOU LITTLE ASSHOLE!
OFFSPRING: Okay, jeez, calm down…
OFFSPRING: So how long before it dies?
ME: I’m hanging up now.
Husband is more supportive, probably because he’s here all the time and sees me taking excellent care of my plants.
HIM: You’re looking very pretty today, Clara.
HIM: Keep trying, Max!
ME: Were you… talking to my orchids?
HIM: … Yeah.
He’s just so damned cute sometimes.
 Spoiler alert: the internet is full of horrible advice on this topic; from cat-loving sites that will tell you to spray cat-safe products on your cats without mentioning it’s a quick way to kill the plant, to plant-friendly sites that advocate spraying essential oils on your plants without mentioning the dead cat you’ll be burying next to your healthy tomatoes. In case anyone’s wondering why it took me months to hunt down an answer: it’s because every time I’d tuck into the research I would get frustrated about 45 minutes in and give up, deciding Ham and Madge would just have to work it out amongst themselves, like adults.
 Even though I’m totally qualified to have one, because I now have two thriving orchids, some sort of succulent, a sansevieria, and a goddamned tree in my house.
 Be careful where you get it; make sure it’s food-safe. The stuff I’ve linked is, but you can find others if convenience offends you.
 Dried is a poor substitute, as you won’t have the whole branch to work with, but if you really want that rosemary smell and can’t imagine running out for fresh by all means, use the dried stuff—I haven’t brushed my hair yet, so I’m in no position to judge your choices. Maybe give it a bit of a crush by hand before dropping it into the water, to help it along?
 I recommended one here because I broke two really fancy spray bottles trying to get precious with my application. This is not the time to break out your really amazing mister (although I love that one) or your cutest plant sprayer… they are not intended for anything but water, and even after straining this stuff is decidedly not water.
 If you are protecting garden plants from outdoor cats, you can add ¾ cup distilled white vinegar and ¼ cup fresh lemon juice at this point, but then you must pour it over the ground—spraying acids like vinegar or lemon on the plant itself is an excellent way to kill your plant. Which… I mean, if you’re looking for a fragrant way to kill weeds, this would be the thing, but it seems like a lot of work when pure vinegar is right there. Maybe I’m just lazy.
 This is, of course, a blatant lie. I’ve been looking for an excuse for months to tell you all about my newest plant success. IT’S A SUCCESS, DAMMIT!
 Which was what made it all the more heartbreaking when he murdered poor Francis, the poinsettia. But we don’t talk about that. Apparently.