As most of you know, being able to keep a plant alive is a crucial part of becoming an adult.
I have never successfully raised a plant. Therefore, I am not an adult.
I had a succulent once — I got it from a White Elephant party — but even that died. I am not a girl, but clearly I am not yet a woman.
Raising plants would prove that I have focus, determination, selflessness and watering skills — all of which are crucial requirements of adult life.
If I would care for plants and keep them alive for an entire month, I could do anything adult.
Hell, if I could keep plants alive, I could probably change a tire on a car, do my taxes, or use the oven as something other than storage.
Ready to finally prove my worth, I headed to The Sill, a plant shop in New York City's Chinatown, to adopt some plant babies.
The Sill's marketing manager Erin Marino showed me around and taught me some plant care techniques, like dusting.
Erin introduced me to three different types of plants.
They were all so unique and green and pretty. But when you adopt plants (as opposed to birthing them yourself), you get to pick out the most beautiful plants there. So that's what I did.
Meet my babies: Snakey the Snake Plant, Neo the Neon Pothos, and Dickboy the Cactus.
Holding my three plant babies, I felt something was missing.
There were so many plants that needed a home. I looked at all these plants, with their puppy-dog leaves, and I knew it was my duty to adopt a few more. After assuring Erin that I could handle a few more plants, she let me pick out two more.
Please say hi to Xero the Air Plant and Horny the Staghorn Fern.
I probably shouldn't have taken Xero the Air Plant (or Xerographica) home with me. But I just thought she was so cool. She didn't even need soil to survive. An old coworker of mine had a collection of air plants, and I always wanted one. I knew taking care of Xero would be difficult, since she needed lots of misting, but I was up to the challenge. Or at least I thought I was.
The Staghorn Fern and I were destined for each other since the moment we met. When in-house plant expert Chris Satch described the plant, I knew we would get along. Like Horny, I am also "ideal for bathrooms" and "can be wet all the time and be OK."
After I took my new plants back to my office, I said goodnight and left them on the window sill to get some sunlight over the weekend.
What, was I supposed to take them home with me? I had other things to do.
I returned Monday morning to find my babies teetering on the brink of death.
Apparently the heater — located on the window sill — had turned on over the weekend, baking my poor plant babies in the process.
I couldn't believe it. Three days into plant motherhood and I was killing my babies.
I bought medicine to help speed their recovery.
I reached out to the plant doctors at The Sill for advice. Erin told me to soak the Staghorn Fern with tepid, low-pressure water, and then move the fern to a spot that receives moderate to low, indirect light. With that advice, I brought Horny back from the brink of death by dehydration.
Chris didn't think the plant food spikes were a bad purchase, but he instead recommended powder/liquid fertilizer, since "the nutrient delivery is immediate."
Within a week and a half, my plant babies started were looking healthier.
With one exception.
Xero had started to look dry and sickly.
Auntie Joanna took good care of them and gave them lots of love and kisses.
Still, I couldn't stop worrying about them, especially Xero. I had left her when she was sick. Should I have taken her with me? Was I just a bad plant mother?
That's when I made a startling discovery.
My own mother was a plant murderer.
When I got home, I learned that my mother was in the process of deliberately poisoning and suffocating a poor, helpless plant in her backyard.
I fell to my knees and cursed the gods. Was plant murdering just in my blood? Was I no better than my mother? Was it just that my chosen method of murder was simply neglect?
I could and would end the cycle of plant death; I would keep my plant babies alive.
I returned home and immediately took Xero to the plant E.R. (I emailed the Sill again).
With these photos, plant doctor Chris was able to diagnose my plant with a fungal infection.
This infection couldn't be stopped with some Monistat; this infection was deadly. Xero was dying.
Chris also told me she looked "mega-crispy," which was curious, since the fungus infects the plant when it is wet. Somehow I had over- and under-watered the plant at the same time.
I didn't understand how this could have happened. I tried so hard to be a good plant mother. Apparently, some things were just outside of my control.
"Like all plants, and living-things in general, an extreme change in environment or care will disrupt them. Think of how our skin can break out based on the season, or based on what we eat," plant doctor Erin explained.
That's when I got an idea.
Although I couldn't save Xero's young life, I could make Xero comfortable in her last days of life. I could make her feel like she was home, safe in her natural environment.
For one day, I would let my plants experience simulations of their natural environments.