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5 Plants for the Brown Thumbed

It is a fact that most of the gold fish sold in pet stores gets flushed down the toilet within a day or two. I myself have flushed down a dozen or more before getting four of them to survive. They stayed with us for five years, and were thriving when we had to find a foster home for them when we left USA. Techniques exist to ship live fish half the world away, but the cost is not affordable for a family.

Plants are the same. I dare say most of the potted plants sold at a nursery don’t make it beyond a month or two. Some lucky ones find themselves at some affluent garden under the care of a dedicated person. Most of them end up with us ordinary folks who have a tense job, a horrible commute, loans to pay, and relatives to visit. Naturally they take a back seat and get forgotten easily.

Kids!! They want all the cute things in the world but their interest in it will barely last a day. The gold fish I mentioned before were the result of weeks of nagging by the ever insistent Appu (now a 10th grader). I knew very well that I will end up feeding them, cleaning their crap every week, and maintaining the aerator, even though the kid readily claimed that he will do everything.

And every Sunday smelt like fish crap for me for the rest of the stay. I did not resent it though. Those fish were fun.

Same story with plants. I lost count of the roses that my lady thus killed. She will see the hormone induced (we will come to that again soon) bloom of the roses at the nursery, and immediately wants them. Honestly, I haven’t seen even one of those roses put out a decent flower till now. How can it? Roses need a lot of care and sunlight. We offer them neither! We killed a lot of plants other than roses as well.

Dr. J C Bose has proven long ago that plants have feelings. I would take a step further and claim that “plants are people too”, they just can’t express their feelings, that’s all. You should consider this when you bring them to your family. They needs care, like other pets. The intentions are always good. You will imagine all good things you are going to do. But things will slip, and attention will falter. Keep this is mind on your next trip to the nursery, and choose the species accordingly. Lets get started with 5 easy, low maintenance ones first, shall we?
1. Chinese Evergreen.
Now, this encompasses a broad category of plants which are primarily meant to be indoor plants. Available in many different leaf variegations and arrangements, they thrive well with infrequent watering and in shade. Not advised for pet owners though, they are considered to be poisonous upon ingestion.


2. Crotons
The lazy (wo)man’s way of introducing a riot of colours in the garden. They love hot and humid conditions, but grow well even with a certain degree of neglect and require bright and direct sunlight. Again, this genus has a lot of variety and variations you can choose from.

croton easy to grow plants


3. Spider Plant
I am told, if you kill THIS plant, it’s advisable you hang your gardening boots and retire. I have not tested that theory myself but on all accounts, this one again is a tough cookie. Gracefully arching blades of leaves, they look beautiful when groomed well. Happy in both sun or shade, it requires little water here and there to keep it happier.


4. Wandering Jew
Direct sun, indirect sun, no sun, this plant can take all kinds of abuse and still surprise you with it’s will to survive! No wonder somebody got their gardening mojo back thanks to this plant. Looks lovely in hanging baskets with a mop of purple/green leaves cascading down. Can make do with even once a week watering, but ofcourse flourishes when watered more regularly.


5. Succulents
Now, I personally have never been too successful with these little buggers (probably because of my over TLC-ing tendencies). But people world over are going gaga over succulents because of the sheer variety of shapes and sizes available, and rightly so, some of them are absolutely unique. Also, because the more you ignore them, the more they seem to flourish. By the way cacti are succulents too, so they prefer a more sandy potting soil. Let me know if you guys are more successful than me in keeping these alive!



PS: I am not even counting the ever popular Aureus(money plant) family in this roundup. I think we might be born with a gene coded with the knowledge – Aureus + water = instant houseplant!

A kind contribution from Dileep Kumar for Housedelic.