I kill plants. Not on purpose, mind you. I talk to them sweetly and put them in the sunshine and water them on a regular basis, but something about my presence makes most common houseplants drop their leaves and shrivel. I’ve avoided purchasing plants because I name them and get attached and then have this weird emotional mini-meltdown when they die.
Sigh. I am a plant murderer.
But I refuse to wave the white flag regarding all things green. (You see what I did there?) This is Wilkie. He’s named after Wilkie Collins, my favorite Victorian novelist. I bought Wilkie (the plant, not the writer) from the 99-cent store about a year ago. He was sad and small and withering in the dreadful Texas heat. He was ashamed of his cheap plastic pot and his low-rent lodgings on a metal cart outside a borderline-skeevy discount store along Westheimer. His wee leaves trembled with excitement and anticipation when I carried him to the cashier inside. I am still haunted by the disappointed way the leaves of his comrades drooped, but I am a woman of limited resources. I cannot rescue every sad 99-cent-store plant in Houston. But Wilkie, I decided — Wilkie I must have. He has charisma! Lilian told me that he is an umbrella plant, which seems very Edward Lear-ian.
I am proud to report that since Wilkie’s homecoming he has grown exponentially. He was only two or three inches tall at time of purchase, and now he is a Shaq in the plant world. Or maybe a Yao Ming, since he’s Houstonian. The reasons for Wilkie’s upward climb I cannot fathom. I suppose he’s so happy to be rid of the stigma of 99-cent-store plant that he decided to thrive, despite my black thumb. Perhaps he enjoys his colorful pot. For your reference, I made Danny stand next to Wilkie to demonstrate his impressive height. He enlisted Toby’s help:
Unfortunately, of late Wilkie has been — well — not looking his best. His bottom leaves have turned a little yellow and droopy, and he just hasn’t seemed his cheerful self. This is a crisis. Today Danny and I repotted him in some fresh, nutrient-rich soil, and I bought some houseplant food at Target.
I also gave him a pep talk. I informed him that his namesake was a man with a forehead so large and bulbous that some biographers call it disfigured. And yet despite this seemingly insurmountable obstacle, Collins managed to woo a lot of ladies, write a lot of fantastic sensation fiction, and pal around with literary luminaries such as Charles Dickens. I tried to explain that this minor yellowishness? Nothing compared to the Wilkie Collins five-head. So really, this minor setback in his upward growth is peanuts in the grand scheme of things.
I think the forehead reference worked. He’s much perkier this afternoon.