Alarmingly, it's been almost a year, and I still haven't killed off any of my houseplants yet. I suppose this means I have turned over a new leaf?

(No you didn't, you loved that.)

It started last year, after I unceremoniously killed off two Fiddle Leaf Figs in a row, followed by three succulents, in tragically quick succession. Fiddle Leaf Figs are one thing, but tell me, who kills off a succulent? The hell, Natalie. I decided then, officially, right there in my kitchen, that I simply could not live with myself if being myself meant routinely killing off house plants, because that is just not the type of home I run. Or anyway, that is not the type of home I want to run. It's like when you realize you're the type of person who should be composting, only you aren't composting, and so you start composting, thus fulfilling the prophesy? Or like that one time I finally started wearing penny loafers.

Right, so I started taking my houseplants very seriously, is the long story short of it. And it's very quickly become my favorite part of our home, that lo-o-o-o-ng row of houseplants that live along the windowsill in the living room.

Who am I kidding, I have only one room. THE room. Living in a loft is funny sometimes.

They are doing fairly well I am pleased to report, and now I will tell you my secret: I set an alarm for once a week. On my phone. To remind me to water my plants. 


(Tee likes to have his fish bowl cleaned Sundays, because he's religious.)

I know this might sound somewhat pathetic. (I also have an alarm to remind me when it's bedtime, and when it's time to pick my kid up from school.) But there is no shame in my game and I am okay with admitting it: My brain resides fully inside a cracked iPhone. Eleven A.M, and I like to whisper sweet nothings to my green children as I go around splashing them with liquids. 

I still feel a twinge of regret over my poor Fiddle Leaf friends. I just wasn't ready for them. Fiddles are so finicky. They're like the peanut-allergy / gluten-sensitives of the houseplant world, and I was a peanut butter sandwich. It's a level of parenting I'll need to work up to. 

My plant babies are mostly arid types. A few cacti and some succulents, and some other spiny things I don't know much about except that they're pretty. Just a teeny tiny trickle, just once a week. Maybe a quarter cup at most. I'm pretty much rocking it.

But every mother has a favorite, and my favorite is Bob. Bob's a Bird of Paradise. I named him Bob for who knows why, but I really look forward to our weekly chats together. I fill the pitcher in the bathtub and give him a good long soak, all the while giving him compliments, filling him in on the important news of the day, that sort of thing. Bob tends to angle himself toward the sunlight and grow a little lopsidedly. I like to tell him it gives him character, but I usually give him a good twist to the left anyway, you know. He's never given me flowers but I try not to hold it against him.

I first met Bob on Seventh Avenue in Park Slope outside a store called The Bad Wife. The Bad Wife is a really stupid name for a grocery store. I just want that on the record. I went into The Bad Wife for the first time half expecting to find a grocery store dedicated to frozen TV dinners or something, but no, it was just a grocery store, for food. I don't know, it doesn't make any sense. Oddly I still find myself sorting through my feelings on the matter any time I walk past the place. But, Bob. From The Bad Wife. I hired the Bad Wife grocery guy to deliver Bob after his shift was over. Later that evening the guy showed up with Bob at the front door, all bushy and enormous and things (the plant, not the guy), and Brandon looked at me with his eyebrows all funny, because it turns out I forgot to mention that I'd bought it. Oops! Bad wife.

I expect Bob to keel over dead any minute now, but weirdly, it's one of my snake plants I've had the hardest time keeping healthy. Aren't snake plants supposed to be indestructible? Did I get the runt of the litter? The other two are doing great, but this one . . . I don't know what to do about my snake plant. I just can't figure him out. He's like that teenager slamming the door after stomping down the hallway (I don't have a hallway),"Nobody understands me!" I keep a set of kitchen shears handy so I can trim off the brown, curled dead ends that keep coming back, and I just know this upsets him. Do you think he thinks I'm trying to change him? Do you think he thinks I think he isn't enough on his own? Or maybe he's just acting out for attention? I make it a point to tell him something nice any time I think of it, which isn't that often. Which I suppose is part of the problem. 

Anyway, my friend Emily once wrote a post about her favorite houseplants. You can find it HERE. And I've just realized that I've written about my relationships to shrubbery before, and it's one of my very favorites. You can find that HERE.

The end.


  1. oh i looove this. and your other post on shrubs, love it too. yay for you keeping your plants alive! i'm notoriously bad at keeping anything green alive, as much as i may love them. i did, however, get myself a jade plant last fall (i think?) and it's still growing nicely by my kitchen sink. fingers crossed it keeps on going!

  2. I'm going on 6 months with my plants and so far so good! You keep on keeping on girl!!!

  3. An alarm is a clever idea! I have accidentlly gone a couple weeks between watering before and those poor suckers sure like to remind you about your absentmindedness oops!

  4. Fact- I need a houseplant. How can I live in a very old farmhouse smack dab in the middle of wild land and have no plants- it makes no sense. Ok, I need suggestions, where do you even start?

  5. Alright, it's time I take my poor suffering houseplants more seriously! Alarms! You're a genius, Natalie, and I love everything you write. Also, do you ever just dance on your fire escape while belting out West Side Story? Because obviously that's what a beautiful fire escape like that is for, right?

  6. I am so jealous that you have SO MANY plants!

  7. Oh I used to live right by the Bad Wife! I remember when it was renamed, quite a to-do. Apparently the owner really loves his wife, and she is a very good wife, so he thought it would be a funny joke to name the store the Bad Wife. Not everyone got it.

  8. I love your place! Those plants are so adorable!

  9. I've totally killed a snake plant before. It got all bug infested. The bugs began to invade my bed. It was gross. And the poor plant got all saggy leafed. I haven't had real plants in my house since. I've been dying to invest in some though! Thanks for the inspiration.

  10. I wonder if Bob is bitter that he's not in California with his warm friends?! Have you seen the Urban Jungle Bloggers? It's based in Europe and dedicated to all things house plant! Think you'd enjoy it and/or lose a few hours browsing ;)

  11. Who kills off a succulent? Me. This girl right here. Three of them in less than a year and one who is barely hanging on for dear life. And we're not even going to talk about the two leafy things (I don't even remember what they were called, how sad) that were infested with spider mites and had to go live far, far away in the woods behind our house. Although, they're not really "living" out there... 'cuz they've probably returned to the Earth by now, ifyaknowwhatImean. I did happen to break off a little nub of one of my succulents accidentally and after placing him in a small pot on top of some random dirt I had laying around, would you believe the little nugget is actually GROWING?! He's like an inch tall now... I am so proud.

    But what I am trying to say here is, the phone alarm thing is a great idea! I'm thinking Thursdays.
    xo, Steve

  12. I have a complete brown thumb, but strangely I have one or two plants that are hanging on...Don't ask me how...a tender mercy? It's been a while since I've been to your blog, like months, and months because I was on hiatus. It looks like you moved...different apartment.

  13. This is some how such a lovely emotional post. You're my favorite for that reason above anything else- You're so connected, so plugged in to your life! xo!!

  14. Awesome post. I think I'm going to go buy some more houseplants after work today. I have a few but am definitely in need of some more. I love the look of a home filled with plants. Thanks for the inspiration!

  15. I love having a lot of house plants. -Hanna Lei

  16. Snake plants are only supposed to be watered once every 2-ish weeks! I learned this from the very nice and very old man at the farmers market who sold me one last summer. I was killing it so I went back to him for advice and he said just a little water once every couple weeks! Now my lil snake friend is growing tall and beautiful.

  17. I have one plant. I did have two but..well, the orchid died. Both plants were gifted to me from an expat that said the plants were passed from one expat to the next. I'm 4th generation plant owner. And I killed the orchid. She told me not to kill the orchid because it was her favourite and really special. But I killed it. Now I'm trying to not kill the other one (I have no idea what it is. I'd better ask my mum). It's growing but it looks like it needs re-potted. It's growing out of the little plastic cup. It's going all wonky and I think I need to get some soil and a bigger pot. But what if I killl it? So I'm doing nothing at the moment. Maybe this weekend I should go get it a new little home and more soil. It's the only plant I've got!

  18. Houseplants were all the rage back in the 70's, right? Every susie homemaker had some. I say, "bring back the houseplants!!" I have orchids, geranium, aloe, and a few others. It's fun to take care of them, isn't it?

  19. Amazing blog post, thank's for the giggle ! I recently killed a cactus, I still don't know how it happened, especially since it receives the same treatments as all the others.. Maybe it was it's time. I don't know why I have never thought of setting a weekly alarm to remind me to water them but thank you for the tip !

    Charlie xx


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