Saturday, November 30, 2002

Laura on tour, day 1: The jade plant story

I'm trying to be good with the house plants. I felt really bad killing Laura's jade plant last time she was out of town. Statistically, it wasn't so bad--she has LOTS of plants, and I only killed the one in two weeks. I didn't do it on purpose. I thought I was being so good, making sure all the plants were watered every day, but it turns out you're only supposed to water jade plants every month or so. They're the plant equivalent of goldfish; they're very hardy, and practically indestructible. Bachelor party animals can have one in their apartments to impress chicks with the fact that they're responsible and caring, even though you can pour stale beer on them monthly and they'll thrive. It turns out their Achilles heel is too much water. My schedule looked something like this:

Monday 6am Drop Laura off at airport
Monday 7amWater Laura's jade plant
Monday 3pmGet home from work. Can't remember if I watered jade plant; water jade plant again
Monday 7pm After dinner, water jade plant
Tuesday 6amWater jade plant
Tuesday 8pmWater jade plant
Wednesday 6amWater jade plant
Wednesday 9pmRepot jade plant in bigger pot, so I can give it even MORE water
Thursday 6amWater jade plant
Thursday 3pm Water jade plant
Thursday 10pm Water jade plant
Friday 6am Water jade plant
Friday 2pm< Decide the jade plant looks like it could use some more water. Spend afternoon constructing automatic jade plant irrigation system.
...and so on for the rest of the two weeks.

Have you ever seen a jade plant die from overwatering? It's an oddity in the house plant world, at least in my experience. It'll look completely healthy, and the leaves will be lush and green right to the end. Then you touch the plant, or bump it with the watering can, and...

the branches fall off.

No kidding. I'm used to warning signs from plants: the leaves turn brown, icky white stuff starts growing on the stalks, etc. But no such forewarning from a jade plant. Green, healthy-looking, and shedding branches like our ferns shed leaves. I felt pretty bad when it died, and once the branches start falling off there's nothing you can do to save it.

But, in my defense, the REST of the plants thrived.