Just when you think all hope is lost, a shamrock might surprise you with unexpected resilience

I didn’t mean to kill my plants.

In fact, I did everything I could to make sure they got enough water while I was away for two weeks.

There is theoretically a way to responsibly abandon houseplants

offbrand hydrospike automatic plant watering

This product image looks better than the brand I actually purchased, but the concept is identical.

I felt confident in my automatic watering solution, aside from some slight worry when I learned that during my first week of travel, temperatures soared in NYC.

My poor plants, I thought. I imagined them sucking their makeshift water reservoirs completely dry.

My houseplants were not responsibly abandoned. They were just straight-up abandoned.

When I got home, the soda bottles were completely full.

automatic plant watering fail

These bottles should have been empty when I returned home. Notice, they are not.

I don’t know if the system was flawed or if I failed to set it up correctly, but either way, I arrived home to a distressing truth:

My plants didn’t get a drop of water for more than two weeks.

What happens to plants who get no water for two weeks?

Though I watered all three of my plants thoroughly and immediately, I had differing degrees of hope for each of them.

dry plants after automatic watering fail

Shammy appears to be 100% dead, with Lilah not looking so good herself. And Planty stands vibrant and tall behind them.

Planty was fine, of course. Planty is always fine. Heck, apparently, Planty thrives on deprivation.

Lilah didn’t look great, but she didn’t look dead, either.

Shammy looked dead.

I considered throwing him away that night, but I wasn’t quite ready to face reality.

Hope for Shammy

Except, the next day, I realized reality was a little different than I’d initially thought.

Nestled amid Shammy’s pale and drooping stems, I spotted not one but two nuggets of…something.

And a day later, upon closer consideration, I noticed there were three.

shamrock shows signs of unexpected resilience

What are these mysterious plant nuggets? Only time will tell.

I found the appearance of the nuggets to be perplexing and inspiring. I allowed a few more days to pass, and then I decided to cut my losses. Literally.

shamrock cuttings on the kitchen floor

If this photo were to scale you’d be more impressed with how much of Shammy ended up on the floor. Poor guy lost nearly everything.

Once I finished trimming and cleared all the dried leaves and limp stalks from the kitchen floor, I admired a humble but promising Shammy in his pot of almost-empty soil.

freshly sheared shamrock plant

A newly sheared Shammy faces his potential for growth.

Sure, he’d been reduced to a weak fraction of his former lushness, but he was still in the game.

I didn’t know if he would fully bounce back, but I was grateful to give him the chance.

Meanwhile, Lilah died

I’ll keep this part short.

(And there’s no picture because it is too depressing.)

Basically, Lilah’s leaves and stems became continuously more brittle over the course of two weeks.

Then she stopped absorbing water in her soil entirely (which seems to be the equivalent of a sick animal who stops eating).

I am 99% positive she is done for, but have not yet had the willingness to dispose of her skeleton. 🙁

In any case, thank you, Lilah, for the valuable lessons you taught us all about the delightful uncertainty of new growth—as well as what happens when we ignore potential.

Lilah, you will be missed.

Shammy, however, is showing unexpected resilience

And as though to underscore the truth that birth and death are both always present—two sides of the same coin of ongoing, miraculous Life—the day after I somberly acknowledged that Lilah was a goner, Shammy sprung up FOUR new sets of leaves.

shamrock plant come back to life, resurrected

Look at all those new leaves! Someone’s making a COMEBACK!

I mean, wow, Shammy. Wow!

Way to show us what’s up.

Onward and upward

After I’ve paid my final respects to Lilah and respectfully disposed of her, my plan is to have Shammy inherit her big green pot—because obviously he’s got ambition.

And to fill his current position, I’ll bring home someone new the next time I’m at Trader Joe’s.

I’ll be honest: I don’t know what will become of the new guy. (Invincible Planty aside, my track rate with houseplants is fairly hit or miss.)

But as Shammy so clearly evidences, anything’s possible.

Love > fear,


p.s. I expect I’ll be talking about my new business much more going forward, but if you want a sneak peek/free spirit guide reading in the meantime, check out goldenglance.com!

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