Ficus killer, qu’est-ce que c’est

by Julie Frayn on May 8, 2012 in  Bric-a-brac

fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa flora, run run run run run run run away.

(With sincere apologies to Talking Heads).

I kill plants. It is not intentional, I am not a murderer. All homicidal tendencies are spilled onto the page, into my stories. I never take out murderous plots on actual living things. Except flies. And ants. And spiders that are just too scary to capture and release outside. Oh, and wasps. They’re nasty. But otherwise, you know, I don’t kill stuff.

In terms of dead plants, the worst I could be charged with is plantslaughter – not plant 1, with intent. No, I’d get plant 2, the involuntary kind. No actual time served, just a slap on the wrist and some green thumb counseling.

I try to keep my plants safe, try to love them and feed them just the right amount. Try to provide just enough sunlight without burning the crap out of them and turning them into crispy critters. I’ve even been caught carrying on conversations with them.

You start a conversation you can’t even finish it.  You’re talkin’ a lot, but you’re not sayin’ anything. ~Talking Heads, Psycho Killer

My mother always told me they liked the sound of voices – with the obvious exception of mine. No matter what I do, they just keep dropping like flies!

Truth be told, I have a harder time killing flies. The plants don’t move, don’t dart about. They just sit there and take it. Maybe that’s what I need. Moving targets. Plants with legs or wings and a heartbeat and brains enough to run or fly the hell away from me.

How do I do such a smashing job of raising two perfect children into fine adults, but fail in epic fashion at watering a couple of trees? My past is a killing field littered with dried and decaying corpses of figs, rubber and dragon plants, ferns and cacti and philodendron. Heck, I even killed the silk varieties – let them become so laden with dust and cobwebs, the only solution was hasty burial in a Hefty bag.

What I am left with is:

  • an umbrella plant that, lucky for it, will survive a nuclear war
  • a Marble Queen Pothos that lost her marbles after attempting hari-kari a few years back (no, really. I wake up one morning to find this thing toppled over on the bookshelf, its barren tentacles – some twelve feet long – sprawled all over the living room)
  • one limp snake plant that never took root but I’ve kept in my living room for 13 years anyway, and:
  • two, yes two, totally dead Ficus trees.

My daughter won’t let me get rid of the dead things – she thinks they are beautiful. The braided trunk of the tallest does resemble a headless woman hugging herself, writhing in ecstasy. Or maybe that’s writing in pain. (Yes, I meant writing, not writhing).

Maybe I should attempt a plant resurrection. If I shove them in a cave, will they emerge, reborn, in three days? No? Maybe they’re not dead at all. Maybe they are dormant, sleeping. Or having a tantrum because I moved them six years ago and it pissed them off.

I may be over thinking this a wee bit. Perhaps I need a plantervention.

Or maybe just a stiff drink.


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

ToscaSac May 8, 2012 at 2:56 pm

I did not grow up with plants. I have never had any except a cactus I killed accidentally once.

I did try my hand at gardening one year. That went ok.

Now I have some kitty grass or catnip growing over the kitchen sink from a kit I got at the $1 store…only time will tell. lol


Julie May 8, 2012 at 8:22 pm

My mother doesn’t have a green thumb. She has two whole green hands! Her and dad. I did not inherit those genes… Good luck with the catnip. Assuming you have cats? 😀

J Timothy Quirk May 8, 2012 at 5:23 pm

You at least have an umbrella plant. Florists wouldnt even trust me with an umbrella.


Julie May 8, 2012 at 8:26 pm

Ah, Joe – I could send you a cutting from mine. It has survived some serious bad juju, from neglect and abuse and starvation, to being tipped over and sucked up the vacuum, and more than one dog lifting its leg on it. Thing has a target on it, but it takes a licking and keeps on photosynthesizing!

Mitch May 9, 2012 at 10:40 am

I love the title! Psycho Killer is my favourite Talking Heads song. I don’t know what it is with Ficus plants, I’ve killed a few of them in my day too. Finicky Ficus I guess. On the other hand, I have a snake plant that Jerry brought into the marriage and it is still going strong, like my marriage :)


Julie May 9, 2012 at 12:21 pm

My snake plant wilted like my marriage, but the plant is managing to hang on! You know what happened with that other thing…

M. J. Joachim May 9, 2012 at 10:43 am

This post made me giggle…enough that I had to include it in my latest episode of Blogging Destinations.


Julie May 9, 2012 at 12:23 pm

That is fantastic! Thanks for including me. Yike, I’ll get a bad reputation. And not the really fun kind! 😀

Glory Lennon May 9, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Oh, you poor dear! At least you’re funny about the whole thing. you had me LOL I have the exact opposite effect on plants. Can’t kill them to save my life. Or perhaps I have the right kind of plants? I’ll send you some, shall I? 😉


Julie May 9, 2012 at 7:54 pm

We are like yin and yang. Or maybe the rebel alliance and the evil empire of the chlorophyll set… I worry that if you send me some, they will be doomed. But thank you for the thought, and the comment! Your garden pictures are lovely. :)

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