Last month I spent an amazing week in Mexico. I was on the coast with a cool ocean breeze and lots of sand and sun. It was wonderful to walk around and see plants such as oleander, bouganvillea, palms and many others growing in their natural climate rather than in my shop. I took a day trip to the world heritage site of Chichen Izza and was stunned by the airplants growing within the branches of trees.
Seeing these tropical plants in their natural environment was really an education for me. What really stood out though brought me back to a recent conversation with a florist friend here in Toronto. As we stood in the sunshine outside one of our wholesalers, this florist friend talked about her frustration with the expectations of clients lately that everything be perfect. In particular she felt frustrated by clients that would purchase a houseplant and then return in later months upset that some leaves had discoloured or dropped. The attitude is usually that there is something wrong with the plant and that we as the retailers must have sold a less than healthy plant to them.
I've dealt with this too, and share the frustration my friend feels. If Mexico taught me anything it's that plants are in a constant cycle of growth and decay. Those gorgeous palm plants? All of them had at least one frond that was yellowed and falling. The blooming Oleanders and bouganvilleas? same. The airplants? Every one that I saw ( and I saw a lot) had some browned dried leaf tips.
And the big lesson here is that this need we seem to have as a society for everything to be in perfect condition, unchanging from day to day and month to month is completely unrealistic. Plants don't last for ever. And they especially won't last for ever in an environment that isn't optimal for them such as our air conditioned, central heated dry homes. But guess what? Even in the moist lush tropical environments of Mexico, plants still grow and die and grow again.
So I am putting it out there officially- it is OK if a plant doesn't thrive in your home. It is more than OK, it is to be expected. It isn't you, it's them. And the best part of it all, is that you can throw it into the green bin and bring in a new green friend to enjoy. Because plants make the best pets.