Plant Follies

My coworker across the hall is a very impulsive, energetic, and passionate young woman. She is an accomplished therapist and administrator. I have known her since she was a little girl, and it is very fun to work with her as an adult. She had a small potted tropical tree that she had kept alive and thriving in her office under a light, as her office is on the inside of the building and has no outside window.

Last week she decided it needed a larger pot, so she, somewhat impulsively, carried it, uncovered, out to her car in subzero windchills, repotted it at home, and carried it, uncovered, in subzero windchills, back into the office.

It wasn’t looking so good yesterday, and she admitted that she doused it with a lot of water in a panic after seeing it start to fail. It used to have dark green leaves. This is what it looks like now.

With her permission, I moved it to my office by my window, and poured out the excess water. I think the leaves may have froze, but the roots and thick, twisted trunk are ok, so we just have to be patient and hope for the best.

What kind of plant do you think this is? Any suggestions how to revive it? What is your success record with house plants? What are your experiences with someone who has ADHD?

52 thoughts on “Plant Follies”

  1. Morning!
    I have trouble keeping plants alive; usually due to overwatering. And I don’t know or don’t pay enough attention to directions on sunlight. Kelly does pretty good with plants but we’re no experts.
    Sometimes we plant sit for our neighbors. It makes me nervous every time and I warn her I can’t keep anything alive. She admits to spilling a lot of water and killing a lot of plants too so she never seems too worried about it. And she has a lot of orchids, but they just get three ice cubes once a week. Easy.
    ADHD- haven’t had much to do with it.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. We went through the ice cubes and orchids thing for a year or so until one day I recommended putting the ice cubes in a measuring cup and letting them melt, then remembering how much water that was. Since then, the orchids get tap water. Sure made it easier!

      Liked by 5 people

    1. I also have a plant eating cat. So the only live plants I have in the house are in macarmé hangers off of a coat rack in my bedroom. She can’t get to these.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am no good at identifying plants. But the leaves there remind me of an abandoned plant (in a pot) that I found near my house in Taiwan one day in 2008. I brought it home, tossed the pot and planted the thing in the middle of my little back yard. By the time we left in 2018, it was over 20 feet tall and about 8 inches thick at the bottom. Of course, in the tropics, things grow all year, Taiwan gets plenty of rain, and where we were never freezes.Your recommendation of light is absolutely right, though. That works for me, now retired in Michigan, too.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Interesting, Abukso. The scheffflera acrinophyll, known in the states as the umbrella tree, is native to Taiwan. It always amazes me when I see a plant, that I think of as a potted plant, growing wild somewhere. Just doesn’t seem right.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. seeing if she froze it hard enough to kill it is all you can do at this point
    i am familiar with the plant but don’t know the name
    it has an odd number of leaves that always remind me of marijuana
    adhd are us
    my two oldest are adhd folks
    son is a hype
    daughter gets lost in thought
    i suspect i was what would have been an adhd kid if the times were moved a bit
    as it was i was just that kid that couldn’t sit quietly at his desk and behave like the rest of the class did
    i had an active social life everywhere i went and made friends with whoever they sat me near
    worked out ok but i had to figure out how to integrate into many situations where energy was factored in
    my last 3 kids had their own stuff but adhd wasn’t part of it
    now i’m watching my grandkids grow
    ari is an adhd
    denver’s not
    they will each get it done but ari will kill more plants

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I do ok, but mostly try to just haul things in to overwinter as my space/light/kitties matrix is challenging (the best places for plants are prime feline sunspots).

    So I’ve designated TheClosedRoom for a bunch of overwintering plants, but it has the out-of-sight-out-of-mind problem when it comes to watering.

    My grandmother grew a window full of African violets behind her stove. my mother had a windowful filling the corner behind her sink. If I ever get the glass shelve mounted over my sink, I fully expect to do same, and hopefully that will up my baking game.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. My favorite Sister at St. Kate’s, Sister Mary Virginia Micka from the English department, had a windowsill full of African violets in her office in Carondelet Center. It’s an old building, so it had nice deep windowsills, and she must have had a dozen of them.

      Liked by 4 people

  5. Rise and Shine, Baboons,

    My plant app says this is a Guinea Peanut plant and it has leaf rot. It requires full to partial sunlight.

    More later. I am without my keyboard.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I also have a plant-eating cat–Saoirse, the one who went to the U of M vet (she’s on liquid medication for her asthma atm, rather than going straight for the steroid inhaler). I ended up with 3 plants when I was working in the office, and when we were sent home in 2020 we made a special trip to rescue them and put them in the windows of the downstairs landing with our landlady’s office plants. The poinsettia died, but the bromeliad, Lois, is holding her own, and the aloe, Cthululu, is thriving as aloes do. My roommate brought home Basil from Lund’s last summer, and amazingly he’s still alive, though looking very peaky these days.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. All of my office plants, btw, were gifts from people whose desks were too dark for the plants to thrive. I don’t have a green thumb nor a black thumb, more of a yellow-to-light-green thumb. When I gardened at Sabathani, I got a harvest of the easy veg but my bell peppers and sweet corn were failures.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. The former manager of the Unclaimed Property department retired and gave the plant to either my coworker or our current manager, I forget which. It was named Lois in her honor! But yeah, we like naming things. Plants, cars, computers, whatever seems to have a personality. That’s right, my new phone doesn’t have a name yet! I’d better start brainstorming…

        Liked by 4 people

  7. Nice whiplash question at the end, Renee.

    Your office mate’s plant reminds me of a.schefflera that I received once as a gift. Not sure, though.

    At this point, plants only come to me if they expect to die. I just don’t have the attention needed for their care, and they can tell.

    The Exception: we have a rubber plant from Joel’s memorial (2007) that we have almost killed two or three times by bringing it back inside too late in the fall. Each time I was ready to pitch it, but Husband says No, wait and see in the spring. Sure enough, there was one little sprout… It’s still looking kind of dry – I need to monitor Husband’s watering more…

    My sister’s son is severely ADHD, and about 10 years ago she was also diagnosed with late onset ADHD. He is adopted, to there’s not a genetic relationship – did she catch it from him???? One of the clients from my organizing days was also ADHD, and I read some books at that time. I don’t envy anyone who has this condition.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I find there has been a gender bias against diagnosing little girls with ADHD. They are considered “chatty” or “social” instead if off task or distractable.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Our cat especially loves the tender seedlings of the veggies we start. She once mowed down all the pepper seedlings we had started. She sits outside the furnace room door where the grow lights and seedlings are as we tend to them, hoping she can sneak in without us noticing. Peppers will be started the end of March.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I just arrived at work to find that our dear Hispanic cleaning lady took all the leaves off the plant and slid it as close to the window as she could get it. I take this as an omen she knows what she is doing, and we just have to wait for new leaves to form from the green stems. I fel I should put a sign up that this is NOT my plant, and I didn’t mistreat it.

    Liked by 5 people

  10. At first glance, I’d agree with mig that it’s a Schefflera, more commonly known as an umbrella tree. However, there are two things that tells me it’s more likely a money tree.

    Though Renee’s photo doesn’t really show the trunk, I think I can see that it’s pretty thick at the bottom. Is it braided, I wonder? If so, it’s definitely a money tree. The second indicator is the leaves. On the money tree the leaves are joined directly at a central point to a long stem; on the schefflera, each leaf lobe has a stem of its own that joins at that central spot.

    As to the problem at hand, I’d say that it doesn’t matter which of the two plants it is, but the dead leaves need to be removed all the way back to the trunk, and the plant needs to be allowed to dry out. Both plants require a well drained soil. Far more houseplants are killed with over watering than neglect, I’m sure of it. While the planter this tree has been potted in looks nice, if it doesn’t have a drain hole in the bottom, and I’d wager it doesn’t, she’s going to have a hard time keeping it alive. One last observation: I doubt that the trip in subzero weather and the ride in a cold car has killed the plant, though obviously the foliage his given up the ghost. It will take some time and patience, but it will most likely come back.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I have way more experience with houseplants than with people with ADHD, and know a lot more about them, too. Even as a small child I was drawn to the houseplants of my elderly “aunts,” and to this day I love those old fashioned plants.

    Back in 1990 I rescued a large jade plant from the office of one the attorney’s offices. Our plant maintenance service had over watered it, and it was a sad mess. My guess is that the tree at that time was about ten years old. I still have it, and about six or seven years ago, it began to bloom in January. It has the most exquisite clusters of tiny, white, star-shaped flowers that gradually turn pink. It blooms for about two months, and it’s a daily joy to see. It has bloomed every year since then, and is currently in bloom.

    I have several adult friends who have ADHD, and, of course, know a bunch of kids who have it, too. I suppose, like anything else that’s a chronic condition, you adjust to it, but I can imagine that it adds a lot of difficulty to functioning in a lot of places, including school and a lot of work places. Is it more common now than it used to be? Or is it just better diagnosed?

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I think it is more common now, as well as better diagnosed. I think environmental factors are a leading cause, like toxins and, perhaps too much screen time too early.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. OT – My “older” musician friends remind that on this day in 1964 their lives changed forever. The Beatles appeared live on the Ed Sullivan Show. It’s fun to realize that so many of them realized, even at the time, that this was a watershed in contemporary music. I realize that some baboons were not even alive at the time, but I’m wondering if those who were remember? My first encounter with the Beatles was in April of 1964, not live on TV, but dancing the night away at the American Club in Moscow. They made an indelible impression, and I still love that music.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It was a Sunday night. My family ate dinner early to make sure we wouldn’t miss the show. I don’t think my parents actually watched their performance but my sisters and I sat about 1 foot away from the tv screen, totally entranced.

      Liked by 4 people

  14. I have worked a lot with ADHD in my professional life and I have lived with people who have it. When I worked at Hazelden, we did a research study on chemically dependent patients who had it, introducing them to Occupational Therapy techniques of Sensory Integration. The co-occuring rate of addiction and ADHD is higher than the general population. Many of these patients had abused or were addicted to the medications used to treat ADHD so we were trying to find techniques they could use to manage it without addictive medications. It was actually quite successful and I published a paper about the study in the Columbia Journal of Substance Abuse about 25 years ago. Hazelden offered me a book contract about this, then in the frenzy of a disastrous re-organization of the entire organization, they rescinded the offer and soon after that I left. They decided they did not want to pursue treatment of co-occuring disorders anymore. Then a few years later the organization resumed that treatment model again.

    Really frustrating. Really impulsive on the part of an organization.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. I have a crossandra that did very well all summer on the front steps, but has grown spindly indoors lately, dropping many of its leaves. It looks increasingly desperate for spring to come.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One of my kitchen windows faces south, and I’ve been able to keep a lavender topiary looking good there all winter. If you’d like, bring your crossandra over to keep it company, I’ll take care of it for you until spring, when you can put it outdoors again.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I love plants, my guess is this poor thing went into shock. Letting it dry out and get some natural sunlight may help but it also may be more helpful to move it back to we’re it was. The climate controlled environment and sunshine on a timer is probably why it went from thriving to dying. It got an overdose of sunshine, water, and a freeze. Another Thing could be that the water she doused it with froze to it. May need to prune it back and hope is revives.

    Liked by 5 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.