Writing Out Loud / George Stahl
Today is something called ‘Play God Day.’ Instead of writing about all of the obvious things this day could mean, even though there are a lot of humorous scenarios that could be explored, this column is not about being God at all. Instead, it is focusing on what tomorrow celebrates: Houseplant Appreciation Day. People have been cultivating, nursing and cursing houseplants for decades. Ancient civilizations used to keep vegetation in their homes to exploit the beauty of the exotic and the healing and phycological properties of certain leafy life forms.
Perhaps arguably the most famous houseplant was in the 1960 film The Little Shop of Horrors. That houseplant was the creation of a flower shop kid named Seymore. Seems that young Seymore was quite the match maker in being able to bring two plants together to form one. He was, at the very least, a very talented botanist. Well, this hybrid plant Seymore created turned out to be the Frankenstein of houseplants. The plant had a peculiar habit; it had the mouth of a Venus Flytrap attached to its stalk, and for some reason, Seymore’s genetic meddling gave it the ability to talk. Its favorite thing to do? Eat people. “Feed me…feed me,” it shouted, and Seymore provided the entrée, from an unsuspecting person he chooses randomly, most of the time, anyway.
Seymore and his creation were given a redo in 1986 with a new version of their lives, and Seymore’s friend was now from outer space. Other than that, it was all pretty much the same. Unless you count the changes. The plant is given a name, and it’s Audrey II. It is more seductive than demanding, and it is a lot larger by the end of the 1986 film than in the original. Poor Seymore just can’t get a break, and his nagging, weedy girlfriend is constantly intimidating him and getting hungrier by the day. “Feed me, Seymore!”
Look at that small plant you have in the corner. Is it happy? Is it able to tell all of its other plant friends that you and it are like two peas in a pod? Do you talk to it? If you do, does it talk back? What does it say? How does plant talk sound? As long as it is not asking for human food, and you don’t call it Audrey, everything is probably okay with you two.
Then, there is that other one. The one in the corner of the master bedroom. That one seems more alive at times than the others. She knows what is what, and she is waiting for the right time to speak to you about it. Sort of like the scene in Planet of the Apes, when Charlton Heston yells out “Get your dirty…” Everyone takes notice then. It’s probably a long shot, but when your Audrey speaks, don’t be afraid, just get ready to change your lifestyle a lot.
Fortunately, you most likely do not have an Audrey. Regardless of your plant’s celebrity status, they are able to communicate. According to the website Beyond Science, talking to your plants is not only healthy for your plant, but it breeds trust between this wild indoor foliage and you. Now trust has a connotation of two-way communication. Apparently, you are not the only one talking in this relationship. Beyond Science says that studies have shown that houseplants respond to the sound of the human voice, sort of like a dog. Look at your plant in its pot and tell it to sit. That’s probably going to be the extent of its repertoire of tricks. No roll over, no play dead (unless you don’t water it for a few days) and no fetch, for sure. Nevertheless, you and your plant can have a lot to talk about.
When you come home from work, go over to it, and listen closely. Does it ask how your day was? Does it ask what you want for dinner? No salad, please. If you do, it’s not a good idea to eat it in front of the plant. That could put some stress on your relationship. For your part, you could ask how its day was while you were at work. Just because it is rootbound doesn’t mean it didn’t have some kind of experience or something. Maybe it saw something interesting out of the window. That is, if you were thoughtful enough to open the shutters or blinds before you left that morning. Depending on the species you have, it will respond differently to the environment you create for it. Try leaving a station on the T.V. that plays a lot of nature movies and shows. Maybe your plants is a little adventurous or it’s into horror movies. In that case, you could rent movies for it to watch while you are out. Lawnmower Man might get its adrenaline going. The title alone is bound to excite its imagination.
The thing is, just like in any other relationship, there has to be a sort of “sympatico” feeling going on. Remember, the life that you save could be a helpless piece of vegetation. Happy Houseplant Appreciation Day! Did you water your buddy today?