Thoughts on a Houseplant at 6 AM

It's 6:00 am, and I've been up since 4, unable to sleep. I've always been a good sleeper, except for college and that was clearly because of the perfect combination of papers, dorms, caffeine, and a boyfriend.

These days the cause for my lack of sleep isn't as clear. There are a number of major things going on in our lives, one of them being our beginning steps of adoption, so that's likely part of it. I also don't have a very straightforward schedule for my life, and that's probably part of it too. And then, (I hate to think this), the fact that I'm getting slightly older may be contributing as well.

Whatever the reason, I'm up, and I've spent a good amount of the last two hours catching up on blogs. Not writing blogs (except for this post), but reading them.

One of the blogs I enjoy reading is You Grow Girl, a blog about gardening and more. Every so often, the author shares writing prompts to help inspire garden writing. She calls it the Grow Write Guild. I have often looked at the prompts and thought them through, but I have yet to actually sit and write a response. Being that it's 6:09 and my hub won't be up for hours, I'm going to join in.

Grow Write Guild

In our music room, a striped ficus plant sits in front of the large window. Its two small trunks grow tightly together, one overlapping the other, and bright leaves hang off the branches. The green is streaked with yellow, providing a lovely contrast in a nearly all-white room. When the afternoon sun shines through the window, the leaves glow softly.

This was the first plant I purchased when my husband and I moved into our house. I knew from watching HGTV and reading Martha Stewart that adding houseplants was what you did to make a home beautiful. I didn't put much thought into the choosing of the plant; I simply went to Lowe's and picked up the one with interesting leaves. I potted it in a small container, set it on the mantel, and there it remained for some time.

But it didn't grow. It didn't die, mind you, but it didn't grow. It stayed the same height, never growing, never changing, except for the sad dropping of leaves. Finally, when I had tossed yet another wilted leaf, I decided it was time for it to go.

I set it outside, waiting for the right moment to chuck it in the green waste.

And there, it was rescued. My husband, one who has a soft place in his heart for just about anything, found it. "Are you getting rid of this?" he asked. I knew he looked at it with sentimentality (it was our first houseplant, afterall), so I explained as kindly as I could that it was dead.

It wasn't dead, though, and he knew it. For the next half hour, he worked quietly, repotting the plant with fresh soil in a larger ceramic pot. And then for the next days and weeks, he tended to the plant, moved it around the house so that it got enough light, made sure its water was just right. He did for the plant what he does for so many people and living things: he loved it, and he wanted to see it thrive.

Soon, there were fresh leaves budding. And soon after that, there were more leaves. And then months passed, then years passed, and it grew two feet. It has indeed thrived, tripling in size, a permanent yet changing part of our home, a reminder of what care and attention can do for something.

About a month ago, I gave it its new space in our music room, moving it from our bathroom to the prime place in front of the window. As I walked down the hallway carrying the plant, my husband smiled. "I saved that guy," he said. He was right; he did save it. He loved a dying plant (silly man), and that is precisely the reason why I love him.



  1. Candace, you are such an amazing writer. I absolutely love this story. It makes me want to give your sweet, darling husband a big hug and also makes me want to do the same to one of my not-so-happy plants! So glad there was a silver lining to not getting sleep. :)

    1. You're so encouraging, Steph! And I just have to share that I was wearing the red slipper socks you gave me for Christmas! They are so cozy and perfect for sleepless nights...

  2. Made me cry. Your writing is lovely. My son is awesome : ) I like your ficus tree. Why did not know about You Grow Girl?

  3. Great story! Is this the plant you wrote about for the prompt in 642 Things to Write About?


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