The Plant

The Plant. What is this thing anyway?

The Plant. What is this thing anyway?

This plant doesn’t exactly fit into a small space. It’s way too big for The Little House and by the time winter is done, I’m ready to be rid of it from The Belle Writer’s Studio.

In the summer, it thrives on the party deck on the house (apparently loving hot, humid weather with direct sun), which is at least 50 yards from the Belle Writer’s Studio.

This year, Dale backed the truck up to the deck and rolled the plant out as far as he could and got it onto the tailgate. He then only had to lift the 200+ pound plant onto the covered front porch of the writer’s studio and we rolled it via a plant roller the rest of the way.

Sometimes I think I should have found another home for it, maybe a nice big atrium in one of those huge hotels or office buildings in the city, but how would I know it would have been taken care of?
My mother-in-law gave me this plant over 23 years ago as a wedding shower gift when it was just a wee tike in a small container. When she “showered” me with this gift, I had the distinct reputation of not being able to keep any plant alive.

The Unknown LeafThis one was the first plant that not only lived, but thrived under my thumb, growing to monster proportions, and that’s the reason my husband feels that whatever kind of a plant it is, it’s a curse on him.

“This plant is always a pain in my a**,” he said, huffing, as he lifted it onto the porch.

“Well, it is twice a year anyway,” I replied. “At least it doesn’t have to live in the house during the winter anymore.”

The first winter we were here before we built the writer’s studio, it took up over half of the tiny living room in the house and blocked the front door from use all winter.

Our daughter, who visited from Germany the year before our move, and who hadn’t seen the plant in 10 years by that point, was disappointed when she walked into our bigger house in the city and saw the sad leaves.

“What happened to the plant!?” she asked. “You’re letting it die.” She ran and retrieved photos taken in the living room when she was a teenager. “Wow, it looks great in the pictures,” I told her. “See, that’s what I remember it looking like,” she said, rolls reversed and a look of disapproval staring back at me.

In Kansas City, it didn’t go outside in the summer, but spent the whole year in front of the living room windows. It did look pretty horrible at that point, with only three sickly looking sprigs.

Our daughter made me feel bad for the plant. I had been neglecting it and decided it needed more TLC and brought it back to somewhat of a reasonable condition by the time we moved.

“You can’t put the plant in the back of the pick up and let it ride down the highway like that, it won’t have any leaves at all left,” I told my husband. “It will have to go in the covered truck.”

He gave me the look. “Would that really be so bad?” I gave him the look back and he set about making room in the covered truck (which was way too small for our move anyway).

Nothing prepared us for what the plant did once we stuck it on the party deck that first summer here. Its’ leaves began shooting everywhere and the roots started growing out of the pot. It was clearly happy in its’ new environment.

As I sit contemplating what the plant has went through, I realize it’s a metaphor for our lives. It grew when we were young newly weds and as we moved to bigger and better digs, it got new pots too. We all thrived when our daughters live with us. And like our family, it became sickly and sad when my mother became ill.

It’s been through thick and thin, and has made several moves with us. Now that we’re where we’re supposed to be, it is the healthiest it’s ever been.

I need your help today. I’ve never known what kind of a plant I have here. When people ask me what it is, I would like to say more than, “Uh, I don’t know, an elephant ear?” No one else, including my Mom, has ever been able to name it either.

Can you?  Also, do you anything that’s a metaphor for your life? Or, a plant you can’t part with?

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14 Responses

  1. Kim says:

    Gorgeous plant! I thought of the Monsteras which grow indoors or out in Orlando, but apparently that’s a relative and not exactly what you’ve got. Philodendrons are poisonous; take care that your doggies don’t snack on it. (Although apparently that isn’t a problem, you’ve had both it and the dogs together for so long.)

    I had a Prince of Orange philodendron in Florida that I loved. Alas, my husband could not be talked into babying my plants from there back to our homeland in Arkansas. It, and many others, went to plant-loving friends before we left.

    If I ever see one for sale, IT IS MINE. No matter what it costs (and it won’t be cheap, being considered an “exotic” here).

    • kerri says:

      That’s great to know about the toxic nature to the dogs. Thanks for that. You might keep an eye out for your plant at Home Depot next season. I’ve noticed they’ve started carrying a lot of plants in the spring deemed “exotic.”
      I found a Desert Rose (The one my mom gave me died after we moved here) there last year and decided to wait to get it. When I returned, they were all gone and they didn’t carry them this year.

  2. rebecca sutton says:

    My Master Gardener friend says about the plant:
    “It’s a Saddle Leaf Philodendron, see:
    Scroll down to the 3rd plant picture.”

  3. Oh my! It immediately made me think of “scale” as in “the ratio of little house to big plant (compared to little house.” An interesting juxtaposition, no less. But – wow – a 23 year old plant! You’ve got the touch or the green thumb or whatever it’s called!

    • Kerri says:

      I think my husband would call it a curse! Seriously, I’ve had other people tell me they can’t kill their plant of this variety either. I think it is just extra hearty!

  4. I’m terrible with plants, but my partner has a green thumb. It’s nice to have greenery around the apartment. 🙂

  5. Kathy Winn says:

    Kerri- I think your plant is one of the varieties of split leaf philodendron. I love that you and Dale have kept this plant going even though it’s grown so large that it’s not exactly easy to fit into your living space, and requires a twice a year hassle.

    I have a lot of plants that have come to me from friends or family. They are always more important to me, to keep alive, than nursery plants which are purchased only for how well they will fit into my decor. Plants can be fussy and high maintenance or easy and eager to thrive.

    To me, they are a perfect metaphor for relationships with people. Some are easy and simple, some are more difficult and require a higher level of commitment. But all of those that I am willing to invest in, reward me in some way that make it worth my time and trouble. I think your philodendron is a great reminder that even when a relationship places demands on time and energy and space, it can be worth it to make those sacrifices if you are rewarded with color and the satisfaction that comes from seeing a living thing grow and thrive under your care.

    I am hoping it does well over the winter, cozy in your little house, and you and Dale as too!

    • kerri says:

      >Some are easy and sim­ple, some are more dif­fi­cult and require a higher level of com­mit­ment.<

      So very true, Kathy. You're a wise woman – and you even named the plant! 🙂

  6. Bringing plants in for the winter is a bummer.
    most of all, I worry all winter if they are going to live or die in the garage.

    I have been hearing stories of people bring in plants with hidden creatures; black snakes,spiders and other unwanted scary things.

    • kerri says:

      Oh,yes, I can see where you would be concerned about them being in the garage. Do you put a space heater out there for them when it gets really cold?
      I almost lost all of my plants over here in The Belle Writer’s Studio during the ice storm last year, when we lost power and before we got our generators brought to us from KC.
      Hadn’t thought of critters. Yikes!

  7. kerri says:

    No one who knows me believes it either. Maybe it IS some sort of mother in law curse! 🙂

  8. MarthaandMe says:

    My mom has this kind of plant too. I can’t believe you’ve kept it alive for 23 years!! I am terrible with plants.