my mother’s plants

July 20th – Face planter by Kinska

Grief for me has been cycling through the polar opposites of ‘save everything!’ and ‘throw it all away!’ Sorting through her storage room in my dad’s garage a few weekends back with my sister-in-law, I found myself when asked what to do with something, more often than not, answering “Goodwill pile!”

Guess it was just the mood I was in because I’ve kept so many random things that had she’d of offered me I’d have said ‘no’ to. Recipes she printed and wrote her own notes on, her flannel shirts, her pajama pants (most of which I recognized from our shopping trips together), her fuzzy socks and so much more stuff I 100% do not need. Buuut my grieving brain insists it’s all special.

June 25th – The day I brought it home. I had already trimmed off all the dead leaves.

One Sunday, while the guys worked on the bus, I walked down to the house and did a little housework for my dad. I noticed three dead looking plants on the staircase landing. I figured I should ask before tossing them despite already knowing that my dad wouldn’t be interested in caring for houseplants. After confirming he didn’t want them, I climbed back onto the landing and got a closer look. They were definitely hurting after not being watered for 2 and a half months but two of the three were possibly salvageable…

I tossed the completely dried out one. The largest I pruned the dead leaves off and decided that it was worth trying to save. The third had completely wilted leaves but didn’t seem beyond repair. I chopped off the leaves to try and propagate and gave the root base to my niece to grow.

June 26th – One day after water. Already perking up!
June 26th – First day in water. I let the ends callous over for a day before placing them in water.
July 2nd

Five days after being placed in water, I already had the start of roots and much healthier leaves!

July 2nd
July 7th – The start of two new leaves!
July 11th – Look who is opening up!
July 20th

As much as I love growing things in water and watching the roots grow and change, I really wanted to get these leaves in soil ASAP. I planted and replanted these darn things at least four different times before finally deciding on how I wanted them arranged. I thought one super full pot would be neat but I didn’t have the right sized pot and I figured two would give me a better shot at least one surviving. (…Not that I really have any doubts but ya know!) So two pots it was. One larger for all the big cuttings, and a smaller one for the more petite cuttings – who interestingly enough had much larger roots.

July 20th – Right after being planted.
July 29th
July 29th – More new leaves coming in!
July 29th

My mom was never really a house plant type of person but anyone who had ever been over to the house would tell you how much she loved to garden. She kept such beautiful flower beds. My love of plants definitely stemmed (heh!) from her. When I moved to the city and no longer had an outdoor space, I started bringing the outside in. It was then I convinced her to try growing things inside as well.

All of that to say, it feels a little weird to be putting so much importance on these plants that I’m not sure she ever loved, at least not as much as the ones she grew outside. It’s a perfectly me way of dealing with grief though, especially since tending to my many houseplants is already so cathartic to me.

I look forward to continuing to watch these plants grow and hope that they continue to bring me at least a little bit of peace. My mom may be dead but she lives on in so many other ways.

July 29th – The start of new leaves on this tiny guy!

Author: Kaylah Stroup

A collector of weird things. Plant Enthusiast. Wanderer. Beachcomber. Forever longing for the desert.

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  • My Mother’s Plants feels like a book I want to read. So if you ever feel like writing a book about your grief, that would be a great title.

    I love that the plants are a little piece of her, even if she didn’t love them as much as the outdoor ones. It’s something of her you can love <3

    I hope you're doing ok.

  • My grandmother passed away 2 months ago. We just had the memorial this weekend. She left behind about 30 plants which no one was interested in either, and they all looked super sad for not being watered in 2 months but I did the exact same thing and tried. So far, I’ve only last one that was just too tiny to survive but I dunno, somehow it helps the feeling of being close to her. Thank you for sharing this. I love the arrowheads and dieffenbachia plant. (I think it’s a dieffenbachia plant but if I am wrong please correct me). I have to keep that one away from my cats, because it’s not a friendly one for pets. Anyways, I loved this post. It really resonates parallels today for sure.

  • What is the trick to getting that big plant to flourish like that? I have one that does really well in winter, but come summer most of the leaves start dying. I have to cut them off and leave just a few. Is that normal?!

    • Sunshine, water + love. There really aren’t tricks.

      It’s normally for leaves to die. If you’re losing all at once though, it may be getting too much sun, not enough water, etc. A change in seasons, lighting and temperture requires a change in care as well.