Outfoxed by a Plant

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, retirees, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled: “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available by clicking here Amazon.com. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

DieffenbachiaAh, the things we do for our loved ones.  We go to great lengths and expend enormous amounts of time, energy, and money when the motivation is right.  What greater impetus than when the object is someone/something we love.  Wouldn’t you do just about anything for your children, parents, spouse, significant other, pet…?

How about our plants?  Well, maybe they don’t have quite the impact on us as the aforementioned categories.  However, I have a plant that is holding me hostage.  It’s my Dieffenbachia, also called in plant tomes: dumb cane.  Believe me, mine is not dumb.

I bought the plant when it was a wee sprout, under a foot tall.  I knew it would grow to have large, glorious leaves to brag about, just like its kith and kin.  When I moved to my current digs almost three years ago, Dieff accompanied me in the back seat, drop-dead gorgeous leaves swaying with the movement of the car.  I’d glance at him/her from time to time in my rear view mirror, feeling his calming influence.

Dieff has grown since he came to live with me and now stands proudly about four feet tall.  He loves his new location, bright light but not too sunny.

I’ve always watered Dieff and my other plants regularly and carefully, using a water meter to check the soil moisture so as to give them just enough nourishment.  When I travel, a neighbor takes over that chore, dutifully following my detailed, written instructions.  Yes, I nurture my green darlings.

About three months ago, Dieff had an attack of some terrible ailment.  His leaves started curling under like he had been punched in the stomach.  (Do plants have stomachs?)  I called garden stores seeking advice.  I took to Google, reading everything I could.  It seems that the fertilizer-laced water I’d been giving Dieff for five years had become too toxic for him in his dotage, and salts were building up in his soil.  Actually, that doesn’t sound too different from me as I’ve aged.

According to Google, I must flush Dieff with a gallon of distilled water.  I rolled Dieff outside on his wheeled platform, struggling to keep the heavy pot upright.  I almost blew out my back, but this was an emergency.

The flushing worked!  Within two days, Dieff was back to his old self.  Things went well for the next few months as I eliminated all fertilizer and fed him only tap water.  His rebellion happened yesterday.  He screamed at me, “I don’t want that tap crap!  GIVE ME DISTILLED.”  He emphasized his point by curling his leaves under as only he can.  I may have heard a few coughs, too, but I’m not sure.

I ran to the store and stocked up on ten dollars’ worth of distilled water. (I don’t even buy bottled water for myself.)  After another flushing, Dieff perked up and has stopped harassing me, but he definitely has me twisted around his little finger–ah, stem.

Yes, we go through all sorts of machinations for those we love, no matter what their DNA.  (Do plants have DN–oh never mind?)


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Filed under active seniors, Baby boomers, gerontology, healthy aging, longevity, reinvention, retirement, senior citizens, seniors, successful aging, wellness

10 responses to “Outfoxed by a Plant

  1. Sheila Sauber

    Gorgeous plant!! Glad you’ve saved it several times. Never considered distilled water…,I will now! Well written blog!! Sheila

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Pat Spiegel

    Love the story.

  3. such a fun post! I’d love if you’d guest blog post for my site. if you’re so inclined, here’s a link to general guidelines:


    • I see you have book synopses on your blog as well as articles about how to become a writer and how to get published. I could write a 300 word guest blog about my memoir if you’d like. It’s about how I retired from my career as a probation officer at age 60, attended a senior acting class with my 85-year-old father, and went on to become a professional actress. Then, I also became an author (writing my memoir about that experience), a public speaker, and a blogger.

  4. Hey Daal,
    My email address is: gowergulch@yahoo.com
    Please email me with your email address so I can send you my guest blog.

  5. Antoinette Truglio Martin

    I found you through da-Al. So happy to meet you. And my husband’s only domestic chore is watering the plants, but with bad shoulders, I now have to to do it(along with everything else). My husband hears them screaming because watering the house plants is not in my happy skill set.

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