You know you’re in a pandemic when you talk to your houseplants.
You know things have taken an ugly turn when they respond.
Before you judge me, though, remember that plants have communicated with animals for as long as they’ve had flowers and fruit. That beautiful orange daylily blossom shouts, “Pollinators! I have food!” That bright red crabapple? It screams, “I’m delicious!” to seed-spreaders. A rose’s thorns warn, “Don’t mess with me.” Poison ivy’s speechlessness merely advertises its wickedness.
It shouldn’t be a complete surprise, then, that all of my houseplants wail, “Water me!” in different languages. (The few that suffered in silence are no longer suffering.) The fronds of the Boston fern yellow at the merest hint of dry soil. (I watered it at least a month ago.) The ivy drops its leaves. The rosemary’s newest needles curl and wither. Luckily, all start perking up after the lavish application of fluids to their roots.
The asparagus fern makes bolder statements. Its tendrils grab its neighbors that occupy sunnier spots, and its thorns threaten anyone who ventures too close.
The most unusual entry in my list of communicating plants, though, is the Christmas cactus I’ve owned for twenty-odd years. It emits a distinctive odor that goes away as soon as I water it. Is it coming from the dry soil or is the vegetation releasing distress chemicals? I don’t know, but it’s as effective as waving a red flag.
So here is my question to you, dear Readers: How do your houseplants communicate with you?
And if you have any that hold witty conversations, please leave their names in the comments below because I want one—at least until the pandemic is over.