Plants I’ve Killed

Oh yes I have…  I’ve probably killed many more plants than your average gardener!  Is that terrible to admit?  Perhaps, but it’s the result of my obsession, my poorly placed faith in climatological beneficence and willingness to sacrifice my hard-earned dollars in the pursuit of horticultural nirvana.

Butchart Gardens

Horticultural nirvana - aka Butchart Gardens. I bet they've killed lots of plants too!

I don’t gamble (much), drink (heavily) or smoke, so I guess I have the right to spend my disposable income on plants!  Thank goodness for my staff discount at the garden centre, I’m one of their best customers or at least one with little willpower when it comes to new and interesting plants.

Sometimes I kill plants on purpose.  This is the secret to a beautiful garden – if it’s ugly and you can’t fix it, rip it out and plant something that looks nice!  If it suffers winter damage every year and doesn’t recover into beauty until the end of the summer, it’s compost.  If the damn deer won’t leave it alone so that it’s actually shrinking in size rather than growing, transplant it to a protected spot, give it away to a friend with a fenced yard or kill it.  I have a number of rhododendrons that are recovering nicely now that they are behind a tall fence, and my compost pile is the final resting place of many a failure.

My traditional Christmas poinsettia is one plant that I kill every January, with not-so-benign neglect.  I refuse to water a poinsettia beyond New Years day.  Much like my seasonal decorations, the holiday flowers need to go away after the holidays, so I can turn my attention to spring.

Plants I've killed

My poinsettia, isn't it lovely?

I’m not always so callous; sometimes I kill plants accidentally, like this beautiful Bougainvillea.

Variegated Bougainvillea - Plants I've killed

Variegated Bougainvillea

Ironically, it died because I drowned it during our trip to Hawaii.  I should have known that giving a plant three weeks worth of water at once won’t necessarily help it survive three weeks of inattention!  While I was admiring gorgeous Bougainvillea in a tropical paradise my own was rotting to death at home.  I certainly regret that one…

Of course I kill thousands of weeds every year, when I get around to it, and the odd houseplant – usually from lack of water.  So now I have a house full of cacti, which I love and everyone else hates because they’re prickly, and the tall ones occasionally topple over on someone.  At least the animals don’t eat them!

My prickly houseplants and my fluffy housecat

My prickly houseplants and my fluffy housecat

If you want to have a beautiful garden, one that causes visitors to compliment you on your “green thumb” skills, get tough with your plants.  Warn them once or twice (okay maybe try feeding, watering or pruning them) but if they don’t buck up and perform for you – kill them!


About hortophile

I am a very opinionated, slightly obsessed gardener with decades of experience in the retail nursery industry. A lucky resident of the "Wet Coast" of British Columbia I tread a muddy path between practicality and beauty, with my veggie patch, herb garden and fruits vying for position with the beautiful trees, shrubs and flowers that I can't resist. DON'T ask me to choose between them! I believe in environmental responsibility and common sense.
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8 Responses to Plants I’ve Killed

  1. Jodi says:

    Hilarious. This article had me laughing till it hurt.

  2. barb19 says:

    I’ve let plants die on occasion if they have stopped performing or just look ugly, but I always feel guilty! I suppose I will have to toughen up if I want to improve my garden’s looks.

  3. My mother calls the plant killing, experience.

  4. akismet-cc86e69a13119f6a42f5deab97c402e6 says:

    Quite right. I once interviewed our great (uk) nursery woman, Derry Watkins and asked what she’d suggest for those people who wanted to buy her plants but had gardens already full of plants. She went ‘throw them away! throw them away!!!’

    Great advice. We hang on to far too many miserable and unsatisfactory plants.

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