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Columnist, Sheila Moss, is humor writer from  Tennessee. She writes  a weekly human interest column about daily life and the funny things that happen to everyone.

   She has written for  the Daily News of Kingsport,   Griffin Journal, Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton Advocate,  and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. She has been published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks at Guidepost Books.  Her articles have appeared in numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.

    She is a former board member and past  Editor of  the, website of  the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the oldest and largest professional organization for columnists. She is the Web Editor of Southern  and  a founder of the Southern Humorists writers' organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of

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Green Thumb...

Green Thumb

My office plant is dying. I donít know why. It was so lush and green when I bought it, a beautiful hanging philodendron. It grew vines almost to the floor. Now all of a sudden the leaves are turning yellow and withering. I donít get it. Iím not doing anything different than I ever did. Why?

I just donít have it Ė a green thumb. Oh, Iíve tried, believe me, Iíve tried. I would love to be surround by green, living things. It just doesnít seem to happen. I select my plants carefully. For a while they do okay, then one day leaves start to turn yellow one at a time. After that itís down hill all the way. 

I watch my plant die until I canít stand it any longer, then throw it away and buy a new one to kill.

Iíve read the "how to" books. They all say how easy it is to grow tropical houseplants, how it is just a matter of light, water, and humidity, with a little plant food at times. Thatís immediately before they launch into 300 pages of horticultural mumbo jumbo that would make Mother Nature afraid to bring a houseplant home.

I always buy the species that say "easy to grow." The easier the better, I figure. But nothing is foolproof, well, maybe it is for some fools, but I can kill an iron plant.

Someone at the office still has a lush red poinsettia. Can you believe it? It still looks just like it did in December. Iím lucky if I have one that can make it until December 26th before all the red petals hit the dust.

What about cactus, you say? No one can kill a cactus. Wanna bet? I kill them with love - love and water. They look so thirsty I just have to give them a sip. They thank me by rotting off at the root. I kill jade plants that way too. Easy come - easy go.

I must admit, though, I had more success with cactus than any other plant. I had one that was very weird. It looked a bit like it had it long hair with dreadlocks. We coexisted for several years before it finally decided it was time to seek new ground, started putting out roots in the wrong places, and eventually dried up and died.

African violets take one look at me and start coughing. They need light, but not full sun. They need water, but from the bottom or the leaves will rot. They need plant food, but it has to be a special kind. They need humidity.  See, I did read the book.

I once had an African violet that almost survived. I brought home other African violets for company when I heard that they are social. It grew, and grew until it was sprouting on the end of a long spindly stem several inches above the pot. It was ugly beyond belief Ė but alive.

So, I figured I couldnít go wrong with a yucca plant, a native of the desert. But, it twisted and grew toward the sun. I turned it around and it grew in another direction. Soon it was twisted in a dozen directions and sadly deformed. Yes, it is alive Ė I almost wish it wasnít.

It wonít be much longer until the stores are full of lush spring plants again. Iíll think of my philodendron with yellowing leaves, my twisted yucca, and my sick assortment of shriveled greenery. I will promise myself that if I get a new plant, I wonít over water; Iíll fertilize carefully; Iíll give it light; Iíll even mist it - maybe. .

Who am I kidding? The plant is wilting already just because I'm looking at it. Apparently some people are just meant to have artificial plants. I wonder how long it would take me to kill a plastic philodendron?

Copyright 2004 Sheila Moss


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