The nine trailing succulents hanging in my living room are doing fine, not as well as I’d have hoped given the amount of time I spend watering, not watering, pruning and gazing at them. They were supposed to be easy plants: lovers of light, and if not impervious to neglect, then certainly not so fussy that I, a yardless and clueless city dweller, couldn’t keep them healthy.
And yet. I don’t attempt to grow succulents because they’re trendy, although they are, but because they’re the only plants I’ve been able to keep alive over multiple seasons. Is my head turned by the latest “It” plant, the purple-black lacquered stunner Geogenanthus ciliatus, known as Geo, that’s allegedly poised to grace the hottest (but not too hot — Geos prefer indirect sunlight) windowsills near me? Sure it is. But when your horticultural résumé is littered with as many fiddle-leaf fig carcasses as mine, you’ll think twice before going all in on the next big thing.
Successfully cultivating a garden of impressive plants accords bragging rights. “It’s like your kids got accepted to an Ivy League college — they’re doing well,” one plant blogger told my colleague, Katie Van Syckle.
“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!” a proud “It”-plant cultivator might gloat. But what does a plant collection charitably described as “alive” say about the gardener, the “plant parent”?