This past week, a particular potted plant on my deck has been an unwelcomed source of stress.
Before leaving for a week’s vacation on Cape Cod, my mom flagged me down as I was on my way out the door.
“Villiam, vater da plants dis time,” she reminded me in her thick Italian accent. Last time she left me to tend the garden, she returned to a barren wasteland. But this time, she took precautions by installing a trusty timer in our sprinkler system and left me only one task: to water one potted plant on my deck every other day.
This green shrub peppered with the occasional goofy, over-sized pink flower was her pride and joy. A few days before leaving, she asked to borrow my digital camera and proceeded to document the plant from its roots to the tips of its branches with the meticulousness of a crime scene photographer.
Determined to atone for my lackadaisical caregiving, in the next week I proceeded to be the most diligent plant-sitter since Gregor Mendel. I watered it precisely every 48 hours using only the purest and coldest waters available. I even sat out on the deck for hours and spent time with it.
Despite all this, every morning when I went to water it, several shriveled pink flowers lay scattered around the base of the pot. It was shedding flowers and I could not get it to stop!!! It drove me insane for a week. I didn’t want to upset my mother, but most of all; I had been determined to prove to myself that I was capable of performing this very banal and supposedly simple household task.
Every time my mother called to ask about her baby, I lied enthusiastically. “It’s beautiful,” I told her.” One day I was feeling cocky and offered to send her more pictures of it, claiming it was looking even fuller than before. She didn’t call my bluff and take me up on the offer.
Days before her return, the bastard had gotten even worse. Though I still watered it every morning, it made me feel so futile I could barely stand to look it straight in the petals.
Finally, I worked up the courage to come clean to my mother just one day before she returned. “Mamma,” I confessed. “Something’s wrong with your plant. It’s losing its flowers and I don’t know what to do. I swear I’ve been watering it.” Expecting a shrill “Villiam!” I was surprised when she chuckled. “It’s a hibiscus, the flowers die after two days. But they grow back” I breathed a huge sigh of relief and scurried out to the deck to verify this important, albeit delayed piece of information. Low and behold, I realized that I had been too upset about the dead petals to notice the new buds forming. Apparently, in a couple days my mother’s hibiscus should be in fine form.
As I often do when I feel stupid, I surfed the web to see if any other urbanite suffered so needlessly by the flowers of their hibiscus. Low and behold, an entry by i_am_kuku7 on Yahoo Answers reads:
How long do Hibiscus flowers last?? or how long are they supposed to? i have a hibiscus plant, and the flowers all die after 24 hours 😦 is this normal? or should i be concerned?
His fears were quickly laid to rest by Wize_woman, who responded:
The flowers last from a few hours to several days depending on the species of Hibiscus (200-220). I hope it helps. Source(s): Wikipedia.”
Next time, I will be sure to consult with the Internet’s not-so-bewildered herd on all matters horticultural.
P.S. Check out the pen I used to write the first draft of this post.