My First Plant

My son's cactus in the wonky clay pot
My son’s cactus in the wonky clay pot

It’s all a little hazy what my first plant was.  I have racked my brains and finally whilst staring at the snow and sipping another cup of tea, I really am drinking too much tea but I am so bored, I remembered that as a young child I was given a mini-greenhouse as a Christmas present.

Now don’t be overly impressed when I say mini greenhouse I don’t mean something that you can use outside.  No, this was what I suppose would be classed as a simple propagator now.  I have a memory of it looking like a greenhouse in shape but I don’t know how distorted that memory is.  Anyway, with this mini-greenhouse there were definitely some packets of seeds.  I can’t tell you what they were except one packet was some form of cactus seeds.

I sowed the seeds and a cactus germinated.  I expect there were also sunflowers and other child friendly seeds but I have long forgotten those.  It is now occurring to me that cactus was rather a strange thing to put in a child’s gardening kit or maybe they are in fact easy to germinate.  They certainly thrive on neglect so are ideal for small gardeners.

My cactus grew though not very large and always lurked in some corner of my bedroom.  I think I treated it a more of an ornament than a living thing I needed to care for.  Every so often, maybe once or twice a year, it was watered and then forgotten. In my teens the cactus progressed to living inside a clay pot I made at school – one of those wonky brown jobs.

I grew into an adult, got my first flat, the cactus moved in too – lurking in another corner.  I should say for clarification it was probably no more than 3 inches at any point.  I got married, I had children, I got divorced.  Still the cactus lived with me sometimes forgotten and dusty, sometimes watered and moved into a more obvious position when I felt guilty.  I moved house twice more, the cactus came too.

Then – I discovered gardening big time and sadly this was to be the demise of the cactus.  In a fit of guilt and greenfingered enthusiasm I decided to re-pot it. I bought cactus compost and carefully transplanted it.  It died.  After 30 years of neglect I  showed my cactus some tlc and it died.

That was my first plant but certainly not my last.  I may not be a fan of cactus but there are two more lurking in my house which my sons bought a few years back.  As before they get watered from time to time, they even flower and to be honest they need re-potting but I think I shall just ignore them for that bit longer.

This post has been written as a response to the first prompt from the Grow Write Guild, set up by You Grow Girl.  For more ‘My First Plant’ posts visit the prompt post



12 Comments Add yours

  1. I have been wanting to try a cactus. Now maybe I will! This is a great post – I’m enjoying the Grow Write Guild project a lot. You’ll find my response to Prompt #1 here:

  2. Anna B says:

    Aw Helen! This is such a cute post. My houseplants thrive on neglect and this is just the kind of thing that happens to me when I try to look after them too! I adore cactus and have some old ones. My parents have an amazing ‘cactus farm’ as I call it that they’ve had for 35+ years, it was their wedding present! I was going to do a post about that at some point. I’ll check out the Grow Write Guild project, it sounds interesting.

  3. Now, Helen, you have me wracking my brains to remember my first plant. I remember growing cress on wet blotting paper; and placing carrots in the necks of bottles of water to see their roots grow, but an actual houseplant … Aw. I’ll check out the link if it ever comes back to me. P. x

  4. b-a-g says:

    I’ve that you’re supposed to keep cacti in as small a pot as possible to stop their roots rotting.

  5. Anna says:

    A most lovely cautionary tale Helen. Well after thirty years it must have been such a shock to the poor creature to be turfed out of its home without any notice to quit. Your son’s cactus looks as if it is almost alive and would run off before you could repot it.

  6. Yvonne Ryan says:

    .I think one of my ‘first’ plants was a cutting from my Aunts Hoya Carnosa (spelling?) After 7 years if had its first flower – how exciting and the perfume was lovely. It travelled up to Auckland with me where they will grow outside- except if it is a cold – wet- winter – and you have a saucer under so that it doesn’t drain!! I lost it after 55 years!!! The other piece I had grown also died last winter – cold and probably sad that we were moving from Mt Eden! I now don’t have one – even at my No3 daughters ‘holding pen’ of my 300 odd plants. There are quite a few in the Domain glasshouses – so maybe I will have to visit them there! Still hot and dry here but cooler nights. Sea still nice and warm though!

  7. Pauline says:

    A cactus was my first plant too, but I don’t remember what happened to it when I got married and left home! Can’t imagine that my mother would have bothered with it, it probably went out !!

  8. Lea says:

    Loved your story of your first plant!
    I think my first plant must have been a zinnia. Somewhere I have a photo of my brother and me standing behind a row of zinnias in our yard. We must have been about 8 and 5 years old – late 1950’s.
    Have a wonderful day!
    Lea’s menagerie

  9. Good story! I love that you potted it up into a clay pot you made in school–I must have several of those but never actually thought about using them for anything besides holding pencils! And I know I’ve killed many a plant with too much attention. You’ll have better luck with the new ones. I agree with Anna: The one in the photo looks as though it’s prepared to arm-wrestle you if you come at it with the fertilizer spikes or the watering can. Beware!

  10. sorry to hear there is still snow…I think we finally made the turn to spring this week…hope it stays…can’t remember my first plant.

  11. Great post! That darn cactus loved to be neglected! I bet you were sad when you lost it. Thought I’d share my post from the Grow Write Guild exercise… My First Plant

    P.S. I’m going to the Garden Blogger Fling this year too, can’t wait to meet you!

  12. Valerie says:

    Helen, I think 30 years with one cactus is admirable. I have never been able to keep one alive, my guess is over-watering. I enjoyed your post, here is a link to mine: Thanks, Valerie

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