Regrets of a Pet, I mean, PLANT Mom

Being a Pet Mom comes with a lot of responsibilities and a lot of feelings. Think about the time when your pet goldfish died in grade school. I, frankly could handle neither, and that is why I resolved to be a Plant Mom. Little did I know, even as a Plant Mom, I could suffer from heartbreaks. I am talking about my grandpups, more precisely, air plant pups.

I bought my very first air plant last March while visiting San Luis Obispo. I had never before ventured into the realm of no-soil growing, but when I saw the store’s arrangement of the air plants—each fitting snuggly in a sand dollar (ooh, what a lovely take on the whole surf and turf thing)—I decided that I must purchase one.

I never quite figured out how to hang the sand dollar upside down so my air plant could be displayed like a jellyfish. Nonetheless, I took very good care of it. I sprayed my air plant every two to three days, and I would soak the plant in water for 10 seconds once every month. (FYI dear readers, if you think the name “air plant” implies that you don’t need to water the plant at all because it gets its water from the air, you presumed incorrectly because it is unlikely that you live in a place where the air is sufficiently humid.) The general consensus is to mist air plants two to three times a week.

And apparently my hard work paid off because my air plant flowered in under a year and later produced two pups (air plant babies). To understand the magnitude of the event, consider the following:

  1. Air plants are slow to grow and will only blossom once in their life-span. This process can take from six months to several years.
  2. There is no guarantee when air plants will flower and breed pup(s). While a little fertilizer can be added to speed up the life cycle of the original plant, too much fertilizer is not recommended. The only thing left to do is to take good care (what this means, nobody knows) of air plants and hope that they will eventually flower and produce pups.
  3. Air plants on average produce 1 to 3 pups.
Plant Mom Sherry’s air plants (from left to right): Mother Plant and Pup 1 and Pup 2.

A pat on the shoulder for Sherry the Plant Mom. Even though I had never heard of air plant pups before (I had to Google what was going on when my air plant flowered. In fact, I was more concerned about the prospect of my air plant dying—flowering is the peak of the air plant life cycle—and was ignorant of the subsequent pup production), I successfully bred pups sans fertilizers. And here is where the story takes a downturn. In short, I got a little greedy.

When I separated the pups from the mother plant, instead of keeping the two pups together in one clump, I decided to separate the two pups also so I can have two single-pup plants. It was only after the deed was done that I realized that single-pup plants are widely available on the market and it is rarer to have a single two-pup plant. And thus, I fell into absolute desolation.

What have I done! Oh, why was I so shortsighted?  Oh silly, silly me for wanting to expand my air plant (in a sand dollar) house decor collection. I only have one sand dollar (the one that came with the mother plant when I first purchased it). Now that the mother plant is going to die after it has flowered and produced pups, I still only have one sand dollar to put the new air plant in, so what is the use of separating my TWO pups into TWO air plants to put into ONE sand dollar? (This is not about the acquisition of one more sand dollar; this is about the rarity of ownership.)

In case it is not obvious, I have some serious unresolved regrets about my pups. Even to this day: six months, three days… and counting. Alas, I can only look forward to my great-grandpups.

Read about Sherry’s gardening matchmaker blog post here.

Read about Sherry’s overzealous cactus mom blog post here.

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