WARNING: The following contains a bit of a rant. Readers of delicate constitution or sensibilities should not continue reading. Neither mr_subjunctive nor Blogger, Inc., nor mr_subjunctive's unnamed employer, nor Google, Inc., owners of Blogger, nor your internet service provider, are responsible for any injuries, whether physical or mental, nor any distress or anxiety, incurred by readers who proceed below this point. Readers with rant sensitivity disorder are welcomed to the internet and advised: You're so going to hate it here.
How often should I water this?
Almost everybody asks this at some point, if I'm helping them choose a plant. Which is good, as far as it goes. I mean, you should want to know how often to water, the same way you should want to know how much light to give the plant.
And I always say, you should water this one when the surface of the soil is just barely dry, or when the top inch and a half is dry, or when it's dry about halfway down, or something like that. There's a subset of customers for whom this is not good enough, though. I've been asked, in all seriousness, how one would know when the surface of the soil is dry. And when I answer (probably with a stunned facial expression) that the way to tell is to, you know, touch it, they act like I've suggested something completely ridiculous and unreasonable. Oh no. No, I couldn't possibly.
Fortunately, I have a backup, which is to say, well, you can pick it up and water when it's light in weight. People have, on occasion, acted like that's ridiculous, too. (You must be joking. Surely one shouldn't have to touch a plant in order to care for it. And I'm certainly not going to lift it. What are you, crazy?) At that point, I should tell them about our water meters, though I'm always so shocked and appalled (The stupid! It burns!) that it slips my mind that we have them, and anyway I've never used one so I'm not sure if I trust them or not anyway. Though I suppose for customers like this they'd be better than nothing. I mean, the plant is not going to communicate telepathically with you, to let you know when it needs to be watered.1
What people really seem to want is for me to tell them to water every Thursday, or every ten days, or only on the 15th of the month. They don't realize that plants don't use calendars, and don't know what day of the week it is. Plants need water when they need water, which is to say, when their soil has dried out to a certain degree. And even if a plant could be watered on a schedule like this, I have no idea what your home is like or where you're going to be putting the plant, so I couldn't give you a schedule anyway. A plant that needs water only every ten days in a dark, humid bathroom might need water every six days in a bright, warm kitchen, or every three days in a sunroom. The best I can do is make a guess based on what it would need in my own place.
And this whole phenomenon makes me want to scream, and occasionally to throw things, because if you aren't willing to occasionally touch dirt or lift a pot, then you have no business owning live plants at all, and you should get the hell out of the store right now. Also, you probably shouldn't have an aquarium or a hamster, either, and you should definitely not be allowed to have a cat, dog, or child. In fact, I'm not entirely sure you should even be going home by yourself, so is there someone we can call to come pick you up? I mean, I know that there are people out there who have happened on a schedule that works for their plants, and they've been watering their jade plant (Crassula ovata) every Saturday afternoon at 3 PM for the last twenty years and it's doing just fine. But what the people who do this won't tell you is, they tried keeping the same schedule with fifty other plants, and the jade is the only one that survived.
So, just to be clear: if you're thinking about buying a plant, keep in mind that you may have to get a fingertip dirty from time to time. If this is too much for you, I hear they're doing lovely things with artificial these days.2 Watering on a schedule is not a good substitute for, you know, paying attention.
Photo credits: all me (my most recent batch of acquisitions from the Dec. 30 order, actually. Two birds, one stone.).
1 At least not right away. Telepathy takes months, sometimes years, to develop. I'm only sort of kidding.
2 This is a lie. I've seen the stuff they're doing with artificial plants, and it is my fervently held belief that none of it is lovely, and it's very rarely even competent. But if you're not willing to dirty your finger then I really don't care what your place looks like, and I sort of strongly doubt that you care either. Or else you care too much. Either way, I can't relate to you, so buh-bye.