Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Houseplants I'd Recommend to Various TV Characters, and Why

Just one of those places my mind goes during idle moments. (Who among us doesn't fantasize from time to time about being able to talk houseplants with Buffy Summers? Hmm?)

Show, character: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy Summers
Actor: Sarah Michelle Gellar
Plant recommendation: Phalaenopsis cv.

Buffy often complained, especially in the early seasons, about the pressure of having to save the world from vampires, on the one hand, with the desire to live like a normal SoCal high school girl. Phalaenopsis isn't that demanding of a plant, so she should be able to keep up with its needs, and it also has long-lived, attractive flowers in various girl-friendly colors. Sunnydale's mild climate should get cool enough during the winter for the plant to set buds if she leaves the window cracked a bit, without getting so cold that the plant's at risk of freezing. I'd also advise her to keep it on one side or the other of the windowsill, not right in the center, because with all the sneaking in and out she does, it'd be awfully easy to knock it over and break off buds or crack the pot.


Show, character: Will and Grace, Jack McFarland
Actor: Sean Hayes
Plant recommendation: Anthurium cv.

Realistically, Jack would have whatever houseplants the hottest guy in the garden center recommended, whether they were suitable for him or not. I'm fairly certain that I'm not hot enough to get Jack's attention, and I don't really see him as having the sort of attention span required to take regular care of a plant, but if I had to come up with a suggestion and he promised to try, I suppose a plant with the common name "peter on a platter" might hold his interest for a bit. It can't hurt the plant's chances, at least.


Show, character: The Simpsons, Lisa Simpson
Actor: Yeardley Smith (voice)
Plant recommendation: Dionaea muscipula

Lisa's pretty much a plant-seller's dream customer, since you know she's going to research the care requirements and then be conscientious about providing the appropriate conditions. Given her interest in science, a venus-flytrap might be just the thing: she could learn about carnivorous plants, read up on the mechanism behind the rapid trap-closing movement, and study the ecology of the bogs in which Dionaea grow naturally. I'd recommend she keep the plant away from Bart, who would almost certainly try to feed it hamburger at some point (though he might be willing to catch bugs for it, if approached in the right way).


Show, character: The Office (U.S.), Michael Scott
Actor: Steve Carell
Plant recommendation: Spathiphyllum cv. (?)

I don't recall ever seeing his home, and his office window doesn't get direct sun as far as I can recall, so we're probably looking for something that will tolerate low light and erratic care. (He seems like the type to forget that the plant exists for long periods of time, followed by attempting to water every day because he heard somebody say something about daily watering once.) A peace lily probably isn't ideal, but they're better communicators than most, and I think even Michael could learn the rule "water when it wilts, and leave it alone the rest of the time."


Show, character: Roseanne, Roseanne Conner
Actor: Roseanne Barr
Plant recommendation: Epipremnum aureum

As a working mother of three, with an emotionally needy sister and not a lot of money, Roseanne doesn't have a lot of time to fuss over a plant, but pothos are very undemanding plants, which could stand to be neglected for a week or two if Becky, Darlene, or D. J. are having crises, plus they're widely available and cheaply replaced if one should happen to get pushed too far.


Show, character: 30 Rock, Jack Donaghy
Actor: Alec Baldwin
Plant recommendation: Strelitzia reginae

With huge windows and blinds that are rarely closed, plus the money to hire staff to care for his plants, the only thing holding Jack back would be his office's low humidity. A Strelitzia wouldn't care about that, plus they're visually strong, bold plants that are good indoors. That he could afford to get blooming-size specimens only makes them more appropriate. (I apologize for not having a good photo of a blooming-size plant.)


Show, character: Being Human (U.S./Canada), Sally Malik
Actor: Meaghan Rath
Plant recommendation: Haworthia attenuata

Being a ghost poses special challenges for plant care, but since she's learned how to interact with physical objects (sometimes), watering's not the obstacle that it would have been during most of the first season. I'd recommend something that didn't need a lot of water, and could be kept in the kitchen near the sink, to minimize the consequences if her concentration should happen to slip while transporting the water. The Being Human house appears to have a partly-obstructed east or west window above the kitchen sink, which would be fine for a succulent that didn't demand a lot of light, like a Haworthia.


Show, character: Star Trek, Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy
Actor: DeForest Kelley
Plant recommendation: Passiflora incarnata

With the flora of hundreds (thousands?) of planets to choose from, I'm guessing most Enterprise residents probably don't have Earth-native species in their quarters, but Dr. McCoy is both old-fashioned and sentimental, so it seems likely that he would choose something from Earth, and most likely something he'd seen as a child in the southern U.S.
Not only does Passiflora incarnata work, they're also potentially useful in medicine, and produce edible fruits. Indoor care would be difficult, but I'm assuming that indoor plants are probably a lot easier to grow in the 23rd century. And if not, surely the Enterprise has a botany lab or arboretum or something, I don't know. (Damnit, Jim, I'm a plant blogger, not a Trekkie!)


Show, character: Firefly, Kaylee Frye
Actor: Jewel Staite
Plant recommendation: Schlumbergera cv.

On the other hand, in the Firefly universe, the plants and animals of Earth-That-Was appear to be all that anybody has to work with, so we're on a bit firmer ground to make guesses. We know she likes ruffly dresses, and lives on a ship that gets knocked around quite a bit and occasionally breaks down altogether, so it should be something pretty, but with a tough constitution. I think Schlumbergera is probably as close as we're going to get: easy to bloom, the flowers are complex, abundant, and colorful, and if the artificial gravity breaks down occasionally so the plant winds up floating around the room, well, the worst that'll happen is that some segments might fall off.


Show, character: Beavis and Butthead, Beavis
Actor: Mike Judge (voice)
Plant recommendation: Aloe vera

Beavis really shouldn't be trusted with plants at all, considering how bad he is at keeping himself alive, but an Aloe vera can pretty much fend for itself in Texas so long as it gets rain occasionally (Not a great assumption recently, I know, but still.), and nobody who loves fire like Beavis loves fire should be without an aloe nearby.


Photo credits:

Photos aren't necessarily the property of the sites I took them from; the whole legal standing of screencaps, re-use of promotional materials, and so on is confusing for me. But these are the immediate sources for the actor photos I used. (Plant photos are all my own.) Some photos were cropped, resized, or otherwise slightly altered.

Buffy Summers:

Jack McFarland:

Lisa Simpson:

Michael Scott:

Roseanne Conner:

Jack Donaghy:

Sally Malik:

Leonard "Bones" McCoy:

Kaylee Frye:



Plowing Through Life said...

Great post! I think you did a terrific job matching plants with these characters.

Kenneth Moore said...

I recently suggested the show "Being Human" to the beau, who just broke his foot and wanted to watch something that wasn't a show we watch together. I emphasized "the British version" several times, so I came home to him watching some weird trailer trash dude talking about vampires and making horrible come-ons to waitresses and was confused. I've never seen the US version, and only even knew there was one when Netflix recommended it to me (for watching the British version).

Have you seen both? I feel like Annie (the Britghost) might have a different plant preference--something a bit more prickly, but still attractive and low-maintenance. More Agave, perhaps.

mr_subjunctive said...

Kenneth Moore:

I've only seen the U.S. version. I've heard both that it's better and that it's worse than the U.K. version, so I guess it's a matter of taste. I don't care for any of the vampire-related plot (it's very slow-paced and angsty, and is very rarely funny), but the ghost- and werewolf-related parts are nicely done, plus the vampire plot has the very pretty Sam Witwer.

Jeane said...

This was such a great post. I was thoroughly entertained and all the plant choices seemed to fit well (at least, of the characters I'm familiar with; I don't watch all these shows).

Pat said...

Ha, mr_s, I see your Sam Witwer and raise you one Aidan Turner.

The question is, would Buffy go for that spike of Phalaenopsis flowers or an Angel's Trumpet?

Kenneth Moore said...

Except for the hair length, I'd agree with Pat. :P Plus, I love his grungy gloves. I haven't quite figured that one out.

Garden Broad said...

Whoa, check out the spadix on Steve's Spathiphyllum! "That's what she said."