Phil–the Gateway Plant

It started with Phil. He’s a Philodendron that some dear friends gave me years ago.

I’m houseplant challenged, you see. I once killed a cactus, although in my defense, I dropped something on it.

Houseplants and me–not a match made in heaven.

But Phil is different. Phil is hardy. Phil is about seven miles long and can drag himself to the sink and turn on the taps if he gets thirsty. No matter how much neglect or abuse Phil gets, he thrives.

And it’s time for Phil to go. Not all of Phil. I’d like to keep a more reasonable sized portion of him. But what we have now would look more at home in the rain forest exhibit of a natural history museum. Like a baby elephant, he’s gotten too big.

So today we moved Phil, because he needs desperately to be repotted, and because I want to put a bookcase in the corner he has been occupying. The spot that used to hold the bookcase will hold the new armoire/liquor cabinet. Which I haven’t finished upcycling from the television armoire it was in a former life. (Hm. Same people who gave us Phil gave us the armoire. And an overstuffed chair with ottoman. And a bed frame. I see a pattern forming here.)

What happens when you move a gigantic houseplant for the first time in ten years?

You find dead leaves, dust, abandoned spider webs and bales of cat hair. After gently disentangling Phil from the curtain rod he lovingly embraced, you find a lot of dust on top of your curtains, and in the cute wooden rings that connect the curtain to the curtain rod. Stop. Dust the top of the curtains. Dust the wooden rings. Realize you have to wipe down the door frame under the curtains. Realize how dirty that side of the sliding glass door is that is rarely opened and normally covered by the curtain.

When you come down off the stepstool that allowed you to clean the curtain rod and all attached parts, don’t forget that you moved the dining room table over about a foot to accommodate all this activity. The closer you come to impaling yourself on a dining room chair, the harder you’ll consider whether your life insurance is paid up, and whether it’s a large enough policy. And if you come off the stepstool the wrong way, you could be in for an unpleasant goosing.

Then there are the phantom spots on the wall. They could be coffee, gravy, red wine, or possibly very old mustard. Small flecks on the wall that need to be wiped off. Which leads to wiping down the whole wall. Which leads to the discovery that you’re a pretty slovenly housekeeper, and maybe you should wipe down your walls more often than once a decade.

When you’re wiping out suburban spider town, you start to wonder. Spiders are supposed to eat flies, right? So why the heck do we always have so many fruit flies with a veritable metropolis of spider webs around the dining room ceiling? Are the spiders on strike? Have they unionized, and they’re waiting for higher wages and better health care benefits? They should be sending me thank you cards, not leaving their abandoned slum webs for me to clean up. Of course, they could be protesting the cat hair that floats up, attaches itself to the web and makes foot traffic impossible for the arachnid set.

Today, I was going to move a bookcase. Thanks to Phil, I’ll be washing walls, ceilings and windows. I’m pretty sure at some point, while I’m teetering on the stepstool, arms pinwheeling to keep my balance, I’ll look over at the light fixture over the dining room table and realize it also needs disassembling and cleaning.

Phil, how could you do this to me?

If anyone wants a large Philodendron, please let me know.




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2 responses to “Phil–the Gateway Plant

  1. Sue

    Spiders. Don’t even let me get started. Living in an oak forest has its drawbacks.

  2. If you give an M.B. a philodendron, she’s going to…

    Those plants are such trouble makers. You just need a vinier plant so it covers up the walls and Spider Town.

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