succulent flowers

Lessons from our Plants

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Twenty-five years ago, a coworker gave my husband a cutting from her jade plant. Now, we have many, many jade plants in our home. Our largest plant was about five feet wide when our cockatoo decided that it looked tasty. He did some severe damage, and we had to divide it into two or three smaller plants. They thrived, and as other branches were accidentally broken off (I still feel bad about an incident involving the vacuum cleaner handle that fell and severed a large limb.), we planted them in pots.

Goffin's cockatoo
I brought my office plants home during the shutdown, so now we have Grandmother plant overlooking the nursery. She has adapted to her new role, and Sugar thinks her fronds look yummy. I had to shoo him out right after this picture!

Soon we had new members of our plant family. We have what we fondly refer to as “the nursery” as well as several large windowsills where large jade plants have displaced the cats. We have to guard the plants against our foraging cockatoo since he still sees them as crunchy and delicious!

Jade plants
Can you see the fronds that grew together near the bottom of the stalks? This had made them both strong enough to lift their crowns up to the light.

Today, I noticed something new in the nursery. Jade plants tend to be a bit top-heavy when they’re young. The petals at the top will make the entire stalk lean or bend over. My husband has devised little supports for them until the stalk gets large enough to support the plants’ upper part. But sometimes, the plants have other plans. I found two little saplings that decided they were stronger together as their top petals grow enough to absorb the nutritious sunlight.

jade plants
You can see how they joined together in the middle in this close-up!

Even plants know that we are stronger when we have a friend or mate holding our hand. Neither plant is weaker or leaning on the other, yet they both stand taller because they stand together.

succulent flowers
Grandmother sprouted flowers this month, as if she approves of the clever arrangement between the plants.

Neither my husband nor I have much of a green thumb. I certainly don’t speak “plant” the way I speak “critter,” but we do our best. Our big successes are with succulents. They are forgiving and barely notice a little neglect – just our style.

Goffin's cockatoo
Sugar found another of the plants vacationing in my home. You can see some of the jade plant nursery in the background.


  1. Jade house plants were really popular in the seventies. I am known as a green thumb gardener who can grow anything and yet I couldn’t grow jade. I was a kid..maybe I can now.

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      1. I thought it was special. Like your best friend – you hold on to each other as equals. It makes me more conscious that plants have relationships. When I bought plants at the garden store last week and I found two plants intertwined, I bought them both, figuring a friend would make it happier and hopefully stronger. Just a theory.


    1. My husband’s boss gave him a cutting in the 90’s and the resulting plant is going strong. It had an accident and is now two plants— no problem. The one thing that we have to do is neglect it a bit. Don’t water it until it whines. It loves our Windows and generally arid climate!


  2. I’ve never had much luck with indoor plants. It used to be my hubby’s job to care for them, he did much better than me! Our cat Sam never met a plant she didn’t like, so eventually we just stopped having indoor plants (she always had her catnip plants though).

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  3. Those two holding “hands” are so cute. My husband is the plant whisperer. People bring him dean plants and he brings them back to life. It is pretty amazing. He was taking care of all the plants in the office so now we have a bunch of plants at home.

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  4. Your plant is inspiring. We have a jade plant that I bought at Lowe’s a few years ago. It’s maybe 12″ high now. My husband put two bamboo stakes in it just this past month. Since then Jade has grown tall like little friend we consider her to be.

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    1. Thank you. They do a lot for my office and are waiting to go back on duty! I like the way they mellow the house’s (and office’s) energy. I’m sorry you can’t…for now.


    1. They love our sunny, arid climate here, and seem to thrive on the neglect. If we water them more than once a month they whine that they are waterlogged! You probably nurtured your plant, like a good plant-mom, not knowing it thrived on neglect.


    1. The huge one in the background is in the nursery, because it’s still young and a bit wobbly. You should see our mature ones! What’s left of the oldest one is 3 1/2 feet tall. I caught Sugar nibbling on Grandmother plant today and he was evicted from my home office right away. I can’t allow that!

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        1. Sugar’s probably around 45 years old, so he is older than Grandmother plant, who is about 10. Her spirit, however, feels timeless. Sugar is very into self-empowerment and is clear no one rules him, but that’s no excuse for abuse!

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