Friday, February 11, 2011

Do plants scream?

I can't get the sound of cracking bones out of my head. Crack! Crick!! Crii-ickity crackle!!! CRAAACK!!!!

No, that’s not it. It’s almost like a bunch of small zippers of different lengths being opened all at once. Zip. Zipziipziiip!! Zipitzipitzipit!!!

Hmm. Still not exactly accurate. It's actually more of a ripping sound, like fabric being shredded by hand. Rip! Riiip!! Ripripriprip!!! RIIIIP!!!!

Gosh. Close, but not entirely right. Has anyone else heard the roots of a root-bound plant being deliberately torn during transplant to a bigger pot to allow it to grow larger, live better, and be free? Because it’s awful, and it’s haunting me, and I won’t be able to leave it alone until it’s described properly.

And all anxiety this because of two of the plants I received from a thoughtful five-plant sympathy basket from my office from when my Grampa died. I kept it, because the plants were so beautiful. (Not very Jewish of me, but it was my decision, after all.) My brown thumb managed to kill the other three, but the peace lily and a lovely type of delicate, smooth, frond-y fern had been coming along fairly nicely.

Anyway, they both became root-bound and needed to be repotted. I employed the help of Vitamin N and we had a planting party. I used pretty green ceramic pots I bought at Ace and brought them back into the office. Within a week, the fern was entirely happy, but the peace lily was half happy and half sad… the stems bright and perky through half the leaf, and the end half of the leaf droopy, looking weak and arthritic. It made me sad too.

So when our landscape architect colleague stopped by, I questioned him. Why so droopy and limp? I watered it plenty. Well, it turns out I had overwatered it. And placed it far too low within the pot. He showed me how to “free” the plant by disentangling its roots. Then this kind and gentle man proceeded to smilingly riiiiiiiiiip the pale and stringy root ball until it resembled a shallow, upside-down bowl. And he really had to work at it, they were so tightly intertwingled.

I gasped. And shuddered. All I could think of was chicken bones being rolled over by an office chair. Or potato chips crushed by a rolling pin. Maybe eggshells screeching? This was Monday, and I’m still thinking about it. I told him about it and he said, "But now it's free!" I believe him, but it's like the sound is just stuck in my ears. Yuck!

So, if anyone can think of a way to describe this sound so I can put it to bed, please comment. I’ll be forever grateful…