Spider plant that has survived the decades comes full circle

Houseplants are hot. Young gardeners in particular are discovering the joy of filling their homes with greenery. I’m fully in favor of this trend, not only because it decreases the likelihood of more fake plants but also because it means that there are eager young people willing to give homes to the houseplants I don’t want.

Last week I rehomed a very ordinary looking but special spider plant that I’ve kept only out of a sense of loyalty. It was, after all, my first plant.

I bought it at the bustling Dane County Farmer’s Market in the shadow of the Wisconsin State Capitol building the day I moved into college. My dorm room, one of the few in the world with decent lighting thanks to a location along Madison’s lakeshore path, called out for something green, perhaps to compliment the mint green cinderblock walls.

The spider plant lived with me for four years of college, coping with month-long abandonments during winter breaks and car rides to and from home every spring and fall in which it was always the last thing jammed in before the trunk was slammed shut.

It moved to two dark apartments with me after college and, when I moved out of the country for a year I left it in the care of relatives who shall remain anonymous. The spider plant, which by this point resided in a rather large pot rather than the hanging basket I bought in seven years earlier, was dropped off on a three-season porch until its temporary owners could find a more permanent location for it in the house.

When I returned a year later to claim my spider plant, more out of a sense of duty than desire, I found it still on the three-season porch laying on the floor on its side, it having been knocked off its perch at some point and simply forgotten about. I couldn’t blame the reluctant caretakers, who’d been saddled with a beast of a plant that few small houses could just absorb. I  picked it up, took it to yet another another apartment and gave that spider plant a bit of TLC.

In time it recovered and moved with me one more time to an eastern window of our house where for years it has enjoyed summer vacations on a shady corner of the deck while simultaneously fighting off attacks from a plant-obsessed cat. Every fall I toyed with the idea of “forgetting” it outside, but how could I leave a plant that had fought back from the brink of death multiple times out in the cold to die?

It didn’t come in this year. Instead it went to a new home, in the care of one of those houseplant-obsessed young people, who sees beauty in an ordinary spider plant the same way I did when I bought it at a farmer’s market. Its new owner happens to be the son of the reluctant caretakers who forgot about it on that porch, probably because they were busy raising the then 2-year-old who now owns that plant.

Sensing  that I might be a little nostalgic about the spider plant, the new owner listened to its life history (which is longer than his) and promised to take good care of it. He even sent me a photo of it settled in its new home, in a bright window much like the one it started out in.

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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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