I am in the process of killing three houseplants. One was a gift from a friend, a cutting from a houseplant of his that I liked very much. Another was a sacred trust, a colleague's gift from her best friend in grad school that she asked me to care for it while she was away this summer. The third is zombie plant, something that should have already died a thousand deaths from under-watering since I bought it my first year in grad school, but somehow always clawed its way back from the brink, until now.
I told my friend's husband that I was capable of killing cactus; had, in fact killed a cactus. And also an ivy. He was incredulous, and grew even more so when I explained that these two botanical deaths had taken place within a month of each other.
These are not, I should note, delicate tropical plants. They are simple houseplants. They need water and sunlight. Occasionally they should be repotted, probably. They are not fiddly creatures, yet they die under my care. And today, as I contemplated another mortally ill houseplant, I wondered why. Plants, after all, do not hate anyone personally. They do not hold grudges. And they do not require a particular personality trait to be happy. Their needs are simple: healthy soil, sunlight, and water. Requirements may vary slightly from one plant to the next, but I'll bet there are books. And I'll bet it's not rocket science.
On the other hand, today I was thinking that plants -- even the most forgiving ones -- do require something that I appear to have trouble with: attention. I may be seeing signs and portents where none exist, but: I think my sickly houseplants may be telling me something. And I have this funny idea that if I can bring them back to life, I will learn something in the process.