The Dumb Plant Survives

Most homeowners in our neck of the woods spent yesterday prepping their properties for Hurricane Irene: corralling lawn furniture, bringing in precious plants, and filling shopping carts with batteries, bottled water and twinkies.

We didn’t stock up on food or bring anything inside. As for plants, I actually threw our only house plant out into the hurricane.

I hoped that no one would notice as I dragged the 5-foot-high monstrosity out the mudroom. I planned to heave it into the dumpster, but the pot was so heavy, I left it on the deck.

“Why is the plant outside?” Cayden asked.

“I’m throwing it away,” I said.

“You’re what?” Martin asked. “We’ve had that plant for 12 years, through two house moves, and now you’re putting it in the path of the storm?”


We were newlyweds when our housekeeper gave us this plant. Well, she gave us part of her plant — a transplant — a Brazilian dumb cane. At the time we lived in a big empty house and anything — even a spindly, stalky houseplant — was a welcome addition.

By dumb luck, the dumb cane survived, even after the housekeeper retired and no one bothered to water or prune it. Over time it grew more stalky and spindly. Eventually someone propped it up with a sawed-off broom stick. (Now that really added to its appeal.)

Despite all efforts to neglect the plant to death, it survived and thrived.

But not too long ago, the kids banged into it. And one particularly windy day when the windows were open, the main stalk doubled over. Last week I hid the plant behind the china cabinet because Brynn kept shoving fistfuls of soil into her mouth. Enough was enough.

“If it survives the hurricane,” Martin announced, “the plant stays.”

I hoped for a twister.

Martin and the dumbcane brave the elements

It was pretty easy to track the storm last night, even without the incessant TV news reporters pointing out puddles and panning their cameras over pitch-dark beaches. ¬†When the brunt of the storm came from the south-east, rain seeped through the window molding in the fireplace room. We put down towels. In the morning, the rain blew in from the west, leaking through the porch roof. We put down pots and pans. I was relieved when it finally stopped raining inside. I didn’t care about the plant.

Which, I’m sorry to say, did survive the hurricane. It’s a little more bent, more wobbly, but is holding fast to its broom handle.

I’m hoping that Martin and I can compromise. It’s already out the door. I’m willing to give up the dumpster if he’ll agree to foster the dumb cane in his office.