How I Killed My Swedish Ivy Named Erik

Talking to Plants (but Not Very Well)

Anne Marble

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In the 1970s, talking to your plants was all the rage. There was a famous book called The Secret Life of Plants that told us plants had emotions.

Did you try talking to your plants? Did you name your plants, like me? How many of you read The Secret Life of Plants? Or watched the 1978 documentary?

A Swedish ivy plant in a dark brown ceramic pot photographed against a pale wall.
Swedish Ivy (Source: W. Carter, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.)

An Ivy Is a Pet, Right?

I can’t have furry pets because of allergies. As a kid, I had the occasional goldfish. Later, I got a parakeet (who wrote to me when I was in college), but I wasn’t ready yet. Yet I wanted something else that I could call my own, some other living creature.

Then, one day, while at a shopping center with Mum, I saw a little potted Swedish ivy (Plectranthus verticillatus) for sale in the discount department store. (I don’t remember the name of the store — probably one of many long-lost chains like F. W. Woolworth.)

This was a small Swedish ivy in a small plastic pot — one big, green stem dominated by a large leaf at the top. Yet I was drawn to it. Maybe I could think of it as a sort of … pet? A little potted Swedish ivy plant might be just the right thing.

So I paid for my plant, met up with Mum again, and went home with a potted…

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Anne Marble

I’m a writer and a copy editor with experience in editing science and engineering articles. Click Lists to find my most popular articles. And hidden gems.