Artificial Intelligence

By Rose Ann Sinay

Artificial Intelligence

Each December, my huge Christmas cactus is covered with hundreds of plump buds. By the holidays, the plant is in full, glorious bloom. The vibrant, pink flowers that explode from the leggy stems make me smile every time I walk into my living room. Just like clockwork, the blossoms see the old year out and trumpet the New Year in, before dropping to the floor.

The plant’s vitality is a real mystery to me. I would like to take the credit for keeping it alive and thriving; its beauty gives me momentary hope that my thumb has turned gardener green. But the truth is, I rarely remember to water my plants, never mind fertilize them. The other six plants, standing next to my (nearly) maintenance-free cactus, look like wounded soldiers wearing spotted shrouds of olive and brown. They are my constant reminders that any green on my thumb is probably a fungus.

Last year, I decided to ditch the withered stems that guilt and Miracle Grow couldn’t revive. I would go BIG this time. Perhaps, I had thought, small, delicate flora were just not my “thing.” (Not that the medium-sized, hardy greenery fared any better.) I headed to Lowes plant center. I was looking for something tall and substantial in dazzling emerald – something that my unintentional neglect couldn’t kill – something that would provide a lush background for my dependable, tenacious cactus.

I didn’t even have to go into the garden section. Tree-sized Majesty Palms were grouped in the center aisle of the store, right in front of the entrance, for my convenience (or a quick sale). Each plastic, five gallon container held a perfect Ravenea rivularis. Their bases were thick and woody, the leaf blades – pristine and sturdy. Five, six…eight feet tall, they towered over me with their regal, willowy fronds.

“Do you think they are easy to care for,” I asked the woman next to me who was wrestling with the pots to reach the tallest plant in the back row. “I just want to keep it alive,” I confided.

“You can’t kill ‘em,” she said. “I guarantee it. I’ve had mine for years. Half the time I forget to water them, and they still look like this. Palms like humidity. Just mist them with water from time to time. Easy peasy.

“Really? Nothing else?” I asked skeptically, helping her load the pot onto the flat wagon.

“Well, you don’t want to put it in direct sun light…or in complete shade,” she said expertly trimming the wilted edge of a leaf with her finger nails. “And don’t over-water it; you’ll rot the roots.” She laughed at the doubt on my face. “Don’t worry. Just take one home and enjoy it.”

I did buy one; in fact, I bought two. I contemplated a few more, but stopped myself. Just how indestructible these enormous shrubs really were, was yet to be seen.

I called my husband, “Bring the truck.”

I followed closely behind him in my car, wincing at each bump and curve in the road. I watched the trees blow in the wind, but they did not fall over. We made it home, every leaf intact. It was a good sign.

We placed the palms into their new clay pots, watered them thoroughly, and let them drain. They were beautiful. I had my own jungle. And when the Christmas cactus bloomed, it would be spectacular.


I pull out the spray bottle and mist the row of plants. I no longer have to raise my arm to reach the tops. I can hardly remember the magnificent plants they used to be. The two leaves on the last palm barely reach my waist. There is a nice green stalk smack in the middle. It’s beginning to yellow a little at the tip. There’s no sign that it plans to open any time soon.

This year, I’m going to buy some new plants: I’m thinking artificial might be nice.

About this writer

  • Rose Ann Sinay Rose Ann Sinay is a freelance writer typing away in sunny North Carolina. Her articles/stories have been published in The Carolinas Today, The Oddville Press and The Brunswick Beacon.

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8 Responses to “Artificial Intelligence”

  1. Diane Quackenbush says:

    Still laughing as this is my life also. Another great story!!!

  2. Jacqueline Stowe-Davis says:

    You are to funny. I have mine in the bathroom which I ignore most of the time but the humidity from the shower and being watered every few wks or months seems to be doing ok lol

  3. Colleen Wenthen says:

    Story of my life! I even watered an artificial plant and water stained the speaker it was on! Great story and I laughed out loud.

  4. Betsy Bergstrom says:

    At least your plant blooms. My buds fall off before I get flowers. Loved the story.

  5. Shelby Wallace says:

    I love your stories! At least your plants make it home with you…mine realize where they are going, jump out of the car and hitchhike back to the nursery! Looking forward to more of your hilarious adventures.

  6. Tammy says:

    Thank you for a great story – it has made me aware that I am not the only one without a green thumb . I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me! Thanks for the laugh!

  7. Mary Ann says:

    Green-less myself, I empathize with you and your palms. Great story and love the title!

  8. Mary Russell says:

    My neighbor back in Illinois told me, “I hardly pay attention to my plants.” Her plants, indoor and out, were magnificent. I hate people like that. Maybe they have some kind of weird pheromones that plants like. Good article! It made me laugh.

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