Orphan Plants

office plants, PixabayAt first, they were all silent.

After all, they’d been alone before, on what the “Others” called “weekends.” And sometimes they were alone for a longer time when a particular Other went away on something called a “Vacation.”

But they’d never been left for this amount of time. And they’d never been all together in one large room.

So for the first week, each one just settled into her soil, allowed her roots to adjust, her leaves to find the sun, her ‘being’ to release the oxygen.

But as the dust began to settle, the rustling grew louder. The silence was replaced by exhalations that only they could hear.plants, office plants, Pixabay

Before, their language had been necessary – between fern and fiddle-leaf fig, philodendron and Phaius orchid. The two-legged Others prattled in their singsongy guttural sounds while the plants twittered amongst themselves, happy that no two-legged fathomed their soft-as-air conversations.

But it didn’t matter now. They were alone. No two-leggeds pranced back and forth from room to room, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

office plants, blogKentia spoke up first. “Why are we here?” she asked.

Pothos shushed her, “Why are you asking an existential question now, when times are so askew?”

Vera replied, “I think Kentia means literally, why are we here? Why aren’t we on our desks in our office abode? Why are we trapped all together?”

Baby Areca began to cry: “When do we get watered? I’m thirsty!”

Ficus spread her branches a little wider and touched Baby Areca’s leaves. “Hush. They will not forget us.”

Another week went by. The soil of each plant grew drier. The roots stretched their hair cells throughout the soil. The sun became essential for continued life.

Jade began to moan. “I want my Other,” she said.house plants, office plants, pixabay

“Hush, don’t use up your water,” Lily entreated. “We’re autotrophs. We don’t need them.”

But slowly, the plant orphans realized that they did need the Others, just like the Others needed them. For the oxygen of love and care. To quench the thirst of loneliness and isolation. 

“They’ll be back soon,” Lily assured herself, and her companions. “They won’t leave us forever.”


Alex Fernandez, photo credit. WSJ, 4/21/20. Plants corralled by staff on a conference room table this month at BuzzFeed New York office

153 thoughts on “Orphan Plants

    • Thank you. When I first saw the photo in the article about office plants left abandoned, I was planning on writing a story about their freedom, growing into an office jungle. But their voices changed as I wrote, from freedom-loving to lonely without ‘their’ people. I guess all beings, plant and human, don’t like the isolation. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I love the timing of this, Pam. Only yesterday, I emailed one of the officers I work with asking him to water my plants. I have an entire window sill full of plants, three of which are orchids and for whatever reason, mine bloom constantly. I’ve worried about their well-being since I haven’t been able to talk with them since March 17th. One is a tiny orchid I received while attending a class on how to grow orchids. It looked like a stick for well over a year. Coworkers told me to dump it, it was dead, but I kept the faith. I did everything opposite of what the instructor told me to do, watering it a tiny bit each workday. I talked to it, when no one was around telling the twig “You can do it. You can bloom.” Two months before the pandemic the tiny buds blossomed into gorgeous blooms. I think I’ll email my coworker today and ask him to send me a couple of photos because I’m missing my plants this morning. ❤

    Liked by 5 people

    • The good news is that I’ve heard many office workers really worry about their plants and connect with a janitor or an office worker who is still allowed into the building and gives them watering instructions. 😇

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was wondering about this very topic last week. I’m glad to see that someone is doing something about the poor dears left behind in the rush to exit the workplace. It’s the little things in life that bring joy– like those orphan office plants.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Plants that are cared for will return the love sevenfold. So, maybe my little post here will remind readers to water AND talk to the green beings in their homes (and hopefully, have someone do the same in the office).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely thoughts Pam, I hope these orphans are looked after though human beings are the priority now! We bring them indoors for our own selfish motives and then forget them? Thank you for thinking about them. I like how you say… “quench the thirst of loneliness and isolation.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, those poor little abandoned plants. I hope that they’re getting corralled and watered in all those empty office buildings. I never even thought about that! This virus reaches into every life. The image that you chose to accompany the story gave me a smile. Someone cares. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Perfect story for Arbor Day and Earth Day. You know, you could take this story and rework it as a fun picture book! Kids would love talking plants. It made me think of a book I reviewed in the last year about a book on a shelf in the library afraid to be signed out.

    There are many videos about how trees communicate and the role of the Mother tree in the forest. Can’t find my favorite one, but thought you might enjoy this one.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Pat- I watched the entire video and loved every second. Thank you so much for sharing it here! The woman biologist who spoke is so wise and knowledgeable about trees and their interconnectedness and how much one tree gives to so many others. Just like human beings. In fact, it will be nice when human beings understand how much each of us is connected to the other, just like trees. 🌲
      I love your idea about a children’s picture book. However I have vowed to never publish another one because it’s so difficult to market and help people find our books. But… It’s in the back of my mind. 😉


  6. Very creative! I was just thinking the other day about how (maybe when I was in college in the mid – late 70s) some people pushed the idea that plants had feelings. Supposedly they felt pain when clipped and how our moods could impact their health. I never embraced the theory but I have always felt a little guilty ever since then when I have to lop off a branch. I hope the Others return soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was in college around the same time you were, Janis, and remember reading the same thing (and there was a terrific documentary at the time about how photographers could see the aura of a leaf diminish when it died, but how the aura of the leaf next to it grew larger. I’ve been nicer to my plants ever since then. 🙂

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  7. Your plants speak to you (and among themselves) because you speak to them – nicely. And they speak among themselves because they, like us, are lonely for companionship.

    Thanks for all this, including the video by the forester. Your ideas are always so fresh and timely. Thank you, Pam!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Marian. I know that many think “talking” to a plant is a waste of oxygen, but when is oxygen ever wasted? Energy is energy is energy. The more we share the love, the more we receive it in return. I know you understand. ❤
      And yes, Patricia shared that fabulous video – I learned even more from it. xo


  8. Poor plant babies. I hope they get taken care of in all the offices without job attendance… I’m watering a few plants of my MIL in our room at the moment. It seems like they’re staying inside longer than other years… Let’s hope spring gets here soon now and freezing temps disappear. I love your love for plants, Pam!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I bet the plants are enjoying your company now, Liesbet. They’d be shivering if they were outside. Brrrrrr. Aren’t you glad you returned to NE? 🙂 But on the plus side, it’s getting beautiful out there with the flowering trees and daffy daffodils. ❤

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  9. I have always wondered about plants and how they respond to energy, someone taking care of them, talking to them. Ooooh….”exhalations”….”her being to release the oxygen.” Goosebumps. Almost, Toy Story meets Plant Kingdom. Former is fantasy and latter is real life. And then, my gut reaction, tears brimming. Your two last lines are powerful. Your two last lines speak the truth. Beautiful writing, Pamela!❤️

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  10. Wow, what imagination you have, Pam. This really adds perspective of one more thing that’s impacted with sheltering-in-place. A ripple effect, indeed, and I even felt the tug at my emotions. This is SO good! xo

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  11. Like you, I truly believe all living things have feelings and communicate. They don’t like being abandoned either. My daughter has been checking on her plants at the office regularly. The plant people come in once a week and water everything and a co-worker dropped in and sent my daughter a picture of her plants to ensure she knew her plants were well and cared for. They respond to thoughts, music and conversation. Nice words are better than mean words so talk to everyone around you kindly if a plant is in ear shot. I loved reading this. Makes me feel normal…almost. 😉

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  12. Oh I love your creativity! You know where this mind went? That their poor caretaker was in the hospital on his stomach with a ventilator and COVID (or maybe even dead, may he rest in peace) and the poor plants don’t even know! Will someone come by and water them? Will someone please?

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  13. The little boy in me really appreciated this one. I used to talk to my mother’s plants when she’d be at work, promising them she’d water them as soon as she got home (we weren’t allowed to touch them!). You completely brought back a 50 year-old memory with this one, Pam. Well done. – Marty

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    • Wow, Marty. You just gave me goosebumps. Or maybe they are plantbumps. What a fabulous little boy you were. Not surprising, considering what a fabulous man you are now. Thank you so much for sharing this memory. 💚

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    • I’m so jealous of the idea of you planting in your yard, Ann! We have put hearty pansies in our outside porch planter, and the daffodils are surviving bravely, but the cold and wind and dreary rain are keeping us from gardening just yet.

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  14. Aw.. poor plants! I have several in my dining room and I have not been a very good plant mom lately. Every week there are a few more leaves on the floor. I used to be very diligent in watering my plants each week, pruning and feeding them on a regular basis. I even talked to them. But lately…? I have lost my passion for several things, plants included I suppose. Ok, I will get off my Debbie Downer kick…lol.
    I have started a Masterclass with Jim Kwik (memory guru) whose new book, Limitless, will come out on Tuesday the 28th (if you can find it!) Everyone, including Amazon, was sold out 2 weeks ago! PRE-SALES! I know! Crazy, right? I am excited about doing something that will keep my mind engaged while I think about looking for a job. I’m ready for this to be over, but things will never go back to the way they were. We will just have a “new normal” *sigh*

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    • I steer away from politics to keep my blood pressure in a normal range. I think the plants and birds and bees are beyond politics. They just keep the world turning in a beautiful way. Thanks so much for enjoying! 🤓💚

      Liked by 1 person

      • I wish I could be in your position to turn away from politics, however if we all do that, there would be no koalas left at all. We have to create some level of awareness that they are on their way to extinction, or else it will be too late. Having said that, I can understand that you need to take care of your blood pressure. Politics is a draining game at the best of times.

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  15. Very imaginative and you made plants sound like one of us normal folk. They just wanted some tender loving care. Things sounded very bleak for them and I guess, that’s also life. Hope you are doing well and take care 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Love your giving the plants a voice and your melodic reference to their speaking in hushed tones as they struggle to understand their new location and absence of the “two legged ones.”

    It is true that there is a perceived hierarchy of needs. Among “two legged ones”, protect the elders first during the pandemic, within the broader animal kingdom, much is done to protect and provide support to pets that are impacted by the virus indirectly, but the plants are inevitably relegated to a more distant third rung. How many of those displaced and impacted give any thoughts to how these plants survive COVID-19? And yet, of course, plants are living beings needing sunshine, water and perhaps some level of human interface.

    How often I catch Peta watering plants and talking to them even when we do home exchanges she takes pity on the neglected and dried out living things. I wonder.. are they sentient beings?


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