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Lazarus is a ficus.  I’m not sure what sort of ficus, but just an ordinary house plant sort of ficus.  He stands 32 inches tall above the pot when he’s feeling frisky.  When he’s droopy, he isn’t so tall.  That’s what I want to talk about: when he gets droopy.  I have to say, up front, that I’ve never been good with plants.  It’s fair to say that my reputation amongst my neighbors, when it comes to any sort of gardening — inside or out — is atrocious.  Suffice to say, whenever anyone goes away for an extended period of time, they never, ever ask me to look after their plants.  I can live with that.  But what annoys me is that when I come home after a long absence, during which one of the neighbors (Heather) has lovingly looked after my plants, they are all thriving and looking as if they are sorry to see me come home.

Lazarus was one such plant..  Several years ago he had reached the point of being nearly moribund when Heather kindly took him in.  Fickle ficus that he was (is), he responded to Heather’s TLC.  For what must have been a couple years, she kept offering to bring him back home.  I always declined,  pointing out that he was obviously happier with her. There was no petulance in my response; I merely indicated that if he preferred her to me, then of course she should have him.

For reasons we don’t have to go into here, he finally did come home a few months back.  Looking very fine, I might add.  Well, Heather was here for dinner recently and just happened to mention that Lazarus was looking a bit  . . . droopy.  I said I had just watered him, and was sure he would perk up shortly.   “And what about the yellow leaves?” she asked.  I offered that perhaps he was from the northern hemisphere and thought it was autumn.  “Do you feed him?”  Not wanting to admit that I had possibly overlooked that task, and not wanting anyone to think I would knowingly starve my plant, I mumbled something like “Not recently.”  And we moved on to other topics.

Lazarus the Fickle Ficus

I’ve already admitted that I’m not good with plants.  But I do enjoy them, and certainly don’t like having to replace them so frequently, so I took particular notice of Heather’s remark about feeding Lazarus.  I confess, I didn’t have any idea what sort of food a ficus fancies, but I thought I would just start with a few table scraps and see if he expressed a preference for any particular thing.  I have to say, it didn’t work all that well.  In fact, it started getting a bit smelly.  And he showed no signs that he was appreciating it, so I had to abandon that.

Not knowing what else to do, I wandered into the garden section of my local hardware store.  (Not to be confused with the hardware section of my local Garden Center).  And do you know what I found?!  There were shelves and shelves of boxes, tubs, and bags of stuff called Plant Food!  In some cases they were even specific for certain kinds of plants: food for roses, azaleas, cactus, whatever.  I couldn’t find any for ficus, so I selected one that appeared to be a bit of a smorgasbord, with something for everyone (plantwise).

I think Lazarus likes it.  He hasn’t got any more yellow leaves.  They all turned brown and he spat them out, onto the carpet.  I ‘ll let you know in a few weeks how he’s doing.  I just thought in case there are others of you out there that are horticulturally challenged, that you might benefit from my experience.   Now, when Heather comes over again, I shall make a point to sit next to Lazarus so that she’s sure to notice how well he’s doing with me.        MM

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