by Gene Sumi, Homestead Education Coordinator
Probably the statement I make most in my line of work is that “Plants are living things”. This may sound like an ridiculously obvious statement, but I am continually amazed at how many people do not realize this.
For example, with plants that are commonly used in multiples, such as a hedge or a foundation planting, all of the plants are supposed to look EXACTLY alike, right? So I’m asked, “Why did the plant is the middle die when all the others are just fine?” Was it rootbound? Manufacturer’s defect? Bad mojo?
But are all puppies in the litter exactly alike? What about the “runt” of the litter? If you don’t feed your pets or give them water to drink, won’t they die? Plants may be different from animals in many ways, but nature makes them just as mortal, variable, and subject to vagaries of their environments as animals and human beings.
And just like us, plants die. If they get sick or hurt, we do not always have the medicines or treatments to make them well. Just because several plants are of the same genus, species and are the same cultivar, they will not posses the same ability to survive. I find that making the same correlation with what happens with animals helps them to understand.
Puppy photo credit. Photo of ‘Otto Luyken’ laurel by Susan Harris.