I went from killing succulents to being a plant mother 


My paperwhite plant, Holly, that I raised from a broken bulb.

I have a fun fact I like to share whenever someone talks about being a plant killer: I have killed a succulent. 

I am not exactly sure how I did it, but I just know I left it outside too long. 

I got the succulent on a trip to see the butterflies at Fredrik Meijer Gardens with a friend. It was the last day that the butterflies could be visited; my mom agreed to let me bring a friend. Living almost an hour away from Grand Rapids, I knew it could end up being a long trip. When we got there—finally—we went straight to the butterfly exhibit. 

After wandering the butterfly exhibit and the pathways outside, we decided to head home—not before we made a stop in the gift shop, of course. Growing up, I wasn’t very decisive and at the time, and neither was my friend. After some careful debate, we bought one small succulent each. 

That is my secret to succulent killing.

My mom stopped on the way home to buy us some small terracotta pots. Once we arrived home, my friend and I painted terracotta pots for our succulents.

A few months later, I went over to my friend’s house. She told me one of her family members accidentally knocked over her succulent. The pot shattered, but she saved the plant. I don’t think the plant lasted long, though.

When winter was slowly rolling in, I put my succulent outside to soak up the last bits of sun. It was on a small table on my front porch—partially hidden by the curtain if I looked at it from inside. Due to this somewhat out of the ordinary spot, I inevitably forgot about my succulent.

The succulent froze.

That is my secret to succulent killing.

Flash forward a few years, to this past November. I was walking through a quaint shop in the town where I live when I found countless paperwhite bulb forcing kits. Paperwhites are flowers that start out as small bulbs that look similar to an onion. They can be forced in soil or rocks and water. In this sea of plastic paperwhite-filled bags, I found Holly.

Holly was a paperwhite that had a broken sprout and was in a small beige mug. I begged my mom to let me get the plant. Even though I knew I would probably kill it or that it would be broken beyond repair, I bought it.

Throughout the holiday season, Holly sat beneath my mini Christmas tree showing barely any signs of growth. Weeks upon weeks passed by, and nothing changed. Then, Holly began rapidly taking in water. Days later, Holly was three inches tall. 

Holly began growing at an alarming rate. Merely a week later, she had more than doubled in size. 

Now, exactly a month from when Holly hit three inches in height, she stands tall—at least two feet. One stalk has produced flowers, and another is close to blossoming. 

There was a moment in time where I thought Holly would never grow. I contemplated taking her to my nana, the ultimate plant reviver. My nana is who everyone in my family brings plants to for rehabilitation. 

Then she grew; maybe she grew on her own, maybe not. 

Somehow, the succulent killer has saved a plant of her own.