Attaching sentimental value to my ficus plants

Ficus altissima plant next to gold lamp

I’ve been admiring my ficus plants lately and thinking about the ways in which I attach sentimental meaning to my plants. I have mixed feelings about ficus rubber plants because they bring me back to both painful and joyful memories. My houseplant hobby started as a way to quell a deep sense of loneliness and dissatisfaction in my life. I had moved to the Central Valley without knowing anyone, and I was in a long-term relationship that was on the outs. 

Ficus elastica ruby and burgundy on stairwell

My rubber plants are early relics from that time in my life. My ficus elastica ruby, in particular, was a birthday gift from my then significant other at the beginning of that painful period, and my towering ficus elastica burgundy was an impulse buy that earmarked the end of it. I bought the latter at Trader Joe’s in Livermore on a day I especially felt sorry for myself. Puffy-eyed and wearing three masks at the height of the pandemic, in fact. 

Ficus elastica burgundy

Time, along with Red (Taylor’s Version), heals all wounds, so my sadness gradually faded over the years. I’ve been able to cut up my ruby rubber plant and share it with some of my favorite people in the whole wide world. (And, shockingly, those cuttings have rooted!) It’s now sitting in the hallway of my home alongside my burgundy rubber plant. They’re both waiting to be rehomed but are now serving to liven up the top landing area of our staircase.  

Ficus altissima

I also have another ficus plant that brings back an opposite feeling, one of overwhelming joy and love and support. Shortly aftermy 27th birthday, I got to spend time with my friends from my hometown. That particular September Sunday morning kicked off with me heading to the farmers market with my former coworker and now designated chief plant friend. 

After pawning off a calathea that I picked up for her in Davis, I impulsively bought a ficus altissima from Trader Joe’s, our usual meetup spot. It was $12.99 for a six-inch planter, which is practically a steal. As I lugged around the giant rubber plant, we ran errands at The Home Depot and picked up fruits and flowers after I pawned off a calathea I got for her in Davis. (Okay, *I* picked up fruits and flowers.)

Afterwards, my dear friend from high school drove me around downtown San Jose. We drank ridiculously priced coffee that was probably bad for us, and she tried to make me look cute next to buckets of sunflowers even though I looked like I had just stepped out of a Macklemore video with my gold Buddha chain and cheetah print fur coat. We then ate powdery manju and perused cute postcards from all the hole-in-the-wall gift shops in Japantown. 

The day capped off with some thrifting with my dad. I gulped down two huge cups of McDonald’s sugar free iced coffee, holding in my pee while we were stuck in traffic for two hours.

It was The Best Day (Stacey’s Version). 

Anyway, that’s all to say that the ficus altissima reminds me of the warmth that I feel when I reflect on spending time with my loved ones sans worries. It now sits in a Snoopy Valentine’s Day planter next to my reading chair. It weathered a bout of fallen leaves in the spring but has been prolifically growing ever since. 

I like thinking about my plants this way, as it keeps me from hoarding plants with reckless abandon. Sure, some of my favorite plants are from random online orders or trips to The Home Depot. But the ones that I’ve attached meaning to just feel particularly special, you know?


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