Roots or no roots

When the receptionist at Prairiewoods reached for a plastic bag, I tried to wave her off. “No, I really don’t need a bag for just these two books,” I said. “I can just pack them in my suitcase.”

She peered across the counter at me. “I’m not getting it to protect the books,” she said. “I’m getting it to protect your plant.”

Oh. Right. Seeing as aloe is not native to Iowa, I suppose the aloe plant would be in need of some protection between the retreat house and my vehicle, especially since Iowa went Arctic in the past week, and the wind chills were in the –20 to –30 degree F range. That, dear readers, is not aloe-friendly.

I duly wrapped my plant in the bag and carried it to the car, which I had to let run for 30 minutes before I even felt safe to drive it. The noises when I started up the engine? They were akin to a garbage disposal. A garbage disposal with chicken bones. I’m probably lucky the car didn’t just put up a flag that said, “Not moving ‘til Spring.”

I set the plant-in-bag carefully on the front floor mat, hoping the heat coming from the low vents would keep it from giving up all its healing powers, and then drove away. At the first stoplight, I realized the plant had tipped over, so, without peeking in the bag, I set it aright.

I did it again after the next turn. And the next. And when I got to my destination, I opened the bag and realized that the aloe plant itself had fallen completely out along the way, and all I was doing was tipping the pot up each time.

Luckily, the spot I stopped was mere blocks from the retreat center, a darling little coffee shop called Roasters that served as our post-yogic breakfast location. In the parking lot, I tried to dump the missing dirt out of the bottom of the bag and back into the pot, then tried to replace the plant, which seemed to be ominously missing most of its roots.

“I have already killed it,” I said to my yoga instructor. “I’m not even going to get it home.”

“You don’t have far to go,” she said with a smile. “It’ll be fine. You’ll just replant it when you get there.”

And so I did. And so far, the plant still looks as green as it did when I bought it.

I’m guessing the thing is so scared I might leave it outside that it has decided it will stay alive, roots or no roots.

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8 Responses to “Roots or no roots”


  1. 1 Carol January 23, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    I’ve got a lot of aloe, and it never seems to have much of a root on it, so I think it will be fine, too.

    Buying house plants in weather like this can be tricky though, to get them home safely without freezing!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  2. 2 Sarah January 24, 2008 at 8:22 am

    Aloes are pretty tough. Admittedly, I’m technically in Florida, but I’ve had several growing (and reproducing) in the roots of a liveoak for years, and we get the occasional 19 degree night. Good luck with your indoor baby!

  3. 3 Jen (aside) January 24, 2008 at 10:18 am

    Oh! Thank you for reminding me about this plant. I don’t have any aloe in the house, which is shocking.

  4. 4 Curtis January 24, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    I used to have a aloe plant and mine didn’t have many roots either. Speaking of plants coming out of pots.

    I once started marigolds in a seed flat without cells and later learned that they don’t like their roots disturbed. Well the plants grew big and when it came time to transplant I tried being careful and holding the plants by the leaves and digging them out with a fork. No go, they are all entangled. So I grabbed stems and ripped them out. Lets just say they were the biggest marigolds I grew, ever.

  5. 5 Trey January 25, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    -20degrees F! I thought it was cold here with daytime temps in the 40sF. I will stop complaining so much about the cold (cool) temps we have. You have to realize though that as a native Californian I have thinner skin.

    The Aloe will be fine.

  6. 6 Moe January 26, 2008 at 12:03 am

    Definitely arctic in Iowa this time of year! -19 in Davenport yesterday!

    Stay warm!

  7. 7 inadvertentgardener January 29, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    Carol, I was in the grocery store the other day and noticed signs everywhere in the flower section asking folks to make sure to have their plants wrapped up due to the extreme temps. I decided not to risk it, although I’m thinking it would be really nice to have some tulips in the house.

    Sarah, that’s good information. So your aloe grows around your tree? How cool!

    Jen (aside), what other plants are in your house?

    Curtis, that’s hilarious. I love it when garden accidents turn into garden super-successes.

    Trey, you may have spoken too soon. And be glad of your temps there, especially tonight, when there’s deadly windchill and blizzard conditions here in Iowa! Blech.

    Moe, it’s been brutal! Stay warm out there.


  1. 1 Aloe, I must be dying « The Inadvertent Gardener Trackback on January 29, 2008 at 9:20 pm

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