While celebrating my birthday last year, I welcomed a diva into my apartment. Only, I didn’t know she was a diva at the time. Outwardly, she didn’t look high maintenance, but I haven’t been around many divas so my lack of experience let me down.

After the food had been eaten and the wine had been drunk, and when our eyelids had begun drooping, my friends bid me goodnight, leaving me alone with the diva. I made sure she was comfortable, and then went to bed.

When I went into the kitchen the following morning, with my sleep-tousled hair and my scrunched-up pillow face, the first thing I saw was the way the diffused light came through the small window above the sink and enveloped the diva in a warm glow. She looked amazing.

I chatted with her for a while, gave her something to drink, and then excused myself to get ready for work.

Ten hours later, I returned to my apartment. The diva was sitting near the television, in the same spot where I’d left her.

As I prepared dinner, I talked to her about my day. She didn’t respond. She just sat there looking a bit green.

The next morning, when I caught sight of her, I knew immediately that she wasn’t well. It was almost as if she’d shrunk overnight and she’d lost her vibrancy. I was alarmed.

My friend had put the diva into my care, and she would have been shocked to find her in such a sorry state. I was disappointed with my ineptitude.

I sat down and had another chat with the diva. I like to think it did some good, but I’m not sure.

Two days later, I took off for a long weekend with my niece and her family, leaving the diva to her own devices for four days.

When I returned from my rejuvenating break, the diva looked deathly ill. I had another talk with her. Like most plants, she absorbed my exhaled carbon dioxide without so much as a thank you.

I did some research on the Internet, and that’s when I found someone whose experience with their maidenhair fern had resulted in them renaming it the diva plant. They also provided some helpful tips on how to take care of such a cantankerous fern.

I’m not an expert on plants, but I was willing to try anything to save my friend’s birthday present.

I have only one other plant in my apartment, a towering monster of a thing that stands by the window next to my dining table. I water it once a week, when I remember, and it has never complained. It doesn’t lose its leaves or fade from lack of attention. It just keeps growing. When it reaches the ceiling, I give it a trim.

It’s my kind of plant – perfect for someone who likes to have a bit of indoor foliage without the need for one single green finger.

I hardly have time to pamper myself, never mind a plant that sulks if you don’t create the perfect environment for it, but I was up to the challenge.

These days, I speak to the diva plant first thing in the morning and then again as soon as I get back from work. She loves the boost of carbon dioxide she gets from my breath. If you don’t think you would feel comfortable talking to a plant, you could always breathe heavily on it a couple of times a day.

I don’t water the diva plant, ever. Instead, I give her three ice cubes every evening. Ask me if you want to know why.

Twice a day, I also spray the diva’s delicate leaves with Perrier water and then put her on a skateboard and pull her around my local park so she can get some fresh air.

That last sentence is only partially true. I don’t have a skateboard and I can’t afford to drink Perrier water, never mind spray it on a plant.

The diva plant has flourished in an unbelievable way. It’s green and lush, and obviously thriving on all the pampering.

I have another long weekend coming up soon. I’m seriously thinking of taking the diva along, because I can’t imagine anyone taking such good care of her in my absence.

First, I need to find a plant- friendly airline that caters for inflight plants.


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