Plant Mum Post #3: Giving the Houseplants a Bath and Adventures with Spiders (no spider photos, merely an anecdote or, um, three)

Happy solstice to everyone who observes it! How are you all? I am relieved that autumn feels like autumn – in Southend at least – after the weirdest summer I can remember for ages. Not sure how I got sunburnt in the last week of July and spent the first week of August wrapped in blankets, watching rom coms set in Greece in a bid to warm up. Britain, eh. God, I am so English. When was the last time I came here and didn’t talk about the weather?!

Not about the weather

It was my birthday last week, and 26 got off to an auspicious start when I got back into bed with a cup of coffee and sat on a spider. I didn’t notice until I was making the bed later in the morning and thought ‘… what… is that…?’ I thought initially that a bit of my skin was falling off, so in some ways it was a relief to realise that the blood and bits of tissue were, er, not mine.


(I have been having moderately bad dreams featuring spiders ever since, so we’re even, spider world. Do you hear me? DO NOT TAKE REVENGE.) (We’re not going to talk about how I was dusting my printer yesterday and I am ninety per cent sure a spider crawled into the paper tray before I could stop it. RIP little guy.) (Also there was a false widow on the porch the other day, directly below my window.) (I am going to stop thinking about arachnids now.)

Also not about the weather

I gave my plants a wash this morning. I read once that it’s good to put all your houseplants in the bath once a year, and hose them down. It’s to imitate seasonal storms, or something, and get rid of any dust. I think I might have enjoyed it more than they did…

I had to trim back the aloe (not pictured, it’s looking a bit waterlogged as it drains out) after some leaf death. How long are aloes meant to last? This one’s been knocking around for about five years, but what’s left seems okay, with new sprouts. I think I may have done a smidge of overwatering in the summer, because I was watering the same amount as I have during the last couple of summers, when it’s been insanely hot. This summer – sorry, weather again – hasn’t really been like that. The Flaming Katy cutting seems fine, too, minding its own business.

How are the courgettes and the peppers, you ask. Well, I succumbed to peer pressure and put the courgettes outside before they were strong enough to weather some truly bonkers storms (sorry, more weather). Those that made it were promptly eaten by snails. Rest in peace, babies, I will try again another year. The peppers are not that much bigger than they were in June, to be honest. My nan’s plants have all been late blooming this year, too, so I am not too worried. In fact, I have given the peppers to my nan because her flat is usually about 32 degrees Celsius in the winter, so they will likely grow in time for Christmas.

Here are some photos of neighbourhood plants from the last few weeks, just as the season began to turn. I love summer, I love autumn and I always feel like the weeks where summer shifts into autumn are a little bit magic. Sad, but also a bit magic.

I’m off to check the plants are all, you know, not drowned. Wishing you all a spider-free autumn, or at least a spider-free bed…

Look after yourselves,


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This morning I was going to Tweet ‘it’s that time of year again when you wake up to spiders on your headboard and can’t make your bed when it moves under your mattress.’ I’m glad I didn’t, because later on this morning I  decided to grow up and make the bed, only to see said spider crawling over my pillow.

Mum and I attempted Spider Eviction via the window, which is usually fine. We are old hands at Spider Eviction, and although it was a big daddy long legs and thus required two people (especially since one of them was me), we went got to the window and threw the spider out… only for some of its legs to get caught on the glass and come off. Onto my pillow. While the rest of the spider tumbled to what I presume was its death, given that it had just lost several limbs and was probably in too much shock and pain to spin itself a web or crawl onto the house.

I only wanted it off my bed – I don’t mind them in the corners of ceilings, because they keep the flies and gnats away. But it was crawling over where I sleep and I couldn’t help but wonder if it was on a mission to meet the one that recently moved into the ceiling of the bathroom – what if they sojourned on my bed? While I was in it? – plus I’ve been hallucinating spiders since I read this article. So it needed to move out. Except now it’s at best legless and at worst a spider corpse, and I still haven’t made my bed because I need to change the pillow case because of the legs.

Thank god I didn’t live Tweet the whole thing.