Betsy Whitt

I read. I write. I think. I live.

The Plague-Infested Black Thumb of DOOM!

On October 4, 2006, my husband gave me a cactus as a birthday gift. I was excited about this, not because I particularly like cacti in and of themselves, but because they are notoriously hard to kill. And I am not a green thumb. In fact, you might call mine a plague-infested blackened thumb of DOOM! So I was happy with my hardy cactus, whom I named Bob. Meet Bob:


Hi, Bob!

Look, he’s even got a little Bob-bud! He grew a few more, too, but I didn’t get any photos of them. Bob lived longer than all the other plants I’ve ever cared for, combined. I watered him! But not too much! Or so I thought. Still, he only made it about nine months before his pretty pink head decayed and fell off, and then his stem turned into goop that resembled hair gel inside a thin, waxy skin. It wasn’t pretty. For his sake, I didn’t take pictures of the end times.

When Bob’s headless goop started growing black mold, I had to admit that I had killed a cactus. The plague-infested blackened thumb of DOOM had struck again!

Matt, in a kind-hearted attempt to ease the sting of failure, has developed a theory that Bob was only meant to live for one season, as a clever plot from the cactus-growers to sell more Bobs! Or something. I’m not convinced that he’s right.

This is all going somewhere, I promise. Really. Stick with me.

Fast forward two and a half years: the date is February 10, 2009. (Yes, I know today’s the 11th. I’m setting the scene, people.) Matt went into the grocery store to buy shiitake mushrooms for dinner while I waited in the car. He came back out with–surprise!–my valentine’s day present:


I call him Bob2.

Hi Bob2!

Bob2, according to his handy dandy care tag, is a “resilient” cactus. The “care meter” has three types of cactus listed: Delicate, Tolerant, and Resilient. Resilient means Bob2 “grows virtually anywhere with little care”. Woohoo! I suspect, based on this scale, that Bob was probably “delicate”. Poor Bob.

I tried to take a picture of Bob2’s tag, so you could see this information for yourselves, but had very little luck. I did, however, catch the most important bit without glare or super-fuzzy focus:


Exotic! And, more important–Everlasting!!!

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Okay, I don’t, but I know one thing you might be thinking. It’s that I’ve finally got a plant that even my plague-infested black thumb of DOOM can’t kill. Not so hasty, sir!

There are so many ways this can go bad. Here they are, in rough order from least worrisome to most:

First, Bob2 is supposed to remain in temperatures about 50 degrees. Not a problem. He’ll stay inside during the winter and probably out on the porch railing in the summer, once temperatures are reliably warm enough.

Second, Bob2 needs “High Light”. We’re going to put him in the office in the winter, since that gets the afternoon sun, but we often have all the curtains closed for heat and light conservation. Once summer comes, I suspect he’ll stay out on the porch railing, where he’ll get sun regardless of the state of our curtains. But what if medium or low light for his first few months with us weakens poor Bob2? I wouldn’t be too worried, except that I do have a record of killing cacti.

Third, Bob2 is supposed to be fed every six months. Fed what? And how am I supposed to remember when 6 months has passed? I can’t even remember what the last movie I watched was, and that was two days ago.

And fourth, Bob2 is supposed to be watered only when his soil is completely dry. This, you might think, would be the easy part. But wait. Scroll back up to Bob2’s picture. Go ahead, I’ll wait until you get back. You see those pebbles? Am I allowed to move those? I don’t know. Going off my own initiative has, universally, ended up with death. But they’re in the way! I can’t tell when the soil is dry! I don’t even know for certain that there IS soil under there!

Poor Bob2. Doomed before he really had a chance.



  1. You aren’t planing on having kids any time too soon, are you….

    lol, just kidding, but you know they have these places called garden centers and greenhouses and there are people there that hold the ancient and mystical knowledge of plant rearing. I think they may hold the answers to you questions.

    Good luck Bob2

  2. Nope, no kids, though in my defense, I only really kill things that can’t tell me when they’re hungry. Shiloh is pretty clear about things like that, and we’ve kept her alive for a year and a half now.

    You could be right. There’s also my handy dandy friend Aubrey, who assured me that things should be fine.

    She recommended pushing the rocks out of the way to check the soil and then pushing them back (please note that I had actually thought of that, but melodrama is so much less fun when it’s tempered with rational thought or subtlety). But then I tried actually doing it, and found that the rocks are glued in place. That’s right folks, glued rocks.

    Bob2 is DOOMED.


    The rocks serve the sole purpose of decoration, but are really more of a nuisance than anything. Find a way to get them off, and then add cactus soil where the rocks were. I would think it would be impossible to check how damp the soil is with the rocks on. Also, there is cactus food that you could buy at a nursery, and thats what Bob2 needs to be fed every 6 months. I will be praying for Bob2. Good luck!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


© 2018 Betsy Whitt

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑