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Local Editorials

Ode to a Parachute Plant

It’s also called a spider plant. The parachutes, or spiders, hang from the mother ship like skydivers, or spiders dangling from tiny, almost invisible, silk strands.

I was given the parachute plant by my florist neighbor five years ago, when I purchased a Russian Olive tree. Parachute plants were free that day, with any purchase. They were tiny, and nestled in a plastic cup of fake soil. I brought it home, sat it in the windowsill of my studio, and forgot it.

When I noticed it again, it was looking peaked, so I watered it and, for good measure, stuffed it into a small pot. It took off like it was flying.

Three new stems, or runners, branched out, searching for light. “Cool,” I thought. When the stems got a little longer, with obvious shoots (tiny parachutes), and finger roots looking for soil, I brought in a couple more small pots.

I placed the parachutes in the additional pots, wondering if I was doing the right thing. But the instinct of a one-time farm boy told me I was.

Voila! In no time, I had a fairly respectable, bushed out, parachute plant, with tiny parachutes dive bombing through space like the 4th of July. I was rather proud of it, and named her Brunhilda.

Brunhilda began looking a little pale, with lots of her leaf-ends turning brown. Once again, farm-boy instinct kicked in. The term, “root bond,” came to mind. I found an old tub, and filled it with potting soil. When I tried to remove Brunhilda from her pots, I discovered roots protruding through the bottom hole. Yep, just as I suspected. I had to damage some roots in setting her free, but she seemed to understand. The entire pot was filled with a mass of wet, mushy roots.

I put the main plants in the tub of potting soil. For grins, I grabbed an old pair of hiking boots that I wasn’t wearing anymore, and filled them with potting soil. Boots for pots—why not? But I had a full-fledged parachute plant showing off like she was in a spring parade. And it all started with a tiny, free shoot. Thank you, neighbor florist.

The sliding-glass window where Brunhilda bathes in the sun is also the window I let Buddy in and out of when he does his thing. I typically leave the window open so Buddy can come back in on his own. (He has steps.) Sometimes, I don’t get the window shut right away after he comes in—a recipe for disaster for Brunhilda in the dead of winter. I nearly killed her off with the freezing temps. I moved her real quick, and sprinkled on some Miracle Grow. She’s looking much better now. I’m even using the parachutes as starts in another location in the house. Brunhilda had babies!

Like Brunhilda, my life has taken off in many directions, tiny shoots leaping for life in unexplored regions. I too have been root bound and stagnated. I too have nearly died off and was resurrected for a purpose. I have moved around and started over in different locations—geographical cures. I write, I take photographs, I make odd sculptures out of rusty farm junk, I dabble in art, I enjoy life. I try to help others whenever possible, even if it’s an inconvenience. Like Brunhilda lifting her leaves to heaven, I worship God in all His glory.

Bloom where you’re planted.

Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at (319) 217-0526, email him at, or visit his website at Curt also reads his columns at

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