when less is (truly) more . . .

by mulberryshoots

. . . the tree in recovery today

. . . the tree in recovery today


Some of you readers have heard me talk quite a bit about ways in which less is more. How simplifying by getting rid of things creates more space for energy to move around. For preparing less food at meals, cutting down from four (protein, starch, vegetables, salad) types of food to only two (vegetable and salad; or rice and vegetable; or fish and salad) reducing serving size at the same time. With less to eat, it tastes like more to savor somehow.

On the other side of the coin, though, I confess here to gigantic overdoing it when it comes to our money plant tree. It started out as a six inch plant on our kitchen sink.

. . . plant starting out on the kitchen counter years ago

. . . plant starting out on the kitchen counter years ago


Over time, it grew. And grew and grew until the top had hit the ceiling and I moved it to the one place that had room for it to keep growing higher. That turned out to be a big mistake. Here’s what happened. There was way more direct sun. If sunlight is good, then more sunlight should be better, right? I also thought the pot looked a little bare so I topped off the soil with some that was in a bag downstairs in the basement. More soil to grow with, I thought, naively. Last of all, water~! More water, I thought with all that additional sunlight and soil would make it grow faster and taller, right?

Well, it did grow fast with leaflets pushing up against the skylight. But it also dropped leaves that turned brown almost as fast as they grew in size. We had found a nest of cobwebby spider mites at the top and trimmed it off. After that, I was paranoid the plant was still infested with them and responsible for the leaves dropping like rain. In desperation, I wrote to a horticultural help line and a very nice man wrote back that this plant did not really like that much direct sunlight; that the photos I sent looked like natural secretions and that it might be a good idea to remove the soil that I had placed on top. Moreover, he said, the plant likes the soil to become dry before watering.

. . . money plant at its prime three years ago

. . . money plant at its prime three years ago


. . . tree dropping leaves on May 6th

. . . tree dropping leaves on May 6th


I was stubborn in thinking more was more in this case. But finally, we lopped off two feet off the top so that we could move it back to where it was before. The tree expert said it sometimes took three weeks for a plant to re-acclimate itself to a change in growing environment. So, I left it alone. It had indirect sunlight, the soil was still wet and I put it by our singing canary to keep it company.

Three weeks went by and still the soil was wet to the touch, much to my amazement. Finally, it was dry enough to the touch for me to water it with spring, not tap water as the expert had suggested. The leaves stopped dropping. The plant looked happy and happier as time went by because I wasn’t doing anything to it. For once, less really was way more in restoring this living thing to more optimal health: less sun, less soil, less water.

Now it seems happy. And so, dear reader, am I. In case you are a helicopter parent like me on occasion, you might also take heed of this little plant story. More is not always better. Sometimes, less is more. In fact, with almost anything these days, less is becoming more as a way of life.

Here’s a look at the tiny sprout that emerged from the cut top just yesterday!

. . . money tree with tiny sproutlet on top

. . . money tree with tiny sproutlet on top

Postscript Photos: About two months ago, we cut about two feet off the top of the tree. I was reluctant to throw it away so I stuck it into a bottle of water out on the back deck. In the meantime, there’s been a lot of rain. I don’t know if that made a difference but was astonished to find small leaf growths all over it when I went out to water the amaryllis the other day. So here’s a photo of this embarrassment of riches!

. . . tiny leaves sprouting on cut stalk

. . . tiny leaves sprouting on cut stalk


At the same time, the little sproutlet that emerged where the top was cut off shown above in this post last week has been growing an inch a day. I kid you not! It now has three leaflets on about ten inches of growth.
. . . new growth where the tree was cut

. . . new growth where the tree was cut