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Author Topic: Re: It's dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. And has been for 8+ years UPDATE #17  (Read 17791 times)

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I have (yup, you guessed it ;)) a dead potted plant in my cubicle. It's been dead for 8+ years, completely dried out with a small bit of dried dirt in the bottom of the planter. I've even added thoroughly dried rose-flower-tops-only to it (from an awards banquet) probably 4 years ago.

It's a personal, private joke of mine. I love that dead plant.

Stupid question: Can a dried arrangement like this all of a sudden turn moldy?

I was slightly aware of an unusual odor this morning. There was a stronger than normal breeze coming through the vents (one of which is directly above my cubicle.) I paid it no nevermind.

Boss sat down in my guest chair today (which is right next to Dead Plant, a chair that she's easily sat in for 15-20+ minutes many times a week during the last 2-1/2 years that she's worked here with never a complaint.) After about 3 minutes into our conversation today she suddenly got up and said "I have to move. I can smell the mold coming off of your plant."

(It is known that Boss has severe mold and other allergies. When she was first hired she had her office thoroughly cleaned and had a special filter installed on the vent to her office which is changed monthly.)

Add a bit of irony . . . Boss acted exactly the same as I did with my aversion to her bananas (#2 in the OP of "Unappealing Smells" ) She stood outside of the entrance to my cube, looking away, as we finished our conversation.*

After business was taken care of, I thoroughly inspected my dead plant. I stuck my nose right in the middle, and didn't detect any odor. I put my finger in the dirt . . . dry and crumbly. I gently picked up and turned over the roses, put them to my nose . . . nothing. I honestly don't believe my dead plant is moldy.

*As an update to the banana thread . . . Whenever I walk into Boss' office, she'll say "Oh. Wait." and she takes the bananas off of her desk and tucks them into a drawer.

So, my question are: What would you do? Would you get rid of your plant? Even though originating mold aroma is questionable? What would you say to your Boss? Especially since Boss has been accommodating to my aversion of banana smell?

Is there any way I can politely defend my dead plant and keep it?

I honestly do understand allergies. If my beloved dead plant is causing a serious allergic reaction to Boss I will certainly be rid of it. But after 2+ years of Boss sitting next to the dead plant, is the dead plant really the cause of the problem?
« Last Edit: June 08, 2013, 02:07:26 PM by jpcher »


  • FKA TheAscension
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  • Would you like some delicious cake?
Have you checked under your desk and in the corners for water damage? Maybe that's what she's smelling and attributing it to? I'd trust that she's smelling mold from something, somewhere, but it would be strange for your plant to suddenly get mold.
There's Science to do!

Outdoor Girl

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Get a clear plastic bag that will fit over your dead plant.  Blow some air in the bag to make it puff out and tie the top with some curlycue ribbon.  That way, you get to keep your plant and your boss can't complain about the mould.
After cleaning out my Dad's house, I have this advice:  If you haven't used it in a year, throw it out!!!!.


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Take the plant home with you for a few days.  Put it in a room and see if the smell comes with it.


  • Happy Girlie OI OI OI
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No advice whatsoever, but I do think I love you--  ;D

I bought a loaf of white bread once for the office, and it ended up completely drying out--never lost it's shape, color, no mold, nothing. Just a normal looking loaf of bread (in the wrapper) that was the stalest thing outside of my uncle's jokes. I loved that thing, and it occupied a place of honor on my bookshelf until a cleaning lady threw it out--7 years later.
"I am the laziest person on Earth. I want to learn to photosynthesize so I can buy a sun lamp and survive without getting out of bed."  M-theory 11/23/10


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Take the plant home with you for a few days.  Put it in a room and see if the smell comes with it.

That's what I would do. Move the plant to your house, and see if it has been away for a while, your boss can still smell the mold in your workplace. If she can, then the mold is in something else.


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In fact, completely enclosing the plant in plastic could work as a temporary mesaure, to see if the smell is the plant or something else,  if taking it home is too much hassle or likely to cause it to fall to bits.

If it is mouldy, the bag will act as a greenhouse and you'll probably see visible mould, in the mean time, the bag will contain any smell, and you can ask Boss to come in and tell you if she can smell anything.

I would imagine it *could* go mouldy, even after 8 years dead, if the environment has changed - if it's got damp or something has been spilled on it, for instance.


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Speaking as someone who is pretty sensitive and allergic to mold and mildew, yes, it is possible for a formerly dry and un-moldy plant or flower arrangement to grow mold.  I've had bowls of potpourri go for years just fine, then inexplicably get moldy.  It does happen.  And sometimes the non-allergic person won't smell it.

However, if you smelled an unusual smell in general, as you said, but not when you sniffed the plant, there's a decent chance there's another source.  It might be worth checking out the ducting for the vent nearest your station. 


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Could the smell be from the vent?  Anyone else smell the smell anywhere else - particularly anywhere else near one of the vents?

If you remove the plant and the smell goes anyway, that could just be a coincidence yet you've lost your plant.

Just for the fun of it, try the plastic idea.  It would be fascinating to see what if anything happens.


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At this point, I would try out the scientific method like others suggested and try to change variables around to see if anything's changed. Make sure your boss is around to confirm.  ;)


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Short answer, yes it can mold. Nearly anything can mold. It's all a matter of how likely it is.

If it's under a vent that's acting wonky or changing habits, anything can get any bit of moisture and mold can grow. I'd pick up the pot itself and try moving it to another spot on your desk, but only after you inspect the bottom of the planter first. I also agree that the bag around it would trap any moisture and growth and act as a greenhouse to see if there's anything in there already.

Also, I just have to say, I love the idea of this dead plant. I used to keep dead flowers until I had to get rid of them, but I miss each and every single one of them. I'll have to look into getting a dead potted plant for my mom, as the only kind she can keep is dead. It's an inside joke that she's somehow able to kill even silk flowers.


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I wonder if there isn't a certain level of passive aggressiveness in her sudden aversion to your plant considering her need to make a big deal of putting her bananas in her desk before you enter the room?  ::)


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Also you don't know if some" helpful " person watered your dead plant at sometime and that caused the mold. 
I would take steps to do SOMETHING as your boss seems reasonable with helping you with awful smell of bananas.
As a fellow banana-loather, I can appreciate that.


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I had the same thought as bopper, in that I thought about the possibility that someone watered your plant as a favor.  I'm with those who suggest relocating the plant and then asking your boss if the smell left with it.  If you suspect that she's just trying to get rid of the plant, then that's PA but at the same time she's your boss and losing the plant would be a small deal next to having your boss think that you're that much more a team player.



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When you mentioned the vent, I wondered if that was the trouble.  I would run some tests before I got rid of my plant.  Moving the plant (or plastic bagging it), and asking her to stand under the vent, and close her eyes.