Internet Backs Woman Who Banned Niece After 'Clippings' Killed Rare Plants

The internet rallied behind a woman who said that while getting "clippings" from her beloved houseplants, her niece and sister-in-law killed several of them—and then sold the clippings.

In a new Reddit post to the popular r/AmITheA**hole subreddit, u/plantmomaita asked if she was wrong to ban her niece and sister-in-law from her apartment after they killed her houseplants while trying to get clippings. The post has over 11,200 upvotes and 3,100 comments.

"Years ago I got really into houseplants and started to collect them. Over the years Ive had up to 70, but whittled my collection down to about 35, just the ones I really love," u/plantmomaita wrote. "My niece Jenny (14F) has developed an interest in plants and will come over and we will talk about them and she helps with propagation and repotting."

The original poster, or OP, says she had to go out of town for two weeks on business, and asked Jenny and her mother if they could take care of the plants while she was gone. In exchange, she'd offer Jenny money but also a few cuttings, so she could grow her own copies of the plants. They agreed, and u/plantmomaita showed them how to care to the plants.

"SIL asked how much a few of them ran me and I did share. This didn't seem weird bc the family knows and Ive gotten some plants as gifts," u/plantmomaita added.

But when she got home, she saw a massacre.

"Well I returned from my trip and was horrified. They watered and gave the right amount of light, but they also decided to give a lot of my plants haircuts. Big ones," she wrote. "My prized cebu blue pothos mother plant was destroyed. The climbing one too. My manjula pothos had been done the same. My golden that I trained up my stairwell. My string of pearls, hearts, and ruby necklace all destroyed. My silver stripe philodendron."

"The worst was that my pink princess philo had been reduced to two leaves. And my albo monstera is down to three. I don't even think they got nodes necessarily. These plants are expensive and prized," she added.

She says she "broke down," and when Jenny and her mother came to return her key, she "screamed and screamed" at them. When Jenny started crying and said that since she was promised cuttings, she thought it was okay. The OP demanded Jenny return the "cuttings" because "SHE KNEW I DIDN'T MEAN SHE COULD DESTROY MY F***ING PLANTS," but Jenny's mother said "what's done is done."

When u/plantmomaita balked at Jenny's mother's comment and said, no, Jenny would return everything, Jenny said that "Mom already sold most of them on marketplace."

"I lost it and just screamed and screamed at them until Jenny was crying and her mom got in my face and told me I was having a tantrum over plants. I told her to get the fuck out of my house and don't EVER come anywhere near me or my home again," she wrote. "I called my brother (SIL husband) and he was shocked and said they told him I said it was all okay. He brought me the stuff she hadn't sold yet and apologized."

The OP says that she told her brother she never wanted to see either of them again, but he said that while he understands she's upset, she was "taking it too far and that family means not holding grudges."

houseplants cuttings aita reddit monstera killed plants
Many of the plants, including an albo monstera like the one pictured here, can go for thousands of dollars. As of this writing, a full, healthy Albo Monstera is on Etsy for purchase at a cost of $6,500. iStock/Getty

Taking cuttings from plants is a good way to grow additional plants. It is a relatively simple process—just take a stem cutting, and put it in a growing medium like peat moss, limestone or water until it grows roots, according to home and garden website, The Spruce. After that, the plant can be put into a new pot or the ground. Cuttings work best with soft-stemmed herbaceous plants, the Spruce says, but some woody plants will also grow from cuttings.

There are many things to be aware of when taking cuttings from a parent plant. It should be healthy and in its active growth phase—and ideally, the clipping shouldn't have too many flowers on it, the Spruce says. It should also be large enough that removing part of the plant won't hurt it.

Cuttings will also need to have a node, which is a bump where a leaf or bud would grow from—that's where the roots will grow, the Spruce says. A cutting should contain at the very least, one node and two leaves, according to the site, which also notes a good cutting should generally only be about six inches long, as longer ones can dry out and die. In addition, if the cutting has too many leaves, that can prevent the growth of roots.

Reddit strongly backed u/plantmomaita, saying that Jenny and her mother had gone too far.

"I'd give them the option to replace everything. Then if they didn't I would straight up file a police report about the stolen and damaged property and then file with my renters insurance, who I'm assuming would reimburse me and sue them," u/tedivm suggested.

"NTA...The part about "being sold already". This was planned. This was about money. A 14 year old knows better than to steal someone's hard work and sell it. As a plant lover myself. I am so sorry this happened to you. It must have been devastating," u/JustJessJ_Art wrote.

"Yeah, well "family" means we don't deliberately rob each other, either, but here we are. NTA," u/Senator_Bink wrote.

A couple of fellow plant enthusiasts clarified how expensive and rare the plants were.

"Not OP but some of those plants are worth potentially hundreds of dollars, depending on maturity and location. Even the nodes (tiny chunks of the stem that can be used to grow a new plant) can go for crazy high prices. Replacing a fully grown plant could easily cost $1000 or more," u/bewildflowers wrote. "It might seem extreme but I would absolutely follow this up with a police report or insurance claim."

"Her Albo was reduced to 3 leaves!! Even if they took 1 or 2 leaves, mature albos with 3+ leaves are $$$. I spent $200 last year on a node with ZERO leaves," u/hoppityhoppity agreed. "A top cutting from an albo, good variegation, is hundreds. I saw one today on Etsy with one half moon leaf going for $350, and that is not an outlier by any stretch."

As of this writing, a full, healthy albo monstera plant is available to buy on Etsy for $6,500.