Ronna Scoratow gently strokes the leaves of her giant philodendron as she talks about her favorite houseplant.
"She's a large plant who's very loved and obviously happy." she says, beaming as if it's a beloved child.
The plant takes up most of her Squirrel Hill living room, its 8-foot stems stretching toward the filtered light of the front window, culminating in immense, deep green, palm-like leaves. Its pot is so big that Ms. Scoratow needs three burly men to help when it needs to be moved.
Her passion for the plant is so deep that she's written a provision into her will that will cover the cost of moving the plant to a new place after her passing. Her attorney told her she was the only one he knew of to actually put a plant in her will.
"It's a little before my death, but I ain't no spring chicken," the 62-year-old says.
Ms. Scoratow is moving soon to a smaller space and thinks this is the perfect time to pass her beloved plant on to someone who will love and care for it. "This is the opportunity to get her into a better home," she says sadly.
Her first thought was Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden, but most public gardens have a policy against taking plants from homeowners. There's no telling what a plant from the outside could bring into the glasshouse. Pest and diseases are major concerns, and Phipps just doesn't have the greenhouse space. It's reserved for growing plants for the seasonal shows.
Suggestions ranged from schools to nursing homes, but those don't appeal to Ms. Scoratow.
"I love her. I don't want to unload her. I want a place that will not just take her, but take care of her."
Ms. Scoratow hopes to find someone who will love the philodendron like she does. Although she wasn't too excited about the prospect of a school or nursing home, she's willing to listen to offers from anyone who's interested in adopting the plant. It might seem strange to be so picky, but this plant has been her companion for a long time. She received it as a housewarming gift more than 40 years ago in a tiny pot and it's been with her through many moves.
Over four decades, Ms. Scoratow cared for the plant, making sure it was watered and fertilized and that its dried leaves were carefully trimmed off as they turned yellow and eventually brown. She transplanted it over and over into bigger containers until she realized how gigantic her plant had become.
"I had her on glass top table and the table just broke," sending glass everywhere.
As the plant grew, it actually started rooting into the floor. Recently she discovered a huge container and for the first time in many years, all the roots are contained in the pot.
"She's something that will outlive me," Ms. Scoratow says. "I've had other plants that have come and gone, but there's something special about her.
"If I don't have a home for her in the spring, I'm taking her with me."