So I watered it like a helicopter trying to extinguish a forest fire. It died.

I assumed gardening would come easy to a parent. After all, I have been successful in aiding the growth of my children. I water them several times a day and make sure they get plenty of sunlight. 

But plants are a whole other thing. I kill them all the time. If a plant gets sent to live in my office, chances are it wronged someone important.

"Just return the planter when it dies," they'd say.

When I was in my 20s, my fault was neglect. I would forget about the plant for months then wonder why a few sips of Mountain Dew didn't bring it back to life.

When I became a parent, I was too caring. When the leaves of my office plant turned brown, I decided it needed water. So I watered it like a helicopter trying to extinguish a forest fire. It died.

And when I heard tomatoes like coffee grounds, I announced to my tiny plant, "You, my friend, are in for a treat. I only drink the strong stuff." I loaded it with more coffee grounds than the dumpster at Starbucks. It died, too.

Maybe moderation is my problem. Or maybe, I thought, I'm just not invested enough. With all of the information available at the touch of a finger, you'd think I wouldn't "wing it" so much. But I do it all the time. My daughters have eaten plenty of terrible "made from memory" pancakes to attest to this.

So, when my wife gave me a baby aloe plant for my office, I decided I would do my best to keep it alive. She has an excellent track record with plants. Our large aloe plant has even survived being pushed off the ledge by the cat two times.

As with anything, I decided, if I was going to be successful, I had to educate myself; invest time into the process.

I placed the plant in the window and searched online for ways to keep it alive. I learned a lot, like how brown leaves on a plant can be indicative of overwatering. And how some plants like coffee grounds; but only a little bit. The jury still is out on the benefits of Mountain Dew.

It turns out caring for an aloe plant is pretty simple. You just kind of have to leave it alone and water it minimally. Kind of like me.

My 4-year-old told me if the plant cries to sing to it and rock it in my arms.

But my 6-year-old had the best advice: "I would just go ask Mom what to do."

Reach Dave at 330-580-8490 or david.manley@cantonrep.com.

On Twitter: @DaveManley