Archive for the ‘houseplant’ Category

Carnivorrrrre Monday, June 7th, 2010

A couple weeks ago, my son barely mentioned wanting to get a Venus Fly Trap and, boom! there I was online trying to find a way to bring that to him. Any reason to encourage a love of plants even if I have to go the way of the flesh-eating variety.

The kit was a little smashed up but the plants seem fresh enough to have sustained the trip. It came with:

  • clear bowl with plastic, ventilated lid
  • dirt (actually peat moss)
  • 3 plants: fly trap, pitcher plant, sundew

It was very easy to assemble. I picked this one because it came with live plants and not seeds and it’s own terrarium. These plants come from bogs which are hard to replicate in one’s house without a terrarium to help control humidity and soil moisture. To top it off I used some decorative (white and natural) aquarium rocks to cover the peat. I’ve set it by an east window in our bathroom (naturally humid).

Ok, so I might be a little more excited than my son but we haven’t fed the ‘traps’ yet. I was telling my mom about it and she said you can also feed them a tiny tiny bit of raw hamburger if bugs end up in short supply.

Itchy Friday, February 5th, 2010

How can one stave off that garden itch. The temp got above 30F today and I’m already feeling it. My naked hands need some dirt.

  • If you haven’t already, you can force bulbs like paperwhites, tulips, daffodils, crocus and amarylis.
  • Clean-up your houseplants, they’ll be getting thirstier now that the days are getting a bit longer. Trim off dead leaves and branches. Yellowing bottom leaves may mean time to repot. Use a pot only 1-2″ wider in diameter than the original and make sure there is a drain hole.
  • Make a terrarium. This is a great project to do with kids. Pick a clear container – anything from a clear glass cookie jar to a large clear vase will work. Layer from the bottom: pebbles, active charcoal (if enclosed), moss, screen or fine mesh (to keep soil from washing into pebbles) potting soil (or cacti specific if those are the types of plants you wish). Next plant small, slow growing plants, cuttings or seeds. Plant them using a spoon, fork, chopsticks, etc. (good tool options). Add decorative stones or figurines if desired. Water when top of soil is dry.
  • Start herb seeds in pots for trimming into dishes.
Orchids Monday, January 25th, 2010

Orchids have always been a siren’s call for me. I’ve tried my hand at a 1/2 dozen and had one last for nearly 3 yrs. but it never bloomed after that initial siren call of demure burgundy flowers (dendrobium variety).

This variety, along with phalaenopsis and cattleya are some of the more common available for homeowners. Just this last weekend I found some marked-down to $5 at Walmart – not alerting me with their arching stem of blooms, there weren’t any, but with their thick, large, almond-shaped leaves. The leaves had lost their gloss, but were still green. A healthy one will have shiny green leaves that hold themselves up, not limp, leathery, brown or yellow. I didn’t have a chance to inspect the roots which, if healthy, should be a cool pale, frosted green with a fleshy look, not shriveled, brown or with noticeable decay. I did see some very pretty specimens at Shopko, but trying to conserve my budget I couldn’t hand over the $19.99 it’d cost for one. But, of course I wanted to.

So, if you get a chance – seems to be the season for them at the department stores – and want to try one. Take note of my above descriptions of healthy plants. Now for some care instructions (you may be thinking, “Why the heck should I listen to a girls who has killed a 1/2 dozen?” Well, I learn best from my mistakes which have been: not repotting, too much sun, old potting medium, cats, over-watering, lack of circulation, lack of humidity, fussing. Onto the solutions:

  • Light – east window or south window with a sheer curtain is best. Avoid direct sun from south and west, north isn’t enough.
  • Use a porous, clay pot or orchid specific pot – they usually have cut-outs to allow for more air circulation. Remove any plastic liner pots
  • Misting frequently is way better than watering
  • Orchid specific potting medium is best – usually fibrous bark that holds moisture but also breaths
  • Keep away from furnace vents, but they do like air movement – just not the drying type, so a ceiling fan is good.
  • Use a weak fertilizer when blooming – alternate fresh waterings with a watering/misting of a solution of orchid-specific fertilizer and water. This makes sure you don’t burn the roots or get a buildup of fertilizer. Better yet, opt for fish emulsion – a natural, slow-release plant food.
  • Use a wide tray, a couple inches deep, fill with pebbles or marbles and then add water just below the top of the pebbles – set your orchid pot directly on the pebbles. This creates a micro-climate of higher humidity.

Think circulation and humidity with orchids – they like water, but mostly in the air around them. An old fishtank might also be an option – set it up like a terrarium. It could make quite a lovely display.

Wintering houseplants Monday, December 28th, 2009

Do not fertilize.
Water minimally without letting them dry out completely.
Water from the bottom up by sticking their pot in a bowl or sink of water.
Keep them away from drafts and vents.
Forced air is a big culprit for plants demise during the winter.
If you have a more humid-loving plant, try placing them on a larger, shallow tray filled with pebbles and water. This creates a higher-humidity level immediately around the plant.
Clustering plants together also creates a micro-climate.
Terrariums also will work.
Some dropping of leaves will occur.

Kept inside Friday, August 21st, 2009

A fringed African violet in stunning white.

A fringed African violet in stunning white.

This past week a wicked case of streptococus caught me off guard so I haven’t seen my backyard since Sunday. The Hub did present a lovely tomato that was from a volunteer plant growing out of a cracker in our daughter’s garden – I’ll get to that more in a later post. Anywho. The only thing I’ve seen of life are the surprising, welcome blooms of two of my houseplants. Not sure how it happened but both a white fringed African violet and my sensitive plant (Mimosa pudica) have bloomed. I’m not real lucky with getting plants to bloom inside. I’m an errant waterer and nearly always forget to fertilize. This mean biggers things with the African violet. Those usually want fertilizer quite consistently. This one is a gift-back from my grandmother. When she moved into an assisted living facility about a year ago she gave me back the African violet I’d given her a couple years earlier. She said she wouldn’t have room for all of them (4 at the time). I gulped and took it back knowing my luck with houseplants. Low and behold it’s doing quite well out my North-facing kitchen window.  African violets like consistent moisture but it should never ever touch the leaves or stems. The easiest way is to have it in a pot with holes in the bottom and set it into a water source for an hour, then take it out and let it drain. Water when the top of soil is dry. They are normally hungry plants and it’s extremely easy to find African violet food since they are a very popular houseplant. Usually blooming to abundance. Repot when the new leaves start to stay small and compact in the center.

Mimosa pudica in bloom

Mimosa pudica in bloom

Mimosa pudica, or my sensitive plant was quite a trip when seeing the first bloom. I’d never looked into their flowering having been too mesmerized by their sensitive traits. The blooms don’t last but a day but they are quite something to behold. Like a little bur shooting rays of bright pinky-lavendar. So far this plant has had three such blooms. The little pink hairs shrivel quickly leaving a little nubby pod. My second plant hasn’t bloomed yet but I’m waiting. Due to my lacksidasical care of these plants I can credit the suns shifting path as we are looking at the last month of summer. What a great way to welcome it.

Inside Thursday, June 11th, 2009

sensitiveplant6-09Sorry, it’s been awhile. Thought I’d take you inside, briefly. When in Rapid City about a month ago, I picked up 2 $1.99 sensitive plants – one for each of my kids. I was sure they’d be toast in no time but they’ve actually quadrupled in size. I’d first saw these when I was very little and then again last year at McCrory Gardens of all places – growing in the sensory garden. I was absolutely delighted to bring it home for my kids to see a plant that closes by touch, I’ve also noticed it closing at night. Just brush a finger across the palm-like leaflets and the close in on themselves. Much like a venus flytrap reacting to the stimulus of a nice juicy bug and closing up around it.