29 December 2012

new SIPs

I've made my first SIP planter that's a bigger size. Keep trying out other small-size recycled containers, from ketchup bottles to shampoo, but none work quite so well for me as the cola ones. This time I took my Pothos, which has grown quite a lot
and had roots coming out of the pot
and split it into two containers. One is a regular 2-liter soda-bottle SIP 
(here you can see the watering tube). It looks kind of sparse but I hope will fill in.
The second I put in this planter made from two deep-dish kind of drip saucers which I've never used. They nested together with space on the bottom
so I made holes around the edge of the top one for air, and one in the bottom for the watering tube.
Not sure if the wicking will work as well; this time I just put felt through a slot in the bottom of the planter container into the reservoir.
Here's the plant in it! The bit of water down in the bottom is brown because you water the very first time through the top, to help settle the plant in, so it's drained through the soil this time. Next time I'll water from the bottom (through the tube) and see how well it wicks up.

28 December 2012


My Cyclamen continues to improve in appearance. I don't know if it will flower again (though I still hope for that) but I think the pattern on the foliage quite attractive regardless.
Its stems are getting straighter, there is less leaf-curl and new foliage is continually growing. It seems to like more water than I had been giving it; every day I heft the planter and if it is lightweight I give it a good drink. This is several times a week. Since I started doing that, I saw the improvements.


The smaller Spider Plant I have in a hanging SIP is growing new, straight foliage. I think it is happier with the new accomodations just like all the plants.
Curiously, it still has leaves that tend to curl. This one is even growing into a corkscrew!
I've searched for answers to this online and it seems to just be a genetic variation, no cause for concern. Personally I don't really care for the way it looks (probably because the aberration triggers an alarm in my brain: what's wrong with this plant?!) but some people find it charming.

27 December 2012


I continually have to remind myself to leave the plants alone.
Those that don't like much water, that is. The little rabbit-foot fern is light enough, when dry, to sit on the keyboard without depressing a key (I put it there for a dark background to set off the lovely foliage).
I've found that during winter the ferns like to stay very dry and are happy with frequent misting or humidity treatments in the bathroom instead. I only water the little one once every two weeks, and the big one once a month. It seems perfectly happy with that (I don't know why I keep taking pictures of this plant as it pretty much always looks the same, but I think it's so pretty!)

The jades are pretty much on a biweekly schedule now, too. In summer they might get watered once a week, but I bet won't need it more than that.
The other plant that hardly ever seems to need water is the Sansevieria. I swear I've only watered it twice since I bought it- and that was mid-nov, so it seems to need water once every three weeks on average. I test it by sticking my finger in the potting medium and if it's still moist, leave it be. When it's dry it gets a good soak and the water that drains dumped out after twenty minutes. Such a very un-fussy plant. I do occasionally mist it.

The Norfolk Pine and dragon-tree Dracanea also get watered once a week only.

new mint

Mint cuttings have been moved into a pot.

26 December 2012

thai flores

The purple Basil is flowering, beautiful delicate little things.

yellow and pink

All the repotting I did the other day ended me up with one large plastic pot empty again. So I took the poor Mum, which is still bravely flowering (although it hasn't straightened out at all) and shifted its quarters. Good thing, as the pink ceramic pot it was in (zero drainage) was causing rot. It's still in a too-small pot but that's better than rotting. I'm going to smash that pink pot and use it for shards, so I don't put any other plants in there to suffer.
The yellow flowers are starting to have a pink tint on the edges, which I like even though it means the flowers will die off soon.
In spite of its stress, I discovered that it has young leaves
and fresh new growth at the base.
So I will cut it down after the flowers die, see if it regrows well.

25 December 2012

a gift

It is true what Thalasssa Cruso said, that once you figure out how to grow your plants healthy, the problem suddenly becomes how to stem their growth or get rid of all the extras you end up with! And it's also very obvious to me why crassula (jade plant) is called the friendship tree or friendship plant; I always have new ones growing because it's just delightful to see baby ones come up out of the soil at the base of a discarded leaf, but now there are simply too many.

So this nicest of mine is going to a new home. I made a gift of it to my sister.
(This was the only one not featured in the post about repotting/propagating jades).

winter light

Some plants enjoying the winter sunshine together.
From left to right they are: Poinsettia, Mimosa (it just got slightly bumped so the leaves are partly folded), a pot of Crassula, and my best vibrant Croton.
Sometimes on particularly sunny days I shift these around several times a day.
They start out on the right side of my sliding glass door, then move to the left to follow the sunshine, then into the kitchen were there's a spot on the floor that gets more late-afternoon sun.

24 December 2012

beauty forthcoming

The African Violets are so close to blooming! I had forgotten which was which, but now can see from the buds that the smooth-leaved one will have purple flowers
and the one with slightly ruffled edges will be pink. This one is a bit further behind with its bud development.
I've known that the stems can sometimes get damaged from leaning on the pot edge; I remember reading a recommendation once that you grease the edge of clay pots with vaseline to avoid this. I forgot about it until I found one of the violet stems here has a convex chunk of tissue missing; I'm assuming this is from leaning on the sharp edge of the plastic planter.

jades, jades

Yesterday I spent the entire morning busy with plants. I took most of my Jades and repotted them. In my office windowsill, below the level of the desk where they often get forgotten (thankfully, as otherwise I tend to overwater them) were three pots of babies.
I took the center pot of those and put them as pairs in slightly larger pots. They're stuck into a mix of potting soil and vermiculite, 50/50.
Then I took the tall "mother" plant (which originally came to me as a cutting itself) and chopped most of it off.   Yikes! But it was too tall and kept drooping over, getting top-heavy. Crassulas really do better with a short, stout stem. It went from looking like this
to this:
I hope the original stem will survive the shock and grow anew! It's surrounded there by the tops of several other plants that recently got pinched to encourage branching.

I had two six-inch pots of four or five crassulas each;
one of those got repotted into a clay pot.
There was a smaller snipped crown set in there to start rooting as well; I moved that one into its own little pot. In this case it is set into a mix of potting soil and eggshells. Yes, I dry and crumbled my eggshells.
I try to remove all the membrane so there's no organic matter left to rot or cause disease. We'll see if this works; if it doesn't I've only lost one little jade of many.
Note: it is usually not advisable to do your repotting/propagating in the dead of winter. It's best to do such things in spring when new growth starts. But my plants seem to think it's springtime anyways, so I hope they do okay with the unorthodox timing.

Note: I have just found the most awesome picture of a crassula tree! Isn't this the most amazing jade bonsai ever? I want to grow a plant to look like that!

23 December 2012

curry plant makeover

My Curry Plant has grown astonishingly since coming inside. But I don't like how the lower stems are full of dead leaves.
So today I cut it down severely. There was plenty of new growth at the base of the plant, I cut down to that.
Here's what's left! It also went into a new, clay pot.
Back in the sunny windowsill.
I took all the cuttings and decided to experiment with growing them into new plants.
I was short on potting soil (in fact today's work used up all the rest of it) so it made sense to mix in sand, for this plant that likes fast drainage. These five got stuck into the tiniest clay pots.
With the rest of the cuttings I remembered to dip their stems into rooting hormone
and then they all got set in the shadier kitchen windowsill. Filled it up entirely. There's about twenty-five cuttings in all. The last three larger pots (pure sand by that point) have two or three per.
I'm not sure how well this growing experiment will go. The last attempt I made with masses of cuttings they all died. But that was probably because they got moldy; I was trying to keep them moist under plastic but not getting good ventilation. Here I can't cover them for humidity; the tender fuzzy foliage has to stay dry. For now the sand is nice and moist.

I am tempted to snip off all their little heads to get rid of the droopy look and encourage branching, but am afraid they'll loose too much moisture with an injury, so I'll wait.

Incidentally, I just noticed today how like the Tarragon (growing anew but slowly) the Curry Plant foliage is.
I also found out reading up on this plant online again, that some people think curry plant smells like maple syrup. And now when I put my nose near it smells like maple syrup to me, too. I don't know if I'll ever get the impression of curry-scent back again, but I love this new smell! In spite of its uselessness in the kitchen, I'm starting to be fond of this curious, pale plant.

liking onions

My older daughter has a thing against onions. I like the flavor they add to many dishes, but no matter how small I chop them, if she detects their presence (visually) at once rejects the food with exclamations of disgust and comments like "you know I hate onions! why did you put them in here?" Lately, though, I convinced her to try Chives diced into eggs and other things, and she liked them. We've eaten the Chives so much that the potted plant has a short, spiky appearance now!
So then I tried her on Green Onions (diced here in quesadilla with mushrooms) and she was willing. Said she liked them just as much as Chives. Hm. Perhaps soon we will be able to eat regular onions in peace!
About a week ago I pulled up the rest of the perpetual Green Onions that were growing at the old property. The biggest ones I cut immediately for enchiladas,
 the smaller ones went straight into pots.
Then I made a discovery. The regular nurseries are closed for the winter, which always dismays me when I want to start stuff early indoors and can't find supplies. But the big-box stores (home despot and the like) continue to carry some basic stuff and better yet, it's often on sale. Nobody else is crazy enough to go growing new things in the dead of winter like me I suppose. This little planter box is normally twelve dollars, I got it for four. The low price makes it no longer feel like a splurge to buy something for my plants. I would have got more, but really I want to find or make sub-irrigated planter boxes...
Anyway, excuse the bad picture- indoor lighting not the best. The planter was originally meant to hang on a railing or sit in a window; I popped the bottom tray off for better drainage, and put a layer of sand in before adding the potting soil- mixed with some saved, dried coffee grounds. I don't have any compost or other enrichments to add to the soil, so for now it's coffee leavings and fish-waste water. Planning on someday getting a worm bin and then they'll get fed worm-castings and vermiculture-tea... until then the summer months will be augmented with liquid miracle-gro, of which I still have plenty in the cupboard. I forget to use it though.

Well, I took the smaller onions out of those purple pots and put them in here, plus all the roots of the ones I ate in enchiladas. The planter box fit sixteen onions nicely, and I'm quite pleased with it.
here's the box sitting outside, behind the two earlier Onion pots.
I lost a few onions from the original pots, due to overwatering I believe. Must remember to curtail that desire to constantly give them a drink.