} Life Cycle

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with houseplants. My growing ability comes and goes in spurts. Usually in about 6 month spreads. On a good stretch, the house is blooming in abundance, life cycling on with greens and fresh air. I love these times and look forward to the rituals involved in watering, fertilizing, trimming and even rooting the various greens. And I am a very adept amateur horticulturist. Not quite as adept mind you as 16-year-old Willow, who’s repertoire of houseplants rivals that of our local nursery in town, but I can hold my own.

On the outside, all of my fingers, not just my thumbs, are green. I have about 1/2 acre of combined square footage in garden space on my property. I grow a LOT of things. Veggies, herbs, spices, fruit, flora. I take a very scientific, trial and error approach to raising plants of all natures, and for the most part, I’m very successful. I am able to breed perennials that bloom in their first year, nurture species that are not qualified to my zone, and raise cultivars that could make an appearance on a garden tour.

My outdoor gardens are expansive and a lot of work, but so rewarding.

They are home to a multitude of creatures.

On the inside, I swerve towards disaster. Try as I might, I can’t keep a plant alive in-house longer then 6 months. And I have yet to figure out what the problem is. It’s not the house, because I’ve had this problem for 20 years, in 4 different homes. It’s not the care, because they thrive for 6 months and my gardens are a testament to the fact that I know what I’m doing. I think it’s just ME. For the latter part of 2008 and 2009 in its entirety, there wasn’t a single houseplant to be found within these walls. No potted herbs, no Philodendron, not even a Mother-in-laws Tongue, which is supposed to be indestructible.

As I promised myself in my list of 101 Things to do in 1001 Days,  I once again, have spun the revolving door into the world of houseplants.

I started off with an Anthurium, given to me by the mother of my son-in-law. It’s been two months and things are going well. I’ve progressed to a simple ivy, which basically takes care of itself.

And have added two more to the fray. Beginner plants at best, a Darley Dale  and a small Dieffenbachia.

I’m keeping my green thumbs crossed, but I’m not holding my breath.

 Wouldn’t help the plants, even if I did.

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16 Comments

  1. hibiscusjaune said,

    February 26, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Green fingers; my initial thought while starring at your pictures. Why haven’t you been able to keep some in your house? I’m not an expert. Is it you? We know for sure it’s not the house. Maybe you should tell them every day I much you need them. Not very scientific I know, but even an ivy could use some encouragement… to grow!

    • February 26, 2010 at 5:36 pm

      If only encouragement worked! I even beg the damn things to survive sometimes. I’m considering just putting all of the houseplants outside in the summer, to see if I can extend their lives a bit longer!

  2. willowbatel said,

    February 26, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    I’m so so so soooo jealous of your yard! What I wouldn’t give for a start off some of those! We’re definitely having the solstice celebration at your house lol.
    The reason I’m so good at growing things inside is because for seven years that was all I could do. I wasn’t allowed to go out and plant new things, because we rented and my mom didn’t want to invest too much time into the yard. Thank you for the reference by the way. Now I feel like I’ve GOT to post something new; I’m so behind with the plant section.
    If you want to get a plant that is practically IMPOSSIBLE to kill, get Devils Ivy. I’ve hacked mine down to nubs several times and it’s still alive. And my cats love to eat the new leaves. Ivy’s are good starters because they’re such a weed. They just don’t die.
    All of the plants would all do fine in partial shade during the summer if you wanted to put them outside. Just know that you’ll likely acquire some pests. I put won of my orchids out a few years ago, in the hopes of forcing a bloom, and it got some mites in it. Now all of my orchids are infected and some of my other house plants. I can’t get rid of them, no matter what I do.
    Feel free to ask me for any plant help. I love to help, and doing research on things is fun!

    • February 26, 2010 at 6:59 pm

      Thanks Willow! (and you’re welcome, I bow at your feet when it comes to houseplants!) I will look for Devil’s Ivy and will no doubt be asking a bunch of questions, since obviously my ways don’t work longterm, so I’m ready to try something different…..like fertilizers, watering schedules, soil mixes, potting restrictions, you name it hunny, I wanna know!!

      I lovelovelove the link you sent me for the worm farming info….AMAZING, very helpful.
      Gigi’s friend Alex emailed me back as well, he says that so long as I make it a “windrow” the pile will generate enough heat to keep the worms from freezing, but a bin about your size will not survive our winter’s up here. (should be able to survive your winters though) So, I’m looking into whether I can sustain a worm windrow at least 20 feet long by about 4 feet wide. I know I have the space for it, just have to be sure I can provide enough compost material. BUT, I have the manual you sent me by link, and I’ll spend some time in the near future figuring it all out.

  3. i'm no miss said,

    February 26, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    wow! i clicked on the link to your blog because i was just curious of what might be in your “world” then i saw these and the photos. and i said wow, even if i get jealous i can only BE jealous because i don’t have a green thumb haha. But you got a little beautiful haven out there. I suddenly felt the urge to make a post too of my mom’s little garden back at home. I’ll try to collect the old photos somewhere and would share them to the world too.

  4. willowbatel said,

    February 27, 2010 at 12:16 am

    And bow at my feet? Honestly now, lol, don’t get carried away. 😉
    The only fertilizer I’ve ever used is the ¼ strength stuff for feeding orchids. And the only reason I use that is because I recycle the water I soak the orchids in, and water the rest of the house with it. I can water almost every plant in the house using little over 2 gallons of water. I like the challenge of this; I don’t know what it is that I do really. I mean literally, all I do is stick a plant in a pot with some dirt, and it lives. So any questions you ask will require some serious self-scrutiny on my part. I’m looking forward to it 😀
    I wasn’t sure if the bin would do well in your climate. I’m not at that level of prediction yet, lol. I think you’ll have more than enough material. Unless you use the leaves of any of the tree’s as mulch, then you can use all of those for the pile. But no pine needles. Plus you can put paper products (with no protein on them, i.e. no pizza boxes etc.) in it also. Can’t wait to see how you put it together, and I’ll be expecting pictures.
    I skipped the first dozen pages or so, since most of it is useless info.

    • February 27, 2010 at 8:10 am

      Okay, let’s start with the basics. Dirt. Where’d’ya get your dirt? Potting soil? Back yard? Compost? I remember a post you made about your watering process, I’ll have to go back and look for it. I do usually just walk about the house with a jug, I think I was told at some point not to move plants once they get comfortable….do you ever rearrange yours?
      No protein, no pine needles. I do use most of the leaves for garden mulch, but there are so many areas that don’t ever get raked that I probably won’t ever run out of leaf material. It looks like I’m going to have to order the dirt for the windrow to make it as big as Alex suggests.

      • willowbatel said,

        February 27, 2010 at 4:19 pm

        I used to buy all of my dirt. The miracle grow stuff or whatever. It didn’t really matter. Now that I’ve got a compost bin going though, I like that dirt a lot better. There are more nutrients in the soil, and since most of the dirt is 90% composted, there’s still enough material to keep the dirt draining properly.
        I like to rearrange my plants, just because if you leave them in one place too long, then the leaves start growing in one direction. At the very least I’ll turn them one I start to notice they’re looking uneven. Orchids DO NOT like to be moved one they get a new leave/start on them. But I can’t seem to follow that rule and move them all the time. This results in bad/ little growth and makes the plant unhappy with no benefit whatsoever. I really need to break that habit.
        As for watering. It doesn’t really matter how you water regularly but it’s good to give the plants a thorough soaking once in a while. It helps with root growth. If you don’t feel like letting them sit in a bucket of water for five minutes each, like I do, then just stick them in the sink (or the shower) and turn the water on. I’d advise doing that only if your drains/pipes are capable handling dirt though.

        • February 28, 2010 at 7:32 am

          I’m starting to think it’s just me! I know over the years I’ve used various forms of dirt, compost, whathaveyou, sometimes re-potting has worked very well, and sometimes it’s been a total flop. With the plants I have now, I’m going to soak them like you do when the hotter weather comes around for sure, (since this will be about the time they start dying off!) maybe it’s the dryness in the house..???? I don’t know. Everything I have now, needs in-direct/filtered light, which is good because there’s not much sunlight shining through the windows these days. I wish the Darley-Dale could survive outside through the winter, I’d love it in the rock garden, but it’s not going to happen!

          • willowbatel said,

            February 28, 2010 at 11:03 pm

            Humidity plays a huge role. When I had very few plants I would mist them (using a simple spray bottle, but one that had never seen chemicals) at least once a day. Now that I have so many, and my room stays so warm, I don’t have to do that. It has some super scientific name when plants do that (keep the humidity up because so many plants are evaporating water through their leaves), but I forget what it’s called. But you might look into spraying them.
            Supposedly if water gets on the flowers, it will make them die quicker, but I feel like that’s irrelevant. They get water on them all the time in nature, so they might as well get it on them indoors also. That’s just my way of thinking, but do whatever you want lol.

            • March 1, 2010 at 8:04 am

              Okay, now that’s something I’ve never tried, misting them, maybe we’re on to something here. I’m going to start doing that today and try to make it routine and see if it makes a difference in the end. I mist my seeds when I’m propagating them for the gardens, so it only makes sense to do the same for the house plants….duh, why have I never thought of this?

              • willowbatel said,

                March 1, 2010 at 6:41 pm

                Because it doesn’t seem necessary. It took me hours and hours of research online before my OCD habit (spraying almost every two hours I was home for about three months) formed. That was a joke by the way, I did spray religiously, but the habit didn’t last long enough to become an illness.
                Try it and see if it works though.

  5. gigisanchez said,

    February 27, 2010 at 12:35 am

    Beautiful! I love the pics.

  6. altonwoods said,

    February 27, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    Yes,quite lovely! (the pic’s) And you’re a smashing writer as well!


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