Mom’s Green Thumb: Indoor Edition

Courtesy of my Mom, Jeanette (because I did not inherit her green thumb)…

Last Spring Becky asked me to write a  post about outdoor plants and flowers, so I did. Now, she asked me to write about indoor plants, so I will do that as well.  Needless to say I like all kinds of plants, but indoor plants add something special to a home, the are great decorating accents, and they help clean the air inside just like they do outside.

At the moment I have ten plants throughout the house plus three more wintering in our basement until it is warm enough to bring them onto our enclosed porch for the summer.  I will probably bring one that is almost ready to blossom up from the basement soon as I don’t want to miss the flowers.  I also have a pea plant Annabelle, our great-granddaughter, started at Children’s Church a few weeks ago and a tiny pot she and I are watching for a watermelon to break through.  We may have to plant a new watermelon seed.


Among my house plants is a ficus tree that is older than Becky (33 years for reference). It was given to me by the woman from whom we bought one of our first houses.  She was downsizing and didn’t have room for it in her new home and it has been a part of our lives ever since, moving with us to six different houses. Our son, Seth, has a cactus he brought home in the back of a truck in January 17 years ago.  I nursed it along and although it still has the scars from the plant version of frost bite it has grown from about two feet tall to over six feet.  The peace lily by our french door was given to me by the former superintendent and his wife when I started as a Superintendent.  Every time I look at it, it reminds me of their kindness and support as I started a new position.  I can tell you similar stories about when I acquired most of my plants.

I also add a few plants now and then as I see an area that needs a fresh look or when a current plant has grown too big for the windowsill. And every now and then I lose one. The ivy I had in the window near my piano died this Winter and I’m not sure why.  Maybe it just got too cold during some of the coldest days even though it had lived in that window a couple of years. Oh, well.  I also have a Christmas cactus that has never blossomed for me. I may try planting it in the ground outside for the Summer.  What do I have to lose?


My approach to plants is pretty simple.  If I get a new plant I read the tag and try to match its need for water and direct or indirect sunlight and if someone gives me one I check on-line.  I water my plants thoroughly once a week, but do the “finger test” (push your finger into the soil slightly and if dirt sticks to it, no water is needed, and if not, water it) first.  I like to put fertilizer sticks in each pot in February or March. The directions tell you how many to use for a particular diameter pot, but I have also used dissolvable fertilizer, the fertilizer sticks are just easier because they are once and done for the year. The plants don’t seem to care either way.

Once or twice a summer I try to put my plants outside when there is a gentle rain to wash the leaves, but putting them in the shower also works, it’s just a little messier. Every few years as plants grow I either re-pot them or divide them and sometimes I change the soil.  If a plant gets too leggy or spindly, I pinch it back or take a cutting and put a piece of it in a vase or jar until roots develop.  I put a plant I started from a cutting on the window in Becky’s cottage and she and I both think it looks right at home there. I visit to water it once a week when she’s not around (thanks Mom!).


I can’t grow everything—African violets, like the Christmas cactus, don’t bloom for me. But that’s OK.  In the meantime I’m enjoying the plants I grow successfully.  I enjoy them throughout the year, but it’s especially nice to have something green and growing around in the winter. When the days get longer they come out of their winter doldrums by putting out new leaves and shoots, their own way of welcoming Spring, I suppose.

One caution before I close.  Some plants can be harmful to children or pets. Check on-line to be sure what you have is safe for those in your home or put them on a high shelf then enjoy the freshness and beauty plants add to your home.

 

In a lot of ways I take after my Mom, but this just doesn’t seem to be one of them.  I’m thankful for her knowledge…and so are the few plants I’ve managed to keep alive for any length of time.  

Have a great weekend!

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