Monday, May 17, 2010

Signs of Life

I may have mentioned before that I am in inpatient gardener. So imagine my frustration when over a year ago I was shopping (for plants- which in my mind is often better than clothes or shoes). Anyway, Mom found one of those generically labeled plants that had a unique shape and attractive leaves - and was the only one left. So of course, regardless of it's generic instructions for care - it was a "must have".

We were not even to the parking lot before plant envy set in. And being the super-duper Mom that she was - she offered to take one of the little branches - which was almost broken off anyway, and send it home with me.

One year later the damned single-leaf plant has been well cared for, well sunned, but not too sunned - well watered but not too watered. And for about 8 months - it's only sign of life was that it was green. It did not grow at all.

And then...right about when I was thinking "Great. I'm going to be 100 years old and someone will be cleaning out my house and they will wonder why I have kept a plant with one leaf. And hopefully they will think I've only had it for a few months." ...but as if the plant sensed the doom that was sneaking up on sprouted a ever so small - barely visible to anyone that wasn't compulsively leaf.

Flash forward another 6 months and you would see the exact same picture. That new bud - seemed frozen in time. Green, but not growing.

Mother Nature must have hit the "start" button some time in February...because that barely visible nub - has turned into THIS...

Not only has it rewarded me with super fast growing but look at those colors! (Old leaf is plain green - new leaf has with yellow and white. And I'm not sure that you can tell - but there's another leaf forming. I'm crossing my fingers that it's not going to go into hibernation before it decides to grow too.

On another gardening front...

I am also the kind of gardener that often has to learn things the hard way.

You know, they say - after blooming season is past, discard your paper white bulbs.

Well, I don't.

I keep them and let them finish out their life cycle and all the while reflect on how this is likely one of the marketing ploys of the gardening world to make us act out our compulsive "disposable" lifestyle even in the garden section. I'll let you know how it turns out...

Also, they say that Gerber Daisies are nearly impossible to grow from seed - yes, I tried it all last summer. Because I love them and I couldn't bear the thought of life without some Gerber blooms. They all failed - I even sorted through the millions of seeds to find the "fat ones" -which are said to be the fertile ones...failure was all I had to show.

Likewise, when they say that you can grow a Jade plant from a single leaf. You know I have got to give it a try. Because who doesn't love making one plant from another plant? The challenge... the skill... the frugality!

Now, I'm not proud to say that I've killed my share of Jade plants in the past. I have struggled with the delicate balance of "dry" without turning that into "totally forgetting to water for months on end followed by a wet season to make up for such errors."

I may be past that now. I've been host to a new Jade plant for almost a year now - and he is not only surviving but seems to be growing and reports to me that he is very happy. On one or two occasions he has dropped a leaf (because of my shady past with this plant - I would dare not harm it just for the sake of an experiment). I read that dropped leaves is normal and not a sign of "user error". So I rejoiced.

And planted the leaf - b/c, you know by the time I am 100 years old - that could be a whole plant. (enter mad-scientist laugh here)

And - several months later - please see the results. (Sorry it's fuzzy - too small to get a good pic with the details...)

There are about 4 leaves in here. (One is clearly dying.) The one with the largest growth has been going about 8 months. The first 3 were without any signs of roots. (Timeline not guarenteed accurate - because it is based on my brain so it was either 3 months or it FELT like 3 moths) The last additions (the other 3 leaves) have been added in the last 2 months and they are taking off fast - so maybe I've finally mastered the right amount of water. (Current system = look at plant, it appears dry, resist the urge to water. Repeat the next 8-10 times you have this thought. Then when thought occurs the 11th time - act on impulse and water - less than you think you should...almost like you are punishing the plant and denying it a full sized drink.) But two of the leaves have new leaf buds on them.

I know you probaly can't tell in the picture - but this is all taking place in a 1/2 inch painted terra cotta pot. Have you ever spotted those? Usually sold with seed packets in the $1 section...the seeds always flop out - or live and then need to be transplanted - and get damaged as you move them out and try to seperate's the equivilent of plant torture....

We had 2 plant torture pots - so in the other I experimented with some branches that dropped from my "Irish Bouquet". I got this plant at Lowes - it was with the succulents - I have searched for plant info - because the directions were very vague - I've found nothing and I've never seen another one anywhere else.

But when some leaves dropped - I thought the plant was similiar(ish) in nature to a Jade - so I popped them in dirt. And they are happily living (though not growing much) in their new location.
Coming soon...instructions for making your very own pots to start seedling in!

See how I'm trying to contaminate you with my Spring Fever?

1 comment:

Karen said...

Well, your contamination efforts totally worked. I have this major urge to grow a plant from seed now.

Any recommendations for a busy girl who once managed to kill a cactus by forgetting to water it?