Martha, you’ve really got me this time. Pages 52-56 of January Living are all about diagnosing problems with houseplants. Oh boy, do I need this! Let me just say this is all a little embarrassing! My grandfather ran a very successful greenhouse business, now owned by my uncle. My father plants the world’s largest garden every summer, and my mom has a house filled with houseplants. Obviously, the green thumb gene was not passed along to me.
I have a long and troubled history with houseplants. I like having them very much – not only because they are pretty but because I firmly believe they are important for air quality. Sigh. Too bad I can’t keep them alive for anything.
Last year Mr. MarthaAndMe bought me a beautiful jasmine plant for my birthday (I actually told him I wanted a jade plant – hey, they both start with J’s I guess). It was dead within 6 months and never flowered again. A friend bought me an orchid for another birthday and I killed that one in a couple of months – that also never flowered again. I used to have lots of houseplants, but I can’t seem to remember to water them and I never know how much light they need.
At this point I have 4 trusty houseplants, none of which are in the greatest condition.
Please observe specimen #1. I have no idea what this is called. It needed to be watered, which I did. I think this one falls under Martha’s “pot-bound” category. It needs a bigger pot, so I’ll put that on my to-do list. This plant has not changed in size since I got it, I don’t think.
Plant #2 is a Christmas cactus which was started from a cutting from my mom’s plant. I have managed to keep it alive for many years, but have never been able to figure out how to make it flower. I know there’s something about putting it in a dark cool room for several months. I don’t have a room like that though. Martha has inspired me to read up on this and try to make it work for next Christmas.
Specimen #3 is another unidentified plant. This one has been hanging by a thread for years. It used to get really sick during the summer until I realized it didn’t really like a lot of light, so now I keep it in the living room, which is a darker room. Earlier this fall I had a record 5 leaves on it, but now I’m down to 3, and one has collapsed. It did need water, I’ll admit. After I watered it, the droopy stem stood back up. I wish I could get this grow more leaves though and be fuller.
Specimen #4 is my proudest achievement (which is totally embarrassing). This is an air fern. I bought it at Walmart one day on a whim. It has no soil and does not need to be watered. Therein lies my success! I don’t have to do a darn thing to it. It’s in my office and I think it is fairly happy because the kids’ bathroom is right across the hall and so there is some moist air for it. Frankly, I’m surprised it’s still kicking. I’ve had it a few years.
Martha’s section on plants is a great guide and I’m going to be sure to hang on to it. Maybe it will even give me the courage to try some other plants. I’d love to have them, if only I could keep them alive!
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