Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Setting up a plant for maximum ease of care and beauty



Up to now we've been talking about how to determine the amount of moisture in the soil, as well as other factors to consider in deciding whether or not to water your plants.  But before we talk about how much water to put in, let's consider the mechanics of putting the water and your plants together.

Face it, your plants can't get to water on their own - you have to bring it to them.  Part of that bringing is the potting system the plants are sitting in, and part is the equipment and technique you use to pour on the water.  (Yes, if you can believe it, I even have something to say about how you pour water.)

                             POTTING ARRANGEMENTS

All plants are placed in one of two ways: either they're direct planted - roots are planted directly into a large soil environment, such as outdoors, or in an indoor atrium or large planter box; or they're potted - roots and some kind of medium to hold them are enclosed by some kind of container.

If they're potted, they may be single or double potted.  If single-potted , they're growing out of the visible container, which sits in a drainage saucer of some type, unless the container itself is water-tight.

If double-potted,  the grow pot  (the container, usually plastic, in which the plant was grown) sits inside a drainage liner, and both sit inside a decorative container.

The advantages of double-potting are many.  If you want to remove the plant from the decorative container, because you want to replace it with a different plant, it needs treatment, etc,  you just pick it up and there you are.  When watering, you just watch for the run-off in the liner, which allows you to regulate water more exactly (more about that in a minute), and also does not limit you to only using containers that have  holes in the bottom.

Professional interior landscapers almost always use the double-potting method.  When they do, they  cover the top of the grow pot, and often the entire surface inside the decorative container, with a decorative mulch, most commonly Spanish moss,  sheet moss, bark chip, or rock.

This mulch has no horticultural value, it is purely cosmetic, although most people find it works best when some of the soil is left exposed to insure good evaporation of water.  It's easy to do at  home,  and adds greatly to the attractive appearance, especially of larger house plants.

The most important part of this arrangement is the liner, which in effect becomes the reservoir for the plant.  Professional interior landscapers operate on a schedule, which requires the plants be serviced every week, every ten days, or every two weeks (for most reputable companies.)  The liner must hold enough water to fill the plant's needs,  making sure it doesn't get over-dry between waterings.  However, there must also not be too much water - the plant has to be able to use all of the water in the liner well before the tech's next visit, thus reaching its ideal % of aeration.

                           HANGING PLANTS

Let's consider  hanging plants, which are sort of a special class.   When you buy one from a store, it comes in a hanging commercial grow pot, which has open drainage in the bottom, and works perfectly in a greenhouse, not so well in a home.  Many people bring these home and hang them up as is, then take them down and carry them to the sink to water, and drain.   Fine, if you have the time.

If you're interested in less time spent on more beautiful plants, you'll want to use waterproof hanging bowl containers.  You can double-pot your plant into this, and when you want to water, just lift up your water can,  tip in the spout, being careful that it's not splashing off any leaves,  and pour/count.

Thus ends this excerpt from TCOYTHNTDWI 

(Sounds like something from a Sci-Fi story, doesn't it..T'coy Thndtwi, medical ofiicer aboard the inter-dimensional explorer Frglyss.)  (Soon as The Ficus Wrangler project is up and running on its own, I'll be able to turn my attention to completing and attempting to publish some of my SF.)

Speaking of which, you might be wondering, how is that FW project going.  I'm glad to report that the web site is nearing completion, and we hope to have it online by the end of June, with at least some video  available for purchase.

The text for the first - and longest - chapter of the book is done; all that remains is to add the graphics and photos. and it too will be available for purchase.

I know there are some folks reading this blog....have any of you ever commented anywhere?  Don't be shy.  Leave a comment in the comment spot!  You can't imagine how I'd love to hear from you.  As a member  of the Down With Dead Houseplants Movement (DWDHM? Wonder what I can make from that.), you are entitled to speak on up.

Till next time,
Bona Fortuna to you, and good growing always.
                                                                                                      (by Marlie Graves)

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