March 24, 2011

My Guide to Plant Survival: In which I write about trying to save plants and my Plant-y Friends give me advice.

So the journey begins, the journey to save 2 plants who seem to be surviving despite all the odds against them. I blame this mild obsession on not planting seeds this spring. The grower in me is dying to grow something--anything. Enter the 2 orphaned office plants. Their owner moved on & left them behind. The one, intermittent caregiver has been practicing more 'intermittant' and less 'caregiver'. Enter the drafter who hates to see things suffering. (me, I'm the drafter)

These pictures were taken after cleaning all the dead leaves off the plant & out of the pots. Next they were given a huge, slow watering. The diffenbachia was moved into my office with north & east facing windows. The diffenb. has been named Fernando.

This has garnered interesting responses from the kindly people who pass through my office. My early response as to why I named the plant Fernando was, "Every thing sounds better in Italian." But, now I just laugh and think, "I should write that one down!"

Responses upon hearing I named an almost dead plant Fernando:

"As in the Pool Boy?",

"Isn't that Spanish for Fred?",

and most frequent response is an incredulous look followed by uproarious laughter.

The Rubber Tree Plant is so far unnamed. It is so ugly I can't even move it into my office. Also, I would feel really guilty taking not one, but two plants from another office. But the real reason is UGLY. At least Fernando has the hope of handsomeness in his future. The Rubber Tree will always be a wall flower.

The Rubber Thing keeps losing leaves. Thank goodness no one is trying to make tires from this thing. Today yellow spores showed up all over the top of the soil. Clearly, the water shocked that one too.

So, a day or so has passed since I moved Fernando into my office. I think he looks perkier. I have to fight the urge to keep watering him. Just the one solid watering probably shocked his system. Like when we eat really good food that is just way richer than we are used to. The eating was good, but the bathroom is now home. As usual, I digress.

What also showed up today is a 5 gallon bucket of soil from the former caregiver. I am hesitant to use soil filled w/ weeds from his backyard. He says, "just put it on the bottom and all the weeds will die." I think we need some rabbit manure to mix into the soil and make it really good. He says he added charcoal and some other stuff, possibly chicken manure and thinks it will work great. As you can see, different planting philosophies abound around this office. I will have to take pics of the soil to get everyone else's opinion on this.

Not to muddy the waters, but there is a third opinion chiming in also.

You know when you make something REALLY COOL, but maybe not the prettiest to look at. Then you go to show it off and there is someone who made the same thing only their's actually looks like the magazine picture? Yeah, imagine that with plants. To set the scene--I like to rescue plants. I get bored of them quickly and love to give my now healthy plants away as gifts. I figure plants are like children that you are allowed to give away when you get tired of them. That means that frequently my plants look a little on the downtrodden side. After all, they are in some stage of getting rescued, so cut them some slack! I brought 2 of my "project plants" to work before I out-n-out stole Fernando. One plant is some cuttings off a VERY healthy plant on my windowsill that I rooted in a cup of water then potted up & brought to the office. Kinda tiny, kinda spindly--great potential. The other is my Avocado plant that I grew by putting the avocado pit into my vermicompost and vwaalaa, a lovely plant. However, since I work all day the poor guy has been neglected. He went through an especially dry season recently and that is when I decided to bring him to the office so I could keep a better eye on him. Clearly, I will have to take some pics of these lovelies. But back to that 3rd opinion.

I work with intelligent people. That is why I like my job. But do they have to be intelligent and good at stuff? Probably not, but apparently several of them are. This fellow seemed to be rather normal. Then he walked in a said, "Is that an Avocado plant?" No one knows what an avocado plant is. At least, not normal people. Heck, I forget what kind of plant it is from time to time. This guy says he has a plant project he is working on in his office. So I go look. He is twining plants around each other to make some plant sculpture! His plants look ready for a photo shoot. My plants look like they just avoided getting shot. Sigh. Maybe I'll listen to his plant-y opinions.

Back to the Rescue Project. I am going to count on my plant-y friends to help me along on this journey. You can chime in here on the blog or on FB. Already I have been aided and abetted by identifying what the 2 plants are. Thank You! I am still a little confused on whether it is a Rubber Plant or Rubber Tree and whether that makes a difference.

The next step is the repotting. We have soil provided by FC (former caregiver) counter-balanced w/ my hesitance to use old, dirty dirt. There was a little bit of mockery about buying soil at Home Depot and I will try not to take that personally. I really want to mix in some rabbit manure or finished vermicompost. Sadly, since the fruit flies took over the vermi. I haven't been keeping it going so there isn't really much of that to use. But damn, there's a lot of rabbit manure around here.

The next problem is whether the Rubber Plant can survive getting some of it's stem buried or if that will suffocate or otherwise harm it. In general, I know the rule is never add soil to the top of a plant's dirt. But, the RT's roots are showing on the top and I feel a little like someone's slip is showing--there is pain in mentioning it, but in the long run the owner is so glad you told her. You can see from the picture that there is lots of room in the pot to add soil. I will probably take it out of the pot, loosen up the outer soil & get rid of a bunch, fill the bottom of the pot w/ rocks, layer of soil and then put the plant back in w/ new soil all around the edges.

Clearly, I'm gonna need a tarp.

It was casually mentioned today that in "the main building" they hire professionals to take care of the plants. I wonder if that was a hint?