I’ve settled into a pattern where I’ll pick up colorful plants, like the hibiscus and sunflower perennials shown above, and within several days, the flowers will crumple and fall off. I’ll then mist the foliage at sunrise and sunset, resulting in healthy large leaves, but no new colorful blossoms, although we have quite a number of perky unopened buds.
I’ve resorted to buying plants with colorful leaves in order to break the green monotony. Here, I scored an $8 bromeliad bulging out of its ‘small’ container, even though it was the same size as the $16 ‘medium’ units had it only been repotted.
I brought the plant to Linda who has decades of green thumb experience including working with delicate orchids, and watched her line a large pot with cinder block pieces and mix new soil with the old root system. For the hibiscuses, she tweaked off spent leaves and explained that plants expend energy in growing, so non-desirable areas should be trimmed and thus avoid diverting efforts away from the healthy stems.
I watched her reach long fingers towards a cluster of leaves that I had been nurturing for a week, ever since I noticed them breaking out of the dark soil and extending upwards, growing a thick stem and symmetrical leaves. I waited for some nice commentary, but was instead startled when Linda deftly pulled out the entire plant and tossed it into the trash pile. Apparently that is what one does to weeds!
A week later, I brought the plants over to another green thumber, Claudia, whose garden is the envy of all our neighbors. Like cats and dogs that are anonymously left at pet shelters, people have laid plants at Claudia’s doorstep because they’d be ‘better off’ with her.
Claudia pronounced the hibiscuses as healthy but pointed out that the containers were very light, a sure sign that I had let the soil go bone dry. Half a cup of water daily evaporates very quickly, so I’ve had to increase my watering.
Because each hibiscus can grow quite large, Claudia explained that I needed to decide whether I wanted a vertical or horizontal plant, envision the growth path of the various stems and cut accordingly. It sounds like a mixture of science and artisan talent, so I fear I will end up with an unruly blob. Claudia then generously sent me off with new pots and a year's supply of epsom salts for water treatment.
With Claudia's larger pots, it was as if the eldest child in a large family received new clothes. The hibiscus moved up to the newest containers, and the smaller plants upgraded to the larger hand-me-downs. Then everyone got a bath of epsom salts (one tablespoon per gallon of water) via a good soaking so that their soil is finally fully moist. Hopefully this will tide these finicky plants over for a while.
Well, it’s been an interesting four week journey with lots more to learn. Have we inspired you as a newbie to consider a garden at some level? Can some of you experienced pros share tips (especially on ant control)? We’ll continue to post garden updates here. In the meantime, mahalo (thank you) for visiting!