I've never been great with sitting meditation, but I imagine that the deep feelings of calm and well-being that come from working with plants must be an equivalent exercise. This week I found time to do one of my favorite chores: a deep cleaning of my plant room. I try to do this once a month, all the while practicing deep breathing and compassionate thinking.
Occasionally, compassionate thinking is really aided by drinking chocolate milk and reading lolcats, but I'm not sure if that is as "spiritual" of an endeavor. Anyway.
First I remove all the plants from my sun room and put all the cachepots and trays in the kitchen. Then I clean the room thoroughly, including my three humidifiers and my gardening/bonsai tools. Next, I take all of the pots and trays and scrub them down in hot, hot water. The pebbles from my humidity/drip trays get rinsed in a colander. I love observing what gets built up in a month, because it tells me so much about the plants. For example, my super dwarf banana had some small crawling insects in its tray, which means it probably needs its soil changed very soon (I neglected to change the soil when I brought it home from a commercial greenhouse, which is sort of a no-no).
Finally, I spend time with each of my plants. In bright light, I check the leaves, fronds, inflorescences and what have you, the soil, and the roots. I trim back dead growth when it is appropriate, and I made notes in my garden book concerning the future needs of each plant. I sometimes take photographs as well, to document improvement or decline. The close contact is good for both of us, I like to think... I enjoy their various smells, colors, and intricacies, and presumably they appreciate my CO2. When I'm finished cataloguing everything, the plants are all arranged back in the sun room according to their light preferences.
Obsessive? Perhaps. Now you may be thinking, the chocolate milk and lolcats would be healthier than this.
Well, what did I observe that was particular interest? First off, my dracaena massangea is on its last leg, but I don't feel like getting into that now. If it can survive until spring, when a repotting is in order, this plant will be fine. Otherwise, it's the dumpster for this puppy.
Speaking of which, my Aloe "Parvula Jacobsonii" has pupped! I'm fairly surprised, given the condition this plant is in. I bought it at half price because it had been tucked away and forgotten at the greenhouse, and consequently most of the lobes (what is the term for an aloe "leaf," anyway?) had dried up and snapped off. I couldn't pass it up because I love the powdery blue color it acquires with age. Here is a photo of the pup, which I hope to separate in a few months:
Here is the other good news. In early December, I visited the superb family-owned greenhouse "Ahners" in St. Louis. I brought home a variety of nephrolepis colloquially known as "Jester's Hat" or "Curly Boston." Unlike the average Boston fern, this ("emina") has a completely upright habit with tight curls. Here is a healthy example from Dave's Garden.
I have not been able to find much info on this fern, except that they are somewhat difficult to satisfy and grow very slowly. I would agree with both of these points. Mid January, in a fit of pique, my fern almost completely shed its leaflets, leaving it a bundle of sticks. I was disappointed, but I learned my lesson about letting these guys dry out for even a short time. Since then, I have patiently and conscientiously watered and waited. When I was cleaning this week, I noticed four new crosiers popping up! Not only this, but when I checked the root system, look was was going on below the surface:
Look at all those little guys making their way up! Hooray! So here's a question for the fern pros... would you say this could use a potting up, come spring? It's currently in a 4-incher, but it looks to me as through the rhizome is pushing for more room. Any thoughts?
Enjoy the warm weather and the rain!