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2015 gardening report card

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This was the first year I gave gardening a good effort.  I started strong and I stuck with it.  And I learned a lot along the way about what worked, what didn’t and what I could do better next season.

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First off, I’ve learned to move plants around to find the light they like best.  This plant was looking sad in the kitchen…

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…so I moved it to the living room where the light is brighter throughout the day.  Here’s how it looked when I first moved it…

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…and now…

 

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Yeah, I’m patting myself on the back for that one.

Momma’s taking good care of you, isn’t she, sweet little plant?  

I planted a small baby tears plant in the living room in May…

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…and here is how it’s grown…

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And this plant is loving life.  Here’s how he looked in may…

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…and now…

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I don’t have all success stories to share, which I’m learning is just a part of caring for living things.  These lemon cyprus plants for example…

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Here’s how they looked after a few weeks and I couldn’t nurse them back.

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I’ve had to chuck a few other plants that didn’t make it, also.  I used to think that meant I had a black thumb, but I’m learning that I either had the plant in the wrong environment or wasn’t caring for it properly.

My ficus tree has been doing very well…

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…until last week when he decided to have his own personal fall.

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He looks like a bit like he’s auditioning for the next Charlie Brown Christmas Special.

I was getting ready to pitch him, just to put us both out of our misery, but I noticed some sprouts, so I’m going to give him a bit more time.

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I did lose one of my beautiful myrtle topiaries…

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…but I moved the other one outside and managed to save it.  For now.

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One of the best things I’ve taken away from this learning process, is to not give up on plants too easily.  I used to throw anything away that looked remotely droopy, dried out, yellowed or stressed.  I really didn’t want to watch it turn black and crispy.  Now, I try moving it, cutting it back, repotting it, watering more, watering less, fertilizing it and see if I find something that works.

I cut back this guy last week and it’s bursting with little buds.

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I was also ready to pitch this mum, because all of the blooms dried up and turned brown, but I cut it back and now it’s leafing out again…

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…and it’ll be blooming again soon.

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I also learned that quality soil makes a huge difference.  My basil and parsley this year were practically bushes, they grew so huge.  They’ve always been puny, but I planted them in a rich organic soil and they really thrived.  I can’t wait to get a good raised-bed kitchen garden going next year.

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In the next week or two, I’m going to clean up the deck, roll up the rug and put away the pillows for the winter.

Don’t worry, deck.  I have plans for you this spring…

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Comments

  1. Melissa says:

    As a farmer, I’ve love love loved watching your green thumb grow! Everything looks so much more beautiful with those sweet extra touches of life popping up around your place. Keep up the great work and the updates of your learning curve. So much fun!

  2. You’re inspiring me to try the plant thing again…I’m pitiful when it comes to caring for them when I’m too busy, but now that things are slowing down a bit for me once again, I think I’ll tackle it when spring rolls around.
    Love how the one perked up when you moved it into the living room. There’s just something about real green plants in the home. Very nice post.
    Judypimperl.blogspot.com

  3. Chrissy says:

    I adopted a 12″ tall ficus in 1976. It is now 7 feet tall and sheds leaves occasionally. I do have to prune it at least once a year. It IS my Christmas tree and looks lovely decorated with white lights and a variety of clear glass and plastic icicles. At the base, I have planted Ivy and there is a resident (fake) nesting goose.

    • Alicia says:

      Love how you’re turned it into your Christmas tree. And the ivy and “resident” nesting goose conjures up such a pretty picture! Good for you.

  4. B Folk says:

    So wonderful to see you having fun with the gardening! You crack me up with your “Momma’s taking good care of you” and “Charlie Brown” comments. I was doing the same thing yesterday while harvesting and pruning, talking to the pests living on some of the plants (“Ha! Thought you were going to get away from me, didn’t you?”) I just bought two winter-flowering pansies (actually, they flower Fall through Spring), as my other plants have been in a lull. All the foliage looks good, but my little 3rd-floor balcony garden needed some color At only 89 cents apiece, I’ll be okay with it if the pansies don’t make it.

  5. MaryLisa Noyes says:

    We had a very dry summer here in the Pacific Northwest so one of my hydrangea plants started loosing it’s leaves despite my watering efforts. I decided to cut it down to the ground and now it has small leaves spouting so I’m thinking it will be good next summer. I’m glad you enjoy gardening and it really is trial and error even for the best gardeners.

  6. Carlotta says:

    Marian, your plants look great. I like to have live plants all over my house but unfortunately I only have a few spots in a few rooms-not all rooms. I had a baby tears plant & I moved it a few times after I could see it was starting to die. It finally did die. What kind of light does yours get & how often do you water it? By the way, what kind of pot is it in & is there a drain hole at the bottom of the pot? Thanks. Carlotta

  7. Sandra says:

    Marian, I have had sad experiences with ficus trees until I tried the hardy ficus. It hasn’t dropped leaves in the dramatic way my ficus Benjamina had. It might be worth it to try a hardy variety.
    Your plants look beautiful!

  8. mary m young says:

    Back in the 1960’s making your own terreriums in large wine bottles was all the rage. My
    sister made one for my mother……… Guess what it is still going strong and my sister is handing
    it down to me. Imagine that!

  9. Alicia says:

    Hello Marian,
    Your green thumb is sprouting wings!

    It does take trial and error to get it right with plants. I, too, had a ficus I was giving up on and then one day noticed it was taking off again. Your baby tears is a miracle to behold. I’ve had sad results growing plants indoors but in the shade outside they are thriving. The hot Southern California sun this summer has baked away petunias, violas, lobelia, alyssum, and even a hardy Rosemary! And i do love Rosemary. However, I have one blue-green Lavendar that out of 4 has survived and beginning to spread her wings and produce. I have it in a large wooden bucket in my front yard and hope it continues to spread and fill the entire bucket. I have sent more plants to “garden heaven” than my budget would like to admit to. But Home Depot has an excellent return policy and I keep coming back for more. I haven’t bought into the succulents yet despite our drought conditions over here on the West Coast but I am looking at more and more drought resistant plants. My roses are hanging in there as is a Pink Bower Vine plant. I look forward to more pictures of your “plant” babies in the future.

    • I live in CA too, although a little farther north in the mountains. I would encourage you to find a local nursery to buy your plants. HD stores stock generic plants, but local people often have many interesting varieties that grow well in our climate and the staff is generally a wealth of information. They usually are gardeners themselves with many years of experience, not just a HD associate assigned to garden for the day. My local nursery’s rose and clematis collection alone is worth a trip. And his CA native plant collection is excellent. A local nursery won’t refund a dead plant, but I don’t consider that their responsibility anyway. HD is huge enough to take the “loss”, but it’s mostly a marketing gimmick.

  10. April says:

    How encouraging! Some of your thriving plants I didn’t think could live indoors. I will get some too! :) Like your ficus my fiddle leaf fig slowly lost all of its leaves down to two then just when I was sure it wouldn’t make it (its brother it came potted with lost all his leaves and looks dead) he sprouted a new leaf and now there are three new leaves. Plants are amazing and bring such beauty and joy to a home. Thanks for sharing your adventures!

  11. My ficus did a similar thing – dropped it’s leaves. My mother, the Gardner, said they do that when they are stressed. So give it weak liquid seaweed. Also move it as it may be in a draft.
    The cypress ( like many plants) don’t like long periods inside so I have double plants ( just in the plastic pot) that I pop into my nice pot. I rotate them every 2 weeks so they have a stint outside and this works well

  12. Miriam, your plants do look beautiful! I, like the other Melissa, love watching your green thumb grow!

    People sometimes lose confidence in their green thumb when it comes to indoor plants, but if they just understand a few things about plants, they will discover they do have a green thumb.

    As you said, lighting and soil are important. All plants are actually outdoor plants, so we have to consider what makes them thrive outdoors. Old leaves, bark and pine needles nourish outdoor soil, so we have to nourish our indoor plants once in a while. Another thing people forget about is that when our plants are outside, the wind and rain keep the leaves clean, so that photosynthesis can happen. Wind and rain can also keep insects at bay. Indoor plants need to be rinsed or dusted with a damp cloth regularly, they will love you for it!

    On the subject of your ficus benjamina, they are very hardy. They seem fragile because they can lose their leaves if the lighting they live in changes or if their watering patterns dramatically change, but they pretty much ALWAYS bounce back.

    Lastly, make sure, when watering, that water gets to all of the roots and know that if a plant sits in too much water for too much time, the roots will rot. A plant is only as healthy as its roots, so make sure indoor plants have a way to allow water to drain away from the roots. If a pot is being used without a drainage hole, use some gravel or rocks at the bottom to keep the roots above any sitting water.

  13. Marie-Josée Brais says:

    The antique blue & white compote dish would be so perfect in my dining room! It would be a great new item in my blue & white dishes collection…

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  15. Loretta says:

    Don’t give up too quickly on the ficus. It is after all a tree and they do drop leaves. 21 years ago I bought one at an end of season patio clearance. It’s going strong. Yes, it periodically drops leaves. I think the secret is regular watering without over doing it and finding its happy light space. :-). If you just turned on your heat then your house may be a bit dryer and that might have lead to a temporary leaf drop. I water every Friday morning myself. Keeps me accountable.

  16. Hippie's Chick says:

    You inspired me also! So I decided to give plants another try. I bought 6 violets in June and only lost 1 recently during my move. My lily looks better than ever and I just bought a new pretty plant at Lowes in the scratch and dent section…just kidding it was on sale for $5.00! I am trying a flower garden this year and a vegetable garden in my new yard. I can’t wait for spring!

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