are looking forward to being rescued
By Thea Steinmetz
Published March 3, 2010
Ohioans, sunshine is precious, especially in February. It is a rare
treat to see the sun paint the radiant white snow blanketing the
earth. Under the softening coverlet lies spring.
Hold on. March
is no cakewalk for anxious, apprehensive gardeners. Mother Nature
was abundant with inches of snow, and that brings hope. The trees,
so parched in past years, will have enough moisture to encourage
a good, green start. Every winter brings some losses, and it will
be a while before the damage becomes evident.
In the meantime,
spring can already be bought, not as a commodity that satisfies,
but rather in small, yellow bunches. Yearly, the first appearance
of the daffodils in stores is the harbinger of what we have waited
for all winter. The bright and smiling face of a daffodil is irresistible.
The color alone brings on a smile. It also conjures up pictures
of the sunflower, which blooms much later in the season and captivates
with the same strong and confident yellow. The two are not related
in a botanical sense, but are close in fortitude.
We know that
April stands for spring but never have any sense of what March will
bring. It is time to look around inside and spend some time with
trusted houseplants. Perhaps the best way should be quality time.
As houseplants come in so many sizes and also different needs, they
can no longer be ignored. Whether it is a lonely African violet
that cries out for help or a large palm tree, all are clamoring
for attention. So far, we have gained better than one hour of daylight
to take us toward spring. Not only do we know, but so do the houseplants,
that this is a positive sign that we are headed for better things
greenery and flowers year round, but right now, we seem to crave
anything that speaks of hope. There is a close relationship between
plants and human beings. The furnaces have been going almost non-stop,
and what the dryness does to the skin also affects the leaves on
the plants. Most of them enjoy a good misting right now with a fine
spray. Over-watering is not an antidote to dry conditions. A soggy
bottom is not what a plant wants or needs. When the roots are constantly
stressed, it hastens the end of the plant. The lack of a proper
amount of water shows the same result.
A moisture meter
inserted in the soil will greatly help to facilitate the right moisture
level. Some prefer the old, reliable method of using a finger to
check the soil moisture and this, if done right, will demonstrate
what the plant needs. In case the wallet allow investment in a high-tech
device, go for this new gadget. There are now moisture sticks available
that not only tell if watering is needed, but actually give off
an alarm when a plant gets too dry. Testing one of these high-end
thingamajigs is on my list to investigate — as soon as I can get
out of my driveway.
There is life
for plants beyond the windowsill with a southern exposure. A generously
sized window pointing to the north will do the job for certain plants.
Don’t hesitate to experiment. A weekly turning of the pots is a
must to keep the stems from leaning in one direction. If a bathroom
windowsill is available, the increased humidity will benefit a tropical
plant. A daily shower will do wonders, even for orchids. Don’t shower
the orchids, only yourself.
the disasters that come about cannot always be avoided. Botrytis
and various other diseases seem to attack from nowhere. Circulation
of fresh air is extremely important for healthy houseplants. A well-placed
fan is helpful when normal circulation is missing. Greenhouses keep
their fans going to supply fresh air.
not be spaced so close that there is no circulation between them.
It also encourages powdery mildew. At the onset of one of these
diseases, it is imperative to remove every affected leaf. No leaf
should be resting on the base of the plant on top of the soil. Discard
them promptly, but never add them to the compost.
A favorite plant
that still shows some sign of healthy life might be rescued. Cut
back the bad portions and salvage the rest by cleaning and perhaps
spraying it with a fungicide, such as dusting sulfur. Isolate the
affected plant and keep a close eye on it.
March “Be Nice to your Houseplant Month” and then act accordingly.
Many also need to be transplanted in the spring. We will cover that
in future columns.
Here is a look at our global economy and how
crazy things are getting. When trying to follow instructions on
how long the Chinese noodles had to be boiled, I did a double take
on what the Chinese interpreter suggested: “Noodle in soup: Simmer
the noodle in boiling water or soup for 2 minutes, stir with chopsticks
and then ready to be served with subsidiary food.” (Their words,
It also makes
one wonder if they ever heard of eggs to make the noodles yellow.
Instead, it says that C yellow #5 and #6 are used, along with eatable
color substance E 102 and E 110. This begs the question: how much
artificial yellow is needed to color a noodle?