How have you been coping with the frigid weather we've had? I hope you remembered to move plants away from cold windows or to put sheets of newspaper or cardboard between the plants and the panes to prevent leaves from touching the glass and freezing.
Let us all hope that we won't be icebound and snowbound for too many more weekends. Saturday and Sunday afternoons frequently happen to be the only time, or the most convenient time, to shower attention on our houseplants. And that's a happy occupation on a blustery day.
But on Saturday and Sunday afternoons in February, we can take advantage of workshops and symposiums offered at Bittersweet Hill Nursery, Rte. 424 and Governor's Bridge Road, Davidsonville, Md. Admission is free; registration is required; telephone 798-0231.
The dates and topics are:
Today and Friday - 2 p.m. - Container gardening; hanging baskets, ceramic pots, terrariums
February 12-13 - 2 p.m. - Rare and unusual plants for "grow-lights" or window culture
February 19-20 - 2 p.m. - Indoor landscaping with foliage and flowing plants
February 26-27 - 2 p.m. - Helpful hints for disease and pest control
Mrs. P.W. Pew of Kensington, Md., writes of problems with finding a satisfactory location for her chlorophytum. She dislikes moving it from one place to another trying to keep it green.
Chlorophytum grows best in bright diffused light but will also grow in medium light. It is too bad that you had to move it away from the west window where it had been thriving. The soil should be kept evenly moist - not wet.
When you changed the location, did you give the plant a chance to adjust to the change?
The leaves may have rotted because you gave it more water than it required when the amount of light was reduced. Both over-watering and under-watering, and too much fertilizer, will cause brown tips on the leaves. Recently fluoride in the water has been found to cause or increase brown tips on chorophytum.
Nora Mered of Washington writes:
1. I want to pull an avocado out of its pot and plant a new one in the same soil. Do I have to do anything to the soil?
2. The tips of the leaves of my beaucarnea are drying and brown. The problem existed even in the summer when the plant lived outdoor in Washington's high humidity. How do I tell when I should water?
The soil used for the first avocado is probably not in very good condition for use with a new plant. Soil structure tends to break down with long use in a pot; it is not naturally renewed as are soils outdoors. Moreover, the soil in the pot may have a build-up of fertilizer salts, unused by the first plant, which would have a detrimental effect on a new plant. It would be better to start with a fresh sterile mix or sterilized soil and a clean pot.
The swelling at the base of the trunk of beaucarnea is a storage facility which makes it possible for the tree to survive extended periods of drought in nature. Even indoors in a pot it can store enough for a week. It grows best if the soil is kept moist. Good drainage is important. Ordinarily it is treated as a succulent, withholding water when the plant is not actively growing. The leaves do have a habit of getting brown tips; to improve the appearance there is no harm in cutting of the tips with sharp scissors, preserving the natural taper.
Beaucarnea likes to be grown in a small container. It is very tolerant of the light and temperature conditions of the average home. Home growing conditions vary so much that there is no hard and fast rule for watering. When you water houseplants, water thoroughly so that water comes out the drainage hole of the pot.