The arrival of springtime heralds the approach of the flower show season. Indoor gardeners should take advantage of the numerous opportunities to attend or participate in flower and plant shows. Besides the experience of joy at the glorious bounty of nature, you discover that learning opportunities abound.
You will learn the correct identity of plans from labels. You will become aware of plants new to you or of new varieties of old favorities. You will glean ideas for imaginative combinations of plants in containers and innovative means of growing and displaying your own prized speciments.
Here is some information about events scheduled for the immediate future:
Washington International World of Plants, Capital Centre.
Show Hours: Today through Saturday, noon to 10 p.m. Sunday, noon to 8 p.m. Admission is $3.50 for adults and $1.75 for children 6 to 12.
Tenth Annual Flower and Garden Show. Bittersweet Hill Nursery, Rte. 424 and Governors Bridge Road, Davidsonville, Md. The theme is Storybook Gardens. The hours will be 10 a.m. till dark on Mar. 18, 19 and 20. Admission is free and there is a special preview day for the handicapped on Thursday, Mar. 17.
Watch for other announcements of local flower and garden events. As Will Ingerwerson, a prominent British nurseryman, has said: "There are few (gardeners) who do not discover that their interests and appreciation expand to embrace an ever widening diversity of plant life."
Some readers have been having plant problems.
Gwendolyn Baber of Washington, D.C., writes:
Last spring I purchased a new dieffenbachia to replace one that had lost all its lower leaves. Now the new plant has started to lose its lower leaves. It had been doing fine until the winter. I know that you should expect some leaves to drop due to aging but the loss of so many in such a short space of time seems unusual.
Have you been giving your plant sufficient light during the short winter days? Dieffenbachia will tolerate low light but does best in bright indirect or filtered sunlight. It is normal for the plant to lose lower leaves as it grows taller. You may not want it to attain its normal 4- or 5-foot height. In the spring you can cut it back to 4 or 5 inches from the rim of the pot and it will develop new shoots. You can propagate a new plant when you cut out the center stem by rooting it in sand or sand and peat.
It should be kept moderately dry between thorough waterings.
Mrs. D. Davison of Oxon Hill, Md., writes:
My 6-year-old rubber plant has grown very tall but the problem is that the bottom leaves drop off and it has a tall spindly look. How can I get the leaves to stop dropping from the bottom?
As the tree ages it will naturally lose some of the lower leaves. It is a huge tree in its natural habitat, so the time comes when it must be pruned to control its size. You can prune the tips of the branches and the main stem to promote growth of new branches.
Air layering is a special technique that is used to propagate a new plant from the upper portions of a rubber plant that has grown too tall. A book on plant propagation, obtainable from the public library, will contain instructions for air layering.
Gloria Mamphy of Washington writes:
Is there anything I can do to my scrawny wandering jew to make it full and lush as those in stores?
Grow your wandering jew in bright indirect sunlight in any good potting soil. Keep it barely moist. Propagate it from tip cuttings. Make these cuttings 3 to 4 inches long. Put them back into the same pot to fill in the bare spaces. If you prefer, they be rooted in water first, then planted in the same pot. These plants need to be cut back (pruned or pinched) on a regular basis to promote bushy growth in the pot.
Margaret S. Choa of Silver Spring, Md., writes:
My bamboo is getting brown at the tip of the leaves. I water it only sparingly, using a water gauging meter. What could be wrong with it?
Bamboos grow best in soil kept constantly moist. In their main growing season, they require copious amounts of water. In using your meter, make sure to extend it to the lower levels of soil in the pot and at several places around the circumference. If your meter is like mine, it should be wiped clean after each measurement is taken. If you are measuring, and watering, only near the surface, roots in the lower part of the pot may not get water. Conversely, if the pot is not well drained, roots may have been rotted from over-watering. Also, examine the plant for insects, such as red spider; a strong spray of tepid water at the kitchen sink or in the shower will help to control them.