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Amanda's Garden Agenda

 Amanda's Garden 

 Words to guide, inspire and entertain  

 

All Hail the Black Thumbs!

Friday, January 18, 2013

I know, this is a gardening blog, meant for gardeners, those who can tell a euonymus from a cotoneaster. But I want to say a few words in defense of the folks in apartments [or houses] that just want something green to look at, to ‘spruce the place up’ no pun intended. And maybe these are ordinary folks that don’t know from a potted plant. Why should they be barred from the happiness of green growing things? At best, they’ve tried and failed; at worst, they’ve tried and everything died. Well, buck up there. Anyone can grow a plant.

Here are a few kinds of houseplant that, with just a little effort and some sunlight, will grow and not take offense at a bit of neglect:

 

The Philodendron

Famous in Italian restaurants as the plant whose sad vines are tacked up by staples to the eaves, yellow, dry and dusty, these things really can’t be killed. And they are beautiful, and come in hordes of varieties, will tolerate moderate light, poor soil, bad handling, and kitchen grease. All nurseries have them. Look for a tag that starts out with ‘philodendron’ and has another name after it. Pick a kind that looks pretty: variegated [streaked with white or yellow] tolerates the lowest light. I will say that you cannot grow a plant in the dark, but you can grow this in pretty dim conditions. It likes to grow long vines, but it also likes to get a haircut. Don’t be shy; whack it. Leave some greenery and it’ll grow fatter than before and be healthier.

 

The Ficus
 

I have to say that this is a favorite of mine. What a nice plant! So many different varieties, shapes, and colors! You can buy a little one and in a year or two it will be a pretty respectable indoor shrub; if you keep it for years it will be a small tree. The striped varieties tolerate lower light, but really, if you water it and tell it how handsome it is, all the kinds just grow. They are an elegant, pretty addition to any room [any room with a window nearby].

The Aralia

This is a little less known but very fun. A doctor I love [who moved to Costa Rica to get away from the Healthcare Nightmare] had a houseful, and turned me on to them. I have a ‘Ming’ Aralia, but there are other kinds. They are slow growers, very deep green, and look a bit like a very dense parsely plant. Curly greenery, thick, strong stems, and a nice disposition make it a winner. It’ll grow in any light from bright to pretty dim; Bill had his in his inner sanctum with his oriental rugs and his steroidal Bose stereo system that made the walls shake and the plants shiver. I guess they liked the music since, although I was deafened, the Aralias were quite healthy. Beethoven’s symphonies really can work wonders.

Amanda Bennett

photo, ficus: Maksim Shebeko www.123rf.com/profile_maxsheb, philodendron: Judy Lami www.123rf.com/profile_jlami

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Soft-heartedness and the cruel facts of indoor plants

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

This is a shorty post to reassure you all. I have a lot of indoor plants, from fruit trees to lowly philodendrons, and there’s a fact that must be brought into the open: sometimes they must die for the good of the herd.

Don’t say this aloud to your plants, but they can be replaced, you know. Garden centers actually sell them! If repotting, feeding, love and insecticidal soap fails, it’s time for a graceful death and a nice new plant. Hmmmm. What don’t I have?

Amanda Bennett

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