The Living Room Garden

The creamy white that I painted the walls last month created a palette where all of my beautiful colors and plants and things could show even brighter.  Scattered across the wooden floor are dark pink geranium petals, as if we just had a wedding.  They are intoxicatingly romantic.

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“You have enough plants,” my husband commented.  I stood shocked, jaw agape.  It was like when he said I had enough cats.  Ridiculous.

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The three foot high geraniums are blooming in large tufts of fragrant flowers.  These flowers remind me of Great Grandma’s house but I bet they will go on to remind my granddaughters of me.  They are glorious in their vibrant colors and help me get through to spring.

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My aloe is three feet tall as well.  Gifts from students and clients and friends reach as healthily and high as they can capturing a dance upon the wood floor in the light of the large picture window.  Poinsettia, jasmine, violet, mass cane, ginger, ivy, bamboo…they all please me so.

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Okay, so they take up a bit of room.  Doug has stopped joking about us needing a greenhouse for all of my plants.  They make me happy.  Happy wife+happy life, right?  The greenery and the flowers are my gardening fix.

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Here are some tips for to keep your plants alive:

Water only once a week.  Aloes and succulents, every other week, unless they seem terribly dry.  Water until the water just comes out the bottom.  Use plates under the plants, not enclosed pots or you will find yourself with root rot.

When transplanting, place a handful of wine corks (that’s why I drink wine, people) in the bottom for drainage.  Use organic potting soil.

Discard dead leaves.

Make sure they get a few hours of sun a day in the house.

In the summer, they like to go on a west facing porch.

Speak to your plants, sing to them, love them.

Give them a drink of coffee once in awhile.  They love it.

Indoor Farm and Houseplant Maintenance

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The indoor farm is doing pretty good.  The tomato and pepper plants are a bit leggy and the basil looks like it misses summer.  It is time for some indoor plant R&R.

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First bring a trash can around with you.  For each plant, take off dead leaves, branches, and debris that have settled in the pot.  Then give each plant a nice shower in the bathtub with lukewarm water.  It’ll think it is in the tropics and instantly begin to relax.  Spray the leaves, give it lots of good water, and let it drain well.

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When putting the plants back, put them in a different spot or turn the plant so that everyone gets their fair share of sun.

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Four days or so later when the pots are dry again, give a little organic fertilizer to each plant.  I like Age Old products (Age Old Grow, Age Old Bloom, etc.), they won’t harm my kitties who are not supposed to be in the plants….but are.

Ideally, we would give this treatment to the plants once a month.  Since I have a million things to do, maybe I’ll do it…once.  But, every little bit helps to keep the houseplants alive until summer comes around again!

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Did you know that your leftover coffee is a nitrogen rich drink for plants?  I know plenty of folks that collect coffee grounds from coffee shops to put in their compost piles, but my Grandma taught me to use leftover coffee at the end of the pot to feed plants.  I take the leftover coffee in the pot, fill it to the top with water to dilute a bit, and water whoever needs it that day.

It looked like we were going to have an aphid problem again this year.  The lady bugs that I had placed in the pots seem to have hitched a ride to Florida.  But so did the aphids.  I gently placed a few spiders that fell out during the shower back into the pots.  Perhaps they have something to do with the insect free indoor gardens.  They can stay.

The aloe is busting out of its new pot, the chives are becoming casualties of the cats, and everything wishes for summer heat, but it is all alive.  Five more months until they (and I) can head back out to the porch!