Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A garden in a pot

Ever since I was in school and living with my parents, I've always had a small potted plant to take care of.

Little plants with big stories to tell

I had a colocasia, a plant with big leaves, also called "elephant's ear". It barely had two or three leaves and was quite sturdy, but I did take good care of it and enjoyed seeing its vibrant green. I can't remember very well, but I think mom took it for the balcony plants once and it withered a bit soon afterwards.

Another plant I had was a small hanging plant with long stems and small leaves. It grew so long that I had to keep it in the bookcase and the wooden shelf swelled with water. I noticed an interesting trick: if I took a small piece of the stem and replanted it, it would grow roots and become a happy new plant.

Once, we were asked to bring plants to decorate the classroom. Not wanting to part with mine, I just bought a new pot and soil and planted a few stems in it. The poor thing looked tiny and everyone laughed at it. Even if I tried to explain that it would grow, they wouldn't listen. So, I took it back and brought the other pot, with the long stems. Needless to say, they still laughed at it.

One of the more intriguing plants I've had was a cactus. It was perfect, since I didn't have to water it too much. I used to keep it under the clothes drawers and, on numerous occasions, it tried to snatch my clothes away from my hands. Just as it was growing its first flower though, mom decided that she would like it for her office. And there it went.

Failure after failure?

When I moved to the big city, my mom bought me a little plant, with orange flowers. It was the first plant that had flowers (except maybe for the cactus), so I was happy. Unfortunately, the flowers withered fast and in a few months the plant itself, despite my attempts to save it.

A couple of years ago, mom and dad bought me another plant, similar to the previous one, but with yellow flowers. I tried my best to care for it, but it never bore flowers again. It did however have huge lovely leaves at one time. I used to say it was my cute giant radish. Alas... This one withered too within a few days. I was baffled.

The yellow hibiscus and plotting a new potted plant...

Our last flatmate brought his own flower to the house. It is a yellow Japanese rose, or hibiscus, as they call it. It had just one stem and had been kept in the dark, but we managed to liven it up. It even tried to have a few flowers, but they fell before blooming.

The little rose had two problems: one was the tiny pot (and I know the huge one mom kept her own Japanese rose in) and the other was the small bugs it had on it. At first, I thought I would find some repellant to get rid of them, but one day I got ambitious, armed myself with a couple of damp paper tissues and cleaned them off, leaf by leaf. I was amazed to see that after this there was no more bug in sight.

Now, our friend had to move out when mom moved in, but he left the rose in my care, saying he'd be back for it when the weather got warmer. I would love to have a house plant again and thought about using a stem from the original rose to grow my own. I'm not very sure how I should do this and, since there is just one secondary stem, I would have to do it properly the first time.

The little hibiscus and, behind it, my poor withered "radish"...

I wanted to ask my visitors who have had the patience to read this far to help me with some advice. Mom said I should keep the stem in water for a few days, until it grows some roots. I wonder what my chances are with this little rose...


  1. Hibiscus grow fairly successfully from cuttings, Lavi, although I've not attempted it personally. This one could well do with a good trim, since it's main stem is quite tall and slender. My suggestion would be to cut off the top 1/3 of the plant and then strip off any side leaves, keep it in a jar of water in a warm, sunny spot for about a fortnight and then pot it in some well-composted soil and keep it damp, but not sodden...again, in a nice sunny spot. I wish you lived close as I'd be able to give you a few lovely plants to try :)

    The parent plant will strengthen nicely and put out new side shoots sooner or later. Don't fret if it suffers a little and throws off its leaves. I've had a hibiscus lose all of its leaves after transplanting and it grew back marvellously. They are fairly tough plants, but not really indoor plants.

    If you want to grow something more suited to indoors, I suggest you try a fern or an African violet.

  2. Thank you for the advice and for wanting to offer me some plants! My dream is to one day have a house and a garden, with vegetables, flowers, trees and a pond. Yes, I'm very ambitious!

    I would love to have more nice flowers (the African violet is beautiful indeed), but right now I'm on a very limited budget. I'm bribing mom to bring me a few flower pots and help me with the soil.

  3. That was a really interesting post, Lavi! I'm afraid I can't help you with your query, but I think it's lovely that you have always had a pot plant to look after!! I'm fine outside working in the garden and my plants flourish, but every single time I have been given a pot plant, it has died within a very short time :(

  4. I hope it works! I must say, I'm always a little hesitant to start plants from cuttings, etc. because I don't have much experience with that. So please take photos of the steps and keep us posted on your success (because I believe you will be successful!)

    I also find that my indoor pot plants are sometimes harder work to keep alive than my outdoor ones! Maybe I treat the indoor ones too nicely and kill them with too much water and cleaning away their dead leaves, etc. because I want them to look pretty all the time since they're inside.
    Even the cacti that I only water once a week with a tablespoon of water sometimes just "flop over" and rot from the inside, even though they're well drained and in high light areas; whereas I have ones outside that do just fine?! Plants are strange that way :-)

  5. Thanks for the encouragement! I will take photos and hopefully both plants will survive and do even better than before.

    I also wonder how my plants can look so good when I get them, but then wither so fast. I guess they must have been kept in a garden before, not a pot... Some just can't take it, I guess.

  6. Hi Lavi, I am able to comment today - we're on satellite and our connection is very tenuous at times.
    I hope you give the cutting a try. I dip stems in honey when making a cutting, however, I also have kept them in water for a few days' prior to planting as was also suggested.
    Even just one pot plant inside the house adds such a nice touch I always think.

    I am so thrilled with the button your fiance made for my blog. I'm hoping it will be showing soon - again, my computer is acting up.

    Cheerio :D)


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