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Archive for May, 2013

COTTON CANDY FERN

14344  Here it is.  A Cotton Candy Fern.  I had never seen one before.  However, for me that’s not unusual.  Remember I’m new to indoor gardening.  I’m learning.

The other day, I had a call from a Horizon House resident.  She had an unusual fern that was not doing well at all.  She wondered if I’d come and take a look at it and perhaps dispense some advice.  That request still scares me with indoor plants, but lots of the outdoor knowledge spills into the realm of indoor plants.  Also, it’s a good way for me to learn.  So, down to her room I went.

The first thing I did was to request that she bring it down to (my) nose level, since it was ensconced on a high shelf.  As she did that, it became obvious that the plant was drowning.  The outer pot was filled with water, almost to the level of the ferns soil filled pot.  So the first thing I suggested was that she pour out that water, which she did.  Just as a note, in the half hour between the time we did that, and I left, another inch of water drained from the soil.  This was surely a case of over-watering.  Unfortunately, this plant was high up and difficult to water.  Because of this, she just watered it every week (or whenever) not seeing what the water level was.  This is a very normal thing to do, but a good example of why you should feel the surface of the soil before you water.  IF IT IS WET, DO NOT WATER.

The next quick observation I made was that there were salts collected on top of the soil.  That is when a white collection appears on the surface of the soil.  There are two things to do to get rid of the salts.  One is to soak the soil, which in this case would be counterproductive.  Or else to scrape it off and re-pot the plant.  This was what I suggested she do.

I then went after all the dead plant material with a scissors.  Here’s a picture of the plant after I had trimmed a lot off.IMG_0253IMG_0259  As you can see, it is looking pretty sad.

In re-potting, I told her to remove any rotted roots so the good ones weren’t hindered by the dead ones.  I also said that I was not entirely hopeful that this plant would survive.  At this point, it appeared that she had nothing to lose.

It was a fern I had never seen before.  Mary Margaret said it was at least 40 years old, as she had gotten it from her mother.  It was sure showing it’s age.

When I got back to my computer, I did a Google search to identify the fern and check out how to best care for it.  It is pretty unusual and is a Cotton Candy Fern.  I’ve given you a link here so you can look it up.

I also told Mary Margaret that I had a planned trip to a local plant nursery the next day, with another Potting Room Committee member and would inquire about it, which I did!

The gal I spoke with agreed it was an unusual fern.  She could never remember having seen one.  However, she agreed with everything I had suggested, which made me feel pretty good.  But, she went on to say that given the extent of the over-watering, she would be very surprised if there was ANY sign of roots at all.  Hmmm…

This morning, I got a note from Mary Margaret, who had gone to the Potting Room, and began the process of re-potting, only to find that there were NO ROOTS LEFT.  They were all rotted.  So, MM put what was left into the soil, and is hoping for the best.  I have the feeling that this plant will need to be replaced, but it was certainly a good exercise for both of us.  MM learned to check the soil, and I learned a ton about ferns!

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Yesterday I went down to our little Potting Room here at Horizon House.  I had a little re-potting to do and what a wonderful place to fulfill my need.  I wore an apron, pulled on some plastic gloves and set to work.IMG_0175

The happiest moment, (and also the one that got me moving!) was when I went into the potting soil barrel and found it EMPTY!  Some folks would find that appalling, I on the other hand, was delighted.  It means our little potting room is being USED!  I did get right on the stick and ordered some more.  I already had someone tell me this morning that it was empty…  I told her to look again in the next day or so.  It should be full again.

How do you go about potting your plants?  Here’s a wonderful link to help you with that from Arizona Extension Service.

The same person told me she had some pretty pottery pots needing a home.  I told her to put them in the potting room.  People are always looking for pretty pots!

Also remember any clay pots you use should be clean.  All the necessary items to do this are in the potting room.  Check out this article about proper care of pots.

It reminds me that our little committee needs to buy a few more things for the room.

We are planning a trip to a local plant nursery.  There are only 4 of us, so it’s a perfect car load.  We’ll “meet” on the way there, and back, and maybe even take time for a cup of tea or lunch.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?

A number of folks have talked to me lately about “orphan plants” they need to get rid of.  My only suggestion is to find someone on their own, that might like to have it, or sadly, dump it in the compost pot in the Service Room on their floor.  HOWEVER, we could also have a “Plant Swap” day!  We could have folks come with DECENT (no diseases, or pests please!) plants they no longer want, and have others just come, look and take what they’d like.  Everyone will HAVE to understand that any plants that aren’t taken will be turned into compost.

One of the ladies at today’s Garden Committee meeting said that she often puts African Violet “babies” out on the shelves by the elevator on her floor with a sign saying, “Adopt Me”!  What a great idea.  She says they all seem to disappear.IMG_0173

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