Posts Tagged ‘when to water your plants’

Most of us are familiar with the Version 2geranium, which is formally named “Pelargonium”.   These geraniums are considered a hardy perennial, biennial or sometimes an annual, medicinal herb.  The herb is often used for aromatic oil.  (I have a hard time believing that, as I find their odor slightly offensive.)  But, that is not my purpose here today.

Today, I want to talk about the geranium with which most of us are familiar.  It is a very popular potted plant, usually associated with bright red, white or pink flowers.

In northern climes, they are considered to be an annual, although they can easily be overwintered, out of the ground.  Here in Seattle, our climate is temperate enough that they survive quite nicely in the garden. At Horizon House we can see them flowering happily, not just in garden beds, but on our balconies.

Audrey was having a few issues with yellowing leaves on her geraniums.  The plants seemed healthy otherwise, and she just removed the leaves.  That’s exactly what she should do.  Remember however, that this is a very drought tolerant plant.  It likes to be a bit dry, so over-watering can overwhelm it pretty quickly.  If the leaves on your geranium are yellowing, hold off on the water a bit.

Also, it could be that it is needing a little fertilizer.  Remember in your home-owner days when you fed your grass fertilizer high in nitrogen???  (The first number on the fertilizer bag.)  That fertilizer (nitrogen) is what kept the grass GREEN!  So, look for a fertilizer that has more nitrogen than other nutrients.  Maybe 10-5-5 or something like that.  The first number should be the highest.  Do not get too rambunctious with that fertilizer.  Less is probably better!  Here’s a link from Clemson University that tells you more than you’d probably ever want to know about fertilizers.  But you might find it interesting!  And it might just help your geranium!


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Almost all our problems here at the Horizon House gardens involve water…in one way or another.IMG_0371

There’s a leak creating a flood; the hose has popped rendering water unavailable; the hose nozzle is broken; a spray emits from the sprayer going in the wrong direction, creating a very wet gardener; there’s water leaking across the deck under the planters creating a slippery spot, which is NOT good in a retirement community where some folks are challenged with walking; we need more folks to water pots and planters that are not individually cared for by an assigned gardener; there is the usual vacationer who either forgets, or neglects to get their garden cared for in their absence.  The list goes on and on.  All the gardeners know JUST what I’m talking about.

So, we can’t do without it, and yet sometimes we just get too much…or we get it in the wrong place.  WATER   We can’t live without it, and sometimes we can’t live with it.  Our plants?  Well, they need it, but administered correctly!

Why do they need it?  If they don’t have it, the little rootlets will dry up, no sustenance will get to the leaves, stems and trunk, and then?  A dead plant.

Here is a wonderful site that explains all the why’s and hows of water and your plants.  It comes from the University of Arizona Extension Service.

It tells about mulch.  It tells about over, and under watering, and the effects those will have on your plants.  It explains WHERE to water, and how much.  It’s worth a visit.

WATER is SO CRITICAL to every growing thing.  Without it, our gardens would be very sad places.  There certainly are plants that don’t require very much hydration.  Those are the ones we should try to get into our gardens.  Water is something we seem to be squandering.    It is important that our families have enough drinking water…but it is also important that we have food.  Every thing we consume is loaded with water.  So, almost everything in and  on our planet needs it.  It behooves us to use it sparingly, yet in such a way that it supports life-ours AND that of our plants.

I address water in my book as well.  It appears in the calendar section as well as in numerous stories.  It’s a very important aspect of gardening.  The book also addresses snow and ice and it’s affects on your garden.  Of course, in Seattle, we are not troubled too much with ice and snow, but it’s all part of the big picture.

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It happens everywhere.  NO WATER!  This time it’s not a drought, it’s broken, or leaking pipes; it’s the construction work interfering on our gardening levels; it’s hoses malfunctioning; and even vacations happening for a few weeks at a time during the growing season.  It’s frustrating as a gardener, to see our gardens wilting and not being able to help.  But, isn’t that part of what it means to be a gardener?  We have to learn to deal with all kinds of adversity.  Lack of hydration, OR too much water; bugs; disease; inconsiderate people; the list continues.  We know it all, but what can we do?

This week the big issue is the water being turned off due to a leak that must be repaired in a pipe leading to our gardens.  AAARRRGGGHHH!  It doesn’t help that the weather has turned hot and dry.  For Seattle, that’s also a bit frustrating.

So, what do we do?  We wait patiently for the pipe to be repaired.  In the meantime, our plants are drooping.  Perhaps it’s time for drastic actions:

  • carry water from the closest, functioning tap.
  • MULCH-lay mulch around the plants.  It will keep the soil cool, and keep the moisture from evaporating out of the soil so quickly.  (If you click the link, it will take you to a grand definition of Mulch!)
  • You could even try laying wet newspaper around the plants.  It may not look very pretty, but it may also help.  It is a form of mulch.
  • (I removed the idea of crystal polymer beads, due to the many drawbacks.)

So, there are some suggestions that might help.  Other than getting the pipe functioning again…just using these techniques might help your garden “in general” anyway!

Good luck, and happy gardening!

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We are in the midst of getting ready for our trip east.  Our eldest grand-daughter is graduating from High School in Connecticut.  We will travel east for that.  While there, we will visit family and friends.  We will be gone for just about 4 weeks, which is a very long time for us.  Usually three weeks is about our limit.  However, while we’re there, it makes sense to cram as much into the visit as we can.

At our advancing age, we are not anxious to do this too often.  We’re getting to the point where we are hoping our family will come to us instead of the other way around.

In the meantime I need to prepare my indoor plants for a long period of neglect!  I have a friend who will come in to water about once a week, but I need to get these guys out of the sun, and into a place where they can be safely watered without damage to their surroundings.

I’m thinking of protecting my “coffee table” with plastic or impermeable paper, and putting the plants there.  The plants will get light, but no direct sunshine.  If the pots leak a bit, it won’t matter because the table will be protected.  I also have a few of those little automatic siphoning “thingies” that should keep the soil in the pots moist.  I’ll use those as well.

I’m hoping that 4 weeks of benign neglect might allow them 4 weeks of relaxation!  I’ll be anxious to see how they fare!

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If you have read my last post, you know I’ve had some issues with my Christmas Cactus looking a bit bedraggled.  I have watered it HEAVILY over the past week or so.  I think that MAY have been the issue.  It seems to be less wilted looking.  Some of the leaves that were really drooping, have seemingly come back to life.  There is a bit of “plumpness” there, which makes me very happy!

It’s hard to know what to do when one direction says, “water generously” and the other indicates it likes to be kept on the dry side!  I think the issue is that it has to be amply watered FIRST.  Once it’s feeling well watered, THEN it would be wise to let it kind of dry out between waterings.  I’ll keep working on this issue!

I’ll check into a few websites that address the watering and note them here:

Caring for a Christmas Cactus has a good section on watering.  You might want to read that (along with me!)

Here’s a good one, although it’s commercial and would love to sell you a Christmas Cactus, it also has a good description of how to care for it.

This one has beautiful pictures, and a good watering section concerning that Schlumbergera.

They helped me a bit.  I hope they do the same for you!

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This plant shows me what a total beginner I am with indoor plants!IMG_1486

Although it is MUCH bigger than when I first potted it, it sure doesn’t look too healthy!  If you look closely, you can see that there is some definite wrinkling on some of the leaves.

It was from my mother’s 45 year old Christmas Cactus.  When we were  moving to Seattle from New Hampshire, I didn’t want to leave it behind.  However, the mover couldn’t take it across state lines, so I took some cuttings and sent them via mail to my daughter out here.  I planted those cuttings, and this is what I got.  However, over the last few months it has begun to  kind of “shrivel”.  I’ve tried to dry it out; water it; move it from window sill to table away from the sun but it’s just not improving.  I’ve also repotted it; fertilized and NOT fertilized; AND still I’ve got this forlorn looking plant!  Mayb I’m trying too hard?  Maybe it’s confused?  Maybe I’M confused?

Here is another link that tells a bit more about my Christmas Cactus.  It appears that perhaps I should give it a VERY good soaking, and THEN see what happens.  I’ll do that this morning.  Let’s see what happens!

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I used to have a little plant that indicated to me instantly when my plants needed watering because it DROOPED!

Last week I went to a local plant nursery and bought a few more plants for my window.  One of them is an aphelandra, also called a zebra plant. IMG_1482 The directions I got with this plant indicated that I should let the soil dry out a bit before watering it, which I did.  HOWEVER, it was drooping yesterday, after just a few days, so I set it in a tray of water to get a good drink.  It picked up almost instantly and as you can see, it is now sitting there with firm leaves looking very pretty.

However, it appeared that there was a sunken place in the soil.  When I attempted to fill it in by pressing the soil around it.  Guess what?  The soil is VERY sparse.  It needs REPOTTING!  I’m disappointed that the nursery let it go out in that condition.  At any rate, that will be this afternoons chore…repotting my new little aphelandra!  If you click on that link, you will be taken to a page that tells all about that new, little guy.

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