A Plant A Day Till Spring – Day 44 – Beeblossoms

WandLeavesFall

“Winter Swarm” – Late Fall 2012 – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA

“A Plant a Day till Spring” will highlight one plant a day, starting on the winter solstice (December 21, 2013)… And ending on the vernal equinox (March 20, 2014)… If all goes to plan I will be starting with old Snowdrop photos from 2013… And ending with new photos of Snowdrops in 2014…

Gaura… When I was introduced to this plant for the first time it was labeled “Wandflower”… The next time I saw it was behind a house that had been abandoned for at least 10 years… Several massive clumps growing among the neck-high weeds… The flowers were all that was visible… As the wind blew the flowers seemed to fly around in circles resembling a swarm of bees… I started calling this “Swarm Plant” for a while… But… I have enough people around me who know their shit when it comes to plants… And well… I was soon corrected…

Beeblossom is considered a noxious weed in many areas… In fact… The “abandoned house” find taught me two things… Removing this plant after 10 years of growth is damn near impossible… And when you find one… You will find a million… Each flower grows atop a very long and thin stem… These have no issues rising above the weeds… Because of this they are pollinated freely… You would not believe how many seeds this plant can put out in a couple of months of flowering…

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Todays forecast is calling for temperatures in the 50s… A massive leap from the -10 we had last week… For any math fans out there… That is a 60 degree jump in just a few days… Some areas saw -30… They will also be climbing up around 50 degrees today… That’s an 80 degree difference… Mind blowing weather this winter… I hope the spring and summer are equally awesome… I need an early thaw… I got fruit trees to plant… Gardens to dig… Photographs to take and stories to write…

– As a side note… The Pawpaw seeds I put into stratification last October have started to send out roots…  This is good news… I have about 400 seeds in the cooler… It is going to be a busy spring… I can’t wait… Just thinking about it is making me all warm and fuzzy inside… I can already taste the Cherokee Purple Tomato… Fresh Basil… And thick sliced bacon on Italian bread sandwiches… Preferably eaten under the warm afternoon sun…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

If you want some science – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaura

These “Plant a Day Till Spring” posts are simply intended to kill time until spring when I start writing more… My source (where applicable) is Wikipedia.org… The photography is all my own… And I am adding my own information…

This website and all of the information presented within is provided free by the author… Me… It is my sole opinion and is not representative of anyone other than myself… Although this website is free… I sell prints of my photography here – www.society6.com/chriscondello – or you can contact me directly with questions at – c.condello@hotmail.com – Although it isn’t a requirement… It helps…

Remember to tip… My Bitcoin digital wallet address is – 1JsKwa3vYgy4LZjNk4YmPEHFJNjPt2wDJj

Get your own wallet at CoinBase.com

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A Plant A Day Till Spring – Day 40 – Petunias

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“Black Petunia” – Summer 2013 – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA – If I was a plant… I would be a black petunia…

“A Plant a Day till Spring” will highlight one plant a day, starting on the winter solstice (December 21, 2013)… And ending on the vernal equinox (March 20, 2014)… If all goes to plan I will be starting with old Snowdrop photos from 2013… And ending with new photos of Snowdrops in 2014…

Good morning… Today is a special day for me… Two years ago today I quit heroin… I woke up feeling some kind of way… Actually… I woke up right around now… It was like a light switch had been flipped… I just didn’t want to do heroin anymore… No one could make me do it… And believe me… They tried… No amount of intervention… No amount of rehab… No twelve steps could save me… I just had to choose the right path for once in my life… And here I am…

Don’t know where I would be if I had never quit heroin… Probably dead… But here I am… Writing about gardening… Writing about my feelings… Writing to you… Hoping for nothing more than to positively affect your life… And through those positive effects… I hope to benefit my own life… It is starting to occur to me that that is what writing is all about… the good feeling I get when I write something I am proud of… I get that because of the effect I hope it will have on my readers… When it all works out… Well my friends… That is better than any heroin… Better than any high… Hell… Writing is the ultimate high… Words… They are like a drug… When the words come together in harmony… And the intended feeling is conveyed… There is nothing in the world like it… That is my new high…

In other news… The current temperature is -10 F… Though my thermometer reads “ERROR”…Maybe time for a new one… And DDT has been linked to Alzheimer’s… Big surprise huh?..

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I chose Petunias today because they are one of my favorite flowers… I don’t even really know why… And I have to admit… When it comes to Petunias… I’m a bit of a snob… My favorite nursery makes it easy though… My favorite… Any of the “WAVE”… Or “SHOCKWAVE” varieties… These varieties do not grow vertically… They grow horizontally like a groundcover… Shockwave in particular is a profuse bloomer…

A little secret… Shockwave petunias require massive amounts of nutrients to profusely bloom as intended… I actually feed my Shockwave “especially the plants in pots” every two weeks throughout summer… The result is always a mound of color…

If you have ever handled a petunia you know how sticky of a plant it is… This stickiness makes it very unappealing to insects… Hell… I don’t even like to touch them… I have had garden beds devastated by slugs before… Even the marigolds… All that was left were a few slime covered petunias… I have also noticed the neighborhood cats don’t exactly like this plant… They seem to steer clear of it…

Anyway… Thanks for reading… And thanks for the support… As always…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

If you want some science – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petunias

New To writing and never had to cite sources before… These “Plant a Day Till Spring” posts are simply intended to kill time until spring when I start writing more… My source (where applicable) is Wikipedia.org… The photography is all my own… And I am adding my own information…

This website and all of the information presented within is provided free by the author… Me… It is my sole opinion and is not representative of anyone other than myself… Although this website is free… I sell prints of my photography here – www.society6.com/chriscondello – or you can contact me directly with questions at – c.condello@hotmail.com – Although it isn’t a requirement… It helps…

Remember to tip… My Bitcoin digital wallet address is – 1JsKwa3vYgy4LZjNk4YmPEHFJNjPt2wDJj

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A Plant A Day Till Spring – Day 21 – Clematis

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“Clematis on Lattice” – Summer 2013 – The Chicks in the Hood Tour – Pittsburgh, PA

“A Plant a Day till Spring” will highlight one plant a day, starting on the winter solstice (December 21, 2013)… And ending on the vernal equinox (March 20, 2014)… If all goes to plan I will be starting with old Snowdrop photos from 2013… And ending with new photos of Snowdrops in 2014…

Clematis are vigorous, woody, climbing vines… The woody stems are quite fragile until several years old… Untangling and pruning is extremely difficult… I pride myself on being able to successfully work with them… I have clients that won’t let anyone get close to their clematis… Except me… Leaves are opposite and divided into leaflets and leaf stalks that twist and curl around supporting structures to anchor the plant as it climbs. Some species are shrubs… While others are herbaceous perennial plants… The cool temperate species are deciduous… But many of the warmer climate species are evergreen. They grow best in cool, moist, well-drained soil in full sun…

Clematis species are mainly found throughout the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere… But a few are found in the tropics…

The timing and location of flowers varies… Spring-blooming clematis flower on side shoots of the previous year’s stems… Summer/fall blooming clematis bloom only on the ends of new stems… Twice-flowering clematis do both…

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“Cluster of Clematis” – Summer 2013 – The Chicks in the Hood Tour – Pittsburgh. PA

In the American Old West the Western white clematis was called pepper vine by early travelers and pioneers who took a tip from Spanish colonials and used the seeds as a pepper substitute… The entire genus contains essential oils and compounds which are extremely irritating to the skin and mucous membranes… Unlike black pepper… The compounds in clematis cause internal bleeding of the digestive tract if ingested in large amounts… When pruning them… It’s a good idea to wear gloves… Despite its toxicity… Native Americans used very small amounts of clematis as an effective treatment for migraine headaches and nervous disorders… It was also used as an effective treatment of skin infections…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

New To writing and never had to site sources before… These “Plant a Day Till Spring” posts are simply intended to kill time until spring… My source is Wikipedia.org… The photography is all my own… And I am adding my own information… But much of this is just related from the web…

This website and all of the information presented within is provided free by the author… Me… It is my sole opinion and is not representative of anyone other than myself… Although this website is free… I sell prints of my photography here – www.society6.com/chriscondello – or you can contact me directly with questions at – c.condello@hotmail.com – Although it isn’t a requirement… It helps…

Remember to tip… My Bitcoin digital wallet address is – 1JsKwa3vYgy4LZjNk4YmPEHFJNjPt2wDJj

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A Plant A Day Till Spring – Day 16 – Forget-Me-Not

Forget©

“Through the Cracks” – Spring 2013 – Private Garden – Wilkinsburg, PA

“A Plant a Day till Spring” will highlight one plant a day, starting on the winter solstice (December 21, 2013)… And ending on the vernal equinox (March 20, 2014)… If all goes to plan I will be starting with old Snowdrop photos from 2013… And ending with new photos of Snowdrops in 2014…

Commonly called “forget-me-nots”… Myosotis is a genus of flowering plants in the family Borgainaceae… One of the first seeds I can ever remember planting was forget-me-nots…

There are approximately 200 species in the genus… They bloom in spring. Leaves are alternate… Forget-me-nots prefer moist habitats and where they are not native… They have escaped to wetlands and riverbanks. They can tolerate partial sun and shade.

Forget-me-nots may be annual or perennial plants… The pods attach to clothing when brushed against and eventually fall off leaving the small seed within the pod to germinate elsewhere. Seeds can be collected by putting a piece of paper under the stems and shaking them… The seed pods and some seeds will fall out…

R-Room

“Forget-Me-Not in the Rape Room” – Spring 2013 – Jeannette Street – Wilkinsburg, PA

In a German legend, God named all the plants when a tiny unnamed one cried out… “Forget-me-not, O Lord!” God replied, “That shall be your name”… Another legend tells when the Creator thought he had finished giving the flowers their colors… He heard one whisper “Forget me not!” There was nothing left but a very small amount of blue… But the forget-me-not was delighted to wear such a light blue shade.

Henry IV adopted the flower as his symbol during his exile in 1398… And retained the symbol upon his return to England the following year…

Freemasons began using the flower as a symbol not to forget the poor and desperate… Many other German charities were also using it at this time… In later years by a handful of Masons… It was a means of recognition in place of the square and compass design…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

New To writing and never had to site sources before… These “Plant a Day Till Spring” posts are simply intended to kill time until spring… My source is Wikipedia.org… The photography is all my own… And I am adding my own information… But much of this is just related from the web…

This website and all of the information presented within is provided free by the author… Me… It is my sole opinion and is not representative of anyone other than myself… Although this website is free… I sell prints of my photography here – www.society6.com/chriscondello – or you can contact me directly with questions at – c.condello@hotmail.com – Although it isn’t a requirement… It helps…

Remember to tip… My Bitcoin digital wallet address is – 1JsKwa3vYgy4LZjNk4YmPEHFJNjPt2wDJj

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A Plant A Day Till Spring – Day 15 – Violet

Buddies

“Complimentary Colors” – Spring 2013 – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA – These violets were growing together in the same patch… I wanted to photograph them together… But none were close enough… So I made them close enough…

“A Plant a Day till Spring” will highlight one plant a day, starting on the winter solstice (December 21, 2013)… And ending on the vernal equinox (March 20, 2014)… If all goes to plan I will be starting with old Snowdrop photos from 2013… And ending with new photos of Snowdrops in 2014…

Seven Days of Spring Wildflowers

I personally prize violets… Especially the yellows… And the whites… I seek them out in the early days of spring… Something about them reminds me of life… They remind me that brighter skies are ahead…

Viola is a genus of flowering plants in the violet family Violaceae… It contains between 525 and 600 species… Most being found in the Northern Hemisphere… But a few are found other places…Some Violas are perennial… Some are annuals… Hell… Some are even small shrub… In Horticulture the term “pansy” is normally used for those multi-colored cultivars that are raised annually and used extensively in bedding… The term “Viola” and “Violet” are normally reserved for small-flowered annuals and perennials included in the species…

Violets transplant relatively easily… Depending on your beliefs… They are often considered weeds… They are often considered a problem in lawns… Though I don’t know why… Violet blossoms are edible… They taste slightly sweet…I like them… The young leaves are also edible… Very bland… Though varieties are now being bred for flavor… Including “Rebecca” which is a vanilla flavored cultivar…

Between

“Stuck in the Middle with Blue” – Spring 2013 – Jeannette Street – Wilkinsburg, PA

Violets are known to have a “flirty” scent as its fragrance comes and goes… Lonone is present in the flowers… Which turns off the ability of humans to smell the fragrant compound for moments at a time…

Violets show promise as a future “Super medicine” as they are called here in the states… A bunch of promising antioxidants have been discovered… And more are being found on a regular basis… I’d be willing to bet we will one day see it on the shelves next to the “Super Fruit” juices marketed all over the place… As with any other natural medicine… Do your own research… And draw your own conclusions…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

New To writing and never had to site sources before… These “Plant a Day Till Spring” posts are simply intended to kill time until spring… My source is Wikipedia.org… The photography is all my own… And I am adding my own information… But much of this is just related from the web…

This website and all of the information presented within is provided free by the author… Me… It is my sole opinion and is not representative of anyone other than myself… Although this website is free… I sell prints of my photography here – www.society6.com/chriscondello – or you can contact me directly with questions at – c.condello@hotmail.com – Although it isn’t a requirement… It helps…

Remember to tip… My Bitcoin digital wallet address is – 1JsKwa3vYgy4LZjNk4YmPEHFJNjPt2wDJj

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Practical Permaculture – Native Gardening in Urban Settings

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“Common Tansy” – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA – Not exactly a native… But has existed in America for well over 200 years…

Permaculture, is far from being the work free style of gardening it is often mistaken to be. All too often, people plug “weed free” or “no weed” gardening into google, and up pops permaculture. So now, when the neighbor confronts said gardener about the newly created “wild area” next door to his house, the gardener claims permaculture, and in turn we all get a bad reputation.

Native, pollinator, butterfly and wildlife gardening can border on the obscene as well. Though many of these styles of gardening work with many of the native plants that we consider weeds, years of experience are often required to know the difference between a beneficial weed, and an exotic invasive when these plants are still seedlings.

Biodiversity is not an excuse for never maintaining your yard, all too many people move from sparsely populated rural areas into urban communities not understanding the difference in the landscape expectations of neighbors. As a general rule of thumb, your landscape should fit in with that of your neighbors to a certain degree… I am going to go out on a ledge and say it should compliment it… While still maintaining a certain level of originality…

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“Aster Sunshine” – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA – Commonly found growing in fields across America… A plant that can be mowed to the ground 3 or even 4 times a year and still profusely bloom come fall…

When you go out into the country and look at rarely maintained fields, the plants grow 5-6′ tall. I think this is what some people aim to create in their front yards, sadly, this is not acceptable in most urban and suburban communities, but that does not mean it is impossible. Many natives can be planted and used just like the commercial annuals and perennials commonly found in every neighborhood in America.

The idea here is to use informal native plants, in a formal way. Mix native plants with commercially available ornamental perennials, if you have gaps, fill them with a few annuals. Give everything a place, and maintain as you would any garden.

Plants that are typically thought of as being very tall, aster, ironweed, milkweed, and goldenrod can all be maintained to a specific height. Asters should actually be cut down to 10″ on July 4th to keep them in check. Goldenrod can be cut several times in a season, Every cut will create more branches and ultimately more flowers. As a general rule, all tall flowering perennials can be pruned throughout the year in order to create a more compact plant during flowering. Awareness of the specific flowering times is key, allow a minimum of 3 weeks between last pruning and actual time of flowering. This is in order to allow the plant to recover from the stresses of pruning.

Although a front yard wildlife habitat may sound like a swell idea to you, the sad fact of the matter is to most other people that sounds like your saying you are planning a “rodent haven”. Very few people understand the importance of wildlife in our urban environments, though as time goes on I believe people will pay more attention to it… Though I still believe people will not want to exactly live next door to one if they purchased a city home anyway.

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“Black Eyed Explosion” – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA – A voracious self seeder… Will populate an entire yard if left unchecked… Stunning when grown in combination with a dark blue Aster…

I contemplated creating a massive list of native plants and how to maintain them, but I have more readers in merry ol’ England than in my hometown of Pittsburgh, so I have decided against that. What I will say is this… The use of natives is not an excuse to not maintain, native plants have qualities unique to themselves that should be highlighted when appropriate.

Although many natives will self-seed, this is not always recommended in order to keep the plant from growing out of hand. Some natives, like milkweed, have seeds that are meant to blow away and grow somewhere else. Unless you are absolutely positive your neighbor wouldn’t mind it growing in their yard, it is probably in your best interest to dead-head the plant before it sets seed. Likewise, when the plant is done flowering and starting to die in place, it is also probably in your best interest to remove the dying plant… This war is going to be won by compromise, not shock-and-awe…

In the long run, I do not believe the “Food not Lawns” movement is going to work, the amount of work that goes into keeping a food-producing garden neat, tidy and presentable all the time is enormous. We have all driven through a meticulously maintained neighborhood and seen a single yard with 6′ tall weeds all the way out to the street. If you talk to the neighbors, it is a nuisance. That one yard has been the reasoning behind more than one neighborhood association start up, often ending the possibilities of front yard gardening for at least the immediate future.

This, by no means is the end of the movement… But I think it is a very unrealistic concept… Compared to mowing a lawn once every 2 weeks, maintaining a food garden/urban farm is a huge task. Likewise, not many people realize how many problems can arise from growing food on every square inch of your garden. Biodiversity, being the common goal, includes more than just food. Creating a diverse food garden involves a number of other types of plants including natives, annuals, and other ornamental trees and shrubs.

A diverse garden does not have to be a wall of weeds, study the plants you would like to plant, and use them properly. I also recommend identifying all of the weeds that grow in your yard, inventory, and act accordingly. Exotic invasive weeds should be pulled and discarded, natives should be moved into suitable locations. Certain plants, like milkweed, can grow 7′ tall and should be placed in the back of the garden. The same rules that apply to ornamental garden design and maintenance, also apply to the eco conscience gardener… If anything, we should be held to higher standards as we are at the forefront of a movement. How we handle our gardens now, will have an effect on how gardens in the future are accepted…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

I am not affiliated with anyone other than myself, all the information presented in this blog is provided by me… If you find this information helpful, please consider purchasing a print or two from my online shop…

http://www.society6/chriscondello… Or you can contact me directly at c.condello@hotmail.com for commissions or locally/personally produced prints… Thank you for reading…

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Practical Permaculture – Rehabilitating Discount Plants

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The Pineapple Sage had been dropped at the greenhouse and was appropriately free… The Aster was purchased at a local plant sale… It was the last one left and was no longer on the table… I inquired… Bargained… And walked away with a $1 plant that was destined for the dumpster… 4 Summers later and it is still one of my favorites…

So you bought a root-bound, overgrown, stretched or stunted plant from your local nursery. Maybe a friend of yours purchased a plant early in the season, and let it sit in its pot for the entire Summer only giving it away when all hope seemed lost. This is a great way to acquire plants on the cheap, most nurseries are gearing down for the winter and are typically happy to offer discounts on remaining stock as it is simply going to end up in the dumpster.

Not every plant you come into contact with will be salvageable, often times you will have to take 5 “compost” plants in order to get 1 good one… Beggars can’t be choosers… But beggars should know when to turn down an entire lot…

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This “Aural Gold” Heucherella was a gamble I won… Nothing was growing in the pot and it had no tag… A close inspection of the roots revealed the plant was alive… I made an offer… And walked away with a pot full of potting soil for free… This was the result after 3 months…

Choose Wisely

Annuals should not be taken past a certain point in the year, for the sake of this article I’m going to say July 15th – July 25th is a good cut-off date. Annuals planted after this date, although they will grow, typically never recover from the shock of being transplanted in the dry heat of the late summer months. Given the short lifespan of annuals, they do not recover from stress the way perennials do.

Perennials on the other hand, should be considered year round as long as you are comfortable with taking a gamble. Many perennials can survive drying out to the point of complete defoliation, a survival adaptation that is all too often mistaken as the death of a perfectly good perennial.

Soak Plants Overnight

The very first thing you should do when you get your new plants home is soak them. I prefer a five gallon bucket containing roughly 4″ of water, a small amount of general purpose fertilizer can be added but always measure on the side of caution. Place the plant, pot and all, into the bucket and simply leave it there overnight.

BitterRoot

Plants purchased for a discount at the end of one season… Often come back the next year as extremely healthy plants… Often… All the plant wants is a new home…

Keep Stressed Plants out of the Sun

A compromised plants symptoms are always magnified in the sun. Root bound or sick plants often quit taking up water, this is only magnified when the sun is rapidly evaporating water from the leaves. Transplanting, or the constant desiccation of the plants roots can cause major damage to a plant’s ability to absorb moisture from the soil. While the roots are healing, the plant must be babied, sometimes removal of foliage is necessary to lower the required water intake. Many plants will appear to die, it is often worth waiting a week or two before disposal as these plants will suddenly spring back to life.

Plant Them

As long as the ground is not frozen solid, you should go on ahead and plant those perennials. Plant roots are often protected from the elements by the little fact that they are underground, exposure to the cold and often bone-dry conditions of winter can certainly kill even the hardiest of perennials when exposed in a pot. At the very least, bury the entire pot. Many landscapers will similarly cover trees and perennials in a mound of mulch when the need for long-term storage presents… This is called mounding over…

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One of the easiest… And most effective things you can do to a root bound plant is cut an X in the bottom of the tangle… Then it can be easily pulled apart…

Severely Root Bound

So after reading the last paragraph, you ran out into your backyard with the intention of finally planting those left over perennials. When you went to pop that plant out of the tattered and torn black plastic pot, you suddenly realized all of the soil in the pot appears to be gone, and now you are left with a twisted mess of a root ball. Do not fret because all is not lost, this is actually one of the most common and talked about subjects in the industry.

You have several options… But this is the best… I prefer to cut an X into the bottom of the root ball roughly 2″ deep, I then slam it off the ground a few times. Once the roots have loosened up a bit, I like to rip them apart with my bare hands like a caveman… But any tool that can be used to accomplish this is fine… Not to mention more civilized. The ultimate goal of what you are doing is to open the roots up, allowing them to grow out into the soil, damaging them also tends to stimulate rapid recovery growth.

Diseased or Infested

This is always a tricky one, no one wants to be responsible for bringing unwanted pests and disease into your neighborhood. Unless you are a very experienced gardener, I would always err on the side of caution. Plants that are infested at a nursery, should stay at the nursery. Likewise, plants that are obviously showing signs of disease, such as spots, odd coloring, mold or mildew should be refused… Any nursery that does anything, other than immediately discard obviously sick plants should be questioned. My advice, stay away from them unless you have a way to quarantine them, better to just avoid the possible disaster.

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I have been dragging this plant around for years… I purposely keep it root bound in order to control size… It still requires a new pot every few years…

What about houseplants

Many of my houseplants were actually found on the side of the road on garbage night. You would be surprised how many of these seemingly dead plants came alive just by the simple act of me repotting them. Houseplants tend to be forgotten, and many people don’t realize that in order to keep a houseplant healthy, it needs to be repotted every couple of years.

Sometimes a pruning may be in order, that’s right, just like if it were growing outside. Sometimes, this pruning needs to be brutal in order to stimulate some new growth. A potted plant should be thought of as a complete system, what you do above the soil affects below, and vise versa. If you prune the leaves, an equal amount of the root system will be aborted… Likewise, If you prune the roots, the associated branches and leaves may also abort…

Every plant is different, so it would be hard for me to write about each one in this short article. What I will say is this, a houseplant is a houseplant because of its ability to survive in low-light conditions while living its entire life in the confines of a pot, when it starts to look unhealthy, your first move should be repotting it in fresh soil… 9 out of 10 times this will solve all your problems.

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

I am not affiliated with anyone other than myself, all the information presented in this blog is provided by me… If you find this information helpful, please consider purchasing a print or two from my online shop…

http://www.society6/chriscondello… Or you can contact me directly at c.condello@hotmail.com for commissions or locally/personally produced prints… Thank you for reading…

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.