Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Meet the Family? – Folia and Flora

Dracaena and areca palm

Oh my, the writer has truly lost her mind now. Perhaps that’s what only 3 hours of sleep will do to you – or is it because my house plants truly are part of the family? I bought a golden pothos when I went to college 26 years ago and that plant is still with us. My husband found out very early on that you don’t mess with my plants. Soon after we had married, I caught him dumping his toenail clippings in that very plant. I am happy to say that the man quickly learned the error of his ways and my plants have been safe from detritus ever since.

"Old Reliable" - my first orchid. It blooms almost non-stop

When my children were young, they would frequently hear the admonishment from Mom that “I’ve had this plant longer than I’ve had you, so…” Even my cat knows better than to mess with Mom’s plants. It’s good to be the queen.

Ficus and Christmas Cactus

My second oldest surviving plant (an important designation, as I have probably killed more plants than most people have ever grown) is actually the ‘daughter’ of a spider plant I was given when I was a teenager. The ‘daughter’ is 25 years old and the ‘granddaughter’ is 15 years old. Each plant has a special place of honor inside the home.

Spider plant hanging on the second floor landing

And then there is the schefflera plant. I bought the plant in a 4 inch pot when my youngest child was just a few months old. That plant is now 9 feet tall (or it would be if it would quit slouching) and currently resides in a pot that is nearly 2 feet across. I have no intentions of ever repotting that behemoth again.

Schefflera (Umbrella plant) - stand up straight, please!

Recently, I had to see an allergist and at one point I was asked if I had any houseplants. Upon hearing an affirmative answer, the nurse asked how many: “One, two…?” “No", I replied. "About 50.” The nurse blinked once, twice. And then they had the audacity to tell me that given my allergies to various molds, I should put my plants outside. Besides the fact that that just isn’t going to happen, it would be a crime against plant life as it gets cold in the wintertime. Freezing even. Get rid of my plants. Really. I think not.

Orchid - I call this beauty "Blushing Ladies"

For some odd reason, I have become known as an orchid person. Maybe it has something to do with the 15 orchids I currently have? Hmm, I will have to ponder that mystery. I bought my first orchid 11 years ago, and while I liked it, all seemed to be well. But then, I toured an orchid greenhouse and bought a second orchid. That was the moment my sickness revealed itself – I had become obsessed with orchids. Now it takes superhuman strength to keep from purchasing yet another orchid. You know, I have no idea why my husband and daughter roll their eyes when I innocently proclaim that it wasn’t my fault and that the orchid followed me home from the store.

Orchid - notice the veining in the flowers

Every once in a while, especially when I can’t sleep (Hey, you can count your sheep, I’ll count my plants!), I try to figure out just what I do have. A quick walk around the house this morning yielded this accounting (The count is for the number of pots, not necessarily the number of plants):

Golden Pothos (Devil’s Ivy) - 5
Spider Plant – 2
Parlor Palm – 3
Ficus – 2
Christmas Cactus – 4
African Violets – 2
Ivy – 2
Ochids – 15
Dracaena – 1
Pony Tail Palm - 1
Schefflera (Umbrella plant)– 1
Spathaphyllum (Peace Lily)– 1
Aloe – 1
ZZ Plant (Hey, you try saying ‘Zamioculcas zamifolia’!) – 1
Papyrus (brought in from the water garden for the winter) -1
I will also be bringing in two of my herb garden pots from the deck, as well as a very nice looking Geranium (Pelargonium).

Another orchid

See, not too many plants at all! But I did compromise with the allergist and removed the plants from my bedroom. Aren’t you proud of me? It still hurt, but I’ll survive. Another suggestion I intend to follow is to cover the potting medium of all my houseplants with small pebbles. Of course, they would be difficult to find at this time of the year.

Colmanara and Dendrobium orchids blooming together (these are the only two orchids pictured here that are not currently blooming)

The 'ZZ' plant - it's a relative of Cycads (they are thought to be relatives of the oldest surviving plant species)

I mentioned in an earlier post that I am a Master Gardener. I am actually a Certified, Advanced, Bronze-level Master Gardener, thank you very much. If you love gardening and/or plants and like helping and teaching others, then you might consider becoming a Master Gardener. You can contact your local Extension Office and ask about Master Gardener classes and what your particular state requires for interns to become certified. A common misconception about the Master Gardener program is that its members are a source of free labor. Not so; our purpose is to teach, not to do manual labor for others. A commitment to volunteer a certain amount of hours each year is required once classes and testing have been completed, and after certification, additional education hours must also be earned yearly. It sounds more difficult than it truly is, but I can promise you that the personal rewards are worth it.

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