2.25.2013

Grow Some Aloe or Something Else

I have been waiting to post about our aloe vera plant. However I wanted to make certain that I didn't accidentally kill it first. Well, other than the fact that due to my paranoia of overwatering, I almost sent it to an early demise by underwatering, it is thriving. Not only thriving, but producing lil' aloe babies for us to repot with great regularity. As a matter of fact, between Not of This World's aloe vera and my own two, we now have 26 plants between us. Yes, twenty-six. That isn't counting the two or three we have given away as gifts.

What are we going to do with all of these aloe plants is our famous question to ask each other. With this many plants surely one of them can be used in homemade hair, skin, and body care products. Unlike last spring when I wouldn't even donate one leaf of my new plant for Colonel Redeemed's sunburn. Well, not until one of the leaves fell off from being accidentally bumped. Sad but true. If nothing else, at least we now know we won't kill them. Point of this post? If you need an all purpose, beneficial, hard-to-kill plant, give aloe vera a go. If the leaves start shriveling and turning reddish brown, it needs water. 

Houseplants can be beneficial in many ways. They are an inexpensive way to add a fresh look to any space. Those tiny little Norfolk Island Pines found in discount centers every Christmas will grow to become nice, large houseplants. Purchasing them at Christmastime makes it possible to have an exotic-looking plant tree in about four years. Ask me how I know. I also have two smaller plants, one an ivy and the other a dieffenbachia, that began as teeny tiny $2.95 cent specials at a greenhouse two springs ago. Some day, the dieffenbachia could become a giant. For now though it is a pretty splash of variegated green with white centers brightening the top of a bookcase. Maybe by the time it is large, I will have a space figured out to put it.

As plants grow, slips from them can be rooted and repotted to make new plants for gifts or other rooms in the house. Some plants will eventually need to be divided into smaller, more manageable ones. At last count, a Parlor Palm given to us five or six years ago has now become five or six fair-sized Parlor Palms. That count is after several repottings passed the great divide of houseplants too. Not even Parlor Palms can survive the helpful hands of a toddler sometimes. Be advised: if your little one watches you repot your plants, he or she will most likely try and do the same - with the same plants you just repotted - repeatedly. He or she may also help water said plants, too much. Neither practice will extend the life of your plants. If your Parlor Palm gets too large or gangly for your taste, it can be trimmed down to a few inches above the soil line. It will come back and allow you to start over again; it is a very hardy plant.

Using houseplants is very similar to changing an outfit of clothing by wearing it with different accessories. Accessories extend a wardrobe; plants provide new looks for a home. Both save financial resources. I love summertime when I can put a palm on either side of the open screen in the bedroom, and I almost can't wait to put them in my future bathroom someday. There is something so, I don't know, something I just enjoy about that look. Even if the palms don't particularly love the strong breezes, they recover well with a little TLC aka moving them back from the door. Besides, they didn't cost me anything other than a bit of time and there are more growing. When the porch has a roof on it, I hope to have enough philedendreums ready to hang from it each summer. It is a fun and almost free way to play with my home's decor.

I would be remiss however if I didn't warn about the potential for an addiction to growing things developing. I would also be negligent if I didn't let you know that many plants grown for outside use in the summer will require a home inside for the cold season, if you live where there is a cold season. Because of the potential addiction to growing things, the house can get a bit of a jungle feel if there are too many plants hanging out. Though the plants do add much needed moisture to the air, too much moisture if there are too many of them congregated in one space. Please don't ask my family about this. Just letting you know that a person might wish to consider these things before jumping in. It would be ever so sad to have an entire summer's worth of effort die due to winter's lack of space and/or light. It also most unpleasant to face the results of excess moisture in the home.

With those notices out of the way, let's end our chat with a hearty encouragement from me to you to give some sort of houseplant a try. The boost of freshness will liven the dreariest wintry day by reminding of the promise of spring soon to come. Spring. Oh! If you want to grow grass for Easter, the time to get it started is coming up soon! I think that two weeks from now will be time enough to get it going. Almost makes me squeal just thinking about it. I am definitely smiling. I love, love, love growing grass in the house! It is just so new, fresh, and clean looking! Yeah, let's go grow something. Let's do it right now, ok?


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