No Wet Feet!

No Wet Feet!


Ok, you've decided to take the plunge.  It's hip, it's cool, it's the green thing to do.  All your friends are doing it.  Houseplants!  Big or small, they add so much to your interior spaces.  They look good, clean the air, give you some(one) to talk to when your significant other isn't around, and maybe give you an opinion about whether that couch looks good with that carpet.  Well, ok, maybe not. But whether you buy your new green friend from Calverts or not, there is one very important thing you need to know.  Unless you've purchased a water lily, they hate wet feet!

What do I mean by "wet feet"?  This refers to the physical reality that a plant is setting in standing water.  This would happen if you watered your plant and the water had nowhere to go except the bottom of the pot, where it could not drain away naturally, and the plants' bottom roots were setting in whatever water was not absorbed back up into the potting soil.

I realized there must be some bad advice being given to customers who are purchasing plants, whether it be for interior or exterior spaces. Visitors to our greenhouse wanted a diagnosis on a problem they were seeing with their recently-purchased house plant.  So I want to clear up some confusion that exists in the "mechanics" of what to do with that plant when displaying it in your home or office, or even outside on your patio. 

The worst advice they were given was to take it out of the grow pot, and repot it into the decorative pot they had chosen.  Well, of course I know you don't want that ugly grow-pot sitting on your white carpeting, but let me enlighten you.  Most "indoor" pots don't have any drainage holes, so when you water that big plant, there's no where for the water to go so it sits at the bottom, gradually drowning your plant.  You see, plant roots need oxygen as well as water!  In an ideal world, the act of thoroughly watering your plant also draws oxygen down into the potting media. (Many times you will see bubbles appear at the top of the pot.) Ahhh.. now the plant has had its drink and a slurp of air as well.  But without the drainage holes, all that happens is stagnation and strange symptoms that the customer can't identify.

Most indoor plants are "staged" in their containers.       Let me illustrate.  A plastic saucer is placed inside   the container to catch the water.  Need a tall container to elevate your plant to majestic heights?  No problem.  Styrofoam is placed under the plant to raise it up to the level you need, then the saucer, then the plant, then the decorative moss  or other type of soil covering.  Ta-da!  It looks like it's potted, but it's not. Sometimes the leaves are so full, no material is needed to hide your mechanics.  When you water your plant, check for water in the saucer after an hour or so.  By then, the plant had slurped up any water it wants, and what remains could be sucked up with a turkey baster.  After a while, you may get the "feel" of how much water to give your plant, and you'll get better at judging this.


And your "container" can be anything that will successfully hold your plant.  This pumice planter looks like a rock with it's interesting shape and texture.   It has a drainage hole, so it could be used indoors or out.   Add a saucer or not, and how cool is this?

You can take this same principle outside to your patio.  Jade plants can be touchy to repot because they have a tendency to be fragile.  Just set them inside your outdoor pot for an easy solution.   Remember, Oklahoma summers are brutal on plants, so when something needs a drink, it better get a good one.  In that regard, if you have a pot you like, and plants you'd like to put in it want similar conditions, go ahead and plant them together if the pot has a drainage hole. For example, you wouldn't put a thirsty fern in with a succulent that likes to dry out.  You'd never hear the end of their complaining!  But if the pot you like is very tall, it really isn't practical to direct-plant into it.  Instead, just stage it like you would if it was indoors, but leave off the saucer.  That way when it rains, the water can freely drain through.  You will have a gorgeous addition to your yard, your neighbors will all be jealous, and you can just smile smugly and suggest they come to Calverts.

You'll know better.  If someone tries to give you bad plant advice, just give'em the boot!

1 comment (Add your own)

1. BOB CALVERT wrote:

Wed, July 17, 2013 @ 10:01 AM

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