In northern latitudes, February is welcomed by gardeners who, despite the frosty temps, see the noticeably longer days as harbingers of Spring. While still unable to get into their gardens, they console themselves by reviewing seed catalogues and browsing through some of the many gardening blogs found on-line. One of our favourite sites is Dave’s Garden Weekly Newsletter, where a recent post contained useful tips on preventing water-logged plants.
On January 30, Jeremy Wayne Lucas warned about the problem of using decorative containers with no drainage for houseplants. He explained that, if the plant roots are waterlogged, the capillary action is halted and so the plant can’t take up nutrients. When the cells of the leaves and stems become engorged with water, the leaf pores swell shut, and only a minimal amount of transpiration can occur. Also, roots will quickly rot in the stagnant water, often to the point of the plant being beyond recovery.
His advice is useful not only to novice gardeners, who often confuse the signs of wilting that result from over-watering with similar symptoms that occur from lack of moisture, but as a reminder to more experienced gardeners who may have forgotten to check for drainage. If a plant shows signs of wilting, the natural instinct is to assume it is too dry but a careful gardener will do a double-check before adding more water, which would further exacerbate the problem. That plant will not be happy.
Another of Dave’s Garden’s interesting posts appeared in the January 24 issue. Adina Dosan, writing on the topic “Some plants prefer shorter days”, notes the role of a plant’s photoreceptors in determining the influence that environmental factors such as light have on the organism’s growth and reproduction. The plant’s circadian rhythm acts like our own “body clock”. Most plants that prefer longer days bloom during the summer but short-day plants, such as a poinsettia or a Christmas cactus, need more hours of darkness to produce their blooms and coloured bracts. Adina’s post describes her various experiments in getting poinsettias to develop colour as indoor plants.
An example of my own neglect of a Christmas cactus is shown above. Last year, this plant bloomed profusely but circumstances required it to be re-located for some months this year, and it has not been as happy.
Looking forward to starting seeds indoors should make many gardeners happy. Dave’s Garden has a post on that subject too, in the February 6 blog. It’s by Paul Rodman. Check it out.