It hasn't been that long at all. "I've lost half of me" he says matter of factly when I ask how he is. That about sums it up. Still, my father is doing amazingly well. Rarely complains and he's learning to cook. One night he had us over for a pasta dinner which far exceeded expectations. But then, so has he this past year. If you'd asked me one year ago to wager on the likelihood that my strapping father's Christmas gift list would have included a cookbook, I'd have put the odds near being kidnapped by aliens. He needs a little work with his houseplants though.
|Carol's twenty year old poinsettia|
The prime culprit is overwatering. Too much of anything can cause complications. Outside, in nature, there's accomodation for absorption and run off that's simply not available in the dining room without causing serious water damage. Dad's plants were swimming in a pool of H20 without life vests. Well intended, but roots need oxygen--not soggy soil.
Tropical plants crave steamy conditions so steady warmth and humidity are needed to flourish.
Finally, keep an empty plastic milk or juice container stored below the sink. Add a teaspoon of plant food, put the lid on and shake. Every third watering give the roots a dose of this "smoothie."
The rest is no different as if the plant were outdoors. Pinch back when leggy, remove spent blooms.
It's tough to send a teenager further than the supermarket, much less a lone octogenarian across five states. There are some things you just can't think about too much. Overattention can smother tender roots and signal a contagious lack of confidence. The key, as in anything, is balance.
Later, the call comes--the happiness in his voice a welcome relief. An uneventful yet cathartic journey.
Articles of Interest:
Perpetual Poinsettia -- How to Care for a Poinsettia
Layered Planting -- Should I Cut Back Faded Bulbs?
Yellow Flowers -- Blooming Sunshine