Some of you may recall the frivolous article on marked-down Valentine's Day plants that I entered in the write-off earlier this year. Here's an update on the plants mentioned in that article, and a few more serious hints for helping your own discounted darlings survive.
I just noticed that the three miniature roses I purchased in February for a dollar are now--in August-- blooming their little heads off in a flowerbed at the side of the house.They had dropped most of their flowers and leaves at the time I purchased them.So, after removing the cache pot and cleaning off all the shriveled foliage and buds, I examined the near-naked canes.
Since most looked reassuringly green, I pruned the roses back to make them leaf out again.Then I relegated them to a chilly west-facing windowsill in a back room.I probably also sprayed the plants with a horticultural oil and water mix first, that being my usual bug prevention tactic.
As roses are one of the most difficult plants to keep alive indoors, I might not have tried this earlier in the winter.(Okay, who are we kidding?For only 33 cents per plant, I would have tried it!But I probably wouldn't have been as successful.)I've found out the hard way that miniature roses tend to expire if kept under grow-lights.
But the cooler temperatures in that back room help keep the humidity higher there than in the rest of the house.And I misted the roses frequently--more concerned at that point about preventing spider mites than about black spot.They looked pretty sulky by the time the weather warmed enough that I could plant them outside.But they never came close to actually perishing.In the garden, they've grown to be a foot tall.
The maroon calla lilies continued to bloom quite happily near a south-facing window for severalweeks after I purchased them.As callas love moisture, they got droopy if I forgot to water them.But, otherwise, they made a very forgiving houseplant.
When I moved all my indoor plants outdoors in the spring, I laid the pot of calla lilies on its side to allow it to dry out--with hopes of forcing the tubers into bloom again this coming winter.I just checked the pot today and found that those three tubers have begun to sprout already, earlier than I had anticipated.So I planted them in fresh soil and a slightly larger pot, after first washing off all the ants and other bugs that had taken up residence in the dry dirt.Whether the callas will actually bloom again I can't say, as forced bulbs are presumed to wear themselves out.But, if not, the foliage should still make a pretty house plant.
The three primroses looked considerably better after I'd pinched off the withered flowers and lower yellowing leaves.So I kept them in the kitchen until they'd quit blooming.Then I lined them up on the same cool windowsill as the roses.A primrose that I'd set there earlier didn't make it, but these ones did--probably because they didn't have as long to wait for spring!
After I finally planted them in the garden--much later than I should have--some of them actually came back and flowered again.I was surprised to see one still showing color in July, as they are generally May-bloomers here.
I can't now tell which orchid is the Valentine's Day one, as a couple of them are in very similar pots.But I've discovered over the years that white-flowering plants tend to be more vigorous growers than those with more colorful blooms.So it may well be the one that is in bud--and in serious need of repotting!
I would recommend taking rescued orchids out of their cache pots too, as I did with the roses.(Those are the pots without drainage holes in which the more perforated regular pots are often placed.)You will frequently find that the cache pots are full of water, which will eventually cause the orchids' roots to rot.If you can check and empty those pots occasionally, you'll probably be okay.But, since I never remember to do that, I just leave the caches off.You can set the pots on trays of gravel instead, as I do in winter, or simply put saucers under them.It's easier to see excess water in saucers.
I'll conclude by saying that neglected plants, like adopted children, don't require a perfect home when you take them in.They just need a little caring help to get them through the tough times!
Audrey is the author of the Thyme Will Tell mystery series. In addition to digging up plots--both garden variety and novel--the former Master Gardener writes free articles on plant history and folklore for her Thyme Will Tell site. Audrey also designs hay-seedy stuff and nonsense for her Rustic Ramblings Zazzle store, and indulges in flower photography, web site design, mystery novels, apologetics, cryptic crosswords, old lace, beads, and Border Collies.