Thursday, July 28, 2016

Plant Environments

I recently got a book called "What a Plant Knows" by Daniel Chamovitz. It's about all of the different senses that plants use to investigate their environment. It turns out there are a lot of plant senses, as they can't get up and move to run from something bad in their environment. They have to sense it and then grow away from it as soon as possible. Failing that, a plant can release chemicals that make it taste bad, stop other plants from growing near it, or attract predator insects to wipe out infestations of tiny things that eat plants. A plant, however, is usually tied into its environment for life. 

The mini petunias have grown to fit their environment.
Leggy, Crawly, and Clumpy have all evened out nicely. :)

I try to make my plants' environments the best they can be for my plants. This involves moving them toward or away from the front of my porch to regulate sunlight, putting them inside to keep them from getting too wet in the storms we get in the summer, or picking off and squishing nasty caterpillars and aphids. Occasionally I'll even fertilize them which is especially important for food crops. I just recently lost a tomato off of one of my plants because it got blossom end rot. Needs more calcium... I actually just crush up Tums and add it to the soil, which was a tip from a fellow vegetable gardener.


Sometimes the environment is too uncontrollable and I lose a plant. Often this happens when I mis-match plants in pots- plants that have different needs being all in the same pot together. This year that happened with my curry plant, an African Daisy, and most recently the Sea Thrift steppable. 

*sings* One of these plants is not like the other...
one of these plants is dead.

Alas, poor Sea Thrift. You might be able to tolerate salt in soil, but you need less moisture than the others in the same pot, and you're way less heat tolerant. (Makes sense- it grows on beaches in the sand with a nice sea breeze constantly cooling it in the wild.) It was fine and then last week it just rapidly went downhill. I haven't pulled it yet, since you never know with grass type plants- it has a slight chance of just having gone dormant since it's so hot out and could come back to life in the fall. I don't hold out much hope though. 

One major success has been the Angel Wing Begonia indoors. At first its leaves were getting yellow, but then I learned that I might be over watering it and quit giving it so much moisture. Now it has been growing in gorgeous new dark green leaves with silver spots. It's so happy!

Happy plants make for a happy Allison!

Plants grow all over the planet, from arctic deserts that reach -40F to tropical jungles where they're literally underwater half of the year. It's amazing how adaptable they are in general, but putting a plant in the wrong environment will kill it faster than you can say "Maryland summer heat wave". With research and trial and error I hope to learn more about what makes each plant thrive.

Bonus picture of my Columbine plant growing back
after I lopped off all of its diseased foliage.
The new leaves look wonderful!

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