Are you a plant killer?
Do the plants at the local nursery try to hide when you stop by? Do you seem to kill every houseplant you get, even while you faithfully water them weekly and they turn to mush? Or, with your busy schedule, forget to water them for weeks at a time and they shrivel up and turn brown?
Is this what plants think of you and your brown thumb?
Well, take heart. There are 2 kinds of plants that might work well for you. Really!
African violets and succulents.
Yes, they are nice and showy and, yes, they do look delicate, but I promise they really are easy to take care of. I have had the same 2 African violet plants for over 10 years now, and they are chugging happily along. I also had one for over 20 years that finally died of old age, I think.
Are you ready for the secret?
Seriously! Both African violets and succulents do best when left to their own devices.
There are 2 keys to African violets.
ONE: They like indirect light.
Here in Florida (where they would fry if outside) I keep my violets on my desk near an east-facing window to get morning light. When I had them in Michigan, they were in a south-facing window because much of the year the light wasn’t as strong as in Florida and they don’t like to be really cold (like me, which is why I’m back home in Florida). Find a nice sunny, but not too hot, window (the sweet spot) and then leave them there. It might take some trial and error to find the perfect spot (if you see the leaves drooping for example), but once you do, leave them there – forever…
TWO: They HATE to be soaking wet.
They rot. They get mold in their soil. And then they die. So, the trick is to not over-water them and make sure the pot has good drainage. That means water them once a month. When you water them again, the soil should be very dry. And don’t pour the water on the leaves. It will kill them. Pour the water directly onto the soil. Or better yet, invest in a planter where you pour the water in the bottom, never having to worry about splashing the leaves. Give the pot a quarter turn (otherwise the stem will start tilting to just one side) and then LEAVE THEM ALONE!
Here’s another secret about African violets. They are easy to start.
If you accidentally break off a perfectly good leaf, you can start a new violet by putting the stem of a leaf directly into moist soil. It will sprout a whole new plant. How awesome is that! You can also put the STEM only of the leaf in water for a week or so to get it primed and then plant it. The pictures above show a start on 2/26/16 and a few weeks later on 3/14/16. Note: see how dry the soil is? Ready to be watered in the next day or so.
Success with succulents? Think desert!!!
Even if you have been a plant killer with a not so green thumb in the past, growing a succulent container garden is easy.
Make sure you have good drainage in your pot and basically ignore the plants.
You say that didn’t work very well with your spider plant?
Well, succulents do best when left to their own devices.
They don’t need much water, like being in a sunny spot, and don’t grow very fast, so they don’t need much maintenance.
My pot of succulents is on my covered back porch, so it gets the heat and afternoon sun but not the heavy afternoon summer downpours (remember, they don’t do good with wet feet!). Cacti come in all shapes and sizes, as do aloes and other succulents. Just FYI, I have aloes all over my gardens (they multiply like crazy, see what I do with them here) and they are okay with wet soil, but most succulents prefer dry.
The succulents you see in my planter all came from Lowe’s. They had a fabulous selection, but check your local nursery or other places where you have gotten plants from. There are so many varieties that you can have a lot of fun mixing and matching!
Add some pretty pebbles around the plants, and check the soil once a month. If it is bone dry, water until the soil is nice and moist, not a muddy swamp, and you are good to go.
So, to grow fabulous African violets and succulents, remember the # 1 rule!
Let me know your success stories!