Monday, 5 March 2012

The Great Plant Experiment

Green-thumbs don't exactly run in my family. At least, if they do I wouldn't know it because nobody here bothers to grow stuff. My mom puts some flowers in the garden each year and does the bare minimum to keep some old houseplants alive, but it's certainly not her hobby and she's never involved any of us kids in the process. When asked, she agrees that growing things wasn't even a part of the school curriculum. How I made it to 22 and eleven twelfths without even sticking a seed in a styrofoam cup of soil I don't know, but it's time that changed.

Recently I bought a couple of mini-kits for growing Venus flytraps and a bonsai tree, but grew thoroughly overwhelmed reading the instructions. Dormant periods? In the fridge? High humidity - in Calgary? However, as I was browsing the internet, trying in vain to find some source saying that the seed kit instructions were needlessly difficult, I stumbled across some bottle garden photographs and an idea sprouted in my mind.

Bottle gardens are pretty. Bottle gardens make high-humidity plants much much easier to keep alive. Bottle gardens are portable and perfect for someone who might want to move and keep plants in a university dorm room. Much more perfect than trying to raise a bonsai tree on campus (not sure how I would explain the tree in the communal fridge to my roommates).

So I found some old bottles, called up the most green-thumbed person I know (who voluntarily admits she isn't actually a green-thumb) and we went out today to buy some wee little plants to put in them. Or so we thought. Turns out we overestimated the size of our bottles a bit. Like, we thought they were about twice as big as they actually are. Her baby was staring quizzically at me trying to stuff a purple Jew into what shall probably soon become its glass sarcophagus. Even babies know trying to stuff something big into something smaller doesn't work, much less a living thing. Especially after you've already potentially traumatized the plant by splitting it in two at the roots. But no matter, it's an experiment if nothing else. If they all die, well, at least I get to watch them die. Through the glass. And they'll look pretty doing it.

It was an afternoon of much laughter. Between oohing over the nice selection of plants, spreading dirt all over my friend's kitchen table and trying to keep her baby from eating the plants and the dirt, we eventually turned out with some decent looking plant-things. I say plant-things instead of bottle gardens because we had a lot of extra to keep in pots when we were done. Because, you know, we massively overestimated how much room was in the bottles. But I think I've mentioned that.

Whether the plants will survive or not we shall soon see. Here's some pictures of what they look like now.

First, so you know what kind of plant raising background I come from, this is the state most of our house plants are currently in:

Now, bottle garden #1: This is one is just moss, but it might look the best. I'm really hoping I can keep moss alive, at the very least.

This one is part bottle garden, part oddly shaped pot. What does it tell you about my spatial awareness that I even tried to put the plant inside the jar?

This is the one that had the baby staring at me quizzically. When I brought it home and showed my mom, the first thing out of her mouth was, "It looks a little crowded in there."

This bottle I really liked, so I planted this one first, neglecting to consider that perhaps I should plant my favourite bottle after I've had a little practice. This one will be a real survivor it it lives.

This is part of the fern I didn't even try to stuff into a bottle. I put it into a pretty dumb pot, though. Those are holes in its side. The dirt streams out as mud when you water it. Probably not the best thing for a living room. Still, replanting it again, after it's already been split (my friend managed to get part of it into one of her bottles) will make certain its demise.

This is a piece of bamboo that I may have already killed. I had to buy it so I could cut a piece off the bottom for my frog aquarium. Here's hoping it lives. Here's hoping it helps my frogs live.

I also caved and bought a Venus flytrap, because that's what first made me want to try raising plants. I'm leaving them in their original pot for now. I set one of the traps off by mistake just trying to get the plastic cover over them. Transplanting them would kill them for sure. Still not sure how I'm going to feed it.

And there are a couple other plants in pots, but they're pretty standard looking, so I'll spare you.

"I have no plants in my house. They won't live for me. Some of them don't even wait to die, they commit suicide." Jerry Seinfeld

P.S. If anyone else wants to make a bottle garden, I've got charcoal for you. For at least fifty of you.


Mom said...

I'd like to inform your readers that our house plants have always been very happy, thank you very much! They do so well that Auntie Carolynn always offers to re-pot them when she comes to visit because they've outgrown their pots!! So there.

Carla said...

Oh, they do seem to thrive, for some reason. You don't kill plants at all, like I'm worried I might. They just look... odd. As in almost all of them are extraordinarily lop-sided.

But it gives them character!

Sam said...

I will be extremely impressed if you manage to kill moss.

art said...

I could make you some plastic flowers that would never die....