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Monday, November 19, 2012

Houseplant Sabbatical

Even though I watered all the house plants well, before I left. I still came home to five that were suffering.

I expected the Hypoestes phyllostachya (it loves waterlogged soil) to dry out so I left its saucer full of water.
Despite its spot in front of a south facing window there is not enough sunlight at this time of year for it to grow properly, its lower leaves turn brown and crunchy, it puts up flower stalks full of minuscule purple flowers, it grows tall and scraggly, and each new leaf is smaller and greener than the previous leaf. I cut it back by about a third, it doesn’t help. I suspect I will have to either wait for next spring and increased light levels or I should put it under lights, cut it right back, and wait for it to regrow some decent, pretty, pink leaves.

Letting Perennials Have A Rest

The Oxalis spiralis aurea was doing its usual drama queen sulking. If it wasn’t for its striking bronze leaves and unexpected yellow flowers I would have chucked it long ago. As well as its insistence on regular waterings (twice a week) it loves dropping its flowers and the occasional leaf, after they have faded, all over the floor. Although on second thought it might be better if I let it dry up and fade away so it can have a winter rest.

Both rex begonias were reduced to shriveled stumps. Next March, when the days are longer, I’ll start watering them more, to try and stir them back to life. I had one begonia that lasted 3 years, inside the house, before it died.

Grocery store purchase
Rehydrating Potted Plants
Sadly the Cyclamen was limp, it looked dead, a lesser person would have thrown it away. Instead I put the pot into a bowl, filled the pot with water watching it seep out the bottom until the bowl was full of water and the plant pot was completely submerged. In a couple of hours the Cyclamen was starting to look better. By the next morning it had recovered.

You can do this to rehydrate any potted plant as long as its leaves and stems are still green. If the leaves and stems are brittle cut them off. The root may still be alive and it may start growing again if you give it enough water to moisten the soil.


  1. At least in your case the plants die after many days, in our case if i wont water them morning and afternoon it will already be dead the next day. Maximum on cloudy days is 2 days at most. Regarding that style of watering almost dead plants, i think it wont do for all potted plants. Besides, most nutrients specially N will be leached through the seepage.

    1. I suppose cooler climates have at least one advantage. Chemical fertilizers are notorious for leaching. I use finished compost to feed my potted plants so nutrient leaching is not an issue.

  2. Glad to hear you revived the cyclamen and not all is lost with the others. My household plants tend to be pretty hardy sorts as I forget to water, often for weeks or months at a time!


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