Friday, October 21, 2005

Bringing In the Houseplants

Even though the temperature outside today was 83º F, I was plucking fallen autumn leaves from my houseplants out on the deck and on the front porch to prepare them for their move back into the safety of my house. I have not been very good to my plants this year. I had taken them outside after the risk of frost in the spring had passed, and did not spend the effort to turn them from time to time. Now that it is autumn and the first-frost draws near, it is time to bring my babies back into the house and since they have not been turned, I now have a house full of plants that all lean to one side.

(Above: Stapelia's star bloom that smells like rotting meat and is pollinated by houseflies.)

Moving the plants in and out is no small feat. It has taken me three full days to bring in the 20 to 30 plants of various types and sizes that I have accrued over the years. . Many of them have grown so much during the summer that they are now a bit large for the house. Nonetheless, I will continue to keep them as long as I am able to manage the household. Many of the peace lilies that I own were given to me and divided up at the time of my dad’s funeral. My night-blooming cereus is 30 or so years old and is very heavy and awkward to carry, and of course so large that it can only go into the upstairs bedroom that receives good winter lighting. Getting it up the stairs was backbreaking labor, but I managed to do so without blowing a disk and also without having a heart attack in the process. It has one last bloom on it this year, after outstanding performance throughout August and September. With any luck, the cactus will adjust to its new location without sacrificing the bud of the flower that will open at night and will have wilted by morning.

All of the plants were immediately ready to be brought back in but for two. A bromeliad had bloomed and had produced its new babies, so I had to divide the plants and toss the mother. My stapelia, likewise, had bloomed. Since its flower has the aroma of rotting meat and it is pollinated by houseflies, I decided to photograph its open bloom and then sacrifice the balloon shaped blooms that had not yet opened. It is definitely a bad idea to have the aroma of rotting meat wafting through the house from a houseplant.

I had run out of saucers for underneath the plants, so I have about four plants left outside that will come in once I can make a stop by Home Depot. It is a good feeling to have the plants back inside with the soon-to-be onset of frosty nights. I know that my plants will be healthy, more or less, through the winter, barring any power outages from ice storms. Meanwhile, the house is populated with greenery that adds to the décor and there is the promise of a spring day next year when I will cull the plants and place them back outside for another dose of air, rain and sunshine.

(Left: Bromeliad in bloom with offspring tucked underneath the larger plant. The bloom is covered with water in the middle of the area that has turned purple.)



Blogger Erin said...

You have the greatest assortment of plants! I love the pics, and hearing you describe them. Not sure about that rotting meat thing though - I mean, great LOOKING plant, very unique and unusual, not your common pansie - but I can't imagine the stench! (ok I CAN imagine it, and will leave you to having that one!)

Me? I kill the most common of plants, and start new every year basically. The only upside being that I have never had to break my back moving any 30 yr old plant upstairs...

10/23/2005 12:30:00 AM  
Blogger Laurie said...

You really do have an awesome green thumb, Ron. I make up for my lack of one by planting twice as much and yakking about it constantly so that people think I know more than I do!

10/23/2005 08:03:00 PM  

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