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Brown Thumb Needs Help

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Thu Nov 4 15:57:35 EST 1999

On Thu, 4 Nov 1999 09:38:59 -0900, "Beth Fleischer"
<dawgnospam at alaska.com> wrote:

>I have a horrible brown thumb.  Having finally gotten a window office after
>four jobs of inner cubicles I have decided its time to rectify this
>I purchased an ivy plant and a grapevine, both of which are lovely.  But I
>am not sure how much water they need, how much food I should give them.  All
>I know is brown is not enough water, and losing green is too much water.
>Anyone have more specific info?
Just a couple of general hints when discussing the watering of plants:

If care instructions call for keeping the soil WET, this means that
you should always be able to feel moisture when you touch just the top
of the soil. VERY FEW houseplants require their soil to be kept wet.
(Overwatering is probably the single greatest reason for dead

If instructions call for keeping the soil MOIST, this means that you
allow the top of the soil to dry out, but you should always feel
moisture about an inch under the surface of the soil. MOST houseplants
have this type of watering need.

DRY conditions generally mean that you allow the soil to dry out
completely well below an inch beneath the top of the soil surface.
Quite a few houseplants other than cacti and succulents have this type
of watering need.

All of these are conditional upon the soil type and type of container
the plant is potted in (porous vs non-porous). Where you place the
plant, lightwise is also important. The best I can tell you is try to
find out exactly what you have and find out its specific needs.

One suggestion for the beginner: start with a plant that is almost
impossible to kill, such as a sansiviera. Cacti and succulents can be
good plants for the beginner because they are very forgiving of people
who are forgetful about watering. However, too much care can be deadly
to them! Also, they tend to be very slow growers, which may be
frustrating if you have a need to see a change in the plant you are
caring for. On the other hand, many cacti do produce some very
attractive flowers.

Some plants which you see all over the place may not be good for a
beginner. One for the beginner to avoid is the weeping fig, Ficus
benjamina. Once established, these can be a very attractive plant. But
they do not relocate well. This group has seen many a posting of
someone who has brought one of these home a couple of weeks ago and
has lost most of its leaves in a very short time.

Good luck!

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