Making Peace

January 13, 2011 | 12:01 pm

Communication is not a problem in my house, as my girls are always telling me what I need to do. I joke that all mom’s need a set of earplugs. Right now, I have a peace lily yelling at me. Every time it needs a drink of water it starts to get droopy and now the leaves have brown tips. I’m watering it every other day (when I’m paying attention). Seriously, I’m busy cleaning up after kids and I don’t have time to baby a house plant and water every three days. However this particular house plant was a gift and has sentimental value.

After some evaluation, I’ve decided it has grown out of its little pot. The drooping leaves and brown tips are both the result of water deprivation (and probably a little nutrient deficiency). The roots are over crowding the pot and the soil can’t hold enough water. Over or under watering is the number one reason we fail a plant.

Steps to re-pot a house plant:

  1. Obtain a container that is one or two times larger than the current pot. If the pot does not have drainage holes, add holes. Drainage is a critical component to plant health. You cannot let a plant sit in water. It will drown.
  2. Choose the right potting soil for the plant. An African violet requires a different soil mix than my peace lily. Often you can find potting soil labeled for specific plants. You can also amend the soil with a slow release fertilizer. This type of fertilizer is coated to slowly release the nutrients into the soil over a period of time, generally three months.
  3. Remove the plant from its old pot. Gently break apart or tease the roots, especially important if the roots are growing in a circular pattern.  This action will encourage new root development and plant growth. Set the plant on a couple of inches of soil in the new pot. Gently add soil until you are to the top of the root ball. I like to tap the container to help the soil settle in around the roots.
  4. Give your plant a good drink of water.  Sit back and watch it grow.

If you don’t amend your soil with a slow release fertilizer, keep in mind that the soil will eventually be depleted of nutrients as the plant grows. To maintain a healthy plant, feed your houseplants once a month, during the growing season with a general houseplant fertilizer.  Over fertilizing will do as much harm to your plant as a lack of fertilizer. Be sure to follow label directions.

I have made peace with the peace lily and the yelling has stopped. Now to address all the noise created by three little girls.