Introduction: Keeping Them Alive

Keeping Them Alive Title PageTitle Page. Click to enlarge.

If you followed the advice of friends, florists, authors and package labels, your plant care program would be something like this:

  • Your plants would all be potted in 50% soil and 50% cat litter. You would then add peat moss, vermiculite and perlite, whether the soil needed it or not. Half of each pot would be taken up with stones, clay shards, moss and charcoal.

  • You'd be feeding your plants gelatin, egg shells, tea leaves, coffee grinds, dish soap, dead leaves, aspirin, beer and maybe some instant fertilizer drops, containing mostly water. You'd be greasing the leaves with mayonnaise, milk, margarine, baby oil or plant-shine containing silicone.

  • If, in spite of all this attention, a leaf turned yellow or developed a brown spot, you would buy a can of something pre-mixed, toxic and easy-to-use, and spray the plant with it. You would periodically perform a "preventive" insecticide spray.

I hope your plant care program is not what I've just described. My plant care program is much simpler, extremely reliable, and it is safe. Before you do anything to your plants, you must know why you are doing it and what effect it will have. Some of the items mentioned above are beneficial, if properly applied, at the right time. Of the hundreds of products available for plant care, there are only a handful that I would use on my plants or yours. Many of them are harmful to the plants, to you, to your children or to your pets.

My first goal is to give you an understanding of the vital functions of plant growth.