Aging Parents: Little-Care Live Plant Gifts –flowering or not

 

Dish Garden with Succulents

Click all photos to enlarge

DISH GARDENS
Dish gardens make great gifts–easy upkeep with the right plants.

I began making dish gardens in elementary school, which speaks to how easy creating these small landscapes is…. easy to make, easy to maintain with easy-care plants. And they add enjoyment…fun to watch grow and possibly flower. AND  they add a decorator’s touch, regardless of decorating style. Aren’t they a good gift for older people who appreciate nature, don’t get outdoors much–and even those who do? You can purchase a dish garden, or do-it-yourself.

WHETHER PURCHASING OR MAKING YOUR OWN– LOOK FOR
(and ask questions of sales person)

  • Plants that are smallish
  • Plants that are slow growing (if the goal is reducing work)
  • Plants with different textured leaves
  • Plants with leaves of different colors
  • At least one plant that could flower (it’s a bonus)
  • Plants that grow either indoor or outdoors…not both in same container
  • An attractive container (dish) with a drainage hold and saucer

CARE
(Light and Watering Requirements Should be on Plant’s Tag)

  • Watering nonuscculents: Proper watering leads to success or failure.Thus, each plant in the little garden should have the same water requirements. Overwatering causes root rot, that’s why the dish’s drainage hole is important–as is a plate or saucer underneath. Otherwise furniture gets damaged (and equally bad, you will have left an eyesore reminder of your well-intentioned gift.) My favorite “saucers” are free–lids on plastic take-home containers. They’re clear, unobtrusive, come in various shapes and sizes.
  • Watering succulents: Succulents (see top photo), need very little water. A light spray on the top or a little water poured on the rocks doesn’t upset the sandy look and does the job. Succulents store water in their “leaves.” They begin to shrivel when too dry, but rebound when give a bit of water.  monitor a succulent dish garden and add water before a disaster could occur.
  • Light: Plants should also be grouped by their light requirement–full sun, partial sun etc. To flower, plants need light. For example, miniature violets and sinningias need indirect light at the least, but never full sun.

DO-IT-YOURSELF
See above for plant selection

The two dish gardens below were entered for competition at the Philadelphia Flower Show. The first container is a bonsai dish with indoor plants; the one below looks like it contains outdoor succulents and is, I believe, made from a composite. (Click to enlarge.)

IMG_1055

Pink/green leaf plant is fittonia, I believe. More common is green and white leaf color.

Dish Garden

Succulents and ???

  • Dish gardens can sprout up in unlikely dishes.
  • As long as there’s a drainage hole, you’re good to go.
  • Potting soil for cacti and succulents differs from soil used for growing leafy plants.
  • For Fertilizing:   follow instructions, using 1/2 or 1/4 strength or less.
  • Avoid potting soil with fertilizer or plants will quickly outgrow the dish.

Caring for plants, if not too taxing and fussy, gives elders a responsibility that offers the joy of watching them grow, keeping them healthy and being needed. It’s also fun and life-affirming. Doesn’t this help parents and older adults age well?

Check out Some of my favorite little plants: Sinningia pusilla (tiny tuber).Rob’s Scrumptious (miniature violet). Ficus pumila Quercifolia (tiny ivy). Nephrolepis exalta  Fluffy Ruffles (little fern). Kalanchoe (check out colors)

Related: Thanks to Lori for an additional way of growing plants–the Miracle-Gro Aero Garden.This hydroponic garden seems easy from start to finish–can add interest and fun to an elder’s life.

Helpful sites: http://www.thegardenhelper.com/dish~gardens.html –about dish gardens
https://www.violetbarn.com/shop/index.php?_a=category&cat_id=30. Site for small plants

Red Kalanchoe-Green container

Red Kalanchoe~Green Container

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Easy-Care Plants for Aging Parents

 “Once we become interested in the progress of the plants in our care,
their development becomes a part of the rhythm of our own lives
and we are refreshed by it.”
Thalassa Cruso (1909-1997),
Public TV’s “Julia Child of the Horticulture” 1966-69.

October. Days shorten. Get colder. Leaves fall. We spend more time indoors, less time with nature.

A perfect, thoughtful gift for older people: an easy-to-care-for plant. Even more perfect if doing so can refresh and lift the spirits of those we care about–those living alone, in assisted living or care facilities, even those with no “green thumb.”

Here’s a short list of plants that take neglect and still perform. Indeed they ask nothing more than regular watering and filtered sun or low light.

3 Flowering Plants

Caring for Your St. Patrick’s Day Shamrock Plant - (This popular house plant (oxalis) is very easy to grow and maintain) http://gomestic.com/gardening/caring-for-your-st-patricks-day-shamrock-plant/

1. Oxalis is one of the easiest, most forgiving, fun-to-watch plants. Green (regnellii)  or purple (triangularis) leaves. Leaves open at daylight (watch 33 second video link that shows leaves opening at 23 seconds) and close each night as darkness sets in. Wants light in order to produce flowers, but not full sun. Likes damp (not soggy) soil. When too dry, plant tells you; it looks like it’s collapsing. But it comes right back after watering. Blooms for long periods indoors, with a rest period after blooming.

Spathiphyllum

Spathiphyllum–click to enlarge

 

2. Spathiphyllum is also easy and forgiving. Many varieties, different size plants. Buy the small size. They grow just as well and are more manageable. If plants are getting dry, the leaves begin to sag–that’s the signal to water. If they get too dry the tips turn brown; but the plant survives, and the tips can be trimmed if desired. I’ve found these plants impossible to kill. Low light is fine. they don’t like bright light. Blooms year round.

Video short with instructions, basically tells you how easy this plant is to care for. I didn’t know it’s also an air purifier but, according to the video, it is.

Bromeliad

Bromeliad–click to enlarge

3.  Bromelliad blooms are vibrant, last months, and clearly add color to any room. They do need good light, usually bright indirect light, but require little care, definitely don’t want to be overwatered.

Bromelliads at left were at Home Depot (NYC) not a place to buy fussy, difficult-to-grow plants. Should an older person become attached to this plant, the major problem is that, after blooming for several months, the plant dies. That said, it has already produced “pups” around it, that will bloom about 6 months later–I think. So the plant dies, but leaves its offspring, which elders can enjoy watching grow and finally bloom. 7 Easy-to-grow Bromelliads


“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful:
they are sunshine, food and medicine to the soul.”
Luther Burbank
American botanist, horticulturalist, pioneer in agricultural science
to be continued next post.

Related: Aging Parents: Easy-care, live-plant gifts: terrariums–flowering-or-not

Check out “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities and respected professionals, plus practical information–to help parents age well.