I’m Terrified Of…

Here we are at Day #3 of our Reader Response eMail. Time to look at the next part of their email.

wondering about what to do

I think I overwatered the Boston fern. Not sure about the philodendron. I’m terrified of repotting anything now since it seems things look great when I bring them home from the garden center and after I repot them, things take a turn for the worse.

Either I spend TOO MUCH time tending them, or too little. I can’t decide which. And every gardening website I go to says something different.

I’m used to not having to “do” anything for my garden… it just grew.

Written By Tens of 1000’s

I’m sure the above couple sentences could have been written buy tens of 1000’s of people.

There is so much to learn and take away in these few short sentences.

I find way too often too many people complicate growing plants.

I’m terrified of repotting anything now

This statement alone screams volumes to me.

What I am reading is… MOST of the time I purchase a plant and immediately repot it when I get home. I’m not sure if the plant needs it or not but I repot it anyway.

Are you familiar with William of Ockham the 14th century philosopher who said…

“One should choose the simplest explanation, the one requiring the fewest assumptions and principles.”

Why is it assumed by the 1000’s that plants MUST be repotted when they are purchased from the garden center? Why?

I sort of equate it with buying a new piece of furniture, bringing it home and the first thing you do is put a nice big scratch on it.


You buy a new computer and the first thing you do is download a virus.

Why is it assumed plants must be repotted right away?

A Dirty Secret…

This might get some of you upset and make some people mad, but I’ll let you in on a little plant secret. This applies to probably 99% of the public.

The plant you buy for use indoors at the garden center – when you buy it, it is as good as it gets – so select wisely! We’ll talk a little about that tomorrow.

Indoors you MAINTAIN plants – NOT REALLY GROW PLANTS. Now they may grow and can be maintained for years and decades but you DO NOT apply the same aggressive growing practices you do when growing them in the nursery or greenhouse. Once plants leave the nursery for their final destination in a home, their metabolism slows way down.

They usually DO NOT NEED larger pots, or repotting, or extra fertilizer. Their slowed metabolism means they require MUCH LESS.

Take yourself back to 10th or 11h grade physics: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

In the nursery a plant is a sprinter! Growing fast at optimum conditions with the best lighting, water, fertilizer and pest management.

A plant goes indoors and gets less light – it now does not produce as much food, water needs are reduced, growth is slowed down, it does not hold as many leaves. And on it goes.

The Flip Side

There is a flipside to the secret…

When you buy a plant for use outdoors… it should only get better – discounting of course annual flowers.

Once the plant comes home it may be in need of repotting, stepping up into a larger container to reach it’s full potential.

I could go on.

From the eMail…

“… it seems things look great when I bring them home from the garden center and after I repot them, things take a turn for the worse.”

So the plants looked great… brought them home… DID something and now they are worse. Hmmmmm… figure that one out. Could it be what happened after they got home or maybe on the way home?

My answer to many people who ask me how to solve their plant problems usually comes down to one word – ROOTS.

What are the roots like? What is the quality of the root system?

If you will learn to focus on growing roots OR maintaining a good root system, you will solve many of your plant woes.

You Must Do!

In closing, we get this…

I’m used to not having to “do” anything for my garden… it just grew.

You cannot lose weight by doing nothing, the same goes for your plants. You have to take some action. You need to learn the actions which help of improve the plant’s environment and which steps hurt it.

Tomorrow We’ll Look At:

And now, when I have to “do” something, it invariably seems I do the wrong thing. And if that’s going to be the case, I might as well–take up macramé or something.

I’ve recently added a Croton plant to my collection, and a sansevieria.

At the moment, both are doing quite nicely but, again, I’m terrified to repot them, now.

See you tomorrow 8:17 am.

Tips To Improve Your Plant Care
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