by Susan Harris
The announcement for this workshop doesn’t begin to tell you how much fun it is and I know that because I attended one last weekend and have photos to show for it. There’s still room in the next one coming up this Sunday – just call the Beltsville store to let them know you’re coming!
It’s called “Create a Houseplant Container Garden” and here’s the description: Learn how to combine different plants with similar tastes to create a container garden for inside your home and build it to take with you at the end of the class. The $35 fee covers everything – including the pot, the liner, the tray, the growing medium and as many plants as will fit in your chosen pot. At our Beltsville location this Sunday January 23 from 1 to 2 p.m.
CHOOSING THE PLANTS
Here’s workshop leader Randy Best recommending plants for everyone’s houseplant containers, which was a good thing because participants said that otherwise they’d be overwhelmed by the choices. Though they did admit to loving the whole “Grab any plants you want in the whole store!” factor here. Like winning one of those timed shopping sprees.
But everyone seemed pleased with their choices after Randy and the participants all pitched in to help. The goal was to choose at least one thriller (for height), a filler for the middle level across the soil, and a spiller to trail down. Yes, it’s the same three-part system that’s recommended for outdoor container plantings.
Shown above are, from the left, Joanne Mood, Melanie Gugliuzza, and Lori Van Zanten with Randy.
THE POTTING MEDIUM
Randy likes Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix because A, it’s organic and B, it includes Myco-Tone, a blend of 11 strains of mycorrhizae that been shown to improve plant performance in many ways. Asked if the soil would need to be replaced in order to provide nutrients, Randy answered that actually, the nutrients would be coming from you, the gardener (see fertilizing below), and that the potting medium would only need to be replaced if the peat completely decomposed and the soil then became hard to the touch.
Above you see the roots of a “prayer plant,” which needed to be loosened up a bit before being planted. Otherwise, the plant may think it’s still in its tiny first pot and never grow any new roots – the classic result of plants being “pot-bound”.
In the greenhouse here at Behnkes they include a small amount of liquid fertilizer made of fish with each watering. (It may be made of fish but he swears it has a “pleasant mint smell”. How’s they do that?) He recommends a similar feeding regime at home or, at a minimum, adding fertilizer to the watering can every other week (at one-half the recommended strength).
Chemical fertilizer like Miracle-Gro and Osmocote would actually kill off the beneficial critters in that nice Espoma product.
THE FIRST TIME YOU WATER IT
Use tepid water and water at a very slow rate. This settles the soil, removing all air pockets (which would cause roots to dry up and die).
Above left you see the design by Joanne Mood, who’ll be placing the whole pot inside another larger and more decorative pot. Then she’ll be taking the whole creation to a bridal shower as her gift, which everyone predicted will be the hit of the party. The container on the right was designed by Pat Belcher, who says she’ll be keeping hers, thank you very much.
Above, designs by Lori Van Zanten on the left and Melanie Gugliuzza on the right.
Lori told us she was “thrilled” by the workshop and that it was a wonderful way to get together with a high school friend – who happened to be attending the workshop with some neighbors and invited her to join them. That got me to thinking – what other afternoon event in the dead of winter could friends do together just for fun? Go shopping together in a mall, I guess, but for my taste, you can’t beat creating beauty with plants.