Plant Parenthood: Calatheas and succulents

So, a few weeks ago, I bought plants.

It’s quite a thrill to explore new plants, to figure out how to make them thrive, to discern why their leaves are curling up or why they look sad. I like waiting to see if they’ve outgrown their pots, if they need more soil, if they need fertilizer. It’s such joy to see new leaves shooting up and uncurling, and to find the perfect spot for them in the house or in the garden.

These two calatheas have been quite the puzzle. They’re tropical plants, native to the tropical forests of Brazil, found growing under the shade canopies of the tall, tropical trees. I was horrified when I found the leaves curling and drying out. I did some research, and it turns out these calatheas can be rather particular about their water. Oneal found an unused water filter in Dad’s workshop, and he installed it in the outside sink so that I could use filtered water for the plants.

For a while they seemed okay, but now I think they’re suffering from the summer heat. I moved them to the office, and I bought a spray bottle so I could mist the leaves regularly.

I really hope they don’t die!

A while back, I finally gave in to temptation and bought succulents. I had heard so many conflicting stories: on one hand, they’re great for beginners, and on the other hand, I’ve heard of gardener friends accidentally killing theirs! So I gave it a shot, mostly because I saw a promo on Homegrown Organics: a set of three succulents, potted, for only ₱327.00! I got myself a Jade, a Pink Jadelet, and Echeveria, as well as a Tornado Succulent.

I had always assumed succulents were basically cacti: leave in the sun, allow to dry, and it’ll be fine. But apparently that’s not the case. Apparently they can thrive indoors, but some do like direct sunlight. The most confusing care instruction was: water when dry. I thought, but doesn’t that rule apply to all plants? A more helpful tip I found was to water the soil thoroughly, allowing the water to soak through, and to do this maybe once a week.

True enough, I figured out when and how often to water them, and which ones liked direct sunlight, and which ones were okay in the living room. My Jade and Tornado succulents are in the living room. My Echeveria is so big and wide that I had to repot. It was sitting in my office for quite a while, but I’m seeing a lot of yellow leaves so I’ve moved it to the lanai for now.

My pink jadelet is the one that made me panic. It didn’t like the lanai. It didn’t like being in the living room. Finally, I tried putting it on the stairs, where it would get direct sunlight. At last, it was happy! The stems had lost most of their leaves, and I really thought it was going to die. I thought, oh now I’m going to be one of those people who overwatered her succulents. But thank goodness it survived, and it’s quite happy now.

I am happy to report that the little Haworthia Zebra and the Echeveria succulent I bought in December haven’t died either!

I have so many other plants all over the house and the garden, plants I adopted after Dad passed away, or gifts from family and friends. I often spend a whole day in the garden, pruning, repotting, repositioning, and so on. I know I’m committed to this hobby because I recently spent on gardening tools, in addition to sacks of soil and edible plants. But I think that’s a whole other blog post!

What are the plants that have challenged your green thumb?

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