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Tips, tricks and lessons you have learned

Let's start a thread with tips, tricks and lessons you have learned. I'm always learning something new. I've been thinking about and wanting to post this topic for awhile. So here are a few of my recent lightbulbs. Please add yours to the list!

Clay and ceramic pots - When carrying/moving clay pots larger than 6", carry them with two hands. I figured this out after repairing a number of cracked pots this winter. If you pick them up with one hand, the pressure is on the inside of the lip and if the plant is heavy enough, it will cause cracks. If you carry them with two hands, the pressure is the opposite - on the outside of the lip - and will never cause it to crack. Yes, it takes longer. It depends upon how much you like your larger clay and ceramic pots. :)

Crown of thorns, epiphyllum and begonias - While for most plants it is recommended that you never plant it any deeper than the root ball, crown of thorns, epiphyllum and begonias can be planted or repotted as deeply as needed. Are there other plants that you can do this?

Watering cans and measuring spoons - Store your plastic measuring spoons (the one that comes with Peters/Miracle-Gro) right inside the watering can. Then any time you are measuring out anything in liquid form (fish emulsion, tea, liquid kelp, etc), when you are done, just drop the tablespoon right in with the water. That way you never lose a drop and don't have to go looking for the measuring spoon. I have one or two inside each watering can. Doesn't bother anything, doesn't clog the nozzle and is very handy.

Rooting cuttings - Start cuttings as early in the season as possible. Almost anything will root in March. Some things get a little more fussy by May and some are downright stubborn in August and September. But in March/April, they all seem easy. I wish I had posted this in March. :)

Hydrangeas and pentas cuttings - Unlike most plants, these do not root from a node. So when you strike cuttings, all you need is a nice piece of stem.

Pentas - the name is Pentas (not "Penta"). If you have only one, I learned that it is still a Pentas.

Colocasia esculenta 'Mojito' - The first year I purchased this plant, I almost lost him. I planted him in the ground, did not keep him watered well enough (2-3 times a week was not cutting it for this guy), and he withered away. The next year, I thought he was gone. I searched and searched the area until finally two teensy, tiny green leaves came up. Well, I had read that Colocasia thrives in wet soil and can be grown in standing water. So I moved him into a pot with no drainage holes. Boy, that was genius. Good golly did he take off! The benefit was two-fold: 1) I can fill the pot with a ridiculous amount of water and 2) I don't have to hunt him down in the spring. He has multiplied like crazy - I now have three pots full.

Potting Mix - Keep two tubs of potting mix: one of cheap stuff (ex. rooting plants that will eventually go in the ground) and one of good potting mix (stuff that will stay in the pot). No need to waste good stuff on temporary pot-ups.

Potted Plants that need good drainage - I fill the bottom of almost every pot with a 1-2" layer of pine bark mulch before I add any soil at all. I use the Walmart purple bag - the one with the finely chopped mulch - unless it is a huge pot and then I use the Walmart pink bag (pinebark mini-nuggets) and then I use a 3-5" layer. The advantage of doing this is twofold: better drainage and less expensive than the potting mix. I just think it makes a good base in the bottom of a pot.

Please give us your tips, tricks and lightbulb moments!

Carol in Jacksonville

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