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Plantidote of the Day 2013-01-07

twig's picture



I have a new theory: the purpose of houseplants is to help us survive winter. Whaddaya think -- sound about right? It can be a real challenge to get through all the dark, cold, wet nonsense, even here in LA. I can't imagine how awful it is in colder, darker places.

Anyway, every fall, I bring the dracenas, rubber plant, and a few other warm-weather lovers into the living room for a couple of months. This seems to agree with them, as long as they go back outside in the spring. The dracenas are especially happy to come indoors, probably because they're native to warm places like Africa and the Canary Islands.

Maybe having plants in the house makes up for not being able to do much gardening outside. Or it could be the oxygen and air-filtering they provide. Whatever the reason, it's great having the plants around -- the "plantidote" for winter??

Anyone else going the indoor-garden route this winter? If so, here's a blog with a lot of useful information on the subject. Or maybe someone knows how to keep cats from getting creative with the potting soil in an "outside the box" kind of way. Sphagnum moss? Wood chips? Used tea leaves? Can you tell I'm desperate?


Readers, please send twig ( images and stories for the ongoing Plantidote of the Day series. In exchange, you'll win undying fame in the form of a hat tip! Plants growing in your garden, your house, or neighbor's yard, plants from the forest or farmers' market, plants you preserved, plants you prepared (wine; cider; tea; dried beans), plants you harvested (grains; chantrelles), plants you picked (flowers), plants you dried (herbs), plants you covet or hope to grow someday. Herbal remedies, propagation tips, new varieties, etc.. And if you can, include some solid detail about the plant, too -- a story, the genus and species, or where you got the seeds, or the recipe, or your grandmother gave it to you. Or challenge us with a "Name That Plant" mystery entry ... And please feel free to add corrections and additional information in the comments.

Click on the image for the full-size version. Click here to see the entire series.

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insanelysane's picture
Submitted by insanelysane on

My winter doldrums are brightened when I go and putter in my glass hot house.
I grow tropical plants like orchids, begonias, bouganvillea, passion flowers, geraniums and a host of "house plants" I have a banana tree in there that is eleven feet tall but so far
... we have no bananas.
A heater comes on at night so it never drops below 50 degrees. I am able to grow a few hot pepper plants in there year round if I get the urge for some jalapeno salsa. There is always something blooming and it cheers me up immeasurably. Turns out, it's much cheaper than a flight to Hawaii!

Here's how I keep cats from digging in a raised planter box I have near the house. I cover the surface with "Lodi Cobbles" They are large ( 4 " to 7") round smooth beautiful rocks. They look lovely and plants love to grow roots under cooling rocks.
Too heavy for the cat to move or dig in. Problem solved.

twig's picture
Submitted by twig on

Perfect, thank you!!! I didn't know the name Lodi cobbles, but looked them up -- beautiful! Like river rocks, no? Anyway, you're right -- the cats won't be able to move them. Brilliant!!

Shovels? I wouldn't put it past them. Thank dog they don't have thumbs!