I decided to start dabbling in plants while I was in Baltimore, when my housemate in Little Italy asked if I wanted to have a try at nursing his old, browning Norfolk Island Pine back to health. Regular misting and a bright place by the window did it well, along with pruning of old, dead branches and some extra plant food in the soil.
Shortly after, I bought a pot of 6″ Kalanchoes on sale at Whole Foods: flowering succulents with thin woody stems. The Kalanchoes turned out to be a fairly hardy shrub, shooting up to over a foot high after the flowers had dried out, and turning into a veritable forest of tangled stems and fragrant, fleshy leaves. Much later, I would move the Kalanchoes to a larger terra cotta vase, and prune cuttings from it to replant in a new pot with fresh soil. Today, the cuttings have shot up higher than their own parent, while the parent itself has been sitting out the winter in a dark closet in an as-yet-unsuccessful effort to bring it to bloom once again.
Amy, herself possessed of a green thumb far surpassing mine, was also kind enough to give me a little African Violet, although I tarried on bringing it home for so long that the flower had withered away by the time it finally joined my garden. Still, I water it and feed it a few drops of African Violet Plant Food, and I hope to see a bloom in time.
I’ve named the plants and assigned them Navy ranks to assist their self-esteem. The Pine, having seniority, is designated “Admiral Norfolk.” The parent Kalanchoe is “Commander Kal,” while the pot of kalanchoe cuttings (which now is doing better than the Commander) is named “Lieutenant Cho.” The African Violet, being smallest and newest to the group, is “
Now, whenever I water or feed my plants, I can say I’m “supporting the troops.”