Friday, December 30, 2011

A Houseplant Experiment for the New Year

I haven't had plants since I got my cats 7 years ago.  This summer I had geraniums outside and was told instead of letting them die, I could bring them inside for the winter.  I always thought they were annuals, but to my surprise they are perennials.

I though the cats would decimate them in a few days, but they have left them alone and the Geraniums are blooming again.  This has inspired me to try keeping houseplants again.

Last summer a friend gave me a few spider plant babies in big pots (relative to the tiny plants) with black compost soil.  Well, it's been many months, but the spider plants look healthy, but have barely gotten any bigger. Maybe, just maybe an inch after about 4 months. No new leaves, nothing. I began to wonder if it was the soil.

The soil is black, very heavy when wet, pebbly and doesn't have a pleasant smell.  There are eggs shells and I don't know what in there. Once watered the top of the soil dries quickly, but the bottom is like soil soup. See the puddle of water on the newspaper from the removed soil.

So my experiment: I bought commercial potting soil and repotted the spider plants in the same pot and will keep them in the same location. I'll see if they get any bigger in four months. btw there were barely any roots. The tall one is 4" and the little is 2.5". The commercial soil smells great, as if freshly dug up from a forest floor.

I've heard you can't beat compost for plants because it is nutrient rich, so this will be interesting.  Also in the pics, you can see the little jade plant and the small Christmas cactus I bought. Just couldn't resist.

I know that I know next to nothing about plants, so I ordered a few used indoor gardening books on Amazon. A new project for the new year.


  1. plants grow better if they are a little stressed.. too big a pot and too much soil actually stunts growth--
    Same goes for nutrients--too rich a soil and the plant makes less of an effort--and compost (well rotted compost is good--but few plants grow well in a compost pile (composting(rotting!) gives off heat--and cooks delicate roots. (I know how, but always forget to water--and kill off houseplants--but i do manage to keep summer plants flowering all summer--most summers)

  2. Also, the soil was more like a slurry (lots of insoluable matter) once it was watered. Not sure if that is good either.