Temporary Housing

Originally posted on The Expat Garden(er)

Just like myself, a lot of my plants have had to withstand a transitional dwelling, with no indication of when they'll receive their permanent home. I didn't want my unrooted cuttings, leaves, or bareroot plants to die before I got out of the shared townhouse and into my permanent house--that might be months, if I'm lucky, although I'm repeatedly told "Oh, in just a few weeks, it'll only be two or three more weeks." I won't get my shipment with my grow lights, shelving units, and pots (along with other important things, such as cooking supplies and appliances) until I get into my permanent dwelling, so I didn't want to chance losing plants by waiting around.

Until I can get something more sophisticated set up in this transitionary place, a lot of my cuttings are in water bottles that I cut the top off of, filled with hydroton and potting soil, and then replaced the top snuggly to create cheap mini greenhouses.

Step 1:

Drink the water out of your 1.5 liter Aquafina water bottle with Arabic and English label. (I guess your label could have any language you want on it, because it really doesn't matter--see Step 2.)

Step 2:

Remove Arabic and English Aquafina label. Cut top of bottle off.

Step 3 and 4:

I didn't take a photo of Step 3 (because I created this mini how-to after-the-fact), but it involves placing moist hydroton (because that's all you have, remember--there's nothing else available) in a layer on the bottom of the bottle followed by a thin (about an inch or two) layer of moist unknown-quality potting soil on top of that.

Step 4 is put the plants in and replace the lid snugly around the top of the bottle's base!

See how easy it is to make a home-made, free, environmentally friendly terrarium for temporary housing of humidity-loving cuttings, leaves, and other plant vegetative propagatory bits? If you're living in a place where other supplies are available, the bottom can still be a single or double layer of hydroton, topped with perlite, topped with a moist mixture of whatever potting medium you'd grow the plant in (I like to use milled peat amended with perlite, a little vermiculite, and possibly a tiny tiny tiny bit of worm castings). Usually, this is maybe, say, 1/6 or 1/5 the height of the container, depending, but I've mostly used containers no larger than about 1 gallon.

The Raphidophora celatocaulis is really happy with this situation, as are my mini Philodendron, Nautilocalyx pemphidus, Saintpaulia 'Tiny Wood Trail,' and basically anything else that was small enough to shove together in a cut up bottle. A lot of the plants I brought with me are in two categories: succulent, or humidity-loving and easy to propagate. The second group are the ones that did well in plastic baggies with a bit of moist paper towel, so they're the ones loving the ghetto terraria. I had my Columnea schiedeana in a semihydroponic living situation with Episcia 'Coco,' but I think he prefers the more humid terrarium environment, so I stuck him in the bottle with the Saintpaulia, mini Philodendron, and the N. pemphidus. The Episcia 'Coco,' Paphiopedilum, and Dendrobium loddigesii in the semihydroponic setup get wet once or twice each day in a pot that has a reservoir in the bottom. The room I live in is always exceedingly dry because of the air conditioning, so I really don't think that's overwatering for these particular plants. I have a Rodrumnia x Tolumnia 'Charlie' (that's my name for him, because his real name is just horridly long and confusing to me) in pure hydroton, too--which is what I had originally purchased him in, so I figure he's well-adapted to it.

Almost every other plant is sharing space, too, but in either pure potting soil or various mixtures of potting soil and hydroton. For example, my Streptocarpus 'Crystal Ice' is in hydroton mixed with a bit of soil, but the Chirita 'Dreamtime,' Philodendron bipinnatifidum, and Pandanus veitchii are in pure potting soil. Some of those in pure potting soil are because I didn't find hydroton until after my first week here, but maybe they will be okay with the situation. At least, until I return from my travels with some fancy supplies that I took for granted in my previous life.

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One Response to Temporary Housing

  1. At least you know how to make do in the meantime! I hope your housing comes through in time for all your plants to stay happy :)


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