November 30th, 2007

My late bloomer

I don’t have much of a green thumb with houseplants. There are some varieties I gave up on long ago—the Boston fern, for instance. A fern in the dry heat of a northeastern home in winter requires a degree of misty tender loving care I can’t or won’t supply.

I used to joke that my home was a hospice for plants, a gentle place where they came to be ministered to while they slowly—or in some cases, quickly (a particularly fragile specimen lasted only a day)—died.

But that’s hyperbole. There are actually a number of plants I’ve cared for that have managed to stay alive in my home a long time, even decades. These survivors tend to be types that do well despite lowish light and a bit of neglect, such as philodendron.

A Thanksgiving cactus of mine has been going great guns for about two decades, blooming twice a year with an abundance of peach-colored flowers, and all I seem to have to do is to water it whenever it occurs to me.

And then there’s a pink spathyllum I’ve had for six years. When purchased, it sported lovely blooms, and my previous experience with spaths and their modest needs gave me great hope that this one would follow suit and continue to produce abundantly and almost indefinitely.

But its early promise didn’t pan out. Oh, it grew all right, but only green foliage. Not a single bloom followed in the footsteps of the ones it possessed when I bought it, despite coaxing and special feedings and various manipulations designed to get it to strut its stuff.

But right before I sold my house towards the end of this past summer, when I thought I’d probably leave that spath behind—why bother with the uncooperative boring little thing?—I glanced at it one day and noticed the following:

spath1.jpgspath2.jpg

When I least expected it, there it was: blooming and beaming and just begging me to take it with me.

And so I did, to my temporary digs with friends. And there it sat until today, when I make another temporary move, this time to an apartment. We’ll see what may bloom there.

6 Responses to “My late bloomer”

  1. Michael Peterson Says:

    That looks like an Anthurium andraeanum, not a Spathiphyllum, to me. Common names would include Flamingo Flower and Painter’s palette. It likes bright light, with direct sun in the winter. Mine is in bloom right now too. To force blooming, try sticking the plant in a clear plastic bag, with an apple. The apple gives off ethylene gas and can stimulate flowering.

  2. Donald Wolberg Says:

    Migth also think about one of those smallish platic frame and plastic cover “portable” greenhouse setups available at most stores such as Home Depot, Lowes or even the evil Wal Mart box. Apartment dwellers face many challenges and bringing nature indoors, is one of them. In the words of an old John Prine song, “move to the country.”

  3. Sissy Willis Says:

    ” . . . blooming and beaming and just begging me to take it with me.”

    Plants are people too?

  4. neo-neocon Says:

    Thanks for the info, Michael. You can see I’m not up on the technical end of this endeavor. And as far as direct sun in the winter goes, I’m afraid it’s not happening in my apartment; there is some light but it’s indirect. The apple suggestion is interesting.

  5. Drew Says:

    Is it Spathiphyllum or Spathyllum? Or possibly 2 different plants?

  6. Lahib Says:

    This plant is called Anthurium I have one exactly the same. Its same genre as Spathiphyllum or peace lilly. I read that adding banana peels could force the plants to flower, so is tarted doing this with some of my plants and the peace lilly specifically as this year it didnt bloom at all despite of repotting it into a larger pot and now producing so many leaves.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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