Its easy to get discouraged when your plants aren't doing too hot and that being said, I could easily be discouraged right about now. My "Ice Cream" banana isn't doing well, my neoregelia "Hannibal Lector" finally rotted away after all the prolonged cold, and I'm experiencing my first ever insect infestation in the "Rainforest Garden".
I've battled scale insects, spider mites and mealybugs on my apartment balcony, but the wonderful lizards and treefrogs have always kept the bugs in check at my mom's place until now. Apart from the aforementioned cycad scale, I suppose I've always been lucky!
This little ornately patterned insect (pictured) and its brethren are to blame for the wholesale destruction of nearly all of the morning glories I planted last month, and they're just now starting to feast on my butterfly weed and canna edulis! These pretty flowers might not even exist when I get back to my mom's in a week.
I know that the monarch caterpillars will devour them soon anyway, but that's not the point!
Banana ProblemsIf the bugs weren't enough, my ice cream banana is looking pretty pale on the newest leaf. Its a symptom I've seen before in my badly sited bananas planted in wet soil, and all of those eventually died. After doing my research it seems that its likely due to dry conditions, which would also explain last year's failed bananas too, except then the waterlogged roots were too soggy and rotting to give the plant any water.
Rotted BromeliadMy beloved Neoregelia "Hannibal Lector" had been looking bad since winter, and by tugging on the central leaves today I confirmed that it was dead.
This was the straw that broke the camel's back so to speak, especially since last year at the Kanapaha Spring Festival I foolishly paid $20 for it, only to find it for much less at two other vendors. If I'm going to waste that much money, the least the plant could do is live for me.
Come to think of it, there were so many more plants recovering than dying anyways, like my monstera deliciosa.
Or my Cat palm...
Or my peace lilies...
More To Life...
I guess there are always so many more things to find happiness in, be it in life or the garden. Though we gardeners tend to let our hobby be our refuge and a source of joy, even gardening is not safe from our inherent pessimism. Those morning glories were from cheap little seed packets and only planted to live one season anyways. When all the baby treefrogs and lizards come out of the woodwork, now they'll have something to sustain them to maturity.
The banana's pale leaf got me to learn something new, and I laid down some composting coffee grounds around it to enrich the alkaline builders soil and add some moisture retention. After I left, it rained on the parched plant and the weather outside my studio window is telling me that it will be quenched more.
Gardeners do not have a natural skill or knack for helping plants live, we just have the patience and faith to visualize the fruits of our labor. When I talk to people about gardening, most of them tell me that they tried it but had a "black thumb" and simply gave up. Usually they were growing something that anyone would have a hard time growing around here, like lavender or fuchsias, or something high maintenance like roses that's inappropriate for their lifestyle or budget anyway. Those "black thumbs" are often a little relieved when I tell them that I wouldn't be able to keep foxgloves alive either! Every time a plant dies on you, remember to do two things. Find out why it died so it doesn't happen again, and compost it for another plant, one that's not so ungrateful for the twenty dollars you paid and all your hard work.
The alocasias below started from bulbs in my parent's garage that were left there for years. I planted them two years ago and this is what I see today:
Maybe they'll get to be this big someday...
This neoregelia spectabilis was left out in winter, looked pretty badly, and is now flowering like nothing happened.
Optimism is best found in all the details, right there with God