Plant philosophy
Spring essentials for the jungle maintenance
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Spring essentials for the jungle maintenance

Hello Planty Folks!

Spring is finally here, and I think that it will stay with us for a while. It is a perfect time to look at our supplies and start some spring cleaning or at least…make spring cleaning plans. 

Before we order new plants that will brighten and give character to our interiors, I propose to make a list. Make a list, and check it twice ;).

I can promise you that  if we happen to have all the needed supplies for the spring repotting and plant styling, the whole process will be nothing else but pleasure.

All of us – Aroiders, Hoya-heads and crazy plant people in general – just have to sort out and prepare our equipment at least once a year. All of this, to make the season go smooth. And yes, it can be smooth even with 200+ plants on board, therefore…let’s get to work.

What to do and what to have? 

In this article I’ve prepared for you a minimum, comfort, and pro list, so you can choose a suitable option for your jungle profile. 

The tools I will mention, I use for years and can’t imagine my daily plant maintenance without them. Some items I find necessary, other valuable or just cool in my day to day plant care. Let’s arrange your spring plant kit!

1. Check your supplies

take baby steps

First step we take at home. We have to check which, from the last years equipment, is ready to use. Otherwise we will think that we have something and when it will come to the repotting, all of the sudden we will realise that something is broken or after the date…or we thought that we had it but…meh. This can ruin our enthusiasm and well, we don’t want that.

A. Planters and trellises

1. Wash your planters and dry them.

2. Throw out broken planters, you will not glue them later, you will not use them, believe me. Either do it now, or brake them so you can use them in a soil mix (terracotta), or throw them away.

3. Check if you have holders and supporters for the planter in the right size.

4. Sort planters and holders by size and purpose (eg. hydroponic planters and planters with a hole separately etc.) and count them, also write that down. 

5. Check the condition and amount of your trellises. Also: throw away ones that are broken/rotten (eg. bamboo ones decay pretty fast). Write the amount of needed trellises down.

B. Liquids

and pest prevention

Bring in one place all of your:

  • fertilisers
  • plant boosters (vitamins, shiners, rooting powders/liquids etc.)
  • pesticides/insecticides

1. Check their expiration date. Set aside those that have to be disposed off. Most of the time you can take them to the garden centre where there are bins intended for disposal. 

2. I like to sort my liquids by type (eg. NPK mineral fertilisers are separate from the natural fertilisers) or destination (vitamins, hydro fertilisers, other fertilisers) and put them in one container.

3. Now go around your jungle and take off old sachets with the beneficial mites, if you have those.

4. Clean your propagation stations with a gentle soap and warm water.

5. Pour new water in and put your cuttings there.

Make a shopping list!

Ready and steady kit. Add:

5. Boom boom spray for new arrivals

6. Rhizotonic or other rooting liquid

7. Vitamin and mineral supplements for potential defficiencies like cal-mag

8. Fungicyde and vast spectrum pesticide (the smaller the package the better!)

9. Hydrogen dioxide (boost for the roots and microorganism maintenance)

Pro kit:

10. Sensizym – to get rid of dead roots in the substrate

11. pH regulator (handy not only for hydroponic! eg. if you have water with high pH)

C. Gardening tools

I will list here the things that I find very useful in day to day plant maintenance. It gives me pleasure to have not only the practical, but also beautiful equipment. For example, as my watering cans are rather visible in my living room, I try to choose the ones that will blend in within the style of the room, or ones that will be enough funky to give a sort of a twist to the area. 

My gardening kit:

  1. Pruning shears large and small (sharp and disinfected)
  2. Gardening gloves (comfortable!)
  3. Little shovel
  4. Chop stick (for aerating the soil)
  5. Repotting mat (I will never ever say that this is not essential, saves time, makes the whole process very comfortable)
  6. Watering can (possibly closed at the top as to not to spill water everywhere)
  7. Two sprinklers 250 ml and 500ml (one for the chemicals, one for the naturals) – If you have a 500 ml sprayer it is easier to count and dose the amount of product to use ;))
  8. Microfiber cloth to clean the leaves (or, similarly, which I do recommend – eco water baby wipes – biodegradable, they sometimes have aloe extract and betaine, work
    A-MAZING!)
  9. Brush for cleaning velvety plants and Cacti.
  10. Gardening tape for support, also: don’t buy a wire – trust me, I’ve been there (supposedly the best is from Wolfcraft).
  11. Moist meter

Extras for hydro kit:

12. pH and EC meter

13. Seringes and pipettes for fertilisers (separate for every product – so that they do not become contaminated with one another)

14. 3 containers of 250 ml for pH meter calibration + extra one for distilled water

15. A 5-10 l container for making hydro solution

16. If u fancy – a glass stirring rod – because it is cool to stir and mix things with it. I love mine.

D. Substrates

1. Check your supplies, and evaluate if the soil substrates that you have haven’t gone bone dry. It is very hard for the soil to regain its structure once it goes sandy. “Repulping” it is basically impossible.

2. Check the lists below and complete your shopping list with necessary ingredients (we will add the amounts when we figure out how many plants need repotting. (Check point II of this article: CHECK YOUR PLANTS).

These are my basic ingredients for Aroid mix and hydro mix. For hydroponic I mostly use  PON, but not always. 

AROID MIX:

  1. Palm mix
  2. Coco husk
  3. French bark/ coco chips (or orchid mix)
  4. Perlite
  5. Sphagnum moss
  6. Charcoal

HYDROPONIC MIX:

  1. PON
  2. Vermiculite
  3. Seramis
  4. LECA

D. Extra support

Here comes the electronic support. In my home I use fans for air flow, humidifiers, higro and thermometers – analog, but also ones that register the changes in real time and alert when the temperature goes too low. I have a couple of different grow lights and an aeropropagator for propagating my cuttings. Smart plugs and an electrical outlets with timer also help with partial automation of the jungle. If you want to monitor closely you plants, I recommend getting a Naomi plant sensor that works with an app.

2. Check your plants

sorting and counting

We already have a list of necessary equipment, now let’s talk numbers. To be able to do this, we have to look at the condition of our plants. 

Sort your plants by families, types, so it will be easier to calculate what substrates and how many of them we need. Check which plants need repotting – you will recognise it easily. The roots might dangle from the bottom of the planter or you might see them on the top. Or maybe your plant produced big leaves and now they are getting smaller and smaller? This also means that the time has come. If your plant lost its leaves, it might mean that it is time to downsize the planter. Don’t worry, that also occurs (for example with Alocasias – they like to go dormant from time to time)

A. Foliage maintenance

Check the foliage for pests. Look at the underside of the foliage and the stems – you can use a magnifier! Check also for mineral deficiencies (pale foliage, slight uneven discoloration) and fungi signs (yellow edges with a brown border). And now separate ill plants from the heathy ones.

B. Root maintenance

Check the underside of the pot – as I mentioned before, if the roots are going out of the pot, then the plant needs to be repotted. All the more, if they going out on top ;). If the soil is dry, then you can gently pull the plant from the pot to check if it is root bound.

Set aside those plants that need a bigger pot and write the number on your planter checklist that you’ve made earlier. Look closely ant the state of the roots, look for mushy and watery ones. They will need to be cut with clean pruning sheers and secured with charcoal or a bit of cinnamon to prevent further rot spread.

C. Pruning

Get rid of dead leaves and similarly other dead parts of the plant. If it is messy, clean the soil surface on top to prevent pest attack. This is also the time to…cut the leggy winter growths if you don’t like how they look. Don’t be afraid to cut. The plant will only get more bushy and lush. You can also propagate the cutting.

3. Repotting day(s)

We have amount of free planters and also the amount of plants to be repotted. Now it is time to check if you have appropriate number of pots and trellises. If not, count how many  (and what size) do you need and add to the list. Tip: it is always best to repot to a one size bigger/smaller planter.

Now count the approximate amount of substrate that you need. Manufacturers of pots indicate the diameter, height and capacity, so don’t hesitate to google it!

Now we are ready shop. Schedule a day for this, then make your mixes and repot the babies. 

After repotting you can shower all of your plants with a lukewarm water. They really like it.

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