How much water is too little?

Every plant is different. They are each in different rooms, households, pots and soils. It is impossible to give firm rules.

Some plants are bog plants and want a pot sitting in water, some are desert plants and want only occasional watering. Most fall in between the two.

Symptoms of a watering problem – too much or too little include:
Leaves drop all at once
Leaves drop slowly beginning with oldest leaves
New leaves are smaller in size than older leaves
Leaf tips are brown
Leaves have brown spots
Plant wilts
Little to no new growth on the plant

Symptoms specific to under watering your plant:
Leafs curl down
Accordion type creases appear in leaves ( especially on orchids )
Vertical splits appear on leaves
Thick leaved plants have wrinkles in the leaves
Pseudo bulb is wrinkled ( on orchids )

Ok so the plant is dying of thirst. Not a big deal, most will bounce right back with proper watering.

Now find out just how much watering that particular plant would like. Check it by putting a finger in the soil. Do not water by a schedule.

How much water is too much?

Every plant is different. They are each in different rooms, households, pots and soils. It is impossible to give firm rules.

Some plants are bog plants and want a pot sitting in water, some are desert plants and want only occasional watering. Most fall in between the two.

Symptoms of a watering problem – too much or too little include:
Leaves drop all at once
Leaves drop slowly beginning with oldest leaves
New leaves are smaller in size than older leaves
Leaf tips are brown
Leaves have brown spots
Plant wilts
Little to no new growth on the plant

Symptoms only found on over watered plants:
Leaves are too pale
Leaves yellow, veins first then rest of leaf
Leaf edges brown
Growth is spindly and weak
Growth is leggy
The crown rots
Black flies are around plant when you water it
Leaves become dull in appearance and may turn yellow
Roots are brown and soft and do not have white tips

So you are drowning your plant what to do?

First remove it from the pot. Rinse off all the soil clinging to the roots. Rinse out the pot. Cut off any roots that have rotted. Replant it back in the pot with new soil preferably in a smaller pot. That’ll get rid of the flies and any mold.

Now find out just how much watering that particular plant would like. Check it by putting a finger in the soil. Do not water by a schedule. Most plants will bounce back in a few months.

When in doubt ‘wait don’t water’ there is always tomorrow.

Orchid names

Orchid species and mixes – what does the abbreviation mean?

Angcm. Angraecum = Natural genus
Ascda. Ascocenda = Ascocentrum x Vanda
Alcra. Aliceara = Brassia x Miltonia x Oncidium
B. Brassavola = Natural genus
Bl. Brassolaelia = Brassavola x Laelia
Bllra. = Brassia x Cochlioda x Miltonia x Odontoglossum
Blc. Brassolaeliocattleya = Brassavola x Cattleya x Laelia
Brs. Brassia = Natural genus
Brsdm. Brassidium = Brassia x Oncidium
Bulb. Bulbophyllum = Natural genus
C. Cattleya = Natural genus
Colm. Colmanara = Miltonia x Odontoglossum x Oncidium
Ctna. Cattleytonia = Cattleya x Broughtonia
Cyc. Cycnoches = Natural genus
Cym. Cymbidium = Natural genus
Den. Dendrobium = Natural genus
Dgmra. Degarmoara = Brassia x Miltonia x Odontoglossum
Dial. Dialaelia = Diacrium x Laelia
Dor. Doritis = Natural genus
Dtps. Doritaenopsis = Doritis x Phalaenopsis
Ency. Encyclia = Natural genus
Epi. Epidendrum = Natural genus
Eplc. Epilaeliocattleya = Cattleya x Epidendrum x Laelia
Epc. Epicattleya = Cattleya x Epidendrum
Gram. Grammatophyllum = Natural genus
Hknsa. Hawkinsara = Broughtonia x Cattleya x Laelia x Sophronitis
Iwan. Iwanagara = Brassavola x Cattleya x Diacrum x Laelia
Kgw. Kagawara Ascocentrum x Renanthera x Vanda
L. Laelia = Natural genus
Lc. Laeliocattleya = Laelia x Cattleya
Lctna. Laeliocatonia = Broughtonia x Cattleya x Laelia
Mkra. Mokara = Arachnis x Ascocentrum x Vanda
Mtdm. Miltonidium = Miltonia x Oncidium
Mtssa. Miltassia = Brassia x Miltonia
Onc. Oncidium = Natural genus
Odbrs. Odontobrassia = Odontoglossum x Brassia
Otr. Otaara = Brassavola x Broughtonia x Cattleya x Laelia
Paph. Paphiopedilum = Natural genus
Pot. Potinara = Brassavola x Cattleya x Laelia x Sophronitis
Rhy. Rhynchostylis = Natural genus
Schom. Schomburgkia = Natural genus
Soph. Sophronitis = Natural genus
Slc. Sophrolaeliocattleya = Sophronitis x Laelia x Cattleya
V. Vanda = Natural genus
Vasco. Vascostylis = Ascocentrum x Rhynchostylis x Vanda
Zga. Zygoneria = Neogardneria x Zygopetalum

Wax Myrtle ( Myrica cerifera )

This wax myrtle, like all my shrubs, had been pruned to a mushroom shape by the previous owners. I consider it the horticultural equivalent of a french poodle hair cut. It has been two years, and I have blooms for the first time this year. It will take another year or two before it has a proper shape.

Wax myrtle can grow fast, and can reach 15′-20′ tall.

Wax myrtles make good screening plants and are loved by birds. The fruit was used by early colonists to make bay berry candles.

Any soil will do and they will grow in part shade to full sun.

Was myrtle handles Houston’s heat and cold just fine.

The ‘Emperor’ variety is the one with the lacy foliage. Myrica pusilla is a smaller variety.

This plant was attacked by some kind of very small beetle this summer. It looked fine, I went out to prune it and the insides had all been eaten away. Normally these are care free and I’d still recommend it as a shrub.

Just watch for small beetles around it.

Oncidium

Oncidiums are a bright light orchid they will want a south or west facing window, but they will burn in direct sunlight. You may get them to grow in an east window and place them in a south window in the fall to promote flowering.

Plant them in sphagnum moss and orchids will never give you any trouble. Water this one when the top is very dry. The pseudo bulb will wrinkle if you water it too little so keep an eye on it. If your home is very humid or you keep this plant in a bathroom or kitchen you might plant it in bark instead. It just depends on the conditions in your home.

Like all orchids they want a significant temperature drop between day and night to signal blooming. You can put them in a drafty location or put them outdoors in the summer.

Remember if you put them outside put them under a tree. They will not survive direct outdoor sunlight.

Texas Mountain Laural ( Sophora secundiflora )

This is an evergreen shrub native to the Texas hill country.

It will grow between 8′-20′ tall, but usually remains under 12′. Once it gets going it should form a more rounded shrub. It’s been 10 years, mine has filled out but not grown much taller

Flowers are star shaped.

Plant in full sun. It is an extremely slow growing plant. I had it in part shade for a year and it did nothing. Not a single new leaf appeared. I moved it to a sunny location last year. This year we have at least one bunch of flowers ready to bloom and more than a few new leaves. It takes about a year after it is transplanted to start to grow again. Try not to move it.

It will grow in dry soil. And it is one of a few plants that can thrive in alkaline soil ( pH 7+).

I had to re-locate this plant after Ike and it died. Again, find a good spot, Laurel really hates to be moved.

Cold tolerant, heat tolerant, the Houston temperatures are not a problem for this plant.

Watch for fungal leaf spot if we get a lot of rain in the cooler weather.

Watch for fungal leaf spots. They will be brown with yellow rings and randomly scattered in humid weather. Remove infected leaves and treat with a fungicide.

Yellowing leaves with green veins need either more iron, nitrogen or both. Fertilize.

All parts of this plant are toxic, deer do not usually bother it.

The psychoactive beans found in the pod are orange red and used in vision quests.  However they contain alkaloids, cytisine, N-Methylcytisine, sparteine, none of which are associated with hallucinations. The beans were mostly used for decoration and have been found at old indian sites in the south western US dating back 7000 years from present date.

Miltassia

Wonderfully unusual spider like flowers make this a must have orchid. They are fairly easy to rebloom.

A bright light orchid, it doesn’t like direct sunlight. Try an east or west window or off to the side of a south window. It’ll rebloom easier if you place it outside in the shade for the summer. Make sure evening temperatures are over 55’F before you do this and bring it in when temperatures fall.

Orchids are potted in mulch or sphagnum moss rather than dirt. I have one planted in a large glass vase with pebbles at the bottom instead of moss or bark. It is doing fine.

Water Miltassias when the top of the moss gets dry.

You can plant this in bark but you must be very careful not to under water it. Check it daily if it is in bark. I find orchids in bark need to be watered 3 to 4 times as often as those in moss.

If the pseudo bulb ( the thick part at the bottom ) wrinkles or shrivels you are under watering your orchid. Or if leaves split vertically or form accordion type folds it needs to be watered more frequently. This often occurs when the heat is on in the winter. Or if you have it in a very sunny window.