How to get a bird out of your house

Fred helping

In the old house when a bird flew inside you could chase the bird into a room with a broom. You could then close the door, open the windows and go have coffee. When your coffee was done the bird would have flown out one of the open windows.

This house has an open floor plan. Three of the rooms have 20′ ceilings. Most all of the windows are fixed. So the old plan wouldn’t work. The cardinal’s mate sat outside the window chatting with him. So he wasn’t about to leave the window willingly.

Sister suggested getting the cat a bigger ladder. Fred had already fallen off the ladder twice at this point, but when the bird flew to the lower plant shelf, Fred climbed up the ladder on to the shelf and decided it was time for a nap. Kazoo hid through the whole ordeal.

I was able to borrow a pool net from a neighbor and we caught the bird, tossed a dish towel in the net on top of the bird. She was able to bring the cardinal outside and let him go, apparently unharmed. No thanks to the cats.

Nerve plant aka Fittonia

Fittonia is a native of Peru and loves moisture and warm temperatures.

I did every thing you could do wrong with this plant and still it thrived. I think as long as you give it high humidity and don’t let the soil dry out it will forgive anything else you might do to it. I’ve grown this one almost entirely under the table lamp in the parlor. It is in a north facing room that has a covered porch outside the windows and so it is a very dark room, and the plant is not even near the window. This will make a great office plant.

It is in a bowl with out drainage and likes being wet. It will die if the soil dries. Be sure to check it daily. If you find your fittonia wilted you did not water it enough. Sometimes if you water it and keep up the watering it will come back to life for you. But the recommended method is to grow it in well drained soil and water frequently.

This is a fast growing plant, it has doubled in size in the month since we acquired it. It will only get to about 6″ tall, new growth is spreading. It also works very well in hanging baskets.

Climate and weather information

During last week’s cold spell I found myself repeatedly checking forecasts hoping for a better answer. After all with weather forecasts, if you don’t like the forecast check back and it’ll change. They never did get to a pleasing state. Here are some useful weather sites for the Woodlands and Houston areas.

Climate Information, Houston has monthly averages, with days below freezing, about 90′, heating and cooling degree day information.

National Hurricane Center tracks hurricanes, maps, wind speed, landfall probabilities for all storms.

Harris County Flood Warning System has rainfall maps, including Montgomery and Fort Bend

Ferns

I killed off many of these before I got the hang of growing them. They do not like heat, nor do they like to have the soil be dry.

Soil should be kept moist. Do not let the soil go dry. Put the fern in the sink, let the water run over it. Once the water stops coming out of the bottom of the pot hang it back up.

They prefer it to be both cool and damp. So if you have a drafty window or door you can place the plant near it’ll be much happier. Or place it near your humidifier.

Light needs are minimal for ferns. They will be happy in a north or east facing window. Or you can place them in the interior of a well lit room. They are one of the few plants that can do well indoors away from a window.

Ferns are excellent plants for cleaning the air in your home.

Snake Plant aka Mother In Law’s Tongue ( Sanservieria trifasciata )

I planted these Mother-in-law’s tongues out into the yard late last summer. While they can handle a few hours below freezing occasionally, long or repeated frosts will kill them. They died back to the ground last winter and didn’t re-appear until June.

Flowers are tiny, white and grow in bunches on long stems. The plants will grow 4′-5′ tall.

They prefer light shade. Mine only get a small amount of dappled sunlight early and late in the day.

You should go easy on the water, especially during the winter they are prone to rotting. They will do just fine during droughts and can be kept almost as dry as a cactus for short times once established.

Occasionally you may find a leaf that is damaged. I cut off the damaged part of the leaf and leave the rest. The rest of the leaf often will do quite well after trimming.

These will fill in and form a thick, dense border in time. If you are planting them, leave at least a foot between them for future growth. These make a nice background border for smaller plants.

Propagate by division. Once these plants get too big, you can dig them up or take them out of the pot and divide them. Use a very sharp knife to slice the plant into sections giving each section a clump or more of leaves and as much roots as possible.

Or you can just remove a leaf, cut it into 3″ sections and plant each section in soil – be sure to keep the top up and the bottom down same as it was growing. Keep the soil moist but not wet until you see new growth, then slowly taper back the watering until you are watering them only when dry. Replant them then.

These plants were once used for the purpose of making bow strings.

Dracaenas

These plants have green leaves with red or white edges and grow slowly.

Most, not all dracaenas prefer lots of sun. Some of these are in a north-east facing room that has a covered porch around all its windows. If you can read a newspaper in the room using only sunlight, it is probably bright enough for these plants. Too much light will bleach out their leaves. Move them to a less sunny location if this happens.

They like soil that is moist, so water when the top inch of soil is dry, letting water run out through the bottom of the pot. Do not let them dry out.  But do water a little less in the winter to prevent rot from setting in from a lack of sunlight.

The white edged dracaena shown here seems to need more humidity than the red edged ones.

Dieffenbachia

( aka Dumb Cane )

Inexpensive and easy to grow, these plants can grow to room height in about five years. But most will only reach 6′ tall. The leaves will get larger as the plant grows, becoming several inches across as it reaches room height. If it grows too quickly you’ll need to give it a post or string for support. Rotate it as needed to be sure it grows straight. If your plant is growing quickly and too weak to hold itself up it probably wants more light.

They want medium to bright light so east or west facing windows work wonderfully. The brighter the light the more white will appear in the leaves. Depending on your home it will take southern window exposure, especially during cloudy months.

Dieffenbachia likes the soil moist, water thoroughly when the top inch of soil is dry.

Chewing the leaves can cause a burning sensation in your mouth and swelling possibly making it impossible to breath so consider this plant toxic to pets and children. The sap causes temporary speechlessness as well, which is how it received the name ‘dumb cane’.

Watch for mealy bugs ( they look like cotton on the plant )

Leaf drop starting at the bottom and working up is usually from too little light.

Leaves turning white, yellow or grey are getting too much light.

Edges of leaves turn brown when there is salt damage. Because these plants get large it may be hard to water them in the sink. If you can do so, let the water run through the pot and out the bottom. If not, you may want to repot it with fresh soil a few times a year.

Soft, squishy areas on the stem or soft squishy spots on leaves are from bacterial damage. Usually this is too much water in the winter when the plant is not getting sufficient sun. Remove damaged areas with a clean knife, repot and give the plant more light or less water.

Spider mites can spot your leaves, or yellow them. Orange oil or washing with soapy water, then rinsing with clean water usually takes care of them.