If Life Gives You Snow, Water Your Houseplants!

Jan pulling dead leaves off plants outside the Board Room at the Carroll Center for the Blind
Jan pulling dead leaves off plants outside the Board Room at the Carroll Center for the Blind


It is March and the snow continues to drizzle down. We all wish it was spring, but why not take advantage of the snow to make your houseplants happy?

You can use snow for watering and even feeding houseplants. Snow melt may give plants extra nitrogen, and certainly avoids the chemicals used to treat tap water.

Indoor gardening with little or no vision

Here is a guest post from Janet Pecorari, who loves her houseplants and also has fun propagating them. People losing their vision might think they will not enjoy house plants any more but Jan shows what a mistaken idea this is.  She looks after all the indoor plants at the Carroll Center for the Blind too, where she is Assistant to the President.

When to water houseplants

During winter, many houseplants go dormant and require less watering. Too much watering is sometimes harmful. I heard one horticulturalists say to use “tough love” in the winter months. You can readily detect too little watering. If you cannot see how the plant is doing, touching the plants on a regular basis will teach you how to recognize a lack of firmness in the leaves or stalks. This is the indicator that your plants need a nourishing drink. Lifting the pot and noticing if it is light or heavy will also give you a good reading. This is easier if you use plastic pots not ceramic ones.


Watering with snow

I live in a second floor apartment and like to bundle up and go out onto my balcony where snow accumulates. Using a dustpan, I scoop up as much snow as a bucket or other container can accommodate. By repeatedly scooping up snow and tamping it down into a five gallon bucket, I can bring in a nice amount of snow to thaw. Once it reaches room temperature, I water the indoor plants. (Make sure your snow is clean – see below.)

I fill empty pint or half gallon juice bottles according to the size of the plant, separate the leaves and pour the water right into the center of the plant where I know the roots are. That way I measure the water in advance and don’t overflow.

But with orchids, snow does not have to melt to be useful. There are those who will weekly place three ice cubes in an orchid and allow them to melt for a slow watering. The same thing can be done using snow. I simply form snow into a tight mass and set it in a potted orchid; being careful not to touch the snow to the leaves of the plant. It will gradually melt and give the orchid a slow release watering.

Reviving neglected plants

My heartiest plant currently is a huge spider plant that I bought at a yard sale four years ago. At that time it was unhealthy and about the size of the circumference of a dessert plate. Today it fills a pot that has the circumference of a small laundry basket and is very hearty. I routinely first set it on my office chair at home, wheel it into the bathroom and set it in the tub and then give it a 15 minute shower. It cleanses the leaves and saturates the soil quite nicely. Then I set something under one side of the pot to tip it in order to allow it to drain for a couple of days until I can again lift it and return it to the bedroom window. During its short stay in the shower, I cover it with plastic while Nick, my husband, or I shower so that soap or shampoo does not get in the plant. Nick is never more thrilled than when showering with this monster plant.

I also have an orchid currently in full bloom. A friend brought it to me after finding it on the side of the road in front of a house where the residents had moved. It was very poor looking so I repotted it in coconut fiber and tucked it on a shelf; watering it weekly but pretty much ignoring it. To my surprise last winter, I pulled it out to soak it (placing its clay pot into a bucket of water,) and to my surprise, I discovered a new blossom stalk.

Growing new plants from cuttings

I also like to take cuttings of easy to grow plants like pothos.

Pothos plants have stalks that tendril down for many inches. I cut off a long tendril just below a leaf so the leaf more or less covers the cut stalk. I strip off lower leaves because the roots grow from where the leaves joined the stalk.

I have some very tall and narrow ice tea glasses. I will take cuttings, place them into this glass which is for the most part clear. I then set that glass in a square McDonald’s Mickey Mouse glass because the tall glass tips easily with the overhanging cuttings. I keep the cuttings in the window and routinely empty and refill the glass with fresh water. The beauty of this glass is that the stems stay together and then the roots will wrap around the cuttings. You can dip your cuttings in liquid root grow, but I just use water.

I take those cuttings and center them in a flower box. Once secure in the dirt, I arrange the stems and leaves so that they reach out in different directions and then anchor the stems in the dirt, packing mud around what I refer to as “joints” in the plant stem. It took root in the flower box and I can now give away more plants from cuttings. Spider plants also root really easily from the baby spiders that hang down.

The purple passion

When I lived in Louisiana and still had sight, the neighbor had wonderful purple and deep red Purple Passions plants in hanging baskets on her porch. They have furry leaves and root really easily. I am going to try one again this spring. They like bright conditions.


Where to get your snow

Regarding where you obtain your snow for watering plants. You do not want to gather snow that has been plowed to the side of a road or sidewalk. In all probability that plowed snow also contains ice or manmade snow melting properties such as salt or other chemicals which could be very harmful if not deadly to plants.

Spring will come soon 

So, put on your boots and gloves and grab a bucket. Gather the snow and make use of it for happy and healthy plants. Also be watchful for signs of new growth on your plants. They are the best indicators that the season is about to change with warmer days for the start of the growing season and a sure indication that spring is just around the corner, and it is time to think about and plan your garden, or your porch planters!

Easy plants to grow

Best easy house plants  This web page took a little while to load, but then gave good information about 10 easy to grow house plants with a large photo of each.

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