Someone gave me a plant... it is doomed

I had people from my book club over last night (see tomato/basil thread in Cafe Society) and one of them gave me this very cute planter (view 1, view 2) with an assortment of succulents. It’s in a square 8"X8" unglazed terra cotta container with a hole in the bottom.

I’d like to keep it on my desk. It will get plenty of light there and be safe from kitten molestation. I guess my first step is to get something to put under it… after that, what?

How do I take care of this cute thing? The book club is coming back in November. It would be great if the plant were still alive by then…


As you probably realize, it’s several different plants crammed into one container which may or may not have appropriate soli, and may or may not have adequate drainage.

More house plants are killed from overwatering than from any other reason, cacti and succulents are especially susceptible, so making sure the soil dries out well between waterings is a must (this may be difficult to ascertain since the plants are so close together in the container - use a finger inserted an inch or two into the soil to tell if it’s dry). Good light for these types of plants means at least a few hours of sun a day, or strong light from an appropriate fluorescent fixture (not a dinky desk lamp).

Good luck, and remember it was a gift, so there’s no investment to blow. :smiley:

For some reason, I can’t open your photos.

However, my SO has the proverbial green thumb…nary a plant has ever died in our house and off the top of my head we have about 26 in the house right now - from small to over 12 feet high.

His basic rule of green thumb…water once a week. Pretty much let it completely dry out and then, if it fits, put in sink and fill with water until it is completely soaked. Let stand for awhile and then return to position. Plants at work are in danger of well-meaning people dumping in the rest of their water bottle every day, and this over-watering will cause root rot. No watering over once a week!

Most house plants don’t do well with direct sunlight for any length of time…indirect sunlight is all they need. Also, some plants are like little divas - they don’t like to be moved. That means don’t be switching up locations and putting it in that corner this week, and the other room next week, etc.

You really only need to add a bit of topsoil about once a year.

In Armistead Maupin’s books, Tales of the City, one of the characters had a green thumb…and I loved the name of his shop: “Plant Parenthood”. So be a good parent!

Your thread title made me chuckle… A friend asked me to look after his herbs for a week once. I refused, explaining that I liked him to much to inflict certain death on his plants. He assured me that they were indestructible…

Those poor plants :frowning:

I have a black thumb myself, so I have nothing constructive to contribute here.

Thanks for the comments. I will be careful not to over water. I have been guilty of that in the past. I wish people would give me artificial plants instead of live plants. My office is quite bright with four windows but no direct sunlight, as two windows face east and two face a veranda-type porch.

DMark said: “nary a plant has ever died in our house and off the top of my head we have about 26 in the house right now - from small to over 12 feet high.”
Wow. This is incredible. I kiss the hem of his garment. I hope he’s in the medical field or something where he can use those life-sustaining powers for the betterment of humankind.

I killed an air fern :frowning:

Take a deep breath. Succulents are damn near impossible to kill. I have a jade tree that is at least 40 years old. Just give them some sun and don’t overwater and you will be fine. Once a week or even every 2 weeks should do it.

Clear glass plates are great under plants. I like the flat ones in the candle section.

40 years?!? :eek:

I likewise kiss the hem of your garment.

My mom has one that came with the house she and my father bought from his Aunt Bessie, she had the plant since she got it in 1904. We are taking a cutting with us to plant next year at a friends house in Florida.

A 109-year old potted plant? Hand over your jersey; we’re going to hang it from the rafters of the stadium.

What species of plant is this? Is it one of those that eats cuts of beef and live mice?

Jade plant, crassula ovata. A very common indoor plant in the late 1800s/early 1900s because they are so easy to grow. Just like that frondy plant, some sort of fern that was so popular. She also has a wax plant, but that is only about 30 years old. Luckily for the jade plant it was outside on the deck when the house burned so it didn’t get fried. i am not as fond of wax plants indoors as they drip nectar from the blossoms and draw flies and bees in flower.

I used to have some pots of succulents that sat on my bedroom windowsill when I went away to college and were literally only watered on breaks and vacations. My mother kept my bedroom closed and never bothered with them. They did fine.

Desert plants. Less is more when it comes to watering them and otherwise provide them with plenty of sun.

This is very good news for my little succulent garden. *Neglect *is one thing I’m good at. Everyone has to be good at something.

To re-emphasize: there is no magic formula for watering.

For example, if a plant is sitting in a saucer of water, or if the container has no drainage hole, or if the soil is very dense and clayey, watering once a week could still mean fatal overwatering. Or if the plant is in freely-draining soil and sun, watering once a week could be insufficient to prevent it drying out and dying.

The only acceptable answer to “how often do I water it?” is “When it needs it”. And you can best tell that by sticking your finger in the soil to assess whether it’s damp or dry.* General recipe for success: If damp, don’t water. If dry, water.

*with experience, the color of the soil and appearance of the plant will key you in on whether water is needed. Even before obvious wilting, you can often tell whether a plant needs water.

It is my SO who has the green thumb, not me. However, he has trained me not to screw up the watering schedule. Oh, and all of the plants are in planters that have at least one hole at the bottom and a tray to catch any drippings. He says that without the hole in the bottom, there is more danger of root rot.

One of our largest, and healthiest plants was bought at a grocery store in 1988, shortly after we moved to California from Berlin. We have given clippings of it to friends, and there are now baby plants from that one in NYC, Illinois, Arizona and California…all of which are still surviving.
We also have one spider palm plant we bought in 1987 for the bookshelf - it was about a foot tall at the time - and now it is easily 9 feet tall. (It is in the corner of our main entryway now.)

That is impressive!

It was HIS garment that I was kissing the hem of. But if you WANT me to kiss the hem of your garment, I guess we can work something out.