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Plant Foster Homes

November 10, 2014

amaryllis bulbsRecently, I’ve been faced with a houseplant dilemma. As the seemingly endless construction on my house continues, I’ve been living in the north-facing rooms at the back of the house and have been cut off from my usual sunny south-facing plant windows. This has been particularly problematic for my flowering houseplants. For a while, I had my pots of flowering cyclamen sitting on the dining room table in front of the sliding glass door, thinking that they would get enough light there; but when I noticed their stunted flowers and long spindly stems straining toward the light, I realized they were not happy and moved them to a small east-facing window in the mudroom, where they are doing better.

In late August, when nights got too cool to leave houseplants out on the deck and I brought them all indoors, I dealt with the space crunch by taking all my amaryllis (Hippeastrum) bulbs out of their pots and storing them in paper bags for eight weeks of dormancy. But as October turned into November, it was time to put them back in pots and give them sun and warmth – conditions that I am decidedly lacking at the moment – to encourage growth and bloom.

When I finished the potting process (which included dividing some bulbs that had formed pups), I had 12 pots that I needed to find suitable spaces for. So I sent out an email message to friends looking for temporary foster homes.  I quickly got three volunteers; and at the end of last week, I delivered 3 pots to Joyce’s sunroom, 3 pots to Judy’s bay window, and 2 to a sunny spot on the floor in front of Anne’s glass patio door. The remaining pots, with small bulbs that are unlikely to flower this year, will squeeze in with the cyclamen in front of my sunny, east-facing window.

I’m sure that my bulbs will be fine in their foster homes, but I  hope that my new plant window in the living room will be ready to welcome them home in 2-3 weeks.

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. November 10, 2014 8:31 pm

    Don’t worry about those amaryllis bulbs. I don’t pot mine up until we get back from Florida in April and they bloom in summer for me! As a matter of fact I purchased a huge amaryllis bulb in Florida last spring and planted it when we got back and it was gorgeous.

    • November 14, 2014 7:09 pm

      Sue, Thanks for the reassurance. A friend of mine has let her amaryllis bulbs revert to their own timing. She no longer puts them in the cool and dark for a couple of months to force dormancy; they still bloom, but mostly in summer. I would still like to try to get mine to bloom during winter when their flowers seem all the more wondrous to me because I’m living in a color-deprived world.

  2. Linda Belcher permalink
    November 10, 2014 8:50 pm

    I do know what you mean. One year I had a seed project going and moved my African Violets to the other side of the room. They were not happy! After that spring they went back to their south east facing windows. I promised them I would not move them again. Great idea- foster homes for our plants.

    • November 14, 2014 7:13 pm

      Linda, Our plants do let us know what they like! My potted cyclamen, while happier than they were before I moved them, still reproach me with the long stems that they are stretching toward the light. I’m expecting their preferred sunny window ledge to be ready for habitation in another week or so, and both they and I will be relieved when they have been moved back there.

  3. debsgarden permalink
    November 10, 2014 10:16 pm

    I sympathize with your dilemma! My own home incredibly has few rooms that get enough light for house plants, so for the most part I am confined to planting outdoors. I hope your plants all do well their faster homes. Your newly expanded home, when it is completed, will surely have the wonderful light both you and they need.

    • November 14, 2014 7:16 pm

      Deb, Yesterday’s wonderful event was the removal of the plywood barrier that had been separating the back of the house where I have been living from the remodeled living room and the new addition. When the plywood came down, the light flooded in, leaving me happier than I have felt in a while.

      • December 10, 2014 5:02 pm

        we are revelling in a light house. And it will become even more so, when the partition wall in the living room comes down, and I get to remove and trim some too tall trees.

        • December 16, 2014 7:41 pm

          Diana, For most of the late summer and autumn, I was cut off from the south-facing windows of my house and had begun to feel like I was living in a cave. I am a creature of the light. It will be wonderful to have the full benefit of the south-facing window wall in my new bedroom, both to capture as much of winter’s sunshine as possible and to enjoy the wonderful light of stars and moon during winter’s long nights. Your plans for removing walls and trees sound exciting!

  4. November 11, 2014 4:21 am

    Your tales of building fill me with trepidation at the thought that soon I too will – to some extent if not from the ground up – be dealing with building and moving plants… Let’s hope that as you settle in to your new life, I can start planning mine, just as we do with the seasons! (I’m hoping after visits by TWO sets of potential buyers yesterday, to at last be facing the finish lie of this marathon…)

    • November 14, 2014 7:20 pm

      Jack, I think being in limbo is the hardest part of any building or moving project. The rule of thumb of developed when dealing with building contractors is to double any time estimates they give you. Not surprisingly, building selects for people with excellent spatial reasoning, but the trade-off is that many of them are terrible at temporal reasoning. I hope you have buyers soon and can move on to the next stage, with its new set of frustrations 😉 .

  5. November 11, 2014 7:40 am

    Living with construction is a real trial — I’ve done it, although not recently, thank goodness. I’m so glad your plants found temporary homes. It will be that much nicer to welcome them back!

    • November 14, 2014 7:23 pm

      Pat, It is a trial, but I think the results will be worth it. Even though I can’t use the new space yet, just having access to look or walk into it from the part of the house I’ve living in feels amazing.

  6. November 11, 2014 11:05 am

    My excitement about any kind of home improvements, even painting, lasts about a week after the project starts. That’s when I want everyone out of my house. I can’t imagine what you must be going through, but two or three weeks sounds close.

    • November 14, 2014 7:26 pm

      Carolyn, I should be using the remodeled living room again within two weeks and be able to move into the new master suite a couple of weeks after that. Today, as I was standing in the living room with my contractor, looking around with pleasure at the almost-finished work, I told him I was so excited that “it feels like Christmas.” “That’s because it almost is,” he quipped. I think being able to see light at the end of the tunnel has given both of us new energy.

  7. November 11, 2014 12:58 pm

    I hope the work is completed on schedule, Jean, and that you and your plants can settle back in comfort to enjoy the holiday season.

    • November 14, 2014 7:29 pm

      Kris, Since the work was scheduled to be completed in early September, there is no hope of it being completed on schedule (at least not without the use of a time machine!), but I do expect to be all moved in before Christmas and able to enjoy the holiday season (and even have people over) in comfort. An amazing amount of progress happened here this week, which has given me hope that the end is in sight.

  8. joenesgarden permalink
    November 13, 2014 8:40 am

    Jean, how wonderful that you have plant friends willing to plant sit while your home is still in transition!

    • November 14, 2014 7:32 pm

      Joene, I’m finding that the secret to getting help from friends is being willing to ask.

  9. Marielle Boissonneault permalink
    November 13, 2014 9:39 am

    It is just a temporary arrangement and it will be exciting for you to rearrange all your plants in your house once your renovations are over. My biggest plant dilemma here in my house are my cats.

    • November 14, 2014 7:36 pm

      Marielle, It’s been a long time since I lived with cats, but I don’t remember having many houseplants during those years. When I put out a call to my friends for help with plant fostering, one friend sent regrets because she didn’t think my plants could survive her dog.
      It will be fun to figure out how to arrange plants in my various rooms once the renovations are complete. One challenge is figuring out how best to take advantage of the very large window in my new bedroom (a window without a window ledge). I think there may be enough space in an alcove across from the window for a set of glass shelves that could hold plants.

  10. November 15, 2014 11:46 am

    Brilliant solution Jean! and how kind of your friends to volunteer some space. Here’s hoping the construction ends soon and you have your home back in one piece. That would be a wonderful Christmas gift wouldn’t it?

  11. November 16, 2014 6:12 pm

    Haha, I like the idea of foster homes for plants, what a good idea! I hope it’s shortlived, but good to know your friends can come through in a pinch.

  12. November 21, 2014 6:44 pm

    Oh Jean I love that friends have welcomed your foster plants until you can bring them home again…wishing you a completed construction project for Christmas! 🙂

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