By Shabna Cader
I don’t know about you, but March typically generates a cleaning spree around my life. I have got into the habit of ‘spring cleaning’ every couple of months, but somehow this month gives me the ammunition to kick it up a bit more.
I’d been nurturing a bunch of pots and plants in my balcony for some months now – well nearly a year (a little after lockdown last March), and some of the corners and edges and rimmings were looking a tad unclean. Dried leaves and bits of soil had gathered in small clots and glued themselves to the ground. There was also a layer of dust thanks to the construction that’s happening right opposite. Bits of bird poop and dead snail shells included.
It all needed to go and I need to give the balcony a thoroughly clean and tidy.
The first order of things was to apply a fresh coat of paint. This was thankfully sorted by a few folks we hired to paint the rest of the house, but I had to save my many pots and plants from inevitable paint splatters so I moved every one of them into my room for a couple of days. Yep. some of you might come at me saying it’s no good to be sleeping with plants at night but I do have some that are known to be air purifiers so I’m hoping that did the trick. Regardless, I had nowhere else to put them.
I didn’t realise just how many plants I had accumulated in under a year but let’s just say there’s quite a number of them. I’ve also got into the habit of propagating some of the snake plants, the pothos and also transferring some of the larger plants into bigger pots for easier growth so I’ve also accumulated several pots in varying sizes. I put them all to use this time however, as I sat one afternoon on the ground of my room, surrounded by my plants and propagations and put them in fresh pots and soil.
I have to admit I made quite a mess of it but the result was pretty satisfying. There’s something thrilling about seeing propagations in water, slowly growing out roots and then transferring them to soil and continuing to watch them grow day by day. The circle of life they say and nature will always continue to grow as long as you take care of it.
Pots and plants ready, I allowed the paint outside a day to dry and then began to slowly move them outside one by one. I’m one to take my time and do things with care so this took about an hour or so. I wanted to reanalyse where I was placing each pot just so each plant that required plenty of sunlight was getting it in the right doses, and also provide a bit of shade for some of the others that do not require much sunlight but need the fresh air. I placed all my snake plants in a row, and you’ll also notice some of them are now growing fresh new babies.
This also excites me! I gave some of the pots and plants height by popping them up on an old decorative box I had back in my closet, and also some old empty pots that I turned upside down. I’ve also made use of an old candle stand, which typically holds twelve mini tealights, but instead, I’ve now added some mini pothos and variated hoyas. Once they start to grow and trail, I’ll need to transfer them to slightly bigger pots but for now, it’ll look pretty cute on the stand.
I’ve started to veer off the usual houseplants track and also pick up a few unusual-looking ones. The two caladiums I picked up recently have a decent opacity in terms of their colours and look but are a bit fussy to maintain. I’m still figuring out how much water and how frequently I need to water them. Another wtrailing plant I picked up seemed to have suffered from being indoors so is currently sitting quite unhappily by the ledge of the balcony. I’m hoping a few days in the sun would bring back its spirit. My herbs are looking decent thus far thankfully. I now have two rosemary plants, one mint, four Moroccan mints (as I have continuously kept propagating the mummy plant), and basil.
I’m told that anthuriums do not like much sunlight but my ginormous one has been sitting in a very clear spot and has not been fussy. Surprisingly, it has also bloomed quite a number of flowers in the past few months. I recently added a monstera adasoni to my little collection and this is because the mother of all monsteras is a bit off my plant budget. The hope is to invest in a healthy-looking mama plant at some point, however, but the little cheesy-looking one will do for now. Have cut off two at node points and they are currently seated in the water, growing the tiniest of roots.
I don’t have many ‘hanging’ options, as in there is nothing for my pots to hang from in the balcony, so I’ve made up for this fact by making use of the backing of the old a/c I have and my two pothos is happily strung and hung.
I understand that not many folks living in the city would have access to ground space and soil to grow trees, but that’s one of the reasons why I started to nurture my own little urban balcony garden. It doesn’t matter that every plant is in a pot. The fact is that I can grow a little garden, and so can YOU.