(photo credit: MCT)
One of my greatest pleasures is to sit outside on my terrace in the company of
my flowering plants. Simple as that activity may sound, the scent of the flowers
and the visual delight of each colorful potful of pansies, geraniums, begonias,
impatiens, sweet alyssum (and other plants whose names I don’t know) fill me
with joy. And every new bud and floret fills me with pride as I watch my private
garden flourish in the sunshine.
I didn’t always have such a green thumb.
When I was living in Montreal, I never had plants in my house because I tended
to over-tend them, and they did not do well. But when I came to Israel, the
verdant variety was so alluring, that I slowly began to incorporate potted
plants into my life and learned how to take care of them.
What I learned
is that plants are like people. If you treat them well, give them what they
need, appreciate them and leave them to their own devices, they will simply
thrive and reward you with a season or a lifetime of pleasure.
But if you
overindulge them or, conversely, ignore them, they will shrivel up and leave
In more practical terms, the first thing to know about a plant is
whether it needs shade, half sun or full sun, and then position it
With regard to watering, look to see what the plant needs.
If the soil is dry, give it some water. If not, let it be. But the second you
see a plant drooping and the leaves looking flaccid, water it immediately. Even
if it looks like a goner, the miracle of life will bring it back to fullness –
if it’s not too late.
If you want to spray your plants with water to
freshen up the flowers and leaves, always do it in the early morning or evening
when the sun is not at its height. If you do it in the heat of the day, the sun
will scorch the leaves.
A gardener once told me, “If a plant has good
drainage, you cannot over-water it because the excess water will flow out the
bottom of the pot. But you can water a plant too often, and that is not
If a plant is in a pot with holes in the bottom and is placed
within a larger pot with no holes, always check to see if any water has drained
into the bottom. If so, pour it out. Never let a plant sit in water, as the
roots will rot.
And speaking of roots, check the bottom of a pot from
time to time to see if the roots are beginning to come out of the holes. If they
are, it’s time to repot the plant to give it more space to grow. If you wait too
long, the plant will become pot-bound and will not be able to adjust itself to a
larger vessel. By the same token, don’t put a small plant directly into a large
pot, as the roots will have too much room and will not be able to grow
Plants grow well when they are placed close to each other.
Therefore, position your plants in clusters so they can imbibe each other’s
energy. If you are going out of town for a little while and cannot water them,
place large bowls or pails of water near each cluster, and the moisture should
keep the plants in good condition until you get back.
I like to buy small
seedlings (shtilim) and grow my own individual plants or create colorful
combinations in a larger pot. But sometimes a large flourishing plant will catch
my eye, and I cannot resist buying it and taking it home to add to my growing
Large or small, multicolored or monochromatic, there’s
nothing like a well-tended balcony garden to add variety and vitality to your