plants/Garden in and out

Saving a Plant

potSoooo my neighbor Louise had this Pony Tail Palm Tree in an interesting pot. She said she had it over 10 years.  I always liked it.  She used to call it her baby and just like a dotting mother she watered it and trimmed it and babied it.  When she went in the nursing home it stayed in her empty house for a little over 2 months before I took it up to the nursing home to her.

When she passed on I brought the plant home with me and at first it was doing really well, even though I felt like I wasn’t giving it the best care.  When I was getting the drywall in my “foyer” done I put it outside to move it out of the way.  That was right at the end of the summer.  At first I actually thought I saw some growth out if it and it looked happy.

Welllllll to make a long story short, I forgot to bring Louise’s baby back in the house and one day it got cold in the early fall and snowed (it was seasonally early for that to happen last year) and  the plant started turning brown and wilted.  Oh Crap!  I immediately brought it in the house.  It distressed me  because I NEVER kill plants.  In fact, once upon a time I was the plant doctor as I used to take peoples dying plants and revive them for them.  Its been a while but I think I charged $5 + expenses if I could bring it back to life.  I was challenged with the worst of them but if I saw any sign of green I was able to revive it.  So you can imagine the shame and disappointment I was feeling over this one dying!   In my defense  I have not had plants in this house since I been here (5 years) because of the lack of natural sunshine and space sooooo I guess my plant intuition was not at peak to know that the plant should not have stayed outside so long.

Louise always told me that her baby  likes a lot of water so I made sure I watered it.  When the leaves started coming off I watered it even more, not understanding why it was not turning green again.  Progressively the top started getting dry and brittle and all the leaves fell off.  I  got a new pot for it and was going to repot it thinking that maybe it was pot bound.  The plant was pretty tight in the pot so I got a hammer to break the pot up (THINKING IT WAS A CLAY POT).  hmmmmm I quickly discovered it was plastic and the hammer was doing NOTHING but pissing me off.  I tried everything to get this freaking plant out of the pot to no avail.  I couldn’t break that pot with a hammer, crow bar nothing.  I gave up, watered it some more and stormed off to bed frustrated (it was 2AM).

Last night I felt the top of the trunk and realized death was descending down the trunk so  I cut off a piece of the trunk to see and sure enough it was dead.  hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh  I looked it up to see if perhaps I should get another one but you would never guess how much these things are.


In case you can’t read the print it says Ponytail Tree reduced- $300.00

I was motivated now because I’ll be doggone if I was going to throw away an expensive plant. I cut a little piece of the bottom and found flesh that was alive so I felt there was hope if I can only get it out of that pot.  I had to wind up using my roto zip to cut and chip away at the pot (have I ever mentioned I love my Roto-Zip?)


I won’t lie and say it was easy.  I was cutting plastic and the cut lines generated a heavy dust that got all over the kitchen floor and on me and I probably got in my lungs also.  I finally cut enough of the pot to get the plant out and sure enough mostly roots were in the pot and the dirt was really wet.  I transplanted it using Miracle Grow potting soil and then put it in the sink and soaked the pot.


I swear that plant was soaking it up because most of the water was retained in the pot.  Then I decided to look up the care for the plant (why I hadn’t done this when I got the plant I can’t explain):

“Water the plant every 7 to 14 days. The Ponytail Palm stores water well and doesn’t like too much water. Make sure the plant dries out to at least an inch down in the soil before you water it again. Watering deep and less frequent is better than watering a little every day. Make sure the soil is draining well and the roots are not sitting in water.”

So essentially I was killing it by giving it so much water and since the pot was not clay as I thought it was, the plant was siting in water. I read on:

“Yellow or brown leaves are a clear sign your ponytail palm is getting too much water, since the tree’s normal leaf color is light green.”

I guess now I know why that plant survived after being left in the house for a couple of months without being watered.  IT WAS HAPPY!

I am sorry little planty!  You will dry out now and we will see if I will be able to revive you or not.  I am hoping and praying!!  I really like this plant.


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