Plants · weather

Plant Mum Post #3: Giving the Houseplants a Bath and Adventures with Spiders (no spider photos, merely an anecdote or, um, three)

Happy solstice to everyone who observes it! How are you all? I am relieved that autumn feels like autumn – in Southend at least – after the weirdest summer I can remember for ages. Not sure how I got sunburnt in the last week of July and spent the first week of August wrapped in blankets, watching rom coms set in Greece in a bid to warm up. Britain, eh. God, I am so English. When was the last time I came here and didn’t talk about the weather?!

Not about the weather

It was my birthday last week, and 26 got off to an auspicious start when I got back into bed with a cup of coffee and sat on a spider. I didn’t notice until I was making the bed later in the morning and thought ‘… what… is that…?’ I thought initially that a bit of my skin was falling off, so in some ways it was a relief to realise that the blood and bits of tissue were, er, not mine.

Oops.

(I have been having moderately bad dreams featuring spiders ever since, so we’re even, spider world. Do you hear me? DO NOT TAKE REVENGE.) (We’re not going to talk about how I was dusting my printer yesterday and I am ninety per cent sure a spider crawled into the paper tray before I could stop it. RIP little guy.) (Also there was a false widow on the porch the other day, directly below my window.) (I am going to stop thinking about arachnids now.)

Also not about the weather

I gave my plants a wash this morning. I read once that it’s good to put all your houseplants in the bath once a year, and hose them down. It’s to imitate seasonal storms, or something, and get rid of any dust. I think I might have enjoyed it more than they did…

I had to trim back the aloe (not pictured, it’s looking a bit waterlogged as it drains out) after some leaf death. How long are aloes meant to last? This one’s been knocking around for about five years, but what’s left seems okay, with new sprouts. I think I may have done a smidge of overwatering in the summer, because I was watering the same amount as I have during the last couple of summers, when it’s been insanely hot. This summer – sorry, weather again – hasn’t really been like that. The Flaming Katy cutting seems fine, too, minding its own business.

How are the courgettes and the peppers, you ask. Well, I succumbed to peer pressure and put the courgettes outside before they were strong enough to weather some truly bonkers storms (sorry, more weather). Those that made it were promptly eaten by snails. Rest in peace, babies, I will try again another year. The peppers are not that much bigger than they were in June, to be honest. My nan’s plants have all been late blooming this year, too, so I am not too worried. In fact, I have given the peppers to my nan because her flat is usually about 32 degrees Celsius in the winter, so they will likely grow in time for Christmas.

Here are some photos of neighbourhood plants from the last few weeks, just as the season began to turn. I love summer, I love autumn and I always feel like the weeks where summer shifts into autumn are a little bit magic. Sad, but also a bit magic.

I’m off to check the plants are all, you know, not drowned. Wishing you all a spider-free autumn, or at least a spider-free bed…

Look after yourselves,

Francesca


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Plants

Plant Mum Post #2: Introducing My Newest Lil Baby

Meet my newest child! I wasn’t going to buy any cacti (I wasn’t going to buy… anything) but this little creature was on the almost dead sale table at Hyde Hall, so really it had to be done. It’s a Christmas cactus. Well. It might be an Easter cactus. I bought it in May. The staff had no idea what colour its flowers might be, but surprise is the spice of life, or something. So far I’ve watered it once and admired its complete lack of attention seeking. Excellent purchase.

Remember the little courgettes? They have had mixed fortunes. They outgrew their makeshift pots so I put them outside in real pots. So much space for them to grow! Then we had AN UNHOLY STORM and my poor babies got pummelled. And, um, eaten by snails. By the time I got some proper growbags, we were down from nine sprouts to six. As of today, we have four or five. I’m only really confident that perhaps two of them will make it to the eating stages of our relationship. I should have kept them indoors for longer, and maybe played them more music. I’m 90% sure sound is good for plants, but I am basing that on a couple of newspaper articles and one passage in Good Omens.

courgettes in a growbag

So last time the peppers were just a pile of sludge. Today they are sprouts! They’re a bit more delicate than the courgettes were at that age (is that what you’re meant to say?). I’ve repotted them a couple of times because I ran out of soil, but so far so good? I’m not sure they’re up for the great outdoors yet, but they seem quite happy.

Pepper sprouts

If you read my A Week in the Life of an Author post, you’ll have seen that I gifted my cousin and cuz-in-law this little thing:

Funny story: I bought it when it was a tiny baby plant, in ASDA, to take to E’s for dinner. The dinner never happened but Covid did, so the plant hung out with me for 18 months, growing merrily. I finally gifted it last week, by which point it was twice its original size. It also took until last week to learn it’s called a ‘Flaming Katy.’ Does it look like it might catch light? The plan was always to give it to E when I saw her properly, but I became quite fond of it, so I took a cutting and it’s doing all right:

small cutting of Flaming Katy plant

Just a heads up, family, I might grow you all Flaming Katys for your assorted special occasions.

How are your house plants? Your garden plants? The verge outside your home? I don’t know if you can upload pictures to the comments section, but if you can… send me your photos. Or draw me a picture! Maybe not of those tall cacti, they could give the search engine scanners the wrong idea…


Want to support this blog and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). If you’re into fairy tales and/or want a brief respite from reality, you can also buy my bookThe Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, from most ebook retailers and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)