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MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin

Welcome to our blog! Written by staff at MMWD, “Think Blue Marin” explores all things water in south and central Marin—water supplies, conservation, new projects, watershed management, and more.

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Jul 27

A Good Soak

Posted on July 27, 2018 at 10:16 AM by Ann Vallee

by Charlene Burgi

A good soaking always feels refreshing whether it be in a hot tub or pool. The effect can leave us feeling renewed, as water often does in its various uses.

Our container plants rarely get this kind of soaking, where the whole pot or container is submerged into a bath of water covering the soil level. When your container plants are treated to this activity, you will find trapped oxygen bubbling up allowing the soil to absorb the cool water in all parts of the container.

A few weeks ago, I decided to give my tried-but-true houseplants a respite from the summer heat. I filled a bucket deep enough to cover the biggest container, then added just a hint of organic fertilizer for good measure. Each plant took a turn in the bucket. Once the pot stopped bubbling and reached saturation, I moved the plants onto a tray to collect excess water from the drain hole. (Before attempting this exercise, be certain the container has bottom drain holes.) 

The next step required some cleaning. Plants not only like a soaking, but also love showers to remove the dust of everyday living from their leaves. This can be as easy as placing them on the floor of your shower or using a clean microfiber cloth dampened with a solution of castile soap and water. After their shower, shake off the excess water on the leaves. Removing dust and dirt from the leaves allows for better absorption of light for photosynthesis. It also allows for better inspection to spot any insects such as aphids, scale or mealybugs that may have taken up hidden residence in the foliage.

 Spathiphyllum in bloom
 Spathiphyllum in bloom
It took the better part of the day for my fourteen houseplants to complete their spa day. However, the rewards for this effort came back to me tenfold. The peace lily (Spathiphyllum) provided two beautiful flowers this week. It has been years since it’s shown any sign of blooming. The orchids began growing new spikes with the promise of new color appearing within a few months. Even the cactus and jade plant looked perkier!

If you find a few extra hours on your hands, you might consider giving a treat to these oxygen-producing, carbon-dioxide absorbing wonders in your home. If your houseplants have gone the way of a ‘70s fad, you might consider bringing in a few low-maintenance varieties such as pothos, which takes low light, or let that peace lily show off its white flag. The rewards are numerous.


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