If you have watched my videos on YouTube you will see that I had shoulder surgery in early September. I have been in a brace for 5 weeks now and am going a bit crazy, to be honest. It isn’t easy to do things one-handed or one and one half handed. I haven’t been able to drive and just haven’t felt like doing much. Everyone says, “You’re healing”, but I feel lazy and a bit depressed. Enough of the pity party. It’s okay. Things really aren’t that bad. I have great friends and family who have taken me out to lunch, grocery shopping, to Ohio for a program, African violet club, and brought us dinners. It really hasn’t been horrible, but I have been feeling down. Being dependant on others and physical therapy is PAINFUL, just sayin’.

Plants As Therapy

What does that have to do with plant therapy? One of my favorite books is Plants as Therapy by Elvin McDonald. You can read about how I met and had him sign many of his books here. I love this 1976 book and here are some quotes I feel say it all.

“Scientists have expended great efforts establishing what they believe to be our minimum daily nutrient requirements, but they have not yet determined our minimum daily nature requirement, the time we need to spend in the presence of living plants.”

“….the question must be asked: What is our minimum daily requirement for association with plants? Scientists may never have the answer to this question, but I believe that plants have enormous potential for maintaining emotional stability and actually improving the lives of human beings.” Exactly, Elvin!

Plants As Therapy

Plants as Therapy by Elvin McDonald

African violets save the day

At my African violet club the other evening, we were given plants from someone who passed away. It seems morbid, but they didn’t want their plants to go in the garbage, so her family gave them to our club. They were passed out to us to take home and bring them back to life, as many of them weren’t looking too good. They were just what I needed. Working with plants makes me forget everything and makes me happy -my happy place. These plants were my therapy, even with only 1 1/2 hands.

Violet plants before being repotted

African violets that need some help

Reviving the plants

First I removed the yellow leaves and removed the plant from the pot to see what was going on.

Scrape the stem

As you can see in these pictures, the stem is long and has a brown crusty covering. That covering is where old leaves fell off and a scab-like covering grew. This happens to all African violets and therefore they need to be re-potted at least a couple of times per year. I use a small paring knife and carefully scrape that crusty layer off. The picture on the right shows the stem with some of the scab-like covering still on so you can see the difference.

Shorten the root ball

Now that the stem is completely scraped, a small amount of the root ball needs to be cut off. The stem is too long to repot in the same pot. Therefore, I cut the same amount off the bottom of the root ball as the stem is long. Then I repot the violet in the same pot, covering the scraped stem with potting medium. Roots will grow from the stem, reviving the violet.

Repotted violet

The violet looks much better.

It still doesn’t look too good, but I placed it on my light stand where the lights are on 12 hours per day. Hopefully, it will green up and flower.

Dracaena up-potting

That wasn’t enough therapy for me, so I moved on to a dracaena. I bought this the other day at a local greenhouse that was having a twilight sale. This very healthy plant was 75% off, so I paid about $2 for this 4″ plant. It was root bound so even though it is fall and I would normally NOT up-pot a plant at this time of year, I made an exception. If a plant you buy in the fall is root bound, it is okay to up-pot it to the next size pot. At this time of year when the days are shorter and plant growth is slowing down, I usually only repot plants to the same size pot, switching the unattractive grow pot to a nicer pot.

One size larger

I only picked a plant that was a bit bigger than the root-bound plant, as it is better to only go one size up at a time when up-potting a plant. If you go too big, the extra potting medium may hold too much water and rot the plant.

Here is the up-potted Dracaena ‘Dorado’.

Dracaena 'Dorado'

Dracaena ‘Dorado’ potted up.

Repotting these plants, grooming them, and trimming them was just what I needed. It may be exactly what you need, too. Do you work with plants when you are feeling down?

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