Annie from Brooklyn writes: one of my terrarium succulents nearly died, and I used your trick to take cuttings and place them on top of the dirt…they survived and have turned into a gnarly bunch that I don’t know what to do with at this point. I feel like they’re suffocating in their little pot, but I don’t really have more space to give them. What should I do? How do you prune a succulent?
Molly Marquand, Wilder’s horticultural editor answers:
Pruning succulents is just like pruning any other plant with one vital difference: it’s a lot easier. In fact, thanks to their juicy constitution, succulent fragments survive the stressful detachment process from the mother plant and easily root to become prosperous plants of their own. So in the case of succulents, pruning is not just about paring down, but producing more, too.
Don’t be afraid to hit hard when it comes to pruning. Even if you take the entire top off, it’ll likely come back (although perhaps a
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Wondering why your tomatoes aren’t growing? Curious about that insect you spotted on your sage plant? Need to know the best way to grow food indoors? Wilder Quarterly’s Horticultural Editor, Molly Marquand, has the answers. Email her at dearwilder at wilderquarterly dot com. She’ll be posting answers here and on our Facebook page next week.
Welcome to ‘Dear Wilder’ where Molly Marquand (Wilder’s horticultural editor) answer your questions about growing. Thanks to those who wrote in! If you have a questions send it to dearwilder at wilderquarterly dot com.
Without further ado, here are this week’s questions:
Cushla from New Zealand writes: My neighbor’s house shades the yard from October to April, the sunshine is very limited and growing anything is very difficult! Should I just hang up my gardening gloves over winter & resign myself to the fact I’ll have to buy my veg – or are there some varieties that grow in really shady spots?
An important thing to remember when growing veggies is that flower and fruit production is most heavily dependent on sunshine. To grow greens, a little shade is just fine. If you have constant dappled shade, or at least three hours of sun a day on your beds arugula, chard, and kale will manage, and more wild type edibles such as cress, miners lettuce, and sorrel will do even better. Try to find some cultivated varieties of native edibles in your area to grow at home. Already adapted to your climate and seasons, these kinds of plants are more likely to thrive in difficult conditions. Consider embracing the wintry darkness and forcing some veggies in your cellar or basement, too. Beansprouts, endives, seakale and rhubarb can all be forced with zero light and produce totally sumptuous harvests, whatever the time of year. So definitely don’t hang up those gloves yet!
Siri writes: I wanted to know what some effective, and as all-natural as possible, ways are to deal with spider mites attacking your plants?
Spider mites are one of the most surreptitious plant killers. They’re so teeny tiny, the spidery webs hundreds of them spin together are often the first noticeable sign that they’re around. The best way to keep mites from harming your plants is to practice good preventative care! Like most pests, mites target plants that are already ailing, especially if they are suffering from under-watering. Keep your plants in amply lit areas and adopt a steady watering regime to avoid the super stressful process of wilting (but don’t over water either! That’s just as bad). To get rid of the mite population you already have, use a dilute solution of soap and water to gently clean the leaves. Safer soap® is a good option, but 1.5 tsps of regular dishwashing detergent and 1 quart of water will do the trick. Make sure you really douse the plant and get in all the nooks and crannies where those buggers are hiding. Pull the plant out of direct light and leave the soap on for about 10 minutes, then thoroughly wash off. I’d suggest a complete re-potting of your plants to eliminate any mites or eggs living in the soil, too. To make things a little more interesting you could consider getting yourself a Pinguicula. With its sticky, bug-digesting leaves, this carnivorous plant is the chosen pest zapper of awesome gardens like Kew!
Good luck to all!
Starting next week, Molly Marquand, our horticultrual editor is going to be answering your plant questions. Curious about a plant? Need to know the best way to grow food indoors? Trying to figure out what works best on a Chicago rooftop? Molly has the answers. Email her at dearwilder at wilderquarterly dot com. She’ll be posting answers here and on our Facebook page on Monday!
Have you guys met Molly? This is Molly Marquand, the Wilder Horticultural Editor. She’s a whiz with all things growing from farming to serious botany.
Molly is now going to extend that expertise to the Wilder community with Dear Wilder. Got a question about the how, what, when of growing or farming in your backyard or on your fire escape? Ask away. Each week, she’ll answer selected questions on our Facebook page and here on our blog.
Just email her at dearwilder at wilderquarterly dot com.