Hand Holding Needed for Elderly Semi-handicapped Woman (Long)
I used to landscape our homes, several large areas over a forty year period. My back and hips gave out and I am now too weak to even get down on the floor, bend much, or walk far.
When my father died eleven years ago, I took a large planter home from the funeral home. A couple of years later I divided the group and kept a nice sheflera (SP?) and Norfolk Island Pine. The Pine grew too large and I gave it to someone with higher ceilings. I still have the sheflera in the same rather large pot. It has seen a fair amount of neglect in it's place near a shaded window, often not watered often enough, rarely fed. But it keeps on growing and I keep trimming it back. I don't know what I used for potting soil but likely added per-lite since I had lots left from my landscaping days. It is rarely fertilized.
Four years ago I brought another planter home from my mother's funeral and put it also in a place where it wasn't in plain sight. It desperately needs to be separated and plants potted separately: a peace lily that was neglected until I would notice the leaves limply crying for water; a boston fern which seems to be doing well, and what is, I think, a dracena. The ivy died long ago. There is a volunteer shefflera - looks like the smaller leaved kind, that is small. I cut it off at the base and stuck it in some soil recently (can't remember where I got the soil) and it is sending out new leaves. Now I discovered that the bit of stalk left in the pot is sending up new growth. This container has been fertilized once in four years.
We moved recently to a house with more windows and those plants are in a place where they are much more noticeable so I am enjoying and giving them more attention - picking off dead leaves, clearing the top of the soil, etc. And I found an urge to start growing houseplants. So I bought a half dozen different kinds that are supposed to be fairly easy: several small pothus, a diffenbachia, dracena, spider plant with babies attached, snake plant. Another one that was recommended and I forget the name.
They came from a couple of reputable nurseries, and walmart. I am careful to not over water, though the pothus are small in two inch pots, and I think they like moisture, so I do give them a drink more often. The soils from each place are not ideal, even from the nurseries, and they vary. One would not hold the water at all. It ran right through. I had to leave water in the saucer to let it soak it up. The spider plant (large) held so much water it went from light to heavy. It's just now getting a little lighter so I'll start checking it again. I would like to start the babies in pots. None of the plants seem to distribute water evenly like the ones I have had for years. The pothus seems to be in ok soil, but will need larger pots soon.
I also have an orchid given me on Christmas and it seemed to do well. I followed instructions, two tablespoons of water a week. Last week it displayed sudden distress. All the flowers withered. My husband helped me get the inner plastic holder out of the pot and I discovered that the lower third of the soil was waterlogged. I found a larger container and put some rinsed gravel from decorative gravel around the house on the bottom of the pot, wrapped the clear plastic inner pot in tinfoil to shield the roots from light, and put it on the gravel, hoping it would air out and dry the lower soil. I watered it a few drops today since the bottom looked dry. I'm not partial to orchids since I like more foliage, but since it was a gift I would like to save it if possible.
I have moved all the plants into larger outside pots on gravel to catch over drainage and hopefully keep things from getting water logged.
Hopefully you are still with me. It seemed I needed you to know where I'm starting from. With all this, I do not have enough places with good light. We have a lot of windows, but because of the setup there is little room for plants near the windows, just at the sides and further into the house. The snake plant and pothus are in low light, but so far seem to be doing well. I haven't watered the snake plant yet because I heard it needs to stay fairly dry.
Potting soil. I have read so much in your forum on potting soil, so many ideas, that my aging brain is "waterlogged" and it's all leaking out. The idea of screening soil sounds like a major undertaking for me. I can't handle large bags of material. I could put a table in the garage to use to mix ingredients from smaller bags.
I like the idea of a gritty mix, but am totally overwhelmed by all that I'm reading about it.
So now to my request for advice:
Are there a few simple ingredients that would likely be available in smaller bags in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area? Is there a way to make or buy a set up for screening on a small scale? Small screens? I don't mind using clay pots (used to grow a large number of african violets under lights in clay pots; twenty years ago.) But I like the idea of putting them in larger decorative pots (air around them, not tight) and on gravel to be sure water drains out if necessary. Besides that would add humidity in our dry winters.
I know much of the advice is for people who are using large bags of ingredients, wheel barrows, etc. which I can no longer do. Would you offer advice that is workable within my limitations?
If you read all this post, I thank you. And thank you for any help.