OMG, There is too much information, too many words I dont know...

tifflj(6 Pitts, PA)September 26, 2012

Too many abbreviations to understand. I dont want to open a greenhouse. I just want to build a healthy life for my house plants. I have 6 now and yes I do want more but I dont want to know the depth of the science of it all. Cant I just have plants in a good medium, in the proper container and provide proper lighting and water and fertilizer. Prune when need be and talk to them without knowing the depths of plant life?

I feel extremely overwhelmed and have a headache. I feel defeated and all this information is becoming draining.

This is coming from me searching 511 to be sure I am getting proper stuff and I entered a cyclone of information.


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Hi Tiff!

Yup, there's alot to learn, and it can at times be over-whelming.. take it all in small bites.. I've only been a member here for maybe 6 or 7 weeks, and I learn something new everyday.
For now,all you really have to do is take the information that you need for the weekend..

How to make a 5-1-1 mix..
Repotting into a pot that has drainage..
Which pots to repot into.. I'm using clay.

That's all hon.. everyone here wants you to do well, myself included. After this is done, you can build on what you know, and gain the confidence you will surely develop.

My first bare-rooting was scary. My second, easier.

It's as simple as you want it to be, or as tough as you'll let it be.. Go with simple. We all have your back..


    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 10:25PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I'm always straight forward, so I'm going to offer my thoughts and hope you understand that what I'm going to say isn't said with even the slightest bit of snark. Whenever I offer advice, my goal is always to ensure that it can be used to help the grower gain more from their growing experience - especially the new growers.

I think the panic and frustration embodied in this and one of your other posts was predictable. You're having hundreds of bits of information directed your way on multiple posts, with no sense of how to sort through them, how to implement them, or where/if they fit in the overall scheme of things - in the big picture. You've set a deadline of this weekend to assemble the ingredients to build a new soil, and with the weekend only a few days away are discovering the deadline might not be realistic. Who wouldn't be overwhelmed? So now what?

I may end up being your least favored person for saying it, but the road you're on lacks focus. You're going in several directions at once, expending lots of energy and effort, w/o anything like a plan in place. That's my observation, and you may reject it entirely w/o hurting my feelings. If you don't reject it and allow that there may be merit in what I'm telling you, you might wish to consider there is NOTHING that will move you forward faster than knowledge. Sound familiar? ;-)

Your plants aren't in immediate danger. Somewhere recently on one of your threads, I left you a link that offered a number of ways to help deal with excess water retention, in case you felt they WERE in danger. That was to give you some time, and offered in the hope you wouldn't feel so burdened to rush headlong into making a new soil before gaining at least a minimal understanding of some of the basics plants require and how to avoid some major pitfalls. I left you some other links to help nudge you in the direction of gaining an understanding of the basics for good reason, but you still need to decide what's best for Tiffany. ;-)

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven ~ Eclesiastes 3:1

I've helped a lot of new and old growers alike make a lot of progress in a short time on these forums, but I'm not naive enough to think that it can be done w/o the sharing of a common goal and agreeing on how to get there. I think you would benefit greatly by spending some time focusing on getting a good grasp of some of the basics, and build on that base even as you are implementing what you learned. I also think you'd be amazed at how satisfying it can be when the lights start going on.

No matter what approach you choose, I wish you all the best.


    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 11:26PM
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tifflj(6 Pitts, PA)

Charlie: Thank you. You are the best. You made me feel better, you have no idea. :)

I have a habit of jumping in head first into most things...all or nothing. Usually doesnt work. But when I get real excited about something I just cant help myself.

Al, I appreciate all you said and have to offer. I know I did this to myself. But I am also the type of learner that learns as they go. Nothing makes sense to me until I do it and see it. Which is why I wanted to get these plants into new soil...see the different components and understand what they do seperately then together to help the plant. If I cant see it I become disinterested because I am totally 100% hands on. I want to learn all that you have suggested but I have to do it how I learn things or I will end up feeling like this.

Everyone here including the two of you are just so awesome. I couldnt be more grateful to have a bunch of online friends helping me i nthe way all of you have without even knowing me. Thank you and I cant wait to get to know everyone better.


Ps. I know I will need a fertilizer eventually to replace nutrients the new soil wont provide. Should I get that now or wait and is there a special knid. Currently I have a liquid all purpose house plant fert. from MG...bad news?

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 9:15AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

You know what they say, be careful what you ask for - you might get it! And no doubt, tons of new info is hard to digest.

If it makes you feel better, potting soil is not like baking a cake where the ingredients must be exact. Even following the same "recipe," every single person here would present something slightly different as a result. Lifestyle, climate, budget, local availability of different materials, and all sorts of factors combine differently for each person. I've seen awesome plants from so many people, doing things in so many different ways. Ingest whatever info you can, do what makes sense to you, ask questions if you're confused, and change it if it's not working. That's really all you can do.

Your plants all look fine, so there's no reason to rush into anything regarding changes, especially if you don't feel ready or that it's necessary.

I've gone for years without fertilizing anything and have never done it regularly for a significant amount of time. During the shortened winter days, most plants don't grow as fast, and a lot of folks who do fertilize regularly cut back or stop for a while. Always err on the side of caution with fertilizer, like using half of the strength on the label and/or doing it half as often as the label says. And it's not medicine so don't think of it as a cure for sick plants. Too little is no problem, too much can kill a plant.

Whenever I space out what an abbreviation means, google usually helps me remember instantly.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 10:26AM
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Tiff, take your time. Eventually, it'll all sink in, each tidbit of information will fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.

Unless you think your plants will die over winter, 'those I've seen all are doing great,' why not sit back, pick up a few plant books, and come here to GW to read and learn.

Other than watering, 'and misting if you choose,' there's not much more you can do now that winter's approaching.

I believe you said a few of your plants are 1-2-yrs-old. Is that correct?
If so, and they've survived thus far, another winter isn't going to matter.

As for fertilizing. Some people do, others don't. I don't.. Since your plants are in standard soil, there's no need.
If you feel you must, then use 1/4 strength. During spring and summer when my plants are fed, they get half-strength, meaning half what the manufacturer suggests using. A little is better than too much.

If your winters are sunny, or your plants are under lights, fertilizing isn't a problem. But when winter days are mostly gray, or when plants look/behave like they're ready to rest, 'dormant' they need nothing more than water. Especially cactus and succulents..don't think you have either though..Right?

Tiff, don't stress yourself out, otherwise, what could be a fun hobby will turn into a chore. A chore that instead of bringing happiness will cause sorrow.

I remember when I bought my first plant book..there were hundreds of common names, not to mention botanical names. Never thought I'd learn each name. But like anything else, names, care comes with reading and experimenting. It does't happen overnight..

Learning can take years, depending how much one wants to know.

BTW, which abbreviations are you having problems remembering?

Anyway, relax, take a deep breath, and enjoy...Toni

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 11:34AM
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dellis326 (Danny)

Many of us here have/had a gramma or know someone else who has grown plants for decades without knowing anything more than watering every few days to a week and grew huge healthy plants, some never even repotted.

There is no need to feel any anxiety and no rush to learn everything all at once. You will progress only as far as you need or wish to and your plants will come along for the ride.

There are many methods and techniques that people use to grow their plants and most of them are fine. you just need to discover which of them will work for you.

There are several varieties of gritty mix to choose from, Several different ways to grow in water (plain water & numerous hydroponic methods). And quite a number of prebagged potting mixes. Lets just say a lot of different ways to grow plants. Probably to most important is to avoid heavy peat based soil mixes and you'll figure out what's best for you.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 11:36AM
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tifflj(6 Pitts, PA)

Thanks guys! I had a bit of a melt down last night and found me spinning for a minute. I am good now and feel much better due to a good night sleep...well as good as it can be when your 4 month old is still getting up at 3am and wants to "talk" for an hour...and all the uplifting words you all gave me.

Charlie: I love your idea of the notebook. I am going to get two 5 subject notebooks when I get the new soil stuff.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 2:00PM
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Thanks everyone!


If this helps, it sure did for me.

I look closely to see if there is anything offered here that seems to resinate througout and apply that as soon as I can, this being the most important.

It has been stated over and over again that a good porous mix is needed for your plants and that everyone here cuts back on fertilizing as winter comes on. This coming from many with beautiful plants. That's a start.

Yes, understanding the concepts of how to use good mixes and how they affect your plants in containers, is more important than anything, and I suggest you take the time for that. Someome here once stated that "the roots are the heart of your plants" and he was not kidding.

Understand what makes your roots happy first, then apply that method, and everything will become eaiser with time.

It's not the conflicting info I focus on. What you decide to choose with that will prove to you over time if it works for your plants. I once felt like you, until I found peace in learning the 'concepts' of growing plants in containers first.

I am also a hands on kind of guy, since that is the best way I learn. But without knowing 'how' or 'why' I am doing something at that time, I find it very difficult to complete a task with joy, retain memory, and feel satisfied in my accomplishments.

By the way, I think you know a lot more about growing plants than you might think. They all look good to me and heck, you even know the names of them, something I had not known before I joined here.

Good luck.


    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 3:27PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Dear girl, let me answer your original question: "Cant I just have plants in a good medium, in the proper container and provide proper lighting and water and fertilizer. Prune when need be and talk to them without knowing the depths of plant life?"

The answer is, of course, YES! That sort of sums it up in a nutshell...but for some, finding the "proper" pieces and parts is the hard part. It can be a challenge, for some, to figure out the watering aspect, for example.

But, as I recall from my teenage years when I first began growing a few things, I managed to do absolutely fine at producing beautiful houseplants, in spite of not having any formal training or education.

Trust me, my four year degree in Horticulture and many years of professional work later have not made me any better at growing houseplants than I already was.

Start out slow, and become a master at wrangling a few plants. Order a book or two. Do you want suggestions for some easy-to-digest books?

Whatever happens, do NOT get discouraged. I've known many people who feel overwhelmed before they even get started, and that's such a shame. When an interest in something is still a little flicker, it can be blown out with a big gust of air. Once you've begun to master some concepts, and understand some of the vocabulary...then your interest will be much more difficult to stifle.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 4:04PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Tiff - I have a windowsill full of lovely healthy plants. I have grown all of them from bits pinched from other people. I buy a bag of stuff called 'Houseplant Mix', pot them up, water them when they look thirsty and feed from a bottle of stuff called 'Houseplant Food' when I remember. I have never made my own mix, flushed the salts (whatever that is), done the 'finger test' for water, unravelled roots, trimmed, sprayed, primped or fretted. House plants are meant to be enjoyable. They are not brain surgery.

You can make it as simple or difficult as you want. Only one thing I would insist on - learn the correct botanical names for your plants.

Here's a link to a bit of doggerel I posted a while back.
Stop worrying and just get growing. The world is full of real problems. Pot plants aren't one of them.

Here is a link that might be useful: Keep calm and just grow something.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 4:18PM
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silentsurfer(6A OH)

some days i go to the gym, ...forget ALL about my plants,,
some days i come home after work (just to change my shoes first)
....start readin these dang forums,, Never make it to the gym.

i think i know exactly where your comin from Tiff,
but ya know-what? All my plants r still here alive n healthy, yours too i suspect!?

btw: it took me like a Mnth to locate the 'gritty-mix', but when i did, it was all in one place about 12 mins away. FPro 9-3-6, found a decent price, had it mail-ordered direct-to-my-door. didnt loose a single plant in the interim (meantime).

aight, thats my 2�, im off to the gym...... ya comin? :)~

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 6:54PM
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tifflj(6 Pitts, PA)

Thanks Mike: I know the n ames because I took them to a greenhouse / farm to ID them to begin with. THen I googled the heck out of them to lean about them. :)

Rhizo: Thanks! Yes please suggest some books. I was about to go look at Amazon for some but havent had the chance yet.

Flora: I am fretting because of a few issues I had that led me here to begin with. Now I am learning that tha soil is most likely the cause of my here we are.

SS: I would LOVE to go to the gym!! FPro 9-3-6 HUH????

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 9:25PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hi Tiff!!!

We all have been in your shoes from time to time.. as long as you see what your doing and solve the frustration, then you will be fine.

When i started with learning about soils and why they work properly it clicked.. then i went into repotting, and learning the different techniques to use..

Please just relax and enjoy the learning experience. We didnt get this all down in one weekend!! : ) Believe me!!!

Al is a very patient teacher who has helped many...with his guidance and Charlies., as well as others here.. you will be fine. Just figure out what and where you want to go with your trees and plants..the rest will be easy...

Good luck!!

Deep breath!!..

OK all will be fine!!! "I was, i know..." : )


    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 1:31AM
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I know it wasn't a response to me, but I wanted to thank you for your post. I read it when I was feeling really stressed out about plants yesterday, and it made me feel much better about everything. I might print out the lines "Stop worrying and just get growing. The world is full of real problems. Pot plants aren't one of them" and hang it over my desk as a reminder!


    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 3:37PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Hi Rachel,

That is an EXCELLENT insight, one which we might all benefit from keeping in mind.

To Tiff & the other newbies&/or Lurkers

All this info. really IS NOT TO STRESS YOU,but to help grow better plants.

Pls. remember many of us have learned these things over many, many years. I myself have been on here since March 2001 & w/ my local C&S club for over 15 yrs.

Some folks here are far senior in participation & plant growing than myself. Al (Tapla), Rhizo, Denise in Omaha, these are folks who have been growing for DECADES.

So yes, we remind you all, pls. to take deep breaths, read as much as you can in different sittings & bit by bit it gets in one's head.

Bought in 1993 I think (pre-Internet), I can't tell you how many times I read & re-read parts of a book I love on plants called Readers' Digest Success w/ Houseplants (dorky, I know, but very good & comprehensive). Largely because it covered basics: watering, light, mixes, fertilizer, pests & then beyond that into particular plants.

But time & again, I went back to check the basics & eventually I got most of it.

Remembering to relax is important, this is after all a hobby. The last fellow who lived w/ me taught me that I had a set routine when I came home from work. He told me that I'd get home, change clothes, make a cup of coffee & then w/ my coffee, walk around the apartment, checking on all the plants & their respective needs. This was apparently my winding down ritual (I'd worked rather high stress jobs at law firms), which relaxed me & made me more open to interacting further.

Again, it's just a hobby & also good, plants (tho' I love them dearly) are replaceable!!!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 4:37PM
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silentsurfer(6A OH)

...but PG,
if i dont succeed at this, i will be relegated back to pet rocks!
and if you think plants grow slowly in my care, well.... :)~

Dyna-gro Foilage Pro 9-3-6 (plant fertilizer),,
your gonna see it touted up here on the forum,
personally, ive never really fertilized my plants before now,
but when i saw meyer_mikes fancy german crasslua,, it got me thinkin,,

i do understand the frustration, for me it started out being pretty relaxing tending to a cpl houseplants, then i found the GW and started reading about how the experienced growers did things,, got a little greedy, propagated, collected,, (a Lot),, now i have some trouble keeping up with what all ive (Put Myself) thru,, but thats just Me, im NOT compulsive, i Dont get over-passionate about 'hobbies', i dont Freak-out when i hafta go outta town, overnight, wondering if my Serissa (who needs daily watering) is gonna make it,,, and i Definitely dont go out and collect More plants when the only remaining space they could possibly go is on my beds headboard! no sir, not me. :)
so ya missed a day of singing to 'Bella', no biggie, ya missed a good leg + Ab's day at the gym today too! but it'll still be there tommorrow. :)

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 8:01PM
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