Uninvited Guests

Ancient Music*, a poem by Ezra Pound, laments that “Winter is a-cumin in.” And that sad fact makes any hardy gardener living in a northern clime anxious to bring in those plants that are not able to endure wintry blasts.  “Sing goddamn, damn. Sing goddamn!”

House plants can be a conundrum. What can be causing the drooping leaves and anemic appearance – too much water? Not enough water? Too much sun? Not enough sun? Too much fertilizer? Not…you get the picture. “Sing goddamn, damn. Sing goddamn!”

Now I read a cautionary tale postulated by an associate professor at the University of Georgia. Just as the human body harbors multiple microorganisms for good or ill, plants do likewise. “You are bringing lots of things into your home with a plant,” cautions Dr. Habteselassie. The roots buried deep in soil harbor hordes of bacteria, fungi, and other soil microorganisms.

If the plant is healthy and gets plenty of sunlight and the correct amount of water, the fungi add just the right touch in aiding digestion of nutrients from the soil. But, the biggest problem can be the enthused horticulturist who wants to please that newcomer and gives it lots and lots of water. Then the fungus produces spores that float about and cause allergic reactions which can lead to asthma. And this poor stressed plant tries to protect itself by emitting (of course) colorless, odorless gases called VOCs. That stands for “volatile organic compounds” much like the fumes produced by electronics, new carpeting, and detergents. And at night, when no sunlight is available, that same plant will compete for oxygen. “Sing goddamn, damn. Sing goddamn!”

So don’t go overboard trying to save that patio plant from freezing temperatures. Just bite the bullet and trash it and plan to plunk down some bucks next spring for a new shoot from your favorite nursery.plant2


*Ancient Music

Winter is icummen in, 
Lhude sing Goddamm. 
Raineth drop and staineth slop, 
And how the wind doth ramm! 
Sing: Goddamm. 

Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us, 
An ague hath my ham. 
Freezeth river, turneth liver, 
Damn you, sing: Goddamm. 

Goddamm, Goddamm, 'tis why I am, Goddamm, 
So 'gainst the winter's balm. 

Sing goddamm, damm, sing Goddamm. 
Sing goddamm, sing goddamm, DAMM. 

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