Sunday, February 28, 2010

On Epsom Salts and Coffee Grounds

My gardenia has suddenly sprung a few yellowed leaves and since it is a nice big bushy specimen with lots of nice buds, I decided to care and Google it.

Digression. Isn't it wonderful that you can now ask a question of Google in any peculiarly phrased way you wish,  misspellings included, and come up with a few thousand...theories, if not correct answers? I'm sometimes curious about the people who torture the phrasing of their questions in the same way that I do. I'm sometimes curious about the people who even ask the same questions that I do. What (frequently) demented path led them to wonder what they're wondering and was it similar to mine? End digression.

It turns out there's probably nothing wrong with the gardenia (which, if you recall, is what this post is about). Yellow leaves on the outside are disastrous, for some reason that I don't care about at the moment because mine are in the middle, where they're yellowing because they're just old. Like teeth. And they'll die and fall off and be replaced by nice, new green ones. Unlike teeth. End of subject. 

But in the course of this investigation I tripped across two suggestions for plant improvement that cost me virtually nothing and don't require getting in the car and driving to God knows where in Virginia. This is always pleasurable. In fact both items are always in the house. Epsom salts, also used for soaking the prince's old bones, is good for roses and coffee grounds, also used for waking me up, apparently does the same for hibiscus.

Epsom salts, I'm reading, either diluted with water and poured about the rose or worked into the soil at the base of the rose is said to promote, branching, leafing and blooming. What more could you want! It has something to do with the chemistry and soil and stuff that makes me nod off like the dormouse while reading so here it is...

The Rose Magazine website, which suggests an application in March and again in June for established bushes and a good soak of the roots of a rose you're about to plant, says: 

"Epsom Salts is used to provide Magnesium to the soil. Roses seem to be heavy feeders on this element. A soil test would be the only way to really know if your soil was lacking in magnesium, but most rose growers just apply a small amount per bush. You can sprinkle a couple tablespoons around the rose, or dissolve in in a watering can first and water in. If you are using a balance rose fertilizer that contains magensium, its probably not neccessary to ad more. We tend to over-feed our roses at times. If your soil is light and sandy, feed more, if its rich or clay like, feed less.."

Public Service Announcement: I grow neither peppers nor tomatoes but it is said that epsom salts have a similarly efficacious effect on both. Look it up yourself. 

Now. Almost giving me the vapors is the notion that scratching coffee grounds into the soil around my hibiscus plants will promote flowers. I have previously discussed the consistently piss poor performance of the double pink and the little red standard, both of which year after year remain stubbornly green no matter if they're set in sun or shade, fertilized or neglected. ( Behold the Hibiscus! ) So I am trying this at once.

Though I suspect they just don't like me.  We'll know soon enough.

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