Thursday, March 11, 2010

To Prune Or Not To Prune. Oy the Angst

Here's the kind of tzimmes I find myself in as Spring approaches:

There are certain plants that passed the winter in a sorry state, spindly and barely clinging to life. So bad did they look that I kept them nestled against healthier specimens, like the set of sticks with bitty leaves that you can barely make out in the photo at left.

Friend Maggie gave me that plant last year, when she and Gary came to our Passover Seder (which we do because we slapped two religions together to make a family and therefore we celebrate everything...or at least everything pleasurable).

So this plant was a lovely little bushy thing and I did have its name tag with it for months and months and then lost I have no recollection of what it's called but I do remember that the tag said it was a favorite in Victorian conservatories. I also recall that the plant had small but sprightly orange flowers -- or it did when I received it.

As it so often happens, heavy sigh, when the plant was moved to what I considered to be a reasonable spot in the garden (there are no such things as ideal spots), the flowers faded and dropped off while the branches grew increasingly piddly-leafed and scrawny.

And then it was moved to my little conservatory for the winter and sat there in just that distressed state until about ten days ago when suddenly there were little swellings along the stalks. And I said to myself, better prune this sucker, elsewise you're going to be sorry.

But I was so happy to see something happening that I couldn't bring myself to clip...and each day I watched as the swellings became ragged little green leaves with tiny splotches of yellow and I cooed and couldn't cut.

Damn girl, I said again, YOU are going to be sorrrry.

And then, last night (or so it seems), clusters of buds appeared on top of the spindly sticks.

So WHAT do I do now? If I prune it down perhaps the plant will branch and get bushy and more flowers will emerge and wouldn't that be nice I say to myself, rather gently, because I can become truculent if I'm ordered about.

And myself replies: But maybe not! Maybe these are the only flowers we'll see....can't we leave it be?

The eye glances toward the Meyer lemon that has had a broken branch wrapped with brown paper packing tape and supported with green wire for the past two years. While the rest of the plant flowers, this happens to be the only limb that manages to produce any fruit. And we tap our sanest foot and think that if perhaps it was cut OFF that fruit might grow elsewhere....

And the eye drifts over to the leggy red hibiscus that seems so much perkier since I gave it that dose of coffee grounds last week -- like it might actually flower...and if I prune....

Oy, I flail. Why am I so weak!

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