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Green Acre: #40: Ice Cubes and Basters

HOW GRAND the sago palm looks, perched on a pedestal on the mahogany chest in the front hall.

Just before Christmas, fearing a cold snap that had yet to materialize, My Prince hauled the weighty planter in from the front porch and patiently moved it here and there while I waved him to and fro until it came to rest, reflected in the mahogany-framed mirror that tops the chest.

Ice cubes can take a lot of the stress out of watering indoor plants–there’s no need to aim a stream of water . . . and miss! / Photo by Stephanie Cavanaugh.

Taking pity—the pot plus the soil easily weighs 40 awkward pounds, and the fronds of the sago are as sharp as the teeth of vicious elves—I let him drop it on the dining room sideboard, moving a Grand Arrangement of things living and dead (in a pot of similar weight) to behind the living room sofa, where it replaced the dramatically broken pedestal planter that I use as a vase (thanks to the insertion of a plastic water bottle), which was then moved to the dining room table.

This did not work. While the broken pedestal was suitably dramatic on the table, with several enormous philodendron leaves tickling the air, and the sago palm looked good on the dining room’s sideboard, that Grand Arrangement previously on the sideboard looking sneeringly fussy in the living room—quite alarmingly so.

I looked at the Prince. The Prince looked at me. “I am a busy man and you are a pain in the ass,” he said, perhaps phrasing this less gently.

Thankfully, Muscular Mike, the Prince’s frequent assistant, was loitering about and was therefore hijacked into rearranging the various arrangements. Eventually, this brought the sago to the hallway, the Grand Arrangement back to the dining room sideboard, and returned the broken pedestal to the living room. I fluffed some flowers in a Chinese vase.

This is all neither here nor there because the subject of this post is watering plants that are impossible to water without destroying the finish on your ebony-inlaid chifforobe or whatnot—unless you’re an anal nut with nothing better to do and can stand there drip-dripping water with an eye-dropper until your overstuffed pots are properly moist.
We are certainly not that.  We also do not have a great deal to say about watering and so needed a great deal of padding to get us to this: My buddy Maggie offered a fine solution some years ago, when I was struggling with watering hanging plants, a treacherous activity in winter, what with floors and such beneath. Ice cubes, she said. And this works quite well.  Just stick cubes between the leaves and they’ll melt without slopping all over the floor and the furniture and you don’t have to move a damn thing.
Advice aggregator Heloise once offered another solution: Use a bulb baster. Fill it with water and squeeze over the plant.

I’m scratching my head thinking of something I can add to that, but I can’t, so here’s a picture of mine.

Heloise’s helpful hint but my bulb baster, for plants only. / Photo by Stephanie Cavanaugh.

In inspired conclusion, I was happy to trip across something useful in Heloise’s column, since I usually view it as a bird-cage liner of  Amusing Things for You to Do—as I am certainly not going to (among many other ideas) make nursing pads by cutting up disposable diapers and sewing up the edges with my dusty Singer. Which has to do with absolutely nothing—I just found it the most absurdly pathetic suggestion I’d ever read and it has been lodged in my brain for 20 years, waiting for a place to stick it.
But that is clearly neither here nor there.
—Stephanie Cavanaugh
LittleBird Stephanie writes about city gardening. You can read her earlier columns here

One thought on “Green Acre: #40: Ice Cubes and Basters

  1. Bonnie Mitchell says:

    Ice cubes! Ingenious! Of course, I already knew that.

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