Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Planting pretties on a rainy day

May 10, 2011

Spring has definitely finally sprung... along with the thunderstorms that shake things up, and the random showers that seem to be falling constantly.  On the plus side, of course, is the fact that it’s not snow. :)  My flower beds are looking pretty good for the limited amount of decent weather that’s been available, 

but when I’m stuck inside, I still have that itch to have my fingers in the dirt.  My solution this past week has been to create some pretties inside - like these ivy topiaries.
I started with a pair of these bronzy pots from Goodwill - $1.50 apiece.

Then this week I found these little topiary frames, also at GW, and they were just what I’d been hoping for (and only $1.49 each).  
Seriously, GW’s garden stuff finds its way to my house on a pretty regular basis.  Who knew?
Finally, all I needed was the perfect plant to pot up... I love ivy, but certain varieties are prettier than others, can we agree?  For a topiary, I prefer the smallest leaves possible, and since I couldn’t find any angel vine, 
Angel Vine Trellis
I settled for a pair of these, which I found at Home Depot.  They are labeled as “Royal Hustler”, but that doesn’t agree with online resources, so your guess is as good as mine.  Sorry!

These were $4.59 each.
The rest is simple, of course.  Repot the ivy in the display pot, or just drop the store container in, if it fits well.  Be cautious about the placement of the prongs that anchor the topiary - separate the leaves and branches and look for a place where the roots look slightly less dense.  Then just slide the prongs in, being sensitive to areas of real resistance.  If you hit a big blockage, it’s better to reposition the prongs than to risk doing serious damage to the root system.
Once your frame is in place, start winding the longest branches around.  Sometimes I opt to strip the leaves off of the branch where it wraps the center pole; this time, since the branches are so short, I left them intact for some fullness.  Once I’d wrapped every piece that would reach, I had some leftovers that were either just too short or, in one case, just too densely leaved to wind at all.  
Too dense

Itty bitty, but not for long!

Those pieces I chose to save to root... ivy roots incredible well, both in water and in a soil medium.  I have lots of seed starting soil left over from my veggie seedlings, so I just filled a sour cream container with soil, wet it down, and went to work.  I have had really good results with Schultz "Take Root" hormones- I use it for propagating as well as for trying to rescue damaged branches from various plants.  
(Rescue work has about a 50/50 success rate, but that’s still better than just having a plant funeral every time!)
Rooting ivy with a hormone medium really couldn’t be simpler.  Wet the cut end, swish it through the hormone powder, 
You really shouldn't work with the hormones without gloves.

and plug it into the moist soil.  Done.  Keep the soil moist (NOT wet), and in a couple of weeks, you can gently tug the starts right out of the soil and transplant them wherever you like.  This one container will start about 10 plants. 

If you make enough of them, you can easily give them away to friends, or donate them to a school fundraiser.  I’ve used a Walmart sale hanging ivy and made 30-40 starts from it, while still having an attractive center plant remain.  It’s a productive way to spend those rainy days!

Wishing you all sunshine!


1 comment:

Olive Cooper said...

I recently found two tall topiary forms at an estate sale for fifty cents and you have given me some inspiration. Thanks!