Friday, April 18, 2008

Mr. Droopy

I made an impulse plant purchase earlier this year. The IGA on my way home from work has some of the most interesting plants I have ever seen in a grocery store, including beautiful cacti and other weird succulents. But the plant that caught my eye was a little banana plant, hanging out with the potted pineapples and coffee plants. You know the kind, in the little 4-inch pots with the colourful tags, that appeal to people who like the idea of growing a plant that produces something they are familiar with (like coffee, pineapples or bananas).

Did I mention that it was January in Quebec when I bought this plant?

The next day, I drove my banana plant, tucked in a bag, into work with me. Now, the car I was driving at that point did not have a working heater. Also, the parking lot is quite large, and by the time I got in to work that morning I had to park in the back forty and walk.

Now, January in Quebec can be quite cold. This particular day turned out to be the coldest day of the year.

By the time the banana plant was sitting on my desk, it was looking a little desperate. The leaves, previously so glossy and green, were now dull and wilting. All except for one, which had been hiding behind one of the larger leaves. The stem was still quite crisp. So, despite the skepticism of my co-workers, I set him on my desk in the south sun that pours through the window, christened him Mr. Droopy, and let him decide whether or not he wanted to keep growing (see the post from yesterday for a description of my gardening philosophy, which extends even more so to indoor plants).

Three months later, Mr. Droopy's got seven new leaves, plus an eighth starting to spiral up from the centre of the stalk. The other damaged leaves are slowly falling off, and he looks less morose. He is gorgeous. When I get him home in a couple weeks, I'm going to have to repot him and give him a good feeding.

This morning, when I came in to work, I noticed that he had little water droplets on the tips of his healthiest leaves. Now, I knew that banana plants needed heat and to be fairly moist but in well-drained soil; it occurred to me this morning that I know nothing else about banana plants. So I had no idea whether or not the water droplets were a good thing (am I overwatering? Is excessive transpiration healthy? Is this a sign that he is very very happy?)

Gardeners, by and large, do not put together beautiful websites, by the way. Most nursery and seed websites are appallingly bad and very hard to navigate around.

Anyway. I still don't know about the droplets, but I do know now that there are an enormous variety of decorative banana plants out there, and that much of the info on growing bananas relates to growing them outside, and that they like to be heavily fed, and that I can put Mr. Droopy outside for the summer and bring him back inside for the winter. In the spirit of the internet, mind you, I have no idea whether or not I should cut him back and leave him in a cool spot over next winter, or whether I should put him in the sunniest window I can find and have an extra light for him.

I'll update as I find out more info. This may be a job for the *gasp* public library...

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