Monday, February 13, 2012

Broken to Beautiful

Fig. 1     Foxtail ferns (Asparagus densiflorus 'Myers') are a common sight in my garden.

One of my favorite container plants is the Foxtail fern (Asparagus densiflorus 'Myers'). In a pot (Fig. 1), I can move them from one place to another in the yard where an instant color is needed.  Foxtail ferns develop vigorous root system along with water storage organs.   This feature makes the plant a celebrity-drought-tolerant plant.  As a container plant, however, the same vigorous roots system causes a slight draw back.  The plant gets root-bound easily.  

Fig. 2     Pressure from the foxtail fern (Asparagus densiflorus) roots broke the terra cotta pot.

The problem.  In my garden the super-powered roots of the Asparagus densiflorus defied the shape of its container pot (Fig. 2).  It is very obvious that this plant is in a desperate need of more room to grow.   Dividing the plant at this point would only mean breaking the already-broken pot.  I was not sold to this idea.

Fig. 3     Sempervivum-pups in a row.

The Solution.   I cut off some of the roots that have been dried out from being exposed through the crack - to make room for a little bit of potting soil.  Using sempervivum that are available from my garden, I planted the crack with similarly drought tolerant plants (Fig. 3).

Fig. 4   These plants (Sempervivum - hen and chicks) look like they have been there all the time.

The outcome.   The crack no longer looks like a disgrace (Fig. 4).  As soon as the temperatures get warmer, these "ever-living" runners will send their own roots into the thicket to join the foxtail fern's roots.   Today, I saw a bird trying to get peck on the new plants which tells me that a wire around the plants might be necessary for the time being. 

Finally, to avoid such thing from happening in your gardens, divide potted foxtail ferns at least every two years.  For bulbous containers like the one I used here (Fig. 2 and Fig. 4) division is even more critical because at a certain point the plant cannot be pulled out without damaging the container.    

A little bit of imagination can transform some problems into blessings.


Wife, Mother, Gardener said...

I love it. Great solution.

Donna said...

I loved this. Very cool!

NHGarden said...

Wow! So Creative! Looks great!

Helen Lewis said...

Thank you Ladies! I hate throwing my plant away and I thought it was a fun project! :)

Unknown said...

A beautiful solution, I love it:~)

Debra said...

Helen you are so clever! That planter is beautiful. I would probably have sacrificed the pot but have now learned to look at a cracked planter differently!

I wonder if I can grow a foxtail fern here in Michigan. Even if I can only grow it inside the house; it is gorgeous!

Carolyn @ Carolyn's Shade Gardens said...

That really looks prettier than it did when it was whole.

Sisah said...

Great idea ! This is really inventive. I'll try that myself !
Liebe Grüße

Chad B said...

Great idea with great-looking results.

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