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Roundup: “Root Bound”

2/14/2024

Tuesday Feb 13, 2024
From the messy desk of Amanda Eichstaedt

House Plants

I remember back when I was in college. My housemates were going on a lengthy trip and asked me if I could look after their house plants. Of course I would! Several weeks later I was relaxing on the couch and could feel a dry rustling feeling behind my head… Rut row, the houseplants had been completely forgotten and was dry as a bone. I would have some explaining to do. I have a much better track record with warm blooded creatures.

I like to have flowers growing in the yard, but I’m not big on picking them and putting them in vases inside. I’m a so so gardener, and mostly feel defeated by the gophers who have figured out how to get into my raised beds. The yard is more “rustic garden” than anything else. We do have some very hearty house plants and I decided to repot them this week. They were looking a bit crowded.

Ya think? I just looked up how often you should repot your house plants and the recommendation is every 12 – 18 months? What?! The plants that I was going to be repotting had been in their pots for going on 20 years! They were still alive, so I guess better late than never.

Should have had a “before photo,” but I’m keeping an eye on these!  photo: AE

I wish I had taken photos of the situation with the roots. They were just jammed into those pots. Sometimes two plants figured out how to coexist. In one pot the spider plant roots had taken up residency in the middle with the other lily type plant roots encircling the bulky spider plant roots like s shroud. I do water these plants regularly, and they were doing ok, albeit creatively within the constraints of their 20 plus year residences.

But now I have more plants (and I composted a lot of spider plant material). Can we talk about spider plant root systems? What the heck is that all about? Their rhizomatous root system stores water for future use, so it is really the perfect plant for someone like me. It is recommended that you repot spider plants every one to two years. Oops. In fact, some of these pants had hopped into the other pots and started putting down roots with them, too! Very creative, that is maybe why they call it a “spidey sense?”

Today I was meeting with Alyssa Tanner, KWMR’s Development Director and I started thinking about my plants. KWMR’s fundraising is like tending to a garden or a bunch of house plants. It needs constant care, water, and feeding. From when I started at KWMR in 2010 to two years ago, KWMR did not have a proper Development Director. I kind of feel like we are taking the ideas that I had planted in small pots and repotting them and allowing them to flourish under Alyssa’s creative leadership. 

If it weren’t for Alyssa I would not have plants in my office, and they add so much! She told me at one of her living situations (and as a renter in West Marin, there were many) she had a place with good light and counted over 80 house plants! KWMR has also benefitted from her love of indoor greenery! The office is more cheery with some lovely plants. And do stay tuned for what Alyssa is cultivating for our spring fundraising. It’s going to blossom! With any luck we will be swinging from the hearty vines she is cultivating around KWMR’s 25th Anniversary.

My plants are so happy! I noticed this morning that one of them had grown a whole new leaf since yesterday. How are we all doing with our roots? Are they bound into too small pots? Do you need some new fresh soil to thrive? By all means do not wait for 20 years to allow yourself some breathing room and the space to sprout new leaves!

And please do not report me to the vegetation version of the SPCA!

Amanda Eichstaedt
Station Manager/Executive Director