PENDLETON — Rick and Jane Cassin of Ingalls brought a somewhat scrawny jade plant to Pendleton Community Public Library on Sunday, seeking advice on what could be done to rejuvenate the succulent.

They left with new hope after learning that they needed to literally turn over a new leaf —  plucked from stalk — to propagate a whole new plant instead of trying to save the existing one, which was too far gone.

“This has been a really good class,” Jane Cassin said near the end of the House Plant Swap Meet, the last of a series of adult classes at the library.

Kyle Leathers, a former Pendleton resident who is now homesteading with his family near Albany (northeast of Muncie), led the class. He offered information and tips to the eight attendees who came with plants to exchange and, like the Cassins, eagerness to expand their knowledge.

“The biggest thing is amending your soil to be specific to each plant,” Leathers said, noting that succulents, vegetable plants and the basic house plant need different soils.

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He said he makes all of his own soil for potting, using one part peat moss or coir fiber, one part compost, and half a part sand or vermiculite.

He recommended researching the needs of a plant — not going by the little plant care tag stuck in containers at the store — to get the most accurate information.

Watering and location are two other key factors to house plant success, he said.

Most people overwater plants, he said. He said most house plants should be watered about once a week, and that the soil should be allowed to dry between watering. People should test the soil by sticking a finger into the dirt before watering it.

“If you find any kind of moisture, let it go,” he said.

Furthermore, he said, pots should have good drainage, so roots are not rotting away at the bottom.

He said he waters his houseplants weekly, putting them all in a bathtub, spraying them down while also letting the pots sit in water to draw water upward.

(He noted one plant, the African violet, should be watered from the bottom only.)

Another key condition of houseplant success is location — finding a spot that has the right type of lighting.

“I have repositioned this plant six times, trying to find a good spot for it,” he said, motioning to one of his potted props, a neon pothos.

Leathers answered a lot of questions and helped people take clippings from plants to create starts in small provided pots and soil mixes.

Jennifer Hughes, who manages a seed exchange at the library, stopped by with a large box of seed packets from which people could select five each.

People offered each other plants or starts they had brought with them.

Cindy Aker of Pendleton, who brought an aloe plant to contribute, was one of several in the class to prepare a snake plant start from a leaf cutting.

“This is new to me, so we’ll see what happens,” she said.

She also picked up packets of seeds for cucumbers and hot peppers.

“It’s like a jackpot here,” she said.

Toni Milburn, who lives in Indianapolis and attended with her daughter from Pendleton, said she came to the event not so much for the information but to exchange plants.

“I have a lot of plants, so I was hoping to find something new,” she said.

She ended up with something not entirely new: a jade plant.

“I’ve tried it, and I’ve killed it, ” she said. “Hopefully I get lucky this time.”

Rick Cassin, who said he and his wife have had a lot of plants at home for “well over 40 years,” said he was pleased with the day’s activities.

“This guy is very informative today,” he said, referring to Leathers. “You can never learn too much about plants, that’s for sure.”

 

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