Most of what you need to know about the daily care of your cocal has been
said in previous chapters. As a precautionary measure, it will be well to
outline at least those factors which will have a major part to play in the
well being of your plants.
It is of prime importance that the soil be light and airy and provide proper
drainage. If water sits around the roots, they will rot and the plant may
die. Soil that is too alkaline should be rigorously avoided. In any event,
know the pH of your soil. If you use commercially packaged soil or one prepared
by your nursery, you need not worry for quite some time about nutrients. They
will be amply available.
Do not over-water. Your plants wont like it. Dig down a couple of inches
before watering and if the soil is dry, water it. If it is moist at all,
leave it alone. More critical attention should be paid to keeping the humidity
high, than to drowning the roots.
Your bushes will enjoy a good solid misting everyday. It will keep the leaves
supple and breathing well. If gravel is used in the bottom of the cocal and
kept moist, the misting can be lighter and less frequent. Remember, the higher
the temperature, the higher the humidity should be kept. Also, the more the
cocal is ventilated the more moisture will evaporate and will have to be replaced.
Temperature and Sunlight
Temperature should be kept as constant as possible around the 60s. A ten
degree variance will not seriously injure your plants, but more than this
should be avoided if possible. Frost is a sure killer, as are very high
temperatures. Heat is a very close associate of sunlight. Because you dont
want either of them beyond a moderate quantity, a sun filter is a necessity.
Regular ventilation is important to get rid of stale, stagnant air. Stale
air may lack nitrogen and the bushes will suffer.
Keep your hands off the fertilizer until the plant is off to a good and
healthy start. Over-fertilizing, or fertilizing too early in the plantâ€™s
growth is worse than none at all. An under-fertilized plant will at least
live. That can not be said with the same certainty of one burned up by an
overdose of Rapid Gro. Touch some to your tongue again and you'll know why.
There will be times, as your bush grows and matures, when transplanting
will be necessary. The general rule of thumb to follow is to
move plants to larger containers when their root systems fill
their present container. They should be moved to the next size
pot, not to a very large one. Too large a pot will cause the
root fibers to grow out too fast and eventually cause the ends
of the roots to die. When moving plants up to larger pots, allow
an inch for fresh soil on all sides. When you reach the largest
container, a deep 10" pot, and the root mass fills it,
simply shave away 1" of the old roots on all sides with
a knife. Then you can re-plant in the old pot using some new
soil around it.
The plant should be removed from the old container and the outside of the
root-ball shaken to loosen the root ends. Care should be taken not to get
too vigorous, or root ends may be damaged. A light spray of water will loosen
the outside edge of the root-ball gently. The root-ball can then be set in
the new container and the remainder filled with soil, which should be compacted
lightly with a stick. Finally, it should be said that transplanting isn't
magic and with reasonable care and some practice, it can be accomplished almost
without disturbance to the plant.
to Chapter 6 | Go
to Chapter 8