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Chapter 7: Daily Care of Your Cocal

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.

Soil

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.

Watering

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.

Humidity

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.

Ventilation

Regular ventilation is important to get rid of stale, stagnant air. Stale air may lack nitrogen and the bushes will suffer.

Fertilizing

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 plant’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.

Transplanting

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.

Go to Chapter 6 | Go to Chapter 8


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