The Intensive Care Unit

I was watering the plants in my porch/greenhouse when I noticed some long stems of woody geranium stems sitting on the top of my compost bin. I had cut them back about a month ago and they still had live green leaves on the top.

I guess they hadn’t heard when I said, “No, I expect you to die.”

Well, I couldn’t in all conscience not reward that amount of tenacity. I trotted them upstairs to the ICU, gave them clean slice with a sharp knife about 2 1/2 inches down and popped them into some expanded peat pellets that I had lying around. I even, as an experiment, stuck in a woody stem with no leaves at all.

About Peat pellets

They are those flat brown things you get at seed starting time that look like little brown coins. You add water and they expand into marshmallow shaped things for starting seeds in. They are covered with a fine net which keeps the whole thing together.

Now peat pellets can be problematic.

You would think that they are handy for starting seeds and cuttings, and they are. However, I have found that – unless you watch them like a hawk with the watering can at the ready – they dry out too darn fast to be all that useful. I’ve lost many seedlings that started out great and then perished because of the rapid evaporation that they get from all sides.

Well, I found the perfect solution: eggcups!

I have a million eggcups lying around my kitchen and unless I have a huge gang over for a soft-boiled egg party, I really don’t need them in those numbers. They are the perfect size for the peat pellets. They fit perfectly and they stop them from drying out so quickly. Plus they don’t fall over.

My intensive care unit is under a fluorescent light above my kitchen sink. I can keep an eye on them there, and slosh some water on them when I need to, which is usually a little bit every other day.

It’s been a couple of weeks, and my half dead geranium cuttings are responding well to treatment, and resting comfortably after their ordeal on the compost pile. Even the stick with no leaves at all is sprouting like crazy.

The patient’s will to live had a great deal to do with the rapid recovery. Check back for further updates.


  1. a piece of my dormant sand cherry was broken off in December and rather than toss it, I stuck the sticks in a container of water, loe and behold,a month later I see leaves and even flowers galore in the spindly twigs. I have since planted them in soil as it’s too early to plant them outside, I hope they survive until spring.

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