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Garden Reports and Rejoicing – December 10

One of my GardenLine callers today asked about a houseplant that was losing leaves. She said it did the same thing last winter at this time and here it was again, dropping foliage.

We went through the range of possibilities and at the end of the call I decided that it was likely that low light was the cause. I explained that the leaves of a plant are the food factories, responsible for creating energy through photosynthesis. The leaves also consume some energy and lose water, I continued, so they are not without cost.

In the winter, when the hours of sunlight are reduced, the plant just doesn’t need as many leaves. Because there is less light the plant doesn’t need the same number of leaves so it sheds some to conserve energy.

“Think of it this way,” I concluded. “Because there’s less sun the plant doesn’t need as many workers so it lays many of them off. In the spring it’ll start hiring again.”

My caller was obviously pleased. I could tell that by relating this situation to human experiences it was more understandable. It was also more memorable because my analogy surprised her and made her laugh.

We all have opportunities to teach, get a point across or pass on information. Sometimes these occasions need to be serious or straightforward, but occasionally we can use human parallels to our advantage.

This lemon verbena has been laying off workers like crazy since it came into the house in October.

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