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A Sensitive Plant in a garden grew, And the young winds fed it with silver dew, And it opened its fan-like leaves to the light, And closed them beneath the kisses of night. Percy Bysshe Shelley, "To the Sensitive Plant."
Pots of greenery may be obtained by sowing orange, tangerine, lemon and grapefruit pips 1 to 2 inches apart. Apple, pear, grape, date, loquat, avocado, and mango pits, unroasted peanuts, maple seeds which helicopter their way from the tree, acorns, horse chestnuts, and Spanish chestnuts also have possibilities. A pot of bush beans, fava beans, peas or white lentils will be interesting for a while.
The citrus fruits are quick to grow, while some of the others are slow; but all are worth while. When a pot becomes shabby and has outgrown its decorative usefulness, it should be discarded and other seeds sown in new potting soil.
The seed found in an avocado will develop into a charming foliage plant. Steep it in water for a few days, then hang it in the neck of a Mason jar suspended on three toothpicks stuck in 1/2 inch; have the large end down and let it just touch the surface of the water you have poured into the jar. It will start to grow in a week or so and will divide, and a shining green leaf sprout will emerge. Every day add a little potting soil to the water, until it gradually becomes full of mud. Let the soil become moderately dry, dig it up and transfer it to a pot of sandy soil.
A quaint fernlike plant will build up if the top 2 1/2 inches of a carrot are stood in 1 inch of water. Beets, rutabagas and horseradish may be treated similarly.
The youngsters can take a sweet potato or yam, stick toothpicks into it 1 inch deep, and by means of them suspend it in a vase or Mason jar with one end barely touching water or mud. Root will be produced and go down; trailing stems will appear and go up, which may be allowed to festoon the container or climb on a small trellis against which the jar and plant may stand.
A globe artichoke, which is merely a large bud, may be severed with a straight cut so that it will stand upright in an inch of water in a saucer. It will open into an enormous purple blossom.
The leaves at the top of a pineapple may be inserted one-third the length of the rosette in a pot of sandy soil. Transplant it a month later into regular potting soil. It will become an attractive house plant; should it branch, sections may be cut off to serve as cuttings and make new plants. Keep them in a south window and give a night temperature of 60 degrees F.
Purchase a burl or knot, complete with bark, from a California redwood tree; stand it in a few inches of water and young shoots will develop, bright green and fernlike.
Florists also offer a quaint man's head of smooth baked stoneware, roughened on top, at the chin, upper lip and eyebrows. Keep the head filled with water and dust the grass seeds supplied with it onto the roughened spots; they will grow and simulate hair. Give the head an occasional haircut and shave with a pair of shears. When it is no longer attractive, scrape off the wilting grass and sow again.