Plant Relativity: Some stuff grows faster than other stuff

Both trees at 11 months old, planted the same week.

Both trees at 11 months old, planted the same week. Tamarind (left) outdoes lime(?) (right).

Plant Relativity, Not Einstein’s

Even a six year old knows that stuff grows at different rates. One garden patch makes flowers faster. Weeds (just plants unlucky enough to grow in the wrong place at the wrong time) grow faster than the shrub they’re next to. Errant grasses in driveways grow faster than tenderly pampered lawns.

It’s the same with trees. Take a look at the photo.

In May last year, the tamarind sprouted -unnamed, as the blue label on a stick had fallen out of its nest. We figured it out, after much head-scratching. Its kid sister sprouted a few days later.

The lime —and I use that term loosely— showed up later that same week, a little leaf barely breaking the soil.

The blue thing next to the lime is a 15" ruler.

The blue thing next to the lime is a 15″ ruler, which means this year+ old tree is about five inches tall.

Plant, Yes – Label, Absolutely

At the risk of stating the obvious, plants will not label themselves. Ask me how I know this.

I use the term “lime” loosely, because honestly I don’t know for sure what it is. There are a few options. One of the seedling peat pots held a sliver of lime and a couple of seeds that I dumped in on a whim instead of tossing them into the garbage disposal. Another had some lemon seeds due to a similar whim. A third peat pot had some chia seeds that got swept off the counter after lunch. I’ve seen chia in action, so I’m ruling out that. Besides, I think those seeds were toasted.

Meanwhile, the tamarind took off like wildfire. Its kid sister is doing well, but is probably a quarter of its big brother’s size.

In a burst of me-too’ism, the lime sprouted a second leaf, the very same month! Then it took a few weeks off to recover from the stress.

Every few months, the lime hesitantly offers another leaf. It grows another quarter of an inch. We hear tiny cheers from the former dining room. It does this whether it lives in full sun, partial sun, partial shade, full shade, or in complete darkness like a ‘shroom. Whether it gets an ice cube each day or no water for a week.

No, it’s not silk or plastic. I checked. Twice.

Tall tamarind takes command of the room, photobombed by its little sister.

Tall tamarind takes command of the room, photobombed by its little sister.

Plants Grow and Grow and Grow and —

The taller of the two tamarinds can almost touch the lower side of the vaulted ceiling. Here’s a beauty shot, with Tall Tamarind being photobombed by its kid sister, Short Tamarind, in the foreground. “Take a picture of me, too!” Short Tamarind would be taller, but it spends much more time growing -out- and annoying the other plants on the bench by sucking up all their sunlight.

[DISCLAIMER: I don’t know which tamarind, if either, is a boy or a girl. One is growing like a weed, tall and gangly, doesn’t like to be hugged, tries to topple over its container, and eats like it has a hollow leg. The other is shorter, dainty, wants to hug all the time, enjoys it when I hang dragonfly pendants on its lower branches, and wants posters of Justin Bieber on the wall.]

Do You Have a Plant Point, Ms. Garden Lass?

Yes. Yes, I do —and I’ve said it before, and it bears repeating here:

Label Your Plant Containers When You Plant Stuff.

It’ll save you from those embarrassing moments when your mom visits from out of town, turns the corner into the “dining room” and gasps —at the ceiling-scraping leafy monstrosity in the corner— “OMG What is THAT?!”

And you can say, in your most authoritative voice, “Why, Mother, I’m so glad you asked.

“That’s Tamarindus indica, a tropical evergreen native to the Asian and African continents, which will grow to an estimated 75 feet tall at maturity, and bears an acidic fruit popularly used as a cooling drink.”

Better believe Tall Tamarind is going to get kicked out of the house well before it reaches its 75-foot tall self.

To your garden success!
Casey – the Garden Lass