(Read Part 1 of this experiment here, and parts 2 and 3 here and here.)

If you're an optimist and believe the saw that failure is a success if you learn from it, then you'll agree with me; this part of the experiment was a success! (If you're a pessimist, skip to the bottom, where you'll find some regular-strength good news.)

When I started this cork planter adventure, I figured it was going to be a piece of cake. Drill a hole, add some dirt and a plant, then stick on a magnet. Well, it is that easy, and it isn't. I hate killing plants, and mine dried up pretty fast (something the original poster said might happen). So I'm determined to keep trying anything to keep the plant alive more than two weeks. This is part 4 in the "try, try again" experiment. I'm hoping  to end up with a cork planter that I'd feel good about giving as a gift or even selling at a craft fair.  Here's my "lab report:"

This week, at least I learned something.  First, my apologies for not knowing the names of the plants involved; that's the result of using plants that were shared, not bought. I did find a nice identification site online, but it's searchable by names only, not images. (Please comment if you know what these are actually called!)

I think I've learned that the succulent I know as "sedevaria" just plain isn't well-suited for this experiment. It gets what my daddy would call "puny" pretty fast, with soil moist or without. In evidence:

Remember that bulge from the soil moist there on the left end of the Day 1 shot? It was the result of a single crystal of Soil Moist swelling to gigantic proportions when wet. Even so, and even with regular eye-dropper waterings, the poor plant has the vapors. I guess even all that moisture-trapping capacity wasn't enough to save these little babies from drying up.

Which is kind of too bad because I have GOBS of this stuff, and I've been impressed with its ability to grow without the least care. Outside. In full broiling sun. With no extra water or care of any kind. Le Sigh. Maybe it needs more light, but if my sunny kitchen isn't bright enough, it's just not a good match. Moving on, then.

Oh, and in case you're thinking that the plants dried up because they're in a synthetic cork...a "real" cork fared no better:

Though one stem did seem to grow a fair bit longer in the two weeks, the leaves on the end are definitely thinner and flatter. Since they are also taking on more of a green cast, I'm wondering if the red terra cotta pot  they came from acts like the red fabric you can put under tomato plants to make the fruit's color deeper. (Anybody know?) One little plant is completely gone, probably the victim of a slammed fridge door or somebody brushing up against it while grabbing the OJ. Or maybe it just dried up, gave up, and fell away. Makes me sad.

VERDICT: real or synthetic cork, Soil Moist or none...this plant is apparently a poor match for this project.

But WAIT! There's happy news, too! (All you pessimists can tune back in now.)

This kind of plant seems to be perfectly happy at its new address.

My mom calls these "hens and chicks," and she brought about 50 of them from her back porch all the way from Tennessee just for this project. I've seen plenty at our local Lowe's, so maybe it's just as well that the common kind of plant worked best. (And they propagate like crazy, too. The ones mom brought me are "chicking" all over the place! Free plants!)

The bad news is that since I didn't have any hens and chicks on hand when I first made the planters, I can't tell you whether these would do just as well without the soil moist.  I'm remedying that today by planting one in a cork with just dirt.

Here we go again!

Because I'm crazy busy trying to finish a freelance assignment AND get ready for a long vacation in the land of Far, Far Away, I put the sedevaria from the top shot back in with its friends in the motherbowl and reused this cork:

Here it is, with a nice fat, juicy "hen" inside sans Soil Moist, on day 1:

Note: It'll be a little longer before I can post an "after" shot, since we leave next week for vacation. (A couple of darling neighbor girls will be feeding our cats, shocking our pool, and now, watering my corks!) When we get back, I'll post whatever I find, so stay tuned!

Read the next chapter in the saga here.

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