10/03/13 — A green thumb and personal touch

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A green thumb and personal touch

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on October 3, 2013 1:46 PM

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Phyllis Sutton is seen with her award-winning copper plant, acalypha wilkesiana, at the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair. It took first place in the tropical plant category.

Phyllis Sutton normally gives her plants tender love and care. But let them start acting up or droop a little or not grow as they should and she will not hesitate to fuss at them.

"I won't tell you what I say to them," the 58-year-old said. "I'll get the fish emulsion out and we'll talk a little bit. They've either got to perk up or ship out."

Then when they do show signs of improving, she'll tell them how pretty they are and how much she loves them.

That personal touch may be one of the reasons Ms. Sutton won Best of Show with one of her plants and a blue ribbon on her tropical copper plant at the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair flower show.

She said she entered the plant because it is unusual.

Ms. Sutton bought the plant when it was just a sprout, about three or four inches tall, last spring. Now it stands a few feet tall. The older the copper plant gets, the more its leaves will change to even more colors of copper.

If you look close, you can see long catkins hanging all over the copper plant. That's the flower, Ms. Sutton said. It has more of a greenish tone when it first comes out, but the older it gets, the browner it turns. But eventually the flowers fall off.

Not only are the leaves a copper color, but some of them are whirled around in a pretty design.

Tropical plants are Ms. Sutton's favorites.

"But they definitely can't stand our cold weather, so they have to be brought inside during the winter months," she said. "In the summer I keep mine right outside of the house in the direct sunlight."

Ms. Sutton also has some Bird of Paradise tropicals that she started as sprouts and now they are about 14 feet tall. And she has a candelabra plant. It's green with big leaves. The top looks like a candelabra, complete with yellow flowers on it.

Ms. Sutton said fish emulsion is the best fertilizer for any plant, and more of a natural fertilizer.

And she suggests that anyone with plants take a close look at them at least every other day, if not every day, for any kind of pest.

"I take my cup of coffee in the morning before breakfast and walk around and look at my plants," she said.

Ms. Sutton said her plants do as much for her as she does for them.

"You can be in a bad mood and go in the house and see the really pretty plants and you can't help but be in a good mood. It can't help but perk you up."

She recalled the time a couple of years ago when she had a knee replacement.

"I was down and out and couldn't walk," she said. "I was motivated to get up out of my chair to take care of my plants. I do a lot of container gardening and have to water them more often. When I saw them drooping, I knew they had to have water, so I either had to get up out of my chair or I was going to lose them. I think that helped me heal faster."