The Un-Poinsettia

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Each year, I post photos of aglaeonema, commonly known as Chinese evergreen plant, and call it something silly like the un-poinsettia or the anti-poinsettia.

Let’s face it: growers are losing the battle with poinsettias. Many people still believe the old myth that they are poisonous (they are NOT!)

But even if you don’t believe that myth, you may be like me, and may be limited by a cold house.

Or you simply may not want to look at a screaming red plant well into April–or longer. If any of these things is the case, aglaeonemas are the plant for you.

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Usually I post a photo of this one because its color scheme is most “Christmas-like.” This is the appropriately named red stem variety.

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If this is even too much red for you, this variety tones it down a bit. This variety is called Lipstick.

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And if you just like the plant and don’t care about a holiday color scheme, this bright variety might be for you. This is Red Valentine.

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All of these variations were developed from green plants, if you can imagine. Here’s a lovely green and white variety called Silver Queen.

If all of these choices don’t give you something to choose from when decorating, perhaps silk is more to your liking?

All Ready for Spring

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It may seem strange to be organizing my potting area now but there’s actually method to my seeming madness here.

I spent most of Thanksgiving day organizing this tiny space, not so much because I wanted to, but because I really had to. Over the last few years, as I changed my garden style, it had gotten totally disorganized.

I couldn’t find anything;I couldn’t distinguish pots from decorative outer pots; I had no idea that I had so many clay saucers–you get the idea.

But the real impetus driving the cleanup right now is that this area stores my Christmas boxes. And the floor had become so cluttered and strewn with pots and saucers and baskets that I couldn’t even walk, never mind store anything here for a month.

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So the small stuff went up, and the larger stuff got neatly stacked again. Who knows how long it will last? At least a month, though–I am beginning to stack boxes in front of this now.

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Houseplant Pest Habits

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Yes, those are mealy bugs. Generally they are very easy to deal with, particularly when they are located where they are in this photo. A little alcohol on a cotton swab will wipe them right off.

But that begs the question. Where did this large critter come from out here on the end of the leaf? There are a couple of smaller ones with him (it?)–in fact this whole plant was infested at one point. That’s how I caught these guys so quickly. I was watching for more.

You see, not only do mealies have a nasty habit of hiding in the crevices of plants–places like unfurling leaves and stem/leaf junctions–but their eggs can also live in the soil for more than 2 years.

That’s probably how so many of them sneak into our homes to begin with.

And that again is how we know Stephen King doesn’t garden. Eggs that lay dormant for over 2 years and then become a full-fledged infestation? Sounds like a horror movie to me!

Grower’s Results without the Fuss

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Here’s a zygocactus that I recently got from a grower. It’s lovely and full of buds, a few of which have already opened.

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Now here is one of mine that I’ve had for a couple of years–also full of buds. I may have 10 or 12 this size and you’ll see most, if not all of them on my “Wordless Wednesdays,” no doubt over the next few months.

If you’ll notice, mine has a many–or more–buds than the one I got from the grower. While you may say “so what?” you need to remember a couple of things: first I am a totally organic grower and next, I don’t fertilize.

So how did I achieve this? Simple. I put these plants outside this year, something I hadn’t done in the past.

I had never put them outside because they are “succulent-like,” and I was concerned that they would get too much moisture and would rot. But this year, with surgery on my arm, I had a little more time to pay closer attention to my container plants (since I couldn’t do a lot of the heavier work in the garden) so I was able to monitor them closely.

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So they never got too wet–and rainwater obviously did them a word of good. Several shoots are double-budded like this one. This may be my new care regimin–so long as we don’t have a monsoonal rainy summer.