Gardening Resolutions #1

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Remember this photo of my citrus from early October? I said that in a few months they would lose their leaves.

So when the large variegated one on the end began to do so about 2 weeks ago, I really didn’t even pay attention. All the citrus get scale every winter and I could see it recurring. So I figured between the scale and the unbelievably dim light that we have been having because of all the rain (but it’s still rain, not ice and not much snow, so I will take it, thank you very much!) it was just normal leaf loss.

This is a warning about what happens when you assume. Needless to say, it wasn’t normal leaf loss, nor was it due to the scale alone.

I am not even sure how I noticed: it might have happened in a rare sunny moment (because we don’t get whole sunny days).

I was watering and I noticed that the variegated plant was covered in webbing. Spider mites. So not only was that plant infested, but every other plant on the windowsill was infested–because spider mites get out of control very quickly.

Luckily I had a warm day to take everything outside to spray it off with an organic oil. I also washed the whole windowsill down and washed all the trays out.

But for the rest of the winter now,I will need to be vigilant about watching–& probably treating for spider mites.

Oh well. At least I won’t be bored.

More Seasonal Color

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Was anyone surprised to see my post listing this plant as a “bulb?” If you’re an outdoor gardener in a cooler climate, you might have planted its smaller cousins in a shady spot.

With my heavy clay soil, cyclamen corms just rot away and don’t even come up in the spring, nevermind naturalize in the lovely drifts that I have seen in other gardens.

For that matter, this plant doesn’t do particularly well in my home. I am not entirely sure why. It’s certainly cool enough.

It may be my watering practices and the fact that it is a corm (which is a bulb-like structure. Crocuses are corms if that helps you visualize).

All “house plants” that grow from bulbs–calla lilies and caladiums are just 2 more examples I can think of–need to be kept evenly moist. Once bulbs dry out, it tells them to initiate dormancy.

In my house, I am not so good with “evenly moist.” So I suspect that’s why I fail with these. But they are lovely to look at for the season.

Another Holiday Worthy Plant

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This stunner unfortunately doesn’t have one good common name. Its botanical is stromanthe sanguinea ‘Triostar’ (or sometimes variegata). I have seen it called Persian Shield, but not often, and I have also seen it called Tricolor Prayer Plant, which is even more misleading, because it does not belong to the calathea/maranta genus which are usually called “prayer plants.” So feel free to come up with some good common name yourself.

I say it’s “holiday worthy” of course because of the colorations in the leaves. I suppose it could easily be be gifted around Valentine’s Day as well for the same reason. This photo shows the nice maroon stems fairly well. I didn’t capture the maroon undersides of the leaves though. It really is a stunner of a plant!

For me, I grow it in an east or west exposure–where ever I have more room in a given season. I have had this plant for several years and it hasn’t grown very much (and I like that in a plant sometimes)–many of my plants are outgrowing my house!

In the summer, I put it outside under a dogwood that throws fairly dense shade. Despite the outside/inside routine for at least 3 or 4 years, it has never had an insect problem.

In my cooler house, it only needs water once a week. Outside, it might get watered every day, depending on temperatures.

I definitely can recommend this as a plant. As I often say–what’s not to like?

With Zygocacti, What You See Might Not Be What You Get

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This is my oldest holiday or zygo cactus, also known as a schlumbergera. It’s probably at least 20 years old. And despite the post headline, if you look at the bud and bloom shown together in this photo, you’ll notice that they are the same color.

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The other two plants on this windowsill, not so much. The pale pink one that you see in this joint photo? Its early buds are white. It currently has no buds so I can’t show you that.

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And these attractive pink buds look like they belong to my ancient 20 year old zygocactus, don’t they?

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This is how they open.

So the moral of this story is to try to ensure that the plant you acquire has an open flower so that you know what you’re getting–unless you like surprises!

The Anti-Poinsettias

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Every year about this time I post about these pretty red and green plants, calling them “anti-poinsettias.”

These are aglaonemas, otherwise known as Chinese Evergreens. You often see them sold in pretty green and white varieties. I almost brought one of those home the other day, but it was so cold that I wasn’t sure that I could safely transport it from the store to my car so I will wait until warmer temperatures–in other words, July, in my part of the world!

Poinsettias don’t do well in my house. Like many New Englanders, we keep our house too cold for the heat loving plant from Mexico. So I have learned to stop killing them, and I grow these, which will tolerate my chilly low 60s.

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Here’s another variety, a pinker version, that’s about to bloom as well.

And the best part about these plants? Once the holidays are over, they’re still lovely to look at!