Wordless Wednesday

I remarked last week that I had brought in all the house plants and that I was out of windows.

Well, that’s never the end of the story, is it? I’m still moving things around and shifting things and deciding what’s staying and what’s going–a few last-minute tweaks before things settle down for the season.

As all of this is going on, the Spoiler keeps asking about something that’s still outside. I can’t for the life of me imagine what he means. He keeps referring to it as “that nice pot with the matching bottom,” or something vaguely similar.

As more and more plants came in, I figured whatever it was had come in as well–but no. Once again, over the weekend I got the question about the pot with matching saucer, this time.

Finally I asked him to show me what he was worried about. This was what he pointed out.

The "forgotten" planter

What’s interesting about this is that I do bring in and over-winter the red dracena because I can’t always find one when I want one. But everything else? The begonias go dormant–and need to do that to rejuvenate themselves for next year. The torenia and calibrachoa are true annuals and won’t over-winter, particularly in my chilly house. So even were I to bring in that planter just as it is, it wouldn’t look like much in a month or two!

Still, it’s sweet of the Spoiler to care. Some years I guess he doesn’t want summer to end either!

Wordless Wednesday–I’m Out of Windows

I mentioned Monday when I talked about Fall Gardening that I didn’t even want to think about bringing in the house plants. Of course that’s what I did all weekend.

West Window

One of the joys of summer is being able to see out of my windows–when the blinds or shutters aren’t drawn against the heat, of course. Now my windows are full of plants.

south window

Clearly I make use of every available inch of space.

East window

Although there is certainly room to shoehorn some more plants onto this windowsill when I acquire some–and that’s when and not if, of course.

south bay window

Over the years, the plants I’ve brought in have gotten larger, so I bring fewer in each year. Once it was over 200. This year, it’s 91. But as I said, there will be more as the year goes on–and I am planning a longer trip at the holidays, so probably so of these will succumb as well.

Who knows what will go back outside next spring?

What A Supermarket Display Can Tell Us About Bee Preference

I was on my way in to my local supermarket when a garish orange flower caught my eye. Being a gardener of course, I had to detour over to take a look.

Mystery tropical

I’ve no idea what this is–of course it wasn’t labeled. It’s quite eye catching. But even were I so inclined to buy it, I wouldn’t and here’s why. Every buzzing thing on the table was avoiding it like the plague. Who wants that in a garden?

Actually, some later research indicates it’s a tropical called crossandra. And that it’s a shade plant. Interesting since it was in full blazing sun. I wonder if it will still be there this week and fried to a crisp?

agastache

Of course, I couldn’t investigate too carefully because the plants were interspersed with these lovely blue agastache–a brilliant marketing scheme, as well as great color design. Of course, I happened to take the one shot where there wasn’t a bee on the flower. But every other flower stalk was literally covered in bumble bees and honey bees. I’ve got to set the brightness on the camera so I can see what I’m doing, clearly (no pun intended!)

pentas

As I headed toward the store door, I was again stopped, this time by the pentas. What had me transfixed this time, however, other than the lovely pinks and reds of the flowers, was the fact that these plants were covered in hornets (or yellow jackets–I wasn’t stepping in too closely to try to tell the difference!)

Again, lovely plant–but not necessarily something you want to bring home if it’s going to attract these visitors. And really, you’re going to have to be careful how you even reach for this one. No wonder this flower display is so lush and full–no one can reach for any of the plants!

Hurricane Preparedness

This may be the last post you read from me in a while.  I posted this Saturday as I was preparing for Irene to make landfall somewhere around Connecticut.  I scheduled it to post on Monday–I presume that if we’re without power it will still post but who knows?

I noticed quite a few garden bloggers posting pictures of their gardens on Friday and saying “I hope there will still be something left post-Irene.”  I can certainly sympathize with that!  I had a bit of a rude awakening on my Friday walk, however.  I went out at 6:30 to discover that my green beans, which had finally climbed to the tops of their respective poles and were fleshing out nicely, were gone!  Nothing left but a few stringy stems thanks to those pesky deer.  So  some of my gardening  came to a crashing halt a little early anyway.  Oh well.

Friday evening, I did a “quick” gathering up of all the plants and stored them in the garage.  It’s far too early to say goodbye to the summer containers–and besides, I surely don’t want them to become projectiles in tropical storm or higher force winds.

This is what I was gathering though and you’ll see that it wasn’t such an easy task.  It took 3 of us over an hour.

These are the herb containers I keep just outside my door for easy harvest.  I’m not ready to let those go.

These are mixed annuals and house plants with a few tender tropicals thrown in for good measure.

Mostly tender perennials that I over-winter (not the Alberta Spruce, of course!)

And finally more tender perennials and house plants.  What you don’t see are the big containers of mixed annuals that I already moved, or the orchids from the back of the house–but you get the idea!

But it’s also far too early to bring them inside.  I’m not quite resigned to the task of watering with a watering can instead of a hose.

And this year I decided that they were not all coming in either.  I mean I love my houseplants but it’s getting a little too crazy.  We’ll se if I can actually winnow down the collection to a manageable number.

But doing so while trying to prepare for a once in a 50 year storm is not probably wise. I can winnow after the storm–or even later in the season.

And I can hope this is all unnecessary and this storm, fickle as these storms can be, takes a last-minute turn out to sea and everyone is spared.  That’s what everyone is truly hoping and praying for!

After Christmas Poinsettia Care

If you think back about a month ago, I had photos of 3 happy looking poinsettias under my Christmas tree and on my dining room table.  So what happened (and no, I won’t blame the house sitter for this, although poinsettas are a bit fussy about watering requirements)

Rather, I’m blaming this on the fact that the poor dears figured out that they’re not in Mexico ( where they are native ) anymore.  During the holidays, we had house guests who prefer their home heated to average temperatures–say 68 degrees or so–just what the poinsettias like.

Once the house guests left, we dropped out thermostat back to the sub-tropical chill we’ve grown sort of used to–64 in the day and 60 at night.  Not only that, Mr. Sno-Meiser decided he’s going to make up for the snow deficit Connecticut’s had for the last few years and he’ been dumping on us every few days for the last month.  As a result, we have had fewer sunny days than normal, and even the windows are getting blocked up by bushes covered in snow.

As a result, you see the sad-looking little shrublets in the photo.  The whites seem to be the worst affected; the red is grimly holding its own for now.

So what’s to be done, other than composting those two sad white plants in the photo (which I may still decide to do).  The first line of attack is to cut them back.  That will get rid of the worst of the sad-looking foliage (which is all those white bracts are anyway) and give the plants a chance to rest a bit.

Once March comes, I will begin feeding with an organic fertilizer that is higher in nitrogen so that the plants begin to branch and put on new growth.  If that happens, I may keep them. If not–compost.

I have had great success in keeping the plants over in an un-used room in my house–just a spare guest room.  I don’t try to block ambient light from adjoining rooms, I’m not overly neurotic about not turning on the light in the room (but obviously I don’t leave the lights on for extended periods) and I don’t block out lights room the outside window.  By December, the bracts are coloring up again. They will never be as full or lush as a grower’s poinsettia, but they do come back–and the satisfaction of knowing you’ve done it yourself is a lot of fun!

Poinsettias–Dispelling the Myths

[Photo from Google]

Since I did a public service announcement yesterday on deer, and since I mentioned poinsettia (euphorbia pulcherrima) on Monday in my Bloom Day post, I thought I might as well get another myth out of the way right here and now: Poinsettia are NOT, I repeat NOT poisonous.

So if you have children, it is perfectly safe to have them in your home. Presumably the children can and will be taught not to chew on any part of the plant.  It is the sap that can be irritating and can cause a bit of skin irritation in anyone, children or adults.

If the stems or leaves are swallowed, in large quantities, they can cause vomiting–but again, children should never be left along unsupervised with any plants and several holiday plants are far more toxic than poinsettia, holly and mistletoe among them whose berries are toxic in minute quantities.

If you have dogs or cats, however, that it another thing.  The sap can make dogs and cats  sick if they chew on any part of the plant. So in that case, you may want to keep them out of your home.

Now, you do not have to take my word for any of this.  Here is the link for the ASPCA site for animals.

And as for an authoritative site for people, I wasn’t sure what might be definitive.  So I used my favorite site for dispelling urban legends: Snopes.

Houseplant Heaven

Today I and 4 horticulturally inclined friends finally made a much delayed trip to Logee’s Greenhouses in Danielson, CT.  We had been trying to go since early February but had been put off by the weather.  But today was sunny and in the upper 50s so it was a great day for a road trip.

For those of you not lucky enough to live within driving distance, they do have a web site and a fabulous catalog that they mail out several times a year.

In looking around at my too large houseplant and tropical collection I see that many have come from Logee’s over the years.  My pittosporum, (which I mentioned in a prior post), that I acquired as a reminder of a trip to Italy, comes from there.  All of my fragrant houseplants, except perhaps the orchids, come from there (but that could be the topic of another whole post)!  My large banana-like ensete–and the small begonias in the pot with it–come from there.

Logee’s perhaps made its reputation on begonias and colorful begonias are one of its specialties.  I also have a collection of angel-wing begonias from there in the base of another banana (these plants are so tall you want to under-plant them with something!).

I had gone trying to acquire another begonia, of all things, but that was not to be on this trip.  So instead I contented myself with another fragrant houseplant, stephanotis floribunda ‘Variegata.’ You know a couple of things from the name without me even posting the picture: floribunda means it will have abundant flowers (and when you see how small it is, you’ll laugh, but these are fast growers  so I know I won’t be waiting long!) and of course variegata means it has variegated leaves. I do like my plants to do double duty so while I’m waiting for it to flower, the leaves will still be pretty to look at.

I also picked up a new philodendron, although this is not just a plain one. Once again, its leaves are what make all the difference.  I’ll be using this in my lecture on March 27 at the Farmington Library on Houseplants for the Four Exposures to illustrate hardworking plants that can be beautiful–and that can clean the air!  This is Philodendron erubescens ‘Pink Princess.’


Logee’s is a family business owned by the third generation.  Its employees are like family to them as well.  They also really know their plants.  So if you fancy some new houseplants are tropicals, the weather should be warm enough for them to start shipping.  I encourage you to check them out and to add something rare and beautiful to your collection.