March 30, 2012

Planting Out Rooted Treasures

Before the rain came, I planted out more than a half dozen of rooted pink Pentas, the ones Susie calls 'Miss Julie's Favorite." I did see a dark swallowtail darting around, so butterflies are still about. On the other side of the oval lawn I planted out most of the pink begonias and all of the white wax begonias kept over the winter. I pinched off lots of pieces to root among the leggier begonia specimens.

Pictures above are from January.

After the rain, I planted the two cycads that have new foliage.

Cycad pups from my friend and neighbor, Miss Cotele.
I was surprised to pull them out from behind the shelves on the north side of the greenhouse last month and find new leaves were forming on these two. They've come on quickly. They rooted well.

 One of the pups put on a single frond last summer. I planted it out about two weeks ago. It had great roots but no sign of new growth. I think the general rule is to cut off that old frond and wait for more growth. One that I pulled out of the pot last fall to see if they really had roots, did. I broke the roots. It suffered a backset and will remain in the shade in its pot until it shows signs of new growth. Sometimes I am worse than a little kid.

Gardenia in the black 4-gallon pot went into the ground in the Upper Garden. It has buds but is looking sad from a long winter. I wondered if I could bring it into bloom in the greenhouse. Not so without supplemental light to fool it into thinking it was June. It will bloom at the same time as the gardenias outside so I planted it out. A gardenia from a florist, I don't think it will be so tender that it won't survive here.  I have not tried to root cuttings from it.

I really prefer the old gardenia with the big blossoms that has been here for decades. It roots easily. Come June, there is gardenia fragrance in every direction. Janie gave me the idea for Gardenia hedges. Who'd have thought? Home Depot had 'Gardenia trees' when I was there last week. I tried pruning two of mine up as trees once. They didn't like that notion. The ones for sale didn't look happy, either. The trunks were rough looking and one had broken off at soil level.  

Gardenias, last June

Oh, so many plans and plants!

March 29, 2012

Where Are the Butterflies?

They were just here while the azaleas in the header photo were blooming. Sulphurs, Spicebush Swallowtails, Tiger Swallowtails, even Giant Swallowtails showed up. Buckeyes, Red Spotted Purples, American Painted Ladies -- I saw them all.

Suddenly they're all gone. Drought has turned the azaleas brown. I've known for years that butterflies have little on which to nectar once the spring blush of azaleas is gone. I plan for that dearth of nectar plants.
 Bath's Pinks



California Poppies


Did butterflies follow Spring northward the way that hummingbirds do?

The only butterfly I saw today was a Skipper.

Pipevine seedlings are up in the backyard. I hope that means Pipevine Swallowtails will soon be joining us to nectar on the Pentas I'm planting out.

March 21, 2012

Imagine the Worst. Hope for the Best.

As the height of Azalea and Dogwood season begin to wane, I am taking a break from blogging.
Whenever a blog just stops, I always wonder what happened to the author. You will know that my blog is still viable and so am I. I'll just be away from the blog for a while.

Flowers and text are from the garden of Nell Jean blogged on Dotty Plants Journal in warm, humid Southwest Georgia.

March 20, 2012

Lettuce Alone without Dressing

The title is an old pun first published in the 1930s, called Honeymoon Salad.

I'm hoping for lettuce with dressing soon before my romaine plants bolt. The plants in the tan containers will be snipped when they're big enough to eat and then a few plants left to grow on. The six plants above on the right almost went limp in the heat today before I moved them to shade outside. I trundle them back inside at night so they won't be squirrel fodder, which is what happened to my Mesclun back in the winter. All was not lost; they didn't care for Arugula, which adorned our pizzas for several meals.

Container tomatoes are not quite ready to pot up to a small pot. Peppers and Eggplants finally have true leaves. I get excited about every little sprout.

Over among the tropicals I was surprised to see Esperanza Tecoma stans sprouts already and a first purple Datura. Pride of Barbados Caesalpinia pulcherrima seeds take longer to sprout.

Flowers and text are from the garden of Nell Jean blogged on Dotty Plants Journal in warm, humid Southwest Georgia.

March 16, 2012

Purple Foliage Followup in and out of the Greenhouse

Purple Heart Setcreasea pallida. Syn:Setcreasea purpurea and Persian Shield Strobilanthes dyerianus are two of my favorite garden purples. Persian Shield will bloom in February and March in the greenhouse, never in the garden when days are longer and it can be planted in the open.

Persian Shield blooms are almost gone but you can see that it does put on a substantial bloom stalk. The blooms are blue, clashing beautifully as my mother would have said. The little blue cone-shaped blooms would be spectacular on a plain green plant, almost too much to compete, the purples and silvers of Strobilanthes. This plant is greener because it was in more sun in the greenhouse.

I put this Persian Shield outside beside the cycad pups whose new growth is visibly increasing from day to day. As soon as the fronds are fully matured they go out into the garden. They are heavy and unwieldy to manage but worth the effort.

Setcreasea is a more subdued color in shade, dark purple in sun. The pot on the left was shaded by plants above during the winter. When I moved the bromeliad that hid it, I was awed by its blue-green color. The plants on the right got a little more sun.

I moved some tropicals forward to take advantage of more moisture from the fogging apparatus. I should be out planting, not inside blogging.

Persian Shield shaded by Epiphyllum leaves that have rooted.

 Both Setcreasea and Strobilanthes die back with frost and return from the roots in my zone 8b garden. I take cuttings in the fall to enjoy the plants all winter, plant them out in spring and take more cuttings the next fall. Starting out new, you could buy one plant of each and take cuttings. I did that with Persian Shield. Purple Heart is a passalong that's frequently shared at plant swaps.

Foliage Followup is hosted by Pam Penick of Digging. Please go there to see other Spring foliage ideas from garden friends and while there, vote for Pam for Best Gardening Blog.

Flowers and text are from the garden of Nell Jean blogged on Dotty Plants Journal in warm, humid Southwest Georgia.

March 14, 2012

Bloom Day in the Greenhouse, March

Oh, OH! I forgot to put the link to Tootsietime so you could join in the linky fun for Fertilizer Friday. Here it is: Flaunt Your Flowers at Tootsie's.

March in the Greenhouse is about to be moving day in the greenhouse, except for a few of the most tender plants. Gerbera Daisies have been outside for a while, prefering cooler temperatures.

New in the greenhouse is a fogging system built from scrap parts: some copper tubing we had, mist heads used for some other purpose at our old house, a short hose from a hose reel and some purchased fittings to put it all together.
Fogging has a twofold purpose: cooling and humidifying. Cooling is in conjuntion with the fan we put up last week.

Five rooted Marieseii varigata Hydrangeas in one gallon pots over the winter went into the ground today. The biggest number of cuttings waiting now are Pentas in all colors.

Seedlings are coming along:
Tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. One
eggplant has not yet shown himself.

Parsley and chives. Pentas blooms fell into the parsley. Seedling chives are
threadlike. Other seeds planted are flowers, not yet ready for prime time.

Cycad pups have moved outside after spending the winter in the greenhouse.
Two have new growth. I planted out the one that had a single frond and not yet any
new growth. It has good roots.

Flowers and text are from the garden of Nell Jean blogged on Dotty Plants Journal in warm, humid Southwest Georgia.

March 08, 2012

Azaleas and Tigers Are Here

Papilio glaucas arrived yesterday. Azaleas are opening everywhere. Butterflies are swarming them.

 A Tiger Swallowtail on 'Pink Pearl' Azalea.

 Let's look more closely.

 I wanted to show you every color of Azalea and the Sulphur and Spicebush Butterflies, too. They'll be here for a while. Let's savor this one.

We're celebrating Fertilizer Friday at Tootsie's. Azaleas are fertilized after blooms fade. Pruning is done after bloom also. Azaleas like a little leaf mold and/or pine straw mulch over their shallow roots.

Flowers and text are from the garden of Nell Jean blogged on Dotty Plants Journal in warm, humid Southwest Georgia.

March 04, 2012

Big Wind: Ventilating Fan for the Greenhouse

We've had an unusually warm winter. Roof vents on the greenhouse and a portable fan were hardly enough to keep little plants I'm holding from suffering in the heat. He-who-mows installed a vent fan in the end of the greenhouse.

Louvers in place before fan is placed.

We used a fan and shutters that were no longer used for their original purpose. We made a cardboard template to cut the polycarbonate wall and caulked the outside when the louvers were in place. 

 Something to crow about: steel angle reinforments to help strengthen the walls and hold the fan.

Another view of the bracing fastened to the aluminum GH frame.
The fan frame is fastened to the steel bracing.

A broad view. All plants are still not back in place.

All this done, I had to move back in one of my little heaters. Tonight and tomorrow night we expect temps as low as 35F degrees. Daytimes we will need the fan when the sun comes out.

If you need information on Greenhouse Heating, Cooling and Ventilation I recommend sites provided by Extension Services in a state that discusses the zone in which you garden. Their literature addresses figuring capacity, rates of air movement, and other factors to take into consideration with equations for doing so.

Flowers and text are from the garden of Nell Jean blogged on Dotty Plants Journal in hot, humid Southwest Georgia.

March 01, 2012

Fertilizer Friday: Blooms Herald Spring

Time for Fertilizer Friday with Tootsie again. I really need to get out there with compost and fertlizer and lime and wood ashes and get busy.

Blooming with daffodils is this native corydalis,
Here with wild geranium and daylily foliage.

We're nearing the end of Hyacinths, my fave bulb.

Daffodils come in waves of different cultivars.

Minature daffodils extend the season.

Shrimp plant that survived the winter with a
white Azalea in the distance. Pink azaleas are
showing color. Hydrangeas are still dormant.

Nothing to show from the Greenhouse, we put up shutters for a vent fan today. No recently planted seeds are up yet except for lettuces.

I put First Views with Town Mouse on my Seedscatterer blog.

Flowers and text are from the garden of Nell Jean blogged on Dotty Plants Journal in hot, humid Southwest Georgia.

I Blog Here & Here too