October 27, 2013

Christmas in Denmark

One of the favorite blogs I follow is Claus Dalby of Denmark.  He is featuring Christmas on his blog already in addition to his new book on White Gardens. He also showed his gardeners this week, which verifies why my white garden is not going to look like his, besides the fact that his is in a Scandinavian country. My lack of brawny help does not keep me from enjoying the sights and wonders in the Claus Dalby garden.
 Anyhow, Mr. Dalby previewed his Christmas decors and mentions that he will feature a new Nordic Christmas that includes many natural materials. One of the photos he showed was of Graptopetalum, one of my favorite succulents.
I save every little brittle leaf that breaks off. These are just a few of my
collection of rootlets. Maybe I'll find new uses for these.
Graptopetalum combines well with many
other plants, here with Schlumbergera and
a Bromeliad.
There were some other materials in  his preview that are in my reach: Spanish Moss among some glass ornaments in blue and aqua; bulbs rooting -- his in water, mine will be in soil.
Reading and planning are the best part of Christmas as far as I am concerned.

October 26, 2013

Almost Ready to Close the Greenhouse Door

Every day I bring in another pot, more cuttings, something. When I paused to make a pic record, He-Who-Mows laughed and said it looked better in a photograph than it really does. Maybe so.

Hardly styled for a slick magazine, it's work in progress, year 'round. There are always seeds to scatter or cuttings to strike or things to put in a larger pot.The Kalanchoes around the door went inside last everning in case of frost.

Today I busied myself taking down the last of the tomatoes, hauling off Tithonia plants and making the Cabbage Patch less attractive to digging pets. I gave every plant a dusting of cayenne pepper, then edged them with pine cones. In a few places I stuck some rosemary cuttings -- doubtful they will root but rosemary reputedly repel cats. Ike probably loves rosemary.  If I see more signs of digging, there's a pile of pine straw mulch waiting to be scattered before the first freeze. 

Part of the Cabbage row; Kale opposite.

Cabbage plant and pine cones.

Broccoli plant, pine cone and Rosemary twig.

October 23, 2013

A Jungle Cactus Blooms in the Night

One bloom or 10, it is always exciting to anticipate the opening of Epiphyllum Oxypetalum. Last night was no exception. I lighted tea lights to add to the festive occasion.

These would not be nearly so dramatic if they bloomed during the day. There are 3 buds remaining.

More Jungle Beauties, Schlumbergera

Did I mention the fragrance that fills a room? 

Known by the common name Night Blooming Cereus, not really a Cereus.

The pendulous plants hang over everything.

The next Ephiphytic spectacle will be the bloom season of Christmas Cactuses. Buds are forming, repotting is done. From now on, it's like waiting for Santa Claus.

We expect near-freezing temperatures outside by the end of the week. I was not so premature in bringing in tender plants after all. There are still cuttings to take and tender plants to dig because I always want to save everything from the cold. The tea lights can be packed away making room to tuck little plants everywhere. I must remember to leave room for dozens of Hyacinth bulbs in tiny pots after Thanksgiving when their chill is finished.

Friday Addendum: Two blooms opened on Wednesday night. I though the last one would wait until Friday night, so let He-who-mows and fastens doors close the greenhouse last night. Guess what I found this morning? A wilted blossom, the very last one of the season and I missed it. The two on Thursday morning were still open when I went out fairly early.

Tonights near-freeze is upgraded to 37º which isn't so bad. I may set the Kalanchoes waiting at the door inside.

Linking to Tootsie's Fertilizer Friday at Tootsie Time. I think I'll go put a teaspoon of fertilizer beside each of my cabbages, kale and broccoli. They are growing nicely if certain pets will stop digging.

October 22, 2013

Purple Heart and Persian Shield Cuttings

I saw a box planter filled with Purple Heart in the Atrium of the Care Center where my brother Paul spent his last days. Purple Heart had grown long and hung down to the ground. Reminded of it, I went out and gathered a number of cuttings and stuck in a small plastic planter box, leaving room at the back for Persian Shield because I enjoy that combo so much.

Purple Heart

Persian Shield
Persian Shield is not fool-proof to root in soil. I have some in a vase with water roots but it looks shabby and the roots are matted. I may go back and cut more pieces to root in water just in case these do not take and toss the old. Humidity is high so I expect good rooting.

Purple Planting box. That's an old bromeliad behind, sharing
space until the box is established and has a permanent spot.
It isn't easy for me to discard anything with signs of life. I have this urge to cut things back and give them one more chance, to save bits and pieces to see if they grow. The exception is diseased plants and those that are insect-ridden that cannot be salvaged with a spritz of soapy water. A nursery for baby plants is not a hospital. Insects and disease tend to spread to healthy plants. I don't mind waiting for something small to grow. I anticipate the results with great joy.

October 21, 2013

Seeds Planted and Christmas Cactuses Repotted

Do you Pin photos on Pinterest and then follow through? I saw photos of pots and beds last week with Parsley and Alyssum included that gave me some practical ideas. Today I planted 18 cells with Alyssum seeds and a half dozen cells with Parsley. Parsley has to go 'to the devil and back' before it sprouts, nearly a month. Maybe emerging Alyssum will give me hope before Thanksgiving.

What have you done that came from a Pinterest idea?

While I was busy with potting soil, I went ahead with bumping some plants up to larger pots.

Christmas Cactuses except some large pots were on a single shelf.

The long flats with 6-cell trays held rooted cuttings with roots growing out the bottom. I had just enough potting soil to pot up a Gerbera Daisy seedling and 8 square pots holding 3 Schlumbergera cuttings each of pink, peach, yellow and white.

 I remembered to label them all, even the Gerbera at lower left which started out as a seed in a yoghurt container. There are some small pots of Christmas Cactuses with no label that will be mysteries until bloom.

Eight pots in a flat are too crowded. I'll separate them.

The 8 square pots are at upper left. They need more space around 
each pot for air circulation. At right is a tray of 6 red rooted cuttings 
yet to repot and some small pots of single cuttings. Larger plants 
are in cache pots on the bottom shelf.

Other GH activity:

 We will soon see Epiphyllum blooms, always a treat.

Update on the cycad seedling growth. 

October 18, 2013

Schlumbergera Buds

It's always exciting in the fall when Christmas Cactuses start to put on buds. The first tiny ones look like babies' teeth. A white Schlumbergera is the first to set a bud that I noticed. 

I didn't make a pic of the baby bud today. Here's a photo of the blooming plant from last Christmas.

Tomorrow I'll look closely at all the Schlumbergeras.

Today I was getting the old medicine cabinet that I use for storage out of the greenhouse, making room for my Russelia equisetiformis, Firecracker Fern. I gave it a little trim and put the cuttings in water to see if they root. 

October 14, 2013

October Bloom Day in the Greenhouse

It isn't cold enough for plants to be inside but I am prone to being caught by an early frost, so they are in early except for the cuttings I keep putting off. This is just a sample

I added extras to the Begonia pots: Spider plants and Foxtail Fern.

Schlumbergeras will have buds soon. I root every
little piece that is pruned or breaks.

Last Hurrah for Epiphyllums. These will bloom 
for one night, soon. Maybe I'll remember to look.
Their fragrance is the best part.

White Lantana outside the greenhouse.
Next year I hope for a glorious white garden.

Look closely in the left lower corner. My camera kept focusing on dry leaves and foliage rather than the
beautiful blue Dragonfly who posed so patiently. 

Happy Bloom Day.

October 11, 2013

You Never Know What Will Come in Mailorder

This is the kind of post I am reluctant to make but I need to document this.

I ordered 3 Amaryllis bulbs from a well-known vendor. When I opened them the next day, they had lesions that disturbed me. Were these red blotch or just damage suffered in digging and processing? I sent an email to the vendor with photos like the ones above. The thing that worried me the most was the mushy spots like the one at bottom left.
The reply was that the company's horticulturist said this was just normal spots suffered in washing the bulbs, not to worry, plant the bulbs.
What! I peeled away the worst of the soft spots and planted them. I broke off the budding side bulb what looked so red and angry in the top picture upper left. The mother bulb was white and firm underneath. It isn't as if I'd ordered dozens and dozens. Perhaps they will be fine and produce wonderful blossoms by Christmas the way they are supposed to.


Sprouting leaves look promising. I isolated them from my other Amaryllis, just in case. None of my other bulbs from other sources looked like this. I did not expecct this from a vendor that promises firm, healthy bulbs. I'm just glad I thought to order a minimum number and check out their Hippeastrums before placing a large order.

The vendor I used last year sent firm bulbs without red spots. I already made a note to use that one again.

October 07, 2013

Putting More Plants into a Small Space

After I moved these pots into the Greenhouse, I saw two Pins with plants in a
container that gave me the idea to put the spider plants that were all around 
and two Foxtail ferns into the begonia pots. The ideas came from Boxwoods
Garden, Atlanta. 

Begonias have shallow roots so the deeper pots had styrofoam pieces in the bottom to fill up space. I pulled out most of the styrofoam to make room for the Foxtail Ferns' fleshy roots. Begonias lifted out easily and tucked back in. All the Spider Babies needed was clipping off and tucking into the soil, except for the one in the above pic. I cut away the plastic pot where the roots had grown through the drain holes and filled the cache pot under it. 

Bromeliad pups are almost as large as the mother plants which are fading.
I think I'll leave the pups in place until spring. 

October 05, 2013

Fall Bulbs for Forcing

They are not really forced, you can't force a bulb to do anything. You can trick them into believing it is time to grow and bloom by mimicking conditions that trigger bloom.

I plan to convince 25 white and 25 pink Hyacinths to bloom if
not by Christmas, soon after for a Winter Treat.

I recently found some containers bought some 10 years ago and tucked away, forgotten. 
I no longer force bulbs in water, these bulbs will go in soil in clay pots.

Wraped in kraft paper and labeled lest I forget when they went in,
when they are to come out or even what they are.

Tucked into a dedicated refrigerator to wait until December.

My Amaryllis are a disappointment. I was all ready to pot them up. At first look, they looked fine, a bit smaller than I would like, but they're from South Africa for Christmas forcing, so the size is not unexpected. What was a surprise was on further inspection I found red spots more than expected and when I peeled back the dry tunica to check underneath, there are mushy rotten spots. I emailed the vendor immediately.

It is not uncommon to see small red spots on Hippeastrum, but when a vendor states on the web site, 'top quality bulbs that are true to name and healthy, firm and viable' then that is what I expect: healthy and firm.

I used a different vendor this year, one I had used before. Last year I used a new bulb vendor and they double-charged my credit card. The mistake was corrected when I complained, but it made me change back to one I never had problems before. I have other choices for next year. There are many vendors out there. Do you have a favorite?

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