Thursday, April 10, 2014

Nothing Grows During The Brown Season so start your seedlings indoors

Tomato seedlings Nowadays, I start tomatoes, hot peppers and annual flowers indoors under lights. I have no need for the pots and pots of perennial herbs, vegetables and flowers I used to start from seed. By their very nature I have all I need.

I start my plants from seed because its fun; its satisfying to know I nurtured my plants through their entire lifecycle. I get to choose exactly the species or cultivar I want. Many types of flowers, herbs and vegetables are not available in nurseries as seedlings. As a bonus, growing plants from seed is cheaper and I can have more of them for a fraction of the price.

Start looking for seeds to grow by checking out my list of catalogues on the Resources page above.

Read my posts under the Seeds label in the column on the left of this page for advice on how to start perennial and annual seeds indoors.

Are you growing any plants from seed this year? let me know in the comments.

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Glimpse Of Spring- tender plants and the Urban Heat Island Effect

Last week I was in Vancouver it rained everyday but the temperature did not drop below zero and there was no snow.

In addition to soaking up liquid sunshine I spent my mornings editing almost finished pages of my book and approving gallery proofs. I spent the afternoons visiting the art gallery with my mother, tasting chocolate and walking around my favourite neigbourhoods. I'm sure I walked at least 10k everyday.

Most of the spring flowers that filled the Vancouver garden beds are the same ones we have up here albeit not until June.

This Magnolia was beautiful. The Hardiest Magnolias are rated for zone 4, M. stellata and M. x loebneri 'Merrill'. The flower buds are very sensitive and liable to frost damage You may have success by growing them in a protected spot especially if you live in town. Cities and towns are warmer than rural areas because of the urban heat island effect. I have no idea what species this Magnolia is. I'm assuming it is a much more tender variety.

Jasminum officinale, like the lovely vine below I found growing over someones garden gate, is not hardy in zone 2 or 3. I've considered growing it as a houseplant but moving to a warmer climate might be a better idea.

It's still going down below zero at night and we still have mountains of snow clogging up the landscape around our house...

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Haworthia Needs A Sunshade

Haworthia Unlike most succulents Haworthia species prefer to grow in semi shaded areas. This means they adapt readily to the mostly shaded conditions inside your house.

For me it mean't I didn't have to find a place for my new plant on my already crowded south facing windowsill.

I picked this plant up at the Montreal Botanical Garden last November. It was growing in a 1 inch (2.5cm) pot. I re-potted it right away into this 4 inch (10cm) pot and already it is looking bigger.

I always buy smaller plants, apart from being cheaper, I get to have the fun of watching them grow bigger.

The plant I have is either Haworthia attenuata, or Haworthia fasciata. Both of them have spiky leaves that grow in a rosette and white stripes that give them the common name zebra plant.

Haworthia cymbiformis
A couple of years ago, while visiting the greenhouse at the University of Northern British Columbia, I got a handful of rosettes of this unidentified plant. Later I found it was called Haworthia cymbiformis.

Haworthia species like more water than other succulents. I discovered this only a few months ago when I was attempting to identify this plant. Already it looks greener and has almost doubled in size since I took it off the sunny windowsill and started watering it more often.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Succulent Envy

Some plants from my indoor cacti succulent collection.
It wasn't until I went to Southern California that I became obsessed with succulents. My garden is now packed with hardy Sedums, Sempervivums and Opuntia. More than half my houseplant collection is succulents, the sort that wouldn't make it through a long northern winter alive.

Indoor Succulent Care
They love the sunshine on my south facing windowsill. I grow them in regular potting soil in clay pots, letting the soil dry out completely before watering them again. I fertilize them in summer along with the rest of my houseplants, about once a month, when I remember.

As much as I would love to live in a place with a warmer climate, where I could grow these tender succulents outdoors, I still have fun with them indoors. For instance I've-
  • Incorporated my Agave americana into a dish garden.
  • Repotting my Aloe vera, encouraging it to grow 3 feet high and wide.
  • Even got my hybrid Aloe to flower.

The snow fell of the roof again

Whenever I look at my houseplant succulents I'm reminded of the Sunny, hot, dry desert like places they come from and I long to go back to the southern USA to explore further. It's such a change from the frozen, white and brown landscape that's outside my window for most of the year.

Do you grow succulents indoors? which plants are in your collection?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Leaf Scents:plants that imitate others

Scented geraniums, Pelergonium sp. are like herbs in that their foliage is aromatic. Scented geraniums mimic scents of other plants. They copy the scents of fruit, flowers, leaves and seeds of other species, they smell like anise, lemon, coconut, peppermint, camphor, pine, musk, apple, cinnamon and many others.

In Victorian times, cooks took advantage of the plants ability to impersonate smells by adding their leaves to food and using them to make fragrant potpourris.

IMG_2188Pelargonium ‘Citriodorum' smells like lemons, supposedly its characteristic smell repels mosquitos although according to wikipedia and my experience this is false.

I got my lemon smelling geranium from a friend for this very reason. Even though it doesn’t live up to its reputation I still love it for its sweet smelling leaves.

Care Of Scented Geraniums

In northern gardens grow your scented geraniums in a pot. Like other geraniums they like dry soil and full sun. Pinch out the new growth to keep your plants bushy and attractive. Plant the pinched out pieces in soil to make new plants. watch the new plants carefully, giving them extra water untill they grow roots.

Where To Buy

Lemon smelling geraniums are easy to get since they’re mistakenly renowned to deter mosquitos. Scented geraniums with other smells are harder to come by . I ve come across some of them in botanical gardens. It may be worth asking or surreptitiously sneaking a tiny piece to bring home to start a new plant.

Have you ever grown scented geraniums? Where do you get your plants?
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