I must admit that I was a bit surprised to receive my first seed catalog in the mail last week. I know they have been coming earlier each year, but I didn't expect them to begin arriving before Thanksgiving. For those of you old enough to remember, seed catalogs used to arrive in January when they provided hours of enjoyment, long after the holiday festivities were over and we had settled in for the rest of winter. They gave gardeners something to dream about as the snow and ice piled up outside.
I know I'm probably being silly, but getting them in the mail this early takes away the excitement that I used to experience in January as I waited for the new seed catalogs to arrive. I had a routine then. I gathered them together on a blustery winter day, grabbed a cup of steaming-hot coffee and hunkered down to dream of sunshine and green, growing things. When they began arriving in late December, I carefully tucked them away to enjoy in January.
I'll be honest with you. I couldn't tuck this one away until January. I had to browse the pages to see if there was anything new and exciting that I simply had to have for my garden. I didn't stop to ponder, and I didn't read the plant descriptions, but I did peruse the pages to get a glimpse of everything inside. Then, I set it aside.
I'm not sure how long I can let it set before I grab a pen and start circling things I think I want. I think it's best if I delay it as long as possible - or at least until the snow piles up outside. That lazy afternoon of browsing seed catalogs and sipping hot coffee isn't something I'm willing to give up just yet. Doing it now just wouldn't be the same.
Of course, it does allow others to purchase gift certificates for Christmas, which could prove to be a welcome gift for gardeners. Maybe I will hold out on judgement until I open the presents under the tree.
Until Next Time . . . HAPPY GARDENING!
If you are anything like me, you have probably assumed that pepper plants are annuals and leave them in the garden until the frost kills them in the fall. The truth is, pepper plants are tender perennials that will live for several years if you overwinter them inside. In fact, many report huge pepper plants reaching heights of 5 feet with a woody stem. These shrubs produce an abundance of peppers on their second or third year, but do eventually die off.
When I learned this, I knew I had to try overwintering some of my pepper plants to find out for myself just how well they would produce. This fall I dug up six pepper plants and repotted them in deep florist pots. I cut them back to a height of about 12 inches, leaving a few mature leaves. I cut them at the Y on each branch.
I am happy to report that my pepper plants are producing new leaves and appear healthy. I have them in a small greenhouse with one of my poinsettias. I am using a plant light for 12 hours a day. I noticed yesterday that the plants are developing new buds. They will need to be hand-pollinated, of course, but I can't wait to see if they produce peppers during the winter. But, that was not my main goal. I am looking forward to seeing how big the plants will get in the garden next year and how many peppers they will produce.
Believe it or not, I watched a video of a man who grows them in his greenhouse. He picked several buckets of peppers off one plant. I don't know about you, but that is difficult for me to imagine.
Have you ever overwintered your pepper plants? I'd love to see pics or hear about your success.
Until next time . . . HAPPY GARDENING!
My Wandering Jew (Tradescantia zebrina) was beginning to look a lot like the one in the picture lately, with long scraggly vines and wide spacing between the leaves. To be honest, mine looked worse than the one in the picture, but I couldn't find one that looked as sad as mine did. I still got compliments on it because the vines were several feet long, but I knew my plant had seen better days.
It was suffering from too little attention and water and not enough sunlight. I began to pinch back the growing tips on the vines, but it still looked sad and disheveled so I did the only thing left to do and cut it all back. I'll admit I felt a twinge of pain when the scissors cut through the vines and they coiled in a mass in the counter, but I know it is the only way to revive my plant and bring it back to its original luster.
I trimmed the cuttings back to 2 to 3 inches and dipped them in rooting powder. I then tucked them into the pot with the original plant. Within a few weeks I should have a massive plant with thick, dense foliage - at least that is my plan.
If your houseplants are struggling to thrive this winter, don't be afraid to cut them back and give them an opportunity to send out new foliage. They may look a little unsightly for a few weeks, but they will reward you with lush new growth.
Last week when I visited Hannafords, I discovered a delightful little cactus loaded with brilliant pink buds. Without giving it much thought, I assumed it was a Christmas Cactus (Schlumbera gerabridgesii). When I got it home and took a closer look, I discovered that it was a Thanksgiving Cactus (Schlumbergera truncata).
I was given some 'slips' (cuttings) of a Christmas Cactus this summer. The plant is growing well, but I'm not sure if it will bloom this year. I'll admit, I've never grown either a Thanksgiving or a Christmas Cactus and never thought to get one. Probably because they are rather plain except for when they are in bloom.
My mother had a Christmas Cactus and loved it dearly. I didn't understand the attraction then, but as I see this little plant get ready to bloom, I'm beginning to understand. As you can see in the image above the two look very similar except for the shape of the leaf segments. I shared tips for caring for Christmas and Thanksgiving Cactus and forcing them into blooming a few days ago and thought you might enjoy it.
As for me, I'll be patiently waiting for my Thanksgiving Cactus to go into full bloom and checking my Christmas Cactus for any signs of buds. The only thing I need now is an Easter Cactus, but that is the subject for another day.
Until Next Time . . . HAPPY GARDENING!
I have been putting my poinsettias in darkness for 12 to 14 hours a night for several weeks. I have a 6-year-old red one and a 3-year-old variegated pink one similar to the picture above. I was not successful in getting them to bloom last year because I wasn't devoted enough to give them the darkness they needed. I'm hoping I have solved that problem this year.
It may be too soon to tell, but I think I can see tinges of red on the large one tonight. If I manage to force them into blooming they will be a spectacular sight. The oldest stands close to 4-feet tall and the youngest is about 2 1/2 feet tall.
I'm thinking I need to add another color to my collection this year, but I haven't decided what color I want. To view the many colors of poinsettias available, check out this slideshow.
Until Next Time .... HAPPY GARDENING!
UPDATE (11/23): It's only been 3 days since my post and I'm happy to say that I now have several small red leaves on the red poinsettia. The variegated pink poinsettia has a few leaves that are beginning to look a little splotchy. I assume they are beginning to change color and should be showing some pink soon!
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