RSS Feed

‘Plant of the Month’ Category

  1. Newest Houseplant – Schefflera Arboricola

    December 6, 2007 by Jocelyn

    Here’s my newest houseplant and Plant of the Month, a variegated Schefflera Arboricola, also known as the Umbrella Plant. It’s native to Hawaii, and couldn’t be more welcome in my apartment right now. Having been snowed in all last weekend and a few days this week, it has been a welcome sight.

     

    new-veriegated-schefflera.jpg

     

    It looks a little rough right now because I just repotted it, but it should perk up pretty soon. This tropical plant is a fairly popular houseplant, as it can tolerate neglect pretty well (not to say that you should neglect your plants, but you get the point). Anyways, they prefer bright light, but will adapt well enough to other light levels. One important thing to keep in mind with tropicals like this is that they like moisture!

     

    schefflera2.jpg

     

    Moisture is my biggest issue with keeping my houseplants looking nice through the winter. It’s important to give them the humid conditions they need, without harming them. The fastest, and easiest way to give them some moisture is to mist them once a day or so.

    But when it’s the dead of winter and my apartment is really dry, that just won’t cut it. In order to give the plant adequate moisture, you need to get a wide but shallow container and put rocks and water in it. This way you can set the plant on the rocks, but keep it from sitting in the water so it won’t harm the root system! I may end up doing this during the winter, and I think it’s a great idea because you can easily incorporate it into your household decorations. Just spend 99 cents for a bag of those nice looking rocks; and your plants will be growing in style!


  2. Green Thumb Sunday – New Plant of the Month!

    August 26, 2007 by Jocelyn

    Yes, that’s right- Plant of the Month. I’ve decided to change it to a monthly posting, because I’d like to do more weekly posts for you that outline other important tips and ideas on gardening. Anyways, I just finished reading Blue Dahlia (In the Garden, Book 1) by Nora Roberts, which is about 3 women who work together at a large greenhouse. When she mentioned pots full of bright colored pansies, I decided to make them my next Plant of the Month (dorky, I know- but they are a great plant!)

    Pansies

    orange-pansy.jpg

    The great thing about Pansies is that they can be grown pretty much anywhere! It is most definitely a “plant for all seasons.” In northern states like Minnesota, we grow them as annuals through the summer. In states with warmer climates, such as California, they can be grown all year round!

    pink-and-purple-pansy.jpg

    Pansies truly are wonderful flowers not only for their continuous blooms, but for the many colors and sizes you can find them in. Pansies generally fall into one of 3 size categories:

    • Large Pansies usually have flowers up to 3-4 inches in diameter. These large Pansies include Accord, Lyric, Medallion, Majestic Giant, and Swiss Giant varieties.
    • Medium Pansies grow flowers around 2-3 inches in diameter, and include Joker, Imperial, Roc, and Crown varieties.
    • Small Pansies range in diameter from 1-2 inches, and include Crystal Bowl, Universal, and Maxim varieties.

    white-and-yellow-pansies.jpg

    If you’d like to start Pansies from seed, here are a few tips for you:

    • Pansy seeds should be sown carefully. It usually works best just to press them into your germinating mixture, and not bury them in the dirt. If you’d like to you can cover them with a fine layer (1/8 inch or less) of your mixture or vermiculite, which will help retain moisture.
    • Pansies don’t need darkness to germinate; the reason that many say this is because it is important to keep your germinating mixture cool, and that isn’t easy to do if your flat is sitting under warm grow lights. An easy way to germinate your Pansy seeds is to cover your flat or container with plastic, then place damp, folded newspaper on top of that. If that seems like too much for you, just make sure you put them in a cool spot, and make sure they get lots of light once they start sprouting!
    • Make sure that you check your seeds every day! Do not let them dry out, and if they need more water, use a spray bottle or anything that will lightly mist the soil.
    • The seeds should germinate within 10-20 days. Remember, keeping the growing medium cool is key here. The mixture should remain between 60-65 degrees. Room temperatures between 70-75 degrees work just fine since the mixture is usually cooler than the air temperature. Or if you just have a cool tile floor by a window, that works too.

    purple-pansy-maybe-blurry.jpg

    Once your plants are well established, and it has gotten warm enough to plant them in your outdoor garden, put them in full or partial sun. Don’t hesitate to pinch off the old blooms, this will just encourage them to bloom more profusely. Just like any plant, be careful not to over water them. The soil should be moist.

    pink-pansy.jpg

     

    FUN FACT: The pansy gets its name from the French word pensée meaning “thought”. It was so named because the flower resembles a human face and in August it nods forward as if deep in thought.

     

     

    green-thumb-sunday.jpg

     

    Visit As the Garden Grows for more information about Green Thumb Sunday.


  3. Plant of the Week – Impatiens

    June 26, 2007 by Jocelyn

    Before I launch into all of the great information on my newest Plant of the Week, I’m sorry for not having posted in such a long time! I’ve been very busy in the past few weeks trying to find a new job. (What can I say, $6.59 per hour just isn’t cutting it right now!) I am really hoping to get something soon, so I can stop worrying about it. After that, I will post all the time- I promise! For now, here is your newest Plant of the Week.

     

    Impatiens

    impatien.jpg

    I used to think that Impatiens were boring plants. Why? I’m really not sure, but I can tell you that I now know I was wrong! I started Impatiens from seed this year, and they were without a doubt, the hardiest seedlings I’ve ever had. I didn’t use grow lights, but just set them in a light windowsill. They grew like crazy, and the ones that survived our late Spring snowfall (because I had given them away) are now doing very well, and look really healthy.

    Impatiens are one of the best annuals because they will thrive in those shady areas of your yard and are fairly easy to care for. If your Impatiens are looking too leggy, you can easily pinch them down. This will keep them from blooming for a few weeks or so, but they will soon be thicker and start to bloom again! They are also pretty low maintenance plants when it comes to watering. They like moist (but not soggy) soil. If you haven’t watered in a few days, and your plants look wilted, that is a sure sign that you need to water them. If you’re keeping them in containers, you may have to water them as much as once per day, depending on how much sun they are getting.

     

    ngimpatien2.jpg

    New Guinea Impatiens like the one shown here are generally the most sun tolerant, but many gardeners have said that they have no problem growing their normal Impatiens in sun. All that is needed is extra water, since the plants will dry out very quickly if kept in sunny conditions.

    In my opinion, I wouldn’t place any Impatiens in FULL sun. They may grow and bloom there, but they will probably not be as healthy as they could be in a more shaded area. Most of mine are getting a lot of morning sun, then more shade in the afternoons. They seem to be doing very well, and I usually water them every 1-2 days as they are in containers.

     

    Please let me know if you have any questions about your Impatiens, and I will be happy to give or find you the answer! I have been doing a lot of research, so hopefully I will just start knowing the answers to any questions I get! It’s kind of intimidating to me because the more research I do about plants and gardening, the more I realize how little I know about the topic! I’ve even started tossing around the idea of going back to school to take some classes on horticulture! Now that would be fun!


  4. Plant of the Week – Columbine

    June 6, 2007 by Jocelyn

    small-columbine2.jpg

    My mom and I were at the greenhouse this weekend shopping, when we spotted a bunch of Columbine plants. I have always loved these unique looking flowers ever since the first time I found them growing wild in the woods by our house when I was young. The wild Columbine were red and yellow; I would always pick them and put them in my bedroom so I could enjoy them as much as possible. At the greenhouse this weekend we found a lot of really beautiful colors, but we haven’t tried growing them as perennials in our yard so we only got one. I am really hoping that it does well and comes back next year. Then we will have a good reason to buy a bunch more!

    small-columbine1.jpg

    Columbine are hardy to zones 3-9, but up here in the cooler zones we will have to remember to cover them with hay or mulch this fall just to protect them from our very cold winter temperatures. That should give them a better chance of coming back for us again next summer. It’s a good idea to put these plants in light shade or part sun, but they can adapt and do well in full sun as well. One other great thing that I found about Columbine is that they can easily spread in your garden as well. All you need to do is just let them go and they will seed themselves. If you don’t want more pretty plant babies, make sure to remove the flowers once they start fading. These plants can grown as high as 2 feet tall, and will attract butterflies and hummingbirds into your garden as well!  Honestly, I really can’t find anything wrong with these plants.  I just love them.

    On a side note, I’ve realized that when the time comes that I actually have my own home and yard to keep, I am probably going to have thousands of plants.  I just can’t seem to control myself when it comes to adding more flower beds or more patio containers.  Oh well, for now I will just hope that when that time comes, my yard will be huge!   If you have any other questions or comments about Columbine, please let me know!


  5. Plant of the Week – Lilacs

    May 28, 2007 by Jocelyn

    small-lilac.jpg

    I’ve decided that I am going to start posting a “Plant of the Week” blog. I am starting out with one of my absolute favorites- Lilac bushes. I can still remember smelling the Lilac bush at our family’s old cabin when I was about 4 or 5 years old. It has always been my favorite, and the cute little purple flowers will bloom for about two weeks every spring. They have a wonderful scent, and I always make sure to cut a few blooms to bring inside because they make the house smell so good.

    Depending on the variety, they can grow to 10-12 feet tall, and once they are well established they will also grow to be quite large in diameter. These shrubs are very low maintenance, and will thrive in full sun and well draining soil. They aren’t too picky, and will tolerate soils from clay to sand. One of the most important things you can do to keep your lilac looking great is to prune it every year, which helps with more blooms the following season.

    Lilacs are very versatile, and will work well in most yards. Considering some of the cultivars that have been developed, lilacs will grow anywhere between zone 2 all the way down to the northern parts of zone 9 (depending on the variety of course!) Also, if you really enjoy blooming Lilacs, you can always plant a large variety of them in your yard with different bloom times. That should extend your bloom time to about 6 weeks instead of the normal 2 weeks if everything works out right. Here are the bloom times of some different varieties of lilacs:

    Early May
    Hyacinth lilac (Syringa hyacinthiflora)
    Early lilac (S. oblata)
    Pinnate lilac (S. pinnatifolia)
    Mid-May
    Chinese lilac (S. chinesis)
    Meyer lilac (S. meyeri)
    Persian lilac (S. persica)
    Littleleaf lilac (S. microphylla)
    Common lilac (S. vulgaris)
    Late May to Early June
    Komarov’s lilac (S. komarowii)
    Preston lilac (S. prestoniae)
    Early to Mid-June
    Japanese tree lilac (S. reticulata)
    Peking lilac (S. pekinensis)