Gardening Guy: Brightening the dark winter days | Weekend Magazine | eagletimes.com – eagletimes.com

This is the darkest time of the year: not only are the days short, clouds obscure the sun much of the time. Many of us find the gloom oppressive, especially when there is neither enough snow to ski, nor ice to skate on. And for gardeners, there is little we can (or wish to) do outside. So, what do I do?

First, I go to my local grocery store or florist and buy cut flowers or potted plants. For $10 or $15, I can brighten my outlook considerably. The most economical to buy are potted plants. They will, with a minimum of care and forethought, bloom for weeks — or even for months. Here are a few of my favorites:

Christmas cactus. It should be called a Thanksgiving cactus, really, because they usually bloom well before Christmas. Buy one in full bloom, or that has a mix of blossoms and buds. They need moderate light indoors, but not hot afterno…….

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This is the darkest time of the year: not only are the days short, clouds obscure the sun much of the time. Many of us find the gloom oppressive, especially when there is neither enough snow to ski, nor ice to skate on. And for gardeners, there is little we can (or wish to) do outside. So, what do I do?

First, I go to my local grocery store or florist and buy cut flowers or potted plants. For $10 or $15, I can brighten my outlook considerably. The most economical to buy are potted plants. They will, with a minimum of care and forethought, bloom for weeks — or even for months. Here are a few of my favorites:

Christmas cactus. It should be called a Thanksgiving cactus, really, because they usually bloom well before Christmas. Buy one in full bloom, or that has a mix of blossoms and buds. They need moderate light indoors, but not hot afternoon sun. Temperatures of 60 to 70 degrees are best for success. They should not be allowed to dry out completely, but neither do they want to be kept soggy. They like humidity, so place them in a saucer of small stones and add water. Never let the pot sit in water.

Cyclamen. Another low-light plant. This one suited for even less light than Christmas cactus. If you give it any direct sunshine, an hour or two of morning sun is plenty, but indirect light is better.

Water your cyclamen only when dry, which depends on the temperature and relative humidity. I find picking up the pot tells me a lot: if dry, it weighs very little; when moist, it is heavier. If you go too long, the flowers will flop as if to say, “Look at me, I’m dying of thirst!” But they recover quickly. Place your plant in a saucer of water and let it suck up water. But don’t let it sit in water for long.

My mother loved African violets, and did well with them. I remember doing an experiment with my new Chemistry Set for Young Scientists when I was in the fourth grade. I made a solution of tannic acid, and put a drop on a leaf. Overnight, it burned a perfect hole! Great experiment until my mother asked me if I had done something to her plant.

I have not had great luck with African violets here in New Hampshire (they may have heard about my experiment, way back when). I largely heat with a wood stove, and keep the house warm, but quite cool at night. I finally read an article that said one should never let the temperature in the room they are in drop below 70 degrees. So, I no longer try, though I have recently read that temps down to 60 degrees are okay.

If you want to grow them, keep them consistently warm in a bright room but not in direct sunshine. They like high humidity (hence do not like woodstoves) but do not tolerate soggy roots. Water from the bottom, but water once a month from above (to flush out any fertilizer salts). Never let water get on …….

Source: https://www.eagletimes.com/features/weekend_magazine/gardening-guy-brightening-the-dark-winter-days/article_4ed37a3b-338f-5482-930f-ad84a2a16cc8.html

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