Monthly Archives: March 2014

Of Orchids and Oil

Over the past few weeks, excitement was steadily mounting on the windowsill. First came the stalk that poked up from the bases of whorls of leathery leaves. Then, buds started fattening up along the stalks. Finally, after a half a decade of growing Dendrobium kingianum, the pink rock orchid, it looked like the plant might finally reward me with some blossoms. Which it did, a couple of days ago.

The actual blossoming was somewhat anticlimactic. No flamboyant shapes or colors, just small, white blossoms. And no particularly green thumb was required to get this orchid to blossom, just time.

Pink rock orchid is known to be a tough plant. While many orchids are native to lush, tropical jungles, the conditions of which are hard to  even approach, indoors except in a hothouse, this orchid is native to rocky environments of Australia. It tolerates cold below freezing and hot temperatures …

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Propagation Mania

And the winner of my book giveaway from last week is  . . . (drum roll) . . . reader Meg Webb. Hey Megg, send me an email with your mailing information and I’ll get the book to you. Thanks to everyone else for their feedback.

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I have to admit a certain addiction for propagating plants. You would think that, what with sowing cabbage and Brussels sprouts seeds for transplants last week, starting tomato transplants in early April, grafting to make new Korean mountainash and apple trees and . . . ., any appreciation for propagation would be fulfilled.

But no. The seeds within a freshly eaten kumquat; why not plant them? Some of the seeds within a just eaten hardy passionfruit (Passiflora incarnata); plant them also. Not that every seed gets planted. Just some of the more unusual ones or just a few of those that are more usual. …

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Book Giveaway, and Trees Large and Small

A book giveaway, a copy of my book GROW FRUIT NATURALLY. Reply to this post with what fruits are most and least successful in your garden or farmden. Also tell us what state you are in (as in NY, OH, CA, etc., not happiness, wistfulness, etc.). I’ll choose a winner randomly from all replies received by March 23rd.

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A coming bout of colder weather notwithstanding, my weeping fig (Ficus benjamina) knows and shows that spring is around the corner. Buds along and at the tips of stems are stretching and showing some green of new leaves beneath their folds. I’m called to action.

The reason for this call is that my weeping fig, although it could soar to 75 feet outdoors in tropical climates, is in a small pot being trained as a bonsai. Now that the plant is just about ready to grow …

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Brrrr, Good Thing It’s Cold.

The sound and feel of crunchy snow underfoot are reminiscent of cold, snowy winters past. Pity poor trees and shrubs; they can’t stomp their limbs or do jumping jacks to get their sap moving and warm up. The sap has no warmth anyway. Still, except for garden and landscape plants pushed to their cold limits, plants do survive bitter cold.

Peonies, delphiniums, and other herbaceous perennials opt for the easiest survival route, letting their tops die off each winter. Anticipating frigid weather way back in late summer, they pumped nutrients in their stems and leaves down to their roots. What’s left of these plants spend a mild winter underground, especially mild beneath a blanket of snow.

Low growing plants whose stems and leaves stay alive in winter have it almost as good as those survived only by their roots. Near the ground, these plants aren’t exposed to the full brunt …

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