Archive for the ‘houseplants’ Category
As much as I love and appreciate the meditative quiet of a good snow fall, we’ve had a lot of opportunity to meditate lately and I’m starting to feel a little restless. In order to shake off the calm I’ve turned the radio up high, shelved the picture-less books and am reveling in any bright colors I can find. I’m paying particular attention to the catalogs printed in full color on glossy stock and taking breaks for hits of high color in the greenhouse. I even ventured outside (briefly – brrr!) to find a bright spot out there.
Are you looking for bright colors right now too? Where are you finding them?
I’m definitely on a fragrance kick lately. I don’t know if it’s that my nose is compensating for my other senses – I’m near sighted and I don’t always hear too well… Or if it’s just that it’s June and June smells really beautiful.
I have been walking through curtains of scent all over the property and have continued sticking my nose into every bloom to find the sources. Some are obvious – like the sweet peas. They happen to be one of the only flowers I’m willing to cut from my own garden to bring inside just so I can draw in every last whiff of them.
Lilah I think would be happy to take home a bouquet of her declared favorite rose, ‘Sweet Juliet’. Its scent is heavy enough to knock me right over but I can certainly smell why it might be anyone’s favorite.
I keep asking Gail if she can smell the linden trees – in full bloom here now – and am amazed that she doesn’t much notice it. Even though there are lindens all over the property, Lilah and I took a little break the other day in the Linden Grove (Tilia cordata – Littleleaf lindens) just to twirl in the honey scent, and majesty of those trees.
Aside from the scent of them, which admittedly some people hardly notice, the linden flowers are pretty unimpressive. On the other hand, catalpa (Catalpa speciosa) flowers are amazing to look at but, according to my snifter, are kind of empty, fragrance-wise.
And for a flower that is both amazing to look at and has an intoxicating fragrance, nothing beats a night blooming cereus. It finally dawned on me that if I (and you through me) were ever going to experience an open flower, I’d have to bring a plant home. I took the pictures at about 10:30pm but I did notice that at least one of the (3) buds had started to open at dusk. – Does anyone know, is that when they typically open? I thought it was only after dark… In any case, it wasn’t very fragrant then or early the next morning. But in the dark, it was definitely a “wow!” If only you could smell it too…
Can you smell the lindens? What’s fragrant in your garden? For a look, if not a sniff, at what’s blooming all over the world right now, check out Garden Bloggers Bloom Day over at May Dreams Gardens.
Raise your hand if your houseplants don’t have scale. Anyone, anyone? If they don’t, I’m willing to bet that either Mother Nature loves lucky-you especially (though she may have another plague in store, beware); you have only four houseplants, all begonias; or your plants have been infested with scale insects in the past and you have somehow managed to banish it from your house. If your plants do have scale, don’t be embarrassed. You’re in good company (says me).
I freely admit to having disgusting scale on a few of my plants at home. (For Mr. McGregor’s Daughter’s houseplant census, I also admit to having upwards of 85 plants inside my approximately 1000 sq. foot house…) And I’m sorry to say that ever since we stopped using systemic pesticides, a few scale have found their way back into the greenhouse here and there. If you’re not already familiar with these sapsuckers, scale generally look like crusty brown or waxy yellowish scabs and are often found on the underside of leaves along the midrib, tucked into leaf axils or along the stem. (Mealy bug is also a type of scale which resembles sticky grey cotton goo.)
Scale life-cycle in a nutshell (ha!): Eggs hatch under the protective shell of the female and start their life out as “crawlers”. They don’t travel far or fast – but that would explain how they get from plant to plant especially in a cheek-by-jowl living arrangement. Once they’ve found their spot they lose their legs and settle in for a suck. After molting and morphing into their adult selves, male scale grow wings but lose the ability to eat (no mouth). Males use their day or two window of opportunity to search for and mate with females. Females meanwhile develop a crusty protective shell from their castoff molts.
I have never noticed any flyers, eggs or “crawlers” but I guess I haven’t paid very close attention. I do always notice a fresh crop of immature scale (the small yellowish ones), their honeydew poop and the opportunistic sooty mold that sticks to it. I periodically – probably once a week at home – put plants in the sink for a bath and I go after the individual scale with an insecticidal fingernail.
The recommended treatment (besides systemic pesticides, or introducing another insect into your house to eat the scale – which might be worth a try) is to scrape them off and give the plant a dilute soap and/or horticultural oil wash and a water rinse. But take care to test your chosen method before treating the whole plant. Ferns, for one, are notoriously sensitive to anything but a gentle fingernail and room-temp water, and citrus don’t love oil.
So, fess up now – do your houseplants have scale? What do you do?
I’m having a really hard time doing my job today. Gail has set an all-moved-into-the-greenhouse deadline of October 15 and that means I need to get busy now digging up the tender plants and loading the cart with container plants and bringing them all inside. But those plants are still so beautiful outside that I can’t help but drag my feet and find everything else to do instead. But it must be done. If only there was a frost warning in the forecast, (thank the stars there isn’t!) I’m sure I’d move at steadily fast pace and feel justified in breaking up favorite combinations. But even though a lot of our tender plants can take the cold and even light frosts some of them, it’s less shocking to their little systems to come inside before we turn on the heat. The same goes for houseplants – especially any that won’t have a relatively humid greenhouse to live in over the winter. If you haven’t brought your plants in yet, consider doing it soon so that they can begin to acclimatize to life on the inside.
I have to admit that there is a part of me that likes this particular transition in one way and I’m even secretly glad to have the time to do it right. There’s almost nothing I love better than grooming plants and potting them up. Taking care of the container plants doesn’t even feel like work. Truth be told, I have a slightly perverse tendency to put that off to do something else that might feel more important simply because it is less enjoyable somehow. But potting up and grooming plants before or as they come in for the winter is really important no matter how Zen blissful. Take the time now to clean off dead leaves, prune and shape, weed, check for critters, and give your plants a mildly soapy bath if they’re like mine at home and covered in scale and sooty mold. And re-pot them now to save making a mess of scattered potting soil inside later. As for fertilizing, (a very rare treat for my plants at home, alas) the rule of thumb is to quit feeding by Halloween and resume when the days get appreciably longer triggering new a new growth cycle – usually February or March.
Have you moved your houseplants and and/or tender stock plants back inside yet? Do you have any tips to share?