Tag Archive | house plants

New Baby Fig

My beautiful four-foot high fig tree died because it got too chilled during winter storage so I bought a baby that arrived a few months ago.  The the tree was about a foot high.  I potted it and put it in the south window of my kitchen.  After a month or so the baby had established roots and started to sprout leaves.  Then it did what figs do, it set tiny fruit.

I figured the fruit would wither and die on such a small plant.  But, no.  They are getting larger and more fruit are setting!  It is so exciting to think of growing fresh figs right in my kitchen.  I’m considering making this into a bonsai tree so it stays small and can grow in the house.  It is one of the smaller-sized cultivars so perhaps keeping it in the house will work.  The lengths I’m willing to go to just to have fresh figs in Maine!

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A Tiny Spot of Spring

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This sanctuary in the south window is my tiny spot of spring.  The wind is howling today, gusting to 30 mph. The jet stream is a constant dull roar overhead.  This wind is what’s left of the winter storm named Neptune by the Weather Channel.  We were warned it would be a blizzard, but it went out to sea before reaching central Maine and we received only a few inches of snow.  But plenty of high winds.  The temperature was near 20 F at mid-day, a very chilly proposition with the wind chill.  The horses are huddled against the south side of the barn soaking up the sun and sheltering from the wind.

Although I can not escape the sound of the wind, the sunlight is strong now, warming the house in the morning and coaxing flowers from my plants.  I purchased a hyacinth last week that is still blooming nicely. The scent is heavenly.  My cyclamen has several pretty pink flowers and the miniature rose has graced me with three buds.  The peach-colored flowers have a strong scent and seem big for a miniature plant.  Last month I clipped the branches of the rose back and gave it fertilizer.  The new blossoms are my reward.  I’m trying very hard to see just the lovely flowers and not the four feet of snow piled outside the window.a2

Bird of Paradise Plant Update

bI just repotted my baby bird of paradise plant and thought it would be a good time to do an update and see how things have been progressing.  I bought the plant in February and it has been thriving.  When it arrived, the little tropical baby had seven tiny leaves and was about 12″ tall.  Now it has eight leaves, most of those are new growth, and is 21″ tall.

The root system on bird of paradise plants is extensive.  The thick, white roots resemble snakes.  They coil around the inside of the pot and crawl out through the drainage holes.  Using the power of hydraulics, the roots slowly break apart any pot that holds them.

In the above photo, the plant stands in its new pot with the old one beside it.  The root space is doubled. The roots take up about two-thirds of the area of the new pot.  Within six months, if all goes well, the roots will start groping out the bottom of the pot again.  Bird of paradise plants usually bloom in late summer. This baby is still too young for flowers.  They sometimes need as long as seven years of growth to bloom. Somehow, I think this plant will flower before then, it has very exuberant growth and seems determined to grow up quickly.

 

Amaryllis Through the Years

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One of my beautiful amaryllis plants is in full bloom, bringing some cheer to this slow spring.  Amaryllis flowers occur in bright red, yellows, white, or my favorite, striped pink.  Most flowers have no scent, except the pink ones have a very light, lily fragrance when fully opened.am9

Amaryllis are the ubiquitous bulb in a box, just add water, that are sold in a wide range of stores from before Christmas through the spring.  Once the magic of the fast growing stalk and massive display of blossoms fades, most amaryllis are tossed in the trash.  A sad end to a plant that can thrive for years.  A little care will bring any bulb into bloom over and over.

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large, healthy bulb, at least five years old

The large bulb of the amaryllis is packed with nutrients, helping the flower stalk to reach such heights and fill with blooms as wide as a salad plate.  After blossoming, the nutrients must be renewed for the bulb to grow again.

To save the bulb, remove each flower as it wilts, right where the stem of the flower meets the main stalk.  Allow the stalk to wilt and shrivel before removing it so the plant can reclaim nutrients.  Cut the stalk near the top of the bulb, but do not damage the leaves.

Feed the bulb with it’s long, bright green leaves, regular houseplant fertilizer and keep the soil evenly moist.  Give fertilizer regularly, the bulb must store plenty of energy for the next flowers.  The bulb in its pot can even be moved outside in the summer and grown in a partly shaded area.  I keep mine inside to prevent any insect invasions.

Use regular houseplant potting soil with a little peat mixed in.  The pot should be just large enough to contain the roots without too much room, or the bulb will try to divide and form two or more plants. Dividing is fine if you want lots of amaryllis, but it uses energy and the bulbs won’t bloom the next year.

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New growth from a bulb that was mostly resting

As the bulb has stored the energy it requires to bloom again, the leaves will turn yellow.  Remove each leaf as it dies.  When all the leaves are gone, place the bulb in its pot in a dark, dry, cool place to rest.  Water sparingly, just enough to keep the bulb from withering. After about two months, the bulb will start to send up the pointy tips of new flower stalk and leaf growth. Move the pot out into full light, water well and stand back.  In no time, if the bulb has been well fed, the glorious blooms will show again.
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To prolong the life of each flower, remove the anthers as soon as they are visible, before they open and produce pollen.

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The flowering stalk on this plant is 22″ tall.  The first three flowers opened within two days.  The fourth bud is waiting, biding its time until the others are faded and it can have all the attention.

Sometimes, a young or underfed bulb will only produce two or three flowers on a stalk, or will sprout leaves and no flower.  Just feed it better, let it grow and try again next time.

If necessary, repot the bulb after the leaves have died, before placing in darkness.  The pot should have drainage holes, the roots like to be uniformly moist while actively growing, but not drowned. Should the bulb divide, put the second bulb in another pot and consider yourself lucky to have doubled your flowering potential.

Mist the leaves during the growing season to dust.  The papery covering of the bulb can be removed as it sheds.  Watch for tiny burrowing insects that might try to make the bulb their home and use any insecticide, commerical or organic, to remove them.  Most bulbs kept entirely inside have no insect problems.

With minimal effort, amaryllis bulbs will flourish for years, providing a brilliant show in the cold months when it is most appreciated.