27 August 2012

August 2012 Flowers In The House

Came home from work today and needed to brighten up the kitchen countertop. The town where the office is was dead today, probably because everyone is away on their Labor Day vacation. I brought in a few of the Canary zinnias and mixed in a few sulphureus cosmos. Some sweet potato vine leaves add a base.

The drying herbs were brought in a few weeks ago. Looks like these coriander from the cilantro herbs are about ready to move into the spice rack, or plant in the garden for a fall harvest.

25 August 2012

Christmas In August

In November of last year, I fretted over planting an amarylis bulb right before Thanksgiving. I started up a bunch of paper whites about the same period during the previous year, resulting in Christmas and New Years blooms. However, I was worried about starting the amaryllis at this time - too late since they take a lot longer to get their butts in gear. Thanksgiving, I thought, was too late. Christmas was without bloom, but at my New Years open house, the amaryllis (Hippeastrum) was in in full glory.

I know something about bulbs, and how they need their foliage to redevelop the bulb package for next year's bloom. Armed with that fact and the techniques found on the Internet about getting an amaryllis to bloom again, I placed my new 4-leaf foliage plant on the outdoors deck in the early spring after the blooms had faded and withheld water.

The foliage did not get any prettier. I left it lie dormant for another month, and then planted it in the vegetable garden. The hope was that it would grow foliage during the summer and replenish the bulb in time for another Christmas bloom this year (after a fall dormancy.)

Leaves began growing again. Then, the darn thing started blooming in the garden last week! And, it's got two small side shoots - cute new baby amaryllis plants. Quite a surprise! A few notes about this South African native: First, the flower stalks are easily knocked down by wind and just plain rain, which makes the flowers too heavy for their stalks. I am now using a support. Second, the flowers are lasting a very long time! Third, I believe the flower color is a more vibrant red than when it bloomed indoors. Is that possible?

So now what? The plans need to be modified. When the flowers die down, I will let the foliage continue into the fall. Hopefully, that will also die down in time. Then, after digging it up, it will be planted indoors at the beginning of November for another Christmas bloom. Fingers crossed. Stay tuned.

For The Record:

  • Good garden soil
  • Mostly full sun
  • Small amount of fertilizer
  • No serious pests/disease
  • Leaves have some light colored spots

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: pink cosmos, mexican zinnia, zinnia, cosmos, zephyranthes,
    belacamda, nicotiana
  • Harvested: 5 hungarian peppers, 8 cucumbers, lots of tomatoes

13 August 2012

A Budding Buddleia

Woah. I knew nothing about buddleia until I found one growing in the monarda order received from High Country Gardens. The story started in early February after it began springing up ahead of the new monarda clump planted in the fall, as detailed in my [09.03.2012] post entitled "Name That Plant."

Growth was fast with a number of vertical stalks reaching toward the sky. In their comments, Janet and eu.phorbia were spot on in identifying the mystery plant from the few leaves displayed in my pictures. Once I was convinced it was buddleia, it was moved to an area where it could spread its wings. I have seen some sprawling specimens that were out of control. After its first season of growth, this one is about 4-feet high (1.2 m).

Not wanting a sparse wild plant, I began strategically trimming it several times to encourage some branching and infill. It worked, sort of, but the trimming also delayed flowering so I did not know its color until last month. It still looks a little gangly.

So where are the butterflies? None here. They sure like my zinnias, though. I did not know the buddleia flowers were fragrant (to humans).

I discovered that the plant keeps on blooming since I have been trimming the dead blooms off. I also discovered that this is important to keep the plant from becoming an invasive. King County Washington outlines its Class B Noxious Weed classification.
"It can grow in very challenging conditions, such as cracks in the pavement and along railroads. Invasion of butterfly bush along riversides is especially problematic, because it forms dense thickets, crowds out native vegetation, and disrupts natural succession patterns. A study at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania found that a single flower spike produced 40,000 seeds. The germination rate of several cultivars was 80 percent or higher. Seeds remain viable in the soil for 3 to 5 years. Butterfly bush can re-sprout from the rootstock after it can been damaged or cut down to its base, and the cut stems can grow into new plants."
For The Record:
  • Heavy clay soil with gypsum & organic amendments
  • Partial sun
  • No serious pests/disease
  • Mildly sweet smelling blooms
  • Continuous blooming

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: pink cosmos, mexican zinnia. zinnia, cleome, rudbeckia, rose, green coneflower, green nicotiana
  • Harvested: 1 pepper, 12 tomatoes, 5 cucumbers