Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Jump Start for the New Year

I've got a big job to do today. I need to mix up the Messenger and spritz all the plants in the house. This will take awhile. It would be easier if I could mix it and spray them right where they sit, but I don't want the overspray on everything, so I'll take them all out to the utility room for their shower. I've got plants upstairs and down, and then there are the ones in the basement under lights. I'll just spray those where they are, because there are way too many and overspray won't matter there.

In October, when we got our first hard frost, I brought in so many things, I had to set up a mini greenhouse in our basement. We bought shop lights and grow bulbs and cheap shelving. I keep the lights on 24/7.

My coleus were so gorgeous this summer that I couldn't bear to see the cold turn them to mush, so I picked some of the healthiest ones and dug them. Once they were in pots in the house, they continued to thrive and grow, and my hope is to have a couple of them grow into standards. I saw some at Epcot Center a couple of years ago and they were really pretty. But I took some cuttings, too, just in case my efforts aren't all that successful. Those have all rooted well, and I need to get those potted up soon.

I brought in my geraniums, too. I have zonals and regals and stellars. Many are blooming their fancy heads off. As they come into flower, they get to come upstairs so we can enjoy their color. It's like fooling yourself into thinking it's summer (until you look out the window) or at least that it can't be far off. Some of them have the most pure shades of color I've ever seen. Lipstick Reds and Shocking Pinks. And then there's the bicolor 'Mr. Wren.'

I've read that you can clean off the roots and hang the geraniums in a cool, dry location for the winter and mist them occasionally and then when spring comes, you can pot them up and they'll take right off. I'm too scared to try that. It was hard enough for me to cut them back when they became leggy. But I need to remember that the will to survive is strong not just for humans. I have personally witnessed the survival of some of my plants in abhorent conditions - no thanks to me - so I don't know why I always fear trying new methods. And it's not like I can't buy another of whatever I might kill. I just always feel bad when something succumbs to my carelessness or stupidity.

I have tropical hibiscus under the lights, too. This is REALLY a stretch for my growing abilities. Last February, I bought one in Florida for $2.00. It's a lovely shade of peachy-pink and I thought I was going to lose it right after I carefully carried it home on the plane. It lost most of its leaves and when I finally was able to put it outside, it took a long time to show signs of life. But oh how it recovered!

It rewarded me with lovely blooms starting in July and continued until September. It was taking a rest when I brought it in, in October, and after a couple of weeks under the lights, another explosion of bloom began. I counted 16 flower buds at one time! Over the period of a month, it graced us with its beauty, and it's once again gathering strength for the next flush. I can already see a couple of buds forming.


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