Monday, March 5, 2007

The Greenhouse in My Basement

Things are getting out of hand down there. 'Down there' being a small room in my basement, where I've got plastic shelves with shop lights hanging over them that contain grow lights. Last winter, I had enough room upstairs that all the plants I needed to overwinter, combined with my regular houseplants, could crowd around the windows and get as much light as they needed to keep going until spring. Not so, this year.

I pondered the idea of erecting a small greenhouse outside, not for major overwintering of tender plants, but rather for extending the growing season and providing a place for me to start seeds earlier in the spring. Then I decided it might not be something I want to do every year, so for now, I've got a 'greenhouse' in my basement. Things are doing quite well, even though it seems too cold down there for most of them to be anything but dormant. Fake light and a constant temperature of 63° wouldn't be my ideal existence, but the plants appear to like it just fine.

Some of them are more than fine. Last November, a couple of people from Dave's Garden sent me some brugmansia cuttings. When they came in the mail and I saw those sticks, I have to tell you I had my doubts that these were going to be as easy as they were purported to be. But I put them in water and within a few days, they had little white bumps and a couple of days later, roots! I potted them up and took them to the basement. In a few weeks, they were off and running. A couple of them even have flower buds. I've got unnamed pinks and whites, as well as 'Ollie,' 'Cupid's Blush,' 'Texas Pink,' and some Suaveolens and crosses that involved 'Ecuador Pink,' 'Isabella,' 'Firstday,' and others. And now, they need more room.

The first time I ever saw a brugmansia or Angel's Trumpet as it is more commonly known, was at Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory in Fort Wayne, IN. It was February and it was like a breath of fresh summer air, seeing all those beautiful flowers blooming like that. There was a special orchid exhibition and between those and the large brugmansia tree, the fragrance was heady.

I've also got pelargoniums, coleus, orchids, bougainvillea, hibiscus, and heliotrope down there. Our neighbor saw the lights shining through the small window after dark and asked us - with a wink - just 'what' we were growing down there. I told him if he wanted to try and smoke any of it, to just be my guest. Well, not the brugs, please, not the brugs. Those are my golden children at the moment, since I've never grown them before and I'm determined to see them through until they bloom.

If things can hang on for another six weeks or so, I can probably move a few outside to the porch. I get the feeling that some of them are tired of subsisting on winter rations. A little sunshine will do wonders. For me, too.


Earth Girl said...

Great job overwintering! We had two rooms in the farmhouse at the site filled with plants. Then someone turned off the heat upstairs and most of them expired. If I had room (no basement), I would bring the plants home. The greenhouse at the site doesn't go up until late March/early April. I look forward to updates on the brugs

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

Hi Kylee,
Your greenhouse in the cellar looks very professional. No wonder the plants like it.

It's hard to belief isn't it when someone gives you a bunch of sticks and say that they will turn into beautiful Brugmansias, but they do.
I experienced this for the first time last year and this year I got another bunch of sticks and they have rooted!

And yes, we could all do with a bit of sunshine. :-)

Lovely post and pics!

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