Saturday, November 22, 2014

Updated Lowe's Creative Ideas Project: Swing Shelf Planter

Swing Shelf Planter in March 2013
About a year and a half ago, I did a project as a member of Lowe's Creative Ideas Garden Team in which I potted up a trio of herbs in a shelf planter that hung in a window. I designed it and making it and putting it together was a joint effort with my husband. My herbs grew well for several months in that south window, but the day came when I wanted something different.

In the summer, that window can really generate some heat, and I had a few cacti that I thought would work out better. The herbs were constantly thirsty, so I transplanted the herbs to the garden and the cacti to my red pots. They've been living happily there for a little over a year now.

Last month, I spoke at the Ohio Master Gardeners State Meeting at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware. My husband and I arrived early with enough time to look through the vendor's area.

'Frizzle Sizzle' at OFA 2013
I'm always attracted to unusual plants - most gardeners are - and though I vowed not to buy any plants while I was there, Groovy Plants Ranch had a couple that I simply couldn't resist. The price was good, too, at just six dollars each.

I'd first seen Albuca spiralis 'Frizzle Sizzle' at OFA in Columbus the summer of 2013. James Greenhouses had several specimens of this curly cutie on display and they were causing a lot of buzz.

This distant cousin of the hyacinth (you'd never know it though) is a bulb that must be grown in well-draining potting soil and allowed to dry out between waterings or the bulb is in danger of rotting. If you live in Zones 8 or warmer, you can grow it outside year round, but for me it has to be grown as a houseplant.

It likes full sun, and though it will grow in part shade, the more sun it gets, the curlier the foliage will be. Around late winter it will shoot up flower stalks that will bloom with yellowish-green flowers that are unremarkable but are said to have a slight vanilla fragrance to them. That's if it's grown outdoors, where it will go dormant in summer.

I wonder what it will do in summer here. I haven't been able to find any information online that tells whether it will lose its foliage in summer when grown as a houseplant. Maybe one of my readers can enlighten me?

Albuca spiralis 'Frizzle Sizzle'

I started to walked away from the vendor area with my plant as I began to prepare myself mentally for my presentation. And then this caught my eye:

 Opuntia cochenillifera f. variegata

It was a variegated prickly pear cactus - without the pricklies. Sometimes called Warm Hand Cactus or Velvet Cactus, it wasn't the lack of spines that fascinated me. It was the fact that it was variegated, because variegated plants in general are one of my weaknesses. If it hadn't been variegated, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have noticed the plant at all. Ho hum.

Opuntia cochenillifera f. variegata is hardy to Zone 9 and needs the same care as many succulents - minimal water with good drainage and full sun/part shade. It can grow up to 3-4 feet tall, but I'm pretty sure it won't do that for me. If it does, I'll have to find another spot for it other than the swing shelf. ;-)

Four cacti and a 'Frizzle Sizzle'

In case you were wondering, that hairy cactus in the middle is an Old Man's Cactus (Cephalocereus senilis). I've had it for several years now and it's about twice as tall as when I bought it. I learned early on that I had to keep it out of the reach of Simon, one of our inside cats, because he loved to lick it and chew on it. But mostly lick it. I guess he thought it was in need of grooming.

My Old Man's Cactus is sporting a cowlick.


Lisa at Greenbow said...

You have an interesting collection for your South window. Those curly leaves are sweet.

RobinL said...

I was much stronger than you, and did not visit any of the vendors at the conference! I've made a vow not to buy any more houseplants, but I know you don't feel the same. I'm not sure why I'm so diligent in care for my outdoor plants, but continue to ignore the houseplants. Hence the reason for the shopping ban....

Kylee Baumle said...

Lisa ~ The cacti work well there. Those curly leaves are what made me buy it!

Robin ~ I really had no intentions of buying any, even houseplants! Especially this time of year when all my houseplants that have lived outside for the summer have just come in. No room! But I guess there's always room for Jell-O and the price was right, and they were unusual, and ... LOL

Jeff Morgan said...

This is a perfect gift idea this Christmas! I am always looking for little projects I can do with my kids. My daughter loves picking out the plants and my son can help me with putting together the holder.

Your site is one of the best for DIY ideas. Thank you, and Merry Christmas to you, your family, and all of your readers!

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