Saturday, October 18, 2008

Time To Make the Donuts!

Remember the Dunkin Donuts commercial from several years ago? Fred the Baker wakes in the middle of the night and trudges off sleepily to work so you can have fresh donuts every morning. The feeling conveyed was not of excitement - I mean, who wants to get out of their nice, warm bed while it's still dark to go to work?

A lot of us do just that, and I put in my fair share of years of it, including those that also meant rousing two sleepy girls that needed to go to the sitter's while I "made the donuts." So what do donuts have to do with gardening?

I use the phrase "Time to make the donuts" now and then to refer to something that needs to be done. It's not always something I look forward to doing, but is necessary. In this instance, it means it's time to bring in the tender plants before the frost comes. Some need to be dug and potted up. All need to be checked for hitchhiking bugs and treated with insecticidal soap. And I have to make room in the house for them. Ugh.

If you remember, I had *cough*170+*cough* house plants to take care of last winter. Sure, many of them were in the basement greenhouse, but that's still more than I really enjoy keeping an eye on. Sometimes I just don't feel like checking on them and when I do, there are signs that they needed to be watered a day or two before. Sometimes they get spider mites. It's always something.

I love when I can take most of them outside in the spring and they like it, too. They grow better, they're healthier (not anemic and leggy), and for the most part, Mother Nature takes care of them. I just have to water them now and then and I can use the hose, which is much easier than having to fill and refill the watering can in the house.

But I'm also not willing to lose most of them. Take the brugmansia, for instance. I raised nearly all of them from sticks that someone sent to me. They're white, pink, peach, and yellow and they smell heavenly - like some girly soap. Last summer, we decided to plant some of them in the ground and they grew much larger, so we did the same this year.

Oh boy.

Last year, Mom had given me a variegated brug that someone had given her. I already had one, but it was much smaller. I didn't get it until fall, so it didn't spend much time outside and then when I took it to the basement, it did okay, except that by spring, it had lost almost all its foliage. That was okay though, because experience taught me that they'll do that, and then in the spring will sprout new leaves.

We took that brugmansia outside this spring and planted it in the new part of Max's Garden, which had freshly-amended soil and was in full sun, which brugs like. We watered it well, since they like that, too, and it grew and flourished. We didn't really notice how much until this week, when it was time to dig it and pot it up for winter.

Our brugmansia plant had turned into a tree. We really hadn't noticed. It's kind of like your kids. Now what??? First, to find a pot large enough to hold it. Check. Second, get that big boy dug up. Uh, check. (She grunts.) Third, lift it out and stuff it into the not-really-big-enough pot. I could never have done this by myself without killing the thing. Romie helped me and its future is yet to be determined, but so far so good and we've got our fingers crossed.

In the meantime, it's residing in the living room, with a southern window exposure. I'm pouring copious amounts of water into the pot and it's lapping it all up like a thirsty camel. It's also blooming like there's no tomorrow. I counted 88 flowers, all in various stages of bloom, and I'm sure I missed some. EIGHTY-EIGHT! It lost several, too, in the transplant. Unbelievable, for what's supposed to be a houseplant for me.

But the best part is the smell. Oh. My. Gosh. Brugmansias have their strongest scent at night. You'd think maybe it was only this way if it's outside, but it's the same when they're in the house. You can smell it all over the house, and we have a two-story house. No need for plug-ins with this in bloom!

Eventually, the brugmansia will retire to the basement for the bulk of the winter, because it will lose its flowers and foliage. I'll reduce the watering and wait for spring. We've already decided that we don't dare plant it in the ground next year or we'll never be able to get it out and it will die. I could take cuttings or prune it back, but it has such a nice form now, I don't want to mess with that.

About the other indoor plants that have been outside all summer - the orchids are now in, as are the Abutilons and tropical hibiscus. The two bougainvillea have been potted up and brought in. These were beautiful small shrubby plants this summer, but we were disappointed that neither of them bloomed this year. 'Imperial Delight' was just gorgeous last summer and this year was just as dry, which promotes blooming. Maybe I watered them a little too much.

There are still some to bring in and I have to decide whether or not I'm going to pot up the coleus. They are such gorgeous, rich colors and very lush. I've taken cuttings, but the main plants are so nice, I hate to let them succumb to the cold. The weather report tells me I've got a few days to decide.

EDIT: I spoke too soon...





Cindy Garber Iverson said...

My back aches for you thinking about lugging that brug into a pot and into the house. But the form is so gorgeous, I can see why you don't want to trim it. And 88 blossoms! WOW! Amazing!


F Cameron said...

Wow! That takes up some space! I'm glad that I can leave my brugs, gingers, cannas, calla lilies and colocasias in outside! The calla stays in the water feature and the running pump keeps the water from freezing. I cut off the other tropicals to the ground after the first freeze, then pile at least a foot of mulch on top.

Best wishes on your big project!


Lythrum said...

I avoid things that have to be overwintered like the plague. You have my sympathies for the aching back. :)

Unknown said...

Did I read that correctly...??? Did you really say 170+ houseplants? Holy Smokes! Where do you find the floor space to put that many plants? So that was like what, 20 gallons each watering? Still trying to get my head around 170+...

garden girl said...

Hi Kylee, oh boy how I can relate to this! I have a basement 'greenhouse' with a grow light, and am in the process of finding spots for all the tender plants. We have variegated brugmansias too. One will be in the living room. . . south window.

Your post was deja vu all over again! Gotta go now. . . time to make the donuts!

Kylee Baumle said...

Cindy ~ I did have Romie's help, thank goodness! And yeah - so many blossoms!! The house smells soooo good!

Cameron ~ Oh how I wish I could do that!

Lythrum ~ My mom is like you. And several times she has added to my "woes" by giving me her plants that she doesn't want to winter over! This year, she passed along her jasmine and a passion vine.

Rick ~ Yeah, you read that right. Click on the link (170+) and it will be explained a little. It's too much watering and too many plants, but what's a gardener to do? LOL.

Garden Girl ~ Ahhhh!!! My kindred spirit! *high fives Garden Girl*

tina said...

That is incredible-so many plants. But the brug is great. I have dug mine before but never thought of enjoying it inside. I bet your house smells wonderful. I love the form too.

CanadianGardenJoy said...

Kylee .. A huge WOW on the Brug ! .. I never thought of it being indoors (then again I haven't had one .. yet ?) .. and your little furry souls don't try to chew on it ? .. I know they are rather toxic .. what does it smell like ? .. I have no idea since I haven't had one .. but that is funny about not having to have any air fresheners ? : )

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I was just thinking that it was "that time of the year" too. I just hate to have to decide what comes in and what must remain out. UGH... My house is too small to have too many plants. All of the ones I want to bring inside are big. Not as big as your brug but too large for my little space.

Shady Gardener said...

Kylee, I remember your plant count of last year! Very impressive. I was hoping you'd be posting about your plants again this Fall. Aren't you glad your numbers are down this year? (contrast that to my 20 or so!) ha.

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