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Archive for the ‘Fertilizer’ Category

IMG_6256Daffodils are wonderful when they first pop up out of the ground.  They are among the first flowers to appear in our gardens and they are SO welcome!

IMG_6131When we get to about now…the flowers start drying up; dropping off; and beginning to form seeds.  They are not so pretty any longer!  So, now what do we do?

If you had a meadow’s worth, I’d suggest just leaving them, but we don’t have meadows of daffodils.  Ours definitely do not look grand among the other flowers that are coming into their own now.

So get out those pruners.  Cut each flower stem down as close to the ground as you can.  Don’t leave any unsightly ‘sticks of stems’ poking up.  They are not at all attractive.  BUT  DO NOT CUT OFF THE LEAVES!

The bulbs that you planted need those leaves to generate food for themselves.  They collect sun rays and fresh air. I’m sure you know the leaves are doing this.  You also have to understand that those bulbs are drawing nutrients from the soil, so this is a wonderful time to scratch a little fertilizer (or compost) into the soil around those leaves.  The leaves should stay until they begin to turn brown.  If it bothers you to watch the leaves just sitting there, seemingly doing nothing, notice that some gardeners fold them over and tie them together.  There are even folks who braid the leaves.  It’s a bit “labor intensive”, but it does work.  The garden looks a whole lot neater, and the bulbs continue to get their nutrition!  (This same technique works with other bulbs like tulips and hyacinths.)

Some people figure they’ll let seeds grow and plant them.  Don’t bother!  The seed will suck the life out of the bulb, and it will be years before you get a flower worth your attention.  You will be better off to be rid of the seed (what becomes of the dying flower) and nurture the bulb you have for an even more glorious flower next year, and years following.

When you are done, the spent flowers and stems can be dumped into the compost bins.  It couldn’t be easier!

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1Schlumbergera bridgessii,  Crab Cactus, Christmas Cactus, Easter Cactus, or Thanksgiving Cactus whatever you call it will (probably) have to do with when it blooms.  They are ALL Schlumbergera bridgessii which is MUCH too hard to pronounce, to say nothing about spelling!  So any title you choose to give it will work!
They come in many flower colors, sizes, and leaf shapes, but they are popular enough that even the greenest (pun intended) of gardeners can identify them!
I bought a white one last year, in full and massive bud for a little plant. IMG_4454 It was dirt cheap (no pun here!) since it was past the season (whatever season that might have been, knowing this plant).  I picked it up at the local grocery store for about $7.00!  I couldn’t resist, especially since I’ve never owned a white one.  Actually, when it blooms it has a blush of pink.  So much for white!  But it was very pretty, and still is.  However, this year instead of about 30 flowers it only has 5. Thanksgiving Cactus I’m sure it’s because it was raised (before I got it) in a greenhouse, where on my shelf it doesn’t get much sun at all.
My purpose for this post today is to help all of you who have one of these Schlumbergera bridgessii treat them so they give you as much pleasure as possible.
  • Sun exposure should be moderate.
  • Temperatures should be 60*-70* which is perfect for a home environment.  Note: most bud drop is caused by temperatures being too high, or light being too low.
  • Humidity should also be moderate.
  • Fertilizing should be done when it’s in a growth period, which is commonly between April and October.  A complete indoor plant fertilizer will be fine.  Less is more as far as strength!
  • Watering-it should be moist when in a growth period, but NEVER allow the soil to be WET!  When it’s “resting”, cut back on the water, only watering when it’s dry.
  • Propagation-can be easily accomplished by cutting a section (at a joint) of more than 2 or 3 segmented stems, after letting them dry out for a few days, root them either in water, or damp sand.  Once they are rooted they can be planted in a peat based compost, or potting soil.
  • Resting Period is after they bloom.  At that point they need to have less water; cooler temperatures; darker location and perhaps a summer vacation outside in a sheltered spot, img_0044hopefully safe from snails.  This can be difficult to offer a plant for many people, meaning that blooms may not be as prolific.  I’m sure that is what happened to mine!  Window sillWe live in a small apartment with limited exposure to sun on the window space.   It did NOT get outside this summer-next summer it will!!!  I’d check the soil every two weeks or so in our Pacific Northwest climate to be sure it doesn’t get TOO dry.  They can stay outside until temperatures drop below 50*.
  • Blooming Period-as soon as buds appear, cut back on the water, and don’t allow the temperature to drop below 55*.

So, there you have it.  I hope all these tips help you deal with Grandma’s Christmas (or whatever) Cactus.  It shouldn’t die on YOUR watch if you pay attention to all the advice I’ve given you here.

Maybe this is the year to make cuttings for next Christmas and give each family member their own piece of that family “heirloom”!  Enjoy!

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Most of us are familiar with the Version 2geranium, which is formally named “Pelargonium”.   These geraniums are considered a hardy perennial, biennial or sometimes an annual, medicinal herb.  The herb is often used for aromatic oil.  (I have a hard time believing that, as I find their odor slightly offensive.)  But, that is not my purpose here today.

Today, I want to talk about the geranium with which most of us are familiar.  It is a very popular potted plant, usually associated with bright red, white or pink flowers.

In northern climes, they are considered to be an annual, although they can easily be overwintered, out of the ground.  Here in Seattle, our climate is temperate enough that they survive quite nicely in the garden. At Horizon House we can see them flowering happily, not just in garden beds, but on our balconies.

Audrey was having a few issues with yellowing leaves on her geraniums.  The plants seemed healthy otherwise, and she just removed the leaves.  That’s exactly what she should do.  Remember however, that this is a very drought tolerant plant.  It likes to be a bit dry, so over-watering can overwhelm it pretty quickly.  If the leaves on your geranium are yellowing, hold off on the water a bit.

Also, it could be that it is needing a little fertilizer.  Remember in your home-owner days when you fed your grass fertilizer high in nitrogen???  (The first number on the fertilizer bag.)  That fertilizer (nitrogen) is what kept the grass GREEN!  So, look for a fertilizer that has more nitrogen than other nutrients.  Maybe 10-5-5 or something like that.  The first number should be the highest.  Do not get too rambunctious with that fertilizer.  Less is probably better!  Here’s a link from Clemson University that tells you more than you’d probably ever want to know about fertilizers.  But you might find it interesting!  And it might just help your geranium!

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I’ve decided to have my blog relate to all of my GARDENING friends here at Horizon House in Seattle, WA.  If others want to join in, that’s great…WELCOME!

One of our Garden Committee members suggested I forward an article from a local gardening center about “Fall Planting”.  After reading it, I thought, “Hey, I can be more explicit about this topic and aim it toward the needs of our 3 gardening levels!”  So, that’s what I will now do.

So, give these a try.

Fertilize your perennials and shrubsimg_3890 it will help them make
it through the winter.

To keep your bulbs in top-notch condition while giving you lots of flowers, scatter a 5-10-20 fertilizer on top of the ground above them.

Stop pruning shrubs. Pruning will encourage new growth, which should be avoided. Any new stuff will be nipped by frost which is NOT good for the plant!

If you haven’t divided your herbaceous perennials, such as daylilies, irises, hostas and peonies, get it done soon. Remember the soil is still nice and warm even if the temperature drops at night. It allows the roots time to settle in and establish themselves before winter sets in! This is what makes fall such a good time to plant!

Allowing hips to form on your roses tells the plant to harden off for winter. IMG_2212.jpgSo, you should probably stop picking the blooms for the table!

Water your peonies and shrubs heavily. It may have to last
until spring.

Dig up your gladiola, dahlia and tuberous begonia corms.

Poinsettias should now be put in their dark corner for at least 16 hours each day in order to set up their bracts to be colorful by Christmas time.

IMG_0044.jpgStart preparing your indoor plants to come back inside. You need to be sure they don’t have insects hiding anywhere. You also want to clean off the pots, especially if they were sunken into the soil for their summer sojourn!

BULBS! PLANT THEM!

I hope you will enjoy following along.  If you’d like to be notified every time I add to this blog, just go to  the “Follow the Transplanted Gardener” to the right of this message, and click on the button that says “Follow”.  It’s that simple!

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Mulch?  What is it?  Why should I DO it?  It sounds “labor intensive”…is it?  How will it help my garden?

Well, let’s look at all those issues:

What is MULCH?-1

  • Mulch is really any material you apply to the surface of the soil around your plants that
    • keeps weeds down
    • helps keep moisture in the soil, rather than allowing it to evaporate
    • provides nutrients (unless you use fabric or plastic) as it breaks down
    • Improves soil structure, if mixed in as you plant new materials
    • attracts earthworms
  • Why you should do it?  RE-READ the list above!-2
  • Labor intensive?
    • NO…once you’ve laid it down your garden is EASIER to care for and looks WONDERFUL!
  • How will it help the garden?  AGAIN, RE-READ the list above!

What’s not to like???-4

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This morning, I posted an INDOOR PLANT CALENDAR on my Indoor Gardeners Calendar blog.

It has suggestions for dealing with your indoor plants for AUTUMN.  I guess I’d better get started on one for winter as well, eh?

Anyway, I hope you’ll click on the link if you have indoor plants to care for in your apartment.  I am hopeful it will be of use to you.

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Here at Horizon House, we have a Green Roof.  It has somehow “sprung a leak”!  At any rate, there is lots of activity on that roof.  The link above will give you a wonderful explanation from UCDavis.IMG_2856

There are many good reasons for having a Green Roof.  These roofs have been around for centuries, and can still be found in their original form in some European countries in the form of Thatched Roofs.  But, why do we reach back in time to think about constructing Green Roofs again?

  • First and foremost…it absorbs rainwater.  This means the water, instead of dumping right into sewers with all the oil and debris it picks up along the way,   stops first at the green roof.
  • The soil to be found on the roof absorbs the water; filtering the pollutants, carbon dioxide, nitrogen and phosphorus, etc.
  • The plants then gobble up the nitrogen and phosphorus helping them grow.  Since those are ingredients in plant fertilizer…we don’t have to pay for them.  They are FREE!
  • The water taken up by the plants is put back into the atmosphere through transpiration and evaporation, instead of having to go into our sewer systems, etc.
  • INSULATION is a really important part of this equation.  The Green Roof provides as much as 25% cooling in the summer, and 25% warming in winter!
  • A Green Roof also helps insulate the building from sound pollution!
  • That Green Roof will provide a wonderful place for beneficial insects, birds, bees and butterflies to call home.  Our roof, being in the middle of an urban area, provides a welcome place for migrating birds and butterflies to rest!
  • This one surprised me!  It will increase the life span of a roof by as much as 200%!!!!!
  • Lastly, it helps by mitigating urban heat.  Here is a good article I read in the NY TImes about this very issue.  Check out the link!

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