Archive for the ‘Indoor Gardening’ Category

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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Here it is the end of April, and I’m still procrastinating about writing here.  We’ve settled nicely into our new apartment and are enjoying it’s cozy ambience.

I’ve hung a tiny Hummingbird Feeder that has been totally ignored by the hummers I IMG_5049know are here.  The reason I put it up was that a hummer came right to the window, as they used to do in New Hampshire when the feeders were getting low.  I took it as a sign, and went right out and got a little feeder.  (It has to be small since it has to be removed when the window cleaner guys come.)  That’s OK.  At the present rate, even the tiny one is too big!!!

Earlier this week our Garden Committee sponsored a trip to the Weyerhauser campus to see the Rhododendron Garden and the Pacific Bonsai Museum (in Federal Way).

It was a fabulous trip.  I LOVED seeing the Bonsai.  I hope I’ll have the opportunity to spend even more time there in the future.


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Succulents!  If you are concerned (which you SHOULD be) about use of water in your garden…think about planting some succulents.Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 1.55.07 PMThe picture I have here is of what I call “Hens & Chicks”.  I had these guys planted in many corners of my garden!  They were in stones, by the sides of steps, in gravel, in places where nothing else would grow.

Here is a picture of some Hens & Chicks where you can see the little chicks peeking out from within  the fleshy leaves of the mother plant.   Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 2.09.55 PMI would just gently pull these little guys out and stick their rootlets into the soil where I wanted them, and voila, before I knew it, I had a new “Hen” making her own “Chicks”!

Succulents are plants that have evolved into what is called “Xerophytic”.  What that means is that they do not need much moisture at all in order to grow.  Their roots are extremely shallow, which allows them to  take advantage of very light rainfalls.  Their leaves absorb that liquid, creating the “fleshy” leaves, the liquid of which can be drawn on during extended periods of drought.

Succulents can be indoor plants as well as outdoor plants.  They are easy to grow, because of their seemingly total disregard for water.  This makes for a GREAT (indoor OR outdoor) plant for a new gardener !

In this age of concern for use of water, there could not be a better choice!  TRY them…you’ll LIKE them!

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My Snake Plant

I have always put my larger houseplants out for the summer.

When we lived in New England, that involved protecting the plants from critters, as well as too much sun.  In Connecticut, the critters were not that big a deal, but in New Hampshire they sure were!  The deer, bunnies and moose LOVED snacking on tender indoor plants.  Yum!

I actually had a cage made of chicken wire where I kept the plants.  That worked quite well.  When our kids were little, that cage had been where they kept little critters they captured.  We called it the “Keeping Cage”.  Weekend ‘visitors’ (of the creepy, crawly kind) were kept there until we left again on Sunday afternoons, at which point they were released again to pursue their normal activities (the ‘creepy, crawly visitors’, not the kids!  We took the kids home with us.  I just thought I should explain that…).

In Connecticut, I parked my plants under shrubs so they would get shade, as well as rain.  It always worked well.  When it was time to bring them back inside, it involved a good shower to get rid of unwanted, traveling insects.  I also usually sank the pots into the soil, so they would not dry out so quickly.  That meant the pots also needed a good cleaning when it was time to bring them back inside.

But, this is WASHINGTON, and it’s the BEGINNING of the season.  The temperatures are staying high overnight, and the sun is SO inviting!

So, today I got some labels for my pots.  I will take a few photo’s to include here.

Off we go!

Off we go!

Now the plants will find their way to the Level C shelf that the Garden Committee has provided for over-summering, indoor plants.

Am I the only one?  If you’re looking for that shelf, go left off the elevator on level C (in the West Wing).  Follow the hall to the end and take a left again up the steps and outside.  The shelf is against the garage wall on your right.  You’ll find my plants there, as well as a few others.

If you choose to use this shelf, remember your pots MUST BE LABELED!!!!!!!  If they are not labeled, they may be removed, so heed my warning!!!  I would also suggest that you don’t put very small, or delicate plants outside.  They need your sustained care over the summer months, and in fact, may not like the breezes and bright sunlight.Outside at last IMG_3749 IMG_3748

You may not have to worry about moose, but slugs and insects must be taken into account.  Do NOT ignore your plants once you put them outside.  Be sure they are insect free and receive the necessary hydration.  Also be sure  the sun is not overwhelming your plant.  If, after a week or two, your plants look sickly, perhaps they need a comfortable chair and a book INSIDE.  Take pity on them, and bring them back to their usual windowsill.

Another thing you MUST remember is that YOU are responsible for your plants.  If it’s dry and sunny, they will need supplemental water.  That is YOUR responsibility…NO ONE ELSE’S!  There are hoses, and usually a watering can to use.  PLEASE remember to return ANYTHING you use (hoses, watering cans, etc.) to the place you got them!!!  Using the shelves is a privilege.  Do NOT abuse it, or that privilege will be discontinued.WATER!

The Garden Committee is trying to help ALL gardeners at Horizon House.  If your green thumb only addresses indoor plants; and perhaps you are a user of the Potting Room; we have your needs in mind as well.

IMG_3756While you are out there, take a little walk and appreciate the lovely gardens tended by your Horizon House neighbors.  The garden beds are labeled (just like your pot) so you should be able to compliment each gardener the next time you see them.  They would love to know someone is enjoying their hard work. IMG_3752 IMG_3750 IMG_3751

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I’ve been so proud of myself for keeping all my indoor plants alive over the last 2 years.  As you may recall, I used to be an OUTDOOR gardener (Master Gardener in CT and NH), but since moving to a small apartment (across the country, to an entirely different climate, in Seattle, WA) I’ve decided to turn my gardening efforts to indoor plants.  Up to now, I’ve been pretty successful.  With the exception of a Bonsai, that I had to toss because of aphids, everything is looking healthy…

Until NOW!  I have a Croton (Codiaeum) that is going NOWHERE fast! IMG_3077 I understand that to judge your success with one of these, it should have lots of leaves on the lower stem…  Mine does NOT fill that requirement.  It is also so very SLOW in adding either height or leaves.  It had what looked like little blooms developing…but they hardened up and died off.  Now I’m discouraged.  Hence, the need for my Teddy Bear!

What I have found from my research is that, in nature, these plants tend to grow tall.  The way to stop that is similar to pruning outdoor plants.  Prune the top, and leaves will (hopefully) sprout from the lower regions of the plant.

My searching has also indicated that it reproduces readily from cuttings!  That means that what I cut off the top, I can stick in the soil and it will soon yield another plant.  Perhaps I’ll try that and soon have a pot full of Crotons?  Maybe I’ll try that!  If you’ll notice my plant however, it isn’t exactly a “redwood” from Muir Forest!  It isn’t big enough to prune ANYTHING off the top!

This is one of my weaknesses.  I tend to buy my plants small and grow them big.  This one never got there!  I’ve had it about 6 months now, and it sure is puny!

Another thing to remember is that these pretty (should you be so lucky) plants  like full sun.  Mine grows in a north-easterly exposure.  Probably not the very best, but it will just have to do!  Even more noteworthy, it is POISONOUS if ingested!  Do NOT add this to your salad!

If you would like to read a bit more about the care and enjoyment of this lovely foliage plant, try this link: Croton-Codiaeum

If there are those of you that are expert with caring for these plants, please comment and let us all know how you are successful.  I know I’d appreciate a few words of advice.  Reading about it from a text, is often not nearly as good as hearing about it from those “in the know”.

Happy Gardening!

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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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This is the plant we often call “airplant”..  That’s because it does not grow in soil, but rather air!

I keep learning new stuff about this plant.  That’s the purpose of this blog!  Learning about indoor plants.  I am not too well versed about this, but I truly AM learning.  I bought these little tillandsias at the North West Flower Show here in Seattle last year.  The Washington State Convention Center, where it is held, is a mere 5 minute walk from Horizon House, where I live.

I feel good in that I have not lost any of the five little plants I bought.  In fact, I have removed them fromIMG_1493 my window sill and put them into the bathroom.

Here on the left are the plants, shortly after I bought them.  I had them on the windowsill where they got nice sunlight.  Neither too strong, nor too scanty.  but, they just seemed lost somehow.  I took them and stuck them under the faucet about once a week and put them back on the windowsill.  But they just looked sad.

SO…  I thought, “These plants live in the jungle, where it’s not sunny all day.  In fact, they probably get filtered and occasional light living from day to day.  Their conditions are hot and damp!”  This is MY interpretation!

And then I thought, “What more perfect place than the bathroom for these little guys?”  In there they will get light whenever we “visit the facilities”, and they’ll get humidity when we shower every day!  So, I moved them.

Granted they are not getting real sunlight, but everything else seems to fit.  SO, I moved them.  And you know what?  I think “Mikey Likes It”!IMG_2870

As you can see, they are not growing quite like gangbusters, but they are looking healthy and happy.  My husband even commented on it.  Not only that, I love having them on the bathroom counter!

If you want to learn some more about tillandsia, just click on that link, and you’ll find out more than you ever needed to know!

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