Charlie’s Late November Newsletter
With a dusting of snow recently in our zone 5 garden, it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. I know the snow will be gone soon with warmer weather forecasted, but December is almost here and that means Christmas.
In this newsletter I’ll talk about some favorite holiday plants. Amaryllis are one of the easiest holiday plants to grow and feel successful about because they almost always bloom… if you buy fresh bulbs each fall. I talk about how to grow them, and keep them year after year, so they bloom successfully in your home.
I also offer a photo montage to the many colors of poinsettia. It’s a shrub, like in this photo, in its native Mexico and warmer parts of the U.S. But for most of us, it’s a potted holiday plant. It’s incredible what’s available for poinsettia varieties these days. Plus, there’s a link to a podcast about how to care for poinsettias in your home.
Citrus is a holiday treat, too. I talk about growing oranges, lemons, and limes in your yard in warm zones of the South and West and indoors in the North.
Finally, I’ve scheduled my next webinar! It’s all about edible landscaping, or Foodscaping. Based on my book, it’s about how to grow edibles in your yard, containers and gardens without sacrificing the beauty of the landscape. Check it out.
Until next time, I’ll be seeing you in the garden.
We all are familiar with the classic red amaryllis flower this time of year. This South African native bulb blooms in winter here, when it’s summer there in its homeland. Plant breeders continue to work with amaryllis and now there are many new colors and flower shapes to choose from. ‘Full House’ features multiple flowers per stem that are red with a white star in the center. ‘Sweet Star’ has beautiful pink colors and large blossoms. ‘Striped Amadeus’ is a double flowering variety that has white blooms blushed with red.
Getting amaryllis to bloom from bulbs purchased now is easy. They can’t help themselves. Pot up amaryllis bulbs in a container a little bit larger than the bulb and fill it with potting soil. Place it on a warm, sunny table. Once you see some new growth emerging from the center of the bulb, start watering. For tall varieties, consider placing a bamboo or plastic stake along the stem, tied to the stake with Velcro plant ties, so you can support the blooms once they open. Some varieties will have multiple flowers per stem and multiple stems per bulb.
After flowering is finished in winter, cut back the flower stalks, but leave the leaves. Grow the plant like a houseplant until spring when you can move it outdoors into a part sun location for summer. Grow it all summer, watering well and fertilizing monthly until September. Then cut back the foliage, stop watering and place the bulb and pot in a cool basement for a few months. After a rest, come November, bring it back into a warm room and it should grow and bloom again for you.
I had such fun offering 3 webinars in 2017 that I thought to continue. Thanks for supporting me in these webinar series. My latest offering is a topic near and dear to me. It’s all about Foodscaping or edible landscaping. Many gardeners want to grow some of their own food, but often struggle about where to plant their edibles. Sometimes the best location is where flowers are currently growing or right in front of the house. People often think that edibles are messy and not attractive, but in this webinar I’ll show how you can have a beautiful yard filled with flowers and edible plants at the same time.
Perhaps the best part will be your participation. I’ll offer a 1 hour presentation and then field questions for an additional 1/2 hour on growing these and any other plants in your yard.
The webinar is Thursday, February 1st from 7 to 8:30pm Eastern time. Winter is a great time to plan your garden for next year and hopefully by attending this webinar you’ll get ideas on how to grow more edibles in your landscape. You’ll sit in the comfort of your home, sip wine and enjoy the talk. If you can’t make it on February 1st, no problem. The webinar will be recorded and you’ll get a link a few days after to watch the webinar whenever, and as many times, as you like.
So, join me in February. I have an early bird sign up until January 15th of $9.99.
The winter crops of citrus are starting to fill the grocery stores in my neighborhood. It’s great eating grapefruit, oranges and lemons this time of year fresh from California or Florida. But it’s even better to grow some yourself.
If you’re a zone 8 or warmer gardener, you know about growing citrus. Look for dwarf varieties of oranges, limes, lemons and grapefruit, plant in full sun in a protected spot in your yard. Make sure the soil is well drained, fertilize in spring and summer and you’ll have more oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes than you’ll know what to do with. I always remember walking the streets in Southern California in winter seeing citrus hanging off the tree with no takers.
For Northern gardeners, don’t be sad. We, too, can grow citrus indoors year round in our climate. It just means getting the right variety and growing it properly in containers. It’s actually true for warm climate gardeners as well. Citrus grow well in containers any where. First of all, look for dwarf varieties such as Dwarf Improved Meyer lemon and Calamondin oranges. These will grow well in pots and not outgrow your indoor space in winter. Then select clay or plastic pots with good drainage holes. Make sure the pot is one size larger than the citrus root ball. Fill the pots with a light potting mix. You can sometimes find ones geared towards growing citrus as well.
In winter keep the soil moist, but on the dry side. Don’t over water or the leaves will drop. Place the tree in a sunny area, away from cold drafts. Citrus likes 60F to 65F temperatures in winter. Come spring after danger of frost, move the tree outdoors into the full sun and water well. Fertilize monthly from spring to fall with a citrus fertilizer. You should be getting fruits in less than a year and flowers within a few months.
For more on growing citrus, go here.
In Our Garden: Poinsettia’s Wild Colors
There was a time when poinsettias were just dark red. While many people still love the traditional deep red color of the classic poinsettia, there is an amazing variety of colors that are now available. To get an idea of what you could be buying for the holidays this year, I went to a local greenhouse and got inspired. You can get white, yellow, light pink, dark pink, variegated, and even glittered poinsettias. Of course, yes, there are blue poinsettias but that’s due to paint, not breeding.