Garden Bloggers Bloom Day: February indoor plant party

A closeup of the blooms of an interspecific orchid hybrid. I love the yellow color too. So cheery on dark days.

Sorry, I’m late to the Garden Bloggers Bloom Day party. I didn’t realize it was already mid-February. How could I miss it with Valentine’s Day right before? Well, everyone here has been sick since Christmas. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.

There’s so much blooming in my red dirt world so let’s get on with the show.

Among my indoor plants, I’ve forced hyacinths, and I’ve also bought some small daffodils already doing their groove thing.

Hyacinths 'Delft Blue' Garden Bloggers Bloom Day
Hyacinths ‘Delft Blue’ I forced this fall and winter. Dreamy aren’t they?

All of my hyacinths performed wonderfully except the white ones. Most of them rotted. I prepared them the same way as the others. I placed them in paper bags in the garage refrigerator in late August because we don’t get that cold in Oklahoma at the beginning of winter–at least most of the time. I used paper bags because we occasionally store fruit in that refrigerator. I was super busy throughout fall, so I didn’t get them on vase until mid-December. I then put them in the bulb closet in my kitchen so they could start growing roots.

Bulb closet in my kitchen.
Bulb closet in my kitchen.

All of them rooted except the white ones. They just sat there. I watched for green shoots on top too, but nothing. When I pulled up the bulbs, they were rotten. I don’t know why.

Hyacinths mature at different rates when you force them, so I pull them out of the closet when the green shoot is about 1/2-inch high. Then, I place them in a sunny window. Before long, they turn bright green and begin to grow. You’re simply fooling the plant that it’s spring. It’s tons of fun and a good thing to do with kids. I usually get two months of bloom.

See those in front with the yellow tips? They just came out of the closet today. The vase on the left is modern. The turquoise one may be modern too, but it has the Tye type shape. It came from England.
The hyacinth tips were yellow until they sat in sunlight for a few days. Then, they turn bright green.

I gave loads of already-planted bulbs to family and friends at Christmas. They make excellent gifts.

I noticed Trader Joe’s already has plenty of forced tulips and daffodils. Go ahead and buy yourself some. They don’t cost much, and they make this period before spring seem shorter. I bought these daffs and slid the plastic pots down into my containers. I watered and enjoyed them until they bloomed out. Because they are planted in potting soil, I can transplant them outside for bloom in spring 2018. Daffodils are such strong growers that they transplant pretty well even when forced in potting soil. Other forced blooms, especially those in water, do not.

Forced daffodils from Trader Joe's.
Forced daffodils from Trader Joe’s.

After Christmas, Whole Foods put their amaryllis on sale, so I snatched up two I love. They bloomed just in time for Valentine’s Day. Who says amaryllis (hippeastrum) are just for Christmas?

I’ve also been obsessed with orchids this year. There is no easier plant to bring into your home. By the time you see the orchid in the store, someone has worked very hard in a large greenhouse to make it bloom. We visited an industrial greenhouse orchid operation when we were in California for spring trials. I have those photos, and I should write a post about it. Would you like that?

Greenhouse growers take your phalaenopsis orchid from a tiny cutting and eventually bring it to bloom. Then, all you need to do is sit it on a table or mantel and give it some sun every couple of weeks. Oh, occasionally, you water it too.

It’s almost a plastic plant!

For larger orchids, you can do the ice cube trick every other week to water, but even that’s too much for mini-orchids. The mini-orchids and the interspecific (mixed species) are my current favorites.

An interspecific orchid I found at a box store.
An interspecific orchid I found at Lowe’s.
A closeup of the blooms of an interspecific orchid hybrid. I love the yellow color too. So cheery on dark days.
A closeup of the blooms of an interspecific orchid hybrid. I love the yellow color too. So cheery on dark days.

I like how the minis aren’t top heavy, and the blooms on the interspecific ones, shown above, are truly spectacular. I found the minis at Trader Joe’s and the interspecific ones at Lowe’s. You just have to shop every couple of weeks because orchid stock seems to be replenished every week or so. I have a couple of larger phalaenopsis orchids too. I nearly drowned one of them, so I repotted it in orchid bark and stashed it in the greenhouse. It seems happier. Orchids like to grow on tree branches in tropical rainforests. They don’t like wet roots.

Orchids like to grow on tree branches in tropical rainforests. They don't like wet roots. Click To Tweet

When I started posting a lot of orchid photos on my Instagram account, I got questions about reblooming. Well, my friend, Shirley Bovshow, made a video on getting your orchid to rebloom.

Here are my thoughts. If you want to try for rebloom, great. If you don’t, just compost your orchid after it blooms. It’s no different than buying cut flower bouquets–they cost about the same–and orchids bloom for months.

I hear you. It’s–gasp–a plant, not a flower! Yes, but even plants die, and that’s ok.

I hear you. It's--gasp--a plant, not a flower! Yes, but even plants die, and that's ok. Click To Tweet

I repotted two of my orchids–including the unfortunate drowning victim–and put them out in the greenhouse for now. I’ll place them by a window in my bathroom come summer. We’ll see if I can get them to rebloom. I’ve never tried, but I never bought so many orchids before either.

Most of my February blooms are indoors, but I have a few outside too. My hellebores started blooming today in fact. I trimmed back the old foliage a few days ago and accidentally cut off two blooms. It is one of those things that just happens I guess. Some people in milder climates don’t cut away the old foliage, but here it looks so bad I do. That way, everything is fresh, unhidden and ready to bloom. I have more to trim, but as you can see, I need to cut back the ornamental grasses too.

We are supposed to have a high of 68F today. I think I’ll get out there and garden.

Just one of my ornamental grasses that needs cutting.
Just two of my ornamental grasses that need cutting.

Yesterday, I contacted Grooms Irrigation Co. and asked for them to come out and estimate what it would cost to expand the irrigation system. Since we installed it in 2008, I’ve added three or four more borders. I should get the costs soon and get started. I told him we needed it done before June and the daylily regional tour. Hopefully, since I contacted them early, they can get to it soon.

Happy Garden Bloggers Bloom Day everyone, and thank you, Carol, for once again hosting us.


Dear Friends and Gardeners, August 31, 2010

Red fountain in the new potager in 2010.
The centerpiece of the potager

Dear Carol, Mary Ann and all of our gardening friends around the globe,

I wish I could write and say I’d planted the fall vegetable garden, but yesterday, ragweed pollen put me down for the count. I didn’t get anything pulled up or planted. However, here is what I plan to have in this week. Lettuce, spinach, tatsoi, bok choy, onions, garlic, blue kale and swiss chard, among others. I’ll set out my seeds and put together the configuration. In the meantime, I must pull up several plants which are finished.

Most of the garden performed exceptionally well this year. Here is a picture of it in spring, and you can see the difference in growth between it and the plants on the left. The sweet potato vines, which were a gift from my friend, Katie, have grown to take over the path, but I think they lend a beautiful and almost Gothic air to the space. You can see them tumbling over the wall on the left side of the red fountain. They help soften all of that red brick.

Beautiful, but tough as a boot Eagle Pass okra

One exception in the vegetable category was the variety of okra I grew. Eagle Pass is beautiful, but the pods are tough and inedible for the most part. I’ll be switching back to Clemson Spineless next year I think. Also, the squashes, Sweet Dumpling, Tatume and Clarinette Lebanese, were decimated by squash bugs. Next year, I’ll try to find varieties which are more squash bug resistant if possible. Or, perhaps, I’ll travel less, and then I will be able to keep up with squash bug annihilation.

I’m still waiting on the itty bitty Tigger melons, and quite frankly, I think my seed wasn’t correct. Mine look nothing like the photo in the catalog. Oh well, they may still surprise me. Watermelons are starting to finally put on fruit. I grew them too late I think because the heat stopped blossom production. I should have planted them earlier. However, the pumpkins being grown in the lower garden away from the squash and squash bugs are doing great. I hope to have a pumpkin for Bear by Halloween.

Although I wasn’t thrilled with the heirloom melons and okra, I dearly love the Japanese long cucumbers I grew. They are long and prickly, but have the mildest taste and are extremely prolific. I made Thai cucumber salad, refrigerator pickles and ate them straight. They are delicious and a definite repeat.

Garden Salsa peppers. No, it wasn’t raining. This moisture is from the irrigation system. We need rain.

As you know, the eggplants were a huge hit. Ghost was a white variety, and it wasn’t as prolific as some of the Thai cultivars. In fact, it only produced one crop when the heat came, and blossom set went. As for tomatoes, I’ll do a wrap-up on them next week when we complete our letters for the season. The peppers were delicious and prolific. I’ve used them in everything including the red beans and rice for dinner this evening.

If you haven’t ordered your bulbs yet, now is the time. Why not put a few daffodils, jonquils and some of the small tulips in your garden for spring. When those little leaves peek out of the soil, you will feel such joy after winter. I promise.

If you missed my Lowe’s summer wrap-up post, please go visit and leave me a comment. I love them and read them all just like I do here.

I hope everyone had a wonderful garden this year. Now, I’m working on that fall feeling and looking forward to row covers and tender lettuce again. How about you? Will you plant a fall vegetable garden this year?