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.

 

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, September 2014

Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Mesa Bright Bicolor' blanket flower.

It’s the 15th of the month, and you know what that means. Garden Bloggers Bloom Day is shared all over the planet and hosted at May Dreams Gardens. If you’ve never participated, just jump right in. We’d love to see what’s growing in your part of the world.

Here, in USDA Zone 7a Oklahoma, it’s a story of small flowers, pollen and nectar. Pollinators are hurriedly stocking up anyway they can, and asters, garden mums, crapemyrtles and so many other plants are perfect for an early fall snack. A cold snap two days ago reminded all of us that a change in weather is truly on the way. This week, we’re back up in the 80s, but not for long I fear.

Supertunia® Vista Bubblegum® pink petunias are always a good plant in my garden.
Supertunia® Vista Bubblegum® pink petunias are always a good plant in my garden.

Ipomoea purpurea ‘Grandpa Ott’ morning glory, clambering up a green arbor at the end of the garden, is a perfect foil for the purple chairs beneath. Morning glories self sow everywhere so keep that in mind if you ever get seeds. Still, that star in the center of every bloom is worth it for me. Other plants like Supertunia® Vista Bubblegum® petunias are still delighting me with their beauty. These two plants have a trumpet shaped bloom. Pollinators are very attracted to this shape.

Ipomoea purpurea 'Grandpa Ott' morning glory clambers up a green arbor behind my purple chairs. Garden Bloggers Bloom Day September 2014
Ipomoea purpurea ‘Grandpa Ott’ morning glory clambers up a green arbor behind my purple chairs.

Do grasses count as blooming plants? Yes, in my world they do. I planted Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’ blue grama grass in one of my “holes of opportunity” where a rose died from Rose Rosette. Two seasons later, look at how pretty this grass is. Note, I wasn’t able to find it in Oklahoma, but when I was in Ft. Worth, I bought it and several other things including some asters and mums I also couldn’t find here. It is completely perennial in our climate so I don’t understand why we can’t purchase it locally. Ask for it. It’s such a beautiful grass.

Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition' blue grama grass is so pretty with its eyebrows.
Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’ blue grama grass is so pretty with its eyebrows.

Looking at that arbor in the photo above, I may paint it green to match the others now that both roses are gone. What shall I plant in the other hole? I don’t know yet, but I am thinking on it. Of that, you can be sure.

This orange crossandra is one of my favorite plants of this year and last. I can’t say enough nice things. Orange is not my favorite color although I do like it in gardens. After all, I’m an University of Oklahoma Sooner, so I come from the land of crimson and cream. Thus, I’m just not into OSU orange, Texas Orange or even Tennessee’s hue. However, crossandra is a nice sherbert shade that doesn’t seem to scream at you. Plus, the leaves stay shiny and upright throughout the entire growing season. I may border my entire garage garden with it next year.

Crossandra nilotica, orange crossandra.
Crossandra nilotica, orange crossandra.

The asters are just starting to do their thing. In about a week, the garden will be flush with them. Here are some blooming now.

Below is Symphyotrichum syn. Aster novae-angliae ‘Hella Lacy’ given to me by writer and horticulturist, Russell Studebaker, is the prettiest aster I own. It’s named after garden writer and plantsman, Allen Lacy’s, wife, Hella. If you haven’t read Allen Lacy, you should. The New York Times’ Anne Raver profiled him and his wife about their little acre of botanical goodness, the Linwood Arboretum.

Aster novae-angliae ‘Hella Lacy’ was named for the wife of garden writer, Allan Lacy. It is a thing of beauty.
Symphyotrichum syn. Aster novae-angliae ‘Hella Lacy’ was named for the wife of garden writer, Allen Lacy. It is a thing of beauty.
Symphyotrichum oblongifolium, fall aromatic aster in pink. Might be 'Raydon's Pink', but might not.
Symphyotrichum oblongifolium, fall aromatic aster in pink. Might be ‘Raydon’s Pink’, but might not. I have Boltonia (false aster) planted right next to it. So confusing.

I have an order in to Bluestone Perennials for two more asters: ‘Alma Potschke’ and ‘Bonny Blue.’ Asters and garden mums are excellent bedding plants to round out a garden. They also feed pollinators which is so important right now. I only have one mum blooming so far, Chrysanthemum (syn. Dendranthema) x. rubellum ‘Clara Curtis’. ‘Clara Curtis’ is also sometimes called ‘Country Girl.’ You can read more about the passalong mum controversy in Southern Living.

Some shrubs are still blooming. If you’ve never planted Hydrangea paniculata, you should. They are great plants and can be grown in partial sun or even full sun like this ‘Pinky Winky’ below. It was a trial plant years ago, and it’s never gotten any larger than four feet. It blooms white and then, as the blooms age, they take on a pink hue.

Hydrangea paniculata 'Pinky Winky.'
Hydrangea paniculata ‘Dvppinky’ (Pinky Winky)

In this section of the back garden, you may notice the pink crapemyrtle is blooming less. Pretty soon, the maiden grass will bloom and turn brownish-yellow. The leaves on the crapemyrtle will turn too. We’re kind of in between blooms in many places right now.

This section of the garden shows the in between bloom time we're having.
This section of the garden shows the in between bloom time we’re having. The pink blooms at right are Pink Knockout roses. No, they don’t have Rose Rosette.

Zinnias continue to flower with deadheading. They are the stalwart feeders of many bees, moths and butterflies. The ones below seeded themselves as they often do.

Zinnias are still flowering.
Zinnias are still flowering.

I went and cleaned out the beds this afternoon when I took a break from writing. I can affirm that I grow the finest weeds anywhere. Just look at all of these beneath my ‘Red Rocket’ crapemyrtle. Nah, nevermind, just look at it instead. Isn’t it the prettiest shade of red you’ve ever seen?

'Red Rocket' crapemyrtle.
‘Red Rocket’ crapemyrtle.

Both types of Phlox paniculata are still blooming. This milder weather has everything blooming a long, long time.

Passalong Phlox paniculata
Passalong Phlox paniculata
Purple heart and sweet potato vine is one of the easiest combos for the heat.
Purple heart and sweet potato vine is one of the easiest combos for the heat.

I don’t know why more people don’t plant purple heart, Setcreasea pallida. Did you know that it is also known as Mary’s tears? That’s because when you pull out the blossom, a tiny blue droplet of nectar is found beneath–like one of the Blessed Mother’s tears. Neat huh? I think people don’t grow it because it’s so easy. I think we need some easy plants too. Why does everything need to be so hard? Why are we always trying to prove ourselves? Trust me and grow this easy plant.

Verbesina alternifolia, yellow ironweed, bought at Bustani Plant Farm years ago.
Verbesina alternifolia, yellow ironweed, bought at Bustani Plant Farm years ago.

I have more photos, but I don’t want to wear you out. Go check out Carol’s website and see who else played this month. Ciao!