PO Box 2458, Tijeras NM 87059

Mountain Gardens--finding success with plants for the high desert and East Mountains of New Mexico

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tropicals in the Greenhouse

It's seeding time in #1, flats on every rack, and space, light and heat are at a premium, so why do we waste space on houseplants!? In the summer, when everything in there is wilting, it's hard to remember, but come frigid January with snow on the ground and the wind blowing every day, it's a joy to walk into the sun warmed space and see a little color here and there. The bougainvillea (above) is my favorite, big showy blossoms, endlessly blooming till  one day they drop every leaf and hibernate a month or two, exhausted no doubt.

The kalanchoes are always a surprise. I have several varieties, hybrids unknown, but one is probably a tubiflora that is nothing much to look at until a three foot spike carries an umbrella of dangling tubes up into the light. Another that was given to me years ago as a sedum is probably a k.marnieriana ? (above). It has a similar flower but the leaf is very different and six inch long, woody, aerial rootlets make it an interesting choice for a hanging basket. Both are very different from the kalanchoe that is most commonly sold.

Begonias are deservedly one of the most popular houseplants; again there are too many to list, but the angel wings are another non stop bloomer. I have to wait for the turkey foot, but the angel wing is truly never without a cluster or two of flowers, and usually many more. I'm constantly plucking the spent blossoms out of seed trays.

Any geraniums (below) that don't sell during the season get held in the greenhouse, blasts of pink, salmon, or scarlet. When they get too leggy we cut them back and coax a few cuttings along.
We have citrus (including a grapefruit tree that's about 10 feet tall) and the flowers are heaven to smell. Pots of purple queen and varigated coleus bring saturated color even when nothing else is blooming (almost never). There's a cyclamen flowering white, a fiddleleaf fig bigger than the grapefruit, a rose cactus that loses it true leaves in winter and has flowers like a wild rose.

And the best part--they're all easy, important because all of our time goes to things we're growing out for the nursery. Protected from freezing, and given a regular watering, they're content to wait for attention, and sometimes that's years!

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