Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Winter addictions


There is no way to recreate the idea of a garden inside a zone 5 house. And I think that’s why many gardeners in my situation just give up on houseplants altogether, unless they have attached greenhouses or Florida rooms. It’s just not the same, by any means. But I still find indoor gardening rewarding and fun. Inspired by local avid growers of these plants, I have begun to take up the amaryllis and orchid habits. Baby steps to be sure: I have 10 amaryllis (hippeastrum, correctly) and 7 orchids (phalaenopsis, dendrobium, oncidium, and cattleya).


Most of my winter gardening centers around spring bulbs. I have 40-50 hyacinths down in the root cellar and about as many tazetta narcissus either in progress or in bags waiting to be grown on stones and water. I think some of them will bloom in time for Christmas, but not all; they are all fancy types that take a few weeks longer than the traditional paperwhites. They are well worth the wait, and have a much softer fragrance.


Everything is ready, but nothing is blooming. For that, I rely on my old standbys (and by old, I mean plants I’ve had for 10-20 years): African violets, Christmas cactus, and cyclamen. These will bloom almost all winter. What perennial gives us as much bloom time as these plants, which are despised/overlooked by so many gardeners? Seriously.

17 comments:

Carol said...

I would add old-fashioned Crown of Thorns to the list of houseplants that always seem to be blooming. The mealybug invasion of a few years ago wiped out most of my African Violets... time to get some more!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I love all of those plants you mentioned. I just can't seem to keep them alive here. I can keep the orchids alive but they never rebloom and I just don't like the foliage enough to keep them.

Ilona said...

Love your indoor plantings :)

I once had an indoor jungle- but that was before I had much of an outside garden and the place I lived had old fashioned radiator heat and water that didn't kill everything (my softened well water, and electric heat now mean curtains for most of my plants- plus I just don't attend to them like in the old days- with few kids and obligations!)

Rose said...

I'm impressed you have had some of the same plants for 10-20 years! Maybe 20 years ago, I was really "into" houseplants and had much the same plants you've mentioned here, plus spiderplants, ferns, philodendron--all those plants popular back in the 80's. But as you say in your last post, you can't just expect them to "exist" without any attention. As my children got older and time became more precious, they eventually all died from neglect. I realized last winter as I read blogs that I was really missing out on indoor plants, so I'm slowly accumulating a few. It's still not quite the same as seeing the blooms in my garden, though:)

Jean said...

With all those bulbs your house is going to be stunning and fragrant soon. But I'm with you about the old stand-bys. They are so forgiving and so dependable. I used to have a lot of African violets. What ever became of them I wonder? And I've never been able to get my orchids to rebloom (except for a grocery store throwaway that I accidently let freeze last year, arg!).

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Since when are 10 Amaryllses "baby steps"? That sounds like full dependency. I don't despise houseplants, I pity them. I've been guilty too many times of involuntary plantslaughter, but I'm trying again this year. Hopefully, I can keep the casualty count to a minimum.

Anonymous said...

I have three orchids in bloom and six in bud so far. There will be more. Lisa at Greenbow, many orchids need cool nights for bud set. Mine summer outside in the shade where I can just water them with the hose, and come in at the end of September (I'm in zone 8). I only grow the kind that like the conditions I have to offer (phals, paphs, and oncidiums), and don't require a regimen of dormant periods.

I've had good luck with cyclamen and Christmas cacti. Who needs pointsettia with those around? I only have one african violet, but it's so pretty I'm propagating more of it. I want masses. I'm also getting into succulents. Some of them have fascinating growth habits.

Deirdre

rambleonrose said...

I can never get my Christmas cactus to rebloom! I love my many houseplants and they tolerate my neglect with good humor, but the cactus and my night-blooming cereus never bloom anymore.

Cindy McMorris Tournier said...

I just got all of last year's amaryllis potted up to see if I can get another winter's worth of indoor blooms from them. The ones I bought this year were potted up last week. Exotic Star already has 2 fat buds after only 10 days! It's mind-boggling how quickly they grow. With this winter looking like a cold one, I may enjoy the indoor plants almost as much as you folks in more northerly climes!

Crochet Goddess said...

I can never get my christmas cactus to rebloom and they always bloom at thankgiving. Your christmas cactus is beautiful.

jodi (bloomingwriter) said...

Like you, I embrace these faithful standbys, so much so that more of them follow me home whenever I go to a store that has them on sale. Imagine that.

Gail said...

I have three indoor plants that have survived my neglect for 20 years...They really are to be treasured old favorites. That's all I need... I will bet a potted and almost ready to bloom amaryllis for the holidays. gail

electric bikes said...

Good pictures

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

Any garden is a good garden I think, and you've inspired me to plant more indoor bulbs. I have six amaryllis started, and I think after Christmas is fine. That way I can really enjoy them after the decorations are up. I also have some tazettas and hyacinths chilling out in the garage too. My Christmas cacti are already through.~~Dee

Stevie said...

Nice to see your christmas cactus doing so well. Mine aren't quite there yet, I may have a problem this year. Neglect due to a wonderful summer!

rebecca sweet said...

I'm so glad your first photo is of the lowly African Violet...I think this plant has been neglected for the past decade (out here in California, at least) relegated to the category of 'outdated plants'....and I'm finding myself more and more attracted to them (probably because of their 'outcast' status)...Hmmm...I think that's what I'll do this weekend - find a perfect African Violet and start my collection!

EAL said...

Yes, Rebecca, African violets are dissed everywhere; they are too common I guess. But I find the deep purple ones with gold centers, like mine, very lovely.