Archive | plants RSS feed for this section

Purchased- November 14th, 2013

15 Nov


Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’



Newcastle Fruit Stand-

5 x Viola x wallichiana (pansies)

1 x Mahonia nervosa

1 x unmarked fern (looks like an evergreen tufted type)

1 x Dryopteris koidzumiana

2 x Huechera americana ‘Marvelous Marble’

3 x Lewisia hybrids

1 x Delosperma cooperi

1 x Delosperma PS001S’ “Fire Spinner”

1 x Trifolium alba ‘Dark Dancer’

1 x random Sempervivum cultivar

1 x Salvia greggii ‘Wild Thing’


full flat of plants, on sale half off and with a small flat discount on top of that! Love end of season sales. Just hope they all pull through winter and flower next year 😉

Salvia elegans (Pineapple Sage)

26 Oct


This spectacular fall and winter blooming salvia was bought on sale from the 1/2 off bin at one of the big box stores. Not bad for a once half dead little wilted cutting. Hummers love it too… Bit it does bloom late, and here in Seattle is kind of half hardy. It survives some winters. It not others. Luckily it’s easy to replace.

The cultivar ‘Tangerine’ I got this spring is not nearly so big, but does have the advantage of blooming far longer- it started in July and is s going strong. I like them both, but kind of prefer the earlier blooming one. If this big one crashes, I may or may not replace it. Probably will depend on if I see em in the sale bins at dirt cheap prices again, lol.

Plectranthus ‘Velvet Elvis’

26 Oct

This was bought as a color spot “annual” this spring, one of those premium foliage plants that makes everything else look good.


It started blooming about the same time I brought it in, which is a shame, since I was looking forward to seeing if the hummers would like it. As a tropical perennial, it shouldn’t be hard to overwinter. This is closely related to the old fashioned “Swedish Ivy” (which of course is neither Swedish, nor an ivy, lol), so I am not anticipating any great difficulty in overwintering the main plant.

I got it because I loved the leaves- richly felted dark green above, nicely pleated along the veins, and with an amazing deep purple reverse!


Now I have to admit, purple is my favorite color, but on this it is quite stunning, and I keep wondering what it would look like in a hanging basket with the sun shining through its dark leaves. Maybe next year I’ll plant some that way and see.

I have one cutting going already, and by spring I may well have several more. I may even try this bedded out in the rockery, to let it do what it wants with the salvias and such out there. Come to think of it, the dark leaves would set off the flowers of the tiny Fuchsia campos-portoi, and the Salvia ‘Cerro Potosi’ too. Looks good with the orange Cuphea ignea and Lantana camara I have them mixed with now, too, so lots of possibilities. Only flowers in fall, though… Too bad, as I would love to see these blooming all summer. Can’t have everything though, huh?

Watering the Orchids

26 Oct

So a few years back, Beth started getting or hide from her kids at school, for a while it was the favorite thing to give as a teacher’s gift. We got one or two ourselves, when we figured out that for whatever reason they like our house and have an extraordinarily long bloom time. Now most months there are one or two Phaelenopsis or hide in bloom around here.

On one of them, the care suggestion was to water once a week with an ice cube. Now of course, I’m not that much on a schedule and prefer to check and see if they need water first, and I usually give them more than one at a time… But I think this is a genius idea for watering something like an orchid or cactus that generally likes to dry out between waterings, and worse, grows in a medium that is not always easy to re-hydrate.


With ice, since it slowly melts, the water is gradually added and given time to penetrate into the bark chips or moss that these are all planted into. Works great! I’ve even been thinking of making some fertilizer ice in individual trays for them, since I really haven’t been doing much ferts for them so far. The oldest one is starting to look a little piqued… Probably needs repotting, but I also wonder if a shot of fertilizer would help.


Propagation for Overwintering Insurance

26 Oct

So this year I decided to do what I said I wouldn’t do a few years ago… Bring a bunch if tender stuff in to try and overwinter it again. I don’t know what it is, but people always seem to want what is difficult to keep, rather than the perfectly serviceable, even beautiful stuff that is hardy itself. Soooo, here I go trying to keep various Cupheas, more tropical type Salvias and Fuchsias, and some other random stuff inside this year. It’s kind of silly in some ways… Most of this stuff is fairly easy to replace in 4″ pots for around 3-4 dollars each, but instead I’m gonna play the watering roulette to see if I can pull things through till spring.

One up side to all this is that if I can keep things alive till February or even March, I can propagate the hell out of the ones I really like, to spread even more cheer for next summer’s garden. This is kind of why I want to do this, to have a whole bed of Cuphea ignea a d boxes full of Fuchsia triphylla ‘Mary’. For the rest, I’m just being curious, lol.

But of course, while I was bringing things in, I couldn’t help but start some things as “insurance” of some of the stuff I am leaving outside I don’t want to loose either- a couple of supposedly hardy salvias, some of the more water sensitive Cupheas, a pelargonium or two, that kind of thing. This is like saying, ok… I have the big one that should survive, but if I grow on a couple of cuttings, maybe I can have better odds of getting at least one to survive. And if they all do, cool… More to plant out in spring!

Where exactly I gonna put all these pots until that happens is the big question… The big windows in the living room are already two deep with pots, lol, and I didn’t even get everything in yet *sigh*.

Ok, so this post is mostly about my propagation systems. So… Years ago I got this rather nice propagation box from the good folks online at the Garderner’s Supply Company. I think back the. It was strictly mail order, we’re talking 20 some odd years ago, lol, long before Internet commerce was a thing. The unit is a little best up now, the styrofoam base is a little broken down around the edges, but it still works great, and seems the folks at Gardener’s Supply haven’t done anything much to change it. I kind of wish the base was a little more durable, but it is nice it’s so light, so that when you pick it up when it’s full, it still is pretty light. So this basically is a basin well, with a little stand thing that fits in it, and a grid like thing that sits on top of that, which when filled with an appropriate soil mix grows out the cuttings or seed. The ingenious thing with these is the sheet that wicks water up from the well to underneath the growing cells, and keeps things reasonably hydrated if you just remember to fill the well back up every few days. If the well dries, the wicking sheet dries, and then all bets are off. I long ago lost the cover to mine, but it was shorter than I liked anyway. I now simply place the whole thing in a steroids type bin, inverted so its sitting on the lid. Works great, and gives me more room for the cuttings to grow, and not incidentally, better control over air flow, and an additional tray for water, for more humidity control as well.


Here you can see the unit inside it’s bin. I got these bins from Costco, a set of three was around 10-15 bucks I think. Well worth the cost for this, and we use ’em for all kind of other things too. They work great. To begin with, when I first put the cuttings in, I keep it basically closed, and will even leave a little water in the lid to up the humidity in the enclosed bin, to aid the initial surge to produce roots. Here, I have placed it in a sunny south facing window. On a sunny day, these heat up. In Seattle, there isn’t too much problem with this, but in warmer climates you might want to keep watch they don’t get cooked in there, lol, but it’s generally cool enough here that’s not a problem I have had.

Now, that little unit quickly filled up, and I had more I wanted to make cuttings of. Last year I made my own self watering units from plastic bottles. This worked ok for some things, not so great with others. They are easy to make out of something that generally gets used once or maybe a couple of times, then thrown out… And we did some work on the house this summer, where some guys ended up using a bunch of bottled water and I saved the bottles from them, so I had a bunch of them waiting to be used… So, I decided to try making a tray like the one above, but from these bottles and an old wash basin we had. I did them the same as the others I did before-

1) poke a hole in the lid with a sharp pin, then pry it open with a small Phillips head screw driver. I poke from the top down first, then a second time from the inside out, so the excess plastic is poked to the outside, and the inside of the lid is more or less smooth.

2) cut a length of cotton twine or yarn about 8 inches or so, double it over and tie a knot about and inch from the cut ends. Poke the loop through the hole from the inside out, leaving the two ends on the inside. This will act as the wick for the pot. Put the lid back on the pot, make sure you don’t catch the string in the threads.

3) with a sharp knife, I use a serrated bread knife, cut the bottom off the bottle. Last year I wanted free standing ones, so I cut half way down, so the base of the bottle could act as a well for water. This year I wanted a deeper pot, and am using the wash basin for a reservoir, so I cut them about an in h from the bottom, maybe a little less. These bases I discarded, and now have taller “pots” to work with.

Here is the finished project, full now, and most of them starting to grow after a week or two. I took the lid off for this pic of course-


And lifting one of the bottles up so you can see how they work-


With an in h or two of water in the wash basin, the pots can wick what they need up into the pot. So far so good… But what I am going to do when these get big enough to come out of these pots I’m not sure. I’m kind of hoping they can stay in this basin all winter, but they may get wayyyy too crowded. We will have to see.

Some things definitely do better than other propagated this way. If its a plant that likes it dry, this probably won’t work well. If however, it likes constant moisture, this should be a great way to propagate it. Assuming of course you watch the water level and never let them dry out.

And about that… Gradually over time the plants will tend to slowly dry out the soil in the pot, so you may need to water the pots every once in a while. Usually though, you just pour the water into the basin and let the wick draw what the plant needs up into the soil. Of course, fertilizer can be added to the water if your plants need a boost, but remember that in a multi pot system like this, everything will get it, lol.

So, what all do I have in the propagation pipeline at the moment?

Salvia patens ‘Cobalt’
Abutilon megapotamicum
Pelargonium ‘Tango Velvet Red’
Coleus ‘Kiwi Fern’
Senecio confusa
Lantana camara ‘Lamdmark Peach Sunrise’
Osteospermum cultivars
Salvia ‘Wendy’s Wish’
Fuchsia ‘Billy Green’
Fuchsia ‘Mary’
Stronilanthes dyerianus
Cuphea ignea
Cuphea llavea ‘Flamenco Samba’
Cuphea llavea ‘Tiny Mice’
Cuphea cyanea ‘Caribbean Sunset’
Bacopa monieri
Plectranthus ‘Velvet Elvis’

There may be a few more in there soon- another salvia I forgot to take a cutting of, some other fuchsias we had in baskets, that kind of thing. I just hope I get half this stuff through till next summer!

Everything’s Inside Now…

15 Oct

So all the “temperennials” (half hardy or tropical perennials that won’t survive outside over winter, but might have a chance inside), are now inside in the living room. Makes it a bit of a jungle in their, but there is a bunch of stuff I don’t particularly want to loose, and next year there may not be a budget to replace most of this stuff either.


This Plectranthus was JUST setting its first flowers when I brought it in last week, now it’s looking rather spectacular with the soft orange Lantana camara ‘Lamdmark Peach Sunrise’. This is a pretty lantana for sure, but I won’t cry overmuch if it doesn’t make it. No pollinators to speak of visited it much this summer, not even bees. I may see if I can get seed of the wildlings from someone in the Deep South…


That Cuphea ignea is one of the main things I want to keep alive, and I know from past experiences, if it dries out once its toast. I’ll probably be propagating it continuously over the winter if I can, to give me as many chances with it as possible, plus I’m thinking if I have enough starts to mass plant it under the apple tree next year. The hummers love it, and it would be beautiful there.


This Persian Shield- Stronilanthes dryerianus, is pretty spectacular foliage wise, but I never noticed how nice the flowers were too. Unfortunately, like the Plectranthus, it mostly seems to flower in late summer and fall, about the time I need to bring it in. Hopefully it’s as easy as most mints to propagate, and doesn’t mind being in the house for the winter.


This Cuphea cyanea ‘Carribean Sunset’ was a late summer bit with the hummers, and the Abutilon also got some attention, so I decided to bring them in even though in July I was thinking I’d let them go. The Abutilon is supposed to be hardy here, though I’ve never gotten them to pull through. I have cuttings of each of these as insurance, but I’d ideally like to see especially the Abutilon get bigger and see if that makes a difference in hummer usage here.

And finally, a pic of the big Jade tree, just for grins 😉


And of course, the fog burned off just as I went to take the photo… Still, it has a nice silhouette!

What’s Blooming September 30th, 2013

30 Sep

Abutilon megapotamicum
Achillea millefolium
Agastache ‘Apricot Sprite’
Agastache ‘Grape Nectar’
Agastache ‘Orange Nectar’
Aster subspicatus
Bacopa monieri
Ballotta nigra
Begonia boliviensis
Campanula persicifolia
Celosia ‘New Look’
Chaenorhinum origanifolium ‘Blue Dream’
Chlorophytum camosum
Choisya ternata
Chrysanthemum partheniacum
Claytonia sibirica
Convulvulus arvensis
Cuphea cyanea ‘Carribean Sunset’
Cuphea ignea
Cuphea llavea ‘Flamenco Samba’
Cuphea llavea ‘Tiny Mice’
Cyclamen hederifolium
Dahlia coccinea (Bishop’s type)
Dahlia (white cactus flowered)
Dicentra Formosa
Echinacea purpurea
Epilobium ciliatum
Fuchsia campos-portoi
Fuchsia hatschbachii
Fuchsia magellanica ‘aurea’
Fuchsia magellanica ‘molinae’
Fuchsia magellanica (Patrick’s)
Fuchsia magellanica (Gram’s)
Fuchsia magellanica (plant swap)
Fuchsia triphylla ‘Gartenmeister Bonstedt’
Fuchsia triphylla ‘Mary’
Fuchsia ‘Auntie Jinks’
Fuchsia ‘Billy Green’
Fuchsia ‘Display’
Fuchsia ‘Juellia’
Fuchsia ‘Marinka’
Fuchsia ‘Princessita’
Fuchsia ‘Whiteknight’s Amethyst’
Gazania ‘Daybreak Garden Sun’
Impatiens capensis
Impatiens noli-tangere
Ipomoea multfida
Medicago sativa
Mina lobata
Nemesia ‘Aromatica White Improved’
Nemesia hybrids
Kalanchoe blossfieldiana
Lapsana communis
Lavendula angustifolia
Lobelia erinus
Lobularia maritime
Lonicera japonica ‘Pink Lemonade’
Lonicera sempervirens ‘Major Wheeler’
Mentha himalayensis
Mentha ‘Chocolate’
Nicotiana mutabilis
Oenothera missouriensis
Pentas lanceolata
Plantago major
Salvia coccinea ‘Forest Fire’
Salvia coccinea ‘Snow Nymph’
Salvia darcyi ‘Pscarl’
Salvia elegans ‘Tangerine’
Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’
Salvia leucantha x ‘Phyllis Fancy’
Salvia microphylla ‘Cerro Potosi’
Salvia patens ‘Cobalt’
Salvia ‘Wendy’s Wish’
Sedum spectabilis ‘Autumn Joy’
Sedum spectabilis (Heronwood variegated)
Solenostemon scuttelariodes ‘Kiwi Fern’
Solidago Canadensis
Strobilanthes dyeriana
Tagetes signata ‘Starfire’
Tagetes ‘Disco Orange’
Tagetes ‘Disco Yellow’

Anna’s Perambulations, Sept 26th, 2013

26 Sep

Cuphea llavea ‘Tiny Mice’



Fuchsia x ‘Billy Green’


This is the first time I had seen them use this particular fuchsia, and she must have really liked it since she hovered at each flower for several seconds to get every drop, while the Cuphea was a short probe into each flower…

Cuphea l. ‘Flamenco Samba’


Mina lobata


Dahlia coccinea (Bishp’s type)


Fuchsia x ‘Display’


Oddly enough, she completely ignored the Cuphea ignea that had been a favorite all summer, as well as Salvia ‘Hotlips’, ‘Cerro Potosi’ and ‘Wemdy’s Wish’ which are all blooming as well, and were favorites earlier. Maybe the cooler weather favored the plants above somehow?

She ended by landing in the Rosa gymnocarpa in her favorite spot. They may not like the flowers of this native (not that it’s blooming now, it usually only blooms in late spring), but they sure like hiding and resting in it!

Saving Tomato Seeds

16 Sep

Ok, so I scooped out some of the seeds of the beautiful yellow heirloom tomatoes we just got at the market


I cut the fruit in half for roasting, and scooped out the pockets of jelly with the seeds in them from around the rim of half of one fruit


Note how the inside has a red heart, while the outside of these when ripe is a golden yellow washed or lightly striped reddish pinkish orange. Beautiful fruit.

So, to clean these I just popped the jelly covered seeds in a strainer, and rinsed


Make sure you kind of press the pulp out, rubbing the seeds against the mesh of the strainer till the pulp is mostly pushed through and washed away. With these, a membrane like skin remains, but that’s ok. It should flake off for the most part when dry, and at any rate doesn’t affect germination too much.

Knock the cleaned seeds out onto a paper towel


Pat the seeds as dry as you can, then scrape the seeds back into the center of the towel. At this point you can let them dry like this. I like to fold the towel over the top to cover them, and let the towel wick the moisture away as much as possible.


In a few days they should be dry, and you can store them in a seed packet, or plastic bag or however you like to do it. I make these little origami type seed packets, this one is ready for the seeds as soon as they dry.


You can use this same basic method to clean pretty much any berry or fruit to get the seeds inside. Research germination first though, since some kinds of berries and fruits germinate best when fresh, so instead of saving the seeds, you would want to sow them immediately. Tomatoes and most vegetables like cucumbers, peppers, etc. should be pretty good saved up though.

Hummer Banquet

7 Sep

Cuphea ignea and Fuchsia magellanica “Whiteknight’s Amethyst”


Impatiens noli-tangere (yellow), and I capensis (orange)


Fuchsia magelanica (Gram’s heirloom, probably ‘ricartoni’), and Salvia elegans ‘Tangerine’


Cuphea (cyanea?) ‘Carribean Sunset’ and Abutilon megapotamicum


Fuchsia x ‘Display’ and Lobelia erinus (yes, the annual, I have no idea if the birds were actually finding much in them or not, but bees have also been going over these)


Cuphea ‘Flamenco Samba’


Mina lobata


The tangle…
Salvia darcyi ‘Pscarl’
Aster subspicatus (not a hummer flower, but lots here)
Salvia x ‘Wendy’s Wish’
Ipomoea multifida
Lychnis coronaria
Salvia coccinea
And others…


Salvia patens ‘Cobalt’ and Cuphea ignea