Indoor Gardening for Winter Blues-busters (or joy!)

It happened quietly and fiercely early Sunday morning. One of the Hibiscus watersprouts that we are rooting (with Coleus for a hormone punch) burst into an unexpected blossom, right in the slightly fertilized water it lives in!!

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This isn’t a clear indicator that we’re meeting our objective of rooting the Hibiscus tree; it’s quite possible that the sprout has been concentrating much of it’s life force into creating that bloom, and has neglected to allocate much energy to root formation. (This is fine with us, in our lab we have approximately 20 babies we’re trying to sprout.)
These experiments, successful or not, brighten the winters significantly. One year we had a Sunflower open on the windowsill in early March, intermittenly we have Passionflowers all year long.

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Late this summer happily found me taking a road trip to a tropical greenhouse in Connecticut that I’ve patronized for years by mail. “Logees” is the name of the place (Logees Greenhouse,) and the trip was akin to traveling to Mecca for me.

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The array of greenhouses, and life is astonishing here! There was a 150 year old Meyer Lemon tree with lemons the size of softballs. Any fruit or specialty plant you can dream of, most likely you will be able to find it at Logees. A Vanilla orchid to grow your own vanilla beans, Coffee plants, Tea plants, the aforementioned Passionflower (we have 7 varieties at Chez Jessecology), Orange trees, Apple trees, Gardenias, many beautiful Succulents including Orchid Cactuses, just more exotic plants than anywhere else this far North.

20111128-062648.jpg (Pictured succulent: Agave. Source of delicious agave nectar.)
Tropical plants are not native to the North Country, and sometimes they can be finicky. They can attract insects when they’re kept as houseplants, or weird diseases. Many people run to the poisonous solutions of Malathion (or other carcinogenic methods) when an infection occurs. The costs definitely seem to outweigh the benefits for me in this dilemma, and I always seek out a safe answer. Sometimes the solution is as simple as leaving an infected plant outside in- not freezing- but cold weather for awhile. My local Cornell Co-operative extension has always been extremely helpful when I’ve reached out with questions. Tropical houseplants are a little more work, but so worth it to me. Nothing is more lovely than a fresh, homegrown bloom any time of the year.

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“Living Stones”- apparently a fantastic first plant for kids, as it is nearly indestructible!

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And… a couple Passionflowers.

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Welcome to your new home, little beauties!

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