I use the term Japanese morning glory somewhat loosely to refer to exotic varieties, usually Ipomoea nil cultivars, as opposed to the more common Ipomoea purpurea types . The blooms of Japanese morning glories are usually larger, but produced--in my climate at least--in much lower numbers than what purpurea can manage. Fortunately, we gardeners tend to have a weakness for difficult plants!
Among the most exotic of wildflowers, pouched lady's slipper orchids are also now among the most rare wildflowers in some parts of the country. I don't recall ever seeing one here in western Pennsylvania. My dad remembers his older sisters sighting some when they were girls walking a wooded road home from school, but the only one of those "girls" still living today is in her 90s.
Do you love adding the latest roses to your garden at this time of year? If so, why not try creating a completely new one that is all your own? Just cross two existing roses and plant the seeds which result from that cross. Like you and your siblings, seedlings from the same parents will all be different, with some more attractive than others!
Although we all welcome the arrival of spring, the new season can bring new sneezin' as well--and not just from allergies! Change stresses our bodies, making us more vulnerable to viruses, especially if we try to hurry our winter-sluggish bags of bones into sudden gardening activity. That's when the herbs called adaptogens reportedly come in handy.
For those of us who enjoy germinating "difficult" seeds, the paper towel method is almost a necessity. You can, after all, tuck a whole stack of damp paper towels into a small cardboard box at the back of your refrigerator. Your family, however, wouldn't appreciate you stashing flats of seed-starting mix back there instead--for months at a time!
For much of the year, we gardeners don't need to purchase our bouquets. We can pick them, fresh and dewy, straight from the source. That allows us to sneer at the tired and tinted appearance of the blooms we pass at the supermarket. In January or February, however, when our gardens are buried in snow, even flowers with dye jobs begin to look good.
Many unusual fruits are misleadingly named after more common types. However, some of those exotic "imposters" are actually easier to grow than the better-known varieties -- and succulent enough to stand on their own merits! The first three listed here are only hardy in the warmer zones. Being small trees, however, they adapt well to containers.
This article should probably be subtitled "The Ravages of Root Rot." That malady might be called the cancer of the plant world, as it is one of the most frequent killers. Like cancer, it often seems to strike suddenly, but actually festers in secret before it becomes obvious. It can leave many an overconscientious gardener asking, "Why is my plant so sick when I take such good care of it?"
Granted, some of you get fungi in your basement without even trying, but growing the edible type can be a fun winter activity. Of course, sensible people usually order kits. But I've always believed that doing things yourself is much more fulfilling!
If you are searching for the grail of winter-blooming plants, Solandra is probably it. After all, there must be a reason they call it chalice vine! And its flowers are golden enough, in both color and size, to qualify. The "goblet" that just opened on my indoor plant measures 5 inches across, but those blooms can reach at least 8 inches in diameter when grown outdoors.
I hate to admit that I wasn't originally very good at gesneriads--despite their reputation as some of the easiest plants on the planet to grow. Suffering under the delusion that all flowering plants needed lots of light, I frequently allowed the poor things to sunburn.
The plants from which we get flavorings and spices have to rank among the most exotic, since they are the types for which expeditions were once launched and new worlds explored. Columbus actually stumbled across the Americas by accident, when they got in his way as he was seeking a new spice route to the East Indies! It wasn't until after Cortez invaded Mexico, however, that Europe "discovered" vanilla and chocolate.
This is the month to pot up spring-flowering bulbs, if you want them to bloom indoors in winter instead. Keep in mind, however, that most bulbs need to be kept quite chilly for a period of three to four months to perform successfully.
This is the time of year we all start harvesting or trading seeds for next year's garden. If you are as organizationally challenged as I am, the packets you accumulate could end up scattered all over your house before spring arrives.
Some of you may recall the frivolous article on marked-down Valentine's Day plants that I entered in the write-off earlier this year. Here's an update on the plants mentioned in that article, and a few more serious hints for helping your own discounted darlings survive.
Back when I was a beginning gardener, I favored strong, silent types--plants which were as tough as nails and never complained! And I found hardy geraniums to be hero material: handsome, faithful, and rugged.
Hybrid impatiens plants might be the best annuals out there for covering shady ground fast. Hey, they aren't called impatient for nothing! And few flowers bloom as neatly and profusely as they do in shade. But all that consistency can be a bit boring. I must admit to a sneaking preference for the species types, which tend to be more leggy, awkward, and obstinate.
This article should actually be called Gardening DESPITE Free-Ranging Poultry. But we plant addicts tend to have a weakness for birds too, both wild and domestic. So more and more of us are allowing the latter to roam our gardens--often with temper-trying results!