Tired of Houseplants!: Garden Bloggers Bloom Day December 2013

– Posted in: What's up/blooming
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I have nothing blooming for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day. Oops. I take that back. My African violet is blooming.

African violet

Given to me as a hostess gift, this African violet has soldiered on despite benign neglect.

It puts out flushes of bloom, despite the fact that I don’t water it very consistently. I just happened to luck out this month.

No Bloom From Thanksgiving or Christmas Cacti

At least one of my three Schlumbergera should be blooming right now, but none of them are. Unlike last year, I didn’t put them out in the garage, and so they didn’t get the cold conditions that induce buds. When I put them out there last year, I just set them on the chest freezer, and every time someone needed something from the freezer, they were moved. Quite often, they were not moved back, but left on the floor. I’ll be the first to concede that the Thanksgiving cactus has very brittle branches, but they all suffered some damage from the constant shuffling.

I actually bought some brackets to screw in the wall so they would hang in front of the garage windows above the freezer, but it was one of those deals where I bought the brackets but forgot screws, and of course nobody could find the right kind of screws (only the too short or too long ones) and now I don’t even know where the brackets are.

One Dead Rosemary

dead rosemary

Dead.

This rosemary was growing in a container too big to bring in the house, so I transplanted it into a smaller pot to bring in for the winter. The potting soil was dry as dust, so after potting it up I let it soak in a pan of water, to water it from the bottom up. When the top was moist I took it out of the water, placed a saucer under it, and put it in the front of the big dining room window with the other wintering-over houseplants. A couple of weeks later I found it dead. I am not sure whether it rotted from the soaking or it just didn’t like the whole idea of being transplanted and brought indoors for the winter. I do have a smaller rosemary in a smaller pot that is doing as well as can be expected.

One Confused Amaryllis

amaryllis

This amaryllis doesn’t know if it’s coming or going.

I wanted to get my one amaryllis to rebloom if not by Christmas, then at least while it was still winter. In October it was full of vigorous healthy leaves but I decided it was time to induce dormancy. That meant witholding water. It felt like committing my plant to a slow and lingering death. Two weeks ago, when it was down to one leaf on the main plant and one leaf on the offset, it was clear it wasn’t going to bloom by Christmas and I couldn’t stand watching it slowly wither anymore, so I started watering it again.

The other day I stumbled across a great article on getting amaryllis to rebloom in a back issue of Fine Gardening. This article says they should get two to three months of dormancy before watering again. If you don’t start counting until all the leaves are gone, I didn’t even get them into dormancy. And now I’m watering again so that poor amaryllis probably doesn’t know which way is up. I think I will keep watering because it doesn’t feel like murder to me, even though at this point I’m not sure what the plant would really like.

I’ve never been able to get an amaryllis to rebloom by Christmas, and I recently learned why from Matt Mattus. March or April is when I achieve rebloom and by then the crocuses and other small bulbs are blooming and my thoughts are turning towards the outdoors. So why do I bother?

It’s Not Them, It’s Me

I don’t want to kill or throw out any of my houseplants, but I really don’t feel like taking care of them. There, I’ve said it. I want pretty flowers and lush foliage without the work. I worked hard in the garden from April to October and now I just want to take care of me.

Has this ever happened to you? What is the cure–besides spring?

Inspired by the words of Elizabeth Lawrence, “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year,” Carol of May Dreams Gardens started Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. On the 15th of every month, garden bloggers from all over the world publish what is currently blooming in their gardens, and leave a link in Mr. Linky and the comments of May Dreams Gardens.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

In the end, this may be the most important thing about frost: Frost slows us down. In spring, it tempers our eagerness. In fall, it brings closure and rest. In our gotta-go world–where every nanosecond seems to count–slowness can be a great gift. So rather than see Jack Frost as an adversary, you could choose to greet him as a friend.

~Philip Harnden in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost: Outwit the Weather and Extend the Spring and Fall Seasons

12 Comments… add one

Kathy Sturr of the Violet Fern December 21, 2013, 12:30 pm

I have way, way too many houseplants! And they all suffer because I have too many. I keep watering my “confused” Amaryllis, too. I would like to shed my houseplants and only keep a few prized ones, but I can’t bear to get rid of them. Perhaps I can start giving them away? I do like to have a few that I can put outdoors in the summer as containers, too. But bringing them back in is a problem and I fear I murdered a couple leaving them to frost.

commonweeder December 18, 2013, 8:14 am

I am not a houseplant enthusiast either. My excuse is I don’t have much in the way of good windowsills. Except for a new cyclamen I am down to 2 Christmas cactus and a jade tree.

Patti December 17, 2013, 1:22 pm

Kathy, I feel your pain I think houseplants can be hard. My home doesn’t get a lot of light and I am always wondering when the last time I watered something. Still we all want to have plants in our home especially during the winter months. My Amaryllis has several leaves and no blooms. Hmmm what’s a girl to do…
Thanks for sharing.

Leslie December 16, 2013, 1:41 am

Hi Kathy, The holiday cactus seems to thrive on neglect. When it is warm enough I put them on the deck in semi shade,. Water when I water other plants in the area(not often)I leave them out until the night temps are in the low 40’s and then bring the plants in – usually in full bud with out need to worry about temp or light. Need to mist to stop bud drop. Try outside next year.

Donna@Gardens Eye View December 15, 2013, 8:15 pm

I ended up getting grow lights and that helped keep the rosemary alive…I am in a funk right now not wanting to take care of any plants…keeping them watered and fingers crossed until i get out of this funk.

Lea December 15, 2013, 5:42 pm

My Amaryllis and Rosemary look a lot like yours!
Lovely African violet! The only way I’ve been able to grow African violets is in the special pots that water from the bottom. I’ve still got the pots, but no plants right now.
Happy Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day!
Lea

Carol - May Dreams Gardens December 15, 2013, 5:13 pm

Indoor gardening is just like outdoor gardening, except you have to remember to water. You’ve killed plants outside, too, no doubt, through neglect, wrong location, accidents, etc. The same happens inside. Now, go get another house plant and try again!

Kathy Purdy December 15, 2013, 5:24 pm

Ha! The only thing dead is the rosemary, and I’m not getting another one of those until spring. Every windowsill is full. Mind you, I never said I didn’t water them. I just said I don’t feel like it. Maybe I will buy some plant already in bloom and throw it out when it’s done blooming.

Lucy December 15, 2013, 5:10 pm

Hi Kathy,

I could never get my amaryllis to re-bloom before February or March until I tried this.
I cut back the leaves and removed the bulb from a pot back in August. This essentially forces the plant into dormancy.
I kept the bulb without any soil in a dark place (broom closet) for 2.5 months. Around Nov 1st I saw a leaf poking through so I planted it again.
Now the blooming stalk is about 2 feet tall and the buds will open soon!
I have couple more plants which I kept in soil but cut the leaves too. They are not growing yet.

Kathy Purdy December 15, 2013, 5:22 pm

Thank you, Lucy, for sharing that. Next August I will try that!

LINDA from EACH LITTLE WORLD December 15, 2013, 4:22 pm

I think benign neglect is what African violets want. The only ones I ever succeeded with I mostly forgot about so I didn’t overwater and kill them. Brought my rosemary indoors and it is alive so far. Usually it dies in January so I am crossing my fingers. I am like you in that I want a break from garden work in winter but I would like some flowers! This year I brought in two big Geraniums as they faded, planning on ditching the dirt and leaving them to overwinter in a bag in the dark which usually works for me. But they are growing and even flowering so they have had a reprieve!

Kathy Purdy December 15, 2013, 5:25 pm

I’m glad to hear someone understands how I feel. Good to know I’m not alone. Thanks, Linda.

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