Category Archives: Houseplants

Pot, eh?

By Mary-Jane Parker, Master Gardener

This past growing season was my first foray ever into growing marijuana. I tried this because I want to attempt to make a salve that I have been purchasing locally for arthritis (which, by the way, seems to work for me!)

marijuana-101796_960_720I started my seeds inside under lights. When I planted the seedlings outside, one went into the ground in my garden and the other went into a 5 gallon bucket with holes drilled in the bottom. The bucket plant went into my little greenhouse.

I did not fertilize either plant regularly – maybe 3 times the whole summer – but I did water the potted plant pretty well daily. I gather from other growers that I should have fertilized a lot more and then held back on the fertilizing later in season to clear chemicals out of the plants.

I thought this would be a good way to test growing techniques – greenhouse as opposed to outdoors but in the end it was not. I had planted 2 varieties that had very different characteristics. One had a beautiful bluish, reddish tinge to it and the other was twice as bushy.

Both plants ended up being well over 5 feet tall with lots of flowers. I cut them down before first frost and hung them in the greenhouse with shade cloth draped overhead.

So now, I am not sure if all the work was worth the effort and I haven’t even made the salve yet. I don’t know how the hippies from the 60’s and 70’s did it. I was told to trim off all the leaves before I hung the plants. That took an incredibly long time. And apparently I will have to trim the dried flowers off in the very near future. The marijuana plants themselves are kind of interesting architecturally but they stink. Birds for the most part avoided them and I don’t think I saw even one bee on them and I have lots of bees here. At any rate, I will make the salve and reserve judgement until then. We have to try new things, right?

Links:

How to grow marijuana outdoors: a beginner’s guide

How to Grow Cannabis in 10 Easy Steps

Master Gardeners of Ontario Information Sheet: How to grow Cannabis

.

The Peterborough Garden Show

By Mary-Jane Pilgrim, Master Gardener

It’s coming in 25 days.  It can’t come soon enough.  In our city, “The Garden Show” is a true sign of spring.  It’s an occasion that brings together speakers, workshop leaders, vendors, horticultural society members, master gardeners, exhibitors and many others for one reason:  “For the Love of Gardening”.PGS-logo-small

This year marks the 19th fantastic show: 
April 26 – 28, 2019 (Friday 5-9pm, Saturday 10am-5pm & Sunday 10am-4pm).

And there’s great news ! The show has MOVED – to Fleming College’s brand new Trades and Technology Centre on Brealey Drive with lots of FREE parking and a $10, one-price ticket so you can enjoy the show all weekend.

The Peterborough and Area Master Gardeners will have a booth at the show, and will be happy to answer any gardening questions that you may have. Watch for our red aprons!

The theme “Coming Up Roses” is reflected in several of the amazing speakers along with educational and fun workshops and demos.

This award-winning show was honoured in 2017 with both a “Canada 150 Garden Experience”, and “Garden Event of the Year” by the Canadian Garden Council, so come and see what all the fuss is about.

You will find many of your old favourite vendors along with some new ones.

…and don’t forget the popular “Little Green Thumbs” Children’s Garden that is always teaming with liveliness and action! There are learning activities, face painting, crafts and even a take-home project. Their theme this year is “Miniature Gardens for Elves and Fairies”.

All the show profits go back into our community to fund scholarships for post-secondary students studying in horticulture-related fields,various local projects & Community Gardens.  Since 2002, the show has put over $200,000 back into our community.

Please save the date, visit and and learn why “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” in 2019.

Learn more about the incredible speakers, workshops, bus trips, places to stay and tickets here: peterboroughgardenshow.com.

 

Facebook Groups for the Green Community

By Mary-Jane Pilgrim, Master Gardener

Two weeks ago, I wrote about iPhone and Android apps that can help you to identify plants & trees, know where/when/how/what to plant and also help you to connect with like-minded people for discussion.  Facebook groups serve similar purposes.  At this time of year, these groups are eye-candy for the green community as they often remind us how few days are left until spring, where to attend local (indoor) green/gardening events, and how to care for those houseplants that need a fb groups bloglittle TLC.  During the gardening season, these groups magically transform to become a forum for a little bragging for those inclined to share pictures of the results of their hard work, and also a forum for those needing a little help.  I’ve posted a plant picture to one of them, and had a definitive answer to an identification question in literally less than ONE MINUTE (Thanks, Jeff Mason!).

Here’s a list of some of the (mostly local) groups that I’m a member of.  There certainly are a lot more!  Most are public, but don’t let the ‘closed group’ label scare you.  If anything, closed groups are completely welcoming to gardeners!  They just may ask you to answer a few simple gardening questions to make sure that the group doesn’t get infected by spammers.

Over the Fence with Peterborough Master Gardeners (530 members)

A local group specializing in plant identification, local events, and gardening questions answered by knowledgeable Master Gardeners. Novice, expert and professional gardeners are encouraged to join and post freely.

Ontario Gardeners (3, 571 members)

This group is for us Ontarian’s to post, chat or ask about plants we have in the yard, pond or house. Check out our files section newly created Oct.2016 and will be added to over time. Happy Gardening!!!

Canadian Gardeners (10,443 members)

This group is for anyone that wants to discuss flower gardens & vegetable gardens that live in Canada. Help others with tips, share your gardening secrets and stories and maybe learn a thing or two yourself! Lots of gardening links, self help and diy posts. Share your favorite gardening books, tools, websites and photographs with your fellow Canadian Gardeners! Add your zone to aid in advise, tips and to give your fellow Canadian Gardeners the idea of conditions you garden in 😊

GardenOntario (2,026 members)

To reach, connect and help educate all members through gardening related articles, videos, live broadcasts, activities and events happening with our societies across Ontario. Affiliated with the Ontario Horticultural Association.

Canadian Succulent & Cactus Hoarders (2,166 members, closed group)

A community place for Canadians who are addicted to collecting succulents and cacti. Ask questions and show off your collection! For now buy/sell/trade posts will be allowed until the group grows big enough that it warrants a separate group.

Plants for Peterborough Canada (657 members, closed group)

Peterborough Ontario Canada – A place to share plants for free. Upload pictures, share tips, get help thinning your gardens, get advice, play the *What on earth is growing in my garden game* offer plants, get plants, swap plants, its allllllllllll about plants! We encourage FREE share. Please save the selling of plants for kijiji. We also encourage you to share photos of your gardens, and upcycling ideas to beautify them!

Garden Deals for Peterborough, Canada (208 members, closed group)

If you know of a good deal on plants or gardening material in the Peterborough, Ontario, area – please post it here. Also – please share if you find unique plants that people may be interested in!!

Winter in Ontario – A Gardener’s Survival Guide

by Emma Murphy, Master Gardener

If you’re a passionate gardener like me, right now you are buried in the snow and cold of winter and suffering from the January blues. You dream of your garden every night, envisioning the bright colours and textures and green of your summer paradise. You consider heading south for a vacation, not just for the warmth and sun but just to see some incredible tropical plants and green things. You start thinking about moving to some place where you can garden year round…

But I digress. Don’t get me wrong. I like the winter season. My body needs a rest from the garden, I need time to plan for next year’s garden, it’s time to order seeds and attend garden workshops, and there are so many good gardening books and blogs to read.

I thought I would share my Top 5 Ways for Gardeners to Survive Winter. I have more ways, but that’s another story..

1. Review your Garden Photos

I love to spend particularly dull winter days reviewing photos of my garden from last year or previous years. Digital cameras and our smart phones make it so much easier these days to capture our gardens in all their glory, so take the time to enjoy the beauty you created when you need a pick up. I’ve sprinkled a few of mine throughout this blog (you’re welcome!).

peony

(created by Joe and Hazel Cook at Blossom Hill Nursery)

2. Join a Local Garden Club, Horticultural Society, or Master Gardener Group

Nothing feels better than sharing your gardening love with others who share your affection for all things growing. Find your local Ontario Horticultural Society, or think about becoming a Master Gardener. In my area we have many wonderful horticultural societies including Lakefield, Peterborough, NorwoodOmemee, Ennismore, Bobcaygeon, and Fenelon Falls. I meet interesting people, chat about gardening issues or successes, and get to hear from terrific presenters. Great value for money. I also love being a Peterborough Master Gardener, sharing my love and knowledge of gardening with others.

3. Seed Catalogues!

I am relatively new to growing my own plants from seed, as my garden is mostly full of perennials and shrubs. However, after a Master Gardener field trip to William Dam Seeds a few years ago, a new interest in growing dahlias (after being inspired by a vendor at the Peterborough Garden Show) and a new vegetable garden in our back yard (courtesy of my husband – the veggie gardener), I have entered this world, and there is no turning back. Reading through hardcover or online seed catalogues (even if you don’t buy anything!) is guaranteed to put a smile on any gardener’s face. Google Canadian seed companies and many should pop up.

hyacinth

4. Find a Great Garden Blog or Website

There are so many amazing gardening blogs and website out there. I tend to follow those who have similar growing conditions to me (Zone 4b, harsh winters, Central Ontario) but I do have several (including a few in the UK like The Frustrated Gardener and the Anxious Gardener) which I like to just view and enjoy. Some of my favourites below.

The Laid Back Gardener (Quebec)

The Impatient Gardener (southeast Wisconsin)

The Gang at Savvy Gardening (Pittsburgh, Halifax, Dundas)

The Gardening Girl (just north of Toronto, Ontario)

sunflower

5. Buy a new Houseplant (or 2, or 10)

Confession – I am a much better gardener outside than inside. While I love seeing the greenery all winter, our harsh interior conditions (furnace heat and no humidity) are not ideal for houseplants. However, the arrival of two rambunctious kittens into our home in October sparked a review of my houseplants. So many plants are problematic for felines that many got rehoused with friends or just thrown out. A week ago I had a craving for some greenery, so I ventured out to a local nursery with great houseplants (Burley’s Gardens) to find some ‘safe’ plants. I came home with some Peperomias, a prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura), African violets, a money tree (Pachira aquatica), and a Phalaenopsis orchid. It appears all of these are relatively safe for cats. There is a good list here of plants that are toxic (or non-toxic) for cats. However, it’s just a general list – it depends on how much is ingested, what plant part, age of cat etc. etc. Do your research.

I hope these ideas help get your through these cold winter days and nights. And just remember, all that snow provides a lovely warm blanket for your plants, so thank Mother Nature for that and dream of spring!

Can’t wait for Kermit to reappear at my pond.

kermit

 

Caring for Your Houseplants in Winter

By Chris Freeburn, Master Gardener

For avid gardeners, winter months are a resting period with little to do but read about gardening and plan for spring. But we also need to take more care with our houseplants during this time as conditions in our homes have changed from months where windows are open and furnaces are not running.

To give your plants the best chance to stay happy and healthy, remember these four important factors.

Water

Most plants do drink less in the winter months so you can let them dry out between watering. However, plants like asparagus fern, anthurium, dracaena and ferns will still want to be kept moist. Check the soil an inch down or feel how heavy the pot is to be sure you are giving those plants enough water. Always fill your watering can and let it sit for a few hours before using. This allows the water to come to room temperature and also gives time for any chlorine or other chemicals to dissipate. Plants like jade, sansevieria, succulents and cactus will still want to be dry through the resting period.dscn6541

Temperature

Palm, croton, dieffenbachia and most tropicals prefer it warmer while ivies, wandering jew, cyclamen and jasmine like it cooler. So if you have your cyclamen in the same room as your fireplace, it might not be happy. Watch for drafts of cool air from open doors or from hot air blowing from furnaces. Many plants will suffer from this.

Light

Give your plants as much light as you can. That south window that burns everything in summer will give just enough light in the early months of the year. You may need to move some of the plants you keep in other areas to a brighter window. Plants like ferns, figs or philodendrons may want to be in that brighter spot. But be aware of how cool it is. You may have to move your plant back away from the glass

Humidity

dscn6545 (1)Most homes in winter are too dry for most houseplants and this is why we see them suffer by dropping leaves. To increase humidity, you can mist the plant, give it a shower (at room temperature – this also will dust for you!), or set in a saucer with rocks (elevate so the pot and roots are not constantly wet). Placing plants in kitchens or bathrooms where there tends to be more humidity is another idea. Plants that like it humid include ferns, palms, dieffenbachia and dracaena.

Fertilizing in the winter months when plants often rest is not recommended, however if your plant is actively growing with new sprouts, use a weak solution of water soluble fertilizer (20-20-20) once or twice a month.

It is also very important to have a good look at your houseplants on a regular basis. Besides removing spent leaves or flowers, watch for chewed leaves, spidery webs, or wet patches on leaves which can indicate pests. If you spot something, isolate the plant to avoid the pest migrating to the rest of your collection. Pick off the infested leaves, give the plant a good shower or gently wash the leaves with water or safers soap and get a good insecticide. Take your sick plant to the bath tub for a good spray. Remember to spray the soil as well as the plant as many pests lay their eggs in the soil. You can also use plant pest strips. These work very well for fungus gnats and other flying pests.

With a little attention and care over these stressful months, you can keep you houseplants happy and healthy and ready for the next season.

Winter Gardening

By Judy Bernard, Master Gardener

My jade plant is getting too large for my pot again! The last time it got too big, I tried potting it up into a larger pot, but it was too unwieldy and so I just cut off a few branches and potted them up in some new potting soil. Three years later, its  already over 50cm tall and wide, but stable in the pot. So, I’m just going to prune it and tidy it up.

And this is where my winter gardening comes in. Those pieces I’ve pruned are going to be potted up for new plants which I can give away or put into a plant sale. Just remember, they are succulents and therefore don’t need a lot of water.judys jade plant

It’s also a good time to clean up those miniature gardens that come from the supermarket or from the florist with several plants in the container. The plants can be removed and repotted individually, giving their roots more room to grow and allowing you to individualize their care.

Other winter gardening includes checking the tender bulbs and tubers that were dug up last fall for disease and rot and removing anything not healthy. They may also need a little moisture added to keep them from drying out but not enough to stimulate growth.

Have fun with your plants.

Here are some web sites for you to consult:
https://www.almanac.com/plant/jade-plants
https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/houseplants/jade-plant/jade-plant-care.htm

The Magnificent Hoya Plant

by Mary Jane Parker, Master Gardener

I have a huge Hoya (Hoya carnosa) plant in my office. Also known as the wax plant or porcelain plant they are an incredibly long lived plant because the one I have has been with me for close to 30 years and it was supposedly at least 30 years old at that time. My hoya is probably the most common variety in cultivation – Hoya carnosa, native to tropical countries such as India, Japan, and Taiwan, but there are between 200 and 300 species in this family Apocynaceae (subfamily Asclepiadoideae) worldwide.

Hoyas are vines that climb by twining around structures, supports or trees outside in their native countries through the use of adventitious roots. They have simple leaves, arranged in an opposite pattern and mine has shiny leaves flecked with tiny silvery spots.

Hoyas require bright light to flower. My hoya flowers in spring and early summer and when it does flower, the scent is awesome and capable of perfuming a whole room. The flowers are star shaped, very light pink and produce abundant sticky nectar which can be a mess. Flowers are formed on spurs which get longer every year. Some of the spurs on my hoya has are at least 2 inches long.

hoyabellablossom

Hoya carnosa has exhibited something called Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM). As I understand it, CAM is the function that allows plants to store water for periods of time to use when there is none or very little for their basic functions. Like cacti in the desert – cool stuff!

Besides being an attractive houseplant, some Polynesian cultures use hoyas medicinally. Recent studies at the University of Georgia have also shown that Hoya carnosa is a good buffer against indoor pollutants. Another reason to love this plant!

hoya-1063661_1920

Some links for more information about this very interesting plant

UK Royal Horticultural Society – Information on Hoyas

How to Grow and Flower Indestructible Hoyas

How to Grow Hoyas

Hoyas as indoor and outdoor plants

Five favourite Hoya cultivars

Caring for your Poinsettia

By Mary-Jane Pilgrim, Master Gardener

Christmas Day is tomorrow (gasp!) and with that we have a few tips on how to care for your Christmas plant — the poinsettia. This plant came to Europe from Mexico. Because of its bright red colour, it became a popular Christmas decoration and nowadays it’s hard to imagine Christmas without it. You may not know this, but the colourful parts of the plant are actually leaves, and that all poinsettias have tiny yellow flowers.

Having a poinsettia is a great way to brighten up your house this winter and if you follow the tips, your plant may last even until Easter.

Water your plant when it feels dry to touch, but take care not to drown it by ensuring that adequate drainage is available. Place a layer of pebbles on a tray beneath the plant to keep it out of water and increase the humidity. Avoid letting it sit in a water-filled saucer as this can lead to root rot.IMG_4312

Place your plant in bright, but not direct sunlight; give it a minimum of six hours of light each day. South, east or west facing windows are preferable to a north window. Maintain Temperatures between 18 – 22C in the day, and cooler at night. Avoid extreme temperature changes by ensuring that it’s not near near fireplaces, drafts or ventilation ducts.

If you notice that the leaves are falling off, you can usually still save the plant. Environmental factors such as a room that is too warm or too dry is most often the reason. Keep the plant in a coolish, draft-free area and provide plenty of water.

Fertilizing a poinsettia is never recommended while it’s blooming — and you should fertilize only if you plan to keep it after the holiday season. If so, apply fertilizer every two weeks using a complete houseplant fertilizer. While it is possible to keep the plant from year to year, it is a very fussy exacting process. Since they are not that expensive, you might just choose to start fresh next year.

For years poinsettias have had the bad reputation of being poisonous. They certainly are not meant to be eaten by humans, pets, or livestock and ingesting poinsettias would probably cause some stomach upset, as would eating most any houseplant. However poinsettias have undergone extensive testing and there is no evidence that they are toxic or unsafe to have in the house. They are also safe to put into the compost.

If you are interested in keeping the plant after the holidays, here are some tips:
https://www.thespruce.com/poinsettias-keepers-or-compost-1403587
https://landscapeontario.com/home-care-tips-for-your-poinsettia
https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/flowers/poinsettia/poinsettia-care-how-do-you-take-care-of-poinsettias.htm

Taking Care of House Plants

By Judy Bernard, Master Gardener

An interesting question came to me through our website about caring for houseplants. This person had A LOT!

Whether you have 3 or 4 or 3 or 4 dozen, my suggestions will apply. A little research is needed to identify all of your plants. Once that is done, group them as to light, moisture, and fertilizer needs. Then you can care for them in groups instead of individuals.

What I’ve done is to make plant labels for all of my plants. I’ve stuck the labels into each pot. On the labels I’ve written the plant name, water requirements, light requirements, and fertilizer schedule. Once that is done, it is easy to put the plants where they will get the best environment for their growth and health. Grouping them with plants of similar needs will make their care easier.mini-cactus-755542_640

You can then make a watering schedule for the different groupings of plants. Also check the pots to make sure you’re not overwatering. One of the most common things people do is overwater. The symptoms of too much water are very similar to too little. You have to check the soil.  If it’s damp to the touch, you likely don’t need to water!

Space them so that there is good air circulation around the pots.

Some of the plants will need to be in a more humid environment than others. You can put a tray filled with stones for the pot to sit on and add some water to the stones. They will provide moisture to the plant without the roots being in the water.

These suggestions should help you to have healthy plants for a very long time.

My Orchid Had a Baby!

by Judy Bernard, Master Gardener

A year ago last summer I bought a new phalaenopsis orchid to go in my renovated kitchen. It had 2 stems of beautiful white flowers with a fuchsia centre. Eventually the flowers dropped off, but the stems remained green and healthy. Knowing there was good potential for the nodes remaining on the stem to start to produce another scape of flowers, I checked it carefully and was rewarded with a node budding out. It had leaves!judy's orchid

Looking up on Google, I learned that one of the ways an orchid will propagate is by producing a baby in its stem. These babies are called Kiekis. I had to wait for several months until the baby grew 3 or 4 roots and they were 8-10cm long before I could remove it and plant it.

Although it may be a sign that the mother orchid plant is under stress, this mother always looked healthy with dark glossy leaves. While it was nurturing its baby, the mother produced another scape on the other stem with a spray of 9 flowers.

Finally the day had come. I also learned that the best way to help the baby along was to plant it with the mother. The mother will regulate the growing medium around their roots and help the baby along. The mother’s pot was too small. So I purchased fresh bark for the orchids and a larger container. Planted them. Watered them.

They seem to be thriving!

Link:  All about Keikis