As long as I can remember my sister has feed the birds. We would sit at her kitchen table and look at them at all the feeders. My favorite one to spy is the nuthatch so here is how you can have this bird at your feeders during the winter months.
Nuthatches are wonderful, perky birds that can be entertaining backyard visitors, but it can be challenging to attract nuthatches. How can you encourage these small climbing birds to visit your feeders or take up residence in your bird houses?
Why We Love Nuthatches
Nuthatches are feisty birds with bold personalities and aggressive attitudes. There are 25 species of nuthatch worldwide, but only four are regularly seen in North America: the white-breasted nuthatch, red-breasted nuthatch, pygmy nuthatch and brown-headed nuthatch.
All four will visit backyards but the white-headed and red-breasted nuthatches are the most likely guests. In Europe, the common or Eurasian nuthatch is the most widespread and is also likely to appear in backyards and gardens.
All nuthatches eat copious amounts of insects, making them a favored visitor in areas where insect infestations and caterpillars can damage trees. Any nuthatch's nimble acrobatics as it forages headfirst down a tree or dangles from branches can be entertaining to watch, and these sleek birds are popular whenever they arrive in a bird-friendly backyard.
How to Attract Nuthatches
The key to attracting any bird is to meet the bird's basic needs for food, water, shelter and nesting sites. Backyard birders can easily do this for nuthatches when they consider these birds' specific needs.
■ Food: Nuthatches are primarily insectivorous, but they will easily visit bird feeders for nuts, sunflower seeds, mealworms, suet and peanut butter, particularly in fall and winter. Learn how to offer suet to backyard birds and add peanut feeders to the buffet, and nuthatches will happily become regular guests. Growing sunflowers or adding trees that provide natural nuts such as acorns, hazelnuts, beechnuts or hickory nuts is a great way to offer natural food sources for these birds as well. Evergreen trees are a nuthatch favorite for their seeds, and minimizing insecticides ensures a ready supply of protein-rich insects for the birds to eat.
■ Water: Even if a nuthatch is reluctant to visit a feeder, it still needs a clean, fresh water source to drink. A bird bath should be shallow to attract nuthatches, and they are more attracted to moving water from drippers, wigglers, bird bath fountains or misters. Nuthatches have even been known to flutter in oscillating sprinkers, so timing lawn or garden watering to birds' activity periods can help entice them to visit. Placing the bird bath near a tree where nuthatches are more likely to feed regularly will help make it more noticeable to the birds.
■ Shelter: Birds need shelter at night and to stay protected from foul weather. Nuthatches will readily use cavities, so providing bird roost boxes can give these small birds a safe, comfortable place to rest. Dead trees should be left intact as much as possible to the birds can take advantage of natural cavities as well. On warmer nights, both coniferous and deciduous trees can provide adequate shelter for all types of nuthatches to stay safe, though larger, taller and more mature trees are preferred.
■ Nesting Sites: Watching a pair of nuthatches raise their brood of tiny chicks is a treat, and providing good nesting sites can tempt these cavity-nesting birds become permanent residents. Birders who take steps to attract woodpeckers may find nuthatches moving in to old woodpecker holes, so older trees and hollow snags should be left intact. Nuthatches will also live in bird houses, if the entrance hole and overall bird house dimensions are favorable. The box should be placed on a tree trunk high enough to help the birds feel secure, but it should also be protected from predators so the birds are not in danger. Providing nesting materials such as pet fur, fine grass or shredded bark and leaves can also convince nuthatches to stay nearby.
More Tips for Attracting Nuthatches
Even a yard or garden designed with nuthatches in mind may not immediately attract these sometimes suspicious birds. If you know the birds are in the area but they haven't yet made an appearance in your yard, try…
■ Minimizing or eliminating insecticide, pesticide and other outdoor chemical use to promote more abundant food for the birds.
■ Planting nut-bearing trees or shrubs and keeping mature trees intact with minimal pruning to provide the best food and habitat.
■ Smearing soft suet or peanut butter on tree trunks for easy, convenient nuthatch feeding. Attaching suet feeders directly to the tree trunk can also encourage nuthatch visits.
■ Leaving dead trees intact as food sources, shelter and nesting sites. A messy landscape is a more bird-friendly one, especially for sometimes shy birds like nuthatches.
■ Watching flocks of other small birds such as chickadees, tits, creepers and small woodpeckers. Nuthatches often join these types of birds in winter and will stay with the mixed flock while foraging, so they may be in the yard already but going unnoticed in the group.
Above all, be patient. Nuthatches have bold personalities but may take a long time to trust a new area well enough to come out in the open. Over time, however, these fun birds can become backyard favorites all year round.
taken from https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-attract-nuthatches-386249
Till next time this is Becky Litterer, Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa
Here are a few new plants for 2018 growing season. Gardeners in different zones than us might be growing them now. Let us know what you think.
Zinnia Queeny Lime Orange
A “WOW” color in an easy-to-grow zinnia is what Queeny Lime Orange brings to the garden. Sporting lovely, large, dahlia-like blooms on a sturdy, compact plant, this variety provides cut flower gardeners and growers with a wonderful hue for today’s floral trends. The unique color evolves from dark coral/peach/orange to a light peach with a dark center as the flowers age. In the trial gardens, visitors loved the show-stopping color and large blooms, making it this year’s fan-favorite. This new AAS Winner is also perfect for cut flower gardens as each uniform plant produces prolific deeply fluted blooms that last about 3 weeks without preservatives or feed.
Tomato Valentine F1
2018 AAS Edible – Vegetable Winner
Hands down, the judges agreed this was the most appealing grape tomato they trialed. With an appetizing deep-red color, it has a very sweet (Brix of 7-9) taste and will hold longer on the vine without cracking or losing the excellent eating quality. Valentine F1 tomato is quite prolific and will mature earlier (55 days from transplant) than the comparisons used for this entry. Gardeners should plan on staking the indeterminate vines for best results. Tomato lovers will appreciate the sweet, firm flesh that is meaty enough to resemble a Roma tomato but in a smaller, grape-type fruit. These easy-to-harvest tomatoes can take the summer heat and keep on producing!
Cuphea FloriGlory Diana
2018 AAS Ornamental Vegetative Winner
Cuphea, commonly known as Mexican Heather, is an ideal plant for borders, mass plantings and containers. FloriGlory Diana was highly praised by the AAS Judges for its larger flowers, impressive number of flowers and the darker, more intensely colored magenta flowers. The dark green foliage complement the flowers and really makes a statement for this new AAS Winner. With FloriGlory Diana, gardeners will be delighted with the compact (10-12 inch) size, longer flowering time, heat and weather tolerance.
taken from AAS website.
Till next time this is Becky Litterer, Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa
I found this article very interesting. I have been of doing some of these things.
Top 12 Worst Things in Your Yard for Birds
By Melissa Mayntz
Even the most well-maintained, beautifully landscaped yard could be hiding dangerous hazards for backyard birds. Once you are aware of these problems, however, it is easy to remove the risks without sacrificing the enjoyment you find in your yard or garden.
All types of cats–lost strays, pampered pets or feral visitors–have razor-sharp instincts for hunting and will stalk not only birds, but also lizards, frogs, snakes, mammals and other backyard wildlife. Whether they are hunting for food, entertainment or curiosity, cats kill billions of wild birds around the world each year, and in many areas, native species are threatened or endangered because of predation from domestic cats.
How to Help: Keep your cat indoors, and take steps to discourage feral cats from visiting your yard. If your cat enjoys time outside, provide vigilant supervision or consider building a catio or other enclosure your pet can enjoy without threatening birds.
Spraying pesticides in a garden
We often use chemicals in our yards to eliminate weeds, control insects or nourish plants, but those same chemicals can be harming birds. When used inappropriately, toxic poisoning is a very real threat to birds and other wildlife. Birds might consume chemical granules, chemicals can contaminate feeders, baths or local water supplies. Even used properly, chemicals can eliminate resources birds need, such as protein-rich insects or nutritious weed seeds.
How to Help: Minimize chemical use in your yard, and when you must use chemicals, read application instructions carefully and follow all recommended use guidelines. Better still, eliminate chemicals and let birds be your natural pest control and weed-eaters.
Glue strips, sticky traps and any glue-based pest control may seem like a fast, easy way to get rid of unwanted pests, but they're an indiscriminating tactic that can be just as fatal to birds. Small birds can get stuck on strips or traps as they try to feed off captured insects, and the glue can tear off birds' feathers or cause other brutal injuries. Even larger birds, such as raptors, may get stuck to traps as they hunt captured mice or rodents.
How to Help: Avoid using these traps in your yard. If you have no other options, be sure the traps are positioned appropriately so they are not accessible to other wildlife that may become stuck.
Birds go nuts for all types of bread, from stale crusts and crumbs to cookies, donuts, chips, muffins and more. Unfortunately, these foods offer very little nutrition, and instead are the equivalent of avian junk food. Over time, a diet filled with bread scraps can lead to growth deformations, obesity and a range of other health problems. Birds that come to rely on such handouts can become aggressive and develop other behavior issues as well.
How to Help: Don't feed birds bread, or only offer it as a very rare, extremely limited treat. Consider choosing better bread for birds and making a more nutritious sandwich with a suet or peanut butter and seed filling.
A well-groomed, weed-free flowerbed can be beautiful, but it can turn ugly when landscaping or weed control fabric becomes a threat to birds. Not only does this material make it more difficult for insectivorous birds to forage for food, including worms, but because it blocks weeds, birds cannot forage on those native weed seeds. Some birds may even tug on the edges of fabric to extract strands for nesting material, and those tough strands can pose tangle hazards to vulnerable nestlings.
How to Help: Use a deep, thick layer of mulch to reduce weeds instead of barrier fabric. If you do want a barrier beneath the mulch, opt for newspaper or cardboard that will naturally degrade and enrich the soil without posing a threat to backyard birds.
There are many beautiful plants throughout the world, but not every pretty plant is valuable to backyard wildlife. Non-native plants are less easily recognized by birds, so they are not as useful for meeting birds' needs. If the plants are vigorous growers, they may also overwhelm and crowd out native plants birds rely on for food, shelter and nesting. The most invasive non-native plants often spread beyond backyards and take over in more natural habitats as well.
How to Help: Choose only native plants for your yard, selecting the best regional plants to nurture birds, bees, butterflies and other local wildlife. If you do want some non-native specimens, opt for varieties that are easily controlled or restrict them to containers.
Often set out for birds as a soft nesting material, dryer lint is actually a toxic trap. Even using natural cleaners or organic products produces lint with high chemical concentrations that can be harmful to birds. Dryer lint also falls apart when it gets wet, dangerously tumbling young birds out of the nest. Wet, sticky lint may coat birds' feathers and make it more difficult for them to preen effectively, and long strands of hair or threads in lint can be tangle hazards in the nest.
How to Help: Never give birds dryer lint, and instead provide a variety of natural nesting materials such as grass clippings, mud, twigs, pine needles and plant down. Dryer lint can be reused in a number of ways: as kindling, used for crafts or composted.
Dirty Bird Feeders
Not all bird feeders are helpful to birds, and if the feeder is dirty, it can harbor bacteria, mites and other pests that can spread diseases among the entire backyard flock. Many diseases are spread through feces and saliva, making it easy to contaminate many birds from one small feeder. Dirty feeders are also smelly, which can attract unwanted pests such as wasps, raccoons, rats and other visitors that will damage or destroy the feeder. Even bears might visit a dirty bird feeder.
How to Help: Clean and sterilize bird feeders regularly using a weak bleach solution that will kill unwanted bacteria and eliminate odors. Don't forget to wipe down perches, poles, baffles and nearby surfaces that may also be contaminated.
Dirty Bird Baths
Just like dirty feeders, dirty bird baths can also spread diseases to the different birds that drink or bathe from the basin. In addition to this problem, however, dirty bird baths can also be breeding grounds for mosquitoes that can transmit diseases to humans. Because of this risk, some homeowner's associations and community guidelines restrict the use of bird baths or require the basins to be maintained properly at all times.
How to Help: Keep your bird bath cleaned and rinse it out thoroughly with every refill. Bird bath fountains will minimize stagnant water that breeds insects, or consider using a copper bird bath that will stay naturally cleaner.
Empty Feeders and Baths
Clean or not, bird feeders and baths aren't any use to birds if they aren't kept filled. An empty fixture forces birds to seek food and water elsewhere, and if they can't rely on the backyard offerings, wild birds may move on to different resources and stop visiting the yard altogether. Empty feeders can also become home to unwanted insects such as wasp or hornet nests, or mice or rats may take up residence.
How to Help: Keep feeders and baths properly filled. Smaller feeders may need more frequent refills, but there will be less chance for seed to spoil before it is eaten. Bird baths can be positioned so they are automatically refilled by sprinklers, drips systems or other means.
Unsafe Bird Houses
A cute, quirky bird house might be a fun garden accent, but that doesn't make it a suitable home for baby birds. A house with bright colors will attract predators' attention, and if the house has a perch, predators have a nifty handhold to access the nest. A lack of ventilation or inadequate space can smother nestlings, while a house that is improperly positioned could sway or fall in storms. An entrance hole that is too large can also admit predators and more aggressive birds.
How to Help: Take steps to keep bird houses safe, including using the proper entrance size and safeguarding bird houses from predators. Proper mounting will also keep predators from accessing the house, and houses should be cleaned after the nesting season to eliminate mites and bacteria.
Dog and bird
Even a friendly dog can be a threat to backyard birds. A dog will be a source of stress for both parents and chicks, especially when fledgling birds have left the nest and are more vulnerable on the ground. Dogs can also dig up ground bird feeders or baths, as well as disrupt native plants that birds rely on for food, shelter and nesting material. A more aggressive or untrained dog may even attack or harass birds deliberately.
How to Help: Supervise your dog when it is outside, and train it to stay away from all wildlife, including bird feeding areas or bird baths. Provide a safe, secure kennel or run for your dog to enjoy being outside without being a threat to birds.
taken from https://www.thespruce.com/worst-things-in-your-yard-for-birds-
till next time this is Becky Litterer, Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa
I know for you readers in our zone 4 insects are not on your mind as we are not in the gardening season. But I know there are other readers that will be just start to garden and this is helpful for them. I have an average 800 hits each 24 hours. So I know more and more might not be in this zone. Thanks for reading.
7 Flower Garden Pests Never to Ignore
These Insect Pests Damage Plants in Multiple Ways
By Jamie McIntosh
No one likes to find their flower gardening efforts thwarted by hungry insects intent on making a meal of our prize specimens. However, some insect pests do more than just snack on our plants; they can introduce fungi and other diseases than can sound the death knell for our favorite flowers.
Gardeners everywhere curse the presence of tiny aphids on rose, honeysuckle, and other flowering foliage growth tips in the springtime. The sucking action of these insect pests causes stunted growth and deformed leaves and flowers. However, aphids bring more havoc to the flower garden in the form of plant viruses and black sooty mold fungus.
Start your aphid battle the natural way: Plant sweet alyssum in the flower garden to draw beneficial wasps, include cosmos to attract hungry lacewings, and add penstemon or yarrow to attract ladybugs. Insect soap and a strong blast of water will take care of heavy infestations.
Borers are an insidious pest, destroying your flowering plants from the inside out. The worst borer in the flower garden is the iris borer, which will tunnel through an entire iris rhizome, leaving bacterial rot in its wake. You should be suspicious if you notice sawdust material around the base of your irises or ragged leaf margins.
Discourage borers by removing iris leaves in the fall, which provide a host for borer moth eggs. In the spring, you can apply the systemic pesticide Merit or the nontoxic spray Garden Shield.
Only about an eighth of an inch long, leafhopper insects look innocuous enough. The green insects don’t congregate in large numbers on plants, and hop away when you approach. However, what you won’t notice is the toxin these hungry pests inject every time they insert their mouthparts into the underside of your flower’s foliage. This allows the damage to travel beyond the chewed part of the leaf, showing up as distorted leaf tips and edges. The insects also spread the aster yellows virus.
Blast leafhopper nymphs from plants with a strong jet of water. Spray adults with insect soap, pyrethrin, or Sevin. Keep dandelion and thistle weeds away from the flower garden, as they provide cover for leafhoppers.
Mealybugs don’t draw much attention, as the pests are only 3/16 of an inch long and move very slowly. The honeydew they excrete supports sooty mold growth. When enough sooty mold accumulates on foliage, it can reduce photosynthesis, weakening the plant and making it even more susceptible to garden pests.
If you notice white fuzzy growths on your plants, you may have mealybugs. Dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and touch it to the pests to desiccate and kill them instantly. You can also spray the pests away with water, or apply Malathion or Orthene pesticide sprays.
Like leafhoppers, plant bugs inject a toxin into your plants’ leaves, buds, and shoots as they feed. The result is a plant mottled with brown or black spots and deformed growth. Dahlias, azaleas, daisies, liatris, and asters are just a few of the flowering plants these bugs feast upon. Gardeners should be on the lookout for tarnished plant bugs and four-lined plant bugs, growing up to ¼ inch long.
Plant bugs are fast moving pests, but you can pluck them off and drop them into a bucket of soapy water if you’re an early riser, as the bugs are sluggish in the morning. Otherwise, spray your plants with neem, Sevin, or diazinon.
At first glance, scale insects may not even seem alive. The waxy covering that serves as a protective shield on the bugs makes them resemble lichen or other natural growths on their host plants. The scale insect under this waxy covering is very alive indeed, feeding on garden plants throughout the entire growing season and houseplants throughout the year. Damage appears as stunted growth, leaf drop, yellow spots on leaves, and sooty mold growth that thrives on the scale’s honeydew.
Parasitic wasps love to use scale insects as hosts, and you may see evidence of this as tiny holes piercing the scale’s armor. This same armor makes scale resistant to many pesticides, but dormant oil can suffocate the insects during the winter season.
Upon disturbance, whiteflies flutter about their host plants like an ephemeral cloud, but their damage is formidable. This is another honeydew-secreting pest, encouraging sooty mold while simultaneously leaving plants yellow and stunted after sucking on plant juices. Some whiteflies also carry plant viruses. Whiteflies are the bane of greenhouse growers, who detect their presence with yellow sticky traps.
Take advantage of the small size and weakness of these insects by using a vacuum to remove them from plants. You can also spray them with insect soap, pythrethrins, and malathion.
taken from https://www.thespruce.com/flower-garden-pests
Till next time, this is Becky Litterer, Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa
Have you grown this houseplant? They are really fun and easy to grow. They need moisture and light but don't need soil.
There are about 500 different species of tillandsia; the best known is the Spanish moss that gracefully drapes from oak trees throughout the American South. This huge genus—the largest in the bromeliad family—is sometimes divided into the grey-leaved air plants and green-leaved terrestrial plants. In truth, all tillandsia are naturally epiphytic air plants that grow by clinging to trees and extracting excess moisture from the air.
Once rare, tillandsia are now common in garden centers, where they are frequently sold as part of hanging gardens. Only a few tillandsias can be grown in pots—the rest must be mounted.
■ Light: Bright light, but not direct sunlight. A south, east or west window is perfect. They can also be grown under fluorescent tubes.
■ Water: Water 2 to 4 times a week with a mister. If your environment is dry, mist daily. Water until the plant is saturated.
■ Temperature: Some varieties can withstand near freezing temperatures, but most will thrive between 70ºF and 85ºF. High humidity is a bonus.
■ Support: Glue tillandsias to cork, coral, stone, or driftwood. Only a few varieties can adapt to soil.
■ Fertilizer: Use a low-copper liquid fertilizer, diluted to 1/4 strength. Feed monthly.
Tillandsias reproduce by putting out offsets, or pups, from the base of the mother plant. When the pups are half the size of the mother, they can be divided and mounted on their own.
Tillandsias can also be grown from seed, but this is a slow process that might take years.
Tillandsias prefer to be mounted on a solid substrate that does not retain water. You can glue your tillandsia directly to the surface with a strong adhesive, or you can wire the plant to the base. Don't cover the base of the plant with moss or it may rot.
Tillandsia can be grown on almost any imaginable decorative mount, including shells, rocks, slate, driftwood, etc. Group them in decorative clumps for maximum effect. Two varieties—T. cyanea and T. lindenii—can be adapted to soil.
There are many hundreds of species of tillandsia. Some of the more popular ones include: T. ionantha, T. xerographica, T. caput-medusae, and T. circinnata. Spanish moss is T. usneoides. The growing requirements for various species are similar. Two varieties, T. cyanea and T. lindenii, are often sold under the label "Pink Quill" plants and can be grown in soil. Other species are less adaptable.
Tillandsias can be wonderfully rewarding plants—their leaves often blush amazing colors before a bloom. A well-kept collection looks like a healthy coral reef. The most common mistakes made with tillandsia are not providing enough water and overfertilizing. If the leaves start to curl under, the plant is likely gasping for water. Submerge it overnight in the kitchen sink and it will come back. Finally, like epiphytic orchids, they require lots of fresh air, so don't suffocate the plants with moss.
Taken from https://www.thespruce.com/grow-air-plants-
till next time this is Becky Litterer, Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa
It is the season for buying poinsettias. I feel the biggest mistake to make is to have them sit in water in the foil wraps. Make sure you put holes in that for the water to drain and use saucers to catch the water. All left to do is ENJOY.
Poinsettia Care – How Do You Take Care Of Poinsettias
By Nikki Tilley
(Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden
How do you take care of poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima)? Carefully. These finicky short-day plants require specific growing needs in order to retain their Christmas blooms. However, with proper care, your holiday poinsettia should continue to put out blooms, or in the least remain attractive for weeks after.
Holiday Poinsettia Plant Care
Poinsettia care begins with proper light, water, and temperature conditions. During the holidays, while in full bloom, they typically enjoy semi-cool, humid locations in bright, indirect light with plenty of moisture. Poinsettia plants should be watered thoroughly, taking care not to drown them by ensuring adequate drainage is available. Likewise, avoid letting them sit in water-filled saucers, which can lead to root rot. Adding plants nearby can help increase humidity levels in dry rooms, as will humidifiers.
Once flower bracts have fallen, you have the option of discarding the plant or keeping it an additional year. For those choosing to continue with poinsettia care, decrease regular watering to allow the plant to dry out some. However, don’t let it dry out completely. Also, relocate the poinsettia plant to a cool, dark area until spring or around April.
Fertilizing Poinsettia Plants
Fertilizing poinsettia plants is never recommended while they’re still in bloom. Fertilize poinsettias only if keeping them after the holiday season. Apply fertilizer every two weeks or once monthly using a complete houseplant fertilizer. Provided the poinsettia plant is given the proper environmental conditions, it should begin to regrow within weeks.
Poinsettia Care After the Holidays
In spring, return the plant to a sunny area and water well. Cut back all canes (branches) to about 6 inches from the pot’s rim. It may also be a good idea to repot the poinsettia using the same type of soil. While poinsettias can be kept indoors throughout summer, many people choose to move them outdoors in a sunny, but protected, area of the flower garden by sinking the pot into the ground. Either way is fine.
After new growth has reached between 6 to 10 inches, pinch out the tips to encourage branching. This can be done once a month until the middle of August. Once nights become longer in fall, bring the poinsettia indoors.
From about September through November light becomes crucial in poinsettia plant care. In order to encourage blooming, poinsettia plants require long periods of darkness at night (about 12 hours). Therefore, move the poinsettia to a location where it will not receive any nighttime light or cover it with a box. Allow plenty of light during the day so the plant can absorb enough energy for flowering. Warmer days (65-70 F./18-21 C.) and cooler nights (55-60 F./13-16 C.) are also recommended. Provide semi-cool, humid locations in bright, indirect light with plenty of moisture once blooming occurs.
Poinsettia Plant Leaves Are Falling Off
It’s important to pinpoint the possible cause in the event that your poinsettia plant leaves are falling off, as in some cases, this can be easily fixed. Environmental factors such as warm, dry conditions are most often the reason for leaf drop. Stress can also be a factor. Keep the plant in a cool, draft-free area and provide plenty of water. If all else fails, the plant may need to be discarded.
Now that you know how do you take care of poinsettias you can keep these lovely plants year round. With proper poinsettia plant care, they will give you many years of beauty.
Taken from : https://www.gardeningknowhow.com
Till next time this is Becky Litterer, Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa
I am back....thanks for checking with the daily blog to see what I wrote....We were in Wyoming visiting our granddaughter who turned one last week, her mom and dad. It was a great time being with our daughter and family. Thank you for that. Miss little one all ready but we had a good time getting to know her when we were there. So I spend lots of time thinking about this blog and one plant that we need to talk about is the amaryllis which many of us grow for Christmas. 1000 miles one way to think about what to write....
Amaryllis are hard flowers to categorize. They look tropical and exotic; large, lily-like trumpet blooms on tall, straight stems, with a base of strappy leaves. Flower colors go from white to deep red and include some eye-catching striped varieties. You'll pay more for the more exotic varieties and larger bulbs, but larger bulbs produce more flowers. You can expect your Amaryllis to bloom 7 weeks or longer.
Most amaryllis will go dormant naturally and re-bloom sometime during winter. However, many people prefer to force their amaryllis into bloom for the holiday season. Many "prepared" bulbs are sold in the fall, ready to pot up and have in time for Christmas. Here are directions for forcing your Amaryllis for holiday display, as well as general care for your amaryllis plant.
What You’ll Need
■ Amaryllis bulb
■ A pot slightly larger than the bulb (½ - 2" around the sides of the bulb)
■ Well-draining potting mix
■ Bamboo stalk
Planting a New Amaryllis Bulb
01 Choose a bulb(s) that’s plump and still has some roots at the base.
02 Make sure the pot you chose is just large enough for the bulb. Generally, a 5 - 7" pot will work fine. The bulb needs to feel crowded to bloom.
03 Partially fill the pot with potting mix and place the bulb so that top third of it will be exposed when you fill in potting soil around the sides of the pot.
04 Place a bamboo stalk along side the bulb. The flowers can get top heavy and inserting the stake now will help you avoid damaging the bulb and roots later.
05 Water well.
06 Place the pot in bright, indirect light and keep the soil moist, but not wet.
07 A thick flower stalk should shoot up within a few weeks. The flat leaves will follow as the flower stalk matures.
08 Turn the pot every few days, so the flower stalk gets uniform exposure on all sides and grows straight.
09 You can feed your Amaryllis with a half strength water soluble fertilizer every 2-3 weeks.
10 When the flowers fade, cut the flower stalk back to just above the bulb. Keep watering the plant until it goes dormant in the fall. You can more or plant the Amaryllis outdoors for the summer, in partial shade.
Forcing an Existing Amaryllis to Flower for the Holidays
01 To force bloom for the winter holidays, cut back the flower stalk after blooming stops, but allow the foliage to grow. You can place your plant outdoors for summer, if you like, in partial shade.
02 Keep watered so the soil is moist, but not wet.
03 Stop feeding in August.
04 When it’s time to bring plants indoors, in September or October, move your Amaryllis to a cool (55 to 60 F), dry spot and stop watering it. The foliage will already be dying back. If you want your Amaryllis to bloom at a specific time, Thanksgiving or Christmas, count backward about 10 - 12 weeks, to determine when to stop watering and cross your fingers.
05 The lack of foliage and water will induce the amaryllis to send out another flower stalk. Resume watering at this time and move the plant to a warm, sunny spot. Leaves will follow shortly and then blooms.
06 When the flowers fade, start the process over.
Allowing Your Amaryllis to Re-Bloom Naturally
01 To allow your Amaryllis to re-bloom naturally, cut off the flower stalk after blooming ceases, but let the foliage continue to grow as long as it can. Keep it in bright light, indoors or out.
02 Keep watered so the soil is moist, but not wet.
03 Stop feeding it in August.
04 Bring indoors before a frost hits it and place the pot in a cool spot in indirect, bright light.
05 The leaves will start to yellow and drop around December. Keep watering as usual and new flowers stalks should appear in a month or two. Resume feeding at this time and move the plant to a warm, sunny spot. Leaves will follow shortly and then blooms.
06 When the flowers fade, start the process over. Allowing the plant to bloom naturally will result in larger plants and flowers.
General Care & Growing Tips for Amaryllis
■ Whatever method you choose, resume feeding your Amaryllis after flowering.
■ As your Amaryllis bulb gets larger, you will need to increase the size of the pot. Just make sure it’s still a cozy fit.
■ Amaryllis bulbs will produce side bulbs, like daffodils. Carefully remove these bulbils and pot up for more plants. Give them a few seasons of growth before expecting flowers.
■ Some warmth is needed when forcing begins, but flowers will last longer if the plant is kept in a cool spot, once it blooms.
■ If your Amaryllis won’t go dormant, remove the remaining leaves and re-pot.
■ Keep on the lookout for spider mites and mealy bugs.
■ The top reasons Amaryllis doesn't bloom are no rest period, insufficient light while actively growing, and poor nutrients in the soil.
taken from https://www.thespruce.com/growing-amaryllis-
till next time this is Becky Litterer, Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa
This houseplant Mother's In Law tongue....I am thinking it means because it is easy to take care of????
Houseplants You Can't Kill
Easy Care, Minimal Maintenance Indoor Plants By Marie Iannotti
Some houseplants pretty much grow themselves. In fact, your biggest problem may be what to do with all the baby plants they'll produce. Almost all the indoor plants shown here can be grown in the indirect light from a window and like the same indoor temperatures as most people (55 - 75 degrees F.) A few will require a bit more pampering, but nothing extreme. Where and how do these plants get these names? I don't like this name for this plant because of what it is saying with the sharp pointy leaves....
Mother-in-law's tongue, aka Snake plant (Sansevieria)
It's called Mother-in-law's tongue because of its long, sharp, pointed leaves and because it lasts so long. These are long-lived, easy-care houseplants. Mother-in-law's Tongue is tolerant of low light. Water sparingly or it will rot. Only 1 or 2 waterings are necessary indoors during the winter, depending on the humidity. Variegated forms need more light and can be more difficult to grow. There is also a dwarf variety, Sansevieria trifasciata 'Hahnii', called Bird's Nest. (USDA Zones 10+)
taken from https://www.thespruce.com/easy-houseplants-hard-to-kill-
Mother-in-Law's Tongue or Snake Plant
Botanical Name: Sansevieria trifasciata
Mother-in-Law's Tongue (also known as Snake Plant) is one of the most carefree house plants you can grow. It thrives in just about any light. Prefers dry air and soil. Rarely needs repotted.
Some varieties have leaves that are edged with yellow or white. 'Laurentii' is a popular variety that is edged in golden yellow. S. trifasciata 'Hahnii' is a low-growing (6 in/15 cm) variety. Its compact, rosette form gives it the common name Bird's Nest Sansevieria. 'Golden Hahnii' has yellow leaf margins...'Silver Hahnii' has silvery leaves marbled with dark green.
S.t. 'Hahnii' (shown at left) is a compact, low-growing variety that only reaches a few inches tall.
Clusters of small, white flowers sometimes grow at the base of a plant when it is a few years old. It rarely blooms indoors, and it may go years between flowering, so it's a nice surprise when it does.
Mother-in-Law's Tongue is ideal for beginners, but seasoned gardeners also love this accent plant's dramatic, sword-shaped leaves. Slow-growing, it will live for many years with good care.
Water the soil, taking care not to get water on the leaves, which will cause them to rot. If the leaves turn yellow, or get soft and mushy at their base, it's overwatered.
Any problems with growing Sansevieria are usually related to watering. Allow the top inch (2.5 cm) of soil to dry out between waterings during the growing season. In winter, water just enough to prevent the soil from drying out. Overwatering will cause root rot.
Keep the leaves dust-free and glossy by wiping them with a damp cloth.
Repot in spring, only when plants get crowded and need dividing. Keep the rosette of the leaves at soil level. Use a wide, heavy container to prevent toppling. This tall plant can get top-heavy.
This article taken from http://www.guide-to-houseplants.com/mother-in-laws-tongue.html
till next time this is Becky Litterer, Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa
Here is another easy house plant to grow. Wonder where the names come from?????
Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sandersl)
Dracaena has long been the centerpiece of container plantings. Street plantings in towns across America feature 1 spiky dracaena stuck in the center of red blooming geraniums, in a half whiskey barrel. But there is actually a good amount of variety in In the genre of dracaena and most make excellent easy care houseplants.
Two great choices are: Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginal), which resembles a small palm tree and can reach heights of 10 ft., and Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanders), which isn't bamboo at all. Both have stems that can be trained to bend or spiral. The stems are topped by clusters of slender arching leaves with narrow purple margins. They grow best in bright light and if allowed to dry out between waterings. Lucky bamboo is often grown in water, but once substantial roots have formed, it is much happier planted in soil. Even if allowed to wilt, dracaena will spring back after watering, although the leaf tips may turn brown. Dracaena will tolerate low light. (USDA Zones 10 - 11)
This article taken from taken from https://www.thespruce.com/
You don't have to look very hard to find lucky bamboo nowadays. These plants pop up in offices, on desks, in businesses, and in homes pretty much everywhere. An important part of feng shui, lucky bamboo plants are said to bring good luck and fortune, especially if the plants were given as gifts. It also helps that they have a well-earned reputation as nearly indestructible. These tough stalks can survive in vases of pure water or in the soil, and in a wide variety of light conditions.
Even a poorly kept lucky bamboo plant will live for a long time before it finally succumbs.
The vast majority of lucky bamboo plants are shipped in from Taiwan or China, where professional growers braid and twist and curl their stalks into a multitude of shapes. The more intricate lucky bamboo plants can cost hundreds of dollars and feature twenty or more individual stalks. More commonly, though, lucky bamboo plants in simple pots can be had for as little as $10 for a three-stalk bundle.
Technically, lucky bamboo is not bamboo at all, but a species called Dracaena sanderiana. Although most are grown hydroponically (in water), lucky bamboo can be potted up in the soil. One final caution: lucky bamboo leaves are mildly toxic, so they should not be kept in a place where pets or children are likely to snack on them.
Caring for Your Lucky Bamboo
Here are the growing conditions your Lucky Bamboo needs to be healthy:
■ Light: Lucky bamboo prefers bright, filtered sunlight, such as found under a rainforest canopy. Avoid direct sunlight as it will scorch the leaves. They are more tolerant of too little light than too much. If the plant begins to stretch, however, or the green fades, provide more light.
■ Watering: Lucky bamboo can grow indefinitely in a simple vase filled with pebbles (for support) and at least an inch of water. However, they are very sensitive to chlorine and other chemicals commonly found in tap water. Water your lucky bamboo only with bottled or distilled water, or tap water that has been left out for 24 hours to allow the chlorine to evaporate. Healthy lucky bamboo roots are red, so don't be alarmed in a glass vase if you can see red roots. Finally, good hygiene recommends that you change the water weekly.
■ Temperature: Lucky bamboo likes warmer temperatures of between 65 F and 90 F. Do not place the plants in front of air conditioning or heating vents.
■ Potting Media: In addition to water, lucky bamboo can be grown in a well-drained, rich potting soil. Keep the soil moist, but not soaking. Water as you would any Dracaena species.
■ Fertilizer: Plants grown in water will only need to be fed every other month or so, using a very weak liquid fertilizer. A single drop of liquid fertilizer is plenty for most lucky bamboo arrangements. Alternatively, specialty lucky bamboo fertilizers are available.
Trimming and Shaping Your Lucky Bamboo
Despite its intricate appearance, lucky bamboo is not shaped in the same way as bonsai, with plant wire and judicious trimming. Rather, they are shaped by rotating the plant stalks in front of a light source, thus causing the plant to naturally grow toward the light. In China, the stalks are often grown on their sides to cause the distinctive spiral. At home, this is a laborious process, but it can be accomplished by placing the plants under a three-sided box and paying close attention to its growth rate, rotating the plant slowly and regularly. Be patient, as it can take a while to get it right.
Trimming, however, is an important part of keeping your lucky bamboo healthy. Over time, most plants will become top heavy, or intricate shapes will begin to lose their form. In general, it's not a good idea to cut the main stalk of a lucky bamboo. Instead, cut the offshoots with sterile snippers. You can trim offshoots back to within an inch or two of the main stem. New shoots will soon emerge, and the resulting plant will be bushier. To discourage new growth, dip the cut end in paraffin.
If you want to change its shape dramatically, you can cut a whole offshoot flush against the main stalk. A tan scar will result, and new shoots may or may not emerge from the cut. Don't throw the trimmings away, as they can be used to propagate new lucky bamboo plants. If you need to trim the main stalk for some reason, new shoots will emerge from below the cut, and the top portion—assuming it's healthy—can be used to start a new plant.
Common Problems With Lucky Bamboo
■ The most common mistakes related to lucky bamboo are usually connected to the water. Chlorinated water will kill them over time, and water that is dirty or infected with bacteria can be deadly. If a plant develops black roots, these should be cut away. Similarly, dead leaves should never be allowed to rot in the water as they might introduce bacteria. Practice good water hygiene by changing the water every week with distilled or bottled water. If algae are growing in the water, it's usually because the plant is potted in a clear vase, allowing light to penetrate and encouraging algae growth. Just clean it out and start again, switching to an opaque container if algae is a persistent problem.
■ Leaves that are yellow usually indicate too much sun or too much fertilizer. Cut out the fertilizer and move the plant to a shadier location.
■ Brown leaves usually indicate dry air or polluted water. Raise the humidity level by spraying the plant regularly and make sure you're using the appropriate water.
■ If the stalks themselves begin to rot or turn mushy, they are likely beyond saving. Worse yet, decaying stalks threaten any other stalks they are close to. Remove them at once. If you really want to save it, cut away the yellow parts and try to root the trimmed stalk in new water.
taken from https://www.thespruce.com/growing-lucky-bamboo-
till next time, this is Becky Litterer, Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa
Hi! My name is Becky and I am a Master Gardener. I own Becky's Greenhouse in Dougherty, Iowa.