Taking Care of Your Holiday Cactus

holiday cactus

Thanksgiving cactus with yellow anthers and sharp leaf edges

A popular blooming holiday plant is the “Holiday Cactus” which is an umbrella term to include the Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii) and the Thanksgiving cactus (S. truncata). These are not cacti at all but epiphytes from the Brazilian rainforest. In their native environment, they grow among tree branches, in the humid, shady jungles. Continue reading

How to Prevent Flopping with Paperwhite Bulbs

The first time I forced bulbs to bloom indoors was when I attended a horticulture class at Northern Virginia Community College in the 1970s. We were given paperwhite bulbs (Narcissus tazetta) that we placed in a shallow dish of water and pebbles. Continue reading

Wanted Dead or Alive: Spotted Lanternfly

Recently an article appeared in FFXNow.com (Fairfax County local news) with the headline “One of the world’s most wanted insects has landed in Fairfax County.” I immediately contacted Adria Bordas, Fairfax County’s Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) agent for horticulture. Spotted lanternfly is one insect I do not want in my garden. If you think a downpour of 17-year cicadas is gross, try looking at a tree dripping with spotted lanternfly. Continue reading

Amaryllis: Easy, Holiday Cheer


Red Pearl amaryllis, photo courtesy of Longfield Gardens.

Growing an amaryllis is easy, just plant and water. Unlike the spring blooming bulbs, an amaryllis bulb does not need a chilling period. It is a tropical plant, hardy to Zones 9-12. Once planted, these large bulbs can bloom in time for the holidays, depending on the bulb. They are pricey, but you can coax the bulb to rebloom the following year.

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Subscribe to Pegplant’s Post Gardening Newsletter

tomatoPegplant’s Post gardening newsletter is a free, local monthly newsletter. Each edition lists between 50 – 100 local gardening events, recently published gardening books, articles, and tips specific to the DC metro area. Enter your e-mail here to subscribe. Pegplant’s Post always has a giveaway, an opportunity to win a free plant or gardening-related product. For the upcoming November 2021 issue, the giveaway is two Kitchen Minis™, one compact tomato and one compact pepper plant to be grown indoors.

The Kitchen Minis™ is a line of tabletop vegetables produced by PanAmerican Seed, a division of Ball Horticultural Company. These are ready-grown, potted vegetables that will provide a harvest for several weeks. They are small enough to put on your kitchen counter. All they need is water and light. They can remain in the container provided or repotted into a decorative container to match your kitchen décor.  Kitchen Minis™ feature a variety of tomatoes, sweet peppers, and hot peppers. The winner will receive one pepper and one tomato plant. Now that winter is coming these are the perfect way to bring gardening indoors as well as to add fresh veggies to your meals.

Camassia Bulbs Offer Spring Beauty with American Heritage

This fall I planted camassia bulbs in honor of the Meriwether Lewis and William Clark historic expedition that started in 1804. I always think of them when I see a field of the blue flowers so I thought I would try growing them this year. Mine is a cultivar called ‘Blue Melody’ but of course they were dealing with the wild species Camassia quamash. Continue reading

Growing Microgreens for Flavor and Nutrition

mustard microgreens

Now that winter is coming, you can still grow your greens, just indoors. Growing microgreens is a fun, cheap way to grow nutritious vegetable seedlings for sandwiches, wraps, soup, and salads. Microgreens are the shoots of edible plants, requiring very little space and minimal cost. Microgreens differ from sprouts. Microgreen seeds germinate in a growing medium and after one or two weeks, the “micro” stems and leaves are cut to the soil level and eaten. Sprouts are seeds grown in a moist container—no soil. After a few days, the root and seed are harvested and eaten. Continue reading

Roselle: A Tropical Herb to Try in the DC Metro Area

flowerThe first time I grew roselle in my Virginia garden, I was full of angst as the summer ended with no flowers in sight. Although I know roselle is a tropical plant, I did not know it is photoperiodic. In other words, roselle is a short-day plant which means that fall’s short days and long nights encourage the flowers to form. However, here in the DC metro area, the October frosts will truncate this tropical plant’s life. That year I only had a few flowers in September and the plant died in October before I could get a good harvest. I have since learned that it is best to grow an early maturing strain in order to get a good harvest. Continue reading

Growing Mexican Sunflowers for Orange in the Fall

Mexican sunflowerThis year I grew Mexican sunflowers (Tithonia rotundifolia) for the first time, and I must say, I highly recommend this annual. Although I should also say, I did not grow this plant intentionally. In fact, I have never been interested in growing Mexican sunflowers before because of their signature orange flowers. I don’t mind a strip of orange here and there in marigolds or zinnias but broad strokes of bright orange seemed too garish. Continue reading

Fall Is the Time to Plant Garlic

garlic in bowl

Chesknok Red, a purple-striped hardneck garlic

As fall approaches, thoughts turn to garlic. Growing your own garlic is easy and the cloves are tastier than what you purchase in a grocery store. Typically, garlic is planted in October in the Washington DC metro area but I have planted as late as Thanksgiving Day.  You may find “seed” stock (the garlic you buy to plant, not the garlic you buy in a grocery store to eat) at independent garden centers, farmers markets, online seed companies or specialty garlic companies. If garlic at your favorite seed company is sold out, try a company that specializes in garlic because they have more inventory. Continue reading