When I was young, we lived in Thailand and my mother (who grew up in Milwaukee) would buy plants and orchids from the market. I remember one houseplant in particular. The beautiful flowers were so waxy they looked like they had been polished with furniture polish. The red flowers would last for months. My mother of course did not speak Thai so we did not know the names of the plants but we enjoyed their exotic beauty. Now that I am older, I know the waxy plants are called anthuriums. Although I associate them with tropical Asian countries, they really hail from South America tropical environments.
Anthuriums are members of the Araceae or arum family. The “flower,” the red, heart-shaped part, is a modified leaf called a spathe. The actual flowers are tiny and appear in the center vertical structure called the spadix. The “flower” lasts a long time, making them ideal for cut flower arrangements.
As a houseplant, anthuriums can grow in low light conditions. However, the more light you can provide the more likely it will bloom throughout the year. It definitely does not like moist soil. Water when the soil is dry to the touch. Anthuriums are easy, low maintenance plants, perfect for the home and office.
Usually one sees red-flowering plants at the hardware store or nursery but pink, green and white, and purple colored cultivars are available. There is even a black flower cultivar called ‘Black Love‘. My plant was less than ten dollars at the local hardware store but it was very root bound in a 4-inch pot so check your plant’s roots after you purchase it.
Anthuriums as the perfect winter houseplant: the flowers last a long time and the plant has an exotic, year round appeal. Try growing this easy houseplant or purchase one as a hostess gift when you visit family and friends this year.
One of my favorite winter bloomers is witch hazel, a small shrub-like tree. The flowers themselves are only a few inches, but their unique shape and ability to cover dark, bare stems with flashes of color add excitement in winter gardens. The flowers are really clusters of four petals shaped like thin ribbons emanating from a dark, leathery base called a calyx. Depending on the cultivar, these one-inch to two-inch long ribbons are translucent yellow or mustard yellow, red/orange or brown/orange, or scarlet red or rust red. On warm winter days, the ribbons unfurl. As temperatures drop, the ribbons curl back as a protective mechanism against the cold. Continue reading
This 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
Recently I was given a mandevilla plant, which is a popular summer bloomer in the DC metro area. I have always admired these vigorous climbers with bright, large, trumpet-shaped flowers. Usually, I see pink, red, or white blossoms, but there are other colors on the market. Continue reading
A familiar fall bloomer in this area is obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana). These remind me of early American gardens: Thomas Jefferson grew these Native American perennials at Monticello, and George Washington had plantings at Mt. Vernon. Philadelphia plantsman John Bartram also grew them and sold them in his catalog. They are passalong plants, easily divided and shared. My plants came from a friend who pulled a clump from her garden several years ago. My original plant has thrived and spread via rhizomes (underground stems) but only a few feet in the same garden bed. Not too much but just enough to provide extra plants to share and abundant flowers to cut for an arrangement. Continue reading
Now is the time to start thinking about purchasing spring-blooming bulbs in the Washington DC metro area. There is a wide variety of choices but if you have a severe deer problem, you may want to plant deer-proof bulbs. I know, you say, there is no such thing as “deer-proof.” However, with bulbs there are a few that are actually poisonous. The amaryllis family offers three popular critter-proof bulbs that contain lycorine, a poisonous crystalline alkaloid. Somehow, animals know about lycorine and stay away from these bulbs plus the bulbs perform well in this area and last for many years in the garden. Continue reading
Posted in bulbs, flowers
Tagged amaryllis, bulbs, daffodils, deer proof, deer resistant, galanthus, Leucojum, narcissus, snowdrops, snowflakes, spring blooming bulbs
This spring I had an opportunity to create a wildflower meadow on my property. It is rare to have a blank slate to be able to start a wildflower meadow: an area with good soil and no plants, including no weeds. I was inspired by Mike Lizotte who showed photos and gave step by step instructions on Instagram. Owner of American Meadows, an online seed company, Mike wrote a book called Mini Meadows: Grow a Little Patch of Colorful Flowers Anywhere Around Your Yard. He shows how easy it is to sow wildflower seeds and grow a patch of beautiful flowers for the summer. Continue reading
silver dollar flowers
Some plants provide beauty in the spring and then step off stage, only to be forgotten until next spring. Others provide beauty in the spring, come back with an encore in the fall, and stay with us all winter long. The silver dollar plant (Lunaria annua) is the latter, a plant that keeps coming back to center stage. These are blooming now in April in the Washington DC area.
A few years ago, a friend offered to give me the root of her bleeding heart plant she called Fred. This was in the fall but unfortunately it was some time before I could drive to her home. By the time I picked up Fred, the root was dry and hard. Continue reading