Today in an Ashland Garden

Even though the temperature was below freezing this morning, but these plants are blooming!

Hellebore, Bergenia cordifolia, Daphne, Witch Hazel, Crocuses 190301090957190301091733

 

Photos were taken this morning, March 1, 2019, in AGC member Carlotta Lucas’ garden.

Christmas Cactus

 Scientific Name: Schlumbergera

A Christmas Cactus in full bloom makes an extraordinary gift for gardeners, and non-gardeners, alike.  With proper care a Christmas Cactus is very long lived. The one shown here is over forty years old and still provides an amazing display of flowers every Christmas season.

Christmas Cactus Care:

Light/Temperature:  Prefers a warm location with bright indirect sunlight. Shade it from intense sun and keep the plant away from heater vents, fireplaces and cold drafts.

Soil:  Plant in well draining potting mix made for succulent plants. Its ideal soil is composed of equal parts of garden loam, leaf mold or peat, and clean course sand.

Water:  A Christmas Cactus is a tropical succulent, it is NOT a true cactus, therefore it requires more water than a true cactus. Its watering needs vary with air temperature and humidity, but in general keep the soil just barely moist throughout the year. But, do not over water or the stems will get flabby and droop,  and don’t under water either or the stems will be shriveled and limp. Note: if your plant tends to dry out and/or wilt frequently, then it’s time to re-pot it into a slightly larger container.

Fertilizing: Supply plant with a weak solution of houseplant fertilizer every two weeks.

Flowering:  The secret to good bud production is cool temperatures and extended darkness.

Cool temps: The best temperature for bud development is 55F-61F degrees for a period of 6 weeks.  Start providing cool temps in November for Christmas blooming.

Extended Darkness: The plant also needs 12 hours of darkness every night for 6 weeks.  You can accomplish darkness by covering the plant with a cloth each night or move it into a dark area overnight.  For cactus to bloom at Christmas time, darkness treatment should start in early October. Then, when buds start to appear increase its light exposure.  Do not move the plant when it starts blooming, because it is sensitive to location during this time.

Color:  Flower colors ranges from pink, white, yellow, salmon, fuchsia, red and any combination of these.

Rest time:  In February, after it has bloomed, the plant should have a rest period, so during this month water it sparingly and stop fertilizing.

Re-potting:  A Christmas Cactus blooms better if slightly pot-bound, so re-pot only when needed every 3-4 years.  Re-pot the plant into a slightly bigger pot in the spring when it is not in bloom.

Propagation:  Propagating Christmas cactus is easy. Cut a y-shaped segment off the tip of the plant, this cutting should have 2-3 joined segments.  Allow the cutting to dry for a few hours and then plant it in moist peat & sand soil mix, insert about a quarter of its length below the soil surface. Place it in a well-lit area, avoid direct sunlight and water it sparingly to prevent rotting.  In two or three weeks the cutting should show signs of growth at the tips of its leaves, these are usually reddish in color. Once it has rooted transplant it into a pot.

submitted by Carlotta Lucas

 

Winter Magic!

Are you longing for flowers during winter’s dark days? Try forcing flowering tree branches to bloom Forsythiaindoors.

Cut branches from spring-flowering trees such as forsythia, dogwood, and crabapple and place them in container of warm water for an hour to bring them out of dormancy.  Then re-cut their stems to enhance their water absorption and arrange them in a vase which has warm water in it with a drop of bleach added.  Set the vase in a sunny window and before you know it,  Alakazam, flowers appear!

 

Horticulture Report: Winter Flowers

Mid-Winter MadnessErica carnea…..Winter Heath

A dwarf evergreen shrub native to the European Alps which persist even under the snow. It often blooms at Christmas (“Winter Beauty”). Flowers are borne individually on the stem in masses of bell-shaped blossoms. Colors range from creamy white, rich pink, to deep ruby red (“ Ruby Glow”). Plant in well drained humus-rich soil. It needs partial shade in hotter areas. Prune yearly to prevent “legginess”.
Height 12-18”, spreading to 3 feet, so give it room.  USDA Hardiness Zone: 2 to 10

“They are adorable, these clumps of winter heather. Actually they seem to welcome the snow, for it enhances their sweet complexions.” Beverley Nichols, Down the Garden Path