Thursday, December 10, 2009

December: Coldest day since February

The greyhound puts on a lot of miles just looking for her morning pee-spot

Today we had a high temp of something like 5 degrees.  I peeked out the window at the snow and remembered that I never did bring the hose in.  I should do that one of these days.

Houseplant season is in full swing and I love it!  Unfortunately I'm contending with more problems than ever before, possibly because I have more plants than ever before, and from more sources.  The Stromanthe has mealybugs, which I've been attacking with a flashlight and alcohol with good results so far.

The Alocasia has spider mites and is also losing its older leaves just for fun.  And the Clerodendrum x speciosum appears to have thrips, of all crazy things.  What a great word, "thrips."  One thrips, two thrips, a hundred thrips!  The Clerodendrum is doing terribly and I should just pitch it but it's not a plant I see for sale often so I don't want to give up.  And yet just as I typed that sentence I realized I'm being silly and it's getting tossed tomorrow.  Goodbye, Mr. Thrips!  (ugh...I swear I didn't plan that)

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My Saintpaulia collection has recently grown from one to five plants.  One thing I've learned from my fellow bloggers:  if you're good at a certain plant, might as well own a lot of them.

The other major problem is fungus gnats.  I've done everything I was supposed to and yet there are gnats flying up our noses, landing in our water glasses, and generally making nuisances of themselves.  It's hard to believe they're coming from the plants since I don't see them on the soil when I water, and yet where else could they be breeding?!  I finally sucked it up and bought a bag of Bt from Gardens Alive.  First of three weekly treatments was Monday.  I have my fingers crossed because the next step is a bug bomb and nobody wants that.

Tradescantia zebrina 'Red Hill' cuttings.  The root hairs are so beautiful I want to pet them.

Senecio rowleyanus.  I killed one of these earlier in the year but am vowing to ignore this one for its own good.


Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

This definitely isn't Greyhound weather, and I'm more Greyhound than Borzoi. Your solution to fungus gnats sounds much safer than my attempt to get rid of them, which resulted in flames and a stinky house. I'm sorry about your Clerodendrum, they are beautiful, but pitching it is the right thing to do. I should follow your advice and stick with what I'm good at, but a house full of cacti does nothing for me.

mr_subjunctive said...

The important thing is not to get too enthusiastic about a newish plant before you determine whether you can grow it or not. The eighteen African violets I've thrown away in the last six or seven months would say as much, were they able to talk.

And not, you know, dead.

garden girl said...

I had a lot of fungus gnats the first year I decided to overwinter outdoor plants. Last year, and so far this year I've been much more sparing with the watering, letting the soil dry out in the top couple of inches (where fungus gnats mostly breed.) That's helped alot. I have yellow sticky traps hanging over the basement 'greenhouse' - so far, so good - no gnats!

For any of the plants that are subject to spider mites, I put them in the utility sink every week or two and give them a good blast with a hose I hook up to the faucet, especially on the undersides of the leaves and on the stems. That does a good job keeping the buggers at bay.

Keep warm!

MrBrownThumb said...

The trick I found with Senecio rowleyanus is to buy them when they're little. I'm talking 2-3 inch pots, that way you can transplant them and grow them in soil that they will actually survive in a home environment.

Rose said...

I love all those dog tracks in the snow:) Somehow the snow has missed us so far, so I've yet to find out how Sophie, our Golden, will react to her first experience with it.

This is why I don't have many houseplants! I brought in a few things that I overwintered, but neglected to give them a good cleaning first. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and watching them carefully for any signs of nasty infestations.

Thanks for visiting me and leaving the suggestion for the botany book. It's been awhile since I've been here, and I'll definitely look for that book! I've signed up for the Master Gardeners' class this spring, so in a few months I hope to be much more knowledgeable about everything garden-related:)

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

I wish we got as much snow as you did! I also admit to not being much of a houseplants type of person... though I do set the few I have outside in the summer. Haven't (knock wood) had any probs with gnats yet.

Roses and Lilacs said...

I only have a very few plants inside. Lucky for me, no bugs came in with the plants and soil. I do have my windows at work full of amaryllis.