This time of year, there are two types of gardening going on in Nova Scotia (and most of eastern North America): the planning of next spring's garden's, and gardening with houseplants.
When I was a student at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, my residence room was always chockful of plants, ranging in size from tiny succulents like lithops (living stones) to large hanging plants and tough tropicals like rubber and fig trees. (No, there were no illegal plants in my room, thanks for asking). There were a few flowering plants like African violets, but nothing like the choice for flowering options we have these days.
Winter is not my strong suit, but some years ago I began an earnest attempt to get through it in an easier manner than I formerly did. I tend to purchase fresh flowers every couple of weeks, and have those around the house, but I also focus on plenty of flowering plants. Some of my favourites are included in this post.
These are some of what we call the 'grocery store primulas': little pots of colourful hybrids that appear like clockwork in winter in grocery and department stores. These are hybrids that tend to be quite quick to grow from seed (as little as four months from seed to flower) and often they succumb to the rather inhospitable growing conditions of most houses. They don't like hot, dry conditions, or little light.
You have a couple of options where these plants are concerned: enjoy them until they start to falter, treat them like bouquets and compost them when they are spent...or you can nurture them onwards through the winter. When spring comes, if they have survived, plant them outside--depending on their background species, they may well settle in and bloom for many years to come.
Seaboost (liquid seaweed fertilizer). I also use 1/4 to 1/2 strength Seaboost in my misting bottle, so the plants get a gentle foliar feed as well as through the roots.
With a little luck and care, you should be able to nurture your primulas through the winter, and then can plant them outdoors come spring.
I have a growing interest in primulas, which was furthered by meeting Pam Eveleigh of Primula World when she was here in Nova Scotia last autumn. I've written an article on primulas for indoors and out in the newest issue of Saltscapes magazine, too.
I've written about moth orchids before, and my infatuation with them continues. Breeders are doing some fascinating things with colours and patterns, and because of tissue culturing, the prices have come way, way down on these plants. I've added several to my collection recently, while others are pushing new flower stems and buds so I can look forward to a very long show of colour.
Phalaenopsis don't need it as hot, humid, and bright as many other types of orchids; they will tolerate cool home temperatures, north or east light (and too MUCH light is actually not great for these plants), and just need to be watered once a week or so. You will need to repot them with fresh bark every year or so, but the plants are really easy and so very rewarding to grow. I put the non-flowering orchids outdoors for the summer, in a lightly shaded spot, so they get a nice dose of warm air and natural light without getting any direct sunlight. Those are the plants that are now pushing new flowering stems...something to look forward to in the coming weeks.
That's enough for this time! What are your favourite flowering plants for enjoying through the winter?