Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bamboo in the Snow

We have bamboo growing in our backyard. It's not the invasive, spreading kind, but the clumping kind. Every once in a while, I get a new shoot somewhere it shouldn't be, but for the most part, it stays contained. I love the screen it provides all year. I love how it moves with the breeze, like it's doing a slow, swaying dance. I love how the snow clings to it in the winter and how the stalks gently bend over in the rain or under the weight of the snow.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

More snow today on Long Island! It's so light at fluffy, it almost looks like cotton on the plants.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Real Houseplants of New York

Winter is a time for resting indoors, but also, for me to truly enjoy my houseplants. Sure, I appreciate them all year round but it's during the cold gray days of winter, that I am so thankful to have them brightening my days. Here are a few that share my house with me. Thankfully they all get along!

I got this Cyclamen just after Christmas and it's still looking good. I love the heart shaped leaves and the way the flower petals shoot upwards. In nature, Cyclamen go dormant during the warmer months and comes into growth during the cooler, winter months. Another great reason to have one of these in the house - flowers in the winter!

I'm actually taking care of this basket of plants for relatives while they are away and am enjoying having it on my bookcase. I love the mixture of textures and even though each plant has seemed to grow beyond the size of the basket, it still looks appealing. The basket is fillled with a Palm, Syngonium and Schefflera.

Behind the basket on the right are three bamboo shoots. I got these years ago and placed them in a vase filled with marbles and water. They seem to be doing really well. I had to prune one of them because it got too leggy, but the new growth is coming in nicely. Apparently three stalks of lucky bamboo brings the three ingredients for a happy life: happiness, wealth and longevity. Bring it on!

This is a Wandering Jew (Tradescantia zebrina). It started as a simple cutting, which I placed in water until the roots began to grow. Then I potted it up and watched it take off. It's got some new growth on it now, so I think it likes the amount of sun it's getting from this southern window this time of year.

This Philodendron (I think it's a Fiddle Leaf?) has an interesting story. I bought this plant for my husband (then boyfriend) about 12 years ago as a housewarming gift for his new apartment. It was much smaller and more upright then. Despite some neglect and under watering at times while living in his apartment, it continued to survive and grow. Then, six years ago, it came back to me and my care. I decided to split the plant into two separate plants. The other one, not seen here, is of the same size and both continue to look great. This plant never ceases to amaze me. It's one of the easiest plants to care for.  Recently they have begun to grow aerial roots, which are spilling out over the side of the pot. Does anyone have experience with these and/or suggestions on what to do about them? For now, I'm just leaving them alone.

This Areca palm (Butterfly Palm) was once part of a basket of plants that was given to me as a gift. As soon as it outgrew the basket, I placed it in it's own pot and let it enjoy some space. Every now and then one of the fronds dries out, but I just prune it off and the rest continues to grow and sprout new leaves. I love the wispy nature of this plant.

This Codiaeum variegatum (Croton) also started off as a small plant years ago. I liked it's striking mix of colors. In the summer, I put it outside since it really enjoys heat and humidity. Only one year did I have a problem with spider mites, but thankfully it survived and has been pest free since. It's grown rather large and the stems have become big and woody. I'm always fascinated when I go to Florida or another tropical location and see this plant growing in the landscape!

For the first time, I decided to try to over-winter my Geraniums this year. I loved the hot pink color of the flowers and hated to see them die off from the cold. I have to admit, I am pleasantly surprised the plants are doing so well! But I have to be careful with the watering. Too much water or too little water is not appreciated by this plant. But right now, the leaves are nice and green and even sprouting some new growth!

This is another plant that was taken from that same basket of plants I received as a gift. This is actually one of two Syngonium podophyllum (Arrowhead Plant) I have - both from the same plant basket. They just keep growing and growing and need little attention. Occasionally I will prune off some leaves/stems if it's getting out of control or needs to be reshaped. I recently made new plants from these stem cuttings:

This cutting was taken from one of the two Arrowhead Plants (Syngonium podophyllum) I have in my house. I did this cutting just after Christmas 2010, and it's just now starting to sprout new growth and leaves. I love watching the leaves unfold and open. 

These three plants are Chlorophytum comosum 'Variegatum' (Spider Plant with green leaves edged in white), Codiaeum pictum (Croton), and Chlorophytum comosum 'Vittatum' (Spider Plant with white leaves edged in green). The two Spider Plants are the "pups" taken from their mother plants. The Croton was part of a craft my son did for Thanksgiving (it was the turkey's feathers). They are doing ok, but dry out quickly in the clay pots. I need to keep a careful eye on them.

The purple Oxalis on the top is one of my favorites. I love the color, but I especially love how it closes its leaves at night and "goes to sleep" only to open them up again during the daylight hours. Every spring and summer, it bursts with new leaves and lovely purple flowers. But then every winter, when it goes semi-dormant, I am convinced it is going to die on me. It doesn't and after these years, it's still going strong!

The second plant, off to the right, is Asparagus densiflorus 'Sprengeri' or Emerald Fern. This plant also came from a stem cutting and has flourished nicely.  I love the texture of the plant, with it's trailing stems and bright green leaves. My only complaint is that it drops tiny, yellow leaves from time to time. A way of shedding I suppose? Looks like mine is due for a haircut soon anyway.

The third plant is another experiment for me. Like the Geraniums mentioned above, I had this Impatiens outside on my patio all summer. This plant has pale pink, double flowers and was so pretty, I didn't want to lose it. So I wondered if it would be ok as a houseplant during the winter. And far, it seems to be thriving. A few new shoots of growth are making me think it's fairly happy. I guess we'll see this summer if it was worth it!

And there you go! A small tour of the plants in my house.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Poinsettias and Han Solo

The small, white poinsettia I got in December, is still holding on quite nicely in my kitchen. As I was eating my breakfast this morning, I was amused at the juxtaposition of the plant and a Han Solo figurine from Star Wars.

My son had asked me to glue his head back on last night, and after doing so, I placed him upright to dry overnight... next to the poinsettia. Now, it looks like he's protecting the plant! Bring in Chewy and the Millennium Falcon!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Rhododendrons in Winter

It was cold and windy today. I found myself walking quickly down the street, with my head down and hands tucked deep into the pockets of my coat trying to keep as little of my skin exposed as possible. It made me think of the Rhododendron. In the winter, it's large leaves droop down and curl backward so the soft permeable underside is protected, while the outer, waxy side is exposed to the elements.

What they are doing is called thermotropism. Thermotropic movement is the movement of a plant or plant part in response to changes in temperature. The dry winter air and winds can cause moisture loss from the stomata on the underside of the leaf, so the leaf curls to protect itself. Once you see the Rhododendrons looking like this, you know it's cold!

I look forward to the day when these leaves uncurl because it means warmer weather is here to stay!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New York Botanical Garden Conservatory

The Conservatory at New York Botanical Garden located just north of New York City in Bronx, NY is the Garden's crown jewel. It's a Victorian-style glasshouse that holds permanent plant exhibits as well as special and seasonal exhibits (like the Holiday Train Show and Orchid Show).

The permanent exhibition is called "A World of Plants" and it showcases tropical rain forests, deserts, aquatic and carnivorous plants. The day I visited, it was so cold outside and as soon as I entered the rain forest area inside the Conservatory, my camera lens completely fogged up!

The lowland rain forest showcases many beautiful tropical plants, epiphytes, trees that provide rain forest canopies and the plants that enjoy life below them.  

The upland rain forest showcases ferns, coffee trees, orchids, mosses and others.

In the desert section, plants from the Americas and Africa are on display. I had never seen Agave attenuata in bloom before and wow, it was stunning!

I wandered around the grounds for a bit after spending such a fantastic and exhilarating time inside the Conservatory. I was so happy to run into these lovely pine cone creatures!

It's such a great place any time of year. I can't wait to go back when spring begins to make an appearance and the garden comes alive.

Be sure to head over to Our Little Acre where Kylee is hosting the Conservatory World Tour, and take a virtual tour of some other fantastic conservatories around the country.