Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Weekend- Orchid Success and Seed Starting, Begonia & Geraniums

I've talked about my trials with orchids and other house plants. Never did I think I'd get an orchid to develop a flower spike but I did. I guess I actually didn't do the work, the orchid did. One day I saw something new growing and thought, oh, a new root. Glanced over this week and to my shock it wasn't a root but a flower spike, success. Watering correctly does all that? It was also repotted a couple of months ago into a larger pot. It's surprising that it's blooming again since it bloomed a couple of months ago. Now I'm really panicked. What if something happens to the spike? The orchid seems to enjoy sitting on the table next to the sofa under the table lamp. During the day it gets filtered sun from the window which it sits in front of. In the evening the lamp is turned on for several hours and sometimes over night. Maybe in the future I can actually order a nicer, fancier one when I've mastered keeping my phalaenopsis orchids alive. They're supposed to be the easiest to grow. For some people I guess. 

It can be challenging to love plants because a lot of plants die for different reasons and it takes time to have success with some. My nemesis, the peace Lily. Touted to be an easy plant with low light requirements. I've killed so many of these. The one I bought this fall is not looking promising. It's lost some leaves. The leaves completely layed down the other day. I thought that was it and I'd over watered it. Actually it wasn't watered enough. I lifted the pot and looked at the soil, dry. I gave it a little water but didn't want to over water in winter and also to keep it on the dry side to avoid fungus gnats. Well it drank, and perked back up. Lets see if I can 
keep it alive till spring. 

When a plant dies I always think of over watering but fail to think of insects and disease. This morning I found some insecticidal soap I bought last fall. I sprayed the soil and leaves. Later in the evening while sitting on the sofa what do I hear? A large bug some where near my ear by the sound of it. I jumped up from the sofa. My daughter thought I was crazy. I know I heard a bug I hate them. If one moves, I hear it. I looked at the curtains near the sofa and there it was. A stink bug. I have over come my fear of them but I definitely didn't want it on me. You'd be proud of me. I took a tissue and gathered him up and flushed him down the toilet. No, I don't squish bugs, unless absolutely necessary. I mentioned this to say, I think the stink bug came from the soil of the peace Lily when I sprayed it this morning. May be the cause of it's poor appearance. I plan to keep spraying it.

Last weekend I went to Primex Garden Center in Glenside. I started the post last week but haven't published it yet. Anyway I bought another maiden hair fern while there. Bad decision. Forgetting to water it can be fatal. So, I forgot to water it and well; maybe it'll grow new fronds, lol. Went to the produce market today for 2 mums to replace the ones in the planter on my steps. Got loose in the plants and fresh flowers. How can you not buy fresh flowers, even though they eventually die? Almost any variety you can imagine for $2.00's a bunch. House plants were $3.50, bought 2. They're on the porch. Have to be sprayed before they come in especially when I'm starting seeds. I would be horrified if they are dead in the morning. Probably not, it's supposed to only go down to the 40's. Last night and this morning were brutal. Cold enough for a winter coat.

My view from the sofa. It's dusty. The leaves need to be wiped.
Been reading about bromeliads. Thought the red leaves were the flowers, wrong. The flowers are at the tip, the small white blooms. I actually have a pup. The babies are called pups. It'll be a while before it can be removed.
Maiden hair fern. Glad I only payed $3.99 for it. Its a miniature.
Dracena plant I think. This was a dish garden. Of course everything died except it. Seems to enjoy the pot and is happily growing. Don't know why I get sucked into dish gardens all look beautiful but plants have different requirements and if you don't separate them into their own container they die.

I picked yellow irises, sunflowers, greens, and not delphiniums but I think larkspur? I've never seen yellow irises until this fall in the catalogue. I ordered some for the yard. I love the ti plant. Would be nice if the ti plant would root.

So, I started dragon wing begonia hybrids; seeds from Burpee. Go go light yellow begonia, illumination peaches n' cream begonia, maverick white geranium and maverick apple blossom geranium, all from Swallowtail Garden Seeds.

Hydro Farm Trays for geraniums.

Last years tray and the type I like because it's large and my begonia did well in this size. I don't like plug sized trays. These allow the begonia to stay for months with fertilizer added before large enough to transplant. I couldn't find these trays again. It was burned with boiling water. I don't use boiling water anymore to wet my pellets just warm. 
You can read the directions this year.
I have 2 types that were from previous years. I hope they germinate well, if not I have time to try again.
Pelleted begonia seeds.
Geranium seeds.
Excuse the unintended foot!
Begonia pelleted seeds sown on top of soil and pressed in. I found they stuck to my finger and this can be a problem with the seed getting lost. I didn't spray the top. Couldn't find my spray bottle but I think they have good contact with the moist soil.
I like coir pellets but you have to really break up the medium because even with water added it may still be hard and clumped and seedlings can't grow that way. The geraniums went in these smaller trays. Packets contained 11 seeds one extra.
The Hydrofarm seed starting trays have 2 vents built in. I thought this was a nice feature that I haven't seen with Burpee or Jiffy trays but the smaller vent in the side has the cover taped to the inside of the top of the tray. The taped piece has to be applied to the side vent and slides open and closed. The piece would not stay inserted to the tray. This needs to be addressed. I taped the vent to make it stay closed. I want to maintain the humidity especially since I just started the seeds humidity is needed to aid germination and keep the medium from drying out. It is nice not to have to lift the lid. If fungus gnats were a problem the malfunctioning side vent would allow gnats to enter and attack young seedling and they would'nt be able to even get a good start.
Heat mat. Start your seeds how ever you wish but I think heat does aid germination. A heat mat is not required though, the top of a refrigerator or any warm surface also serves the same purpose. Don't unroll your mat until it is heated up. This may break or damage the coils inside.
Five trays put on the heat mat. The lights will stay on for 16 hours. I need some new shop lights. I've had a problem with the outlet were the bulb is inserted in 2 of the units. It really helps to have 2 bulbs in each unit.
I've started early enough so that if any seed is not successful, I have time to order and start more. Let the seed starting begin. Have a good season and I'll enjoy following your seed starting.

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