Tropical Plant ‘Bonsai’ And Other January Adventures

January 23, 2015 expressive 011

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It is too wet and cold to putter about outside, but I’m still cruising the garden department at our local ‘big box’ stores.   My shopping list was a short one this week.  I hoped to find some little 2″ potted Rex Begonias or ferns for terrarium building, and held out hope to also find an early shipment of potted Hellebores for some pots outside.

Disappointment on all counts.

But, instead I found the first of the summer bulbs and tubers at our local Lowes.  I picked up several bags of interesting things, including some Cannas with dark burgundy leaves.

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Our native maidenhair fern has a spot in the 'kitchen garden' for the next few months.  This is a hardy fern, and will spread to a 2' clump after several seasons.

Our native maidenhair fern has a spot in the ‘kitchen garden’ for the next few months. This is a hardy fern, and will spread to a 2′ clump after several seasons.  A rooted Begonia cutting now shares its newpot.

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There was also a single pot of our native Maidenhair fern, Adiantum pedatum, for only $2.98 at Lowes.  Considering my favorite plant catalog offers the same fern in the same sized pot for $15.00 plus postage, that one purchase made the trip worthwhile.

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Arrowhead vine, Syngonium podophyllum, can eventually grow to about 6'.  Commonly kept as a houseplant, it is native to Mexico and Central America.

Arrowhead vine, Syngonium podophyllum, can eventually grow to about 6′.   Roots can form at each joint in the stem.  Once established, it is a prolific grower.

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And finally, when Home Depot offered nothing but an assortment of tropical houseplants, this little arrowhead vine called out to me.  This lovely little tropical vine, hardy only in Zone 10 to 12, is native to Mexico and Central America.  Poisonous, Syngonium podophyllum, is a useful, if invasive, garden plant in Florida.  But we generally grow it in a hanging basket here in Virginia.  You may have grown a green or green and white version of this common houseplant.

I have a weakness for the pink leaved variety, and adopted this one on the spot. It will join our indoor garden for the next four months, but will move into a basket on the deck this summer.

I re-purposed a pot of dormant Oxalis tubers from the garage by digging out enough of the tubers to make room for the Adiantum’s roots.  Oxalis leaves may pop through the moss in a few weeks, and that is fine.  The more the merrier!

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January 23, 2015 expressive 012~

Then for the finishing touch, I laid a green coat of moss over all to cover the soil and add a little interest.  A few pebbles and a quartz crystal dress up this little pot for display in the living room.  It looks a little like a bonsai planting even if it’s not an expensive little tree.

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This Selaginella kraussiana variegatus came from Trader Joes in December.  Known as 'frosty fern,' it is a tender spike moss and must winter indoors here.

This Selaginella kraussiana variegatus came from Trader Joes in December. Sold as ‘frosty fern,’ it is a tender spike moss and must winter indoors here.

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Are you itching to get back out into the garden?  Do you simply need to get your hands in the dirt for a while to shake off the winter blahs?

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January 24, 2015 ferns 001~

Let me whisper a word in your ear to recommend the garden department at your local Walmart or Lowes.

After much searching, a single Rex Begonia, barely clinging to life in its dried out little pot, was waiting for me at our local Walmart.  The guys were moving a shipment of lawn furniture into place when I found it.  A quick inquiry brought the biggest one over to mark down the pot by half, and I went home with a new B. Rex to add to my collection.

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Begonia Rex from Walmart was dry and had many damaged leaves when I found it.  I've cut out most of the spoiled foliage, gave it warm water and a light feeding, and am now watching new leaves emerge.

Begonia Rex from Walmart was dry and had many damaged leaves when I found it. I’ve cut out most of the spoiled foliage, given it warm water and a light feeding, and am now watching new leaves emerge.  Aren’t the leaves lovely?

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The Begonia is already offering up tiny shiny new leaves.  After another few days of recovery, I’ll pot it up into something more interesting than its nursery pot.

Your local garden centers are probably as empty and deserted as are ours.  It is still January, after all.  Who in their right mind is out shopping for plants in January?

I am, of course.

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The 'mother' strawberry begonias who have provided tiny baby plants for my terrarium projects.

The ‘mother’ strawberry begonias who have provided tiny baby plants for my terrarium projects.

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Until the specialty places restock and open for spring, I’ll keep cruising the local Lowes, Home Depot, and Walmart for “tropical” treasures.  And I’ll putter around with these little guys in the warmth indoors until the weather settles, and we can all go back outside.

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January 23, 2015 expressive 008

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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A bit of the kitchen garden.  Cyclamen love this cool and bright window, the Begonias tolerate it, and the new maidenhair fern will just have to enjoy the attention here.

A bit of the kitchen garden…   Cyclamen love this cool and bright window, orchids will re-bloom here,  the Begonias tolerate it, and the new maidenhair fern will just have to learn to enjoy all of the attention.

 

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About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

9 responses to “Tropical Plant ‘Bonsai’ And Other January Adventures

  1. Beautiful plants, WG! I especially love that fern! Those are great finds and I’m sure they will bring you much enjoyment. We haven’t had much in the way of plants, but I’m enjoying the early spring issues of gardening magazines. Best wishes, Sarah

    • Thank you, Sarah. Did you find the issue featuring pussy willow plants? I’m enjoying the early spring issues, too. I’m looking forward to that fern settling in and sending up some new leaves 😉 best wishes, WG

  2. You’re a plant rescuer – my kind of hero! Lucky little guys will show their appreciation very soon, I’m sure. 🙂

    • I hope they will 😉 We’ve been watching TWC all day- looks like you have several inches of fresh snow. You all OK?

      • Oh, thanks, we are just fine. I realized that anything less than 4″ is no big deal in my book. 6″ or more I take a lot more seriously. My spouse tells me we are headed towards a bigger one early week. I hope it is fluffy and dry. It’s the heavy & wet that I loathe.

        • Yes, the week ahead is looking interesting. We heard a foot or more for the coast from NY north… I hope it is dry, too, and maybe not as much as predicted. No one agrees on our forecast- but I believe we’ll at least see a dusting by Wednesday. Good soup weather…

          • Good soup weather it is! We’ve been eating lots of it and hot tea, too.
            Well, this coming storm has my attention – latest prediction is we’ll be in the ‘eye’ with 24-36″ of snow. WAH! 😦 I wish I was in the Caribbean somewhere!

            • We hope it will shift again, Eliza, so you get only half of that! But I know you prepare for these things and are as tough as they come 😉 We watched “Sons of Liberty” on History channel last night, and enjoyed the dramatic window into Boston’s history. I taught American history once upon a time, and know the story well. And yet- I learned quite a bit, if they are being historically accurate, about the back story that I didn’t know. Lots of dramatic license! Sadly, Sam is made to look like something of a “thug” starting out; and no mention of the deep Masonic connections between and among all of the leadership. An important omission that changes the whole flavor of the story. Part 2 is tonight…. Since we just learned that Jim Cantore is in Boston (The Weather Channel) we will be especially watching out for you. It is never good when Cantore shows up in your town…. Warm hugs, WG

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