Late winter

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Late winter      

Begonia petals are peeking
out from their buds.

Rhizomatous begonias are sending up flower spikes, a late winter phenomenon that always is welcome. These are plants that have stems on the ground or just beneath the mulch that produce leaves and flowers on top and roots beneath. There are many fine cultivars on the market suitable for landscape use, and their care is fairly easy. They like bright shade, even some early morning sun, moist soil and controlled-release fertilizer. As Tim Anderson of Palm Hammock Orchid Estate used to tell me, begonias like a lot of water a little at a time.

And while the winter has been warm, it’s best to refrain from

New fern fronds are

fertilizing until mid or late February. I know, new leaves are appearing amid the cold damage. But there’s another dip in temperatures forecast for next week.  Cold damage was slow to appear in my yard this year, but cold did more harm that I initially believed.  Lots of aroids have brown edges, but they are remaining upright, so I have left them to provide photosynthesis for the new leaves.

My amaryllis have been flowering for a couple of weeks, the dendrobiums have buds and the bat plant has two seedpods,


no doubt from self-pollination. Mangos are just beginning to push out flower spikes.

Over the weekend, I noticed that some staghorn ferns in our trees had begun to wilt from the lack of rain. Platycerium bifurcatum, the staghorn most often seen here, is usually pretty tough, but the lack of rain has been tougher.

Fairchild’s conservatory has been overhauled, and looks perfectly stunning these days. Should you stroll through and wonder where the Cyrtostachys renda or sealing wax palm has gone, look up. It’s still in its place on the south side of the pond, just a lot taller.