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Winter gardening

January 19, 2018
By H.I. JEAN SHIELDS - Garden Club of Cape Coral (news@breezenewspapers.com) , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Winter in Florida is NOW. Our intermittent blasts of frosty air is a blessing when you consider days and weeks of frigid air in the northern states these past weeks.

Yes newcomers, Florida does have a wintery season. We will not be completely safe from winter here until mid-February or even a couple weeks later.

A one-night stand of low 40s will not destroy a lot of horticulture, however lower than that is iffy and three or four nights are just not good.

A still, dry night is the worst problem. The fruit groves spray water for their special need of keeping frost away. The home garden does not need that.

Potted plants can be put into the garage - still cold but not as bad as out in the elements. Some plants grouped together with a sheet or light towels tucked around them will help but the covers must be removed first thing in the morning. The plants need to breath and catch a few rays of sun.

Herbs do pretty well with the cold; some of the flowering plants will be OK, may look a bit wilted. You need a little experience, so if you do really lose something, research that plant or ask someone who knows. Attend some of the gardening programs at Rotary Park, and other places when you see them advertised. A cup of coffee, a light snack and a smile will get you some information, even before the program starts.

I do not worry about orchids unless the temperature will be 45 or less. When I first arrived here and acquired a couple orchards, I was very worried about temperatures of 50 degrees. I put them inside the lanai hurricane shutters and left the outside light on.

Plants moving in and out of hot houses will not do well. Keep cool.

I joined the Garden Club and attended some orchid programs and now I am down to a 45-degree temperature safety zone.They all come inside in the house with lower temperatures for more than one night. I have a light cover over them if necessary. You just have to learn what to do with what you have. Losing a plant off and on is reality.

You do need to remember to not be doing a lot of pruning too soon after a cold spell. A black tip is keeping a nice new green tip covered until winter is over.

You can enjoy some beautiful color indoors right now if you decide to grow an amaryllis plant indoors for the next few weeks. This plant comes in many colors and after you pot the large bulb, it will grow almost 3 feet tall with one or two green stems each topped with a beautiful flower. They may be put outside when it is warm.

You can buy them already planted but they are costly and it is more rewarding to buy one in a box and inside that box will be a bulb, a pot and a flat soil medium. The instructions are good, except you will need to poke the bottom hole open so the plant will drain well. You then must remember to set the pot in something to keep it from dripping while you moisten the disk of medium to plant the bulb in.

Set potted plant on a saucer and wait for the magic to start.

I am going to try something new with one of mine this year. I read that if I cut the stem, I can fill it with water and put a ball of cotton in the bottom and set it in a container and it will last longer than usual. I do hate to cut a stem off but do one every year, so far without the cotton part.

Grocery stores are good sources for these plants.

Stay warm and happy gardening till we meet again

H.I. Jean Shields is Past President of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.

 
 
 

 

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