Cooler Weather Approaches

Hello folks! Cooler weather is upon us and I am at a loss for words. I started this post a couple of days ago, but a couple of the photos were taken on the 8th. Cooler temperatures mean we can get outside and work without having to deal with the heat. There are several good things about this time of the year, I know, but… For those of you who know me, you know the “F” word means frost or freeze which usually happens sometime in October. Well, according to the weather forecast, it is supposed to get down to 40 degrees (F) Sunday night which means I have to bring the plants inside. I always wait until I absolutely have to bring them inside because I like them outside as long as possible. The basement is usually around 65 degrees so I like the outside temp about the same so there isn’t much of a  temperature difference.

I remember my first winter in Mississippi… It was in December 2009. One night I was sitting in the recliner in the den watching TV when a cool blast of air came in through the open sliding door. I jumped up and said, “This is where my world comes into yours.” I spent the next 2-3 hours bringing plants inside using a flashlight so I could see. Who was I talking to? Well, the mansion was haunted.

I finally did trim back the Aralia x grandiflora to 55″. I didn’t predetermine the height, I just picked a spot and started cutting.

The above photo was the last one I took on September 10. I hated to cut it down, but it was beginning to be a pain to mow and trim around. There were a few dead branches that needed to come out, too. I measured the tallest stem after I cut it off and added it to the 55″. Together, they measured 13 1/2 feet! After I started cutting I noticed the stems are hollow. It is recommended that hollow stemmed perennials shouldn’t be cut off until in the spring because water during the winter can get into hollow stems and kill the roots. Well, this is not a perennial it is a shrub, which I guess is kind of a perennial in a way. SO, hopefully, it will be OK. If I knew it was hollow-stemmed I may have waited until the spring to cut. Oh, well, too late now.

I need to prune the Forsythia and Quince and cut a Redbud down that grows in the ditch. There are trees around the lagoon and a few in the fence that need to be cut also. I have put it off for cooler weather, so now there are no excuses. Maybe it will rain, or the cold wind will blow. I am sure I can come up with something.

 

The Colocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’ is now sending up flowers from another petiole. The one the left sent up seven so we’ll see how many the one on the right gets to send up before we get an “F”.

 

The Colocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’ (on the left) and the Colocasia esculenta (in the center) have been about the same height for a while now. They are both 67″ tall now but the Colocasia esculenta on the right is a little shorter but it has had bigger leaves than the one in the center. The biggest Colocasia gigantea leaf is now 38″ wide x 45″ long. It may be a little larger if it was flattened it out.

 

While some plants are about ready to call it quits, some actually seem to be enjoying the cooler weather. The Acalypha hispida has had a new flush of flowers. The Caladiums have all bit the dust and went dormant except for ‘John Peed’.

 

Last week I thought the Leptinella squalida ‘Platt’s Black’ was gone. But then on the 11th when this photo was taken, I saw it was fine and growing new leaves again. The clump has spread a little and I hope it survives the winter.

 

All of the Alocasia, except for Alocasia odora/gageana (whatever you call it), will go in the basement. Alocasia odora/gageana stays in the dining room. OH, CRAP! Instead of one of pot as usual, now there are seven! I will have to think about that.

 

The Amorphophallus has already gone dormant so it just needs a cool dark place for the winter. Since this is a new plant for me, I am anxious to see how it does over the winter and what will happen when it comes up again in the spring. Will it give us a stinky flower? We shall see.

 

The cactus and succulents will go in my room and in the kitchen windowsill. I will take measurements when I bring them inside to see how much they have grown. I know that may sound weird, but some of them grow so sssslllloooowwww I like to take measurements so make sure they are actually growing.

 

I will probably put the Aloe maculata in the basement because it doesn’t like it upstairs over the winter. Warmer air and low light are not its thing. In fact, it is just now looking better from last winter when the leaves became etiolated from stretching to get more light. Normally, I grow my Aloe in part shade because the leaves burn and get all brown in full sun. Aloe enthusiasts, who know what they are talking about, say this is a good thing and quite normal. Which looks better to you? Dried up brown leaves or green and beautiful? Just look at this plant… The five leaves on top have grown in just the last month or so. Don’t they look happy and healthy? Before, all my Aloe companions always looked great over the summer months and continued growing. I could never figure that out because Aloe are summer dormant. Well, this summer, I kept this plant in full sun. It hardly grew at all, if at all, until the past few weeks. Now it is looking good again. SO, maybe if they are grown in part shade over the summer they don’t go dormant at all. I have hundreds of photos of my Aloe maculata (not this particular plant) which proves it. Summer dormant means they are “dormant” during the warmer months, May through August, which I think depends on where you live. My Aloe flowered over the summer, so how could it be dormant. Even when the Aloe maculata looked like crap, it still produced a couple of flowers. Summer dormant succulents do most of their growing in the spring and autumn months, which is what this plant is doing now. Their growth rate also slows down over the winter, and being in a cooler basement will also help with that. Well, maybe I am just nuts and they are supposed to look like crap during the summer. But, to me, a green and growing plant is a happy plant. If they are happy, I am happy.

 

From experience, I do know the Aloe juvenna needs more light or the leaves will become weird and long. Regardless whether or not their leaves turn brown, it is still best. They should have short leaves which they can only have in full sun, or mostly so. Their leaves will turn a reddish color with more light, which is OK. I still don’t like them burning to a crisp, so if that starts to happen I give them more shade. Then we are both happy.

 

I think the Adromischus cristatus has done really well. The common name on the label is Key Lime Pie, but the REAL common name is Crinkle-Leaf Plant. It is recommended they be grown in full sun, but in their native habitat in South Africa, they grow under shrubs to escape the intense heat of the summer. I have been growing it in an area where it gets an ample amount of sun but it is also filtered somewhat. It has done well and grown quite a bit. They are also a summer dormant plant, but an African website says their growth period is from spring through fall. Hmmm….

What else is interesting? I took 57 photos but I don’t want to put them all on this post.Most of the photos I take will go in the plant pages to the right, eventually. I have to have something to write about this winter, too!

 

OK, what about this one? The label says Echinobivia ‘Rainbow Bursts’. It is supposed to have been an intergenetic cross between the genera Echinopsis and Lobivia. Well, that can’t be the case now because the genus Echinopsis were transferred to the… WAIT A MINUTE!!! I have that backward… The species in the Lobivia genus have been transferred to the Echinopsis and Rebutia genus. Just checking AGAIN but the Llifle website won’t open up… Safari says it can’t open the page. The Plant List says one thing and the Llifle website says another. This was the plant that no one seems to be in agreement about. In the first place, according to the 2013 updated or outdated “THE Plant List”, there are/were 38 accepted species of Echinopsis plus an additional 8 accepted infraspecific names. There were 147 species (including infraspecific names) listed as synonyms and 127 names that were still unresolved. The Llifle website has been updated regularly but their site won’t open up today. GEEZ! I had something important to tell you! I have it documented, but I wanted to double check to make sure since name changes are taking place all the time. Names that were changed a few months ago have a way of changing back again or even to another genus. I have seen species go from one genus to another then they all get transferred to the genus that some of them were removed from in the first place. Anyway, what I was originally trying to say was that the Echinobivia ‘Rainbow Bursts’ name has to change now. It can’t be an Echinobivia because the “bivia” part no longer exists, or at least it didn’t previously. SO, does that mean this lant isn’t an intergenetic cross now, or maybe between Echinopsis and Rebutia? How about Echinobutia? Heck, that was changed 4 years ago and I bought this plant when? In February 2016. I think they also screwed around with the Rebutia genus but The Plant List is out of date and I STILL can’t get the Llifle website to open up. I don’t want to talk about Dave’s Garden right now. It says the name Echinobivia ‘Rainbow Bursts’ doesn’t exist. Well, GEEZ!!! It should say the name changed! Surely a contributor on Dave’s Garden bought this plant! When a cross is made and released to the public, the actual parent’s names should be public. LOL… My birth certificate has my parents name on it.

Well, all that just made me tired so I think I need to take a nap now. Maybe a few more photos…

 

The Mammillaria pringlei is STILL at it. The flowers last A LONG time and it is STILL growing more buds.

 

The Old Lady Cactus, Mammillaria hahniana, is growing more buds, too. This is a really neat cactus! They are all neat in my opinion.

 

The red-headed Mammillaria rhodantha still has just one flower.

OK, that’s enough for now. Until next time, take care, be happy, healthy and prosperous. Take time and hug one another and go outside and take a deep breath. Close your eyes and just listen to nature around you. You are NOT alone! Don’t forget to GET DIRTY! Take off your shoes and get your feet into it. The chiggers are about gone now, hopefully, so now I can take off my boots and walk around in the grass barefooted. Actually, I haven’t done that in YEARS! SO, I will do it now. Maybe even before I take my nap just to see what it feels like… OK, hold on while I try this…

OH, that feels pretty good. The ground is nice and cool. How many years has it been since I actually walked around barefooted in the grass? So long I can’t remember.

NOW, I will take a nap!

 

6 comments on “Cooler Weather Approaches

  1. Jim R says:

    You have a lot of plants to bring indoors. Do you have concerns about spreading disease or insects to other plants when they are closer indoors? I don’t have any to bring in. The two pots of geraniums and one of vinca on the front porch are left until F. I replant them in the spring.

    I might try growing a small cactus or two. What do you suggest that is easy and interesting?

    Like

    • Jim, I don’t have any pest or disease problems and rarely have. I did notice some mealy bugs on the Begonia ‘Frosty’ earlier, but they seem to be gone now. When the plants are outside in the fresh air, they aren’t bothered that much by pests, plus they have the ladybugs to help. If I have a problem, I use Neem Oil.

      There are a lot of nice cactus and succulents you can try. I have issues with some succulents and low light during the winter months and you have to be aware of how to water them. Typically, those with fat, fuzzy leaves are the hardest for me. Cactus are easier, though. Most any Mammillaria species are very easy to grow inside. Don’t water over the winter for the most part. Just find something interesting and bring it home. I have had very few cactus that have died. Sad to say, some of the neatest ones have died. Depending on how much you want to spend determines their size… There are some very good groups that sell cactus and succulents on Facebook… The members seem very reliable and what they offer you won’t find at Wal-Mart or Lowe’s. If you need more suggestions, just let me know. Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. bittster says:

    Always a fun read!
    I wish I was as busy in taking the plants in. I wait until the last minute and then curse myself for being so lazy as I run around in the dark. Maybe I’ll get lucky this year…

    Like

    • I have to be more prepared here than when I was in Mississippi. I have brought plants inside using a flashlight when I was there, but no one could see me in the backyard. Here, it is all open and the neighbors and people driving by would think I was crazy. Not to mention what my 86 year old dad would think. Thanks for the comment.

      Like

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