January 12, 2018 Update… IT’S COLD!

Hello folks! I hope this post finds you all well even though it may be very cold where you are. We had a couple of warmer days then this morning it was cold again. It hasn’t been this cold here for several winters so I hope the perennials make it.


The Phlomis ‘Edward Bowles’ is tucked safely under this big pot. Every time the temps were going to drop I would go out and cover it with this pot. Last winter I didn’t do it and thought it was a goner but luckily it did come back up.


I uncovered it yesterday to see what it looked like so I thought I would take this photo today to show you. Well, it looks a lot better than dead.


Even the Elephant Garlic which is normally green and growing all winter is looking pretty pitiful.


Susie and The Barn Cat are enjoying the sun on the south side of the house. ‘The Barn Cat” is her name because apparently she always stayed in or around the barn.


The Nandina domestica (Heavenly Bamboo) is sporting its normal winter colors but is still alive and well.


I have never grown Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) before so I don’t know how it will fare by the time winter is officially over. It appears to still be alive although its color has changed.


This is the only clump of Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ears) that is showing any sign os still being alive.  Hopefully the other two will return in the spring.


The Coop Cat was taking a nap until I disturbed her. You know, this cat was untouchable by anyone besides mom until last month. One evening she was at the back door asking for food after the raccoons and opossums finished it off earlier. I opened the door to give her more and she actually let me pet her while she was eating. I was shocked! She looked at me as if to say, “Don’t get used to it.” She got the name “Coop Cat” because she always had her kittens in the coop by the back porch.


It has always amazed me since I came back from Mississippi how well the Alocasia do in the basement over the winter. At this point, they seem perfectly content but they do need to be rotated. The Colocasia bulbs, or tubers (whatever you call them) are being stored. They seem OK so far. I am somewhat concerned about the ‘Thailand Giant’ because I may have dug it up a little too soon. It started coming back to life after I put it in the basement so I had to move it to a darker spot.


Even the Billbergia nutans (Queen’s Tears) doesn’t mind it in the basement and continues to flower all winter.


The cactus and succulents in the kitchen windowsill are still doing fine although the Kalanchoe lucia (on the left) says she needs a drink. If you look close, you can see there are wrinkles on the leaves. That means it needs a little drink, just a little because it is winter and it is kind of sort of dormant. Kalanchoe are summer dormant but they also slow down considerably during the winter, which means kind of sort of. A couple of days ago dad asked me why it was crooked… I took the pot and explained to him what it was doing. He just looked at me so I am not sure what that meant, and probably don’t want to know what he was thinking. I inherited a troublesome trait from him, though, and sometimes it can be irritating. Perfection. Everything has to be straight up, level, or perfectly square… That is unless it isn’t supposed to be. What in nature is perfectly level, straight or square? Hardly anything. After all, the best things in life are nice and curvy and go with the flow… Nature cannot be forced, neither can our natural instincts. You just have to go with it and enjoy the outcome. Well, there are exceptions, and we have to choose what is best for us and those around us. GEEZ! My mind kind of wandered off topic!


I am not sure how old this Philodendron hederaceum is. I think it came from moms second cousins funeral many years ago. It was almost dead when I moved here and after a while I couldn’t take it anymore. I told mom and dad it needed to hang, or at least part of it because that is the way it goes in nature. So, I made a few adjustments and hung one stem on the wall. Next thing you know it was growing. I had a couple of these in Mississippi that I hung in a tree during the summer and they just loved it outside. How many times has the “official” accepted scientific name changed for this plant? Let me see…


This Epipremnum aureum came from moms funeral and has grown nonstop. It is trailing across the floor in front of the counter and has almost reached the end. I told dad it needed to be strung up across the ceiling but he didn’t seem to like that idea… Some morning he will wake up to find it on top of the cabinet with its stems hanging down to the floor or across the ceiling. There is some white in some of the leaves and the leaves are larger and thicker than the Philodendron hederaceum. There are other differences between the two. When I get to the “P’s” I will do some thorough research AGAIN. I am just now on the ‘E’s”. I had two other peoples Pothos at the mansion because they couldn’t get them to grow. It was like I was a plant doctor or something! I had to give them back when I moved. Most people think Pothos are Philodendrons but they are different.


I always have at least one Alocasia odora/ A. gageana in the dining room over the winter. They aren’t as cold tolerant as the hybrids so I get a little paranoid about them even being in the basement even though it is around 65 degrees down there. If you remember, since I separated the pot of this species this past summer and wound up with 25… I think there are three in this pot now. Anyway, I told dad I have more in the basement I can bring up. I told him I could bring the biggest Alocasia ‘Calidora’ upstairs and it would fill the whole area. He said one was enough.


These are the cactus and succulents in my bedroom in the south-facing window. When it was warmer outside they looked sad. Then when it started getting cold and even snowed, they were very glad they were inside. I have had no complaints from them since.


I KNOW, I KNOW! The Adromischus cristatus (Key Lime Pie) looks like she is on her last leg. I am resisting giving it water because I know what will certainly happen if I do. She is sleeping now, or at least I hope so. A few months ago she had filled the pot. When I bought this plant last year I reminded myself of what I was supposed to remember about succulents with large, fat, fuzzy leaves. My first experience with that kind of plant was a beautiful Aeonium lindleyi var. lindleyi (labeled ‘Irish Bouquet’ by the industry). I smack killed it the first winter in 2009 with TLC. My reminder also said that I was to remind myself I didn’t do well with that kind of succulent. I told my reminder I was a succulent newbie at the time and maybe this time will be different. OH, S–T! I am talking to myself while writing this post! Seriously, though, if you have a succulent with large, fat, fuzzy leaves, don’t water it in the winter. If you do, just do it very sparingly maybe once a month. If you notice in the above photo, the leaves that are left are not shriveled… I keep telling myself to be patient and see what happens. If it dies, it would no matter if I water or not. It is a succulent from South Africa not a Philodendron from the rainforest in South America. The weird thing is that the dormancy table says the Adromischus and Aeonium are summer dormant and slow down in the winter. It was perfectly AWESOME during the summer. Sometimes I think the dormancy table is not right for some of the plants listed. Maybe it isn’t for the U.S………… Maybe it has more to do with day length. Maybe I should do further research.


I decided to keep the Aloe x ‘Lizard Lips’ upstairs this winter to see if it would do better. It doesn’t like the basement although the Aloe maculata does much better there over the winter. As you can see, A. x ‘Lizard Lips’ is doing quite well.


The Aloe juvenna also needs bright light 12 months a year otherwise its leaves will stretch and look weird. Its leaves tell the tale and show periods of when it didn’t have enough light and when it was just right.


xGasteraloe ‘Flow’ is looking really good and her kids are doing quite well, too. When I uploaded the photo I noticed that red speck on a leaf. A red flag came up so I went to check what kind of bug it was. Luckily, it was just a piece of red lint. The only thing red in the room is my union suit… GEEZ! Maybe I should have retaken the photo without the lint, huh? Tomorrow I will retake the photo and replace this one otherwise I will have to explain what it is every time the photo is used. Anyone can use my photos as long as they tell where they are from. It is funny how many websites I have been on that have used my photos without my knowledge and no mention of where they got it. I always send them an email, note or a comment and introduce myself usually with no reply. It would be weird to see this photo somewhere with the red lint…


Yeah, I know, I screwed this plant up. When my sister came this past summer to go plant shopping, she finally found a Baby’s Tears she had been wanting. When she was leaving I asked if I could have a piece so I could find out what it was. Man, if looks could kill! She finally said OK. I did identify the Baby’s Tears as Soleirolia soleirolii, also called Mind-Your-Own-Business, Peace-In-The-Home, Pollyanna Vine, Polly Prim, Mother of Thousands, and the Corsican Curse. I thought it was weird, though, because Soleirolia soleirolii photos online have smooth round leaves and this plant’s leaves are somewhat serrated… Every time I question this plants identity it tells me to mind my own business. Anyway, I screwed this plants growth habit up because I didn’t stick the end in the soil. I just laid it on top and it took root and started growing the same direction it was in the beginning. That’s why there is only one main stem. It needs to be repotted pretty bad and needs water every two or three days. I will say this, though, it is one vigorous growing plant!


Of course, the Huernia schneideriana (Carrion Plant) is doing just awesome as usual. Kate, do you remember telling me what this plant was? I think you told me it was a Carrion Plant way back in 2013 or 2014. I did research and narrowed it down to a few possible genera and MANY species that all look alike when not in flower… I had to wait until it flowered so find the exact match. MOST of them have large and amazing flowers and it was agonizing waiting for mine to flower. I was really disappointed when mine produced tiny maroon flowers but at least I did find the exact match. 🙂 Well, I got over the initial disappointment and am always happy to see its flowers. It is still a challenge to get good photos of something so small. This plant absolutely DOES NOT like cold. If you notice the stem hanging over the bottom right you will see part of it is white looking. That is scarring from when I put the plants outside last spring. To say the least, this is a very interesting plant that roots quite easily.


I finally made the switch from plant type to family name. It took several days to go through the whole list of plants and find their family name, type in the plant’s name under each family. I had to go down the above list, plant by plant. I had to change several more names along the way because of the name changes. The above photo is just a small sample of my plant list with over 400 plant names. Plants I have grown or encountered on the farm. There are a few from the park and a few that were other peoples plants. Most are plants I have grown, though. The P and D on the left means published on the blog already or as a draft. I finished down the list to the “E’s”. Since I am now finished with the family name project, I can get back to work on the plant pages. The pages already published with the * after the name means that page is still under construction and I haven’t gotten to those names yet. When I initially started the Belmont Rooster for the third time in January 2017, my thought was to go down the list and make a page even if it was to be finished later. I grew tired of that and started making drafts. I grew tired of that, too. Then I started going down the alphabetical list of plants instead of the photos which were organized by plant type. Then the family name project started and now is complete. GEEZ!!! It took only a few weeks to get my first Belmont Rooster blog finished in 2013 and the second one in 2015. It has taken me over a year this time but I had other ventures at first, too.

After I finished that, I went down the list of families and put them on the list to the right on the blog. Every family page has some information, some more than others, with links to where I found the information. You would be surprised how many names have changed. Some of the family names used to be the genus names so they changed the spelling a little. Many genus names, or species names, end with “cea” and family names mainly end with “ceae”. Then when a family becomes a subfamily, the spelling gets changed again. It’s complicated and I have said that over and over on the family pages. Not only complicated to me, but also for the people doing the reclassifying. I know they are somewhat confused but they refuse to admit it. Many family names were given and described many years ago but genus and species have been changed and moved around here and there and back again. Some new family names are not new, just resurrected, which was really interesting to find out. The phylogenetic testing has caused a lot of confusion and some are in disagreement. It is so weird how so many plants that look nothing alike and seem to have nothing in common turn out to be related. I guess it is more amazing than weird and my feelings are now realizing it is a good thing. I know many, many more changes are ahead and many of the names that have been changed may be moved back later. I know the results of these tests are surprising to the APG. I can just imagine how they feel everytime they present their findings and change the rules again… They are working on the fourh system since 2009 I think. Every upgrade not only changes what we know, but also many times the changes they previously made.

Plants of the World Online by Kew, and the other Kew sites don’t mention subfamilies on their list. It just says what family they are in. Once you get into the page, it does mention subfamilies if there are any, but not always. Either they don’t agree or they just haven’t gotten around to it. Plants of the World Online is a new venture, so they are still uploading data. Some information I look for isn’t even on the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. I mean, well-known plants and families that should be there such as Crassulaceae. When I type in the subfamily name on Plants of the World Online, it will say “no results found”. If I type in the old family name, it says they are synonyms of the current family, when many are considered as subfamilies now. The Wikipedia articles list the subfamilies, which, in most cases, were families before the testing. Several families are now HUGE, bigger than before, because several families were clumped together in the same family.

Well, I better stop writing for now and get back to work. I am going down the list, one name at a time, making sure every plant gets its name updated, has its own page and it gets put under the correct family name, etc. Every page either has or will have links for further reading. Some of the earlier pages I published will still need some tweaking.

OK, I am finished now! I hope you are all well and continue to do well and be amazing! Don’t forget to go outside and get dirty, even if it is cold. Bring a bag of dirt in the house so you can run your fingers through it every day. Put a handful up to your nose and take a deep smell… Put some in something you can get your feet in. Not potting soil! I mean REAL DIRT! Then tell me it didn’t bring a smile to your face. Until next time…. You know the drill!


24 comments on “January 12, 2018 Update… IT’S COLD!

  1. Debbie in Surrey England says:

    Love seeing all your indoor plants – there are lots of them! All relying on you! A big responsibility! It’s great to hear the back stories too -I like how house plants carry the association of people from our pasts and old times, memories and keep them with us.
    Plant name lists -gaaah! So confusing !! But the plants themselves are amazing whatever we call them & to learn it all we have to start somewhere- with names!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Debbie, I don’t have the right conditions for a lot of plants like I did in Mississippi. The mansion had 5 sunrooms but normally I just used the two on the first floor. I had plants in two sunrooms, the den, the kitchen, and the butler’s pantry. Except for a few in the den during the summer, they were all outside until it started getting cold. Here, I have my bedroom, the kitchen windowsill, the dining room and the basement. They all go outside during the summer except the Philodendrons. A lot of the plants I used to have were given to me by other people, and yes, there are many memories. Making the pages for the blog triggers a lot of fond memories. I wrote more but deleted… Plant name research has been interesting but is complicated by the changes. Changes were necessary because so many plants had multiple accepted scientific names. We need to work on the industry using wrong names and made up names so people can be educated properly. I think will also make a big difference. Thanks for the comments as always!


  2. Jim R says:

    I am again impressed with the quantity and quality of your collection of plants. Keeping track is a challenge. It puts mine to shame. (3 violets, 1 orchid, 1 ivy, 1 christmas plant) I’ve tried more indoor ones. My wife has allergy issues. We keep plants to a minimum as a precaution. No cats or dogs or chickens, either. There was a lady bug for several months that seemed like a pet. It died and is now outside in the cold.


    • Jim R says:

      There are some outdoor ones, too. I should make a list.


    • Jim, allergies must be a pain. I refuse to have them. One time a doctor told me I was allergic to chickens. I was in the hatchery business at the time. LOL! So, your wife is allergic to what exactly? There are many indoor plants you can try that don’t flower that often, if at all, but you can always cut them off. Buy plants for foliage interest and air purification ability. Sanseveria would be a good choice. If they happen to flower, it will amaze your friends and they will think you are a plant guru. To bad about the ladybug… I have never tried African Violets although my mom used to have MANY. My brother had orchids in Minnesota but I personally have had none of those either. I did have a lot of ivies and a Christmas cactus in Mississippi, though. Great plants! The plants are doing well, but we are all anxious for warm weather and fresh outside air. I get a good amount of fresh air and seems to be a good coffee replacement when I break the ice on the pond in the morning. Thanks for the comment as always!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jim R says:

        Animal dander gives her the most trouble followed by harvesting dust in the fall from combines. Some pollens get to her. One year we had a poinsettia in the house as a gift for a couple of weeks. Once we discovered it was likely affecting her, we removed it. Her symptoms went away. Most of the time allergy tablets keep her comfortable.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. bittster says:

    Things look pretty good, especially in the basement! Overwintering is always such a struggle. Of all the things I try to winter over I think it’s the alocasias and colocasias which have the highest loses. I think I keep some of them too cool and they give up and rot sets in.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahhhhh…. I dig the Colocasia after they get zapped by the frost but not right away. After about a week I dig them up, remove the dead petioles and shake off the soil and take them to the basement. I keep the Alocasia in pots so I just move them in the basement. Believe it or not, I don’t even water them usually. I don’t know where you keep your Alocasia, but most supposedly will go dormant below 45 degrees (F). It stays around 65 degrees in the basement. You can probably cut the tops off your Alocasia and take them out of the pot, shake off the soil, and store them in a cool dark place just like Colocasia, Dahlia, and so on. Just DO NOT put any water on them and make sure they are stored dry. Then, when temps permit, put the bulbs (tubers) in the ground. Don’t get in any hurry, though, make sure the soil temp is warm. Cool wet soil will surely rot dormant Alocasia/Colocasia bulbs. I try to avoid my Alocasia going dormant because I am always anxious for them to come up and wind up causing them to rot. Best practice patience, which is very difficult in the spring for me. Most of what I have read, Colocasia are difficult to keep alive in the house over the winter, but Alocasia are much easier, especially if you have kept them in pots during the summer. Maybe digging them up and potting them is something they don’t like. Never give up… Practice makes perfect. Thanks for the comment and it was very good to hear from you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • bittster says:

        In my case more practice has just led to more dead elephant ears! lol
        Thanks for the info and it makes a lot of sense especially the ‘DO NOT put any water on them’. I just had a small one rot, probably because I felt bad and put some water on it…
        I am having much better luck with the potted ones and the ones left completely dry. I think next year I’ll follow your advice and keep everything much dryer and maybe a little warmer since they were getting down to the low 40’s I suspect.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Well, it sounds like you are trying to revive your plants that are going dormant. If they are in the low 40’s and the leaves start dying, that is a good sign they are going dormant for sure. Remember, new leaves form from the last one… The older leaves die one at a time. If all your leaves are dying at the same time, they are most likely going dormant and should not be watered unless it is summer. I am not sure what the temperature range should be for storing dormant bulbs. I will check.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Well, there are a lot of tips and tricks. I found this good article where different temps were tested with Colocasia storage. It says the tubers stored between 40-45 degrees were all dead within a couple of weeks. Those stored at 50 degrees had 95% survival rate and between 55-60 degrees had 100% survival rate. One website said to bring your Alocasia inside when temps hit 60 degrees which is pretty much what I think. You can store in dry peat moss but I usually just shake off the dirt or wash them off and don’t store them anything. The gardenguides.com site says to store Alocasia bulbs between 40-45. GEEZ!

          Liked by 1 person

          • bittster says:

            Look at that. It’s the temperature! It all makes more sense now. I used to easily overwinter caladiums until I moved to a house with a cooler garage. They kept dying until I figured out they were getting too cold. Should have figured out the same thing was happening to the colocasias. What confused me a little was that alocasia calidora gave me no trouble at all even when cooler. I just figured the others should be able to handle the same…. but apparently not, since they rarely made it. I worry most about a plant I think is colocasia gigantea. I got it from a friend when down in Fl and can’t replace it as easily as most of the others. It grows so good for me as long as it’s watered and fed (I guess like most of the others) but it’s special just because of where it’s from and I can’t replace it any more.
            I hate when websites just get some entertainment writer to write a few gardening articles for their site and you end up with stupid cut and paste info like storing them at 40-45. There’s so much bad info out there…
            Thanks so much for the help! I have to be careful I don’t add too many new ones this year, last year I was very good because I had that crappy overwintering record hanging over my head 🙂


            • Some of the cultivars are hybrids bred to handle cooler temps, such as A. ‘Calidora’. I don’t usually overwinter Caladium bulbs, but I am trying it this winter as an experiment. The problem is if you find something you really like and don’t overwinter, you may never find it locally again. Sentimental treasures such as your C. gigantea have to be saved, too. My C. gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’ I bought this past spring was awesome and hopefully it will get even bigger this summer. We all have to get through the winter so we can get back out in the dirt in the spring… I am looking forward to seeing your new posts come spring. 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

  4. Masha says:

    Really like all your indoor plants, I have no idea how you take care of all these plants, don’t know if I could. And I love those beautiful cats.


    • Masha, I need MORE! I had several hundred pots overwintering in the mansion when I lived in Mississippi. Cactus and succulents, as well as many other plants, go through a rest period during the winter and don’t need as much water if any. It isn’t as hard as one might think. Dusting is much harder for me. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Despite the cold, your indoor plants all look to be thriving as do your lovely Cats.. 🙂 Nurturing our pots over winter needs constant attention.. Loved reading your post Mr R.. 🙂


    • Sue, that is so true that the pots inside still need plenty of attention. Cactus are the easiest I think because they virtually need nothing. Succulents can be tricky and you have to understand their language. The plants in the basement are pretty much on their own but the Begonias need a little water off and on. ‘Brazilian Lady’ reminds me when its time. Hmmm… Maybe I should do a post about understanding plant language in the winter… The cats are all doing well and like laying on the leaves in the sun. The Barn Cat likes tormenting the birds when they want to eat. Thanks for the comment as always! Hope you are well! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I move my aloe vera around – to avoid excessive cold, excessive heat (greenhouse is already getting hot here!) and rats/squirrels who like to eat them. When they’re happy, it seems I don’t have enough room for them, but this time of year, they start to get stressed out. Right now there’s mold in the crowded pots, time to re-pot. Once a mother, always a mother.

    I sure enjoy reading about your parents, give ’em a squeeze for me, would ya.


    • Juanita, you moving your Aloe around reminds me of when I was in Mississippi. To the sunrooms, the front porch, back inside at night, upstairs, to the den, the kitchen. The neighbors probably thought I was nuts. My xGasteraloe ‘Flow’s’ pot has mold on top of the soil now. I think it had something to do with the ants that were hibernating in the pot. One day I watered it and the ants, along with their eggs, came out. After that, there was mold on the soil. It’s only dad and me now. Mom passed away November 30, 2015. Thanks for the comment as always.


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