Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Cactus still in bloom last day of December

The Christmas Cactus, also known as Schlumbergera, are going strong. They are easy-to-grow and some of the new colors are just breathtaking. My favorite is Schlumbergera 'Cristen' with its bright, electrifying pink color.

The common name Christmas Cactus refers to its blooming season. Although, the varieties shown below actually start blooming in the fall and can bloom all the way into late winter.

Here is an array of colorful Christmas Cactus.

The bright pink is called Schlumbergera 'Cristen.'

The salmon colored group is called Schlumbergera 'Christmas Flame.'

The white with pink edges is Schlumbergera 'Thor Tena.'

Here a trio of Christmas Cactus ready to go out the door.

In the center is Schlumbergera 'Thor Carmen'

Remember to care for Schlumbergera, they need to dry out between watering. They can be susceptible to root fungus, if they are kept too wet. Also, partial sun to shade is fine for light requirements. It is the shortened day length and cool night time temperatures that induce bloom. Prune after flowering and during active growth feed 1/2 tsp of balanced fertilizer (7-9-5) to 1 gallon of water every two weeks.

Christmas Cactus can grow for years in the same pot and cuttings can be given to friends and family. It's not unusual to hear someone say, "That's my grandmother's christmas cactus that I've had since my childhood."

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

How to Winter Over Your Banana Plant in the Northeast

Wintering over a tropical banana in Northeast, Connecticut (Zone 5-6) is easier than you think.
To find out your zone you can go to our website and enter your zip code. A zone number will appear. Or you can look at a USDA Zone Map.

First, the two bananas that we discuss in the video below are the Musa basjoo, our true hardy banana (Zone 4) and Musa sikkimensis, a banana that is a little more sensitive to the cold but can be grown in Zones 5 or higher. These bananas are grown for their defining tropical look in a garden.

The Musa Basjoo grows so fast it can produce up to a leaf a day. Musa sikkimensis is grown for its red underside and adds a splash of color to its large leafed foliage. Both bananas grow extremely fast when given full sun, plenty of water and lots of fertilizer. It's not unusual for the height to get upwards of twelve feet in one growing season. Finally, although they don't produce bananas, they do have the ability to flower, which is also edible. See our new book,Growing Tasty Tropical Plants for more details.