Thursday, January 28, 2010

Begonias in the Winter Window

Begonias in the Winter Window are a perfect topic this time of year. As I walked through our greenhouses today, what really caught my attention were the many varieties of begonias that were just popping with color and form. The Angel Wing
Begonias, named for their leaves that look like Angel’s wings were in the forefront of my vision. Their white dotted leaves looked like they were ready to take flight. The Rex Begonias, with their swirled patterned leaves and the Rhizomatous Begonias that have flowers growing above the foliage were every bit as impressive.

All three types of Begonias are present in the picture above. This begonia display, in one of our seven retail greenhouses, shows the large Angel Wing specimen called Begonia maculata var. ‘Wightii’. The white spots on the leaves are characteristic of ‘Whightii’ and would

challenge even the most detail-oriented artist. The begonia with the white flowers held above the foliage is Begonia ‘Palomar Prince’. This is a rhizomatous begonia. The silver and red swirled

begonias in the middle are rex begonias. The variety shown is B. ‘China Curl’ (pictured in pot).

Our greenhouse grower, Laurie Robillard has been at Logee’s for over 11 years

and is responsible for growing the 75 varieties of Begonias at Logee’s. She is holding Begonia ‘Phoe’s Cleo.’Begonias are a great plant for the novice gardener or the gardener who has low light and low humidity conditions in the home. Begonias were known as the plant of the Victorian era. If you think of Victorian Houses they were never built with light and humidity in mind, yet begonias thrived in these times because they can take less than ideal conditions. In fact, they like to be dried out between waterings. Begonias are fast growing as well. Our begonias start in 2 ½” pots. This is a good time to pinch back the growing tips to make a full, dense specimen. In a matter of 6-8 weeks our 2 ½” pots will easily grow into an 8-inch pot. Remember, Begonias can be kept for years in the same size pot. My begonia at home,

‘Raspberry Swirl’ has been in its 8-inch pot for over 5 years a

nd gets cut back every year. I usually prune at the end of the summer before I bring it back inside.

During the active growing season, which is more or less spring summer and fall, feed begonias with 1/4tsp of organic soluble fertilizer per one gallon of water once a week. Begonias in the winter time

won’t put on a lot of growth unless grown under high light and you want to reduce or stop feed during this time but never-the-less the colorful leaves,

unusual form and textured leaves are sure to delight and ward off the winter blues.

Pictured is "the Long House" which has over a sixty foot stretch dedicated to the many varieties of begonias for sale.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Logee's Tropical Plants Prepares for Martha Stewart Show

Last week, we were invited to NYC as guests on the Martha Stewart Show. (see logee blog- How to Grow Tabletop Citrus Jan 13, 2010). We love sharing our tropical plants with Martha and her audience. The week before the show, we choose the plants. We work with the producers and send them pictures, growing information and highlights of each plant. Getting ready for the show is a company wide task and our growers were all hands on deck the day before.

Rick Logee, our greenhouse manager, Laurie Robillard and Napa Howe, greenhouse growers are pictured polishing leaves, repotting specimens and grooming the plants. We rank what plants would be the best but mostly Mother Nature chooses what plants ultimately go on the show. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which plants will be in bloom or fruit in 4-5 days.The morning we left for NYC was filled with activity. I picked up the white rental van (non-commercial) so we could drive on the Merritt Parkway, while Byron gathered eighteen different mother plants into one warm spot.

We had to have a warm vehicle waiting to minimize exposure to the elements while loading our weather sensitive plants in our Northeast Connecticut freezing climate.

Three and half-hours later at 4:00 we arrived at the NYC Studios. We unloaded our plants and broke them into two groups- the segment for citrus (see blog Jan. 13) and the segment for Flowering Winter/Unusual Plants. The Winter/Unusual Plants that ultimately went on the show were Coffee (Coffea a

rabica)- the coffee of commerce; Bougainvillea ‘Vera Purple’- a colorful, everbloomer ; ‘Desert Rose’ and ‘Uranus’ (Adenium obesum) two unique plants in flower with an unusual caudex form; “Golden Brush” (Burbedgia scheizochelia) - a ginger with brilliant orange flowers; and 'Yerbe Mate’ (Ilex paraguariensis)- the foliage that’s famous for Mate’ tea.

We had to be at the studio by 8 am the next morning for the 10:00 am live show. During those two hours Byron rehearsed with Barbara, one of the producers. Martha and Byron have great charisma together and were like old friends catching up on the horticultural scene. We left the Sunquat for Martha since she didn’t have one in her collection. After the show, I dropped Byron at Laguardia airport. He was on his way to a tropical plants show in Florida and I drove back to Connecticut with a warm van filled with tropical plants and flowers.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Winter Propagation Brings Springtime Rewards

AtLogee's, we propagate plants or simply stated we take cuttings from our mother plants and make baby plants. For the home gardener, learning how to propagate plants can be a fun and exciting process!
A picture of one of our propagation greenhouses shows how this time of year the "benches" (growing tables) are filled with little plants waiting to be moved into 2 1/2 inch pots and then shipped out the door.
Also, pictured is one of our lead growers, Nathaniel Howe, who will be giving a series of propagation classes at Logee's, starting this weekend. If you can't make the classes then here are a few quick tips on how to propagate your own plants at home.
Propagation at Logee's is done by vegetative cutting, air layering, grafting and tissue culture. For the home gardener, the easiest way to propagate is by vegetative cutting.
First you must choose the cutting wood. We recommend tip cutting or stem length cutting. 1-Tip cutting- simply cut the growing tip of the plant and make sure it has 2-3 mature leaves 2-Stem length cutting- the stem is cut into segments leaving 1 or 2 leaf nodes plus some stems to go under the soil. Strip off all the leaves that go below the soil.
Two Methods to Propagate 1-Traditional- Put the stem node below the soil level. This allows a sprout or growth to emerge from below the soil level, which can produce a multi-stemmed plant. Fibrous begonias do best with this method. 2-Root Gel or Liquid Hormone- Dip the cutting end into root gel or the hormone. This initiates callus. Callus is the formation of an abnormal or thickening of tissue in response to a wound. Strip off any leaves or flowers that go below soil level. If there is an excess of canopy of leaves, we recommend cutting the leaves in half to reduce the foliage.
The rooting medium we use is sand or an oasis. There are three easy steps. 1-Take the cutting. 2- Dip the cutting in gel or liquid hormone and 3-Put the cutting in sand or in an oasis or potting mix. For the home gardener in a dry home environment, we recommend putting a plastic bag over the new plant to increase humidity. Some plants will root in as little time as a week, while others will take several weeks. Remember to keep moist while the plant is initiating roots.
For more information about Nathaniel Howe's propagation classes, visit our website:

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How To Grow Tabletop Citrus in Pots

Growing Tabletop Citrus in pots is easy to do, rewarding and fills the dark days of winter with orange and golden gems of color. Today, we brought 6 different varieties of citrus to the Martha Live show (airing at 10:00am eastern time). Byron will be on camera with Martha. I am behind the scenes, talking to producers, working out details, etc. Behind the scenes will be next weeks blog. However, this week is the citrus that was on the show and the how to's of growing.
First, is the Varegated Calamondin Orange- Produces tiny sour fruit from Southeast Asia and has spectacular mottled foliage.
Second is the Sunquat-Blooms and fruits throughout the year, is a cross between a lemon and kumquat and this sweet succulent fruit can be eaten skin and all.
Third, the Sweet Lemon- (Ujiktsu)- An amazing fruit that ripens late winter into spring, is a cross between a grapefruit and a tangelo and although looks like a lemon it tastes like an orange.
Fourth, Kaffir Lime- is grown for its foliage and fruit. The foliage is well known for its culinary use in Thai food.
Fifth, Citrus Myrtifolia- This upright grower has foliage like a myrtle and produces tiny oranges, that ripen from late fall through winter. Although sour to eat, the ornamental beauty keeps this citrus around.
Sixth, Tahitain Orange- Also produces tiny bright fiery orange fruit and the fruit can hold on for months increasing its ornamental appeal as well.
In a nutshell, caring for all citrus is similar.
1-Grow in terra cotta pots to allow dry down time because citrus roots are sensitive to cold and wet in the winter time.
2-Grow in full sun, preferable above 60 degrees for best growth, although citrus can take it down into the 30's as long as it's only once in a while and not sustained.
3-Water when the soil is visually dry
4-Fertilizer moderately during the active growing season, which is generally spring through fall. Winter time feed is reduced to once a month or not at all.
5-Prune when the plant is young to produce a multi-stemmed specimen. This is necessary so as the citrus grows it has strong branches to support the fruit.
6- Once mature, prune after flowering and then prune selective leads so you will have some fruit the following season.
7-Susceptible to scale and mealybug and sometimes spidermite. Use leaf polishers such as neem oil or cedoflora for control.
That's all for now. You can check out our website for more details or go to

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Year's Miracle Berry Tasting

Jan. 5, 2010- Our New Year's Miracle Berry Tasting event is scheduled for this Saturday, January 9, 2010. At Logee's, we grow "Miracle Berry" also known as the "Miracle Fruit." If you are unable to make our "Tasting Party", you can get the lo down from us here.
First, the plants botanical name is Synsepalum dulcificum and can be grown indoors in a pot. The red berries, about the size of a plump raisin, will begin to appear after the plant reaches a height of about 12 inches. Give the plant full sun and go easy on the fertilizer(once a month or so), making sure the soil is acidic, and you will be producing your own berries soon.
If you aren't up to the task of growing your own berries then we recommend going to the website where you can have miracle berries shipped to you overnight.
Once you have the berry in hand, simply eat the berry and get ready for a tricking of your taste buds. Literally, everything you eat afterwards tastes sweet. This is attributed to an unstable compound in the berry that actually changes the chemical properties in your mouth. At the tasting party, we will have a miracle berry for each participant. The berry has a seed inside so it is important not to bite into the seed but simply eat off the pulp and skin and keep it in your mouth, coating the inside before swallowing the berry. Of course, you can save the seed and plant it. Foods such as lemons and onions will be tasted and you'll be amazed at how a lemon tastes like a sweet drink of lemonade or how an onion tastes like an apple. Get daring and try a grapefruit or sour pickle. The only warning we have is DO NOT drink a dry expensive glass of red wine after the miracle berry for it will be the sweetest wine you ever tasted.
The effects of the miracle berry will last anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours.