Seed collecting and the indoor greenhouse

I brought indoors all of my potted tender plants Thursday night in advance of the cold front that hit us. The big potted ginger lilies didn’t join the others in converted bathroom greenhouse, since I had taken up all of the available counter space. For about next 4-5 months, these plants will be hanging out here in relative safety.

11/5/2011 Seeds and indoor garden (1) 11/5/2011 Seeds and indoor garden (2)

I really need to snip off that chili pepper bloom head. But then again, I think all the young pepper plants could use a trim to encourage more foliage. Not so with the new hostas leafing out.

11/5/2011 Thai chili pepper bloom head 11/5/2011 Thai chili pepper bloom head closeup 11/5/2011 Hosta Wide Brim emerging foliage

I took a cutting of the groundcover salvia sinaloensis, or more commonly known as bicolor or Sinaloa sage, when I trimmed them back earlier in the week. This salvia is unusual in that it hasn’t turned woody and that it spreads via runners. It competed against an aggressive yarrow and has managed to hold its own, with a little intervention. The electric blue blooms have been disappointingly sparse and sporadic in its current part-sun location. It’s better valued for its foliage though; it has distinctive purple-tipped leaves on new and fall growth.

11/5/2011 Sinaloa sage cutting

I do need to move some of the pots into the bathtub, to make room for seed starting flats. Saturday morning, I collected 3 sandwich baggies of seeds from the Cosmic Yellow Cosmos, Durango Marigold Red and Durango Marigold Bolero.

11/5/2011 Cosmos Cosmic Yellow seeds collected 11/5/2011 Durango Marigold Red seeds collected

The Durango Marigold Boleros tend to bloom on the smaller side compared to the standard marigold colors.

11/5/2011 Durango Bolero marigold among the Outback mix

Sadly, I didn’t collect any Cosmic Red cosmos seeds or Lady in Red salvia coccinea. The red cosmos was nowhere in sight, while I didn’t have much luck finding seeds of Lady in Red still on the plants.

11/5/2011 A new Lady in Red salvia coccinea from dropped seed

Pepper wilt again

Yesterday, I kept the water on all morning to spray the courtyard gardens, including the pepper/herb garden. Today, I observed another bell pepper succumbing to wilt, and I’m now convinced that it’s a fungus that has infected both soil and plant. I’m not sure if it’s already too late but I’ve dumped a cup of water with some hydrogen peroxide on it to see if it can be rescued. I’ve also noticed that the Thai chili pepper is starting to display yellowing leaves on the lower extremities. I gave it a dose of peroxide water as well. Only time will tell if the treatment works. I’m considering spraying a peroxide solution too but given the heat, I’m afraid of burning the leaves.

A Saturday in June

That time of year again when all the remaining plants you had left on your to-do list finally get planted. Since the temps in North Texas warm up in the vicinity of 100, anything not in the ground tends to bake in their thin plastic pots. I got around to planting the rest of the Purple Star verbena, the majority of the ornamental pepper seedlings, felicia, tricolor sage cuttings, leftover marigold seedlings, and a few of the lemon thyme cuttings. And because I couldn’t bore a hole in my last ceramic pot (a freebie from Kathy), I had to transplant the Aztec red verbena, a dusty miller and the last red-eyed white vinca into a planter box.

I spent the day ducking in and out of the heat, clearing debris and dried out plantings (leftover violas), trimming vigorous plants (zealous Thai basil), and weeding wherever I could. In some places like the tree ring, I tamped down loose and exposed plantings and filled holes dug by industrious squirrels. Tons of the cosmos seeds are coming up now, and I am waiting eagerly to see the results of this week’s cosmos sowing.

While gardening, I made some exciting discoveries. The one remaining thai chili pepper is bearing fruit. It had been flowering for the past week, and today I found 3 fruit on it, with several more nubs showing.

6/11/2011 Thai Chili Peppers fruiting (1) 6/11/2011 Thai Chili Peppers fruiting (2)

A couple more of the vincas have bloomed; one from my February starts, while another from the outdoor starts. Both seemed to be in the pink color family. Several more vinca seedlings are already budding, including the two I left in my planter box. The neighboring Confetti lantanas have nearly tripled in size since planting, as well as the Purple Star verbena which get the most exposure in the front yard bed.

6/11/2011 Vinca Intdoor started seedling 6/11/2011 Vinca Outdoor started seedling

The daylilies are still flowering strong. An observation I made of the front bed Dallas Stars is that they are a good 1-2 feet taller than the Dallas Star in near-full shade. Still a no-show however is the Hyperion daylily, though I did notice it had a single scape on it. Whether it had already bloomed or planned to bloom is a mystery.

6/11/2011 Dallas Star daylily in shade 6/11/2011 Dallas Star daylily in shade closeup 6/11/2011 Hyperion daylily scape

I’m so disappointed that none of my home-started Easy Wave petunias are red. I was hoping for a patriotic planter bowl for the Fourth of July, but currently everything in the bowl is either blue or white. I expected at least 1 out of the 10 seeds I purchased to be a red petunia (I sowed 9, and 8 are currently planted), but it seems that this wasn’t the case. Next time I plan to purchase the colors separately–and yes, I will grow them again since they were relatively easy to start and grow as it warmed up. (Just keep them covered during the first month as tiny seedlings.)

6/11/2011 Easy Wave Blue and White Petunias 6/11/2011 Easy Wave Blue and White Petunias 6/11/2011 Easy Wave Blue Petunias

6/11/2011 An all-white branch of a pineapple mintI hacked down a lot of the wildly growing pineapple mints and hot & spicy oregano. A shame I didn’t get to use most of them, but right now they are strictly ornamental. I have to wonder: if I took a purely cream-white cutting of the pineapple mint, would it continue grow white or will side shoots revert to green or variegation? I’m intrigued because despite the heat, this solid white shoot remains happy, if a little crisped on the edges.

New wishlist plant: variegated lantana camara Samantha aka Lemon Swirl, lantana camara Greg Grant, and variegated lantana montevidensis.

Cosmos, hostas, marigolds, petunias and more

My Stokes seeds order arrived. It had probably been sitting in the mailbox a few days before we finally got around to emptying it. Since something had been digging up the tree ring bed, L had to replant a few uprooted marigolds so proceeded to sow the cosmos anyway. The first wave of cosmos seedlings are of course up and growing, some faster than others. I’m hoping at 500 seeds a packet, the tree ring will now get full coverage on cosmos. Now if the Ladies in Red will start blooming already. I’m beginning to think that starting them from seed so late might have been a mistake; but impatience isn’t a good trait for a gardener. I’ll have to satisfy myself with the coral nymph blooms for now, although I’m worried they’ll overrun the other salvia. I’d also like to get that outer ring improved with the remainder of the marigold seedlings and thyme cuttings, but they’ve been slow to propagate. I might have to take some golden oregano cuttings to add to the tree ring.

6/9/2011 June Beds 3 6/9/2011 June Beds 1 6/9/2011 June Beds 2

The hostas getting afternoon sun are taking a beating. All three varieties has suffered some damage. Combined with the daily buffet assault, they are half their foliage since spring. Even the supposedly sun-tolerant Gold Standard hosta isn’t able to withstand that grueling afternoon sun. I am thinking about installing some sun-friendly perennials in that corner of the shade bed to see if it will provide some relief. But can a sun perennial survive there given the brief afternoon exposure?

6/9/2011 June Beds 4 6/9/2011 June Beds 5 6/9/2011 June Beds 6

What’s up with all these ornamental kale? They’re about 2 feet tall now; they seem to like the mostly shade front door bed. Our poor gardenia, still struggling all these months, is making the stand of kale look bad. Of course, the dried out pansies are doing a better job of making this bed look unkempt. I need perennials in this bed, getting weary of switching it out every season.

6/9/2011 June Beds 7 6/9/2011 June Beds 8 6/9/2011 June Beds 9

Check out the chili pepper–it’s loaded with blooms. I expect a good harvest of chilis from this thing. The cinderblock herb garden is filling out nicely, while the purple bed is starting to look overrun. I need some ornamental black peppers in there! I wish my seedlings weren’t so puny.

6/9/2011 June Beds 10 6/9/2011 June Beds 16 6/9/2011 June Beds 17

More of my petunia seedlings are blooming….but what’s the deal? Are the rest of them purple??? I was expecting to see at least one red seedling, but so far I’ve seen one white and nearly half a dozen purple buds. So much for my patriotic planter. At least the caladium is looking good, even if one of the leaves appears half eaten.

6/9/2011 June Beds 11 6/9/2011 June Beds 12 6/9/2011 June Beds 14

6/9/2011 Thai Basil Blooms The thai basil is flowering. I really need to snip it down to size…they are making the other basil look puny. They look lovely with their red-purple stems and bud crowns, but they seem to outgrow the other basil. Very much suited to our hot Texas summers.

6/9/2011 Azaleas in lily bedAnd here’s what’s left of the azaleas in the lily bed. I kept the dwarf gumpo white and the Hot Shot red azalea. The gumpo azalea didn’t produce any blooms this year, whereas Hot Shot produced a handful. Is this typical of $2 shrubs? The gumpo gets one more shot at impressing me next year; otherwise it’s out of there. I did like that Hot Shot came out of the winter with dark maroon foliage before it lightened up by the end of spring. I must remember to keep the neighboring Hot Lips salvia pruned back to give the azalea some more light.