New plants, growing seeds under lights fail

Let this be a reminder for the fall and 2013 spring planting season: forgetting to lower the grow lights at the lowest possible distance results in very weedy, weak seedlings. I had to throw out a batch of snapdragon seedlings due to spindly and frail stems that made them unsustainable during transplant. This wasted hours of my time, electricity and a batch of Jiffy 7 pellets. Never mind that it was probably too late to plant the snapdragons this late into the year, I must remember to lower the lights next time. I will most likely write an article reminder to self on what to plant for fall, including snaps, violas (which I have not planted), alyssum, and all manner of spring annuals.

Also resulting in fail: 2 out of 3 dusty miller cuttings rotted at the stems. They may perhaps need a drier, sandy medium; or it may just behoove to start them from seed. These Silver Dust dusty millers seem to thrive in cool shade; since the doorway strip plants have tripled in size since I moved them there. They show a lot of vigor in cooler temps.

The zinnias I started in pellets are also thin and reedy, but I suspect that once I move them into pots into the warm weather, they will thrive. I have already transplanted the coleus seedlings this past weekend, kept them under lights to encourage them to root out. The alyssum I started are sitting outside, hardening off, but I suspect they are too frail to keep out in full sun despite the near-80s temps (mild IMO). My man has been attempting to keep them watered in hopes that they will thrive.

Not thriving: my salvia purchases from High Country Gardens. I’m really disappointed with these starts. They had weak stems, and the one sign of green from the Salvia jurisicii ‘Blue’ fell off; and the leaves of the Salvia dorrii ‘Desert Purple Sage’ have dried off one by one. I am giving them one more week under lights before I request a refund from HCG.

This past Saturday I sated my lust for new plant life by heading off to Strong’s Nursery to pick out some new and interesting specimens. They had a new batch of salvia greggii Nuevo Leon, boasting some of the most neon purple-blue flowers I’ve ever seen. These are more vibrant than the standard salvia greggii violet and purple pastel specimens I currently have in the garden. However, with Nuevo Leon, the leaves are more lanceolate, have a milder scent, and the flowers are much smaller. I hope that it will at least be just as floriferous.

3/27/2012 March New Plants (2)

Cuban Gold duranta and 2 pots of Tequila Sunrise Variegated coreopsis also went into our cart. I was attracted to the bright yellow foliage of the duranta which grows to about 2 feet high. This may be a good plant to position in the sunnier end of the front shade bed; though I worry that it might blend in too much with the hakonechloa and the coleus I intend to plant in that bed. The variegated coreopsis was a surprise; this was the first time we found a coreopsis with variegated leaves. We’re excited to have this plant join our gardens and are now searching for a spot to plant them in.

3/27/2012 March New Plants (3)

We also picked up two Texas Gold columbines for the front yard shade bed. After the spectacular flower show our Origami Red and White gave us, we can’t wait to see this columbine produce its own show. I must remember to give it plenty of water for this first year planting. We also add two red verbenas to the front yard flower bed to compliment our red/white tulip and azalea show going strong right now. Must water, must water, must water!

3/27/2012 March New Plants (4) 3/27/2012 March New Plants (5) 3/27/2012 March New Plants (6) 3/27/2012 March New Plants (7)

Sunday afterwards, we dropped by North Haven Gardens in search of new plants. However, all we came away with were herbs: golden sage, mexican marigold, dwarf curry mini, and lavender Kew Red.

3/27/2012 March New Plants (1)

The first Midnight Blue bloom for this year appeared this week, followed by what I am sure will be a cascade of rose blooms. The first thing to observe is how large and vibrant these cool weather blooms will be.

3/27/2012 March New Plants (8)

Don’t sneeze–tiny seeds ahead

On Monday, I got around to sowing some seeds in Jiffy 7 pellets. It was just my luck that I started with the super-tiny seeds while I had a cold from the morning jog. It took all my resolve not to sneeze while I was planting these near-microscopic seeds: Angelonia  Serena Blue, Snapdragon Bronze Dragon, Snapdragon Montego Sunset, Wizard Mix Coleus and last year’s Origami Red & White Columbine.

Some time last week, I also took some cuttings of the Chocolate Chip ajuga which have been merrily putting out new growth in their temporary pots; as well as cuttings of lime thyme and variegated lemon thyme. The original parent lime thyme was especially vigorous and overflowing in its cinderblock space. Amazing fragrance this little herb has. I was using it to give the pups a lime thyme herb brushing.

This morning I planted 3 leek roots (from this weekend’s Spring Soup recipe that called for spinach, asparagus, and leeks) in the herb garden. Even while it was sitting in the fridge all weekend long, new roots began to appear. From what I read, leeks are vigorous perennials, so I am looking forward to watching them grow.

No pictures today; the red and white pansies are blooming, as well as the purple loropetalum and the various dianthus in the lily and blue beds. The Valentine dianthuses are especially pretty now that they’ve had a full year to grow into their new spots. The remaining three Valentines sitting in the blue bed will have to be moved, perhaps in the front yard bed to complement the coreopsis. I do need to find out if I can divide those winter coreopsis.

Flax and marigold seeds to be popping up here and there (blue bed and tree ring). I have yet to see if the viola I sowed last month are coming up–so far no evidence of them doing so. I’ve got three Sorbet viola seed packets that I’m still deciding on–most likely I will attempt to sow them indoors. The sweet alyssum Pastel Carpet will be sown outdoors–another attempt at trying this–while it’s still cool which will hopefully give them a better start.

Still have zinnias, gomphrenas, and eggplant to plant. I will wait on planting them mid-March since they are typically warm weather plants. However I should get around to planting the Chinese broccoli and baby bok choy as soon as our new veggie bed is laid out. Problem is: when? Two tree stumps are undermining our efforts to prep a new bed.

Wishlist plant of the day: variegated azalea Girard’s Variegated Gem and Silver Sword. More reading on variegated azaleas.