Tag Archive | violet

Happy Indoor Bloomers

What triggers bloom in houseplants? Plants bloom if they get good care — the right light, temperature, water, food, and growing medium — but the details depend on the particular species. If you can get one African violet to bloom, you’ll be successful with any of them. But if you treat your kalanchoe the same way, it will probably never flower.

The goal is to provide an environment that’s as close as possible to conditions in the plant’s native home. Some plants, for instance, have learned to face adversity — periods of cold or dry — by going dormant for a while. For many, going through this dormant period is required to trigger blooming. In the wild, plants recognize when to go dormant by being sensitive to shorter days, lower temperatures, or reduced rainfall.

In a house, dormancy is induced naturally by shorter days, or by your withholding water or putting the plant in a cooler spot. Growth slows, and the plant needs less fertilizer and water. When days lengthen and become warmer, or you resume more generous watering, you complete the cycle and flowering begins.

Other plants come from environments where light, temperature, and rainfall are about the same all year. Those plants can grow and flower anytime, so they rarely need a dormant period to induce flowering. Since they are always growing, the amount of light, fertilizer, and water you give them throughout the year remain constant. The amounts depend on the species.

PelargonZonal Geranium (Pelargonium x hortorum)

Most geraniums are easy keepers, but the zonal ones are the best survivors. They have round leaves, usually with concentric stripes of colors around the edges. And if they are given a combination of cool temperatures and strong sunlight, they will repeatedly produce large flower clusters. The most important tool for nurturing them is a pair of shears; geraniums tend to become gangly even when conditions are perfect, and they can get extremely gangly if light is scarce. Frequent cutting back will keep them bushy and healthy.

African Violet (Saintpaulia)

800px-SaintpauliaMy Mom’s favorite, today’s African violets are the most popular of all flowering houseplants. They trace their heritage to several species collected in East Africa in the late 19th century, but their appearance today derives from years of intensive hybridization among only a few of the species. The original blue and purple African violets are still happily blooming, but most have yielded the spotlight to new color tones. Modern violets also appear in white (the touchiest sort to grow), all shades of pink, burgundy, and even crimson. Generally, African violets need abundant filtered light. In summer, however, move plants away from any direct sun to where they will receive less intense, indirect light only. Violets like the same comfort level you do: average room temperatures or a little warmer in the day and a few degrees cooler at night. Keep the humidity high around your plants by placing them on a humidity tray, but never allow them to sit in water or the plant will die from fungal rot. Whenever the top half-inch of soil feels dry to the touch, add enough water to make it evenly moist. There are many, many websites dedicated to the care and nurturing of African violets.

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

Hasn’t everyone tried to grow a big, beautiful, flowering Peace Lily received as a gift? 3108042900_f3b4cb17cc_zThe Peace Lily tops the list of plants that provides beautiful foliage and flowers AND is easy to grow. The plant thrives indoors and blooms reliably with minimal attention. White flowers with a stiff yellow center (similar to those of a calla lily) appear nearly continuously amid the large, dark green, oval leaves. The plant needs low to medium light (never direct sun) and average indoor conditions. Its tropical foliage looks best, however, if you raise the humidity around it by setting it on a humidity tray. Moisten the soil evenly when the top inch feels dry to the touch; reduce watering when room temperatures fall below 70ºF, and never expose a plant to conditions below 55ºF.

Why should you let Mother Nature dictate when you can enjoy gardening? There are hundreds of lovely houseplants that need care and love, and are currently sitting at your local nursery or garden center waiting for you!

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Yes, you can eat your flowers…

if you plant the right ones! Edible flowers add such a unique elegance to your table! 570A0E6A-14D8-006C-41E6-A482834206B4-4797Many fruits, vegetables, and herbs have edible flowers, performing double duty in the garden. Not only do they add beauty and bounty, but also flavor and whimsy to the table.

It’s surprisingly easy to grow edible flowers in your home garden, but there are a few simple things to keep in mind.

  • First, make sure you know what you’re tasting. Check a reliable source for proper identification and to ensure the flowers are fit to eat or use as a garnish. For instance, check this article by the University of Minnesota extension.
  • Make sure that children understand that they must never sample a flower or berry they don’t know without checking with a knowledgeable adult first.
  • Some flowers may simply taste unpleasant, but others may contain chemical substances that are actually toxic to ingest. For example, foxglove is a striking flower but it contains a compound used to make the drug digitalis, a heart medication. Eating the flowers can have an adverse effect on the heart. Exquisitely scented lily-of-the-valley flowers are quite toxic if ingested, as are the berries.
  • Don’t assume that because the fruit from a plant is edible, the flower is also edible. Bean and pea flowers are perfectly edible but eggplant, tomato, potato, and pepper flowers are toxic.
  • It’s important never to use pesticides on plants from which you will harvest flowers. Even if you use a particular type of pesticide on your vegetables, don’t assume that it’s okay to use it on the flowers. Usually, a strong spray of water will rid you of the insect problems. If it doesn’t, just don’t eat those flowers.
  • Finally, don’t use flowers from a florist unless they were specifically grown for eating. You can never be sure that they don’t have preservatives or insecticides on them.

Most edible flowers simply need well-drained soil, usually full sun and plenty of water. You can grow edible flowers in garden beds with other plants, in raised beds, single containers, and even hanging baskets. Consider using herbs for their flowers in other places than an herb garden.

To capture best flavor, harvest edible flowers early in the morning just after they’ve opened. Rinse the flowers in cool water and pull out the stamens, which are often bitter. Store them between paper towels in a plastic container in the refrigerator until ready to use in your gourmet meals!

A Few Suggestions

Calendula (Calendula officinalis) – Very mild flavor; tastes like it smells; sprinkle bright yellow and orange petals on endive salad.

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Beautiful and tasty Nasturtiums

 

Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) – Flowers and leaves have peppery flavor, a nice contrast to a vinaigrette-dressed salad or a chicken salad sandwich; garnish cheesecake with fresh raspberries, mint leaves and bright red and yellow nasturtiums

Marigold (Tagetes spp.) – Flavor is overwhelmingly pungent; signet marigolds have a citrus-like flavor; nice in a glass of iced tea; the bright colors complement pastas.

Violets, pansies and Johnny-jump-ups (Viola spp.) – Add an old-fashioned, whimsical note to salads and vegetable dishes; freeze Johnny-jump-ups into ice cubes for punch; candied violets are a beautiful decoration on a white frosted cake. Add a deep blue violet to a glass of sparkling water.

Rose (Rosa spp.) – Some roses are more flavorful than others; petals add a soft, romantic flavor to honey for glazing chicken; red rose petals make soft pink vinegar for a floral salad; rose sorbet; scent the sugar bowl for use in tea.

Daylily (Hemerocallis spp.) and squash (Curcubita spp.) – Dip the blossoms in batter and fry; stuff with crabmeat or chicken salad; float a zucchini squash blossom in a bowl of cucumber; use as a dipping bowl for cream cheese dip.