Like dominoes, much of the garden continues to succumb to days of frost. The cyclamen, however, look terrific. The plant pictured above remained dormant all summer. As spring and summer annuals died, my trusty cyclamen bloomed again. I’ve always loved the way the flowers soft petals seem to fold in like little clam shells.
The nurseries are full of them this time of year, usually in red and white. I assumed they were all the same plant, but apparently the nursery variety are grown for indoors. Though sold as ‘house plants’, they prefer cool temps. In fact, if you keep one indoors, they suggest putting it outside for a few hours, or even overnight, to prolong the health of the plant. It seems counter-intuitive. The rest of the garden needs salvaging from the carnage of this unusual frost, but the Cyclamen crave it.
According to Garden Web:
Cyclamen [in its native habitat] is an endangered plant. Centuries of collecting from the wild have decimated populations and the Cyclamen is now protected by CITES. CITES is the Congress on International Trade in Endangered Species. It is a worldwide body set up to protect not only plants, but animals that are in danger of extinction. It is illegal to import or export Cyclamen to or from any cooperating country without a CITES permit.
I had no idea! I saw hundreds of them on display at a nursery earlier this week, so hope this bodes well for their survival. Meanwhile, this little gem is looking pretty in pink and happy in the garden. I’m inspired to plant many more.
Our splashy coleus greets our guests as they cross the deck to our front door. Aren’t the colors amazing? This fast-growing plant seems to double in size, minutes after the summer heat descends. Small purple flowers appeared last week, but they almost seem beside the point. The true beauty of this plant is the leaves. I have three varieties growing on the deck, but this is my favorite.
Spikes of purple flowers
I grew two coleus last year, then tried, unsuccessfully, to keep them alive through the winter. I wrapped then in frost cloth, kept the watering going, but alas one hard frost and that’s all she wrote.
Apparently it’s tasty too.
This year I’m ready. I’ll take cuttings instead. I have rooting compound for the occasion, along with a lightweight planting medium. I even have my eye on a small, portable green house, so that I don’t have to use the always-busy kitchen for my growing pursuits. I’ll keep you posted.
Meanwhile, I’m enjoying my colorful deck.
Do you have a summer favorite?
My house is super clean which can only mean one thing. I’m procrastinating.
The decorations are down and the house is back in order. The sun is shining. I’m all out of excuses. It’s time to tackle the Magnolia Scale. Blech!!!
Adult Scale (Red)
Last summer we discovered a severe scale infestation on our Tulip Magnolia. It was everywhere! I removed numerous branches, perhaps close to a third, since the infestation was so bad. We ordered beneficial lacewing eggs, hoping they would finish off the rest.
Now that the tree is dormant, it’s easy to see what remains. Though not nearly as bad as last year, dozens of red scales (the adult female) along with the immature male and female nymphs, cling to the young branches.
Today, with my bucket and gloves in hand, I spent an hour scraping off scale. They’re easy to see (bright red) against the trunk, but I had to stand on a step stool to reach all of them. After tossing them into a bucket, I went back with a warm, wet rag and wiped off the nymphs.
The overwintering nymphs are all over the tree! There is no way I could get all of them, but I sure gave it a try.
After giving the tree one last look, I sealed the scale in a plastic bag for disposable, and soaked the bucket, rag and gloves in hot, soapy water.
Scale in a Bag
I’ll check on the tree again tomorrow, and if the weather warms up, I might take a hose to the underside of the branches to remove some more.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
- When purchasing a young Magnolia tree, check the inner branches first for infestation. Apparently many of the trees have scale before you bring them home.
- Prune judiciously. Magnolias, especially mature ones, don’t handle heavy pruning.
- Time your pruning appropriately. I’ve read the best time to prune is late winter, early fall, after flowering and before new buds set. Given those parameters, you really need to stay vigilant.
Many years ago, my friend, Leslie, gave me a gorgeous cyclamen for Valentine’s Day. I was between relationships and probably feeling sorry for myself. It was a sweet gesture and a stunning specimen of a plant.
The cyclamen sat on my coffee table for many weeks, producing bloom after bloom. Then, with little warning, the leaves began to drop. I’m not one to give up easily on plants, so I tried the usual things: more water, then less water, different light. Nothing. Eventually I was out of ideas. I upended the contents of the pot into the small strip of dirt near my apartment door. Imagine my surprise a year later when the cyclamen “came back to life.” Turns out cyclamens are tubers, also known as corms. The plant had simply gone dormant.
Cyclamen corm with emerging heart-shaped leaves
Cyclamens remain one of my favorite winter plants. I planted three in colorful pots on the deck last winter so I could watch them bloom from my kitchen window. When spring rolled around, I transplanted them to larger pots and paired them with spring annuals.
As my potted darlings closed up shop in the late spring, I scooped them out of the soil and moved them to the lower garden. I found a small patch of dirt under some tall grass next to the Magnolia tree. They would be in good company and would stay cool all summer long.
It was a sweet surprise to see them back in bloom this week, refreshed from the recent rains and ready to flourish.
Shaded by the grass
What’s blooming in your garden?
Cyclamen Care. I especially like the beautiful drawing at the end of this link.