Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Basement gardening — my version of sticking my head in the sand

With another round of snow and ice predicted for the weekend I planned a few hours of basement gardening — where I could at least attempt to be blissfully unaware of what was happening outside.

It was a good chance to check how the mealybug infestation was doing (not too bad), water a few things and trim some dead leaves. Have I shared photos of my Lophocereus schottii (totem pole cactus)?

It was a gift from the kind Maryellen, the lady behind Westwood Farm, which some of you visited during the Portland Garden Blogger's Fling.

There are more plants than usual in the basement right now, since the weather has been so frightful. And yes that's a bed in the background. Our glamorous guestroom!

The Bromeliads, these always spend the winter months here.

The tree ferns, Brugmansia and that Agave are just visiting.

Ditto for the Grevillea 'Ned Kelly' (in the laundry sink, I'd just watered him)...

These poor Agaves have been here for longer than I like. It was early December when I pulled them from the driveway stock tanks (their normal winter home).

The Bocconia frutescens has spent winter outside before, not this year though.

These are all refuges from the shade pavilion greenhouse. With temps below freezing both day and night, for an extended period of time, I needed to free up space to move a other containers in. Plus a few, like that Strobilanthes gossypinus, wouldn't like it dipping much below freezing — which I was concerned it might with only a small electric heater keeping things warm.

I'm hopefully they'll all be heading back out to the "greenhouse" by the time you're reading this.

With the exception of the Agave on the bed, these have all been here for awhile, and will stay until spring.

My friend, Lance Wright, offered up divisions of his Bromeliads last fall and I jumped at the chance to get these beauties.

Agave parryi is such a hardy plant, but since there's just a tiny bit of soil, and a thin piece of metal, protecting their roots I brought them inside too (these are normally on metal tubes, my "dish planters").

More prisoners of love...

Usually these Pachypodium loose their leaves in the winter. Odd they're still so happy this year.

Yuck. Damn mealybugs. I found them on a few new things (I'm fairly confident they've been there all along...they were just finally out in the open where I could see them). All got doused with a mix of 70% isopropyl alcohol, soap, and water.

The Echeveria agavoides 'Lipstick' has grown out of it's unfortunate sunburn of last July.

The Agave americana medio-picta 'Alba' got a dowsing of the alcohol mixture.

Aloe 'Blue Elf' is finishing up its bloom action.

Kalanchoe beharensis

Aloe dorotheae

Aloe brevifolia

Anyone care to make a guess on what those brown spots are? I thought some sort of scale maybe, but they can't be picked/pried/popped off.

Ah! A healthy plant! Agave attenuata...

And a bloom on the Mammillaria gracilis var. fragilis.

I'll end the indoor section of this post with a look at the bright green new growth on my Euphorbia polygona cv. 'Snowflake'. The first time I saw this I was concerned they weren't getting enough light and that's why the bright green. I'm happy to report that as time went buy the tops turned as white as the rest of the plant.

Just in case you were wondering about the outdoors...the snow showed up on Saturday and the ice came on Sunday. It was comparable to the last ice storm in December, but with much colder temperatures leading up to the event and less snow prior to the ice. Oh and it wasn't nearly as widespread this time, large parts of Portland were spared, we were among the lucky ones who got to experience it, again. Here's a crappy phone-photo showing glazed frost cloth over my large Agave ovatifolia. I wasn't going to venture any further out Sunday night than to open the front door and snap this photo.

The rest of these photos were taken Monday, once it warmed up to 30F...

This poor Yucca aloifolia, I'm not sure if the trunk itself is leaning or if there's a soft spot and it's broken (and thus a lost cause). I was scared to mess with it for fear I'd make things worse.

Everything that could bend once again bent.

I'm so over this winter, but guess what!? More snow and possibly ice is predicted for tonight.

Weather Diary, January 9: Hi 40, Low 30/ Precip .25

All material © 2009-2016 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

37 comments:

  1. Sun and not bad temps (high 60sF) predicted for at least the first part of next week in So Cal.

    Looks like there's plenty of room yet for plants in your basement! Looks rather wonderful actually, all the green life...

    Agave on the bed, ha ha! Maybe a "Teddy Bear" cholla would be more appropriate? Uh, no.

    Brown spots on the Agave looks like a bit of fungal infection. It happens even here.

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    1. I'll let Andrew know you saw room for more plants, he's doubtful.

      Re: the possible fungal infection. It's hard, that spot. Are they usually? Fungal infection sounds soft???

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  2. Prisoners of Love! Perfect description. You have so many gorgeous plants. I am continually amazed. You are right to leave things alone outdoors. It's hard but it is the best thing for the plants. I can't believe the weather you guys keep having. We are on day one of 3 days of freezing rain and then on the weekend snow. Of course, it's January in Wisconsin so I guess I can't complain. At least we are out of the single digits for a while.

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    1. Single digits and negative numbers are something I hope to never experience again. Then again I didn't think I'd be experiencing a foot of snow in less than 24 hrs either....

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  3. Lucky you, you have a basement. The farther south you go, the less basement you have. We had a half of one (low ceiling) in Albany and none at all in the Southland. Your basement plants look fabulous, so well cared for. But, I must confess that I like the Monday pictures best. So neat for me to see what it really looks like outside in freezing Portland.

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    1. When we were house hunting we fell hard for a ranch-style CMU, never painted! It was a dream...but no basement. They accepted another offer as we were sending ours in. A blessing in disguise.

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  4. Thanks for sharing this fascinating look at what's going on in your basement. I've never seen any new growth like that on my Euphorbia polygona, they just keep getting bigger, albeit slowly. But now I know what to look for. I wondered what you did in wintertime with those dish planters. I see the flat one with the Aloe and succulent (Sedum Angelina?) also comes in. Hope everything survives the mealybugs. So sorry about your ice and snow.

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    1. The dish planters usually all stay in place, or are moved to somewhere slightly more protected (and not balanced in the sky). The ferns and the Trachelospermum asiaticum 'Ogon Nishiki' are both still out there. I just took pity on the Agaves. The square planter with the Aloe always comes inside. Aloe + winter = mush.

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  5. Looks like those little prisoners are addicted to love! You certainly know how to keep them happy indoors. What an impressive operation. I'd say you're ready to run the Kew glasshouse! Fingers crossed, this is the last ice event. What a PIA.

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    1. Fingers crossed...no more ice. And no more snow! PIA indeed.

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  6. Best guest room ever! Though that Agave is pushing the limits of strange bedfellows. My sympathies for your mealybug struggles. I recently found scale on two of my houseplants. I'm hoping I caught it early enough that a few blasts of neem oil will handle it. Also had to do a neem oil spray in the greenhouse for the mites.

    Ouch, so much ice. I lucked out again and didn't get any ice, but my garden is still emerging from the snow. I don't think it got much below freezing last night, which is odd but nice. I was hoping to do an evaluation post tomorrow, but I think I'll have to wait until next week.

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    1. I'm in maintenance mode until spring. Once everything can go back outdoors I am spraying with the serious chemicals. Not looking forward to it but it must be done.

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  7. I'm so impressed by all the work you do to haul those plants under cover, tenderly care for them in their temporary quarters, and then haul them out again when temperatures warm. We're lucky we don't get that kind of weather here as we have no basement and taking over the garage might lead to divorce.

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    1. I don't think they feel nearly as fortunate as they should...I think they all wished they lived in SoCal! (wait, so do I...)

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  8. For some reason I never realized that your guest room was open to the winter garden area. How cool is that? Are you ever tempted to sleep down there with your green children? We've had some very cold temps up this way but nowhere near the snow and ice that you've had. Hope everything survives for you!

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    1. The entire basement is unfinished, except for a built out storage area under the kitchen. I kind of like it that way. As for sleeping downstairs I can't. I don't know why but I just lay awake...

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  9. You are a real gardener. Hauling all your beauties to the basement. What a cool guestroom! The ice seems particularly hard on your in the ground plants. Still a ways to go in winter. My favorite local grower was as ill prepared for our weather last weekend as I was....it is going to be rough getting plants for quiet a while : (

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    1. Or a real addict? Ice is evil, it is so heavy! Then again a foot of snow ain't good either. I'm sorry you guys were so hardy hit!

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  10. One of the best uses for a basement! Prison of love.....so true.
    You've been hit pretty hard on the weather front. So sorry. The whole country, although having one of the warmest years on record in 2016, has been reeling from the recent cold dip. Although I have to say, we've had cold weather and ice, but nothing compared to 2013 and 2014.

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    1. I am so over winter! And how is it that your Instagram pics keep on looking so darn good?

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    2. Um, selective photography and insane weather patterns.......

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  11. First of all, THE COOLEST GUEST BEDROOM EVER!

    Second, your plants look great. They clearly get enough light. That's often the biggest issue for me when I bring plants inside.

    Third, your outside photos are truly beautiful--but it's a dangerous kind of beauty. I hope your plants will make it through the winter. It's been anything but a "routine" winter, hasn't it?

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    1. If you were to come up for the April HPSO plant sale YOU could be sleeping in that guest room. I'd even move the Agave for you.

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  12. Very nice basement setup! I love having baker's racks!

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    1. Thanks! And that Metro shelf was a cast-off (freebie) from when my little bro worked at McDonald's. I had to clean 10 years of dried on lettuce and grease off it but it's seriously tough!

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  13. I love seeing your winter basement posts -- it gives such hope that winter will one day be over (she writes while it is insanely snowing outside). I hope you get to go down there and visit them all the time to keep your spirits up!

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    1. Winter will one day be over, dammit! So sorry about your Magnolia.

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  14. I know the feeling, winter going on forever and fingers itching to get back into the soil but you seem to have solved it. Looks like the perfect place to chill out and forget about the world. My husband would get a heart attack if I filled the house with plants like that, you lucky girl :)

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    1. He is understanding, and I am lucky!

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  15. My agaves get brown spots in the greenhouse over winter. After a time the spots form depressions and turn black. I feel sure it's a fungal problem, but that isn't to say that's what you have. Your cellar is most likely a good deal less damp than my greenhouse.

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    1. We're pretty lucky, it's not a damp basement at all. Still I will look into the fungal infection idea, thank you.

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  16. You've had to work extra hard for your plants this winter! I've been thinking about you all day. You have much more snow than we do now. We only have about an inch left, with ice, rain, and now more snow coming tonight. I much prefer snow, but of course my plants are mainly hardy ones or ones I expect to bring in for the winter. I hope things will turn around for you soon and you can take some of the plants back outside. Hang in there--it has to get better soon!

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    1. Thank you Beth! BTW...I hope you're planning to come to the D.C. Fling in June!?

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  17. Your winter nursery gives new meaning to the phrase, 'full house'. It reminds me of my own a couple of years ago! I feel your pain lugging everything down, especially with the race it must have been to bring in another motherlode with your crazy weather!
    Questions... What kind of lights are you using? Do you have any fans going? Do you find adding soap to the alcohol helpful for your mealy bug spray? I have gone to straight alcohol and have found that my pest population for the 5-6 months my plants are inside has gone down dramatically since the addition of fans. One last thing, your Totem is delightfully fat and sassy!

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    1. Our lights are just regular tube florescents. I used to pay extra for the grow lights but they really didn't make a difference (IMHO). There are a couple of small fans on whenever the lights are on (for the first time this year). However since the heater has been on outside (blowing hot air) I've also brought in the larger oscillating fan that is normally in the "greenhouse"...and finally yes, I've been adding a little Dawn to the alcohol and water mix...good to know you find the fans are helpful and the soap not needed!

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  18. Looks much more satisfying than sticking your head in the sand. Wish I could do something similar.

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  19. Oh all that ice is scary! I can't even imagine how terrible it must be :( I'm glad your basement garden is bringing you some comfort. Love that Calibanus(?)(!) So wacky looking, like a rock with a wig, sort of. Also those Euphorbia polygona are pretty awesome. Mine are short and clumpy. Wonder if they're different varieties? Mine was labeled 'Snowflake'... I hope winter leaves your garden soon and with minimal damage!

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