To learn about our January seminars and classes, please click here.
Happy New Year! The dawn of a new gardening year brings with it a renewed sense of optimism. Unfortunately, the weather outside so often punishes that optimism with cold winds, rain, and temperatures well below freezing. It is during January that this area sees many of its most damaging cold snaps. That means you’ll want to be out in the garden making sure your tender plants are protected from the coldest Winter temperatures.
Do not fret though, because January also brings with it some of the most unique garden treasures which will warm your heart, even if the rest of you feels like a block of ice. Plants like Chinese Witch Hazel, Sarcococca, and Winter Pansies can be found in bloom in even this, the coldest of winter months.
Thankfully, we can also grow a host of plants indoors and January is a good time to spruce them up. Make time to force bulbs as well as do a little early planning for the season to come. And keep those bird feeders full! Those little guys get so hungry, just trying to keep warm.
Caring for Indoor Plants
It’s time to devote some energy to the indoor plants. Many houseplants, especially those native to tropical areas, will react negatively to the drop in humidity during winter. Place your indoor plants in trays of pebbles covered in water and group them closely together to increase humidity. Check water levels often, since the arid atmosphere indoors can dry plants out quickly. Trim off any dead or yellowing foliage and give plants a boost of Dr. Earth Liquid Solution. Here are a few of our favorite indoor plants:
Aloe (Aloe vera): What a striking, versatile and useful plant! A species of succulent, this plant is revered for its medicinal properties. Most of us know about its ability to heal the skin (especially after sunburn) but aloe is also praised for being a digestive aid, useful in treating wounds and even lowering blood sugar! Additionally, it is universally attractive and easy to manage. It’s relatively resistant to insects and other pests and only needs light watering. Plant your Aloe in well-drained sandy potting soil and place it in a bright sunny spot, for best results.
Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum): This beautiful tropical plant is known for its fresh green foliage as well as its large, paperwhite blooms that are held above the foliage. Peace lilies are one of the easiest tropicals to grow, needing only a small amount of light, and also being more tolerant of low humidity than many other tropicals. Perhaps the best quality of Peace Lilies is that they help to clean the air in your home!
Orchids (Orchidaceae): Elegant and captivating, orchids are a pure delight to have in the indoor garden. The many varieties produce a myriad of colors, shapes and patterns that amaze and delight. However, this unusual perennial plant does require some special care. Orchids bloom best inside and require repotting, fertilization and pruning in order to continue flowering over the years. With a little careful consideration, enjoying the beauty of the orchid is a very achievable dream. To get an orchid to re-bloom, strong, indirect light is needed. If a window is not sufficient, an overhead grow-light is a great option. Remove dead flowers, as they fade, and cut the dead stalk back to just a few inches above the base of the stalk, when the plant has dried up and yellowed. It will come back, even stronger, the next year. Cooler night temperatures (45-55°) will aid in flowering.
Citrus (Citrus species): Can you grow citrus in the northwest? Well, of course you can indoors! At Furney’s, we bring in lime, orange and lemon trees as well as some lesser known species (come down to the nursery to find out which ones). Grown in large pots indoors, under adequate light, small citrus trees provide lush foliage year round and, if you are lucky, some tangy fruits to enjoy!
Indoor citrus plants will thrive in Gardner & Bloome potting soil. Water them well once a week but mist their leaves in between, especially if the air in your home is dry. While we do not favor humidity, citrus trees love it (think Florida oranges). Keep that mister handy and your trees will love you.
To encourage fruit to bear, you may have to pretend to be a bee, since there are no pollinators (hopefully) buzzing around your home. Take a paintbrush or q-tip and go from flower to flower, spreading pollen around. Don’t forget to say “bzzzz”!
Forcing Amaryllis Inside
Amaryllis bulbs (Hippeastrum sp.) may be forced inside in January. Pot Amaryllis loosely in high-quality organic potting soil, leaving the top of the bulb exposed. Bulbs can be potted in any variety of decorative pots: clay, ceramic, glass or steel; find one that suits the aesthetic of your home. Water lightly in the beginning, increasing as foliage and flowers emerge. You will have a beautiful display of large flowers ranging in color from reds and pinks to orange, gold and white, and many variations in between, depending on the species, which will last several weeks. We often carry a nice variety of Amaryllis bulbs at the nursery so come down and choose your favorite!
Start Planning for a Great Garden in the New Year!
January is a great time to start planning ahead for the year. Spend a cozy day pouring over seed catalogs, reviewing any notes you took from the previous year and making a plan for the year’s garden. Take notes on what worked last year and what needs to change, which plants need to be moved or divided and what areas of soil need improvement. You will be so prepared when the soil is ready for planting, in just a few short months. In the meantime, plan to your heart’s content then come visit Furney’s to see our seed selection, indoor plant display and other promises of spring. For more garden planning tips, please visit the February section of our Gardening Calendar.