Pat72's blog

Balcony Bliss
Posted on Aug 5, 2013 6:53 PM

Saving Sempervivums




I’ll jump to it as quickly as I can.  I recently asked what type of semp I had on the Sempervivum and Jovibarba forum article found here:


Great help as usual, but now I have an issue that has completely caught me off guard and I need as much help as I can get here.  Especially with my very limited knowledge of semps and plants in general being a fact.


The owner of this beautiful collection of semps suffered an unfortunate and disheartening incident.  He was robbed early in the morning at gunpoint while reading his newspaper on his patio.  This is a very rough side of town as is, and he was hurt pretty badly.


This incident has caused enough trauma to inspire him to move out of this property where I work.  He lives alone, and is in his middle to late 60’s.  He is a super great guy, and I hate to see him go.  He mentioned to my property manager that he likes me, and happy that I keep an eye on his semps for him.


The bigger problem comes after he moves out.  The VP of the company itself wants to ‘reset’ all patios on all of their properties company wide, which yes, would mean I as the maintenance supervisor would have to remove all of the semps.  I have resolved to satisfy the wishes of the VP, but I won’t put them in the trash.


So yes, I want to attempt to transplant them in pots and bring them home; as many of them as I possibly can.  Do I dig very deep under each plant?  Do I remove the soil they are growing in completely, or dig them out with the soil they are already in?  I am so uncertain about doing a transplant like this, but I’d rather try and fail rather than just throw these into the trash!


I don’t know the exact date of his move-out, but I’m sure I have a little time to prepare.  Please help if you can, I hope to save every one of these semps, thank you!

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Balcony Bliss
Posted on Jul 28, 2013 5:52 AM

Ants On Hummingbird Feeders




I finally found a way to keep ants off my hummingbird feeder!  I tried baking soda---they still crossed through it.  I tried corn starch, which from what I read, they eat it then die.  I highly recommend this type of feeder, but any feeder with a moat will do:






The top of this feeder is separate from the rest of the feeder.  I tried just water, but that didn’t phase the ants…they simply “swam” to the edge, then proceeded to steal food.


50% water, 50% rubbing alcohol!  Since I’ve kept this top filled with this mixture, I have had no ants crawling all over the feeder as they did before, and only have dead ants floating around in this mixture.  It works, yay!

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Balcony Bliss
Posted on Jul 17, 2013 5:40 PM



Balloon Flowers



Last season, I had eight balloon flowers (sentimental blue).  My goal was to string the front of the balcony with a mix of purple and white all the way across the ledge. 


As mentioned in a previous blog, spider mites ate all but two before I realized what a spider mite was.  This is the smaller one of the two survivors, before I found out the mites were back again!






This season, this is what they have done to the pictured above balloon flower:




Grr!  So I asked questions here, and went bonkers looking for solutions to getting rid of these little nasties quick.  Neem oil was the favorite choice from all the answers I received, so it seemed to be what I needed to get to save my plants.


But I also found something else from…dare I say it…a ‘cannabis growing’ website.  Apparently, spider mites love that plant too!  A mix of rubbing alcohol and water came as a their quick fix and instant kill of spider mites.  Yes it’s very chemical, but after losing so many flowers last season, I just wanted them fried, lol. 


The recipe called for rubbing alcohol (71%) at 30 percent, and the rest water.  Multiple applications may be necessary for next several days, but apparently it will kill them quickly.  After a few days, and on the verge of dumping this plant and the soil in the trash, I noticed this:





New stems are growing off the nearly dead stems!  I was thrilled to see that it is still fighting to live, and at this moment, I’ve seen no spider mites on this plant.


The bigger one, also treated with this mix was deadheaded just before I realized it was being attacked.  Here is what it looks like right now:




I haven’t seen any new growth yet, but I have also seen no new mites or webs.  I’m keeping a close eye on the both of them, so hopefully they’ll hang in there.


I am a very observant type of person.  I watch and examine patterns as well as changes that may occur with my balcony garden.  So while pondering, I dwelled on just how could these spider mites attack again?  Did they hibernate, then show up again?  Did I bring them home with the new plants I bought?


I cannot conclude for sure how this has happened again, but I have to say that my strongest argument is from something I love and never considered.  While plinking around online about birds, I found out how birds carry insects on their bodies all the time.  Summarily, I feared that it is my beloved Perch and Zippy hummingbirds that feed here had them drop from their bodies and onto the plants.


I can’t rule this out, as I am trying to find all possibilities as to how I am getting them, so that I can properly fight them off in the future.  I’m going to see how and if these balloon flowers revive and fight through this.  I really hope they do.


Also mentioned previously, I planted six delospermas around my parent’s mailbox at their new home.  I decided to bring one home, but a different one than I planted for them, the ‘Starburst’:





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Balcony Bliss
Posted on Jul 4, 2013 7:17 AM

My Plant Family 




My father bought a house about a dozen years ago.  I still do work on this house for him, usually on weekends.  From general maintenance, working with the plumbing, water heater, air conditioning system, the swimming pool as well as landscaping, I was given unlimited freedom to explore all aspects of this house. 

Yet when I saw this house for the first time, I found a love for something I never previously knew I had.  The owner of this home was in my assessment, a master gardener.  His name was Glen, and from what I learned, he was some kind of an engineer.  Looking back now, I would have to say he was a master gardener, because he had five or more feet tall bleeding hearts that surrounded the entire house! 

My guess based upon what I now know is that they were Bleeding Heart Valentines, and this is the one that I have:



The colors of the flowers were not only such a profound red, but the unique feature of the heart-shape they displayed had an eye-catching grip on my attention as never experienced before.  I have concluded that even if nasty spider mites or any other contaminant that ever attacks and destroys (hopefully not, lol) a bleeding heart that I may have, it will be replaced immediately and without question from here forth. 

It is unique, beautiful yet fragile, however a plant I can appreciate and love. I then took a chance on another bleeding heart, buying two luxuriants.  Unfortunately, the nasty spider mites obliterated one of them, and I had to dump the entire pot into the trash.  However, the other one did survive, even though it was attacked as well:



Then I somehow realized the plants that I had around me, but never spent much time understanding or learning what they were or what it took to take care of them.  They are everywhere around here.  They are extremely popular in the Midwest, and you will find them surrounding many homes.  You will also find them planted around apartment complexes and even fast-food restaurants.  Cousins of the Japanese Bonzai trees, the Boxwoods:


I originally had bought two Green Mountain Boxwoods.  I purchased them because of the ease of working with them, the low maintenance etc.  We did have a very nasty drought here in Indiana, and with my very weak understanding of plant-life, I lost one of my two green mountain boxwoods.

I did give them both names, lol.  From the movie ‘Ghostbusters’, one was named Gatekeeper and the other was named Keymaster.  Keymaster was the one who died, but Gatekeeper is the above pic, alive and thriving.

But at my Dad’s house, as mentioned Glen knew what he was doing with gardening, and I have discovered four green mountain boxwoods (but here is only three) on the property, thriving as well to this day:



If I were to take a guess about which type of boxwoods that I see everywhere around properties, restaurants, businesses etc., my guess would be that the type of boxwood is a Green Velvet.  That is pretty much why I bought one:


My previous maintenance job was at an apartment complex in a very rich side of Carmel, Indiana.  To understand how rich Carmel Indiana is, if they wanted to be the state capital, they could likely do it.  Their highschool is as big as a division two university!

But while working there, I noticed one boxwood that looked a whole lot different than the rest, which I gleened were all green velvets.  But this one in particular was barely a foot tall, and had a perfect conventional light bulb shape.  I concluded that it had to be a Green Jem.  I loved it, bought one and am attempting to train it to get that light bulb shape as well:



One day I was browsing a nursery department at a store.  It was almost fall, but I wanted more color in my balcony garden.  My attention was easily stolen by the Balloon Flower, so I brought home a purple and white mixture:



I love seeing them constantly “popping” out blooms.  I had originally bought about eight purple and white balloon flowers, and they were beautiful.  But nasty spider mites ate up all but two last season.  I plan on rebuilding my vision of purple and white balloon flowers sometime soon.

If I were to take a guess about why I bought a Monkshood, I would have to say it was totally at random.  I think I just googled plants in general or something like that, and was totally captured by the Monkshood petals.  Unique and beautiful seems to always get my attention, lol.  So I bought two of them:



It was only after I researched the monkshood thoroughly that I realized it is one of the most poisonous plants in the world!  I read a story about how a horse had eaten a fourth of its body weight and died.  I read how third world tribes extract poison from it for their arrows.  I also thought it was way cool to put a label on the pots that says, “Danger, Poison” lol.



On my way to do some side-work, I stopped by at a nursery (my second favorite nursery).  A campanula bellflower ‘viking’ caught my eye:



I was elated to find out later that it attracts hummingbirds! 

Just recently, I decided to dive into annuals.  I had an extra pot that previously had an array of balloon flowers in it, but was currently empty.  The celosia china town said “take me home!” lol, so I did, buying seven of them:



Determined to attract hummingbirds, I bought four wide brim hosta lilies:


I then wanted to complete the balcony picture from the ceiling down, as all plants of course, were arranged on the balcony ledge only.  I chanced on two boston ferns:


Somehow, while looking at my balcony from the outside, I thought about how a border around the balcony opening would be cool.  And since the trumpet vine is a hummingbird favorite, I brought one home about two weeks ago:


I was even warned at the nursery that “these can grow up to 30 feet.”  I smiled and replied that my vision was for the vine was that it would be trained to grow around a strategic border around my balcony opening:


To the far left is the trumpet vine.  Across the top and bottom of the balcony measures eight feet.  The sides measure three feet.  So my guess is that the vine will wrap around the balcony border one and a half times.  I just hope I can control the vine’s growing path lol!

Then to complete my plant family was something totally unexpected.  I don’t know what it is, but it just started growing this season on its own.  I have no idea what it is, but a guess says it’s some kind of tree.  I call it my junk tree:


I nearly pulled it to use the pot for something else, but then it hit me that I could go ahead and let it grow—in honor of Steve (see previous post about Steve).  It is currently just over two feet tall and healthy.  I did learn that it will wilt in extreme heat (85+ degrees) and will wilt.  So when weather predicts that much or more, I bring the junk tree into the house.  I also make sure it sits in minimal direct sunlight.

***Update:  After an intense research on a tree indentifier website, it is very possible that this is an American Elm or a Birch Tree, still investigating...:)

I’m excited to see the vine grow and eventually flower, the lilies to bloom, the monkshoods to burst with many petals, and all of my plant family grow and bloom! 


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Balcony Bliss
Posted on Jun 27, 2013 8:36 PM

Zippy and Perch



I was poised to post a blog that shows all of my plants, but it seems I have a bigger issue to ponder on in this blog.  Interesting developments have occurred with my balcony “garden”, lol.


Zippy was the very first visiting hummingbird to my feeder, surrounded by plants that attract hummingbirds.  To catch you up to speed, Zippy had trouble with trusting my feeder for over a week from my observation, but has now become a frequent visitor.  Here is the attracting scene I have set for a hummingbird sanctuary:



Bleeding heart Valentine, Monkshood Fisheri, Campanula Viking, Celosia China Town, Bleeding heart luxuriant and not pictured, two Sentimental Blue Balloon Flowers and four Hosta Wide Brim Lillies and bought just two days ago, but will be mentioned in next blog lol, a yellow Trumpet Vine. 

In my research and learning, I found websites that stated that it isn't the scent of the flowers of plants that attract hummingbirds.  Rather, it is colors that invite their attention, not fragrant flowers.  Thanks too Christine and her recipe found here on ATP :), my hummingbird sanctuary is growing and doing very well :).

Last weekend, I think it was Saturday, another hummingbird showed up!  I witnessed both Zippy and Perch (I will explain why Perch is the name I have chosen here in a sec, lol) fighting or challenging for possession of the feeder.  It was a several hour battle, but it looked like Perch had emerged victorious:


All of this time observing my feeder and anxiously awaiting the next visit from hummingbirds at all, Zippy has behaved the exact same way every single time she (I’ll explain my guess of gender, lol) fed from the feeder.  She NEVER perches and feeds.  She always remains in flight, hovering and feeding at all the times that I have seen her.  My only capture of Zippy that I posted on YouTube:


Perch, the new visitor, always PERCHES on the feeder while feeding.  Always.  He may hover for a quick second, but settles down while feeding every single time, and this behavior never changes.  

My gender guess is because of my reading of the male versus female hummingbird that I have been researching and learning about.  Please know that I am the last person on earth that could be considered any kind of an expert on hummingbirds, but from what I have read, the male hummingbird ‘wears the pants’ in the family lol. 


Because of my personal observation, I have gleened that Perch is the male and Zippy is the female.  PLEASE tell me where I could be wrong here, I really wish and would rather know the truth.  :)

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