Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
February, 2011
Regional Report

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My exquisite amaryllis always makes me smile.

Blooms on the Windowsill

We've certainly had our fair share of having to stay indoors lately. And even though we've also had a couple of thaw days to get our blood racing, the winter's not over yet. So, let's put some beauty on the windowsill to keep our spirits up until we can get outside again. Most garden centers and florists have blooming plants now, so loosen up the pocketbook for a bit of spring pleasure.

So what's blooming in my house right now? I have the biggest, most beautiful amaryllis given to me by a friend back in December. The soft apple pink, cream, and lime green blossoms are at least six inches across. There are four of them on the first stalk and a smaller stalk will hold four more soon. It's sitting in a sunny window at my kitchen sink, where I spend so much of my time. Every time I look at it, I can't help but smile.

My other beauty is a sweet olive. This is a somewhat unassuming plant, but when it blossoms, the scent will knock you over. I fertilized it with worm compost a few weeks ago and it responded with the best bloom set ever. It's absolutely covered with tiny starry white flowers with an orange blossom/jasmine scent. It jostles my senses every time I walk in the family room.

It won't be long before we start seeing forced tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils appearing on the shelves. These are beautiful, sometimes scented, and can be put out in the garden when the weather breaks. I just suggest fertilizing them well before you put them outdoors, and they should bloom again next spring. Even if they don't, you certainly get a chance to enjoy them right now, for not much more expense than cut flowers.

Azaleas are usually available at florists, in every shade of white, pink, and fuchsia. These shrubby plants make a stunning display when blooming, and many gardeners have luck bringing them into bloom year after year. Simply fertilize and put them outdoors for the summer, and bring them in before frost. I spoke with a friend the other day who has a white one that has been blooming consistently for her for almost ten years.

Orchids, another favorite of mine, are also widely available right now. Phalaenopsis or moth orchids can be found from florists to garden centers to big box stores, and they come in all shades of purple, pink, white, and multi-color. Try to pick one with lots of closed blossoms so you get the maximum bloom time. I have one that bloomed for me for six months. I cut back the spent flower stalks lightly, and I now have another blossom stalk starting. It should be in full bloom in about a month.

So treat yourself to a blooming windowsill for color to enjoy in the depths of winter!

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