Tuesday, March 02, 2010

In Your Backyard: March On!

I suspect most Central Florida gardeners have put off spring planting waiting for warmer temperatures. Normally Orlando's February's temperatures average highs are in the low 70's and low 50's for night time sleeping, but February 2010 brought us 5 days of temperatures above average and 23 days of temperatures 10 degrees or lower than average. Well, I don't know about you but I'm over winter. Remind me of this when I reminisce about being hot in August.

Renovations in our home has blossomed opportunity for a windowbox garden inside! Finishing off a kitchen nook with a faux window inspired a trip to Orlando's Apenberry's garden center. Eric and Lisa Apen's wonderful nursery is a treasure to meander around with the beautiful and hard to find flowers, shrubs, trees, and magical garden accoutrements. I can always find a flower or shrub that will make my own backyard special.

After a few minutes of searching, I found an ideal rectangular copper container that would make a perfect windowbox. I knew I wanted African violets because of the great eastern exposure of my kitchen windows. For a filler plant and to add depth, I found an ivy with four long vines. Because African violets need good drainage, I placed two layers of the large bubble wrap in the bottom of deep metal container to ensure the proper height of the flowers. I then lined it with Glad's Press and Seal's multipurpose sealing wrap. I used an inch of small pebbles for the second layer and added my potting soil. The 6" pots of African violets and one 4" pot of ivy fit perfectly. I tucked the soft yellow-green moss underneath the leaves carefully and voilĂ , a beautiful interior window box garden! The African violets and ivy will love the filtered morning and noon sun and I will enjoy drinking my tea in my new spring kitchen nook.

African violets are one of the easiest plants to care for and most popular indoor plant choices. They love daytime temperatures in the 70's and nightime temperatures in the 60's - open windows in the spring and air-conditioning in the summer.

Watering African violets can be tricky. You will want to use room temperature water and make sure you pour it under the leaves not over them. Plant them high in the pot and keep leaves from touching any surface. Fertilize twice a month with a diluted liquid fertilizer - never use full strength.


African Violet Society of America
UF/IFAS - African Violets
Central Florida African Violet Clubs

Deadhead any chrysanthemums that you've planted in the yard after Christmas. They are starting to sprout large new leaves now. Growing Chrysanthemums in Florida is easy and they are repeat bloomers in your garden. Full sun locations and well drained sandy soils make it easy to find a place for them in your yard.

I will be leading a 2.5 mile interpretative hike on the last leg of the Walk Across Marion County for the Florida Trail organization. We will be meeting at the Santos Trailhead at 8:30am. You're welcome to join us - the weather will be beautiful!

Today on the radio show, we'll be talking about what to do in the month of March in your backyard and answering your garden questions!

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