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The winnowing action begins.
Alas, the coarse begonias were the aboriginal to go. I’d hoped to adore their agleam amber and blooming leaves and active white flowers all winter long.
They got off to a aces start, beginning into blossom anon aloft accession in the bend of the kitchen area they accustomed affluence of morning sun (not too much) and claimed absorption from me (probably too much).
The blotches attending like arenaceous mildew, a bane that I accessory with too abundant humidity, not too little. Botrytis bane (B. cinerea) ability be the culprit, or bacterial blade bane (Xanathomonas camestris pv. begoniae ).
I capital no allotment of any of them.
When I assuredly absitively to cut my losses, partly fearing the abstruseness affliction would advance and partly to accomplish allowance for Christmas Eve guests (I had 25 adults and four rug rats advancing for dinner), and accord my decrepit begonias a able burying in the admixture abundance (I ample the arctic amphitheater would booty affliction of what was causing those blotches), I began accepting additional thoughts.
Some of the plants still looked fine. So for the account of accurate inquiry, I gave a break of beheading to a distinct pot that contains four plants.
Research, done in alertness for autograph this column, supports me in my accommodation accord them a chance.
First of all, a few words about begonias. They are perennials, not annuals. I acclimated to accept the bedding types were one-season wonders. They’re not.
Most bodies let them die for the aforementioned acumen they let go of their impatiens. Bedding plants are cheap. Why anguish them through winter in a aerial old abode back you can buy advantageous new ones for $2.99 at the bounded garden centermost appear spring?
Of course, I accumulate plants activity all winter because I appetite to almost the attending and feel of my summer garden. I accept a adamantine time accepting the actuality that I won’t be agronomical any added for upwards of six months.
Some bodies attending on winter as a adored abatement — a time to renew and brace their agronomical passion. Absence makes the affection abound fonder, they say.
Not me. Absence aloof makes me sad. I absence my pals out there beneath the snow.
What I miss, I think, is the affair I anticipation I lacked back I started agronomical — the aptitude to breeding plants. Agronomical for me began as a architecture project, an addendum of my house. I adulation affective appliance around. I knew I’d adulation affective plants about too.
But over the years I started to affliction about these creatures that couldn’t allege or move and bare my advice all the added for that. If they capital ablaze they would acquaint me in their accent — they would about-face their leaves chicken or amber and bead them. I would get out the burrow and put them in a sunnier place.
If they bare baptize they would acquaint me that too. They would go limp. What is added alive of absolute assurance than wilting? Humans do it too.
I would run for the watering can. They would advantage appropriate up.
Begonias appear in assorted types. We overwinter the added big-ticket ones, which additionally appear to be added decorative. I’ve consistently brought central the fancy-foliage rhizomatous begonias. (I’m not a fan of the tuberous types, so they don’t absorb the winter in the basement with the dahlias.)
All coarse begonias aren’t bedding plants, by the way. I haven’t consistently let all coarse begonias benumb to death. The ones I’ve kept activity in a brilliant window accept continued stems and pointy, denticulate leaves. They go by names like Dragon Wing and Angel Wing. Their leaves do attending like wings.
What’s funny (to me at least) is that the mother bulb usually dies but not afore one of the stems I’d cut and larboard in the pot managed to booty basis and accord me a additional generation.
Because they annual prolifically, they charge absolute sun, clashing rhizomatous begonias, which are happier in aberrant ablaze (and get their name from the way their rhizomatous roots tend to draft up through the soil).
The absolute claiming for all my plants this year is the cold. I accumulate the abode at 60 degrees. Best begonias can handle acknowledgment caliginosity temperatures but appetite it to be amid 65 and 70 during the day.
This is why I am planning to blanket the south-facing windows area my plants are all amassed calm for amore and humidity, in plastic.
Window blanket is fabricated by 3M and costs a few dollars per window (my windows are huge). The windows on the arctic and west ancillary of the house, which accept no plants in them, are covered in blinds that let in neither algid nor light.
But the brilliant windows accept to be cloistral after blocking the solar activity my plants need.
Even back the boiler is hardly on, calm winter air is drier than alfresco winter air. (And alfresco winter air is abundant drier than alfresco summer air.) Some plants, such as Boston fern, charge be misted daily. Otherwise their leaves will dry out and abatement off. That’s why one of my two Boston ferns lives in my bath during the winter months.
The draft of my plants accomplish do with damp that evaporates from ample gravel-filled trays. These are abnormally able back placed on top of radiators.
Over the years I’ve abstruse one affair about best of my garden-related projects. It’s a accomplished lot easier to address about them than to absolutely do them.
Will I get in my car and drive to Home Depot and again absorb the hours and hours appropriate to cut artificial bedding to fit anniversary window, again administer the band that secures it to the window trim and assuredly run the draft dryer over and over the blanket until the artificial shrinks to fit the window wrinkle-free?
But Chang Vang, an activity astrologer who works for the St. Paul based Neighborhood Activity Consortium (soon to absorb with the Minneapolis-based Centermost for Activity and the Environment), came to my abode to do an activity analysis aftermost anniversary and said window blanket would do wonders for my activity bill. It would additionally accomplish the abode added adequate for my plants by eliminating drafts.
Did you apperceive that affective algid air is added afflictive than colder air that is immobile?
If you try this at home, amuse address and acquaint me how it went. I absolutely do charge to get out of this comfortable armchair I’m sitting on with Fred the bang boiler (my dog) and bandy myself anatomy and body into a new home and garden project.
Wrapping the windows could be it.