Monday, December 21, 2009

Lemons, Limes & The Cold Weather

I love having plants in containers. They add so much texture & structure to the front door or patio. The tough part of container gardening is borderline hardy plants in winter. I don’t have a greenhouse so they are left to “fend for themselves”. I know this sounds harsh but, it’s a chore to protect them & coddle them.
The very, very cold spell we had 2 weeks ago took its toll on my ‘Bearss’ Lime plant (pictured on right). I did take it & the ‘Improved Meyer’ Lemon plant inside during the wickedly cold nighttime temps. In the morning, I put them back out on the deck. I’m not used to paying attention to daytime temperatures. I figure it warms up during the day so what’s the problem. Not so during that week. Our highs were in the high teens & low 20’s.
Limes are not that hardy. They are not as hardy as ‘Improved Meyer’ Lemon plants.
On my way home one night from the gym, I noticed the temperature reading at the local school was 26F. Oh-Oh. I had left the citrus out all day. I pulled them both in & saw leaf damage on the Lime. The Lemon looked OK.
Over the next days, the leaves kept turning browner & browner. It finally dropped all of them. The Lemon & even its flower buds look great (pictured on left)!
I think the Lime will eventually recover. The stems are still green. I think it will leaf out by spring after a bit of dormancy.
I did put it back outside on the covered front porch. It’s more protected than the deck & it’s out of the wind. I believe Citrus plants do better outside than in our too warm, dry houses.
Whatever happens to my Lime plant, it is OK by me as it’s an experiment. Gardening is always an experiment as every year is different. Now I know what it can really take by way of winter temps. Next year, I will be smarter about plant protection or not. If I need another Lime plant, I know where to get one.

Enjoy the Holidays

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Whoa, it is cold outside. It seems to me that no matter how much we prepare for winter it always seems top throw us a curve. As I came home a few days ago from work I raced out to the water shut off valves to turn them off and drain the sprinkler system. I thought it may get as cold as predicted and wanted to make sure I had done everything I could to assure a smooth transition back to warmer weather.
I noticed that a few feet away from me was a Correa ‘Dusky Bells’ which I had just planted this summer. This plant is not terribly hardy here so I had my misgivings as to how it would fair. After two nights below 20 degrees…it looks stunning. Covered in the soft pink and mint green pendulous bell shaped blooms, the coldness seems to enhance their color, making them glow against the dark, evergreen small oval leaves…just lovely.
I did also see that with such a harsh freeze my Dahlias and Chrysanthemums finally gave up the ghost. Boy do I think these are so underused in our gardens! They have been blooming for months now, offering nonstop color. I purchased three varieties at the Chrysanthemum show in 2008 at Portland Nursery on Division and was too delighted to see how amazingly they preformed in their first year, especially the spider mum.
My palms I wrapped seem to be fairing ok as well…I did have to recover the top as the rains we had a few weeks ago filled them up like miniature swimming pools.
My Musa Bajoo could not withstand the freezes either. And no, I did not make the time to wrap them. Hopefully they will once again forgive me and come bursting out of the ground next year again, content to start from deep within the earth rather than at six feett tall already.
And much to my surprise, my bulbs are already pushing their way out of the ground. Imagine that, in December! Some people say to push them deeper in the ground a cover them with mulch but I figure if Mother Nature’s telling them to start growing…who am I to stop them? Besides, selfishly, it makes me think spring is just around the corner…an event I am already greatly anticipating…
And lastly I was watering inside the greenhouse when I went around a corner and felt really cold air! You guessed it. There was an 18” tear in the plastic. It looked like someone had falling into it because their were finger stretch marks where they tried to right themselves. Nothing a little greenhouse tape can’t mend.
If you don’t have a greenhouse you should really consider the investment. How beautiful it is to stroll thru there when it is this cold outside and feel the warmth of the tropics…The Greenhouse Catalog store in Brooks has really nice greenhouses that aren’t cost prohibitive. Check out their website…they do shipping as well. What could be easier?
Sometimes I feel like being on Gardentime should force me to have the perfect gardens year round. Well, I’m here to tell you my friends, that’s just not the case. But nevertheless, I adore my gardens and even though I never seem to get everything done that I desire to, I try to be as gentle and forgiving to myself as much as mother nature is to my gardens.
Stay warm, be happy and dream of spring…
Happy Gardening,