Garden Supplies

Garden Ramblings, Issue #063



November 2009


Monthly Musings on the Garden Scene

In this issue:

- Letter from the Editor
- Fall Gardening - Do's & Don'ts
- Repotting Orchids
- Tropical Houseplants From A African Violets To Z Zamioculcas
- Special Offers
- Tailpiece



Welcome to the November issue of Garden Ramblings. This month there are again three articles by guest authors.

Since it's November I have to include an article on the fall cleanup so my first guest is Andy Asbury who gives us his "Fall Gardening - Do's & Don'ts". It's refreshing to find someone who suggests tasks that you can leave as well as those that are have to be completed now. 

Repotting orchids is one of those jobs that it it easy to put off for another year, but as Anna Hartman explains a potting mix that has broken down will smother the roots. With her comprehensive instructions even the complete novice will have no problem in completing the task.

The third offering is by Larry Truett whose A to Z of Tropical Houseplants may be just a list of names, but it's a useful reminder of the wide variety of plants that we can grow indoors.

As usual there is a Special Offers section with all the bargains that I've managed to find this month.

In keeping with the season "Fall Colors" is this month's video.

Enjoy the issue.




Fall Colors


Fall Gardening - Do's & Don'ts

by Andy Asbury

We've been trained to believe that certain gardening chores must happen in the fall, or face the risk of an unproductive garden next in the following year. Indeed, some tasks are better taken on in the fall, but contrary to common belief, others can be put off or left out altogether.

Here is a list of some of the fall season do's and don'ts to help your garden thrive in the coming year.

DO clean out any annuals or dead plants in the fall if you don't want to face them in the spring.

DON'T remove dead plants if you want to maintain some vegetation in your garden over the winter. Keep in mind that they will break down over the winter providing compost for your garden. In the spring, simply turn the soil over and they will magically disappear.

DO pull existing weeds in the fall, along with diseased, insect damaged foliage, or rotten fruit or vegetables.

DO wash out your pots and store them away for next season.

DO continue to water your garden and trees until the ground starts to freeze. After our dry summer, even the trees need the extra water to give them the strength to face cold winter months.

DON'T feel the need to mulch all your plants. It does help keep the soil at an even temperature through the winter, and helps to retain moisture, but it is only really necessary for your delicate plants.

DO rake your lawn. Some feel that the leaves will decompose by next spring, so why bother. Raking helps to keep your lawn healthy by improving air circulation and prevent your grass from dying. In addition, the leaves make excellent mulch for the rest of the garden.

DON'T rake if you have only a thin layer of leaves that can be mowed into little pieces.

DO water and fertilize your lawn. Feed your grass at the end of October and it will be better equipped to face the winter months, and healthier in the new season.

DO plant spring bulbs and garlic in the fall. You'll appreciate seeing colorful crocus and daffodils popping up after a long cold winter. Planting garlic in the fall means you can harvest it next July.

DO bring in any plants that won't survive over the winter. Trim your geraniums to about 4 inches in length and store them in a dark, cool location. Shake off any dirt from the roots and dust with sulfur. Next February, repot and place in a sunny window.

DON'T fertilize grass that has been ravaged by drought. In otherwords, this summer, if your lawn was the one in the neighborhood that looked like straw - skip the fertilizer and water it instead.

DO continue to mow your lawn, leaving it about 2 1/2 inches long as winter approaches. Leaving it too long can cause snow mold which may kill your grass.

DO wash off your shovels and garden tools, and make any necessary repairs to ready them for next spring. Now is the time to sand and oil the wood handles with linseed oil. Clean the metal surfaces with a wire brush, sharpen the cutting edges, and apply oil to prevent rust.

About the Author:

For information about Minneapolis real estate, visit There you can search all Minneapolis condos for rent, in addition to getting the latest market information for the Twin Cities area.


Repotting Orchids

by Anna Hartman

Orchids cannot sustain themselves in the same potting mix indefinately. When you buy a new plant it may have potting mix that has broken down. This will smother the roots. Once the new orchid has finished blooming, it is time to repot it.

Orchids should be repotted when they are in active growth mode, this occurs right after blooming. Orchids in active growth mode are sending out new shoots, leaves, and roots. The orchid should be repotted when the new roots are around about 2 inches long.

Dendrobiums should be repotted only during new growth, whereas Phalaenopsis can usually be repotted whenever they are not in bloom.

Orchids are not potted in soil. They are usually potted in bark or coconut husk chips with sphagnum moss. Orchid potting medium needs to drain well and not hold too much excess water since the orchid roots can rot if they are encased in moist soil for a long period of time.

Potting mixes that contain small particles are the best for orchids with small roots and new seedlings. Mixes with large particles are better for orchids with thicker roots.

To begin the repotting process, first unpot the orchid. Get your work area ready by spreading out some paper towels or old newspapers. Turn the pot upside down and rap on the outside of the pot to break the orchid free. Any roots that are sticking to the pot, use a clean knife to pry them loose. Once the orchid is out of the pot, pull the roots apart and shake off as much of the old potting mixture as you can.

The orchid's roots must be trimmed prior to repotting. The best root trimming tools are a heavy, sharp scissors, shears and a sharp knife. To prevent the spreading of disease by your cutting tools, wipe the blade with a cloth soaked with rubbing alcohol in between repotting different orchids.

Remove dead roots. Dead roots are light brown and mushy to the touch. Roots that are healthy are firm and greenish white with light green tips.

Now it is time to pot your orchid. If you are using a clay pot, soak the clay pot in water for 2-3 minutes. Then let the clay pot dry out. If you are using a preused pot soak the pot in a mixture of 10% bleach and water, dip it, rinse and then let it dry out.

Orchids need thorough drainage, so place a thick layer of broken clay pot pieces, large coconut chips or styrofoam packing peanuts in the bottom of the planting pot. Wet the potting medium with boiling water, let it drain and cool off. When placing the orchid's root bundle in the pot, place the older pseudobulbs against one side, leaving enough room for the new root lead to grow. Fill in with moist bark mixture around the roots, lightly packing it around the roots. The top of the bark chips should be level with the rhizome.

About the Author:

Please visit us at Repotting Orchids for more free information on repotting orchids.


Tropical Houseplants From A African Violets To Z Zamioculcas

by Larry Truett

A is for African Violet, with furry leaves and plumes of small purple flowers.

B is for Begonia, which can have leaves with silver or dark red marking to brighten things up when it is not flowering.

C is for Chlorophytum comosum, commonly known as "Spider plant", a green and white striped plant usually seen in hanging baskets.

D is for Dionaea muscipula, more commonly known as "Venus flytrap", will actually trap and devour small insects.

E is for Epipremnum aureum, commonly know as "Pothos", has is a sturdy vine which usually has yellow or white marking on it's leaves.

F is for Fuchsia, normally kept in a hanging pot to accommodate the beautiful red or purple flowers that bloom under the cascading leaves.

G is for Gardenia, with large fragrant white flowers, probably best for a large indoor area with a lot of light.

H is for Hoya, which are vines with thick waxy leaves and clusters of sweet smelling white flowers.

I is for Ipomoea Batatas, better known as the sweet potato, can be sprouted indoors if suspended with toothpicks over a glass of water.

J is for Jasminum, which produces abundant white flowers with a heavenly fragrace if it is well cared for and has plenty of sunlight.

K is for Kalanchoe, with thick broad leaves and clumps of small flowers in a wide array of colors.

L is for Lithops, or living stones, look like tiny toes and are easy to care for as long as they have enough sunlight.

M is for Marantaceae, commonly known as "Prayer plants", which as large leaves accented with striking dark markings.

N is for Nephrolepis exaltata cv. Bostoniensis, or the "Boston Fern", is a beautiful big fern seen in many indoor gardens.

O is for Orchids, the huge family of striking flowers including the big Cattleya, the cascading Cymbidium, and the delicate Phalaenopsis.

P is for Peperomia, which has shiny green leaves in a variety of shapes, and which thrives under fluorescent light.

Q is for Quandary, which Q so often is for for these A to Z lists.

R is for Rosemary, which is a fragrant woody herb that can do well indoors if given enough light and care.

S is for Sansevieria trifasciata, commonly known as "Snake Plant", with leaves that are tall spikes with yellow margins on each side.

T is for Tradescantia zebrina, commonly known as "Wandering Jew", a sturdy plant with trailing stems bearing two toned leaves.

U is for Unicorn, which seems like it would make a great common name for a tropical houseplant but does not seem to be.

V is for Variegation, which are white or yellow markings on green leaves, and make many houseplants more colorful.

W is for Weeping Fig, or Ficus benjamina, which can be grown indoors as a small tree with interesting intertwining branches.

X is for Xanthosoma, sometimes known as "elephant's ear" because of it's beautiful large leaves.

Y is for You, as in you should try growing some tropical plants in your home.

Z is for Zamioculcas, which has an almost fern like architectural appearance, and which is said to be very easy to grow.


About the Author

See more resources for buying and growing Tropical Houseplants with listings of local garden centers and specialty mail order nurseries at


Special Offers

Once again bargains are few and far between, but slightly better than last month. Dutch Gardens have a sale and there are other reductions as well as the usual free shipping and $$$ off when you spend $$$.

As you see from the banner there is a 10% reduction on orders of $25 or more from Gardener's Supply Company this month. While there's no sale as such it's worth taking a look at the Outlet section at the bottom of the menu where there are some quite good reductions. If you're looking for a composter their Deal of the Week is a Beehive Composter at 33% off.

Gardener's Supply Company

Dutch Gardens have a Fall Clearance Sale with reductions of up to 40% on bulbs and perennials and by clicking the banner you get free shipping on orders of $55 or more.

Dutch Gardens, Inc.

This month Nature Hills Nursery are giving a 10% discount on everything. "Save 10% off of EVERY Plant & Product we offer!"





Phalenopsis Orchids


That's all until next month but in the meantime you can always look at my Blog Garden Supplies News


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