Tuesday, January 15, 2013

January Bloom Day


It's another relatively mild winter so far in Chicagoland.  The snow thrower hasn't moved from its storage spot yet this winter.  We've had a few snow flurries, and a little rain.  Drought in our area continues.

Again this month we have no outdoor blooms. A single Helleborus niger (Christmas rose) bud continues growing in the garden, showing no sign of opening anytime soon.  Maybe next month.

We do have this kalachoe blooming in our dining room.   Kalanchoes kept indoors here tend to get somewhat leggy,  and not so pretty when left to their own devices.  So after they bloom I'll cut them back, strip the bottom three or four sets of leaves from the cuttings, and let the cut end dry out for a day, maybe two.  Next the cuttings go in a pot filled with moist soil, deep enough to cover the stripped leaf nodes. The pot will be watered sparingly, but enough to prevent the soil from drying out until the cuttings have rooted.  Then  we'll have more of these sweet, colorful blooms next winter on new plants. The old plants don't seem to recover very well from being hacked, so they'll probably be composted.

Cactus potting soil works well for kalanchoes.  I don't bother with special soil for them though.  All-purpose potting soil works fine here as long as the pots have drain holes.  These get watered once every week or two at most.

Kalanchoes thrive on neglect. They like this sunny south window, and they like to dry out between watering once they're well-rooted.  In December they get a little fertilizer, and by sometime in January they bloom.


The African violet has been blooming for over a month - cheap thrills and winter color. 


The Thanksgiving cactus bloomed on time, and again at Christmas. This month it has a few fat buds and one about to open, with many more small buds still growing. This plant will often rebloom through spring if I remember to fertilize it now and then.

I hope you're enjoying a few blooms this month, either in your garden or indoors.   To see more Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day posts, please visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

18 comments:

  1. I admire you for having kalanchoes in bloom. Yours looks like it just came from the florist shop! Happy GBBD.

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    1. Thank you Bookworm! There are three of them, and one of the others is budding too. I think the flower heads are less full on mine than when we first got them a few years ago in a gift basket, but I actually like them like this - more natural-looking to me. I sometimes wonder what the florist trade does to get those pumped-up-on-steroid-looking plants and blooms. Whatever it is, it won't be happening here!

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  2. I have never heard about kalachoe before, pretty flowers :-)
    Your Thanksgiving cactus is called Christmas cactus where I originally is from, Norway, I guess it blooms that bit later. My hellebores are on their way up too here in London where I live, I have one in flower so far, the rest are just buds.
    Happy GBBD!

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    1. The first time I saw kalanchoes was at a local flower show a few years ago Helene. It was amazing how they were used in all manor of floral sculptures.

      There are actually Christmas, Thanksgiving, and even Easter cacti. If you're interested in learning more, here's an article to get you started: http://web.extension.illinois.edu/state/newsdetail.cfm?NewsID=8570

      Usually the Christmas rose doesn't bloom here until very early spring so I'm surprised we have this one bud. But our weather has been very unusual, and much warmer than normal. I used to dislike winter, but now I'm actually glad when it gets cold - seems more normal.

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  3. Kalanchoe is one of those overlooked plants. They take up where Christmas Cactus and forced bulbs leave off and give January bloom when there is little else. Thanks for the little tutorial, maybe more gardeners will discover it. I have white; red is on my list to get.

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    1. I enjoy the kalanchoes Nell Jean. I like neglectable house plants - especially when they bloom.

      I almost composted the original plants after they got so leggy, but decided to try starting new ones instead. I'm glad I did - so nice to have some bloom color in January.

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  4. I like you Thanksgiving cactus bloom shot. Very pretty! Happy Garden Bloom Day!

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    1. Thank you Laura! Happy Bloom Day!

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  5. Nice African violets! I wish we were growing Christmas Cactus this year. Ours apparently does not thrive on the level of neglect we provided.

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    1. LOL Jason - sorry you lost your Christmas cactus. I killed one many years ago overwatering it. Well, actually, by letting Mother Nature overwater it one spring on the deck at a previous house. I've let them go without water for well over a month indoors though, and never killed one that way.

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  6. I love the comment about cheap thrills when referring to African violets. It made me smile. Yes, they are easy blooms and cheap thrills if you know how to grow them. I find I need that purple in the winter. Without it, I am blue. Thanks for the hacking tip on kalanchoes. I'd never had luck with them.~~Dee

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    1. Our kalanchoes came in a get-well basket a few years ago Dee. I was about to compost them after they got all leggy, spindly, and ugly, tried cutting them back and rooting the cuttings first, and realized cuttings were the way to go if I wanted attractive plants. I've tried keeping the hacked plants going but they're never as pretty, and don't bloom as well as the fresh starts.

      I used to grow African violets when I was a kid, and they were my first experiments propagating. (leaf cuttings) Don't know why I waited so long to get another. They're so easy though, and cheap, compact, long-lived, and colorful, not to mention very nostalgic, I'm tempted to get more.

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  7. Well your kalachoes are pretty! I also have enjoyed the "cheap thrill" of a Christmas cactus this year and that's pretty much it. We've had snow on the ground and an inversion overhead which is keeping the temps around 0 at night and 20 during the day. Can't wait until it gets blown away, hopefully later this week.

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  8. Thank you Victoria.

    Brrr - sounds chilly in Idaho! I can imagine you're ready for some milder weather.

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  9. I never purchase houseplants and then I get to longing for them, this time of year! I never really see any that look any good, in the grocery store! That's where you get yours?

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    1. Just the African violets, Sissy. We have a nice little Mom & Pop grocery down the street and they have some nice things. Trader Joe's often has some good-looking house plants too. I bought a beautiful orchid plant in full bloom to use for my daughter's bridal bouquet, at TJ's, and it was under $10. Broke my heart just a little bit to cut off the flowering spikes, but it was for a very good cause.

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  10. I like your fresh-faced African violets. Over here we have to walk a tightrope of providing just sufficient water. Too little they wilt, too much the whole plant drowns and rot.

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  11. Lovely flowers. Seems like your kalanchoes just came from the florist shop. You have definitely done a great job in growing them.

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