Camellia cuttings: mark now to prepare for warmer weather – Orlando Sentinel


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Question: Camellias are beautiful this year and I would like to start new plants from cuttings. Can they be rooted from cuttings at this time and how long do we make the cuttings? Answer: Fall through early winter weather has been ideal for camellias often one of our forgotten shrubs until they open displays of white, pink and red blossoms. Select and mark your favorite camellia plants while they are in bloom but delay making cuttings until the warmer months. Plants root slowly during the winter and cuttings are best made May through July from maturing spring growth. Make the cuttings 4- to 6-inches long from the ends of limbs. Dip the cut ends in a rooting powder available from garden centers. Then stick the cut end about two inches deep in containers filled with coarse vermiculite. Moisten the vermiculite prior to inserting the cuttings. You can mark your camellias for cutting now, but don't make your move until the weather warms up. (Pamela Hassell/AP) Set the containers of cuttings in a shady location. Keep the foliage and vermiculite moist with frequent misting. Many gardeners surround containers of cuttings with plastic to main high humidity that encourages rooting. Rooting normally takes 10 to 12 weeks. Q: Garden centers have lots of colorful bedding plants but I like petunias the most. If I plant them now, how long will they be in bloom? A: Expect months of great color from petunia plantings added to gardens and containers during early January. Petunias are long-lived annuals that can be prolific providers of color opening many blooms along indeterminate stems. Help them last even longer by removing declining blooms to prevent the plants from forming seeds. Constant trimming of spent flowers can be a chore so some gardeners wait until flowering stems become lanky and then give their plants a pruning. This often stimulates more growth and blooms that can last until summer. Do keep your petunias moist and apply a slow-release fertilizer made for flowering plants following label instructions. Q: Florida Arbor Day arrives on Jan. 21, this month. Is it a good time to start planting trees and shrubs of all types in our landscape? A. Hardy trees and shrubs are ideally planted during the winter months. They can make root growth that helps anchor them in the ground before new leaves and flowers begin to form. Probably it is best to delay planting cold-sensitive trees and shrubs like avocado, mango, tabebuia, hibiscus, crotons, tibouchina and similar until early March when consistently warm weather returns. Q: When I harvest my broccoli, I found a few Caterpillars in the clusters. What can I do to eliminate the pests before the broccoli is ready to eat? A: Since Caterpillars were not part of what you planned to harvest it would be better to leave them in the garden. It might be possible to firmly shake the harvested heads when cut to dislodge the feeders but a few could still remain behind. If you do not want to use pesticides, a close inspection or salt water soak of the broccoli before use may also help detect the pests. Caterpillars are controlled in the garden before harvest with one of two natural controls. Gardeners can apply Thuricide or a spinosad containing insecticide when the Caterpillars or their damage is first noted. Even though they are both naturally derived products and often used by organic gardeners, follow the label carefully and note waiting times after application before harvest. Q: I have periwinkles left from a summer planting that I would like to keep growing. What care do they need and what can I expect during the cooler weather? A: Expect the periwinkles to shiver a lot during the cooler weather. They don’t take well to temperatures that approach freezing. Plants are damaged by frost and usually killed back to at least ground level at 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Since there can be plenty of cold weather ahead for the next month or two, better keep the blankets handy and maybe some outdoor lights that can provide warmth on the cold nights. Otherwise, the care is simple — keep the soil moist but not wet and feed lightly once a month with a general garden fertilizer when the plants are making growth. Q: I have a large patch of ginger planted more than three years ago that has bulbs showing at the soil surface. How do I harvest the edible portions without killing the plants? A: Your patience is to be rewarded with a bumper crop of ginger for cooking, candies and drinks. But first, make sure you have the common edible ginger. It’s best to start this crop from roots, also known as rhizomes, found at grocery stores or garden centers featuring edible crops or herbs. Edible ginger grows during the warmer months in full to filtered sun and prefers moist soils. It dies back to the ground during winter. The rhizomes are normally ready to harvest by fall. You do have to sacrifice a portion of the plant to harvest the usable rhizomes. Dig a clump by severing it from the parent plant with a sharp shovel and leave the rest in the ground. When present cut off top green portions and use what you need of the rhizomes. Let the rest air dry to store for future culinary delights. Tom MacCubbin is an urban horticulturist emeritus with the University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service. Write him: Orlando Sentinel, P.O. Box 2833, Orlando FL 32802. Email: [email protected] Blog with Tom at
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