Get Your Bloomers On
The crescendo of crocus and dawning of daffodils tell us that our city landscapes will soon light up with the bright blooms of spring flowering trees. A healthy urban forest depends on a diversity of species, and flowering trees can contribute to diversity goals while spreading spring cheer. These early bloomers jump-start spring while contributing to the overall beauty of our communities, and are worthy of consideration.
leads the charge of springtime blossoms. Winter-bare branches of this rounded tree explode to masses of small, red flowers in early spring. A tough, versatile performer is well suited for life in the city.
Fragrant, fluffy clouds of white flowers appear on its bare branches in early spring. Blooms give way to clusters of small, tasty blue fruits that are quickly devoured by birds. The medium green, disease resistant foliage of this North American native tree becomes rich orange in autumn.
is a welcome antidote to the winter blahs. Perfect, white, fragrant blooms emerge at the end of the school year in May or early June. In full flower, the tree appears to be dripping with white rain.
will capture your fancy in early spring. Varieties come in yellow or scarlet flowers. If you enjoy hummingbirds, this tree will not disappoint.
Other early spring bloomers include various magnolias, cherries, and early-blooming crabapples, but that's another story!
Not Your Grandma's Begonias
While you were sleeping, begonias were getting a reboot. They are no longer the stuffy, heavy- laden leaves of the past, with the typical pink, yellow and red blooms. Newer varieties are now being developed for their splendid display of foliage and they don't have to be blooming to be enjoyed. The fancy leaf shape and colors create a dazzling spectacle. Some echo angel wings. Either solo or in combination, they make for 'show- stopping' container arrangements. And when you're done with them in the garden, bring them inside for the winter. They are equally happy indoors.
(Look for "Rex Begonia's" where tropical plants are sold)
Here are a few tricks that will help make growing begonias in the house more successful:
- Use fluorescent lighting. It doesn't have to be an expensive or lavish setup. Even a simple shop light with ordinary cool white tubes will suffice. Eight to ten hours of light per day is usually enough.
- They don't like to sit in a puddle, so keep them on the dry side.
- They like to be pot-bound, so if you must re-pot, increase the size of the container gradually.
- Pinch, prune or trim them back as you move them indoors.
- Indoor plants in nice warm conditions are very prone to mealy bugs. The easiest and least toxic mealy bug killer is plain rubbing alcohol. You can brush the mealy bugs with a cue tip or artist brush dipped in the alcohol and they die on contact.
"Begonia Whopper" Photo Courtesy of Bob Cashman, Ball Seed
"Sparks Will Fly Begonia" Photo Courtesy of Bob Cashman, Ball Seed
Thanks for reading. Happy Planting!
President & Founder