|Plant and Plant a window sill garden soon for winter enjoyment
This summer was so hot and humid that cuttings from plants rooted easily if they did not dry out. ( someone told me if you put your toe in the mist/rooting bed it would sprout!)
All the herbs we put in our mist bed rooted in half their usual time. However the cuttings that thrilled me the most were some I traded with a Cumberland County master gardener to get, episcia Chocolate soldier. These are related to the african violet as both are gesneriads and need similar conditions. Both root well. Although some root the leaves in water I find better luck with putting a few leaves in a baggie with a few inches of sterile pro mix very wet potting soil in it. This is hung over a small nail in a window that does not get hot sun. soom the leaves root and can be put in small pots in an East window.
I have always loved these awesome plants with colorful leaves and bright red blooms. Once you locate them it is not always easy to grow them Although they like a similar environment to African violets they like it a bit warmer. Make sure that Chocolate soldiers are always in an area that stays above 65°. Although the plant needs to somewhat dry out between waterings, they require a humid environment and love a good soaking. So mist the air surrounding the plant with lukewarm water. Once a month use a water soluble fertilizer to feed them. I have also successfully used osmocote time relaese for blooming, 14-14-14.
Since Chocolate Soldiers (Episcia or 'Flame Violets') prefer a shade to partial shade environment, an east exposure should be perfect. However, make sure the plant is not receiving any harsh noon day sun.
I have always loved to grow blooming houseplants and as a child had a window sill full of violets and a few episcia. I remember always wanting to stop in the hardware store in Sea Isle City 45 years ago to buy the episcia they sometimes had under their growlight.
I have African violets on a table in the same window since they will also respond well if you follow the same rules when growing them. Because in their native environment they grow in a semi-shaded spot, they flourish in a window that has good morning light. This, coupled with moisture, adequate watering and feeding, and moderate temperatures will insure many pretty blooms throughout the year.
I usually have best luck with my violets when they are in northeastern or just plain east windows most of the year. During the darkest days from November to February I try to keep them in brighter windows with a southwestern exposure, but when the sun gets more intense in late spring the leaves brown if it gets too hot. I have one violet across from the kitchen table that blooms all the time. It faces east and gets gentle sunbeams from early morning till after lunchtime. It thrives here along with episca and a maidenhair fern. The secret is frequent watering. Whenever there is a little water left in a glass on the table I dump it in the plant. You'd think that this would be too much, but what with the sun and the little stony cement containers that hold the water as it drains through it seems to be just right. The plants often dry out in between waterings, but never wilt. In winter they need more when the fireplace insert sends out dry heat.
Some folks have great luck growing violets under 'Gro -lights.' Standard fluorescent lights are also good, especially if one is warm white and one is cool white. Violets need to have 12 hours of light and be about 12" from the light tubes. Be sure it is not stuffy and there is moving air if you use grow lights.
I hate to remind everyone, but fall and winter are on the way so it is time to think about wonderful window gardens. Succlents and cacti for the hot sunny places . Herbs and tropicals also work well in the bright sun, but need a bit more water. Nothing is more fragrant than an orange or lemon in a sunny spot. Gardenia, calla lilies, jasmine are just a few of the colorful fragarnt tropicals that make a showy window garden.
Ferns and other shade plants will do well in a north or east exposure. So plan your window garden now. Join me for an indoor plant talk October 7 at 1:30. No charge but please RSVP so we know how many to plan for.