Holiday cheer comes in many forms: presents wrapped in colourful paper, bright lights and colourful ornaments dazzling our eyes at every turn, and of course all the parties! But when it comes to dazzling blooms, not many can hold a candle to the glorious Amaryllis. Available in stunning shades of red, white, pink, and bicolour combinations, the huge blooms stand atop some of the sturdiest green stalks in the Tropical world. So whether you’re looking for stunning décor for your next party, a gorgeous gift for a wonderful person or even yourself, here are some tips to keep your Amaryllis thriving throughout the season:
Planting Your Bulb(s):
Fill your pot with all-purpose potting soil and place your bulb so that the top third is poking out of the soil – Amaryllis like to be cozy but not suffocated! Be careful not to damage any of the thick roots when planting, and pack the soil lightly so the bulb stays firmly in place.
Choosing the right pot size is very important for Amaryllis! There should be no more than 1” (about 2cm) on either side of the bulb once it’s planted, so if your bulb is 4” across you’ll need a 6” pot. Too large of a pot may mean that your blooms are delayed or may not show up at all. Go for a sturdy pot (with drainage!) to match the sturdy stalk as it reaches for the sky.
Now that your bulb is in its new home, place in bright, indirect light and water in carefully (this is where the drainage hole comes in handy). Allow your Amaryllis to dry out slightly between waterings. Blooms can appear in 6 to 8 weeks, depending on your home environment.
So, you know about Fall Bulbs: bright Daffodils, fragrant Hyacinths, adorable Crocus, and of course the rainbow of colours in the Tulip family! All of these stunning spring bloomers need 12 to 16 weeks of cold temperatures (aka fall and winter) which is why they’re available in September to be planted before the ground freezes. But that’s a long time to wait and the winter months can be so dreary, if only there was an earlier way to enjoy these beautiful flowers…oh wait, there is!
A lot of people are thinking about expanding their veggie garden by using raised beds, and that’s great! There are lots of advantages to having raised beds: reduced strain on your back, weed control, good drainage, protection from critters and other pests nibbling on your tender greens, etc. There are many types of raised beds out there, from simple wooden boxes to metal troughs, and some even have legs! We prefer ‘bottomless’ beds which are open to the ground below to allow roots to go as deep as they want, which then results in strong, healthy plants.
There’s something about growing your own food that is oh so satisfying, even if it’s just a few tomatoes or a handful of sweet green peas. Best of all, growing vegetables and other edible plants is surprisingly easy and will only reap benefits for you, your family, and your neighbours if you seeded too many zucchini!
Find Your (Sun)Light
You can change your soil and you can change your watering habits, but you can’t change the sun. Discover where it shines on your potential garden beds, and for how long, to determine your ideal location. Always go for the sunniest location you can find, as most vegetables and herbs require full sun (6 hours in the afternoon at minimum, ideally 8+ hours every day).
There are so many vegetable varieties that can thrive on balconies and other small spaces; you might not have the space to grow blue-ribbon pumpkins, but you can keep your harvest flowing with fresh and nutritious flavours all summer long! You can get an early start by seeding certain varieties indoors or keep it simple with starter plants later in spring.
Note: Every residential building has its own rules and bylaws; check with your building/property manager before filling your balcony with containers and baskets.
The More Light The Better! Do you know how much sunlight will directly hit your outdoor space? It’s the one aspect of gardening that’s out of our control, so it’s important to know your limitations. Most vegetables and herbs require full sun (4 hours in the afternoon at minimum, ideally 6+ hours).
East Facing = Morning Sun (good light, weaker energy levels)
South Facing = Full Sun (ideal vegetable growing location)
West Facing = Afternoon Sun (excellent light with strong energy levels)
Highest Sun Energy Levels: 11am to 4pm
We are all about proper plant care here at Belgian, so we try to carry items you’ll need to keep your plants happy and thriving. But what exactly is vermiculite? Do you really need to add charcoal to your pots? Which potting soil is best for which plants? So let’s shed some light on our Bagged Goods:
Potting Soils – use for both indoor and outdoor pots, planters, hanging baskets, etc.
All-Purpose: our “yellow” and “purple” bags are from two Canadian suppliers, Fafard and Lambert. Fafard/Yellow can be used for nearly any indoor and outdoor container planting need. Lambert/Purple is a lighter mixture thanks to its slightly higher peat moss content, and very similar to what we grow all of our Annual crops (and African Violet soil that used to be available years ago); it’s great for indoor planting, seeding, and propagating.
“Excuse me, how long before this *insert tropical variety name* needs to be repotted?”
We get this question all the time, and depending on the particular plant our answer is usually “not for a while yet”. It’s a bit vague, yes, but it also means that you don’t need to worry about finding a larger home for your 4” Croton right away.
It’s easy to get excited about your new houseplants, and of course you want to give them the best home possible. So why not save some time and energy by putting that 4” Ficus into a 16” pot – it’ll grow into it, right? No, sorry, but that’s not how indoor houseplants work. Repotting Tropicals is like buying shoes for young kids: eventually they’ll need those size 13 sneakers, but not when they’re 4 years old.
All plants thrive in ideal environments but can also adapt, to a point, when necessary. Basic essentials like sunlight, water, temperature, soil, nutrients, and humidity need be kept in balance to keep your plants happy and healthy. Check individual plant tags for detailed information about the best conditions for each of your tropical houseplants.
Low Light: Indirect light
North or Northeast facing windows, room interior, window with closed sheers.
Medium Light: Bright location with indirect light
East window (morning sun), West window (evening sun), or placed away from a South window.
Direct Light: Bright, sunny direct light
In a South or West window; 4+ hours of sun daily; hot and intense in summer. Read More
Air Plants, nature’s rootless wonder! Okay, maybe that’s a bit misleading; Tillandsia have roots but not in the same manner as a peace lily or petunia. Like other members of the Bromeliad family, Air Plants use their roots to attach themselves to trees, rocks, and other hosts without any kind of parasitic tendencies — that means that they don’t feed off other beings to survive, how nice! And there are so many other cool things about them:
Whether you’re looking to decrease your grocery bills, or in the market for a new hobby, indoor seeding is a great way to do both! Besides, nothing beats the flavour of a freshly picked tomato! So let’s get started!
There’s just something about the look of foliage in hanging baskets that makes a space…peaceful, I think. It’s as if suspending a tropical houseplant above our heads somehow releases it from the confines of space and time, and allows growth and gravity to do their own thing at their own pace. Plus, it frees up more space on our shelves and tables for more plants so, you know, bonus!
While many tropical varieties do best when positioned firmly on solid ground, there are so many others that love an elevated setting in our homes and offices. For sun-loving succulents, such as the fan-favourites Burro’s Tail and String of Pearls, hanging them directly in a bright south-facing window means they can treat themselves to a sunlight buffet without having to compete with neighbouring plants. If your windows are more on the morning sun/lower light side, or if you’ve got lots of space to hang but without a direct view, there are plenty of tropical varieties that thrive on less sunlight. Have you seen how a Pothos or Philodendron can turn a plain corner into a lush jungle paradise? Trust me, it’s magical!
When it comes to hanging plants, there are a few important factors to consider:
As much as we love our gorgeous spring bulbs (the Glads, the Dahlias, the Calla Lilies, and all the rest) their beauty comes at a price: they cannot overwinter in our gardens. But that’s okay, because a little effort now will mean you can enjoy them again next year! Here’s how:
Note: For the sake of space (and a certain writer’s sanity), all varieties in question will be referred to as “tender bulbs” or just “bulbs”, even though most of them are corms/tubers/rhizomes/non-bulb beings.
What to Lift: You’ll need to lift any and all of your tender bulbs before the hard frost hits, including Dahlia, Gladiola, Calla Lily, Freesia, Anemone (not the Perennial/Japanese varieties), Ranunculus, Tuber Begonia, Tuberose, Caladium, and Canna Lily.
Well, we’ve made it. It took a lot of hard work, planning, and table space, but we are finally ready to put all those adorable seedlings outside…almost. You’ve been so patient with them, they just need a little more time before they can grow big and strong outside (and you can reclaim your tables and shelves!).
Experienced gardeners know a simple truth: in order to have the best crop possible, you must choose which of your precious plants will live, and which have to be sacrificed for the greater good.
Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but you’ve been watching these adorable seedlings grow for a few weeks and you may now find yourself, well, a bit attached to them. However, sometimes you must be cruel to be kind. After all, this is the main reason you seeded extras of your varieties, knowing that some wouldn’t germinate at all and others would have to be thinned from the crop. Plus, some of your taller varieties may need to be “potted up” into slightly larger pots, which means less space on your seeding station which means less plants so…*sigh* it must be done.
What do you think of when you hear “flower bulbs”? Tulips, Daffodils, Hyacinths, the usual. Now think of “Spring Bulbs” and what comes to mind? Tulips, Daffodils…well, yes, those all flower in spring, but they have to be planted in the fall. We’re talking about bulbs you plant in spring to get the gorgeous blooms anytime from spring through fall, depending on the variety. Yes, many are tubers, rhizomes, corms, and other non-bulbs; the point is that they’re all oh so pretty! Tip: Some will need to keep their foliage after they’re done flowering to absorb enough energy for next year’s flowers. Oh, and they all need a sunny location, at least 4-6 hours, to generate those blooms, and their tubers/corms/etc will need to be dry before going into winter storage.
At last! You have been so patient, getting all your supplies together, making sure you have the proper soil mix, and setting up your seeding station for all your future little sprouts. And now it’s time to put all that preparation to good use and get dirty!
Remember that mountain of information on your seed packets? Remember the all-important “Sowing/Start Indoors” date? No, no need to panic, you’ve still got plenty of time to double-check your dates. For vegetables, most of them want to be planted 4 – 8 weeks before the last frost, except for onions, leeks, and eggplants which take 10, and celery and celeriac prefer 12 weeks of cozy indoor growing. Flowering plants, both annual and perennial varieties, can vary but usually hit that 4 – 8 week window, as well.
Oh, one more thing! If you’ve got specific numbers in mind as to how many of each plant you want to end up with, make sure you sow a few extra of each variety just in case. This goes back to that tricky germination rate; some seeds just don’t take very well, no matter what you do to coax them out of hiding. So it’s better to have extra and then thin out the weaker ones later to get the best plants, but more on that in Part 4!
So, you’ve got your seeding station all set up, all your containers are washed and sterilized, and you’ve memorized the seed catalogue. Time to start seeding, right? Well, not quite yet.
Yes, it’s true that winter and early spring is a great time to start your seeds indoors, but it really depends on the varieties you’ve chosen. Some vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, and most members of the brassica family (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, etc.) need the extra few weeks indoors to get a head start on the season.
You look outside and everything’s cold and snowy, and you get excited because it’s almost Indoor Seeding time! Starting your seeds indoors is cost-effective and gives you more control over what products are used on your plants – perfect for anyone looking to make their garden pesticide-free.
But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves, which is very easy to do right now (these cold, grey days are just begging for a burst of green!) Seeding is like trying a new recipe: we have to get the right materials, check the ingredients list, and follow the steps in the right order if we want to enjoy a delicious treat or, in this case, healthy new plants. So let’s start with Part 1: Materials & Ingredients.
There’s nothing like a bird’s sweet song to help blast away the winter blues, and it’s so easy to bring their delightful voices to your own backyard or balcony. Whether you purchase a bird feeder or simply scatter seeds over the snow, our feathered friends will be grateful for the winter snack. You can even create your own simple feeder with pine cones, peanut/nut butter and seeds! And a bird feeder isn’t just a great gift for the birds, but for anyone on your holiday list, from kids, grandparents, and even teachers!