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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #207---Why are there single flowers on my double flowered hibiscus
February 27, 2015

There are so many reasons to like the early vegetables. Kohl Rabi and Pak Choi and Broccoli and all the other members of the Cruciferae Family. Not only do they feed us early in the summer but they also taste wonderful. Right now I love them because they provide such hope and delight in the middle of a very cold winter. Their seeds were sown early this week and now when I go down to check on them they have all germinated and those little green shoots poking out of each little cell are a true lift to this gardener’s winter weary soul. Some of the other things we have seeded are a little slower responding. Once again I am trying to germinate Strawberry seeds. My last couple of attempts have been abject failures. I read the instructions very carefully and have tried to provide the correct temperature so we will wait with great anticipation. Some of these new hybrid, all season Berries, sound wonderful in the catalogue and I would like to try growing them in the old Pillar of Peppers structure. I’m hoping that might be a way to harvest a crop ahead of the other creatures that seem to beat me to them. First I have to successfully germinate the seed.

It’s the first of March this weekend and I have often fired up the heating cables in the outdoor hot frame by this date. I can’t imagine that any amount of heating cable is going to warm up the floor of that frame when the air temperature is -20C. Just getting the ice and snow off the top of it might be a bit of challenge. Luckily I have not run out of room under the basement lights but that will quickly change as I start to transplant all of those tasty vegetables. They do grow quickly. Somewhere under the snow is a deep layer of ice covering the ponds. The little mound of ice that the air bubblers often create has long since disappeared and I can only hope that the, life supporting air, is still getting to the fish as they nestle in the mud at the bottom of the pond.

The vagaries of Mother Nature continue to fascinate me. The old Hibiscus standard that I brought into the house after it had had a few freezes came roaring back to life after I had severely pruned it. I told you that much a few weeks ago. This week I glanced at it and it has 3 or 4 new leaves developing on the end of each branch and on one branch there was a large salmon coloured bloom. Not only was the blooming interesting but the bloom was a typical single petaled Hibiscus bloom. All summer this plant throws out generously doubled flowers so why did it decide to produce a single one this week. I know that many of my Peonies will produce single and semi double flowers on the same plant, often at the same time. Somewhere I’m sure somebody has done the research into the doubling of flower petals but I’m not sure that I’m curious enough to go searching for that dissertation. I’ll just remain fascinated by apparent randomness of it.

Thank you to all of those readers who continue to ask about my Granddaughter Matilda. She remains in the hospital but is making slow but steady progress and we hope to get her and her mother home in the not too distant future.

Now it’s time to answer a few of my reader’s questions. Don’t forget to check the front page of the Website for frequent short ideas for current gardening activities.

Kathryn Asks? I'm interested in your technique for germinating the lotus seed. I tried last year without success. I filed the seed coat till I saw white then immersed it in water. I changed the water every day but it rotted. Did you do anything different?

Ken Answers! I have to confess that the seeds I was given were already germinated with about a 1" shoot when they arrived here. My friend said that she had sandpapered them as per the instructions she had and they germinated very quickly.

Brenda Asks? I bought an Amaryllis bulb before Christmas but didn't plant it until mid Jan. it has 7 healthy leaves but no stems thus no flowers. How disappointing! It has been in a warm place where it gets direct sun. Any idea why it is not booming? I won a white amaryllis bulb at the Guelph horticultural Jan meeting and planted it right away. It has two stems each with four flowers and is beautiful. One of the stems flopped over and broke off so I stuck it in a vase of water and the blossoms are now opening.

Ken Answers! Some varieties of Amaryllis put out leaves before the flower stalks and some flower before the leaves. Wait patiently. Occasionally you can get a bulb that decides not to flower. Keep it growing in may flower later in the year. Mother Nature likes to keep us guessing.

111 Trent St. W.
Whitby ON

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