Outside,Oregon gray skies dump cold and windy rain-it’s that moment of no-color, before spring’s panoply of blossoms. But inside my sunroom, I’m greeted with colors-not only shades of green, but reds, yellows, blues and bright whites. This month I celebrate my top reliable winter bloomers for greenhouse or sunny windowsill. These are the toughest survivors that have flourished year after year with my laissez-faire gardening style. With minimum care, these five will enliven your greenhouse for many winters to come.
Minimum Care Defined
All blooming plants need water, light and food. However, I’ve found that if you pay attention to their soil requirements, most plants are more flexible about the rest of their needs. Good planting mixes are light weight and free draining. Check out the beautiful web site of Kartuz Greenhouses in Vista, California, www.kartuz.com. Owner Michael Kartuz shares a great recipe for making your own indoor planting mix. The family-owned nursery also sells this mix ready made at their site.
Count Down to the Top
5. Euphorbia milii ‘Jerry’s Choice’- This two foot tall, spiky-branched—watch yourself—red-flowering euphorbia bursts into color when it hits the winter warmth of my sunroom, and it would do the same in a greenhouse. E.m. ‘Splendens’ is smaller and more compact.
4. Meyer lemon (Citrus limon ‘Meyer’) -This tough old citrus favorite features those wonderfully scented blossoms. I give it acid potting mix and low doses of organic citrus plant food and the plant shows not a hint of yellowing-except, of course, on the golden fruit.
3. Queen’s tears or friendship plant (Bilbergia nutens) -This strappy leafed bromeliad was pressed upon me by an enthusiastic gardener getting rid of extra plants, a clue to its common name. All year long elegant red arching stalks open to tiny green and yellow-tipped flowers.
2. Begonia ‘Cathedral Windows’ – Sold as a summer annual, I thought its thick rounded leaves of this begonia would make it a good houseplant candidate. I was right. Elegant pinky-white flower stalks dance above the container all winter.
1. Yesterday, today and tomorrow (Brunfelsia pauciflora) – Here’s the top bloomer in my sun room. This three-foot (with pruning) woody shrub, right now, in the darkest winter days, has covered itself from top to bottom with lightly scented pansy-like purple flowers that fade to lavender and then to white-thus its common name. Hurrah for brunfelsia—may she bloom yesterday, today and tomorrow.