New Digs, Houseplant Health and Spring Garden Plans

LivingDiningJan2016At last!  We finally got moved in to our beautiful new home in Berthoud, Colorado.  It took way longer than expected, but we are settling in nicely. The living room is set up so my plants can enjoy the south and west exposures.  The sun pours in all day long.  Lucky us!

I love my Crown of Thorns. It never stops blooming, and is the most vibrant when receiving several hours of direct sunlight every day, preferably afternoon sun.  I water this beautiful plant deeply 1x per week, more or less.  If water is collecting in the drainage dish, I wait a few more days before watering again.  Once it warms up in the Spring, this plant lives outside, in constant full bloom, until Fall.  Beautiful!!!


Jan2016OrchidBloomingMy orchid is recovering from living outside in the dry Colorado climate for the months before and after the move. It has been blooming now for several weeks – a minor miracle since it was quite damaged before I brought it in. I almost gave up on it!  Once I trimmed off the brown tips and removed all of the dead foliage, the eastern light in the back room was very therapeutic, speeding recovery and encouraging new growth.  Now in the living room, it receives bright indirect for most of the day, with a couple hours of direct western light after 3 pm, which is fabulous this time of year. Smells like vanilla!

During the Spring and Summer, the western light will filter through our neighbor’s trees. Lovely!   As long as it’s bright, many orchids prefer indirect and will sometimes burn if placed in direct sunlight.  Looking forward to the longer, brighter days of Spring.

Jan2016StreptoMy Streptocarpus is getting ready to bloom. Now that the days are getting longer, I water this particular plant 2x/week. I even soak it in the kitchen sink every so often. If you’ve never grown a Streptocarpus, they are highly floriferous and can get quite large when given the right conditions.  They do like to be consistently moist and well fed, so might be considered higher maintenance than a spider plant or aloe.  Worth the effort when bloom time arrives! A photo of the flowers from last year….
Strepto 42013

In the northwest exposure, I have a beautiful Aloe. It’s so happy there! The Aloe gets watered every other week or so. They take a while to adjust after being transplanted or moved, but then it seems as though all of a sudden they look really vibrant and happy.  Now I just need to start ingesting the gel!  Great for the digestive system. Easy to grow once they get started.


Jan2016RoseGeraniumRose Geraniums (Pelargonium graveolens) are notorious for being heavy feeders. They love to be watered deeply when in a growth period, which is most of the time, and they grow very vigorously. If you time it right, the transition from outside to inside will go smoothly, with only a few leaves lost.  Bring it in before temperatures drop and place in your sunniest location!  If you lose track of time, and it does get chilled, your scented geranium might drop all of it’s foliage. Just prune it back and put it in a sunny window, gradually increasing watering and feeding as new foliage appears.  It WILL regrow.  I was lucky and only lost a few lower leaves during transition this year, while the top of the plant remained beautiful and lush.  I’m going to leave it in my east-facing office, as it seems to adore the morning light.

Rose geraniumPelargonium’s foliage is amazing on it’s own – wonderfully fragrant and robust.  This is the plant I distill Rose Geranium hydrosol from.  I  haven’t quite figured out which nutrients encourage abundant blossoms yet. I’m going to try adding a tablespoon of magnesium along with the Age Old Grow in the next watering. If it doesn’t bloom for me indoors, when I move it out in late Spring I will start feeding it blood meal, as an herbalist friend of mine had constant blooms when she did so. Can’t use blood meal indoors with a dog and cat in the house.

I regularly dump coffee grounds on my Rose Geranium, and often water my orchid and Streptocarpus with “coffee water.”  Now that the days are getting longer, I water once a week using organic Age Old Grow, 1 Tbs per 3 gallons of water.  All things considered, I think my plants look fabulous!

Jan2016StringHeartsOne more plant that I love to grow indoors is String of Hearts.  It’s a very durable plant that will grow slowly and steadily even if ignored or fairly vigorously when receiving reasonably bright light and regular deep watering every 7-10 days. It likes to remain a little dry.  Bright indirect light, or an eastern exposure is good.   I’ve seen these lovely plants grow 7-8′ long, from the top of an herb cabinet to the floor in just a few months.  Beautiful!  Here, the plant is growing a clay pot, which I place inside a tall, heavy urn-like pot.  This is a division I took from the original plant.  It blooms with very tiny trumpet shaped flowers once a year or so.   I love this plant!  Growing here in a very sunny east exposure and feeding/watering 1x/week to encourage growth.

New Gardens Coming This Spring!

Of course I’m making plans for the new herb gardens we will be building in the Spring.  I’ll be ordering seeds for some of the easy-to-germinate herbs – Chamomile, Calendula, Chickweed (Stellaria media), Oats (Avena sativa), and Nigella sativa (Black Seed) to name a few.   I will get most of my seeds and some of my plants from Horizon Herbs (now called Strictly Medicinal Seeds) – all organic and they carry the most medicinal varieties of the herbs I want to grow.  Chickweed is our favorite Spring-to-Fall salad herb with many healing properties.  Oats are fun and easy to grow.  My dogs love the grass in spring and early summer.  It’s usually the first thing they snack on in the morning.  Later, the oats appear, and I harvest them when “milky”  to make the nourishing and calming Milky Oat nervine tincture.  This will be my first time growing Nigella, common name Black Seed.  Beautiful flowers, cool seed pods afterwards, and the seeds have a multitude of healing properties.


Of course, I brought some favorite herb plants with me.  I just couldn’t leave my special Echinaceas (Tennesseensis, Paradoxa and Pallida) behind.

Same for Feverfew, hot & spicy Oregano, Violets, Plantain, Skullcap, Catmint, Thyme, Chocolate Mint, Schizandra, and an unusual butterfly bush that I bought at the Botanic Gardens two years ago.  Hoping my Primula florindae (Giant Cowslip) (pictured right) comes back in the Spring.

Even though it seemed a little crazy to dig up and bring all those plants along, and we really had to scramble to get them into the ground, it’s going to be awesome when those front gardens come to life in the Spring.

I also brought two Rose de Rescht, an Apothecary Rose, Lyda Rose, Angel Face, Ebb Tide (left), a very fragrant orange-apricot rose called Francesca and a beautiful species rose, Rosa Glauca (below).  The roses were challenging to dig up as their roots reach down deep into the earth, even after only one season.  I was fortunate to successfully dig up and transplant a volunteer shoot from Rosa Glauca.


Here at the new house, we constructed two gardens in the front yard, complete with rabbit and horse manure (found the rabbit manure on CraigsList), compost, mycorrhizal inoculant, and mineral rock dust.   AND, we got everything planted before the weather turned cold.  We were so busy!  The previous owners had mulched the existing gardens with “playground mulch” – little pieces of rubber!  I had to rake it all up, put it in buckets, and we hauled it over to the local recycling center.  Who mulches with rubber bits?  We also had to deconstruct a dilapidated chicken coop and do some fairly major cleanup in the back yard.  It’s ready for our gardens now.


Perennials can take a long time to germinate, so I look forward to buying lots of herb plants from Harlequin’s Gardens in Boulder, Colorado (organic nursery!).  They also have an amazing selection of own-root roses.  I will be adding at least one Rosa Rugosa Rubra (below), and possibly a few other species roses.  Now that I know how delicious and incredibly nourishing rose hips are, growing large, productive roses is a must!  Mmmmm.  All parts of the rose are medicinal – leaves, petals, hips, and even the twigs and branches were used by Native Americans.


More garden talk as we get closer to Spring!

Blessings to you and your gardens,

About Sarah Wadleigh

I am a Clinical Herbalist, Organic Gardener and Nutritional Consultant for people and companion animals. I live in Madrid, New Mexico with my wonderful husband, two little dogs and a big cat. My practice revolves around helping people create health through whole-food nutrition, nutritive herbs, lifestyle and self-awareness. With more than 20 years of experience as an animal nutritional counselor, I offer consultations to improve the health and well-being of our four-legged friends, as well as their humans. We can work together via Skype, in person,or over the phone. Let's create health for ourselves and our animal companions! Contact:
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