QUESTION: My 8-year-old daughter told me she'd heard you can grow a pineapple from the top of another pineapple. Is this true, and if so, how can we do it?
ANSWER: Growing plants from pits and seeds from your grocery bag--avocados, mangoes, papayas, etc. is lots of fun for kids and adults, and your daughter is right: You certainly can grow a pineapple from the top of another pineapple!
Begin by choosing a very ripe pineapple with the biggest, greenest, freshest looking top you can find. Twist off the top to preserve all the leaf rosette's base where it grows out of the pineapple. Set out to dry for 24 hours, then plant the pineapple top directly into a six-inch pot filled with commercial potting mix by making an indention about two-inches deep in the center of the pot. Water thoroughly, enclose the plant in a plastic bag and set it to root in a bright, warm spot. Remove the plastic to water once a week. When you see signs of new growth in the center of the rosette, remove the plastic and set the plant in a sunny window--a southern exposure is best. Spray regularly, keep the soil slightly moist and your plant will flourish. If you're lucky, you should get a bloom and subsequently a little pineapple about two years down the line. If the plant fails to fruit in two years, slice an apple in half, put it in the center of the plant, and cover with plastic for a week, then remove the plastic and continue to cultivate as before. The ethylene gas emitted by the apple will help trigger the growth of the fruit.
How to Get Amaryllis Bulb to Re-Bloom
Q: Last Christmas season I bought an amaryllis bulb, which produced several beautiful flowers. I let it die back, removed it from its pot and then stored it over the spring and summer. How do I get it to re-bloom?
A: Nothing could be easier! Simply replant the bulb in a 6" pot filled with commercial potting mix, water thoroughly, place it in a window where it gets bright, filtered light, and before you know it, new foliage and flowers will appear. If you've got a good, strong, healthy bulb it could continue to re-bloom every year for years.
Save Money and Make Your Own Potting Soil
Q: I'm an indoor gardener on a fixed income and have to cut corners wherever I can. Potting mixes and potting soil, unfortunately, are not "dirt cheap." Is it possible to make your own potting soil?
A: Absolutely! And although most people prefer to buy the commercial soils, there's definitely a lot of gratification to be had from mixing your own--one of the great joys of gardening, inside or out, is getting your hands into the dirt. If you're making soil for ordinary green foliage plants, combine one part garden loam with one part perlite or vermiculite and one part peat moss. Bake the mixture for half an hour at 175 degrees to kill the more harmful organisms and any existing weed seeds. If you're preparing for flowering plants or cacti, add a bit more perlite and peat moss to the mix. By mixing your own, you'll be able to make 10 quarts of potting soil for the same price you've been paying for one. Happy growing!
Can Camellia Plants Be Grown Indoors?
Q: I love the look of camellias and would love to grow a camellia plant indoors. Is this possible?
A: Camellias are not the easiest plants to cultivate indoors, but it can be done and is worth a try. These beautiful plants have dark green, shiny, leathery leaves and produce gorgeous white, pink or red gardenia-like blooms in late fall or winter. (Although most have no noticeable scent.) The key to indoor camellia culture is cool temperature, which makes them especially difficult here in Southern California. If you can find a spot that gets bright, filtered light, if you keep the soil moist and the humidity high, and can somehow maintain a temperature between 55 to 75 degrees, you can successfully grow camellias.
Can Chrysanthemums Bloom Again Indoors?
Q: I keep buying potted chrysanthemums at the supermarket and trying to get them to re-bloom by growing them in my sunny kitchen window. So far, I've tried four times and failed four times. Is it possible to get these plants to bloom again indoors?
A: In a word, no. The potted mums available in almost every supermarket make beautiful, colorful decorative accents and will last for weeks if the soil is kept moist. But after the flowers die and the foliage begins to wilt, you'd best discard the plant, unless you have a sunny outdoor area. If you have a sunny balcony, patio or yard, your mums will re-bloom every fall either in their container or planted in the ground.
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For dedicated gardeners, here are suggestions from the California Assn. of Nurserymen on what to do in the garden this week:
* For those sunny, "hot" locations in your garden, consider geraniums, which bloom in pink, rose, scarlet and white through summer and autumn.
* Cymbidium orchids are in bloom. Enjoy their delicate beauty in containers or in your garden.
* Check to be sure mulch is 3- to 4-inches deep around plants to discourage weed growth.