Archive for July, 2014

Can I Put Coleus In An Inside Window Box?

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

I am interested in buying Coleus for indoor window boxes.  I live in Manhattan, NY, and the window boxes are directly inside north-facing windows. The apartment gets full filtered sun all day, since there is also a skylight in the room.  I am hoping to find a coleus plant that will grow well in these conditions.  If possible, a trailing variety.  Humidity is very low, since I keep air conditioning on all the time in the summer. Can you offer some guidance?  Thank you! Sandie

Answer: Sandie,

Coleus could be a challenge for the conditions you describe since they tend to like warm tropical climates and you want to keep them in an air-conditioned space. Coleus were originally found in shaded areas but in the past few years new varieties have been hybridized that are fully sun tolerant. Your conditions would be considered full shade, so you would want to choose varieties that best tolerate shade; no coleus will do well without some sun exposure. As for temperatures, they will offer their best color performance in the 80- to 90-degree range but will grow well as long as the temperatures aren't sustained in the low to mid-60s and without draft from a vent.

So, that said, I am always one to experiment and push a plant’s comfort zone a bit, knowing full well that the experiment might succeed but if it doesn't, well that opens the window to try again!

Growing Coleus InsideSome of the ones you might try are:

Dark Star

Gold Lace

Mariposa

But experiment with any that we have in stock. None of the Coleus are cascading plants. They are all upright, so you might want to add one of our Hedera Ivy plants for the spiller plant. Play with the wild color combinations and leaf textures available with Coleus to create a stunning arrangement.

Coleus do not like a wet soil, so keep the soil evenly moist. They do best if you keep the blooms trimmed back and are easily trimmed and shaped to keep the plant shorter and fuller. A monthly dose of a water soluble fertilizer will also help keep them growing to their fullest.

Happy Gardening,

Karen

Why Are My Bell Peppers Rotting?

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Green pepper rotting on the plantI am staying with my daughter for a month and she has a Bell Boy Pepper plant that was getting too big for the small pot it was in, so I transferred it to a larger pot. I used Miracle Grow potting soil and put it outside on the covered front porch. Within days it shot up 2-3 inches and it is now covered with little buds. The directions said to keep well watered, so I water it every day. The problem is that the 3 fairly good size fruits are starting to rot before they are full grown. Also, they are not turning red as specified on the tag. Can someone please tell me what I should do to prevent this from happening to the rest of them? P.S. I have also had this problem with large size tomatoes in the past. Thanks, Lori.

Answer: Lori, you did not specify where the rot begins, so there are a couple of things that could be happening.

If they rot starting at the blossom end, it could be blossom end rot. On peppers, the affected area usually appears tannish in color in the beginning and then will turn dark as secondary molds appear. It can occur on the sides of peppers, but it’s generally at the blossom point. Blossom end rot is due to a calcium deficiency in the plant. This can be caused by various reasons, soil moisture fluctuations, or over-fertilization with a high nitrogen fertilizer. You mentioned using Miracle Grow soil and it comes with fertilizer built in, high in nitrogen, to make plants grow quickly. It’s a good practice to always check the soil moisture before adding water. It might be that it doesn’t need it or it could need moisture twice a day to keep it evenly moist. Container growing can be tricky, especially with the heat we’ve had this summer. A good fertilizer for peppers would be HyR-BRIX® Tomato and Pepper Fertilizer. In the future use a container soil mix that has no fertilizer added.

I suspect you are experiencing blossom end rot since Anthracnose Fruit Rot, a fungal disease, is a little less likely in container plants, but not impossible. In this disease, the lesions will develop as circular or angular sunken spots on developing fruits; you might also see spots on leaves and stems. It can be spread from overhead watering or watering late in the day when the plants do not dry before sundown. For this there isn’t a cure other than to remove and destroy diseased fruits and plants. You can compost the remaining soil if no plant debris remains and your compost pile does heat sufficiently.

As for the coloring, they will start green and stay that way until they reach mature size, then develop their red pigment somewhere between 10 to 28 days for full color. They, like their relatives the tomatoes, are sensitive to temperatures, so they might be waiting on some cooler temps to finish their maturation. The tag on the plant should give you an indication of days to maturity, which will give you an idea of when to start seeing color shift.

Good luck with your peppers, and happy gardening.

Karen