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franklin county times

Citrus plant good for lighted dormer

By Staff
Dear Gardener,
I have a dormer window that I am trying to select a houseplant to sit in. The window does not have a shade on it so the plant will be exposed to a full southern exposure most of the day. The dormer is very high and it requires a ladder to reach it. This means that the plant will only be watered once a week. Can you recommend any plants that would work in this situation?
Dear Reader,
A full southern exposure does not give you many houseplant choices. Most houseplants grow in the under story in their natural habitat. They do best in filtered light situations.
If you are adamant about not putting a blind or a sheer over the window, I have a few plant suggestions very few.
Your best bet will be a citrus plant, like an orange or lemon tree. These require at least four hours of direct sunlight a day. There are compact varieties on the market that only reach about four feet. I suggest trying the Meyer lemon or the Calamondin orange.
Dear Gardener,
I planted about three hundred tulip bulbs last fall giving me a beautiful display this spring. How can I assure a good display next year? Should I leave them in the ground or dig them up and store them?
Wickie Thomas
Dear Wickie,
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the only way to insure as good a display next year as you had this year is to buy new bulbs. In the south tulip bulbs are considered annuals. The foliage feeds the bulbs.
The longer the foliage stays green and healthy, the stronger and larger the bulb grows. Unfortunately in the south, our summers get hot too soon. This burns the foliage reducing the amount of energy transferred to the bulb. The result is a smaller and weaker bulb each year. Thus a poorer and poorer flower display until finally there are not anymore blooms.
If you are adamant about keeping these bulbs, you have a couple of options. You can leave them alone and wait for them to peter out on their own or you can start digging. If you opt to dig them up, remove the foliage and any remaining dirt. Dust them with sulfur to deter fungal growth and store them in a cool, dry place. Put them in a container and surround them with sawdust or peat moss. This will draw moisture away from the bulbs. Or hang them in an old onion bag or pantyhose. Around the end of September, place them in the refrigerator for cold storage. After six or eight weeks, remove them and plant in the ground. Good luck!
Dear Gardener,
I was at my brother and sister-in-law's home recently when I noticed a beautiful shrub with white flowers arching gracefully over the fence. My sister-in-law called it an English dogwood. I would love to have one. Could you tell me a little about the plant?
Dear Reader,
The old fashioned English dogwood, more commonly know as mock orange, is scientifically know as Philadelphus coronarius.
The first time I saw a mock orange while taking plant materials class in college, I was smitten. Being a first year horticulture student and knowing everything  I was positive that it was an unusual member of the dogwood family. Of course, I was wrong.
Its large snow-white blossoms are reminiscent of the dogwood, but the growth habit of the shrub is so much different. The beautifully arching branches fill with blossoms in early spring. Depending on the variety, the plant can reach six to twelve feet. Tolerating light shade, the mock orange should be pruned after flowering to ensure a good show next year.
Amelia O'Brian, a native of Meridian, holds a bachelor of science degree in horticulture from Mississippi State University. To submit a question, write From the Potting Bench, c/o The Meridian Star, P.O. Box 1591, Meridian, MS 39302. Or, visit her on the Web at www.thepottingbench.webprovider.com.

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