March 2, 2011

Flower Show Fever

I’m testing out this theory of mine that exhaling warm air on houseplants speeds up their bloom cycle. Scientists may pooh-pooh the idea, but I think I’m on solid ground here. Fact: plants thrive on carbon dioxide. Fact: they also want a little warmth this time of year. So, every time I walk past a plant in my house, I lean over and exhale.

Why am I doing this? Frankly, it’s because I have flower show fever. Last year, my wife took three plants into Blooms! at the Boston Flower & Garden Show and walked out with two blue ribbons for her efforts. My contribution to that enterprise amounted to lugging in gallon-size jugs of water once a week. This year, I have my eye on entries that will actually bear my name. They don’t all have to be blue ribbons. A red one will do.

The kalanchoe and bougainviellea are both blooming
beautifully.  Unfortunately, they're in the same pot.
There’s a kalanchoe that has bloomed an orange-red on the plant rack right outside my office. I figure all the hot air that comes out of my office (both from the computer and from telephone calls) is responsible for its unexpected and unseasonal display. That, plus Betty wouldn’t be caught dead taking credit for something orange.

My problem is that the kalanchoe doesn’t live in the pot all by itself. It’s a volunteer that appeared one day alongside another plant that had a long-term lease on the site. I don’t think the Amateur Horticulture classification people are ready to bifurcate their entries. So, alas, no kalanchoe blue ribbon this year.

OK, I’ll enter a bougainvillea. Having grown up with them, I’m also the official bougainvillea guy in this household. Two of our plants are showing tiny, delicate blooms right now. One is a tender lavender, the other yellow-gold. One of them is certain to get me that blue ribbon. Of course, any probing on the part of judges and I’m toast, because there are plenty of childhood friends out there who will attest that I hacked at the half-dozen bougainvilleas around my house without mercy. Those plants had thorns as nasty as any yucca and their branches could grow two feet overnight. It was only when I moved north that I decided bougainvillea was not a weed.

Then, there are the orchids. As readers of this blog know, I love orchids and buy them whenever I think I can sneak one into the house without being seen. However, the rules of the show are straightforward: an entry must have been owned for three months or more. Well, some of my best orchids have a little less than the requisite three-month residency period. The best one, in fact, is still getting acquainted with its brethren. The ones that have been around the longest are just starting to show flower buds and, frankly, they have persistent scale. My conscience won’t allow me to enter the new ones in the show; the old ones will end up in some awful quarantine. Nuts.

OK, Our neomarica are in bud. One pot in particular has six buds forming and each swollen bud site may produce half a dozen flowers. Unfortunately, the blooms are spent in a single day. I could bring the plant in on entry day bursting with spectacular iris-like blooms only to find that the next morning the thing has gone dormant. I know how the guy in One Froggy Evening feels.

Betty has already tagged and is assiduously grooming the plants she intends to enter. I’m welcome to anything left over – say, any of the dozen or so Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily) that bloom randomly around the house. I have my eye on a begonia whose full bud seems to have escaped her attention. So, I exhale on houseplants and hope for lightning to strike. That’s what it’s like to have Flower Show Fever.

No comments:

Post a Comment