Discover more from The Weekly Dirt with Jessica Damiano
Leaving the leaves, help for a bloom-less plant, and a crucial weekly chore to tackle
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I had a wild week — after writing about why folks should “leave their leaves” and leaving my own leaves (above), I was interviewed by Scott Simon for yesterday morning’s Weekend Edition Saturday on NPR. If you missed it, you can listen here.
I was beyond honored by Scott’s invitation to be on the show and can only say I’m glad I didn’t know there would be 4 MILLION people listening until after the fact. If I’d looked that up beforehand, I would have been shaking like an actual leaf!
Are you leaving your leaves this year? Let me know, and I’ll compile your responses and report back next week.
📬 Ask Jessica
DEAR JESSICA: I brought my Dipladenia plant indoors last winter and put it back outside after the danger of frost had passed. I now have lush foliage, but the plant has not bloomed. How can I get it to flower? —Barbara Pelikow
DEAR BARBARA: Just a little background to avoid confusion: Because they are both tropical plants with similar trumpet-shaped flowers, Dipladenias are often confused with their Mandevilla cousins, even at some nurseries. But there are some marked differences: Dipladenias are shrubby plants with smooth, shiny foliage; Mandevillas have narrower leaves and a vining growth habit.
In horticultural zones 10-11, Dipladenias, also known as rocktrumpets, can thrive — and bloom — year-round. Since you bring yours in over winter, I assume you live in a cooler region where your plant would not survive frost and freezes.
In order to bloom well, the heat-loving plants should be placed where they will get at least 6-8 hours of full, direct sunlight daily. Indoors, place your plant by your sunniest window or use a grow light to support budding.
They also require consistently lightly moist, well-draining soil, which may be challenging to maintain in a container outdoors, especially during the height of summer. Plunge your finger into the pot, morning and late afternoon, and when the soil feels dry 2 inches deep, apply water slowly. If you find the soil dries too quickly, move the plant or provide a bit of shade when the sun is at its strongest.
Indoors, continue to aim for moist-but-not-soggy soil, watering when the top 2 inches becomes dry.
Dipladenias also should be fertilized. You can either apply a slow-release fertilizer once each in spring and late summer or feed them with a fast-release product every other week from March through October (if you haven’t been fertilizing, it’s ok to give them one dose now). To encourage blooming, seek out a product with a high phosphorus content (the middle number in the nutrient ratio on the package label should be the highest of the three, such as 5-10-5 or 10-20-10).
Finally, these plants thrive best when the soil they’re growing in has a pH between 6.6 and 7.8. When levels are off, plants aren’t able to avail themselves of the nutrients you provide, and blooming can be affected.
💡 If you do one thing this week…
Pull weeds up by their roots and compost them or, if they’ve gone to seed, place them in the trash. If you leave them be, they’ll hit the ground running in spring — and you’ll be kicking yourself in the aster.
👏 Sunday shoutout
“Here in North Texas, we are entering the monarch migration, perfectly timed with the goldenrod blooming!” writes reader Erin Patzewitsch. “They are in a bed with all the milkweed we’ve propagated…and our garden is a certified monarch sanctuary.“
Erin also says her 5-year-old [son] is “an avid monarch watcher.”
Sounds like you’re raising him — and the monarchs — right, Erin!
Send in your photo, and you could be featured next (bonus points if you’re in the picture!)
📰This week in my Associated Press gardening column
I write a weekly gardening column for the AP, so you might have seen my byline in your local paper (or news website) — wherever in the world you happen to be. In case you miss it, I’ll post the most recent here every week.
BEFORE THAT: Spooky plants for goth gardens
AND ONE MORE: How to grow your own cup of coffee — indoors!
You can read all my AP gardening columns here.
📚📺🎵 Random things I enjoyed this week
🥧 I took a pie-crust-making class yesterday, and it was a lot of fun. I’ve made my own crust in the past but never found the difference from refrigerated store-bought dough to be worth the trouble. After learning from the pros, I’ve become a convert.
🗣️ I had a great time presenting a History & Horticulture and Winter Gardening double feature for Molloy University’s Lifelong Learning program. It’s such a treat getting out to meet my readers.
📺 I watched a wacky movie called Downsizing about a society where some people, including Matt Damon’s character, choose to be medically shrunk down to 5 inches in order to live a more economical, environmentally friendly lifestyle. It was actually pretty good!
🎁 I attended several gift fairs over the summer and dug deep to find the year’s best offerings for my 2023 gardening gift guide. I’m wrapping it up (get it?) and will send it along to you in a special mid-week edition of the Weekly Dirt.
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I welcome your comments and suggestions, so please send them along — as well as any topics you’d like to see covered and questions you’d like answered in the Ask Jessica section.