Discover more from The Weekly Dirt with Jessica Damiano
When NOT to prune
Plus: Caring for Anthurium and growing your own coffee
If you’re new here, welcome! To ensure you never miss an issue of The Weekly Dirt, click here to subscribe 👇
I’ve been enjoying reading all of your submissions — and wringing my hands trying to pick a winner in The Weekly Dirt Garden Poetry Contest. They’re all so good!
I’ll announce the winner, who will receive a copy of “Leaning Toward Light: Poems for Gardens & The Hands That Tend Them,” edited by Tess Taylor, next week.
In the meantime, I need to confess I did the absolute worst thing this week: I pruned back (and pretty severely, too) three large cherry laurels and 10 arborvitae trees.
I know, I know, fall is a horrible time to prune trees and shrubs. Pruning stimulates new growth, and those tender new branch tips won’t likely have enough time to harden before frost hits. But I had no choice.
I had to get the trim under my roof and around my second-floor windows painted before winter since the paint was peeling, and some of the wood was exposed, so the painting crew couldn’t get their ladders close enough to the house with those trees and shrubs in the way.
Maybe the garden is a metaphor for life: Sometimes, we have to make hard choices and just hope for the best.
Pro tip: the best time to prune is in late winter or early spring when plants are preparing to emerge from dormancy.
📬 Ask Jessica
DEAR JESSICA: Could you please tell me how to care for Anthurium? —Kathy Schiavone
DEAR KATHY: Anthurium -- also known as flamingo flower -- is a tropical plant that craves warmth, humidity and bright, indirect light.
Place it off to the side of a sunny window or under a fluorescent lamp in a room that’s between 65-85 degrees.
It’s hard for me to tell you exactly how often to water any plant because so much depends on the conditions in your home.
One way to gauge when your Anthurium needs water is to plunge your finger, knuckle-deep, into the soil and feel around. If it’s dry about two inches deep, place the plant in the sink and water slowly to allow time for soil saturation. Otherwise, water may just pour out the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot without providing any benefit.
After watering, I like to lift the container to get a feel for its weight. That makes it easier to determine when to water next time: Just pick up the pot, and if it feels too light by comparison, you’ll know it’s time to water. After a few times, you’ll be able to gauge it.
Always dump out any water that collects in pot saucers to avoid root rot.
Anthuriums are not heavy feeders, so apply only one-quarter of the recommended amount of a slow- or fast-release houseplant or orchid fertilizer during spring and summer only. To grow the largest flowers, look for a product with a 1:2:1 ratio of nutrients — something like 10-20-10, 15-30-15 or 5-10-5.
💡 If you do one thing this week…
If you haven’t already, clear out vegetable beds to stave off diseases and infestations in next year’s garden.
I’m a little late to the party this year because it has rained during the past SEVEN weekends here on Long Island. Ooomph!
👏 Sunday shoutout
Amy Ehrens of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, says the night-blooming Cereus she’s been growing for seven years has bloomed for the first time, with a total of eight flowers — four each night for two nights!
“It started from a leaf cutting and is now over 6 feet tall,” she says.
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: Dahlias — they’re not as complicated as you think
You can read all my AP gardening columns here.
📚📺🎵 Random things I enjoyed this week
🎭 I caught the second night of previews of “I Need That” on Broadway, and it was delightful! Afterward, Danny DeVito and his real-life and stage daughter, Lucy DeVito, signed my Playbill. Such a treat!
💉 Continuing my Fall 2023 vaccine-trifecta, I got a flu shot on Friday. No major side effects to report. Next up: Shingles, part 2.
📺 I watched Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber on Netflix. I always like behind-the-scenes exposés, and especially enjoyed the series’ fourth-wall-breaking style, which was reminiscent of “The Social Network” and “The Big Short”. Looking forward to season 2, which will focus on Facebook.
This newsletter is member-supported
This week’s newsletter was made possible by generous support from Libby Sloan, Peter, Terri Donahue, Bob F., and several readers who wish to remain anonymous. We wouldn’t be here without you — thanks so much!
I put a lot of effort into researching, writing and producing this newsletter every week, and I couldn’t do it without your support.
☕ If you enjoy receiving The Weekly Dirt and value the information it contains, please consider “buying me a coffee!”
Let’s be friends! Follow me:
📧 How’m I doing?
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.