Winter has been relatively mild so far -- not as much as last year though -- but spring fever still hits pretty hard. The end of January is when I start yearning for some greenery, color, fragrance, new growth. The bamboo in the garden helps, but it's not quite the same. It's time for a recharge...

...compliments of one of the few local garden centers that keeps a greenhouse going each winter.


I love walking into the hot, humid space, where tropical houseplants are showcased. Plants with a more exotic look, like this "Bat Flower":

Prices are a bit steep, I assume because of low volume purchases and little demand during this time of year. Labels are apparently an afterthought, as is the case with this "tropical pitcher plant":

This is the medium sized plant.
They had a few sizes of these and apparently two varieties, unless only the larger plants get the patterned blooms:

The large pots of this plant were about $40, the medium ones were $20, and the small 4" pots were $12. Out of my price range for this trip. Still fun to look at though!

A "Midnight" ginger, also too pricey for my tastes:

A few orchids:

I don't pay much attention to orchids, as I'm concerned about becoming obsessed with them. I fear it may happen, as there are so many beautiful ones (as I saw last year).

There are a few non-hardy Aloes, Agaves, and Cactus, but I can't even get my cold-hardy ones into the garden, so what would I do with those?

I did find a couple of interesting plants that were in my price range that I couldn't resist, but the point of the day was just to recharge a bit, not to stock up on plants.

Tonight (as I write this -- last night as you're reading this) will be the coldest of the winter for us. I may need to hit the greenhouse again soon.


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Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (January 22, 2013 at 10:52 AM)  

Funny you should say last night was the coldest night for you. It was the end of a 3-week cold spell for us. Maybe this persistent cold air mass has finally begun to move east. Not that I wish it on anybody :-)

I'm planning a nursery trip this coming weekend. I'm beginning to have spring fever, too.

danger garden  – (January 22, 2013 at 11:05 AM)  

Oh that Midnight Ginger is beautiful!!!

So how cold is the coldest of the winter?

Lisa  – (January 22, 2013 at 3:24 PM)  

Well it was 1 degree here this morning in the greater Chicagoland area. That's pretty dang cold. With wind chills in the -30 to -50 degree range, we're staying indoors as much as possible, just dreaming about our gardens for the time being! Oddly we have no snow. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing for the landscape. I guess it doesn't really matter - can't change it!

Lisa  – (January 22, 2013 at 3:25 PM)  

Oh! And I meant to say I was just reading about pitcher plants on a pond blog... they like wet conditions, so I'm thinking maybe in or around the bog? And I think they're carnivorous? Which is oddly fascinating!

HELENE  – (January 22, 2013 at 5:55 PM)  

It is easy to become obsessed by plants, indoor and outdoor! I love the Batflower, tried to grow it from seed once, but the seeds didn't germinat. I think I didn't keep them warm enough so it was probably my fault.

Orchids are great as they flower for so long, and then you can pretty much forget about them, except for water now and then, until the flower again. I have my kitchen window sill filled with orchids, great for watering them. You can just decide NOT to get obsessed and get only one or two :-)

Alan  – (January 23, 2013 at 7:39 AM)  

Danger: We got down to 12ºF or 13ºF.

Lisa: I spent the day in Chicago Tuesday, and when I landed it was 0ºF, eventually warming to 10ºF or so. Not too much to be out in.

I would definitely plant pitcher plants if there are cold-hardy ones, but these were tropical. I need to research this more.

Steve Lau  – (January 23, 2013 at 7:15 PM)  

There are hardy pitcher plants that range from zone 4 to zone 7, and I was able to overwinter them in the ground outdoors last winter with simple leaf bags so there is no question that they are cold hardy in my experience.

The one drawback with pitcher plants is that they seem to only make progress during the wet season earlier in spring, then in the fall as they are bog plants. I did find that the pitchers in the wetter areas of the yard tended to grow faster.

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