Diary - Sep 2005
What a difference a month can make! Where is that scorching weather I was complaining about in last month’s diary? At least the frost has held off, which is a good thing since I have yet to finish taking my plants in for the winter. I must finish this job soon as most of the plants that spend the summer outside, spend the winter in a cold greenhouse and they need time to dry out before the really cold weather sets in.
My cool greenhouse is looking great at the moment with hundreds of flowers on the Lithops. In the late afternoon when the flowers open many of the plant bodies are completely hidden. The Conophytum are also coming into full flower but I only have about twenty of them so the picture is not quite so spectacular. Once the Lithops have finished flowering I shall stop watering them. Last year I watered until the end of October but in the damp weather the pots took too long to dry out and some of the plants plumped up too much so that there was a lot of moisture to be absorbed by the new bodies in the Spring. I hope that by stopping watering earlier they may come into their new growth earlier. Lithops optica rubra is the exception to the rule. They flower late in the year and need watering until about Christmas time.
The flowers on my Brighamia are almost open. Last year lots of flower stems were produced but they dried up without the flowers fully developing. This year looks to be more promising and I am checking them about twenty times a day willing them to open. I suspect that I may not have given the plant enough water last year but I was afraid I might kill it with overwatering.
The Lachenalia bulbs are quite advanced for the time of year. I would like to think that this might encourage them to flower for Christmas (they usually start to flower early in January) but it might also make them produce lots of long leaves. They are in the cold greenhouse and I shall leave them there for as long as possible. Ideally I don’t want to take them into the warmer conservatory or into the house until the flowers are just about ready to open. I wouldn’t like them to freeze, but otherwise the colder and brighter they are kept the more compact they are and the longer the flowers last.
My large cacti have had their last watering for the year, the big pots retain moisture for quite a long time. If the weather remains mild the plants in smaller pots may need a little more water to prevent them from shrinking too much over the winter. Aloes and Gasteria are flowering away at the moment so I will continue to water them sparingly while they seem to need it.
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