Gardening Events

Ciscoe’s Picks

Wondering About Wildlife at the Cedar River Watershed Education Center: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Jan. 2. Hands-on activities, crafts, presentations and nature walks. 19901 Cedar Falls Road S.E., North Bend; free (seattle.gov/util/crwec).

Puyallup Home & Garden Show: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Jan. 2 and 3, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Jan. 4. Exhibits and demonstrations on remodeling, landscaping and decorating. Washington State Fairgrounds, 110 Ninth Ave. S.W., Puyallup;

$8 adults, $7 seniors and military, free under 17 (puyalluphomeshow.net).

‘Fruit Tree Health Care’: 2-3:30 p.m. Jan. 3. Horticulturist Ingela Wanerstrand will share the important things that need to be done to protect trees from winter damage, discourage insects and diseases, and improve their health and fruitfulness. Swansons Nursery, 9701 15th Ave. N.W., Seattle; free (swansonsnursery.com).

In the Garden

Q: After hearing you rave about your love for rare plants, I’d like to try a few. Where should I seek them out?

A: I always keep my eyes open for new and unusual plants, particularly those with huge leaves, colorful foliage or unusual flowers. It’s always exciting to observe them as they grow, and it’s especially fun to stump the living tweetle out of friends when they visit your garden.

Thanks to our mild climate, we can successfully grow a wider variety of plants here than is possible in almost any other area of the world. In the spring, visit your local nurseries and plant sales to discover great finds; however, you can get the jump now by browsing online.

Some of the best mail-order rare plant nurseries in the country are right here in the Pacific Northwest. One of my favorites is Far Reaches Farm (farreachesfarm.com) in Port Townsend. The owners are plant hunters who go to remote, practically impenetrable areas of the globe to bring back seed that they propagate at their nursery.

Another nursery famous for unusual plants is Cistus Nursery (cistus.com). Located on Sauvie Island in the Columbia River near Portland, this one offers a sensational selection of hardy tropicals as well as many other must-have rarities.

Dancing Oaks Nursery (dancingoaks.com) offers a large, eclectic collection of unusual plants they propagate from plants grown in their own demonstration garden.

Two other local nurseries are The Desert Northwest (desertnorthwest.com), specializing in semi-hardy succulents, and Siskiyou Rare Plant Nursery (siskiyourareplantnursery.com), where you can find a great selection of rare natives.

Save yourself heartbreak by ordering the plants you want right away but requesting shipment in spring. That way you know you’ve staked your claim for those rare, must-have gems before they get sold out next spring.

Q: I just began growing houseplants. They did great throughout the warm season. Do they need any special care in winter?

A: Yes, but generally houseplants need less care in winter. If you haven’t already done it, stop fertilizing immediately. Most plants go into a semi-dormant state in winter. They’re not actively growing, so any fertilizer applied will build up in the soil in the form of salts which can cause root damage and harm or kill the plant.

It’s usually a good idea to cut back on watering because houseplants are not nearly as thirsty when they aren’t actively growing. It can be tricky knowing how much to water. Every plant has different water needs and the size of the plant container can also make a difference.

Succulents usually only require watering if the leaves dry up or the plant appears to be shriveling. Most tropical plants need occasional watering, but fortunately most of them tell you when they need a drink by wilting slightly.

If possible, it’s generally a good idea to move plants closer to the window during the winter months. During the cold season, the intensity and duration of light is diminished. Avoid locating shade lovers right in a south facing window, but even plants that don’t like direct sunlight will do much better if they receive a touch of morning sun, and bright indirect light for as long as possible for the rest of the day.

When it comes to light, the clarity of the windows can make a big difference as well. Simply cleaning a dusty window can increase light intensity by 10 percent.

Ciscoe Morris: ciscoe@ciscoe.com “Gardening With Ciscoe” airs weekly on KING 5; check local listings.

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