Hello Fellow Readers,
Just before our gardens kicked into gear, I had the privilege of dropping in on a succulent event hosted by A&J Messina Greenhouses in Blairstown NJ which served as a mini-gardening warmup. What a lively group of over seventy guests learning how to make a terrarium. Trays of succulents and houseplants filled the center aisle, sparkly lights adorned the sides, and tables of glass vessels with open tops and bowls of planting mediums set the stage as if we were attending a banquet. And we were! Attendees were even invited to “bring a beverage of choice” to enjoy while they built their mini-gardens, which for most was a bottle of wine.
First a layer of pebbles for drainage, then a layer of horticultural charcoal for the houseplant terrariums to help eliminate odor. Next a layer of Spanish moss on the bottom and sides. Then comes the potting soil for the houseplants or a sandy-soil mix for the succulents.
Next comes planting. Each guest planted three succulents or three tropical plants being sure each plant had the same light and water needs, just as you would in your outside garden. Bob couched folks on loosening up the root ball as you would when planting annuals, perennials, shrubs, and trees to be sure the roots can easily take-off. Mom used to call it tickling the roots which still makes me giggle.
Carefully tamp the soil to eliminate air pockets, then you can adorn your miniature garden with moss pilfered from the woods, bits of bark, pebbles, or funkily shaped stones. Some added miniature creatures – cardinals, a turtle, even a twig chair, turning theirs into a fairy garden.
Barbara walked around with her marvelous terrarium samples guiding guests if they were planting too full or too high. “They need room to grow.” And by planting in the middle of the glass vessel, plants will flourish in the greenhouse effect. Barbara advised watering succulents on average every two weeks and weekly for terrariums planted with houseplants, being sure glass enclosures are kept out of direct sunlight which can burn the plants. Squirt-type ketchup bottles were used for spot watering around the plants rather than wetting the leaves to prevent foliar disease just as its best to do in your outside garden. “Don’t water their faces,” Mom used to say. Happy Mother’s Day to all. Garden Dilemmas? Askmarystone@gmail.com
There’s a joyful energy amongst Angela & J.R “Bob” Messina – lifetime propagators and open-hearted spreaders of knowledge that seems to translate to A&J Messina’s perennials and annuals grown for over thirty years. It’s almost time to plant annuals. Some say Mother’s Day, though in our neck of the woods its best to wait until after the last frost date, typically after May 19th. Until then, go ahead and shop for annual babies and help them make the transition into your garden by hardening them off (read how-to in the Annual Softies column). Yup plants, like people, handle stress better once they’ve developed a thicker skin.