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Editorial

Lawn and Garden


A Pet Plant for the Winter


by Andrew Jozwik
Johnny Appleseed Greenhouses

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12/01/2012 - Last month I was telling you about the pet plants I have had at the greenhouse over the years. As I was telling you, the one that I have now is called the Angel's Trumpet. I only bring it up again because the moon is about full as I write this month's article and it seems to have an effect on the blooming of this plant.

This plant is a member of the family of plants known as nightshades. Potatoes are also a part of this family. It is strange that the potato is in the same family as a plant that can kill a person. I often have wondered if they call it the Angel's Trumpet because of the shapee of its flowers, or because eating it could turn you into one. As I was saying, it blooms much heavier as the full moon approaches. The first time I grew this particular plant I began to notice this phenomenon, but I wasn't sure. Now that I am growing it again I am sure that it does bloom more prolifically as the moon cycles full. It will go from five sporadic blooms throughout the month, to 10 blooms in one day as the moon becomes full.

Its flowers are about 10-12 inches long and they are the color of fresh cantaloupe. They smell similar to the blooms on a jasmine plant. Its exotic shape, scent and odd bloom cycle all add an overall sense of mystery to this plant. I think the sense that this plant is somewhat mysterious is what draws me to it.

When I was in college we studied the nightshade family and I am sure that I could study up in some of my old textbooks and figure out all about the plant. But, I think that I prefer to keep it a mystery. A funny side note to this story is that when I first grew the Angel's Trumpet I was so excited by it that I decided to grow another member of the same family.

The Datura I grew was a pretty close relative to the Angel's Trumpet. It was a beautiful purple and white flowered plant with these weird spiny seed pods that looked like medieval golf balls. It was quite exotic itself, but like many things all was not as it seemed. The first time I smelled one of its beautiful flowers I was shocked to find out they smelled exactly like beef stew. No joke, if I trimmed that plant I would spend the rest of the day smelling like the leftovers from a lumberjack's hearty lunch. I am lucky my dogs never mauled me. Needless to say that plant lost my interest pretty quickly.

The Angel's Trumpet luckily does not have any quirks like that to ruin its allure. Now that I am growing one again I think I will resume my quest for the red Angel's Trumpet. It has all the same qualities that make the orange one interesting and it comes in my favorite color.

I suppose the reason I am telling you about my pet plants for the second month in a row, is to encourage you to grow a pet plant of your own in your house as you wait for the long Wyoming winter to pass. Focusing on one plant, figuring out how it grows best and what makes it different can be a very rewarding and interesting way to spend the winter months. It also can help you hone your gardening skills by concentrating on one individual plant at a time it makes it easier to identify how to make it grow the best.

Since the holidays are just around the corner I wanted to take this opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and to say thanks for reading my articles throughout the year. I hope the New Year brings you happiness and good gardening.

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