Green Thumbs

Passion for growing plants

   Jul 01

More passion!

Last week I received my greatly anticipated package from Georgia Vines. About two weeks after I had placed my order I found a tattered package in my mailbox. In it were the seeds of Passiflora Incarnata, or Maypop. The Maypop is a Passiflora with edible fruit native to the southern parts of the US. As I’m always on the hunt for something that produces fruit and is easy to grow, it caught my eye. Even though I had to give myself a stern talking with “no more plants or seeds!”, I hit the order button anyway since they were cheap.

The seeds are quite large compared to other Passiflora seeds I have seen; the funny thing is that they are all kinds of varying colour, from pale beige to pitch black. I have never seen anything like this!

I have decided to let the seeds wait until I get home from vacation, then I’ll put them in the soil.

Passiflora incarnata macro Passiflora incarnata

   Jun 30

Growing Calamondin and other citruses in Sweden

I had long been fond of Citruses and had done quite a bit of research before buying one. My first one was bought sometime in January this year but unfortunately it didn’t live long due to the soil it had been planted in. Hard claylike soil that retains water a long time and then goes rock hard when it dries is definitely not the best soil to have a houseplant in. Because that’s the upside with the Calamondin, it can be grown as a houseplant! It can withstand a bit of warmth from a radiator as long as it receives plenty of water. But don’t be tempted to overwater! Citruses are prone to root rot, which is how my first one went. Later this year I bought a new one, smaller, and even though it was planted in the right soil I made sure to replant it in a free draining low-pH soil anyway.

If one wants to grow a citrus tree indoors but doesn’t have access to a cooler place in the range of 5-15 C. it can definitely be grown indoors on the windowsill. Just be sure to choose a Calamondin, Citrus mitis. Still many Calamondins appreciate such a place if they can get it. Extra light is also beneficial.

So with all this in mind, how do I grow my little tree? Well, obviously I kept it indoors during the winter. I put it outdoors sometime in May when the temperature had reached 15 C. The first few weeks I had it under a protecting plant fabric since it would have burned in the spring sun otherwise.

Once it had acclimatised to the outdoors I placed it in full sun. It thrives in hot weather with lots and lots of sun! It grows best in a low-pH soil. When the soil feels dry I water it deeply, but try to avoid standing water on the saucer.

I plan to take it indoors sometime when the temperatures drop to 10-15 C. again.

The tree still had some fully formed oranges when I bought it and some small green ones came from the first flowering. Now, nearly one and a half months later, it has flower buds again! The plant sets buds because of the cooler nights. So in a short while I will have wonderfully fragrant white orange blossoms again. I am quite looking forward to this.

Today I told Mr. Greenthumb that we were going to eat homegrown oranges! Nothing you hear about every day in Sweden. I plucked a ripe plump orange with a pair of scissors and peeled it. It had a pleasant taste, quite sour but all the while sweet and tangy. The rind is moist and thin but easy to peel and the fruit has lots of segments.

I waited a long time after buying the tree to eat the fruits because I didn’t know what kind of chemicals had been used on it. But I figured several months, countless showers, repotting and organic care would have taken care of most. It can’t be worse than what I buy at the store.

I will update with more pictures once it flowers again.

Calamondin 3 Calamondin frukt Calamondin

   Jun 21

Happy Midsummer’s Eve! Or, growing Herbs from the Grocery Store

I’m sure plenty of people are buying those little pots of herbs from the store today, or have already done so. Maybe you have bought chives. Don’t toss them out, they are easy to grow!
Many garden writers recommend you to go to a garden centre and get some properly grown herbs, and that is generally great advice. There you can buy sturdier herbs and get a named variety. However, if you’re like me and don’t have a car, and are dependent on public transportation that take ages to get to the garden centre, well then I have good news for you.

You can absolutely grow those sad-looking herbs from the grocery store into big and lush plants! Not only are they cheaper most of the time, nine times out of ten they are also organically grown. Just make sure you select the healthiest-looking ones and go right home and give them a bigger pot and some nice soil. Put them in the shade for a week or so and gradually move them into as much sun as you can give them.

You can do this to most potted herbs; the ones I have tried are chives, basil, thyme, lemon balm, parsley and mint. They can even be cut down to the last leaf and come to life again within a month. Most of the herbs are also perennials, which means that you can have a big pot of home-grown herbs next year!

   Jun 17

The Confusing World of Passifloras

Up until last year my experiences with Passifloras consisted of watching my mother and grandmother grow theirs and marvel at the flowers and the plants’ need for water. I was never overly fond of the crème- coloured flowers with blue accents. But then came a rainy and snowy late evening after work sometime last winter.

I had headed over to the local plant supermarket in dire need of some greenhouse time. Looking around, searching for a yellow Hibiscus I had hoped they would stock, I caught sight of the most unusual passion flower I had ever seen. It was a deep royal purple, the label said Passiflora ‘Amethyst, and I was in love. I had to buy it, even though I thought it was a bit expensive. And so my passion for passion flowers started.

On my quest to bring a little bit of Hawaii to Sweden I found out about Passiflora Mollissima/Tarminiana, a noxious weed in many frost-free parts of the world. I promptly ordered 220 seeds (yes I counted them all) and then life got in the way. When January came around I finally had time to plant my seeds. Fortunately they germinated after a few weeks but I lost many to damping off. Second and third try I had much better success with high germination rates and quick-growing little passies! Now I have so many I have to give some away.

The reason I say Mollissimia/Tarminiana is that recently scientists have discovered that the Passiflora known in Hawaii as Mollissima might be a Tarminiana instead. The differences are small. The Mollissimia never opens its flowers entirely; it retains a bell-shape though Tarminiana sometimes flexes its petals backwards. The Tarminiana also has a glossy over-side of the leaf. This has lead me to think that the seeds I bought as Mollissima are instead Tarminiana, I don’t mind.

The two Passifloras are used in the same way; they are both called the Banana Poka because of their oblong yellow fruits resembling bananas. I’m not only hoping for gorgeous pink flowers here, the fruits are also said to be delicious!

Right now I’m contemplating if I should order some seeds from Passiflora incarnata, the Maypop passie. They do look truly beautiful with their flax blue flowers. And the more passion flowers I have the higher the chance that I might, might get some fruits one day!
Name: Passiflora Tarminiana/Mollissima
Where: Hawaii, Carribbean Islands, South American highlands, Australia
Uses: Cakes, drinks and eaten fresh
Warnings: Highly invasive in some climates

passiflora tarminiana stor

Passiflora Tarminiana


   Jun 15

Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme

First of all let me say that growing herbs doesn’t have to take up a lot of space. You can get by pretty well just having one large pot with either a mix of herbs you like or just a single one.

Maybe it will come as a surprise that I never liked herbs that very much, I mean, who doesn’t like fresh herbs? But in my mind they were complicated to grow and often grey and dull. And let’s face it; some herbs do have quite greyish foliage. Then I got my own little balcony and Mr Greenthumbs decided he wanted me to grow herbs, all right. I dutifully acquired some of the herbs he wanted us to grow, and standing there looking and sniffing at the plants I kind of came to like them.

Growing herbs was a new experience, and now I’m stuck! So much that I would be tempted to say this is the summer of herbs. At the moment I’m growing chives, three types of mint, two types of basil, parsley, oregano, lemon balm, sage, dill and thyme. And I still think I haven’t got quite enough!

The positive side of herbs is that they are very easy to grow. They don’t require the best of soils and not very much water. Most of them can take full sun once they have been hardened off. I should give a little warning here. Even though mint is a delicious plant that can be used in many ways, maybe most notably in Mojito, it can become a weed and spreads easily. Do yourself a favour and plant your mint in a pot that has some distance to the ground, otherwise it will escape and you will get lots of volunteer mints.

Note should also be taken that basil is quite tender and can’t take cool temperatures very well, keep it inside until the temperature stays over 10 C both day and night.

So, get out and get some herbs!

Oregano flower Dill Flower bud of Thai basil