Flowering plants bring feeling of spring in mid-winter

Susan Manzke
Susan planting a few bulbs from a past season.

I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again today: mid-winter is the best time to plant a garden, not just plan one.

During the white of our Wisconsin winter, I yearn for things that are growing and green. My houseplants help me with my need for green, as long as I can keep them happy and alive. Green and alive isn’t always the end result with my plants. Sometimes I think I love them to death.

I’ve over-watered some plants in the past. Other growing things experienced their demise because I forgot to water them.

Before Thanksgiving, I brought up one of the three amaryllis bulbs I saved last year. I figured I’d give one a head start and have a blooming flower for Christmas. I didn’t have a flower for Christmas. It hardly started to pop out of its bulb until January. That’s when I moved it to a warmer room.

A week later, I brought up from the basement another potted amaryllis bulb and finally after about ten more days, the third one came upstairs to join the rest.

All of the bulbs are showing various stages of growth. If I’m lucky, I’ll have colorful flowers spaced out over the next two months – fingers crossed.

Susan’s Christmas orchids defy the cold of a Wisconsin winter.

When my children asked if there was anything I wanted for Christmas I said I wanted an orchid plant. I already had an orchid plant but it hadn’t bloomed since last spring. I thought maybe I’d have luck with another – maybe orchids like company.

Well, my non-flowering orchid has company now. I didn’t get one orchid plant for Christmas, I got three and they are all different.

I’ve read up about keeping orchids happy. They don’t like to be drowned, but of course they do need water. The odd thing about watering an orchid is that the information that came with my orchids said that you give it an ice cube or two a week. I guess this was to not over-water. There were no further directions on keeping my plants healthy.

From this point I googled orchid care. The first thing I read was that I shouldn’t use ice cubes to water my plants. The ice’s cold would be too drastic a change for them.

There are hundreds of google links on the internet that discuss orchid care. Another is This one explains that orchids don’t need much water. It doesn’t mention ice cubes at all. But recommends keeping them out of drafts and direct sunlight. If you can’t connect to the internet, you are sure to find many books at the library you can check out, even at curbside. A phone call to your nearest library can get you pointed to a proper book.

My orchids still have their blooms. My amaryllis will eventually bloom, too. These flowering plants have brought spring to me in the middle of winter. I don’t just have to dream about summertime flowers as I thumb through catalogues. Though I do like my daydreams of summer and future gardens.

Phlox, one of the summer flowers, Susan is dreaming about.

If I close my eyes today I can imagine the most perfect plants. Tomatoes and potatoes would be bountiful, without a nasty case of blight like I had last year. Of course, in these dream gardens there are no pests or weeds and it doesn’t hurt my knees because I don’t have to get down on the ground to work around the flowers.

So, whether you are just dreaming, or working with house plants. I wish you all the best with your real and/or imaginary winter gardens.

(A funny thing just happened. My spell-correct put in orchard instead of orchid. I hope I found all the misspellings.)

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;;