October 9, 2019 Christmas Cactus, François-Andre Michaux, William Smith, Augustine Henry, Strawberry Fields, Grow In the Dark by Lisa Steinkopf, Climbing Hydrangea, and Ailment of Two Boys Solved by Botanist

Does your Christmas Cactus have red on its leaves?

If so, that red is an indication that the plant is stressed out.

It could be that it has that color on the leaves when it’s blooming because blooming puts pressure on the plant.

In general, those leaves will turn a little red if you’re overwatering them or

If you have them too much sun.

One of my oldest Christmas cactuses came from my husband‘s grandmother that was a very craggy looking. I managed to keep it alive for about a decade, and then it was time to start over with a new one. Don’t forget that you can propagate your Christmas cactus with the required simply graph one of the leaves

The leaves in twisted off you can put the water, or you can have a little booty, or you can add a bit rooting hormone

And twisted off you could you can set the cutting in water, or you can have a little breathing hormone and put it directly in the soil

If you want to keep your Christmas cactus compact now is the time to prune it just take all those little cuttings and get the routing and then share them with friends






#OTD On this day in 1801, the botanist François-Andre Michaux returned to Charleston.

François-Andre was the son of the botanist, Andrea Michaux. His father named an oak in his honor.

Michaux's mom died just a few short weeks after he was born.

His father was so despondent that he turned to botany to deal with his grief. Given his position in France, his mentors were the top gardeners in the French Royal Gardens. The expert guidance helped Michaux accelerate his learning.

When François-Andre was 15 years old, he and his dad set sail for North America.

His father had an apparent goal for his time in America; establish a botanical garden and send specimens back to France. When they arrive, the year was 1786, and the location chosen by Michaux for the garden was on property that’s now occupied by the Charleston Area National Airport.

Today, as you leave the airport, you’ll notice a stunning mural that honors the Michaux's. It includes scenes depicting the rice fields along the Ashley River and the Charleston Harbor, where Michaux introduced one of the first camellia plants. In one panel, Andre-François and his father are depicted in the potager or kitchen garden. The mural was installed in 2016.




#OTD On this day in 1887, the Los Angeles Herald ran an interview with the superintendent of the botanical gardens William Smith about the senators in Washington during the 1880s who had a passion for plants.

Here's what he said:

Senator Charles Sumner from Massachusetts was a great enthusiast... He used to tell me that when traveling he would peer out of the car windows by the hour, on the lookout for a beautiful tree, and when his eye for the lovely and symmetrical was satisfied he would go into raptures. ... The last enjoyment I had with him, shortly before he died, was in visiting a favorite elm of his own Boston Common.

Senator John James Ingalls, of Kansas, ...is a most devoted student of arboriculture. Some of the most valuable suggestions about distributing plants in the west come from him.

Senator William Pitt Fessenden, of Maine, was an ardent apostle [of gardening] all through his long public life. I remember that his wife had a sweet verbena in their home in Maine, of which she was very fond. She watched it tenderly as a child, and Mr. Fessenden shared the feeling so thoroughly that for thirteen sears ho would journey home from Washington to take up the plant in autumn and make another trip in the springtime to set it out. No pressure of public business could make him forget that verbena. It was really a paternal devotion.

Senator James A Pearce, of Maryland, was one of the most cultivated botanists ever in Congress. Scarcely a day passed that he did not drop in on me to watch the growth of some favorite plant or some new experiment, and his ideas were always scientific and valuable.

And then there was Senator Benjamin Gratz Brown from Missouri, a very warm lover of flowers and a thorough master of their cultivation. During all the time he was in the Senate I don't believe he missed a day at the garden, and we would chat for hours when he felt in the humor.

There's another botanist in Congress,... I know the name will surprise you— Senator William Steele Holman, of Indiana ... It seems almost a contradiction that one of his reputation should be a lover of flowers, but he certainly is. No one has been in Congress since I can remember, and that's a long time, with a more hearty and intelligent love for the garden. He is a frequent visitor [of the botanical garden], and you can see from his conversation that he watches every new phase of the science as keenly as he does the money bags of the treasury. It seems to be a mental exhilaration for him to commune with these curious plants from all over the world, and study their hidden life. He is quite as familiar with the botanical names and the habits of plants and flowers as most professional botanists. He picked it up as a recreation and his spare time is nearly all devoted to it.

Senator Samuel Sullivan "Sunset" Cox is a first-class botanist, but let me add that he's also the best reader that I ever met. He is a walking cyclopedia on every subject covered by books. ... But then, this doesn't apply to his botany alone; it's the same with everything else. He can learn more in shorter time than any man I ever saw.




#OTD On this day in 1899, Augustine Henry wrote to his friend the designer Evelyn Gleeson after meeting Ernest Henry Wilson for the first time.

Toward the end of his time in China, Augustine Henry living in the Simao District in the Yunnan Province of China. He knew that the flora of China was an untapped market for European horticulture. Meanwhile, a young botanist named Ernest Henry Wilson was just starting out.

Henry wrote to his friend, Evelyn Gleesen, to share the news about his Wilson after their first visit together:

I have ... a guest of all the things in the world at Szemao, a Mr. Wilson, late a gardener at Kew, who has been sent out by Veitch's to collect plants or preferably their seeds and bulbs in China. He has made his way here to consult with me on the best way of the procedure and concerning the fascinating country around Ichang, and he will stay here for 2 or 3 weeks. He is a self-made man, knows botany thoroughly, is young, and will get on.

Henry also shared with Evelyn that he,

"would be glad if [Wilson] will continue to carry on the work in China which has been on my shoulders for some years. There is so much of interest and of novelty."


Later the same day, Henry also reported back to Kew about the progress of their new, young plant explorer, Wilson:

"[He will] do, I think, as he seems very energetic, fond of his botany and level-headed, the main thing for traveling and working in China.... [I wrote] on a half-page of a notebook ... a sketch of a tract of country about the size of New York State [on which I marked the place where I had found the single tree of Davidia involucrata (the Dove Tree or Handkerchief Tree) in 1888. I also provided Wilson with useful information and hints.]"

Henry and Wilson stayed close and corresponded for the rest of their lives. Wilson went on to find the Dove tree - but that is another story for a day dedicated to Wilson. As for Henry, when he returned to his native Ireland, he was increasingly concerned with de-forestation in his home country, and he began to study forestry. the rate at which that country was being deforested, his interests had turned to the study of forestry. In 1913, he became the first professor of forestry at the Royal College of Science for Ireland. He and his wife, Elsie, opened their Dublin home to famous friends like Yeats, George Russell, Erskine Childers, and Evelyn Gleeson.

Henry is regarded as the father of Irish commercial forestry.





#OTD On this day in 1985, Strawberry Fields, a two and ½ acre garden memorial in New York City's Central Park, was dedicated to the memory of John Lennon.

Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, came up with the idea for the park. She remembered how she and Lennon took strolls through that section of Central Park after they moved to the Dakota nearly ten years ago.

"It is our way of taking a sad song and making it better," said Ono.

Initially, the concept called for every nation to donate a remembrance to Strawberry Fields. Soon, Ms. Ono and the New York City Parks and Recreation Commission found themselves dealing with trees that couldn't grow in a northern climate.

A second request, along with tips about what would survive New York winters, brought 150 specimens from countries around the world; England sent an English Oak tree, Canada, a Maple tree.

There was one notable exception to the list of participating countries - the United States. Sadly, President Reagan White House never acknowledged the request.

The memorial park site was made possible by a $1 million donation from Ono to the city. It didn't cost taxpayers a dime.





Unearthed Words

Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.
- Elizabeth Lawrence

October is nature's funeral month. Nature glories in death more than in life. The month of departure is more beautiful than the month of coming - October than May. Every green thing loves to die in bright colors.
- Henry Ward Beecher




Today's book recommendation: Grow In the Dark by Lisa Steinkopf

If you want to catch that super helpful interview about all things house plans, just head on over to the Still Growing podcast and search for Episode 598.

Grow in the dark is Lisa’s latest book. She’s putting the spotlight on 50 of the best houseplants that you can grow in dim or dark areas.

And Lisa should know since she’s made room for over 1,000 houseplants thriving in her Michigan home where light is a premium.

For six months out of the year, gardeners know that having a south-facing window doesn’t always guarantee the best light to grow plants - especially if your window faces an alley or a tree-lined street. And, what’s the point of becoming an urban jungle if tall buildings are blocking all your sunshine?

This compact guide designed to look good on your shelf. Lisa will help you learn to make the most of your light so you can reap the physical benefits of living with plants. Lisa's book offers detailed profiles of the plants including tips on watering just right, in-depth profiles of the plant, properly potting plants, troubleshooting, which plants are safe around kids and pets, etc. This book will help you grow your plant collection even when the light is a challenge. Master light and you master much of what you need to know to make your house plants happy.




Today's Garden Chore

As fall dieback sets in, it's a marvelous time to plant climbers and vines.

One that should be on the top of your list for shady areas is the Schizophragma hydrangeoides (the Japanese hydrangea vine) or the Hydrangea petiolaris climbing hydrangea.

Although the two look similar, they are both Asiatic vines, they are different, and once you see them, you'll forever be able to tell them apart. In the Hydrangea, which is more hardy, the flowers create a tiara. In the Schizophragma, the petals are more white and appear individual and not in fours. Gardeners need to know that Schizophragma blooms later in the season. It looks neater and cleaner than the climbing hydrangea.

If you plant either vine, be prepared to wait a bit. It takes three years for them to really get going, but once they are established, the flower show is spectacular.


#OTD On this day in 1931, The Arnold Arboretum sent Beatrix Farrand Schizophragma hydrangeoides (climbing hydrangea) at her summer home called Reef Point. Ferrand gushed:

"This grew marvelously up to the second-floor windows on the north comer of the garden house, only outdone in magnificence by two big Hydrangea petiolaris, which clambered to more than thirty feet."




Something Sweet
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart

On this day in 1947, The Times out of Streator, Illinois, shared a story called Ailment of 2 Boys Solved by Botanist.

Here's what it said:

"Two eight-year-old boys gave their parents a bad time when they fell victims to raging fevers and hallucinations in which weird animals stalked across the ceiling. The frantic parents summoned psychiatrists, but it was a botanist Dr. [Otto Emery Jennings] of the University of Pittsburgh who finally solved the mystery.

Dr. Jennings said yesterday, the boys had nibbled on some jimsonweed found on a vacant lot near their homes. The plant - famed in cowboy songs and history books - has seeds containing a substance used in medicine and which produce fever and delirium."


The same weed poisoned many English soldiers at Jamestown, Virginia in 1608 as they tried to suppress Bacon's Rebellion. This is why, in addition to being called Jimsonweed (Datura stramonim), it is also called Jamestown Weed or Devil's Snare.

In Robert Beverley, Jr's, book about the history of Virginia, he describes the crazy scene at Jamestown:

"The Jamestown Weed (which resembles the Thorny Apple of Peru... was gathered ... for a boiled salad, by some of the soldiers sent thither to quell the rebellion of Bacon ...

Some of them ate plentifully of it, the effect of which was a very pleasant comedy, for they turned natural fools upon it for several days:

One would blow up a feather in the air;

Another would dart straws at it with much fury;

And another, stark naked, was sitting up in a corner like a monkey, grinning and making [grimaces] at them; A fourth would fondly kiss and paw his companions, and then sneer in their faces ...

In this frantic condition they were confined, lest they should, ... destroy themselves — though it was observed that all their actions were full of innocence and good nature.

[Although], they were not very cleanly;

A thousand such simple tricks they played, and after eleven days returned themselves again, not remembering anything that had passed."




Thanks for listening to the daily gardener,
and remember:
"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."

Featured Book


The Daily Gardener Circle Logo with Signature

Ways to Connect with The Daily Gardener

What Listeners Say


"I just discovered you!
I googled garden podcasts and
I'm so glad I found the show.
I start every day with The Daily Gardener!"

"I love gardening.
I been gardening for over 40 years. 
A friend got me started on listening to gardening podcasts and yours just popped up. 
I am all the richer for it!"

"I've been a Still Growing podcast listener for years.

You are so welcoming and your voice is so soothing!
I love The Daily Gardener because it's different. I can't imagine how much work it is to make a show like this but I thank you for it."


"If you have a garden, a garden podcast, and a library,
you have everything you need."

Leave a Comment