Basement Garden

Still Blooming

What’s left blooming in our garden now are just some hardy roses, calendula and the broccoli that we let bloom for the bees (though technically a vegetable).  The re-blooming iris are just producing flower buds which may or may not bloom.  The weather has been staying around 50º F during the day and drops down below 40º F at night.  Last week it dropped below 30º F for a couple of nights and that stunted the growth.  The iris will bloom again if the weather stays above a frost.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

There may not be much left in the garden but down in the basement where the tropical plants reside in winter there is still activity.  I can smell perfume wafting up the basement stairs from a variety of jasmines every time I open the door.  I’m thinking of taking a table and chair from the garden and putting them down there so I can continue the joy of being in a tropical garden in winter.

Night Blooming jasmines continue to bloom
Night Blooming jasmines continue to bloom

The Night Blooming jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum) are doing well this year.  I re-potted the largest one to its benefit.  I also propagated a few plants from the main one and gave some to friends.  They perfume the basement now, competing with the Orange jasmine (Murraya paniculata).


Jasmine ‘Poet’ (Jasminum grandiflorum) loves cooler temperatures and started to bloom profusely outside, but it continues to bloom down in the basement.

Christmas cactus
Christmas cactus

One of the Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera hybrid) bloomed as soon as it got inside.  This is a hard to kill plant.  No matter how negligent the treatment I give them they never miss producing flowers year after year.

Orange jasmine
Orange jasmine

I took this Orange jasmine (Murraya paniculata) photo back in June when it enjoyed sunlight outside.  It still blooms here and there until sometime in the middle of winter when it will bloom heavily again.

Later Summer For Tropical Plants

About Time To Go Back To Winter Camp

It’s a little bit too cold for mid-September this year.  Some nights the temperature has gone down below 40°F and hovered around mid 50°F during the day.  But it has gone up to 70°F during in the last two days.  The thirty degree gap between high and low temperatures makes it difficult for me to decide whether to move the tropical plants back down to the basement.   Although it’s not yet freezing, these plants don’t like to stay in a temperature below 50°F, but I do want them to get real sunlight as long as possible.  I think I’ll move them this weekend if it doesn’t rain.  Better safe than sorry since many of them have been with me for many years.  They have been putting up with confinement (in a pot) all these years so I shouldn’t discomfit them further.  The weather may not have been on their side this summer but they still offered fragrant flowers throughout the summer and some of them are still pushing to bloom even when it’s a little bit too cold for them.

'Azores' jasmine
‘Azores’ jasmine

‘Azores’ jasmines (Jasminum azoricum) have just produced new flower buds that will blossom when they’re already in the basement.  They flowered through mid-winter while residing in our basement last year.


‘Poet’ Jasmine (Jasminum grandiflorum) seems to like cold weather.  It started to bloom more when the temperature dropped and is still blooming.

'Belle of India'
‘Belle of India’

‘Belle of India’ jasmine (Jasminum sambac) really struggled this year.  Its’ leaves dropped at one point when it had been raining for a several days and it was forced to sit in water for a bit. It managed to produce a couple of flowers anyway.

'Maid of Orleans'
‘Maid of Orleans’

I repotted, changed the soil and trimmed the roots of the ‘Maid of Orleans’ jasmine (Jasminum sambac) this year.  I gave them a close pruning as well.  It’s a ritual I do every couple of years for all the potted plants so they can have fresh dirt and more leg room.  They respond well by producing bigger flowers abundantly.

Almond verbena
Almond verbena

Almond verbena (Aloysia virgata) is happy after receiving a crew cut early this spring.  It can grow pretty lanky and floppy when it doesn’t get enough sunlight.  Now it’s a little more compact and blooming better too.

Orange Jasmine
Orange Jasmine

Orange Jasmine (Murraya paniculata) produced a lot of flowers earlier this summer and is still flowering here and there.  Their three inch tall offspring seems to want to flower as well.  Maybe because they are closer to the house and warmer.

Little Orange Jasmine

Never Too Many

We have two Orange Jasmine (Murraya paniculata) that have never stopped blooming.  It doesn’t matter where they are, under artificial light in the basement, in the bay window or on the pool deck in summer, they bloom.  They deliver that delicious scent reminiscent of the tropics in the middle of winter.  I let the flowers set fruit that look a little like small oranges and take a while to mature to a bright red.

Abundant flowers, lovely scent

I didn’t think the seeds would sprout, but I put each one of them in individual pots anyway.  I took a chance since air-layering on tropical plants is hard to do because of the very short summer in my area.  If the seeds sprout, great.  If not, I have nothing to loose.   Surprisingly enough, four of them came up.   Even more surprising to me was that when they reached an inch and a half tall, they flowered.  A little white flower perched on the top of each plant.  I expected them to take a year or two before flowering.  I guess growing in mostly compost helps.

This summer, I let the fruits fall in the parents pots and let nature do the work.  I have a couple more seedlings now.  I only wish I could grow them outside so I could have a whole hedge of Orange Jasmine that would perfume the garden year round.

Their fruit looks a little bit like tiny limes or oranges for that matter.
These are little flowering seedlings. They are only a little bit over an inch tall.

Natural Air Freshener

The Orange Jasmine Welcome

I don’t like photographing flowers at night; they never come out the way I want them to.   Tonight was an exception.  I got a text message from Bill while on the train coming home.  Having arrived home ahead of me, as soon as he opened the door a strong but delicate fragrance of Orange Jasmine (Murraya paniculata) welcomed him in.  The fragrance permeated the entire house, even to the bath room at the far end of the hall.  All of it from just two plants in the living room bay window, each just a foot tall!

Little white fragrant flowers

I mentioned in an earlier blog post that I got these two Orange Jasmines to surprise Bill.  He loved the scent so much when he first encountered it on one of our vacation trips to the tropics several years ago.  During winter they reside in the bay window area so they can get real sunlight.  Not much but it’s still better than the rest of the tropical gang in the basement who put up with ‘grow-lights’ all winter long.  The Orange Jasmines never stop blooming.  In earlier years, they did better on the pool deck during summer but the location doesn’t seem to matter to them now.

Hanging out in the bay-window

They are easy to grow.  Don’t need much…just light, water and food now and then.  They’re also fast growing and quick to reproduce.  Ours have five kids now.  Two of the kids bloomed in the first year when they were only 2 inches tall and they are blooming now in the basement.  I will have to re-pot them this summer to give them more leg room.  The left one in the photo produced one little seedling in the pot that needs to be given its own space.

They are great to come home to after a long day at work.  Just close your eyes and the scent transports you right back to the tropics, minus the heat and humidity.  The fragrance gently washes over one self and the dystopian odor of the big city melts away.  A soothing way to unwind with a glass of wine and legs propped up.

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