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Brian Minter: Sizzling new crops for collectors


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Polka Dot Begonia is a fun, super easy to care for plant.  Photo credit: Minter Country GardenPolka Dot Begonia is a fun, super easy to care for plant. Minter Country Garden

Bonsai plants as Christmas gifts have always been of interest. However, outdoor varieties such as pine and juniper must be kept outdoors in a protected area during the winter months as they cannot tolerate internal conditions. Ficus microcarpa is the best choice for an indoor bonsai. Maintained and sculpted in southern China, when these twisted plants are enlarged, their roots are raised and washed, and then shipped to growers in Canada for repotting and growing for sale. They’re very affordable and most gardening stores sell them all year round. These Ficus Bonsai need a cool, bright window, their soil is only slightly damp and fogged several times a day until they have settled in.

Old reliable products like sturdy aloe veras and snake plants (sansevieria), a large selection of hoyas, and interesting cacti and succulents are great gifts. Distinctive varieties of Calatheas with their brightly colored leaves are just as successful as easy-care philodendrons. Hanging baskets with pearl necklaces, dolphins, hearts and beans are fun gifts. The brightly colored, spiky leaves of new varieties of mangaves will be the stars of next year’s summer terrace.

Why not give something for outdoor growing? West Coast Seeds has a Dr. Bonnie Henry Pollinator Seed Blend launched as a fundraiser. All proceeds go to the Food Bank. These seed packets are available from West Coast Seeds and select garden stores.

A new system seems to be making its debut every week, and that’s very exciting. All of the plants I mentioned add spice to any plant collection, and most gardening stores have a good selection at this time of year.


Robert Dunfee