SHERRY'S GREENHOUSE website is full of great information but a bit disorganized. As I have time, I am remodeling it to be better and easier to use.
Here is the link to the homepage
of the beginning of the new website


Home . . . What else is there? . . . Write to Sherry

Subject: your site
and a good day to you !!
found your site for the first time today...
and i have to say for anyone looking for
general or specific information that it is
truly a pleasure to wander it...
i personally am collecting information about
hydroponics as my intent is to set up a
12 x 24 foot greenhouse principally for the
raising of orimental vegtables and the like.
again...thank you for such a fun and infomative
website with such a myrid of info.

MandevillaOverwintering Mandevilla
and other tender plants

Last year I took a chance with my Mandevilla and didn't provide it with any protection over the winter. Fortunately, the winter was mild and the vine continues to thrive. I don't plan to gamble this year.

This Mandevilla is planted on the west side of a chimney on a copper trellis near our front entrance. The astonishingly white flowers are extremely fragrant. Unfortunately, I've lost its tag and don't remember exactly which Mandevilla this is. The photo was taken early in the season and show its first flowers and new growth ascending the trellis.


Overwintering can be approached in different ways.

1. Leave the plant where it is and try to protect it in place;

2. Dig it up and store it somewhere;

3. Do nothing and take your chances;

4. Take a cutting as insurance against losing the plant to either methods (1), (2) or (3).


1. Leave the plant where it is and try to protect it in place:
If you've planted it in a warmer microclimate--near a south-facing wall, in a wind-protected area, near a dryer vent, or near dark-colored pavement, your tender plant will have a better chance of surviving the winter.

Wait until after the plant has experienced a few chilly nights which should encourage dormancy, then heavily mulch the root zone with leaves or straw. Cover this with branches or burlap secured with wire U-shaped pins to keep the mulch from blowing away.

Extend the mulch idea to the entire plant. If the plant is small enough to manage this way, you can build a light wire and wood structure around the plant, fill that with straw, and cover all with burlap. Wind twine around the structure to hold it all together. I would top this off with a piece of plastic to keep the whole thing dry. Be sure you can lift at least the sides of the plastic on bright sunny days--otherwise you may end up cooking your plant!

This method leaves you with some ugly garden sculptures. Make it all look purposeful, and add a little heat as well by decorating your blanketed plants with those tiny white holiday lights.

If your banana plant is too big to dig up, try the method above, first cutting off the leaves and leaving the "trunk" which is what you will then wrap.


2. Dig it up and store it somewhere:
You can put your tender plant in a pot, or just wrap the roots loosely in plastic. My lemon trees are already in pots, of course--I just drag them into the greenhouse. The greenhouse must be heated for this to work and is a good place for plants that you want to keep actively growing. Other storage areas (good for dormant plants) include a garage, a cool basement, the crawl space under the house, a garden shed. If you live in areas where it gets seriously cold, you will want to use storage (such as an attached garage or basement) that at least gets some residual heat from your house.

This method is a good ones for banana plants. Dig them up and wrap the roots. Don't cut off any leaves or stem. Store under the house or other dark place that will not experience frost. When the time is right, haul them out and plant them again.

3. Do nothing and take your chances (often the result of procrastination!):
I don't really recommend (3), but I've certainly used that method a lot. I've also lost some plants that way.

4. Take a cutting as insurance against losing the plant to either methods (1) , (2) or (3):
If your plant is the sort that you can take a cutting from, I think that is always a good idea (and that will my first step with the Mandevilla this week). (See below for general info. on taking cuttings.) This does not work with plants like banana.

Banana Growing
Musa 'Raja Puri'
Musa 'Raja Puri' in Sherry's greenhouse -->

I live in the "north" (zone 6) and am very interested in growing bananas and actually getting them to fruit. Can you give me any hints on a variety to grow (I assume a dwarf that I can bring indoors during the winter) and also how to grow them. I have read about some dwarf varieties including a Super Dwarf variety that only get about 3' to 4' tall. Do any of the dwarf varieties actually fruit under these conditions or do they only fruit under very ideal conditions that are not practical in a home environment? 
I currently grow large banana plants outside during the summer and dig them up and put them in the garage during the winters where they go dormant. Two years ago I actually had one fruit very late in the growing season, but naturally by the time frost came around the fruits were still very small and never matured.
Thanks for any help.


Hello, Jim! Thank you for visiting my website.
According to Oglesby Plants International (who developed this particular banana):
"Super Dwarf Banana will tolerate a wide range of light intensities but grow best under lower light conditions..." so I would think that you would have a very good chance of getting fruit even growing them in a house. I have not grown this one, but would like to try it also.
(More culture info. on Super Dwarf banana)

An extensive list of banana varieties (including Super Dwarf) is available from Going Bananas They have several smaller varieties. You could write to them regarding a specific variety and ask about whether the growing conditions you provide will reliably produce fruit. They would know better than I
Super Dwarf also available from Edible Landscaping.

Another dwarf (in this case 5 to 7 feet tall) banana is Double or Mahoi. They have the ability to produce 2 or more bunches at the same time. I would think that your chances of getting fruit from this one when grown in the house would be slim, but it's nice to dream. Available from Aloha Tropicals and Going Bananas.
According to Stokes Tropicals, "Bananas do best in full sun, however they will grow and produce fruit in partial sun."

Double (Mahoi) "Dwarf plant, 5' (1.5m) to 7' (2.1m) in height. A very rare and extremely unusual plant that produces two or more bunches of very tasty sweet bananas on the same plant. Excellent container plant. A must for serious collectors. A dwarf cavendish mutation. Multiple heads are produced when second generation is not separated from the mother plant. Limited quantities. "

Stokes Tropicals also offers a dwarf banana collection (Dwarf Red, Musa Acuminata Dwarf Cavendish, Dwarf Brazilian, Dwarf Orinoco, and Super Dwarf Cavendish).
Musa acuminata 'Super Dwarf Cavendish'
"Forget about huge banana plants that need a lot of room. This unique super dwarf allows for growing inside the home, on the porch, or close confines of a patio. Has a very symmetrical and compact appearance: 2'-4' in height. Can produce tasty fruit inside or out. Has been used as ground cover around base of palms which provide strong vertical elements. Easy to grow in containers down to 8" in diameter. Because of its size, our most versatile banana. Zone 8 and higher. "

I hope this helps some. Thanks for writing. I hope you're successful. Producing banana fruit has been one of the most exciting things to happen in my greenhouse. Good luck!


Growing stronger seedlings

Dolichos lab lab

Rufus U. of Shreveport, Louisiana, wrote:

Sherry, Can you tell me what I should do to get a stronger tomato plant from seed? Mine seem to be spindly and leggy. What do growers do to get a stockier plant?

Typical problems which produce weaker plants: not enough light temperature too high lack of nourishment For stocky tomato seedlings: Nighttime temperature below 60 degrees Fahrenheit Daytime temp. in the 70's is best (or at least keep it below 85) Brush the tops of your plants for a couple of minutes a day (really) Keep a fan running and gently blowing air on your plants (which will also prevent that dreaded damping off fungus from forming) If you are using fluorescent lighting, keep the bulbs about 2 to 4 inches from the tops of the plants. Give the plants 10 hours of light a day at first. When they form their first set of true leaves give them 16 hours of light a day. Feed half strength fertilizer (I use fish and kelp emulsion) every few days.

See this page for more.

Photos in database
help with diagnosis
of plant problems

The University of Maryland, Home and Garden Information Center's Plant Diagnostic Web Site offers photographic keys to help diagnose and solve plant problems, using Integrated Pest Management principals.

The following sections are active (others, such as vegetables, are under development):
Beneficial Organisms, Broadleafed Shrubs, Flowers/Herbs, Lawns, Needled Evergreens, Needled Evergreen Shrubs, Pest Control, Shade Trees and Wildlife.

You are asked to select a plant category, then which part of the plant is showing symptoms (e.g. leaves). Very clear photos are displayed of (in this case) various leaf symptoms. Even if you can't name the problem, you will have no trouble recognizing it from these images. You select one of the symptom photos, and a list of possible causes is displayed. Clicking on one of the causes gives you very detailed information on that cause, including montioring and management as well as yet another (different) clear photo of the symptom.

Source for 'Rose Quartz' tomato

i was looking at your list for a source of seeds of the rose quartz
tomato....could you please tell me a source for these seeds which are among my favorite tomatoes?
judith k.

I did a LOT of looking around, finding no "rose quartz" tomato anywhere until FINALLY, I found a tomato with a remarkably similar description (which I think is actually the same tomato) called
Sweet Quartz VFNT Hybrid --"Pink cherry tomatoes the color of rose quartz are as delightful to taste as they are to look at. Large bunches of slightly elongated, deep pink cherries have a flavor that is nicely balanced with sugar and acid, making them quite delicious. Vines are tall and vigorous; because they are so disease resistant, you'll be able to enjoy these tomatoes until the very end of the season. Japanese variety. Indeterminate. 65 days."

These are available from Tomato Growers Supply Company
Look in the category "small-fruited tomatoes".

Angel's Trumpet

Brugmansia (Angel's Trumpet)

Luna and Claire

Luna (left) and Claire, Rhode Island Red chicks, were living in the greenhouse for awhile. They were given free range until I discovered one morning that they had grown up enough to begin grazing on my flats of seedlings.


Living room rainforest

I have had a banana tree now for two and a half years and looked on the internet for information regarding it never bearing fruit. I have never given my tree any fertilizer and now I know that it needs a lot of fertilizer. I am so excited to see bananas. I live in Pennsylvania and usually people here cannot grow such a tropical plant but my living room looks like a rain forest of plants. The information on your site is overwhelming ! Thank you so much and good luck with your trees !! I am so glad you were here to help !! Good luck with your contest with your dad !!!
Brenda M.

Hello, Brenda! I appreciate hearing from you that my website is helpful. Do you have any photos of your tropical rain forest living room? That would be a great thing to put up on the website and would be especially encouraging to those without a greenhouse.
Thank you for writing. You will be so thrilled when you finally get a banana flower. I certainly was!

Brenda writes back:
I am so excited to hear from you !!! I don't have any pictures of my rain forest living room, but will be taking some shortly and will send them on to you. I gave my banana tree the fertilizer that you recommended and am anxiously awaiting the first flower. Thank you for writing and happy planting !!

Tomato blossom drop

My tomato plants are growing very large and hearty. The only problem is that the blossoms and just dying and falling off. No
fruit is starting. Any advise that you have would be appreciated.
Thank you,

Hello, Mike! Thank you for visiting my website.
(Mike's further responses in parentheses.)
Tomatoes will not set fruit when temperatures are above 85 degrees
Fahrenheit or when nighttime temperatures are below 60.
(I live in Orange co. CA. at the beach, temp is right in between)
Too much moisture in the soil can also be a cause of blossom drop. Have you had heavy spring rains? Are you overwatering potted plants?
Overwatering is also indicated by leaves turning yellow and root rot.
(no rain at all and I deep soak every 3-5 days)
Plants should be well nourished, but not given too much nitrogen.
Spraying the leaves with a mixture of liquid seaweed--MaxiCrop is one brand--and water can bring things into balance by supplying
micronutrients that may be missing.
(I will try this one)
You mention that no fruit is forming. Another factor may be that no
pollination is taking place. Shake or tap your tomato plant blossom
clusters as soon as you see the petals curling back I just do this
routinely every day in the greenhouse. If you're growing your plants
outdoors, the wind should be taking care of pollination, but maybe your plants are in too protected an area for any wind to shake the blossoms.
(steady breeze from the ocean)

greenhouse part closeup


Another idea regarding
the "funny looking greenhouse part":

Here in Michigan that is available around christmas time in all home
stores .. I've seen it. it is used to hang out door lighting or holley
from the gutters of your house.. there just called gutters snaps and
hangers--comes in all size--maybe in one size large you may be
able to use in your greenhouse,, I'm sure you can use it for pipes and
hoses too, and you can get them online around Christmas at decoration websites .. hope I helped you!!

sucker on Musa 'Raja Puri'

Sucker growing at side of Musa 'Raja Puri' mother plant (whose thick stem is seen in the upper right-hand portion of the photo.

Terra cotta pot supplier

I am looking for a supplier of terra cotta pots in all sizes for a crafts
project. I can't seem to find a good supply in stores around me. Most seem to be the plastic type. Do you know of a good mail order source? Possibly somewhere I could order in large quanties? Thanks so much.

Lynn P.

I have not ordered from the companies listed below, but you might find something suitable here:

Arizona Pottery

Robinson Consumer Products for Nurseries appears to be wholesale only, but perhaps you can qualify.

Roland's of California has a terra cotta pots section
and says "We sell to retail and wholesale customers."


Planting an avocado stone

Dear Sherry,
My son wants to plant this seed. I have bought some multi purpose compost, and a pot.  Could you tell me can he plant the seed straight away - we opened the avocado yesterday -do we have to wait for it to dry out?  How deep under the soil does he put it?  Which way up?
I have no gardening skills.


I would plant it in the potting soil with the pointed end up and the seed one-third exposed. Keep soil moist.
More info. on these pages from the California Rare Fruit Growers:
Avocdo from seed
more on avocado
Texas A&M site


Hi Sherry,
I really enjoy your website, very good information. A couple years back I was in French Polynesia, and was overwhelmed by a particular species of Gardenia, known there as a Tahiti Tiara. I've since seen similar versions in the Carribean, but they do not smell the same. Is it possible to purchase such a Gardenia plant (I saw them as fairly large bushes, loaded with flowers). These Gardenias were blooming in August/September time of the year, their winter. Thanks for your help!
John D.

I found a photo of Gardenia taitensis (Tahiti Gardenia). Is this the one you're looking for? If so, you can contact Gardino Nursery Corp. regarding availability at email address:

This Dendrobium orchid is one of several in bloom in the greenhouse now. It's in front of the water spigot manifold.

Dendrobium orchid

– Soft Cuttings

Save money by cloning your favorite plants by means of cuttings. Take soft cuttings from the tips of healthy, disease-free plants.

To root cuttings you will need:
1. 4” pot with hole for drainage (if reusing an old pot, dip in a
solution of water with a few drops of bleach)
2. Water/bleach solution (1 quart water, 3 drops bleach)
3. Rooting soil (mix vermiculite and peatmoss)
4. Sharp, clean knife
5. Rooting powder (available at a garden center for about $3)
6. Pencil or small dowel

placing cutting in soil
Fill a 4” pot with rooting soil to a depth of about 4”. With a sharp knife take a 3” - 5” stem cutting from the parent plant just below a leaf joint. Remove any flowers or buds. Trim off all but 3 or 4 leaves at the top. Dip cutting in water/bleach solution, then in the rooting powder (which has rooting hormone and fungicide). Use the pencil to make a 3” deep hole in the pot just slightly larger than the cutting stem and carefully insert cutting so the rooting compound won’t be brushed away. Gently firm the soil around it. Several cuttings can be placed in one pot. Water the cuttings and store in a shady, cool area. Rooting may begin to take place within 3 - 4 weeks.(This information kindly contributed by Farm Wholesale. (more on cuttings below)

To ensure the best start for your cuttings, keep the environment humid. This is easily done by loosely placing a plastic bag over the pot. Don't let the bag touch the leaves of your cutting. I use a tall U-shaped piece of wire or a couple of sticks in the pot.

Tropical plants will appreciate bottom heat to encourage rooting.

Christmas Lights Can Protect Trees From Freeze

Hanging Christmas lights inside evergreen, broad-leaf trees is one way homeowners can ward off freeze damage during extremely cold nights, according to University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor Mark Freeman.
"Hanging the lights inside the tree canopy, especially in citrus trees, and leaving them on all night may create enough warmth to protect trees from damage," Freeman said.

Christmas lights...
hung in citrus have proved very successful, even with temperatures in the teens (and your neighbors will be impressed by your elegance!). Landscape lighting at the base of the trunk is even more sophisticated. Portable shop lights will work as well. Tarps and plastic are not as effective. "There is no need to panic with a few hours of temperatures in the high 20's such as occurs during a normal radiation frost," says Seeger. "The Christmas lights and anti-transpirants do wonders in the low twenties, and help prevent severe damage in the rare occasions when temperatures are in the teens." Seeger notes that experts used to recommend against fertilizing Citrus trees after late summer to "prevent" damage to tender new growth. Four Winds Growers now recommends fertilizing Citrus year-around. While there may be some damage to new growth, they have found that healthy, well-fed trees resist and recover from frost damage better.
--written for the Davis Enterprise, December 1999

Tomatoes for hanging baskets

Do you know where I can purchase vine tomatoes (cherry or other small size) to grown in a hanging basket?
Don S.

An excellent selection of cherry tomato plants and seeds is available from Territorial Seed Company.

Some other sources for for tomato seeds:

Rachel's Tomato Seed Supply

Tomato Growers Supply coompany

Johnny's Selected Seeds

Nichols Garden Nursery

Cook's Garden

Seeds of Change

'Meyer Improved' lemons in the greenhouse

 Build a garden workbench
Do you know of a website that show gardenshop workbench plans? Or any suggestions you might have for one would be greatly appreciated.  I grow my own annuals each spring and am remodeling a section of the garage to make this easier.

Hello, Holly! Thank you for visiting my website.
Look at these websites. I'm sure you'll find something you can adapt to suit your needs.
Cold frame/propagating bench
Western Red Cedar Lumber Association

Basic greenhouse bench
Sun Country Greenhouse Company

Garden Work Bench with small roof
Wolmanized Wood Products

and other useful plans

Large cold frame/propagation bench (not exactly a work bench, but it looked like a good idea for large-scale home propagation)

U-Bild potting bench plans #910
available for $9.95

California Redwood Association
downloadable (free) PDF file
detailing "Monterey Potting Center"

"How-T-Do-It" show notes & photos with construction details and hints
(did not see actual plans here, but there is useful info.)


orchids, Ipomoea, Pelargonium, hot dog plant


Mail order coffee plants

Richard W. wrote:
I have a friend whose interested in purchasing a few coffee plants and has not been able to find nurseries that supply these plants. Are there any nurseries who deal in "mail order" coffee plants on the web??? Thank you.

Coffee plants are available from the following nurseries online:
Arizona Aquatic Gardens & Tropical Plants

Coffea arabica plants
Fruit Lover's Nursery
(in Hawaii)

'Kona' variety plants
Glasshouse Works

Coffea arabica plants
coffee plants available in UK

Coffea arabica v. nana
Greendealer Exotic Seeds of the World

seeds of several coffee varieties: Coffea arabica, C. canephora, C. catura, C. kona
Legendary Ethnobotanical Resources

The Garden Helper
coffee culture page

Detailed home coffee roasting information

Coffee botany, diseases, history, names, glossary, growing areas processing details, preparation, roasting coffee at home, and much more.

Coffea arabica flowers

photo of young coffee plant
from Main Street Nursery
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