Master Gardeners are having a Plant Sale

Spring is here at last and that means the Southside Master Gardener Plant Sale is just around the corner. This year it’s on Saturday, May 4, 7:30 – noon, out in the parking lot in front of Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Halifax Library on South Main Street. There’s still time to donate plants to be included in this sale. Funds from the Plant Sale go toward public education programs on horticultural subjects and support for our partners like the Halifax County 4-H. Please call the Extension office at 434 830-3383 to leave your name, phone number and address and we’ll call you back to schedule a good time to come out and dig plants. You can also call 476-2147, Extension 3383 and leave your message. This year we will have cuttings from an interesting succulent, the Stapelia gigantea, also called ‘Starfish Flower’ or ‘Zulu Giant.’ Stapelia succulents are easy to care for and don’t have prickly thorns so they are safe around children and pets. Happy plants bloom in October with beautiful large 5-pointed star flowers that produce an odor that attracts native pollinators.
Stapelia gigantea is a lovely, interesting succulent that is easy to add to your collection of house plants. Like most succulents, Stapelia are not cold hardy. They can do well in bright sunlight on a protected porch outdoors but then should come inside for the colder months. A terracotta or ceramic pot with lots of holes will ensure good soil aeration and drainage. Add grit to the potting mixture, such as gravel or sand (two parts potting soil to one part grit) to help the roots stay healthy. And, as always, don’t overwater – add water only during the summer when the soil is dry and crumbly. Stapelia arms can reach out up to 12 inches. If an arm breaks off or you would like to propagate more plants, make a clean cut using a sharp, sterilized knife. Let the cut end callous or harden off for several days. Then make an indentation in a pot with potting soil and Perlite and gently stick in the cutting. Keep the soil lightly moist and place the pot in a sunny south-facing window. The new plant should grow roots in about 14 days. Although pets may be interested in sniffing the flowers, Stapelia is not toxic. The main issues are root rot from too much water and pest infestation from mealy bugs. If you notice white cotton-like clusters on the plant, spray the arms and soil with a mixture of diluted neem oil or 70% isopropyl alcohol. Keep the plant isolated from your other plants and spray with this mixture for several days. We hope to see you at the Plant Sale. As always, we will have a wide selection of plants including some succulents. Be sure to bring your garden tools for cleaning and sharpening and stick around for the raffle and bake sale. We can accept only cash and checks. We thank our donors and contributors, especially Charles Anderson Lawn Care, Abbott Farm Suppliers and Reese’s Farm.