Tuesday, 15 October 2019

How to Grow The African violet (Saintpaulia Hybrids)

African violets have a great range of color and form. It is very easy to grow and they will flower continuously over a long period and new plants can be grown from leaves.
African violet known botanically as saintpaulia was first discovered in the hills of Tanzania in East Africa. The leaves are hairy and fleshy, with long, brittle stalks. They grow to form a rosette like mound. The flowers grow in loose clusters from the rosette.
Size and Growth
The African violet can be 10 to 15 cm high and up to 38 cm or more across. Miniature varieties are about 15 cm in diameter. Although it can bloom at any time of the year, there are generally fewer flowers between November and March.
Color and Varieties
These days there are many African violet hybrids. Flower color ranges from white, through all pink, red, blue, mauve and purple shades. The flowers may be single five petals semi double or fully double. Much in demand are plants with two colored petals. Frilly-edged flowers, plants with strongly variegated or crinkle edged foliages are also very popular. Also, it is available are miniature, semi-miniature and trailing stemmed forms.
Is African Violets Toxic to Cats?
Many pet lovers have question in their mind, “is African violet Safe for Cats?” The good news is that, African violet is not toxic. Normally cats like to chew the plant leafs. May be cats stomach is not good for digest plant material for nutritional craving. So, African violet is not poisonous for cats and dogs.
Display ideas
The African violet enjoys the company of other plants so it is an ideal subject for setting in containers with other house plants.
Making New Plants
The easiest way to start new plant is to take leaf cutting.
Leaf cutting: Well, you need to propagate African violets by taking leaf cuttings. This way you know the kind of plant and the flower color that you will have in the end and it will be identical to the parent plant. It will take about 8 to 10 months from taking cutting to a fully blooming adult plant.
·         Take the leaf from the parent plant together with its stalk.
·         Plant it so that half the stem is covered with a rooting mixture. Keeping the cutting at temperature of 18 °C to 21°C. For about one month and roots will form.
·         Moreover, after 8 to 14 days at this temperature new plantlets will appear. Once they have reached a diameter of about 5cm then they can be split up and transferred to small pots of their own.
·         Also, water with a liquid plant food every fortnight once the plants are well-established. Maintain high humidity by growing plants on pebbles trays.
Plant Doctor
1.      Brown spots scorched leaves can appear if strong sun has been shinning directly on the leaves, or if cold water has been spilled on them. Make sure do not expose the plant to strong sunlight between March and October. Hence you need to give water carefully.
2.      Crown rot fungus is a major problem with African violets. Discard the plant and clean the area where it was growing thoroughly.
3.      Mildew can appear particularly in winter if the surrounding air is to too moist and stagnant. Also, allow humidity trays to dry out
4.      Sunken brown spots on undersides of leaves. This is due to thrips or cyclamen mites. Also, discard plants under severe attack.
Secrets of Success to Grow African Violet
General Care: African violets are not demanding plants but will respond to regular and thoughtful attention, rewarding you with flowers all year round. Pick off faded flowers and leaves right to base to maintain only 3 to 4 layers of leaves on plants.
Potting: This plant grows well in open but rich potting compost. Commercial peat based potting mixtures are best. Also, repot every spring or summer when the roots have filled the pot. Spilt the plant with multiple crowns when repotting
Watering: The African violet cannot tolerate cold water on its leaves or crown. It should be watered with tepid water from bin the saucer. Any water that remains in the saucer after half an hour after watering should be poured off. Keep humidity high by placing it on a tray of damp pebbles.
Feeding: Then you need to give it a liquid fertilizer feed every fortnight during the growth period.
Light: Although the love the light, African violets cannot take very hot sunlight, especially from March till October. The brightest possible light without hot direct sun is ideal. During winter you cannot give them too much light.
Temperature: You will get the best growth and the best flowers if you plant have a summer temperature of (15°C to 22 °C). Minimum winter temperature should be 13°C
Lifespan: With the right care of African violet the plant will grow for many years, offering flowering most of the time round the year. Note the yellow pollen sacs in this variety.
Buying Tips
Well, if you don’t want to invest too much time in the above process. Then these African violets are available any time of the year in the nearest nurseries. But make sure that the leaves are healthy and plump. That there are plenty of flower buds showing. source: Charismatic Planet

Read More - How to Care and Grow Perennial Iris Flower

African violet has a great range of color and form. It is very easy to grow and they will flower continuously over a long period

The African violet can be 10 to 15 cm high and up to 38 cm or more across.

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Monday, 19 August 2019

Amaranthus tricolor, (edible amaranth)

Amaranthus tricolor, known as edible amaranth, is a species in the genus Amaranthus (family Amaranthaceae). The ornamental plant is known as bireum in Korea; tampala, tandaljo, or tandalja bhaji in India; callaloo in the Caribbean; and Joseph's coat after the Biblical figure Joseph, who is said to have worn a coat of many colors. Although it is native to South America, many varieties of amaranth can be found across the world in a myriad of different climates due to it being a C4 carbon fixation plant, which allows it to convert carbon dioxide into biomass at a more efficient rate than other plants. Cultivars have striking yellow, red, and green foliage.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Tabebuia and Handroanthus

Genus and Family:

The genus, Tabebuia, is native to the Amazon rain forest and other tropical parts of Mexico, and Central and South America. It included nearly 100 species of trees commonly known as trumpet trees, named so because of the shape of the flowers. In 2007, about 30 species of the trees in Tabebuia were renamed Handroanthus when molecular studies found that they were more closely related to genera other than Tabebuia. Handroanthus can be distinguished from true Tabebuia by the minute hairs on the leaves or flowers and extremely dense wood containing copious amounts of the compound lapachol in its bark. Tabebuia is restricted to those species with white to red or rarely yellow flowers.

Tabebuia and Handroanthus belong to Bignoniaceae, a family of deciduous, evergreen, and semi-evergreen trees, bushes, and vines known for its showy flowers. Jacarandas, African tulip tree, catalpas, bower vines, cape honeysuckle, and cat’s claw vines are also part of the Bignoniaceae family.

In the United States, trumpet trees are most commonly found in southern California, in some of the milder areas of northern California, parts of the southwest, and Florida. The ones most common to southern California are the Pink (or Purple) Trumpet tree, Handroanthus impetiginosus, and the Golden Trumpet tree, Handroanthus chrysostricha. Pink Trumpet trees are found throughout San Diego with some exquisite specimens in Balboa Park. The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden helped to introduce trumpet trees to cultivation in the 1970s and have the best collection of mature trumpet trees in California. Lining the streets and gardens within the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles are twenty-three Pink Trumpet trees.

While pink and golden trumpet trees share many characteristics, they display differences in growth. The golden trumpet tree may grow up to 36 inches per year to heights of 15 to 25 feet, spreading 10 to 25 feet wide. Dependable and uniform in growth, the golden trumpet tree varies little in shape or color.

Pink trumpet trees grow up to 24 inches per year to a mature size 20 to 30 feet tall and 10 to 20 feet wide. Their spreading branches often droop toward the ground, and there are color variations in flowering. When grown from seed, pink trumpet trees may take anywhere from three to 24 years to flower. Unusual for a tropical tree they may live up to 300 years.

Handroanthus has a hard fissured bark and palmately compound leaves usually with five leaflets. The leaves are smooth and shiny on both surfaces. The lance-shaped leaflets are 2 - 4" long by 1 - 2" wide with prominent veins.
Both Tabebuia and Handroanthus have a pod or pod-like elongated fruit up to one foot in length. Propagation is by seed or by vegetative methods. Vegetatively propagated trees bloom at the same time, while seed propagated trees flower at different times.
In California, trumpet trees usually drop their leaves in the winter and bloom in March and April, then push out new leaves as their flowers wane. They can also bloom at other times during the year while in leaf.
Both species benefit from shaping and removal of the weaker and dead branches and brittle wood as the trees mature.
The flowers are easily accessible to both bird and bee pollinators. There are no known serious pests or diseases that affect these trees.
Appearance: Trumpet trees are valued as ornamentals and their slow growth and spectacular flowers make them ideal patio, street, and parking lot island trees.
The Pink (or Purple) Trumpet tree, H. impetiginosus is also known as Pau d’arco, pink lapacho, and ipe and is the national tree of Paraguay. The H. impetiginosus has showy, trumpet-shaped lavender-pink flowers with yellow throats, 2 - 3" long by 2" wide, and are produced in rounded clusters in early spring while the tree is deciduous. Flowers become larger and more profuse as the tree matures with heavier flowering occurring in warmer areas. Footlong hanging seed pods follow flowers and persist into winter.
There are three cultivars of H. impetiginosus: cv. “Pink Cloud, described as compact and floriferous, deep pink cv. “Raspberry,” and cv. “Paulina,” a medium pink tree that grows to 12-15 feet at maturity and blooms intermittently all year.
The San Diego Street Tree Selection Guide approved the Pink Trumpet tree for use under power lines and Public View Corridors.
The Golden Trumpet tree, H. chrysotricha, has maroon-striped, golden flowers, and is less cold hardy. It is also smaller and more uniform in shape and flower color. It is the national tree of Brazil. Dependable and uniform in growth, the golden trumpet tree varies little in shape or color.

Climate, Soil, and Water Preferences:
Tabebuia and Handroanthus prefer full sun but will adapt to partial shade. They tolerate heat and they can be cold hardy to freezing temperatures for brief periods. Freezing temperatures will weaken the trees. Seaside- and drought-tolerant once established, it prefers consistent moisture. Both trees do well in urban environments and don't need fertilizer or irrigation under normal soil and weather conditions

Timber and Medicinal Uses:
Handroanthus wood, commonly known as ipe (ee-pay), is one of the hardest and densest on earth and is used in the tropics for bows, boats, railroad ties, and tool handles. It is exported to the United States for flooring and decking. The wood is also insect and fungus-resistant. Because of these qualities, it has become a major cause of deforestation in the Amazon.

The bark and wood of H. impetiginosus have been long used by the South American indigenous peoples (where it is known as pau d’arco) as well as in traditional Western medicine. Lapacho, a tea made from the bark of the tree, is used for a variety of ailments and conditions. Possibly unsafe at high doses, pau d'arco is also used to treat a wide range of infections. Lapachol, the main active compound in the bark and wood of the tree, is toxic, and its strong antibiotic and disinfectant properties may be better suited for topical applications.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Lilac or Syringa

Most lilacs are not very graceful; they get tall and leggy, and their leaves re a magnet for mildew in late summer. But their fragrant flowers redeem them, and they will always be a favorite with gardeners. The common lilac (Syringa vulgaris) is the one most often grown. It has spawned hybrids by the hundreds in shades of lavender, purple, rose and white. It is very hardy and seen it grow as tall as 20 feet.
The adventurous can experiment with other lilac species and their hybrids, for different flower shapes and growing habits and to stretch out lilac time to as much as six week. The early Korean lilac (S. oblate dilatata) is fairly tall and has large, fragrant lilac pink flowers. Cut leaf lilac (S. laciniata) is a short shrub with pale lilac flowers and finely cut leaves. Little leaf lilac (S. microphylla) is also short but very wide; the variety “Superba” has deep pink flowers. Persian lilac (S. x persica) is also very wide and spreading the pale lilac flowers is small but very profuse Meyer lilac (S. meyeri) is short with deep purple flowers.
For late bloom, try late lilac (S. villosa), which has long lilac or pinkish flowers, and Japanese tree lilac (S. reticulate, also called S. amurenesis japonica) which can grow as tall as 30 feet and bears long white flowers in mid June. Most of these are hardy and early Korean lilac is also hardy.
Lilac likes a light, fertile well drained soil with a neutral pH. If you’re acid you might dig in some lime, bone meal and wood ashes. Lilacs are easy to transplant but should not be dug while the new leaves are emerging. The powdery mildew they get is unattractive but generally harmless; scale infestations should be controlled with dormant oil. The loss of branches can sometimes indicate borers in the lower stems look for little holes with sawdust beneath them and cut the stems and burn them.
Prune lilacs only after they have become well established. Remove the oldest stems and let a few new suckers grow up to take their place, but don’t leave too many suckers that can rob the plants energy and reduce the number of flowers. Carefully pinching off spent flowers just to the first leaves can result in more blooms the following year. Old plant can be cut as far back as 4 inches from the ground and still come back as bushy, rejuvenated plants, but this is best done over a period of three years. Cutting back a third of the old stems each time Severe a pruning can be done in early spring before buds swell, lighter pruning just after bloom.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Bromeliad: The Most Exotic Houseplant

These fascinating plants are among the most exotic houseplants a gardener can grow and also among the easiest. Not a genus in themselves, but a large group of  genera they include Aechmea, Billbergia, Cryptanthus, Dyckia, Guzmania, Neoregelia, Nidularium, Tillandsia and a number of others. Bromeliads come from the jungles of South America. Some are terrestrial, but many are air plants (epiphytes) living high up in the trees without any soil and taking nourishment only from whatever organic matter washes their way. They are not parasitic and do not draw nourishment from the trees themselves. Tree growing bromeliads catch rainwater in cuplike urns of leaves.
Bromeliads are grown mainly for their spectacular flowers, but the leaves are often particularly handsome too. A typical bromeliad has a rosette of leaves, sometimes soft and green, sometimes stiff and spiky with variegated markings.  A flower stalk usually emerges from the center of the rosette. The showiness of these flowers really lies in the brilliantly colored bracts that surround them, though the tinier flowers are also beautiful. A plant blooms only once, but the flower is often extraordinarily long lasting, and bromeliad plants readily produce offshoots. You may remove these from the mother plant and report them or cut out the spent mother plant and let the cluster of new ones bloom together.
If you are looking for a bromeliad to start with try Aechmea fasciata. You might find itmarketed under various names such as “urn plant” or “silver vase”, but you will recognize it by its vase of stiff, tooth-edged green leaves, marked horizontally with silver bands. The flower spike has toothed bracts of a bright pink color; little blue-purple flowers nestle among pink spikes.
Best of all, this colorful spectacle lasts about six months. The plant grows 1 to 2 feet tall. Another gorgeous long blooming bromeliad is Guzmania  lingulata, which is about the same size, with long green, strap like leaves sometimes striped with purple and a red-orange cluster of bracts enclosing white flowers from late winter or summer. Bromeliads with stiff, variegated leaves like good, bright light and often will take some direct sun but don’t expose them to strong midday sun in summer those with softer, green leaves are fairly shade tolerant.
They do well under artificial lights. They are happiest in warm rooms 65-75 degrees at night even lower from Aechmea fasciata. Give them humid air and a very light, porous organic soil or soilless mix remembers that May bromeliads are air plants and their roots don’t normally grow in soil. Some gardeners grow the ephiphytic types on pieces of tree branch wrapped in moistened sphagnum moss, but a shallow clay pot will do fine.
You can allow the top inch or so of the pot to dry out between watering (overwatering can lead to fungus diseases), but always keep the cup inside the leaves filled with water. Feed lightly a balanced liquid fertilizer at half the suggested strength added to the soil and cup once a month in spring and summer is about right. Propagate by dividing offsets with a knife and repotting them.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

The Best Fern’s to Grow Indoor

Ferns “Many Genera” give a better softening effect to an indoor environment that makes good houseplants. Many people are familiar with that old favorite, the Boston fern “Nephrolepsis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’ ” a very easy indoor plant with rich green, arching fronds; in the variety ‘Fluffy Ruffles’ they are rather upright and have frilled edges. Even more foolproof is its relative, the Dallas fern (N. e. Dallassi) which grows less than a foot tall. Well, there are many species of tropical and subtropical ferns, however, lot of ferns that are native to more temperate climates. These ferns would be well fitting to cooler parts of the house but won’t survive in rooms that are too well heated.
Bird’s nest fern (Asplenium nidul) type of spleenwort, has wide, shiny, wavy edge fronds that look more like leaves and they can grow two to three feet tall. Holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum) also has leaf like fronds a bit like large holly leaves and is extremely adaptable as an indoor plant. If you want something a bit unusual that’s very easy to grow try rabbit’s foot fern (Davallia fejeensis) a beautiful feathery fern from the South Pacific. Its long rhizomes look like brown, furry paws and can be seen crawling out of the pot and hanging from its rim.
When supplying an office with plants once set of these on a woman’s desk, and the fern made her so nervous that she couldn’t sit next to it but most people find D. fejeensis charming. Another exotic that is not terribly hard to grow is the staghorn fern (Platycerium bifurcatum), who’s gray green fronds look like antlers like those of a moose than those of a stag. It is an epiphyte, generally grown on a piece of wood or bark, with its roots wrapped in moistened sphagnum moss.
Few ferns can tolerate much, if any, sun and most grown indoors don’t like deep shade either. Give them bright indirect or filtered sun and an average room temperature. The one thing they are really fussy about is humidity. Generally, the more feathery its fronds, the more moisture in the air a fern needs. Ferns with leaf like fronds are more droughts tolerant. Misting or using a humidity tray may make the difference for you.
Moreover, ferns are shallow rooted and should be grown in shallow pots in a light, organic soil mix. Keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy the phrase “like a squeezed out sponge” is often used to describe the right degree of wetness. The surface can be permitted to dry out between watering in winter. However, water the base of a staghorn fern when it feels dry. Indoor ferns do not need a period of dormancy, though they may go dormant if the temperature is below 50 degree.
Thus, feed your ferns in the summer time every 2-4 weeks with a liquid fertilizer, but don’t mix it full strength because you can damage the root system. Also they can be fed lightly about once a month all year. You can move them outdoors in summer but not into direct sun. Ferns spread by runners, which can be severed and replanted for propagation. To propagate rabbit’s foot fern pin the tip of a “FOOT” to the surface of moist sand with a hairpin. Source: CP

Friday, 20 April 2018

The Amorphophallus Titanum

The Amorphophallus Titanum, more commonly famous as the corpse flower, blooming process can take up to 10 years, and the bloom only lasts 24-36 hours. The corpse flower is one of the rarest and largest flowers in the world, not to mention one of the only flowers that emit the smell of rotting flesh. The flower, named "Rosie", is bloom produce small reddish fruit that will take six months to ripen. Amorphophallus titanum, also recognized as the titan arum, is a flowering plant with the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world. The titan arum's inflorescence is not as large as that of the talipot palm, Corypha umbraculifera, but the inflorescence of the talipot palm is branched rather than unbranched. The scent is a deception device that tricks pollinators into thinking the plant is rotting organic matter.

When it blooms, it emits a repulsive odor of rotting flesh, but it's amusing to some insects.  The smell attracts beetles and flies that the plant needs for pollination. Once the fruit ripens, Tucson Botanical Gardens will take the seeds out and sow them to try to grow some smaller Amorphophallus Titanums or share seeds with other botanical gardens. The corpse flower named “Rosie” is located at the Cox Butterfly and Orchid Pavilion exhibit. Amorphophallus titanium, translates as "giant misshapen penis" holds the record for the world's largest unbranched inflorescence (flowering structure).

This mesmerizing species is a tropical rainforest plant can grow in a container. The retail-size plants that we sell are 1-2 yr old seedlings that will grow to about 24 inches tall in their first year. So you should start with a 6" or 8" container. As the tuber gets larger, you should pot it up (be careful not to bruise or nick the tuber during transplanting or else it could rot). Although the flower is naturally found only in Indonesia, since 1889 they have been successfully cultivated in botanical gardens around the world including Kew Gardens in London and the University of Washington, Seattle.


Sunday, 8 April 2018

How to Grow Philodendron

The name “philodendron” means “tree loving” inspired by the tree climbing habit of many of these South and Central American jungles plants. Some species are not so jungle plants. Philodendron is a large genus of flowering plants in the Araceae family. Some species are not so vining in their habit, however forming new growth at the base, branching and creeping along the ground; these are known as the “self heading” types. Philodendrons may seem like rather mundane pants simply because they are so common because they are so easy to grow. Further, Philodendron houseplants are quite often perplexed with pothos plants. Whereas the leaves of these two plants are alike in shape, pothos plants are more often than not variegated with splotches of yellow or white color. Because, pothos is a much smaller plant as well and is often sold in hanging baskets.
Anyone can grow a philodendron. But they can be used in interesting ways cascading from indoors balconies, for instance. And there are many species and cultivars you have probably never heard of but might like to grow once you start to explore them. The most familiar philodendron, a vining plant with smooth, heart-shaped leaves, is sometimes called “heart leaf” and is known by three Latin names; Philodendron scandens, P. oxycardium and P. cordatum. You also might try the vinnin P. bipennifolium, or fiddle-leaved philodendron, which has large, violin shaped leaves when full grown. Usually, however, philodendrons germinate on trees.
Like many vining plants it is often grown on a bark-covered support (usually a piece of wood). P. selloum, sadle-leaved philodendron, has deeply lobed leaves and is a self-heading type, as is P. wendlandii, which looks something like a bird’s nest fern. There are also philodendrons, varieties with brightly colored or variegated leaves. If you want to grow philodendrons then give bright light if possible, they will tolerate low light but don’t like strong, direct sun. Philodendrons have both aerial and subterranean roots. Nothing like most houseplants, philodendrons don’t experience as much stress when moving from indoor to outdoor settings.
Moreover, average warmth and humidity are fine, though they prefer quite humid air, and the variegated ones like it pretty warm. Keep the soil evenly moist but not too wet, and feed about once a month with a liquid houseplant fertilizer. Feed less in winter, a bit more in spring and summer. They like an average potting soil with organic matter and should be repotted only when very root bound. Pinch straggly, vining specimens if you want them bushier. They are propagated very easily from stem cuttings tip cutting for vining types. 


Friday, 30 March 2018

Lilacs in the Spring

Lilac has become one of the most popular of our garden shrubs. The emergence of its sweat smelling blossom in May is a sure sign the summer is just around the corner. Many of the lilacs being grown these days are specially breed varieties that offer a range of flower colors from white, through pink or blue, to deep violet. The original lilacs had pale pinkish violet flowers the color now called lilac.
Lilac belongs to that small group of plants that are so familiar in Britain that people mistakenly assume they are native. In fact, most lilac species are native to Asia, with just a few species being found in Eastern Europe. All lilac species are members of the same genus, Syringa, which is itself a member of the olive family. Like other members of this large family, such as privet, ash and forsythia, lilac grows extremely well in the British Isles. One great advantage is that it is tolerant of both acid and alkaline soils. Indeed, on a small scale lilac has become naturalized in this country. The earliest species of lilac to be introduced in Britain and still the one most commonly grown here is the common lilac “Syringa vulgaris”. This species is native to Eastern Europe and Asia Minor. The word lilac comes from the Persian word for bluish lilac or nilak. It was first appeared in Western Europe I the 16th century and was introduced to Britain in 1621 by the naturalist John Tradescant, who later became King Charles I’s gardener.
In appearance, the common lilac is typical in many ways of most Syringa species. It is a shrub or occasionally a small tree, growing no higher than 8m. Usually, it it has several stems growing from the base although there may be just a single slim trunk. The bark is smooth and grey. The leaves are mid green, smooth surfaced and have a characteristic heart shape. They are folded along the central vein so that when seen in cross section, they are shaped like a V. The leaves can grow to a length of 15cm.
The flowers emerge in May on pyramidal panicles about 15 to 20cm long. On common lilac, the flowers are not surprisingly, lilac colored but on other species of lilac they can vary from white to pink, mauve, blue or deep purple. The panicles may also be much longer on other species, sometimes reaching a length of 45cm. The flowers are followed by the fruits. These consist of flattened capsules that split, each releasing two winged seeds; they ripen in October.
Soon after the common lilac reached Britain the first of many lilacs native solely to Asia was discovered. This was the Persian lilac “Syringa laciniata”, named after the country in which western botanists first discovered it growing. In fact, it has been cultivated in both Persia and India for centuries. The Persian lilac in much smaller than the common lilac, rarely reaching more than 2cm in height. It is unusual among lilac in having leaves that are lobed rather like those of an oak. It produces violet purple flowers in May.
The Persian and common lilacs were crossed several times in attempts to produce a superior lilac. The most notable success came in 1795, when once Monsieur Varin, the Director of Botanic Garden at Rouen in France, produce a hybrid that was named Rouen lilac “Syringa x chinensis”. This is a handsome shrub, still popular among gardeners. It grows to a height of 4.5cm and bears large compound panicles of lilac colored flowers in May. At this time of the year, the whole bush may be covered with flowers.
Moreover, during the 19th century, many more lilac species were discovered and brought back to Britain as botanists began to explore the Far East. The famous plant hunter, Robert Fortune, discovered Syringa oblate growing in a Shanghai garden in 1856. Unluckily it does not flower well in this country because its blossom appears early in the year. Often, a spell of warm weather in early spring induces the flower buds to grow, only for them to be killed soon after by a sudden cold snap.
Despite its frequent failure to flower well, S. oblate soon proved itself to be a useful source from which to breed hybrids and varieties. Many of the beautifully colored lilacs grown today are crosses between the common lilac and S. oblate. Much of this work was done by the French horticulturists Victor Lemoine and his son Emile in Nancy during the 1870s’. Several of the far eastern species of lilac resemble small trees rather than shrubs. For example Syringa pekinensis grows to a height of 6m and always has single trunk. In June its spreading branches are covered with a profusion of cream colored flowers borne on small panicles 7 to 12 long. This species was discovered in northern China at the end of the last century.
Further, during the 19th century one further species of European lilac was found to place alongside the common lilac. It was discovered in 1830 growing in Transylvania and the Carpathian Mountains of Eastern Europe by the Baroness of Josika. It is now known as the Hungarian lilac “Syringa josikaea”. This lilac is not one of the most attractive but like Syringa oblate, it has proved to be a useful source for hybrids and varieties. Many of the finest modern lilacs were raised from this species by Dr Isabella Preston, who worked in Ottawa, Canada during 1920’s. One of the most popular of her hybrids is Bellicent a large arching shrub with clear pink flowers trusses about 25cm. Which appears in May? Traditionally, lilac used to play an important role in folk medicine, the flowers and bark being used to reduce fevers. Lilac must have made an unpleasant medicine since it has an extremely bitter taste. The wood from a lilac shrub has few commercial uses nowadays, though in Victorian times it was used for decorative inlay work.