Friday, 3 February 2017

A Long Lasting Blue Flower Salvia (Sage)

Of a number of salvias is grown in the garden, the Salvia farinacea (blue salvia, or mealy-cup stage). A tender perennial grown as a half hardy annual in most climates, it has blue flower spikes 2 to 3 feet long that are as very attractive and long lasting in the garden as they are in bouquets. Others include Salvia splendens, or scarlet sage, which is a perennial grown as a tender annual and has brilliant red flowers and handsome dark green foliage. Moreover varieties come in a number of heights from about 9 inches to 2 feet. Choose the one that best suits your gardens. This is such a controversial plant that has even been heard of an Anti-Red Salvia League. It is often grown in masses and as such can be too much of a good thing. I am not such a salvia snob as to pas it over altogether, but do like it best in small groups with other plants that tone it down a little.

If you want to grow Salvia then it is normally best to buy started plants, salvias can be started indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last average frost. Seed must be kept warm to germinate. Transplant after danger of frost is past. However plant in full sun light shade in hot climates, spacing about a foot apart. Salvias can also be sown directly in the ground after the weather has warmed up, but unfortunately they take a long time to flower when grown this way. They like warm but not excessively dry weather and need to be watered in drought unless they’re well mulched. 

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Portulaca or Portulaca Gandiflora

Portulacas are often thought of as rock garden plants because they do so well in that setting. They are tender annuals with succulent, needle shaped leaves and trailing stems 6 to 8 inches long. The flowers are bright and papery textured in shades of pink, red, yellow, salmon, orange purple, and white. They are normally sold in mixture, not as single colors. They open in sun but close at night and on cloudy days. Since they are gloriously drought tolerant, and you need to put them in pots, window boxes, or any container that I might forget to water from time to time.

If you want to grow Portulaca then transplanting being difficult it is best to start seed directly in the garden when the soil is warm. A warm sunny exposure is essential as this is a site with well drained soil. Thinning is not necessary. They will tolerate poor soil as well as hot, dry conditions. On top of all that, they will self sow!.  

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Pansy or Viola Tricolor Hortensis

The garden pansy is a type of large-flowered hybrid plant cultivated as a garden flower. It is derived by hybridization from more than a few species in the section Melanium of the genus Viola, chiefly Viola tricolor, a wildflower of Europe and western Asia known as heartsease. For simplicity, the older name Viola tricolor var. hortensis is often used. Pansies are perennials but are short lived in many areas and so are often grown as hardy annuals or biennials. Hybrids come in just about in every color imaginable, many bicolored or tricolored, with the familiar faces that most people remember from their childhoods. Most plants are about 8 inches tall. They are used in window boxes and planters as well as in gardens. Like most gardeners, I find the spring pansy show a welcome sight, but boy, can they sulk in hot weather! Fortunately most of them revive when it gets cool at the summer’s end, and there are all those little faces again. In mild climates they will bloom all winter.

Now if you want to grow Pansy then it can be sown indoors 10 to 12 weeks before the last average frost, but be sure to sow them shallowly, keeping the seed tray dark, moist and cool. Transplant them into the garden in the spring in fertile, humusy, moist soil you should move them early enough so that they can established good root systems before the weather gets too warm. Moreover a more reliable method is to sow seeds in summer of fall for bloom the following spring. In cold climates this is best done in a cold frame, though some gardeners have good results by mulching the seedlings heavily. Left to their own devices, a few pansies will often overwinter or self sow, even in cold areas. Moreover frequent picking or deadheading will give you more compact plants and profuse bloom.

Friday, 25 November 2016

The Sweetly Scented Lily of the Valley (Convallaria Majalis)

Lily of the valley, every so often written lily-of-the-valley, actually its scientific name is “Convallaria majalis” is a pleasantly scented, highly toxic woodland flowering plant that is native throughout the cold temperate Northern Hemisphere in Asia, and Europe. It is perhaps the only species in the genus Convallaria. It was previously placed in its own family Convallariaceae, and, like a lot of lilioid monocots, before that in the lily family Liliaceae.
Well, most people recognize the little white, bell like flowers of this plant. Even the fragrance is unmistakable. The flowers are indeed beautiful and naturalized in the right setting, lily of the valley is a useful ground cover, but it can be a disappointment if it is in the wrong place. The leaves two emerge to embrace each flower stalk are not evergreen but start to turn brown in late summer and cannot be walked on at all.

The roots are quite invasive interfering with the growth of everything else it all its own. The plants produce orange berries after the flowers, but the berries are not profuse. The variety Rosea is pink. Plants are hardy and if you want to grow Lily of valley then it does better in part or full shade than it does in sun and will tolerate even dense shade. It likes a fertile, moist soil. Plants can be divided easily for propagation. If your bed is flowering poorly, divide and replant or donate the excess to your favorite charity. Lily of the valley is a good plant for a Mother’s Day fundraiser. 

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Amazing World of Flowers

Pollinators are attracting by myriad kind of plants and flowers for thousands of years. Their amazing adaptations have resulted in a countless of dissimilar and rare sizes, shapes, colors, patterns, and smells. Some even accidentally look like non-floral subjects, including a diverse range of animals, objects, and human figures. Thus, in the similar way, nature has found shapes in clouds or faces in architecture, and series of flora photographs proves that the natural world is a gallery of never ending attraction.
Moreover, nature lovers can find everything from happy aliens to monkey faces to plump red lips and white doves. In fact the botanical gifts that surround and mimic the world around us. So, in deed this world is extremely beautiful with full of botanical gifts. Human beings should take care of their nature in order to save the attractions for their future generation.  

Monday, 8 August 2016

The Exotic Honeysuckle

One of best memories is to sit with your beloved ones under a huge honeysuckle vine in Pennsylvania, sucking the nectar out of the ends of the gold and white blossom. Honeysuckles are arching shrubs or twining bines in the family Caprifoliaceae, native to the Northern Hemisphere. More than 180 species of honeysuckle have been identified so far. Therefore 100 species can be found in China, 20 native species identified in Europe, 20 in India, and 20 in North America. It wasn’t till long afterwards that realized that not all honeysuckles were vines, that just as many of them were shrubs and that among the vining ones not all of them grew as lushly as that childhood twinning ones; they bloom attractively and is quite varied in both their flowers and their berries. 

Hall’s honeysuckle or “Lonicera” japonica “Halliana” is the one of familiar to most people. It has white flowers that turn to gold in late spring and thereafter, followed by black berries. The foliage turns a nice bronze color in fall. A Japanese plant now naturalized in this country and hardy as well. It requires a strong support unless grown as a ground cover and can be very rampant if not controlled by pruning. If you want a more manageable vine, choose Henry honeysuckle “L.Henryi”, which is hardy and has red flowers a bit later than those of Hall’s or try gold flame honeysuckle “L. x heckrottii”, hardy to and long blooming red flowers. Even try trumpet honeysuckle because of it restrained growth and late bloom it helps to keep the hummingbirds around in July and August. Numerous species of honeysuckle have become invasive when introduced outside their native range, particularly in New Zealand and the United State.

Honeysuckle gets its name because edible sweet nectar can be sucked from the flowers. If you want to grow Honeysuckle vines will grow in most soils, and in sun or shade, but they bloom best in full sun and in soil that is fairly moist. Don’t feed the vigorous ones, and restrain them by pruning unless you are using them to control erosion and want rampant growth. Banish aphids as needed with a soap spray and propagate by seed, softwood cutting or by layering. Moreover honeysuckles are valued as garden plants, for their ability to cover unsightly walls and outbuildings, their profuse tubular flowers in summer, and the penetrating fragrance of several varieties.

Monday, 4 July 2016

How to Grow Colchicum Autumnale

Colchicum autumnale, generally recognized as autumn crocus, meadow saffron or naked lady, is a flower that resembles the true crocuses, but blooms in autumn. This is a very weird plant, and if you don’t know what to expect it can really fool you. The plant foliage comes up in spring, just like that of a spring bulb, but it doesn’t bloom, and by summer the leaves disappear. However, if fall, long after you’ve perhaps said; oh, well so much for Colchicum autumnale, some stems come out of the ground with no leaves on them, just big pink, lavender or white flowers that look sort of like large crocuses.

The species is usually cultivated as an ornamental in temperate areas, in spite of its toxicity. There nice as it is to have a fall blooming bulb, or fall blooming anything, you do have the problem of how to landscape those flowerless spring leaves and those leafless fall flowers. They are supposed to look great planted in front of shrubs, but this makes them look all the more gawky. Moreover, plant them in a natural setting, in sun or light shade, where there is a permanent, evergreen ground cover such as periwinkle, which will deemphasize both the leaves and their absence. They will also naturalize well in grass. Colchicum normally grows from corms and is hardy as well. Colchicum autumnale is the only species of its genus native to the Great Britain and Ireland, occurs across mainland Europe from Portugal to Ukraine, and naturalized in Denmark, Sweden, European Russia, the Baltic States and New Zealand.

So, Hybrids of C. autumnale grow about 8 inches tall. However, some colchicums sold are hybrids of C. speciosum. These are apt to be a hit taller. C. speciosum Album is white, despite the fact that these all look something like crocuses and are even called autumn crocuses in some catalogs. They are not the same as spring blooming crocuses which are another species altogether and have their leaves and flowers well synchronized. Moreover, Colchicum plants are deadly poisonous due to their colchicine content. Therefore, the symptoms of colchicine poisoning resemble those of arsenic, and no antidote is recognized.

Well, to grow Colchicum corms are sold in summer. So they should be planted in late summer or early fall in sun or part shade, about 8 inches apart. They are not fussy about soil, but add organic matter if yours is sandy or dry because they need a reasonable amount of moisture. Plant the large bulbs with the tops at least three inches below the soil surface. Though, bulbs normally multiply by themselves without human intervention.  Source: CP

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Blanket Flower; Beautify your Home and Gardens

Blanket flower is a perennial long season of bloom, produced from early summer to early fall in different shades. Blanket Flower is also known as Gaillardia is a genus of flowering plants in the sunflower family. Gaillardias look like large daisies, with bold, bright markings like those of an American Indian blanket, in patterns of red, yellows and golds. The blanket flowers are glandular in most species; however the inflorescence is a solitary flower head. Blanket flowers are annual or perennial herbs or subshrubs, sometimes with rhizomes.  

Usually, it grow about 2 ½ feet tall, but there are also dwarf varieties. They bloom in summer over a long period and are a good choice if your climate is hot and dry. Therefore, varieties include the mixed colored “Monarch Strain” and solids such as dark red “Burgundy” and “Yellow Queen”. Multicolored “Goblin” grows a foot tall. Blanket Flower is sometimes rolled into a funnel shape are many tubular disc florets at the center of the head in a similar range of colors, and usually tipped with hairs. Blanket flowers enticing butterflies can be grown in containers and the taller cultivars make nice cut flowers.  Blanket flowers are usually short-lived; cutting back clumps to 6 inches in late summer often increases their chances of winter survival. 

Blanket flower normally grows in moist, humid areas and plants may develop fungus diseases in summer or succumb to rot from winter moisture. Avoid mulching them, and give them light, well-drained soil, preferably on the sandy side. Gaillardias can be grown fairly quickly from seed, and will flower the first year. Moreover in spring season, watch for new shoots that may appear quite a distance from the original clump. If the center of the clump dies, discard it and replant the side shoots. Blanket flowers have insect or disease problems and look out for aphids and leafhoppers that can banquet a virus-like disease called aster yellows.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

How to Grow Cactus

Cacti are fun to grow because of their eccentric, even comical shapes. They are extremely beautiful especially when they bloom. If your air is dry and you have trouble growing plants that like high humidity, put away your mister and pebble-filled trays and try cacti instead. They also need less attention than other houseplants. They are part of the large group of desert plants called “succulents” which store water in their fleshy leaves to get them through the long dry spells their native climates are known for. Cacti don’t have conventional leaves, just stems, which are often jointed. They also have “areoles” small holes from which tufts emerge. Sometimes the tufts are soft, like hairs; sometimes they are sharp and spiny. The tufts shelter them from the sun and if sharp, against creatures who might bite them to get at the water inside. The flowers which appear in spring and summer also emerge from the areoles.
Cacti are a large family, with several genera that make good houseplants. Here are some good ones to start with Mammillaria cacti are sometimes called “pincushion” or “nipple” cacti. Most look like small round globes covered with nipples and bear clusters of small, pretty flowers in a crown around the top. Some good ones to try are old lady cactus “Mammillaria hahniana” which is well covered with long white hairs, produces red flowers and generally grows well under 10 inches; the tiny golden star cactus “M. elongata” which is composed of a cluster of long projections with yellow spines and white flowers; M. zeilmanniana, which forms a little round ball and produces pinkish red flowers even at a young age.
Moreover, Easter lily cactus (Echinopsis multiplex) is a little round cactus with vertical ribs and large, pink flowers borne on tall stems; these open in the evening and have a lovely fragrance. Hybrids, which are crossed with species of Lobivia cactus, come in other colors such as red and orange, and may be day blooming. Among the many other good flowering cacti to try are species of Opuntia “prickly pear” Aporocactus “rattail”, Echinocereus “hedgehog”, Ferocactus “barrel” and Rebutia “crown”.
One of the most popular cacti is the Christmas cactus “Schlumbergera truncate or Zygocactus truncatus” a jungle epiphyte that sends out long, arching jointed stems. Lovely red or white tube shaped flowers dangle from the tips around Christmas time. The variety known as “Thanksgiving cactus” blooms a few weeks earlier and can be distinguished by the fact that the last joint on a stem has two prominent teeth. A similar plant, Easter cactus (Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri), is spring blooming. Plants are long lived and can grow as tall as 3 feet and at least as wide.
Most cacti prefer full sun, so give them as much of it as you can. Some will do all right in bright light or under fluorescent lights. They like warm temperatures during the day but can tolerate 40 to 45 degrees at night but don’t let them freeze though and may even bloom better if you turn down your thermostat at night. They like dry air but will take average humidity. In spring and summer when growth is active they should be watered thoroughly. However, during the winter they go dormant for a time, a period they need in order to bloom. They perhaps won’t need water at all during this time unless they wrinkle. If your water is softened water them with bottled water, since they cannot tolerate salt.
Moreover, plant cacti in small, shallow clay pots, with a light, sandy soil except Christmas cacti. Repot in spring if you see roots in the drainage hole. Don’t feed new plants for a year, then feed about once a month during the growing season with a weak concentration of low nitrogen liquid fertilizer; don’t feed cacti at all while they are dormant. They love to be summered outdoors, in fact the cooler days and shorter nights at the end of summer can help to trigger bloom, but bring them indoors when temperatures start to get down into the 40s. Propagate them by transplanting offsets that have developed their own roots.
Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti need more water and fertilizer than other cacti, and they need a more organic soil. Feed them twice a month in spring and summer, and let the soil dry out a bit between watering. But starting eight weeks before the time you want them to bloom, give them a rest. Keep them in a cool place that gets no light at night 50 to 60 degree, give them no fertilizer and just enough water to keep them from wrinkling, and don’t repot them during this time do it in spring. Gradually introduce them to warmer temperatures. Water while blooming, and then keep the cacti on the dry side until spring. They are propagated easily by stem cuttings.