Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Acer palmatum

This is one of the best shrubs or small trees for conservatory . its attractive foliage makes a good focal point in a grouping of shrubs and other plants and it maintains its interest from spring to autumn .
Season interest : spring to autumn
Size : to 3m (10ft)
Flower: small-purple-red in clusters, produced in early spring
Leaf : palmate , 5-7 lobed, 5-10cm(2-4in) long ,shade of green , bronze , purple , yellow ,red
Temperature: minimum – 5C (23F)
Aspects/light: shade, protect from bright summer sun
Humidity : moderate
Watering: keep compost evenly moist from spring to autumn , keep on the drier side in winter
Feeding : once every two weeks with a flowering plant liquid fertilizer in spring and early summer
Propagation: named varieties are propagated by grafting , A.palmatum may be grown from seed sown in autumn
Potting: soil-based potting compost
Problems: leaf scorch in bright summer sunlight
Availability : commonly available throughout the year 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Flowering house plant

Like foliage house plants, the foliage of flowering house plants remain alive and attractive throughout the year but the flowering house plants in addition can be expected to flower under room conditions , provided that their requirements are adequetly met . flowering house plants usually bloom better when the size of their pot is restricted . as in the case of the foliage plants , they can be devided into two catregories , viz. climbers and trailers , and bushy plants.

Climbing and trailing flowering house plants
Aeschyanthus speciosus is a beautiful plant for indoor decoration . it has long stems bearing lovely fleshy, Deep green , narrow leaves and clusters of orange , tubular , fragrant flowers at their extremities . it is either grown in hanging baskets or as a climber on supports in pots.

It should be planted in a rich mixture of sifted leaf-mould and a little sphagnum moss and should be reported each year it like good drainage. It should be well watered in the summer and kept reasonably dry during winter at a temperature of about 50F(10C) . it should not be allowed to flower during its first season.

Begonias generally like a will-lit place , far away from gas fumes . they are best when their pot is surrounded by damp peat. They they need to be watered well in the growing season and kept comparatively dry when they are resting. The leaves should on no account be wetted . in winter , a temperature of 50-55F (10-13C) should always be maintained . the most recommended climbing species begonia Begonia glaucophylla , which has shiny, pointed, grayish-green leaves , which make a very lovely foil for its brick-red flowers in pendulous clusters , which appear in spring and summer . it is also excellent for hanging baskets. It does not like hot rooms.
B.Glabra is another suitable climbing begonia, it has small white flowers.

Columnea banksii needs a warm room in which the winter temperature does not fall below 55F(13C) . it needs plenty of water during the growing period , but the soil should not be kept continuously saturated . the atmosphere should be kept humid by surrounding its pot with damp peat . it likes a well-lit place out of direct sunlight. Its massed , reddish – orange flowers are three inches long and an inch and a half wide , and tubular in shape . it is a difficult plant to grow , but perserverance aimed at getting the right conditions is richly rewarded.
Another glorious columnea is C.gloriosa "purpurea", which has the most exotic-looking , orange flowers and small , dark purple , hairy leaves

Hoya Carnosa (wax plant, porcelain flower) is an easy-to-grow plant with glossy , fleshy leaves and cluster of pale-pink, sweetly scented flowers that appear in summer . to be successful , it must have warmth and plenty of water when in flower. When the plant is growing it need to be watered freely and given an occasional feed of liquide manure when the plant is at the flower-bud stage , feeding should be stopped and watering reduced very considerably . it can stand cold conditions in the winter but it flowers best in the shade where it is warm . there is a very beautiful variegated variety , H.carnosa Variegata , which has cream and green leaves . another attractive species is H. australis, which has pink , flushed, white , honeysuckle-scented flowers.
Jasmine . there are two equally beautiful jasmines that will flower in the house, particularly if they are kept in an atmosphere that is warm , not less than 45F(70C) in the winter , and fairly moist and in a sunny place . under theses conditions both are evergreen . their size can be kept under control by stopping the shoots during the growth season . the first of these is jasminum polyyanthum , which resembles the white garden jasmine . it has white , highly perfumed flowers, pink on the outside , and dark-green leaves. The other is J.primulinum, which blooms in spring or earlier , giving bright-yellow , semi-double flowers that are often an inch in diameter.

Passiflora caerulea (The passion flower) is a quick-growing, hardy climber . blue is the more common  , but P.caerulea 'Constance Elliott' is a very delightful white variety. A sunny position is needed . it should be given plenty of water during the summer and receive an occasional feed . the temperature should not fall below 50F (10C) in the winter , it dislikes coal and gas fires . Keep under control by pruning hard in early spring .

Stephanotis floribunda ( Madagascar Jasmine) is an exotic looking , highly perfumed , vigorous climber . it has white , waxy flowers . it has evergreen leaves , that are about three inches long and make an attractive foil to the blooms. It should be grown in a moist atmosphere and in a pot with good drainage surrounded with damp peat . it likes good light and warmth , with the winter temperature not falling below 55F(13C).

Bushy and upright Growers
Anthurium scherzerianum (flamingo plant, painter's palette) is an impressive house plant. It is difficult one because it needs to be kept in a centrally-heated room, in which there are no temperature changes . a constant temperature of 60F (15C) IS IDEAL . it requires to be planted in a well drained pot , surrounded by moist peat so that the atmosphere is moist , and to be given plenty of water . in the winter the peat should be reduced , but the plant must not be allowed to dry out . frequent spraying with tepid water is an advantage . it should be placed in a well-lit place.
Anthurium scherzerianum is a most colorful plant and is an asset to any interior decoration scheme . it has long slender, shimny , lanceolate leaves, but its crowning glory is its wonderful waxlike, flamboyant, scarlet flowers , which grow on tall red stems and are composed of a spathe about two to three inches long and the same width , and a spirally-twisted orange-red spadix. The combination of these gives the plant an unusual , but most attractive appearance.

Aglaonema crispum " silver Queen"

The Aglaonema  is ideal for use as an ornamental feature on a table-top , until it outgrow the situation . as it grows larger larger , the plant can be displayed at ground level . the aglaonema is susceptible to overwatering and to cold draughts m both of which cause premature yellowing of leaves , followed by untimely loss. Over-watering can also cause leaves to rot at the base and these should be quickly removed with a sharp knife, following leaf loss, keep the compost a little drier for a while to allow the plant to create fresh root and recover . the flower is insignificant and will wither and rot once it has finished . it is probably best removed with a sharp knife at its base as soon as it begin to fade , although the plant can be propagated by division , care should be taken not to damage the fleshy foliage
Plant type foliage plant with single or multistemmed erect habit
Season of interest all year around
Flower: whitish , arum-like, 5cm(2in) , relatively uninteresting
Leaf 20-30cm (8-12in) long , 5-10cm(2-4in) broadly spear-shaped, grayish green , stems fleshy , succulent
Temperature: 20-24C (68-75F)
Adpect/light : moderate, out of direct sun
Humidity : average
Watering : evenly moisten compost in spring and summer , allowing to partially dry out between watering, keep drier in autumn and winter
Feeding : once every three to four weeks in spring and summer with houseplant fertilizer
Propagation : divide plant into small clumps mid spring to early summer , sow seeds at 24C (75F) , lay stem cuttings , 4-5cm (1.5 in – 2in) on surface at same
Potting : house plant potting compost
Problem : mealy bug, root mealy bug, red spider mite
Availability : commonly available throughout year

Araucaria heterophylla

The Araucaria is a superb plant for the enthusiast who likes a plant of regular geometrical shape . however the radiating growth will only be achived by providing the plant with even light and sufficient space to grow and develop . failure to do so will result in growth that is somewhat lopsided which almost ruins the effect of the plant . this species is closely related to the monkey puzzle tree , which grows in gardens , but it is not hardy outside . however , it does share some similar charactaristics in that the needles become sharp as they mature . as the plant becomes older the needles tend to drop off , as do the branches, creating a mess on the floor . the plant is best cleaned by using a pressure water mister to wash the dust off , thus allowing the natural sheen to show through
Plant type: foliage plant with radiating branches on evenly shaped erect habit
Season of interest: all year around
Flower: none
Leaf : Green needle , 0.5-1cm (1/4-1/3in), which become harder  and sharper as they mature , on branches 30-60cm (12-24in)
Temperature: 10-20C(50-68F)
Aspect/light:moderate to reasonably bright , but dislikes prolonged exposure to direct sunlight
Humidity : moderate
Watering : evenly moisten compost in spring and summer , keep on the dry side in autumn and winter
Feeding : once every three to four weeks with houseplant fertilizer in spring and summer
Propagation : sow seeds in pans at 18-20C(65-68F) from mid spring to early summer in seed and cutting compost
Potting : houseplant potting compost
Problems : mealy bug , root mealy bug , premature loss of lower leaves
Availability: occasionally available throughout year

Asparagus setaceus

Although it has the common name of asperagus fern , this plant is not even related to ferns and should not be classified as such . it is in fact from the lily family , a point which surprises many . it is a useful plant for display throughout the home and is relatively easy to grow . apart from being suitable for a traditional pot or container , the asparagus fern also makes a good subject for a hanging pot or hanging basket . not only is it suitable for use as an indoor plant , either singly or in association with other plants , but it also provides interesting foliage for cut flower arrangements. The asparagus dislikes a warm and dry atmosphere as the foliage can rapidly dehydrate with resultant desiccation and browning of the leaf tissue
Plant type foliage plant with upright , compact habit
Season of interest : All year around
Flower : insignificant , sometimes followed by small red berries , producing spring/summer
Leaf : Tiny , green ,needle-like , on branchlets
Temperature: 13-20C(55-68F)
Aspect/light: well-lit situation out of direct sunlight
Humidity : moderate to high
Watering : keep compost evenly moist in spring and summer , water less in autumn and winter  but avoid drying out
Feeding : once every two weeks with half strength houseplant fertilizer in spring and summer
propagation: sow seeds at 21C (70F) in seed and cutting compost in spring , separate in mid spring to mid summer using houseplant potting compost
Potting : houseplant  potting compost
Problems: Dehydration due to dry atmosphere
Availability : commonly available throughout year

Growing roses indoors

It is usually during the winter that many people buy or receive as presents flowering house plants such as cyclamen and azaleas, which give a gorgeous display of color for perhaps two months, looked after carefully. When these plants fade, their owners wonder what they should buy to take their place. It is always possible to acquire another azalea, but even that will only last a few more weeks. Perhaps roses are the best plants to follow in. it is not always appreciated how easily these popular plants will grow in containers both indoors and out of doors. In some ways they are more beautiful than ever if grown in green house or in the house, particularly when compared with roses in the open garden , because their blooms are completely unblemished by ravages of pests and diseases and the effect of bad weather. Greenfly can generally be kept at bay by spraying with clean water, caterpillars can be easily picked off by hand, and black spot seldom seems to attack roses might be affected by mildew, which can be dealt with by spraying with a commercial fungicide.

If the roses are to bloom in spring, a start must be made in early autumn. There are quite a number of both floribunda and hybrid tea roses that respond quite well to this treatment. In fact, it might be said that almost every variety is satisfactory. So there is no real problem of selection. There are two approaches. The first is to buy a bare root plant from a nursery and, after trimming away any unruly roots, to plant it in an eight – inch pot in compost, to which has been added a small quantity of fertilizers, both of which are fairly easily obtained from garden supply shops or through mail ordering. if a clay pot is used , a one-inch layer of crocks should be placed at the bottom to assist drainage, which is not necessary in the case of plastic pots. The soil should be tamped down and filled to about an inch from the rim to allow space for watering. The alternative is to go a garden centre and select a container-grown rose, which has a root ball of such a size that it will fit comfortably into an eight- inch pot. Any space around the outside should be filled with compost so that the soil is fairly tight. After planting, it should be well watered. It is then allowed to stand outside for about a month, when it should be brought indoors.

Provided the soil is moist, little more has to be done until mid-winter. If it is not, it should be moderately watered. At this time the rose should be pruned. This is done by first removing all the dead, weak and diseased shoots and any that are growing toward the centre. After this the remaining shoots are hard pruned, that is, cut back to an outgrowing bud, which is the second or third from its base. Incidentally, at the same time every year, potted roses should be similarly treated.

During the next few months, temperature control is important. When producing roses in pots, it is a good idea to be guided as far as possible by the rules laid down by the growers who raise them in greenhouses, which is to keep them at a temperature which is equivalent to that outdoors two months a head in time. This might be regarded as 50F (10 C) by day and 46F (8C) by night towards the end of winter, 60F (15C) and 50f (10C) respectively in early spring, and 65F (18C) and 55F (13C) respectively later in spring. while it might not be possible to adhere strictly to these levels in a house , where there are no strict controls as there are in greenhouse , to get the best results an endeavor should be made to do so . What it really amounts to is that it is necessary to move the rose from a cooler to a warmer spot as the weeks pass by . Remember that no roses want to be molly- coddled but it is important to see that they are kept in a well-lit place, where there are no draughts, although ventilation from slightly open window on days when it is extremely cold is welcomed by them.                           

Late in spring, the most perfect blooms will appear. Apart from their decorative value, flower arrangers appreciate them very much, because they can impart an unusual, out of season look to their arrangements.

When they have ceased blooming, all the dead flowers should be removed and the pots put outside in semi-shade in early summer. Here they can remain until autumn    

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Aspidistra elatior

Aspidistra elatior

Well-known for its toughness and durability , the aspidistra was given its common name of castiron plant by the Victorians . they valued its ability to tolerate gas , a recent introduction to homes that killed many other indoor plants grown at the time. With the current fashion for some of the older styles of interior furnishing and decoration , the aspidistra is enjoying a moderate comeback in popularity . it makes an ideal subject for less well-lit positions , although the key to presenting and displaying the plant well lies in finding the right type of container or pot . for a little more color the variegated form , A.e variegate, can be grown , but this plant requires more light to promote the variegation.
Common name : cast-iron plant
Plant type:foliage plant with some what loose untidy habit
Season of interest: all year around
Size :30-60cm (12-24in)
Flower: uninteresting, purple, at base of plant in late summer
Leaf: broad, slightly ribbed, spear-shaped, 30-45cm(12-18in) long, 7.5-10cm(3-4in)wide
Temperature: 10-20C (50-68F)
Aspect/light: low to moderate light
Humidity : tolerant of moderately dry atmosphere
Watering : evenly moisten compost all year around , allowing to get on the dry side before re-watering
Feeding: once every four weeks with houseplant fertilizer in spring and summer
Propagation: separate rhizomes mid spring to early summer and pot them singly or in groups at 18-20C (65-68F) in houseplant potting compost
Potting: houseplant potting compost
Problems: mealy bug , root mealy bug
Availability : occasionally available throughout the year
Other varieties: A.e Variegata- cream and green variegated foliage

Aucuba Japonica Variegata

The aucuba is a good example of an indoor/outdoor plant . it can be grown for two to three years inside before it becomes too large and unmanageable as a houseplant , and then planted outside in the garden . if the plant is to be taken outside during the autumn and winter months , it may first need to be hardened off. If possible. it is better to move it outside in the spring or summer  when there is little or no danger of frosts. As an indoor plant the Aucuba is a fairly tough subject which can tolerate fairly cool and draughty positions such as beside front or back doors or in porches. the attractive , variegated foliage makes it suitable for display either on its own or as part of a mixed grouping .
Common name: Japanese Laurel , Gold-dust plant or Tree
Plant type: foliage plant with loose , bushy , erect habit
Season of interest: All year round
Flower: small, uninteresting , purple-red, produced in summer, occasionally followed by red berries
Leaf: glossy green, oval leaves, 7.5-15cm (3-6in) long, 5-7.5cm(2-3in) wide, with uneven yellow spots
Temperature: 10-20 C ( 50-68F) indoors , but will tolerant frost
Aspect/light: moderate to reasonably bright light
Humidity: moderate
Watering: evenly moisten compost in spring and summer , keep drier in autumn and winter
Feeding: once every four weeks with houseplant fertilizer in spring and summer
Propagation: plant tip cuttings , 10-12.5 cm (4-5in) , at 20C (68F) in mid spring to early summer  in seed and cutting compost
Potting: houseplant potting compost
Problems: Relatively trouble tree
Availability: occasionally available as houseplant throughout year
Other varieties: A.J.Crotonifolia-yellow-cream with white blotches

Agave Americana “Marginata”

An extremely tough and resilient plant with a pleasing, symmetrical habit of growth. Great care should be taken with the agave as the barbed edges of the leaves and needle-sharp tips can be very dangerous. Ensure that it is placed well away from where people could brush against the leaves , and wear gardening gloves (and even goggles) when tending to the plant . for potting and other activities it is advisable to wrap the agave with news paper for safety . The common name for century plant refers to the age at which it was once though to flower.
Although this is not true, the plant does not put forth its greenish yellow flowers for a long time, after flowering, the agave will die, but not before it has produced several offsets, which can be removed and propagated.

Common name: century plant
Plant type: Succulent with erect rosette
Season of interest: all year around
Size: 30-100 cm (12-39in) (can grow larger)
Flower: Greenish-yellow on flower spike, rarely produced, in summer, plant dies after flowering
Leaf: 15-45cm (6-18in) long, 5-7.5cm (2-3in) wide (will grow larger if space is available), fiercely serrated and pointed, fleshy , green and gold
Temperature: 10-20cm (50-68F)
Aspect/light: Full light
Humidity: tolerates warm dry atmosphere
Watering: moisten compost infrequently throughout year, keeping on dry side, particularly in autumn and winter
Feeding: once every month with houseplant fertilizer in spring and summer
Propagation: remove offsets when 10 cm (4in) with greatest care (wear goggles and gloves)
Potting: cactus and succulent compost
Problems: very dangerous to children and others due to sharp leaves, pests generally tend to leave the plant alone
Other varieties: A.’Medio-picta’- yellow stripe down centre

How to Make Potting Soil

Many  gardeners make their own potting soil to ensure a proper mixture of ingredients and to save money. Those new to gardening often make the mistake of using garden soil in plant containers. Although some elements of outdoor soil can benefit potted plants, potting soil must contain ingredients that promote nutrient absorption and water retention. Homemade potting soil is easy to mix and promotes health in most plant types



Buy horticultural vermiculite at a garden or home improvement store. Vermiculite is a common ingredient in potting soil because it significantly improves aeration. The mineral also promotes moisture retention which results in better absorption of nutrients and healthier plant growth. Horticultural vermiculite is non-toxic, sterile and odorless.

Purchase shredded peat moss. Peat moss is harvested from bogs full of decomposed sphagnum moss. Adding shredded peat to all-purpose potting soil promotes a healthy combination of water and air in soil and softens soil texture, encouraging root growth. Peat moss lacks nutrients and dries out over time, so it's not ideal for planting unless mixed with other ingredients.

Get superphosphate. This synthetic fertilizer contains phosphate, the form of phosphorous beneficial to plants. Superphosphate gradually decomposes in soil, providing plants with essential nutrients. Flowering plants respond especially well to superphosphate additives.

Find limestone dust. If you live in area rich with limestone, you may be able to get the dust from local quarries. You also can find it at large garden centers. The calcium carbonate in limestone has acidic properties that complement alkaline soil ingredients, resulting in pH balance.

Look for 5-10-15 soluble fertilizer. This water-soluble fertilizer is 5 percent nitrogen, 10 percent phosphorous and 15 percent potassium. Plants cannot thrive in soil that lacks the proper balance of these three essential nutrients.

Measure ingredients before mixing in a large plastic container suitable for soil storage. To ensure safety, wear gloves and protective eyewear when making potting soil

Take Care From:

All plants need proper drainage to survive. Before potting plants, check for drainage holes.

Certain plants like cacti and orchids require special potting soil to thrive. These can also be made at home using ingredients commonly found at garden centers