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