Monday, November 3, 2014

Modern Pots

Zamia pumila

Common Names: coontie, arrowroot, compties, Seminole bread, comfort root 
Family: Zamiaceae (coontie Family)

Coontie is a small palmlike perennial plant that grows to a height of about 3 ft (0.9 m). Coontie forms a colony of suckers that slowly grow into mounds 5-6 ft (1.5-2.1 m) wide. The glossy dark green pinnate leaves are 3 ft (0.9 m) long with narrow pinnae (leaflets) 4-6 in (10.2-1.8 cm) long by 0.25 in ( cm) wide. This species is dioecious, having male or female reproductive parts (called "cones") present on separate plants. In late winter the rusty-brown male and female cones emerge from the ground. Males produce pollen that fertilizes the female cones that mature in late autumn when the shiny orange seeds are released.
Its evergreen leaves are fine in texture and resemble those of a fern. They are produced from a thick underground storage root in one or more flushes each year. This cycad has a much softer appearance and is without the sharp edges of some of the other popular cycads used in the landscape such as Cycas revoluta.

Zamia pumila inhabits a variety of habitats with well drained sands or sandy loam soils throughout peninsular Florida.

Coontie will tolerate some salt drift from the sea and can be planted near, but not directly on the beach. The coontie is susceptable to potentially lethal infestations of scale insects that require treatment with pesticide.

Light: Full sun or dense shade.

Moisture: Water when dry.

Propagation: Propagated from seeds but young plants grow slowly. You will probably prefer buying potted plants which are readily available from nursery or garden centers throughout Florida and in similar climates.

Coontie is perfect for woodland and shady gardens where it provides rich evergreen backdrop for flowering species all year long. It works well as a transition plant near larger specimens. Creates a tropical affect when planted by the trunks of pine trees in woodland settings. Coontie is perfect for xeriscapes and as a low maintenance ground cover. The coontie is one of the best ground covers as it evergreen and actually "consumes" trash which sifts down beneath its arching leaves where it is hidden from view to decompose, rust or otherwise degrade inoffensively.
The coontie is very happy growing in pots, urns and containers both indoors and out. It is a popular species for bonsai where it is grown in sand, often with its fleshy underground storage root artfully exposed.

This is a rugged but subtle accent plant that boasts a deep green color and unique form. Although a slow grower, coontie is very tough, drought resistant and easy to maintain. It is difficult to transplant coontie due to its long tap roots and the operation is rarely successful. Do not remove plants from the wild.
Florida's indigenous peoples and later European settlers processed the coontie's large storage root to extract an edible starch. For this reason the coontie was often commonly called Seminole bread during the late 1800s.

Zamia floridana is an older name for this species so you may see coontie referred to by this synonym in some publications. The coontie has a larger and more tender relative called the cardboard palm (Zamia furfuracea).

How to take care of bonsai

Caring for a Bonsai tree is not as hard as is commonly thought. However, as Bonsai trees are planted in small pots a few basic guidelines have to be followed when watering, fertilizing and repotting your trees.

Bonsai tree care basics
Though Bonsai trees are a little more delicate compared to the average indoor plant, a few basic rules should enable anyone to take care of its tree properly. Most importantly are watering, fertilization and choosing the right position to place it.

Watering Bonsai
How often Bonsai need to be watered depends on a wide range of factors, including species of tree, size and climate. Do not just water your tree every day, instead, monitor it carefully and water it once the soil gets slightly (but never completely) dry; it should be damp. When watering, do it thoroughly though.

As Bonsai trees are generally placed in small pots regular fertilization is required in order to replenish nutrients that are essential to the tree. Using a special ‘Bonsai fertilizer’ can be convenient, but any fertilizer will do (be careful not to use too much though). Follow the instructions as stated on the fertilizer’s packaging regarding quantity and timing.

Position, temperature and sunlight
Deciding on the right place to put your tree is crucial for its well-being. First make sure that indoor trees are placed in a warm environment; outdoor trees (although depending on species of trees) generally require much lower temperatures and should be placed outside. Next, most species of trees prefer a bright spot, normally with at least some direct sunlight.

Tecoma stans

Common Names: yellow elder, trumpetbush, yellowbells, ginger-thomas, tronadora
Family: Bignoniaceae (bignonia Family)

Yellow elder grows as a densely branched shrub or small tree and gets its common name from its superficial resemblance of its foliage to that of elderberry (Sambucus canadensis). It has bright green opposite leaves, which are pinnately compound with 1-9 (usually 3-7) sharply pointed oval leaflets. The 2-3 in (5-7.6 cm) long leaflets have sharply toothed edges. They are borne on very short petioles and are slightly hairy on the undersides along the midrib and in the vein axils. The smooth squarish twigs are green, turning tan or reddish tan as they age. The bark on the main trunk is light brown and becomes corky with age. The 1-2 in (2.5-5.1 cm) sunshine yellow flowers are trumpet shaped. They hang in showy clusters at the branch tips and forks, bending the twigs into arches with their weight. There are two folds along the bottom of the flower's throat and several delicate rust-red lines decorating the interior. The blooms appear in flushes throughout the growing season. They are followed by 4-8 in (10.2-20.3 cm) long stringbean-like pods that hang in vertical clusters. These turn brown and split open to release flat oblong 1/4 in (0.6 cm) seeds with transparent 1/4 in (0.6 cm) wings on each end.

Common yellow elder (Tecoma stans var. stans) is a Central and South American tree that grows to 25 ft (7.6 m). It has bright yellow flowers and dense, lushly green foliage that is evergreen in tropical climates, but deciduous in chillier places. It is reliably hardy only down to 28ºF (-2.2ºC), though the roots may survive temperatures into the low twenties. Arizona yellow bells (T. stans var. angustata), which comes from the Chihuahuan Desert in Texas and New Mexico, is a 10 ft (3.1 m) deciduous shrub, which is hardy to 10ºF (-12.2ºC) and can be grown as a herbaceous perennial to Zone 7. It has relatively small flowers and lacy foliage made up of narrow, deeply toothed leaves. 'Gold Star Esperanza' is intermediate between var. angustataand var. stans. It grows to 3-4 ft (0.9-1.2 m) as an annual and is marketed as a Zone 9 patio tub plant. Whereas other yellow elder varieties do not bloom until they are medium-sized shrubs, 'Gold Star Esperanza' begins flowering even as a liner and is therefore more readily marketable in the nursery trade.T. alata is a very similar Argentine native that is root-hardy to at least 6ºF (-14.4º C). It looks like T. stans var. angustata, but has orange flowers. It is sold under the name 'Orange Jubilee'. 'Burnt Out' is a hybrid of T. alata and T. stans var. stans. It has burnt orange flowers and can be grown as a perennial in Zone 7. 'Orange Bells' (Tecoma x smithii) is a cross of T. arequipensis andT. stansT. chrysantha has larger flower clusters and more dramatically serrated leaf margins. T. gaudichaudii (a.k.a. T. castanifolia), which has naturalized in the Miami area and the Dry Tortugas, has similar flowers but simple leaves.

Tecoma stans comes from desert shrublands and dry forests in the region from Texas and Arizona southward to Argentina. It has become established in many parts of the Pacific and is naturalizing in South Florida. In South Florida, it invades dry disturbed sites, pine rocklands, and rockland hammocks. In the Pacific, it prefers wet or mesic sites.

Yellow elder will grow on a wide variety of soils, including sand and limerock. The plants can be cut to the ground for rejuvenation in the early spring or carefully sheared during the growing season to control shape and size and promote new flushes of flowers.

Light: This species needs full sun.

Moisture: Yellow elder likes well drained soil. Potted plants should be given minimal water when not in active growth. 

Propagation: Fresh seeds germinate readily in sandy soil in the spring. Cuttings root easily under mist in the summer. (Choose vigorous young semi-woody branch tips - not old woody stems or fresh green shoots.) Bottom heat will encourage rooting in cooler weather.

Yellow elder is typically deciduous and may freeze back or have a rather awkward shape, so it is best set among more consistent shrubs where it can contribute color to a border or screen. The yellow blooms are spectacular behind blue agave. Since this species drops its abundant blossoms before they wither, it can advantageously be placed where the fallen blossoms will form a pool of gold on the ground. Nurserymen say yellow elder sells best when marketed as a flowering shrub in a 1-3 gal pot and promoted as a tropical patio plant.
Yellow elder has been used for a variety of purposes in herbal medicine. Its primary applications have been in treating diabetes and digestive problems. Extracts from Tecoma stans leaves have been found to inhibit the growth of the yeast infection, Candida albicans. Yellow elder also contains several compounds noted for their catnip-like effects on felines.

Yellow elder is just beginning to get the horticultural recognition it deserves. This is an easy to grow and gloriously floriferous plant that has great potential in the nursery industry. Yellow elder is the official flower of the U.S. Virgin Islands, where its cheerful yellow blossoms have long been appreciated for their contribution to tropical color.
Cape honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis) is a winter flowering, vine-like shrub from South Africa that used to be included in Tecoma.

Euonymus alatus

Common Names: winged euonymus, winged spindletree, burning bush
Family: Celastraceae (bittersweet Family)

Handsome in new spring growth and spectacular in its vivid red fall foliage, winged euonymus is positively striking in winter when the corky "wings" that decorate the leafless stems hold lines of fresh fallen snow. Reaching a height of 15-20 ft (4.6-6.1 m) and spreading 6-10 ft (1.8-3 m) across, winged euonymus is a dense and bushy, many branched shrub. The deciduous leaves grow to 3 in (7.6 cm) long and are borne in opposing pairs along the green, winged stems. The late spring yellowish green flowers are small and borne in rather inconspicuous clusters. They give rise to purplish red capsules that split open to reveal little orange-red seeds that are themselves ornamental, especially if still present after the leaves have fallen.
The variety apterus has stems that lack the corky wings. The cultivar 'Compactus' is smaller, to 6-10 ft (1.8-3 m) tall. 'Monstrosa' is very vigorous and has larger stem wings.

Winged euonymus is native to China, Japan and Korea.

Winged euonymus is a rather slow growing shrub and, with a little pruning, can be kept at a much smaller size than its potential maximum. Like other spindletrees, winged euonymus is tolerant of alkaline and limey soils. 

Light: Winged euonymus thrives in full sun to almost full shade. It seems to do best in partial shade and will require more frequent watering if grown in full sun.

Moisture: Winged euonymus likes a well drained soil, but should be watered during dry spells. It does best with a good organic mulch cover over the root zone. It does not tolerate heavy, wet soils.

Propagation: Winged euonymus can be grown from seed, but these must first be stratified for 1-3 months in a cold, moist medium. Greenwood cuttings can be rooted in spring or summer.

Winged euonymus is used in the landscape for its brilliant fall color and winter architectural form and texture. This is considered one of the most dependable shrubs for fall color, even in warm climates. (The intense bright red foliage may actually be too brilliant for some landscapes!) The interesting corky wings along the spreading branches are most visible in winter, and the bush is very showy when the wings catch and hold the snow. Grow winged euonymus in a shady woodland garden, use in a mixed shrub border, or grow as a specimen where its fall and winter characteristics can be admired. Winged euonymus tolerates shearing well, and is often used as a closely clipped formal hedge, especially the cultivar 'Compactus'.

There are about 170 species of Euonymus (say, "you ON a mus") all native to the Northern Hemisphere, with most occurring in Asia. American strawberry-bush or "hearts-a-burstin-with-love" (E. americanus) is a pretty little green-stemmed shrub with engaging fruit capsules that burst open to display bright scarlet seeds. Wintercreeper (E. fortunei), a handsome evergreen vinelike shrub, has found many uses in the landscape.