Friday, November 7, 2014

Syringa reticulata

Common Names: Japanese tree lilac
Family: Oleaceae (olive Family)

Description
Japanese tree lilac is a large shrub or (more commonly) a small tree, cone shaped, and getting up to 30 ft (9 m) tall and 20 ft (6 m) wide. The deciduous leaves are opposite, 3-6 in (8-15 cm) long, and oval to broadly heart shaped with pointed tips. They are dark shiny green, sometimes turning dull yellowish brown before falling in autumn. In summer Japanese tree lilac bears large showy panicles of fragrant creamy white flowers. Some compare the fragrance to that of Japanese privet (Ligustrum japonicum) blossoms, not necessarily a compliment. The flower clusters are 6-12 in (15-30 cm) long and composed of many tiny tube shaped blossoms. Fruits are small, dry leathery capsules that turn brownish yellow in late summer. The bark is shiny purplish brown and smooth when young, flaking in curled patches on older specimens. Small stems and twigs are hollow.
Cultivars of Japanese tree lilac include the popular ‘Ivory Silk’ which is smaller than the species, just 10-12 ft (3-4 m) tall and 6 ft (2 m) wide, and blooms when young in its second or third year of growth. ‘Summer Snow’ is a compact, rounded shrub to 20 ft (6 m) tall that produces abundant flower clusters. ‘Miss Kim’ is later blooming with pale lilac flowers and leaves that turn purple in autumn. ‘Chantilly Lace’ has leaves with yellow margins. Peking lilac (Syringa reticulata subsp. pekinensis) is a rangy, spreading shrub with arching branches.

Location
Syringa reticulata occurs in Japan. The subspecies pekinensis is from Mongolia and northern China.
Culture
Light: Japanese tree lilac should be planted where it will get full sun.
Moisture: Grow tree lilac in well drained fertile, humus rich, neutral to slightly alkaline to slightly acidic soil. They like their soil moist and appreciate being watered during prolonged dry spells. .
Propagation: Seed can be sown as soon as ripe. Young, fast growing stem tips can be rooted under mist. Cultivars of Japanese tree lilac are propagated commercially by bud grafting on seedlings and sometimes on Ligustrum root stock.

Usage
Japanese tree lilac is covered with cone shaped clusters of creamy white flowers for two or three weeks in early and midsummer It makes a fine stand-alone specimen or addition to an informal mixed shrub border. A group of three tree lilacs in bloom might be too much to handle! The purple-brown bark is attractive in winter. Japanese tree lilac is used as a street tree in northern cities in Asia, Europe and North America. The flower clusters are used in cut flower arrangements. Like the common lilac (Syringa vulgaris), the showy Japanese tree lilac is robust and non-demanding, often persisting in landscapes after the gardener has stopped gardening.

Features
Japanese tree lilac is probably the easiest of the lilacs to grow. Like other lilacs, Japanese tree lilac tends to flower its most every other year. However, if flower clusters are removed before the fruits and seeds develop in late summer, the plant will bloom at peak levels again the following year. Young plants should be pruned to a single leader (thinning cuts) if a tree form is desired. For a wider growing, bushy shrub, cut the central leader back (heading cut) to encourage branching. See Floridata’s primer on pruning for how to make these specialized pruning cuts.






















Pistia stratiotes

Common Names: water-lettuce, shell-flower
Family: Araceae (arum Family)

Description
Waterlettuce is a floating water plant with 6 in (15 cm) rosettes of ribbed, Ruffles® Potato Chip-like leaves. The rosettes are connected by stolons that break easily. The leaves are fleshy-thick, pale green and velvety-hairy, which causes water to bead and keeps them from getting wet. The feathery roots are white, purple and black, and quite showy, hanging down a foot or so below the floating rosettes. Waterlettuce frequently forms solid mats on the water's surface and can become a serious pest.

Location
Waterlettuce thrives in still waters in swamps, ponds, lakes, and sluggish rivers in the tropics and subtropics in both the Old and New Worlds. In the United States it is restricted to Peninsular Florida where it probably was introduced.

Culture
Light: Waterlettuce needs full sunlight or slightly filtered sunlight.
Moisture: Waterlettuce typically floats on the surface, but can withstand periods of drawdown as long as the mud does not dry out completely.
Propagation: Waterlettuce propagates vegetatively by growing stolons (stemlike shoots) which produce new rosettes. Seeds are produced in the tropics and these are said to be easy to germinate. Waterlettuce apparently does not flower in Florida, perhaps because an essential pollinator is not present.

Usage
Waterlettuce is difficult to maintain in artificial conditions. It can be grown in tropical or heated aquaria with a glass cover and full sunlight, or in a greenhouse pool. The air must be at least 75º (24ºC) degrees and permanently humid above the water. Waterlettuce can be grown in a temperate water garden, but must be lifted before frost and overwintered on damp sand or peat at no colder than 50 º (10ºC).

Features
The arum family contains about 1500 species, including skunk cabbage, jack-in-the-pulpit, golden club (Orontium aquaticum), and calla lily. These are monocots, members of the monocotyledones, one of the two primary groups of flowering plants, or angiosperms. The other group is the dicotyledones. Monocots are distinguished from dicots by having one instead of two embryonic seed leaves or cotyledons (these are the first leaves you see when a seed germinates); parallel-veined instead of net-veined leaves; always lacking cambium and therefore true woody tissue; and flower parts typically in sets of three. Familiar monocots are the grasses, sedges, bananas, bromeliads, lilies, irises, orchids, and palms. There are many more species of dicots than of monocots.





















Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi

Common Names: South American air plant, lavender-scallops, gray sedum
Family: Crassulaceae (orpine Family)

Description
South American air plant is a perennial succulent with upright flowering stems and decumbent, spreading sterile (non-flowering) stems that take root wherever they lie on the ground. It grow to about 2 ft (0.6 m) tall and half as wide. The glabrous (hairless) blue green leaves are thick and fleshy. They are oblong, and 1-2 in (2.5-5.1 cm) in length with 2-8 conspicuous teeth around the edges. The purple or reddish brown flowers are bell shaped, about 3/4 in (1.9 cm) long and hang in loose clusters from upright stems.
The popular cultivar, 'Variegata' is more bushy and erect than the species and has leaf margins that are creamy white and scalloped instead of toothed.

Location
Despite the misleading common name, the South American air plant is native to Madagascar. Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi has escaped cultivation and become established in parts of South Florida (and perhaps South America, too!)

Culture
Light: Grow South American air plant in partial shade. Indoors, it does best in bright light, but not direct sun through a window.
Moisture: Requires moderate watering during the growing season and very little water in the winter.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 9B - 12. South American air plant cannot tolerate hard freezes.
Propagation: Stem cuttings are easy to root. Even a single leaf stuck into the soil or potting medium will take root!

Usage
South American air plant is used as a ground cover in South Florida. It also is used in cactus/succulent or rock gardens. In colder climates, South American air plant is often seen as a potted houseplant. Note that South American air plants have a tendency to spread and leaves that break off can start new plants in adjacent pots.
Features
There are some 200 species of Kalanchoe, and many are popular container plants.