Saturday, January 31, 2015

Sedum spectabile | Bomets

Sedum spectabile | Bomets:

'via Blog this'

Chamaedorea elegans

Common Names: Parlour Palm, Neanthe Bella Palm
Description: Very popular rainforest palm with small slender solitary trunk and griceful pinnate leaves. Warm-temperate to tropical climates.
Chamaedorea elegans grows to a maximum of 2m tall with very slow growth, and prefers moderate to high humidity, but will grow in low to average home humidity. It can be grown in low light, but it grows best with bright, indirect light.
Chamaedorea elegans require some special conditions and is unlikely to thrive without them.
Foliage – green
Shape – bushy
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 13C max 24C
Temperature in active growth period – min 18C max 24C
Humidity – high
1453105 chamaedorea_elegans Chamaedorea elegans chamaedoreaindoors01 dscn0550 muda-de-palmeira-chamaedorea-elegans-para-dentro-de-casa--16210-MLB20116094848_062014-F TS123136

Ficus elastica Decora

Common name: Rubber Plant

Ficus elastica Decora is a robust plan and has long been used as a reliable decorative houseplant. Large, fleshy, burgundy leaves with a high glossy finish are carried on a stout trunk.
Add beauty and style to courtyards, patio and verandahs with Ficus elastica Decora easy to care feature plants. Provides green life to your indoors and helps to refreshen the air of your home.
For best results, regularly feed Ficus elastica Decora with a liquid fertilizer during the growing season.
When used as houseplant is useful because Ficus elastica cleans the air by emitting high oxygen content, and purifies indoor air by removing chemicals, such as formaldahyde or other toxins.
51f12b5b6737f_59305b 3724396223_aa326ea007 Ficus Robusta 2 aCustomp      ficus-elastica

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Cordyline fruticosa

Common Names: ti plant, Hawaiian ti, cordyline, good luck plant
Family: Agavaceae (agave Family)
Ti is a palmlike evergreen shrub with a strong, usually unbranched trunk that can get up to 10 ft (3 m) tall. However, most of us know it as a smaller foliage house plant, before much of a trunk has developed. The leaves are 12-30 in (30-50 cm) long, 4-6 in (10-15 cm) wide and may be glossy green, reddish purple, or marked with various combinations of purple, red, yellow or white. The leaves originate in tufts at the top of the woody stems in mature plants, and more or less along the stems in younger house plants. Mature plants produce yellowish or reddish flowers that are sweetly scented, less than a half inch (1.25 cm) across, and clustered in conspicuous 12 in (30 cm) panicles. The fruits are red berries. Ti plant sometimes grows in clumps by suckering from the enlarged tuber-like rhizomes.
Many cultivars have been selected for their beautiful foliage: ‘Imperalis’ has leaves variegated with red and pink; ‘Amabalis’ has wide, oval leaves that are spotted with pink and white; ‘Baptisii’ has recurved leaves that are pink and yellow streaked; ‘Hybrida’ has leaves with pink margins; ‘Tricolor’ has leaves that are boldly streaked with green, pink and creamy yellow; ‘Firebrand’ (a.k.a. ‘Red Dracaena’) has reddish purple leaves with paler veins; ‘Baby Ti’ has coppery leaf margins and gets only 2 ft (60 cm) tall; ‘Hawaiian Bonsai’ has dark crimson leaves and gets only 3 ft (1 m) tall; and ‘Margaret Story’ has leaves splashed with copper, red and pink and gets only 3 ft (1 m) tall.
Cordyline fruticosa probably was native originally to SE Asia and Papua New Guinea, but was carried throughout much of the Pacific by early Polynesians who used the starchy rhizomes for food. Today ti occurs in eastern Australia and on many of the larger islands in the tropical Pacific, including the Hawaiian Islands.
Light: Ti does well in partial shade to nearly full sun. It needs more water if grown in full sun. Indoors, ti likes a bright position, but out of direct sunlight. Although it will survive in quite low light, the foliage will never develop its full potential colors.
Moisture: In summer, do not allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Ti needs very humid air to keep the leaf tips from drying out and turning brown. Mist frequently, especially in an air conditioned room, or, better yet, use a humidifier to keep the air around the plant humid. Another trick is to position the pot on a bed of gravel and water. Best bet is to grow in a greenhouse or enclosed flower window. Fluoride in the water will cause the leaf tips to brown.
Hardiness:  Ti should not be subjected to temperatures below about 55° F (13° C.)
Propagation: Ti is easy to propagate from stem cuttings, called “logs.” Cut 3-5 in (7-12 cm) sections of mature stem, remove the leaves, and place on a bed of sand, preferably with bottom heat. The “eyes” on the stem cuttings will grow into shoots with leaves. When a shoot gets 4-6 leaves, cut it and its eye from the log, and root in potting medium as you would any cutting.
In tropical climates ti makes an interesting specimen shrub, valued mainly for its magnificent foliage. Elsewhere, grow in a container. The white club-shaped rhizomes are high in starch and were a valuable food item for Polynesians and Maoris. Other than bringing good luck to its owner, perhaps the most important use is that the leaves are made into Hawaiian hula skirts!
There are some 15 species of cordylines, known also as dracaenas, cabbage palms, and palm lilies. They are similar and closely related to the true dracaenas, and many of the popular ti cultivars previously were listed under Dracaena.
cord_fr1 Cordyline_terminalis2 cordyline-fruticosa-02F Cordyline-Terminalis

Plants Dictionary

accent plant: A plant placed in contrast to its surroundings to call special attention to it.
acid: Refers to material (soil, potting mixture, water) with pH level below 7.0. Acidity is an indicator of the absence of lime or other alkaline material.
active growth period: The period within a spam of 12 months (which is not necessarily a calendar year) when the plant continues to put out new leaves, increases in size and generally, produces flowers.
air-layering: A form of layering in which the branch is potted or wrapped in a moist growing medium to promote root growth.
aerial root: Roots produced along the stem above ground, mainly by monopodial plants. They usually do not enter the medium.
air plants: Air plants (also called epiphytes) are plants that live attached to a plant (or other structure like a telephone pole or a building) and not in the ground). Epiphytes are not parasites; they get water and nutrients from the air (and not from their host).
alkaline: Refers to a material (soil, potting mixture, water) with has a pH level above 7.0. Alkalinity can be an indication of the presence of lime. In general, it is the opposite of acid.
alpines: Small shrubs or perennials that grow naturally in mountainous areas; often used in rockeries.
angiosperm: Angiosperms (meaning “covered seed”) are flowering plants. They produce seeds enclosed in fruit (an ovary). They are the dominant type of plant today; there are over 250,000 species. Their flowers are used in reproduction. Angiosperms evolved about 145 million years ago. They became the dominant land plants about 100 million years ago (edging out conifers, a type of gymnosperm).
annuals plants: Annuals are plants that live for a year or less based on Latin ‘annus’, meaning ‘year’. Annuals are also known as seasonal flowering plants which flower only for three to four months. They are normally grown through seeds. They grow, flower, make more seeds and die, within a year. Annuals are great for creating instant effect and adding color to your garden. Planting annuals also gives you the option of changing the layout of your garden after a year. Most annuals are tender and some of them like phlox look beautiful and are excellent as borders and hedges.
bamboo: Bamboo is a fast-growing monocot grass of the Poaceae family, characterised by its woody, hollow, round, straight, jointed stem.
basionym: In the scientific name of organisms, basionym means the ‘original name’ on which a new name is based. The term is primarily used in botanical nomenclature, the scientific naming of plants.
bedding plants: Bedding Plants are usually used to fill gaps in the borders for a temporary affect. Once flowering is complete they can be disposed of.
biennials plants: A plant that takes two years to grow from seed to fruition, bloom and die or a plant that lasts two years is a biennial, based on Latin ‘biennis’ meaning ‘two years’. These are also seasonal flowering plants that flower only in the second year of planting. After blooming, they don’t perform well the following year or become untidy and then dies. To have blooms year after year with biennial flowers, you have to plant seeds every year.
bulbs: A bulb is a specific stem structure which is planted beneath the soil and stays underground. Roots grow down from it, and stem and leaves grow up from it. Most bulb plants have a dormant (resting) period during which there is no growth visible. Bulb plants grow, flower, then the leaves remain for sometime and disappear completely until next year. They are easy to grow and guaranteed to bloom.
bract: A modified leaf, often part of a flower, which may be either leaf-like or petal-like and is something highly coloured and long lasting.
cacti: A cactus is any member of the plant family Cactaceae, native to the Americas. Cacti are unusual and distinctive plants, which are adapted to extremely arid and/or semi-arid hot environments, as well as tropical environments as epiphytes or hemi-epiphytes. They show a wide range of anatomical and physiological features which conserve water. Their stems have adapted to become photosynthetic and succulent, while the leaves have become the spines for which cacti are well known.
climbers: These are the plants with soft stems that grow only with a support. They rely on something else for support; another plant, a wall or trellis. Different types of climbers have devised many crafty ways to hold on to whatever they grasp.
clone: A group of plants, all descended from a single individual plant.
conifers: Conifers are similar to trees but there are a number of biological differences, most are evergreen but some are deciduous. They make great architectural features in a garden, particularly planted in groups, they also provide excellent ground cover.
creepers: These plants can be grown along the top of the compound wall or as a cover for walls, or at the entrance as an arch.
cultivar: Usually a variety that has originated in cultivation rather than in the wild. Cultivar plan name are generally in a modern language, not Latin, and are correctly enclosed within single quotation marks.
deciduous plants: Deciduous plants lose their leaves seasonally, usually for the dry season.
dormancy: A temporary state of total inactivity. The term dormant is broadly interpreted by many botanists. In its narrowest sense, however, a plant is considered to be not merely resting but dormant if its top growth has withered away (and sometimes, as with many bulbs, its roots as well).
evergreens: An evergreen retains it’s leaves throughout the year.
epiphytes: Epiphytes are plants that live attached to a plant (or other structure like a rock) and not in the ground. Epiphytes are not parasites; they get water and nutrients from the air (and not their host).
ferns: A fern is any one of a group of about 20,000 species of plants. Unlike mosses they have xylem and phloem (making them vascular plants). They have stems, leaves, and roots like other vascular plants. Ferns do not have either seeds or flowers (they reproduce via spores).
flowering plants: Flowering plants are angiosperm: plants having seeds in a closed ovary and producing fruits.
foliage plants: Decorative plants cultivated for their ornamental leaves. The flowers of such plants are often insignificant.
fruit: Plants that are grown for their fruit. They can be trees, shrubs or perennials.
ground cover: Low growing, spreading shrubs which can cover a large area of ground. They suppress weeds and require very little attention.
grasses: Grasses are a group of flowering plants (angiosperms) that belong to the family Graminae.
gymnosperms: Gymnosperms (meaning “naked seeds”) are seed-bearing plants that don’t produce flowers.
hanging plants: Hanging baskets can be a creative way to utilise restricted or waste space where you can parade your plants, inside or outside. Ferns, trailing Fuchsias, ground covers and other hanging plants or similar can appear sensational when the foliage cascades over the edge of the hanging basket.
hardy plants: A hardy plant is one that can withstand the extremes of climate, like frost.
hedges: Hedges are trees or shrubs which are planted close together to form a continuous row. They are usually cut to maintain a particular shape and height.
herb: An herb is a seed plant that does not have a woody stem. Every year, herbaceous plants produce a completely new stem.
heterophyllous: A heterophyllous (meaning “other leaf”) plant or branch has two or more different leaf shapes on it. Although these leaves have different shapes, they have similar internal anatomical organizations.
hybrid: A hybrid is the offspring of two organisms that belong to different breeds, varieties, species or genera.
hydrophyte: A hydrophyte is a plant that grows in water or in water-logged soil. Hydrophytes have a reduced root system, reduced support and vascular systems, and specialized leaves.
indoor plants: A houseplant is a plant that is grown indoors in places such as residences and offices. Houseplants are commonly grown for decorative purposes and health reasons such as indoor air purification. Plants used in this fashion are most commonly, though not always, tropical or semi-tropical.
landscape plants: Landscape Plants are plants that are loose, straggly in growth habit. Landscape Plants would be similar to native American plants.
mesophyte: A mesophyte is a plant that has moderate water requirements.
monocarpic: A plant that flower, set seeds and then die.
mutant: A plant with inheritable characteristics that differs from those of the parent.
mutation: An abrupt and relatively permanent change in the somatic cell that is (usually) transmitted only to the female cells and (in these cases) can be inherited only by plants that reproduce asexually.
neutral: Refers to material (soil, potting mixture, water) that is neither acid nor alkaline. On the pH scale neutral has a level of 7.0.
ornamental grasses: Ornamental grasses thrive in open positions in full sun in the herbaceous border, as a specimen plant or in containers.
ornamental trees: Tress can be flowering trees, fruit trees, shade trees, ornamentals etc. Flowering trees or ornamental trees would be ideal for a home garden. Trees take a number of years to mature.
outdoor plants: Plants suitable to thrive in gardens and parks.
palm: Palm is any plant of the family Palmae having an unbranched trunk crowned by large pinnate or palmate leaves.
paludarium: Paludariums, from the word meaning marsh, typically contain one third to one half of water volume and air above. This means you can then have terrestrial (dry land) areas above the water line, along with the flora and fauna that like to inhabit them, as in the picture above.
pedicel: A small stalk bearing an individual flower in an inflorescence.
perennials plants: The Latin ‘perennis’ means ‘many years’. Perennials are those flowering plants that last longer and keep on flowering. Most take two years until they are old enough to bloom. Once you plant them there is no need for replanting year after year. But they are not a good option, if you want to change the layout of the garden frequently.
pH: literally, the hydrogen ion concentration in soil, potting mixture, water, etc. The pH scale is used as a means of measuring the acidity or alkalinity of any of these substances. The scale extends from 0 to 14, with pure water (pH 7.0) as the standard.
polycarpic: A plant that flowers and sets seeds many times during its lifetime
pot plants: Pot plant is a plant suitable for growing in a flowerpot (especially indoors).
rest period: The period within each span of 12 months (not necessarily a calendar year) when the plant is relatively inactive, retaining its foliage, but producing little or no new growth.
rhizome: A rhizome is a thick, horizontal underground stem (not a root) of a plant, that grows close to the ground. Rhizomes have nodes and scale-like leaves; roots form on the lower surface and new shoots can form at nodes.
runners: An above-ground, more or less horizontal stem that produces bubs at nodes, from which roots and new growth form.
sessile: Without a stalk; referring to leaves or flowers arising directly from a plant stem.
shrubs: Shrubs are woody plants smaller than trees, having a short stem with branches near the ground or several stems that may be erect or may lay close to the ground. It will usually have a height less than 4m (13 feet) and stems no more than about 8cm (3 inch) in diameter.
synonym: Sometimes taxonomists create new names for groups that already have a name. They may do this because they are unaware of the original name or they may think the organism before them belongs to a different group when in fact it does not. If two or more names are found to apply to the same group, they are considered synonyms. In most cases, the first name takes priority and is considered to be the valid or accepted name. However, there can be exceptions and it is not always easy to determine which of a series of synonyms should be considered valid or accepted.
specimen plant: An unusual or impressive plant grown as a focus of interest in a garden.
succulent plants: Succulent plants, also known as succulents or fat plants, are water-retaining plants adapted to arid climate or soil conditions. Succulent plants store water in their leaves, stems and/or roots.
stipule: A small leaf-like appendage to a leaf, typically borne in pairs at the base of the leaf stalk.
stolon: A shoot that creeps along the ground and roots and produces a new plantlet wherever it comes into close contact with the surface of the potting mixture or soil. Stolons differ from runners in that runners can root only at their nodes.
tepals: Undifferentiated petals and sepals.
trees: Woody perennial usually with a clean main stem with branches above. Most trees are deciduous but there are some evergreens. The main stem (trunk) is at least 8cm (3 inch) in diameter at a point 1.4m (4.5 feet) above the ground, a definitely formed crown of foliage and a mature height of at least 4m (13 feet).
tropophytes: a yearly cycle with one season in which water is unavailable to plants because of lack of precipitation or because the soil water is frozen. This season alternates with one in which there is abundant water.
tubers: Bulb stems or roots with food stores which looks like a potato.
variety: A plant form that differs from the natural type species. The term variety as used by modern botanists refers only to variations that have originated in the wild, but the word is also frequently applied to variations arising in cultivation, which should techically be known as cultivar. The names or true varieties are usually in Latin and are not enclosed in quotation marks.
vegetables: Plants that are grown to provide food. The edible part can be roots, stems or leaves.
xeriscape: A garden or landscape created in a style that requires little or no irrigation or other maintenance, used in arid regions.
xerophyte: A xerophyte is a plant that is adapted to very dry conditions (like deserts and the emergent level of the rainforest). Their adaptations include small or absent leaves, small, sunken stomata, and thick cuticles.
water plants: Usually perennials that have adapted to growing in water (aquatics) or wet soil (bog plants).

Saturday, January 24, 2015


Gardening with aquatics is similar to other forms of gardening in that you have to be aware of proper soil conditions, kinds of containers, proper planting techniques, fertility needs, and after planting care. What makes water gardening unique is that the plants you grow are growing in a water filled environment. Things like water depth, water temperature and proper plant selection  are the keys to success. The waterscape creates a pleasant appearance, but also helps create a balanced ecosystem to keep the pond healthy as well as beautiful.
Pond Position: Most water plants do well in direct sunlight. Consider also the exposure to winter wind and the depth of ice that accumulates over winter. When selecting plants, keep in mind the hardiness zone factor. Ponds have varying water movement, from no moving water to swift moving water. Plants need to be chosen that will thrive in the existing water conditions.
Plant Selection: There are five types of water plants that can be included in a pond to achieve perfect balance: Water lilies and lily-like aquatics, marginal plants, bog or moisture-loving plants, submerged or oxygenating plants and floating plants.
Rooted Floating Plants (Water Lilies and Lily-like Aquatics): These grow on the base of the pond and send up leaves and blooms to the surface. Depending on the variety, they may grow a couple of inches to a few feet below the surface of the water. They provide valuable leaf cover to help shade the water, which reduces algae growth. Fish love to hide under the leaves too. Lilies do not do well with strong water movement or splashing water. Most species need full sun 10 hours a day for best blooms. A pond should have approximately one lily for every 0.5 to one square metre (5-10 square feet) of pond surface. There are many different colors and styles of lilies.
Here is a list of species in each color:
‘Gladstone’ has a white blossom and a slight fragrance. Leaves are green with red-striped stems. Plants spread to cover an area from 1.2-2.4m (4 to 8 feet). This plant is best for large pools and should be grown in water 0.3-0.9m (1 to 3 feet) deep.
‘Charlene Strawn’ has a yellow, star-shaped blossom. It is very fragrant and is easy to propagate. The blossom opens in late morning and closes in mid-afternoon.
‘Fabiola’ has a pink blossom with slight fragrance. It has small green leaves and produces flowers very early and late in the season. It works well in small ponds because of compact size.
‘James Brydon‘ has a rosy red blossom. The leaves are bronze-purple to dark green. It blooms later in the season. It grows well in pools that are shaded.
‘Comanche’ opens as a peachy yellow and matures to a coppery orange. Young leaves are purplish, and mature leaves are green with maroon speckles. It works well in medium-sized to large pools.
Marginal Plants (Emergent Plants): These grow in the shallow margins around the edge of the pond. It is helpful if a shelf is incorporated in the pond design to support them. Marginal plants can be decorative, provide shelter from the wind, and offer a bit of shade. These plants do best in still to slow moving water.
Cattails are traditional aquatic plants. They have long narrow leaves and produce brown catkins. There are different species that grow from 0.9-2.1m (3 to 7 feet) tall. These can also be grown as bog plants.
Arrowhead produces white flowers with arrow-shaped leaves. It grows to about 0.6m (2 feet) tall.
Pickerel Rush produces spikes of purple, bluish or white flowers. It grows best in water 30cm (12 inches) deep and enjoys full sun or partial shade.
Bog Plants (Moisture-loving Plants): These grow in damp soil at the edge of ponds and prefer to have only the tips of their roots submerged. They also do best in still to slow moving water. Start with a mixture of marginal plants and bog plants inhabiting about 1/3 of the circumference of the pond.
Horsetails form upright clumps of green stems. They have no leaves, and the tips of the stems have brown cones.
Iris are available in several different varieties. Iris most suited to a bog or moist environment are Japanese (Iris ensata), Yellow Flag (Iris psuedocaorus), Siberian (Iris siberica), and Wild (Iris versicolor). They have slender upright leaves. The flower comes in a variety of colors (white, purple, red, etc.).
Submerged Plants (Oxygenating Plants): The roots of these plants are anchored in soil, but the leaves stay underwater. Their foliage is usually fern-like, lacy, or hairy. They play a vital role in maintaining the pond’s natural balance. These plants use waste nutrients and help purify the water. This, in turn, creates an environment that is unsuitable for algal growth. They also provide cover for microscopic forms of life. It is best to include one bunch (these plants are sold by the ‘bunch’ or handful) for every 0.2 square metres (two square feet) of pond surface. Fewer bunches may be adequate once the natural balance is obtained. Grow a variety of species since each species grows at a different time of year and has different water depth requirements.
Anacharis is a deep green plant with many delicate leaves. It will grow in water 15cm to 1.5m  (6 inches to 5 feet) deep.
Vallisneria has ribbon-like, pale green leaves. It grows in water 15-60cm (6 to 24 inches) deep.
Floating Plants (Free-floating Plants): These plants do not need soil or a base of any kind. As the name implies, they are simply suspended in the water. They provide decoration and shade and help reduce algal growth. One bunch is sufficient for every 0.9-1.4  square metres (10-15 square feet). These plants are vigorous growers and will need to be thinned periodically.
Water poppy is an example of a floating plant, but grows in zones 8 to 10. It can grow in zone 3 and 4 if you replace it each spring. It has yellow, 3-petalled flowers that rise above the floating foliage.
In addition to the plants listed above, there are many more suitable plants available for artificial ponds. Choose plants that are right for your situation. Use a mixture of plants that combine texture, fragrance and color. Maintain a balance between submerged and surface plants. No more than 70% of the surface should be covered. An example of a proper mix in an average sized pond 1.8m x 2.4 m and 0.6m deep (6 feet x 8 feet and 2 feet deep) would be: 3 water lilies, 3 surface plants of medium texture, 3 surface plants of fine texture, 16 marginal plants and 36 bunches of submerged plants.
Site Preparation: Place a small amount of water in the pond so the plants do not dry out. Have plants, containers, soil, sand and pea gravel ready.
Containers: plastic container with no holes is recommended 38-50cm in diameter and 25cm deep (15-20 inches in diameter and 10 inches deep) for lilies;  15-50cm (6-20 inch) are suitable for marginal plants; 15cm (6 inch) for submerged plants. The choice will be made based on the plant and the fact that larger containers produce larger plants and smaller containers tend to keep plants smaller in size.
Containers should be wider than deep because water plants have a shallow root system; it also keeps the container from tipping over. Plastic is the best material to use because it is lightweight. The containers should be dark colored because they are not as visible through the water. Handles are a convenient way to move the containers, though they are not necessary. It is best if the containers do not have holes in them (holes allow loose soil to disperse and will cloud the water). Many types of containers can be used: dish pans, buckets, clay pots or special containers from garden shops.
Soil: Heavy clay loam. Heavy clay garden soil is best for most water plants.
Water lilies, lotus, and other aquatic plants do best when they are planted in heavy clay loam soils similar to what you would have in a garden setting. These types of soils are generally well-balanced nutritionally and will support good growth. Do not use an amended soil mix for potting aquatic plants.
Fertiliser: You will need well balanced garden fertilizer: 12-12-12, 5-3-1, 7-12-5 and fertilizer tablets.
Do not use manure or over fertilize, which may lead to water eutrophication (excessive nutrients and decreased amounts of oxygen).
Also you will use sand and pea gravel in planting your water plants.
In order to conveniently adjust the water depth over the pots, bricks blocks or inverted pots can be used as props under the plants to position them.
Planting Different Types of Water Plants: The best time to move most water plants is during their growing season, from late spring until the end of summer. Containerized plants can be moved while dormant and placed in the pond. The best time to move submerged plants is spring or fall. Do not purchase the plants until you are ready to plant because you do not want them to dry out.
Water Lilies: Water Lilies-like plants are extremely dramatic and add fragrance when in flower.
The hardy lilies grow from rhizomes. They are best grown in soil-filled containers set in the pond. Lilies can be introduced to the pond from spring to early fall.
Mix a well-balanced garden fertilizer into the soil at the bottom of the container so it does not leach into the water, yet feeds the lily roots (about 1/2 cup of fertilizer for eight quarts of soil). Bury fertilizer tablets towards the bottom of the container. Fill the container half full of soil. Position the lily and gently add soil around the roots. For hardy water lilies, the rhizome should be placed so that the growing point is directed toward the center and at a slight angle. Be sure to leave the crown uncovered. Spread 1/4 – 1/2 inch layer of pea gravel over the top to hold soil in place (again, be sure the crown is just above soil and gravel line). Position the lily container on cinder blocks in the bottom of the pool. In most cases the crown should be 15-45cm (6-18 inches) below the water line. Check the needs of your particular lily to be sure.
Tropical water lilies are planted much like hardy water lilies with one exception; they are planted in the center of the pot. Lotus is also planted in the center of the pot. Lotus rhizomes should be handled very carefully though, as they are very brittle and subject to damage. Lotus rhizomes are best planted in large containers and should be covered with about 5-10cm (2-4 inch) of soil, keeping the growing tips above soil level.
Bog and Marginal Plants: Bog and marginal plants are suitable for those not able to locate their water garden in sufficient sunlight to support good plant growth. Some bog plants can tolerate as little as three hours of sun and still provide interest to the water garden.
Similar planting techniques and care are given to Bog plants and Marginal plants.
Fill the container about half full of soil. Place the roots of the plant in the soil and continue to fill. Be sure not to plant it too deep. You may want to place 3 plants in one container for a more full look. Keep different species in separate containers, because one species may overwhelm another species. Add one fertilizer tablet. Place the container at the edge of pond or on bricks in the pond. The container rims should be 5-10cm (2-4 inches) below the water line.
Submerged or Oxygenating Plants: These plants help combat algae by consuming excess nutrients while at the same time providing cover for fish and producing oxygen during daylight hours. Roots of these plants are not used for nutrient or water uptake, but only for anchorage.
These plants require a lot less soil than the bog plants and lilies. The soil will have a high proportion of sand and gravel. These plants do not require fertilization because they get their nutrients from the dissolved minerals in the pond water. It is good to plant these in containers because they may grow rapidly and become invasive if planted on the pond bottom.
Plant about five or six bunches (with 6 stems/bunch) in a five-quart pail. Place containers in the pool so leaves are submerged to a depth of 15-40cm (6 to 16 inches).
Floating Plants: Floaters enhance the display of water lilies and lotus as well as adding a finishing touch to the water garden. They are the “ground covers” of the pond world. They may be restricted by a framework to prevent them from moving around or allowed to float freely with the breeze. This produces an ever-changing look to the water surface.
No soil or containers are needed for these plants. The roots hang in the water while the leaves stay above the water.
Throw a bunch on the water surface and they care for themselves.
Care After Planting: Your pond may look bare at first, but after a couple of months the plants will mature and flourish. If your pond water becomes murky and fills with algae, do not change the water. Give the pond time to reach its balance. You may need to add more submerged plants at this time.
Water Lilies: They should be fertilized regularly with one slow release tablet per eight quarts of soil every month during the growing season. Just press a tablet into the soil near the roots. Also remove any yellow or brown leaves, and old blossoms. This helps promote new growth and keeps the pond clean. Remove all the dead vegetation in the fall so the lily can start new in the spring. The hardy varieties thrive in cold areas and need not be removed from ponds as long as the water does not freeze down to the rootstock. It may be necessary to move the container to the bottom of the pool to be sure the lily roots are below the ice freezing level. Be sure to remove the lilies if the pond freezes solid.
For plants that need to be removed: Allow water to drain from soil then trim away foliage. Wrap container in moist burlap or peat moss. Store plant in a cool corner of a basement or garage with 4-12oC (40-55oF), not more, to keep the plants dormant. Cover with plastic garbage bag to keep in moisture. Check regularly and water periodically to keep moist.
Tropical water lilies are handled differently because of their tropical nature. Prior to the first frost, remove these plants from their pots and trim off most of the leaves and roots. Re-pot them into smaller containers and store them in an aquarium tank or other container where they get plenty of light and where the temperature can be maintained at about 20oC (68oF). Some tropical water lilies produce walnut-sized tubers. These can be removed and stored in water at 12-16oC (55-60oF) for the winter. When placed in warm water 21-24oC (70-75oF), they will sprout. They can then be potted in small pots and move to the pond at the appropriate time.
Bog and Marginal Plants: Additional fertilizer tablets should be added when the plants are blooming. You may need to divide and thin the population in one container every one to 3 years.
Submerged: Thin if necessary.
Floating: If they reproduce too quickly, pull them out by hand or with a net. Depending on the species you choose and the type of winter you get, you may need to treat these as annuals and replace each spring. Floaters may be overwintered indoors in aquariums where there is high light.
Remember that overfertilization the pond can lead to algae problems.
Water gardens can include fountains, waterfalls, ponds and elaborate combinations of rockwork and lighting.
Fish and Snails for Water Gardens
Pond creatures can be added to your water container for added interest and to help in maintaining the ecosystem balance. Several small snails are very helpful as they eat algae, fish waste, and decaying organic matter. Fish can be a beneficial addition, because they are good scavangers, cleaning up debris. They also can help control mosquito larva, and other insects. Fish such as goldfish and koi fish are good choices. They do well in the variable water temperatures of a small patio pond plus they eat mosquitoes. Larger containers of 75L (20 gallons) or more can handle one to two goldfish.
Aside from goldfish and koi fish (considered cold water fish) any other exotic fishes will have to be brought inside for the winter.
water_plants waterlilyes

Thursday, January 22, 2015

When to Feed Your Lawn

No two lawns are alike. Where you live, whether you have sun or shade, and lots of other things make a big difference in what your lawn needs.
To get an overview about how to take care of your lawn, here are some good tips.

When to Feed Your Lawn

The most important thing you can do for your lawn is to feed it. A well-fed lawn is healthier, which means it has a better root system to combat heat, cold, drought, mowing, foot traffic and other stresses. While feeding your lawn once a year will improve its condition, feeding it four times a year will make it even healthier. If you put your lawn on the regular feeding schedule outlined below, it will look lush and green, and your neighbors will turn green with envy.

Early Spring (February – April)

Lawns wake up hungry in the spring. Feeding your lawn in the spring strengthens roots and gets it off to a good start before the heavy growing season. If you had crabgrass last year, apply a combination fertilizer with a pre-emergent to control it.

Late Spring (April – June)

Spring is lunch time for lawns. Your grass is busy and using up stored energy. That’s why you want to supply the lawn with a feeding designed for this time of year. Unfortunately, broadleaf weeds are actively growing, too. Hit them and feed your lawn with a combination of fertilizer with broadleaf weed control (a “weed-n-feed”).
Summer (June – August)
Summer is tough on grass. Heat, drought, foot traffic, and insects stress it out. Feeding your lawn in the summer protects and strengthens it against these problems. Lawns in warm-season grass areas should be fed over the summer months as they grow steadily from spring to fall. If you see insects in your grass, use a feeding product that also contains insect control.

Fall (September – November)

Fall brings back ideal conditions for your lawn. Cool nights, ample rainfall and morning dew are just about as good as it gets for grass. Now the lawn is ready to grow again, and is looking for the nutrients it needs to recover from summer damage. Some experts will say this is the single most important lawn feeding of the year. Apply your final feeding right before the winter months, when grass is prepping for a winter nap. This will strengthen roots and increase nitrogen storage for an early spring green up and a healthier lawn next year. Following a general program like this one should improve your lawn.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tacca chantrieri

Common Names: Bat Flower, Black Bat Flower, Cats Whiskers, Devil Flower, Bat Head Lily, Bat Plant, Devil’s Tongue, Black Tacca, Jews Beard, Voodoo Flower
Family: Dioscoreaceae
Synonymous: Clerodendrum esquirolii
Schizocapsa breviscapa
Schizocapsa itagakii
Tacca esquirolii
Tacca garrettii
Tacca macrantha
Tacca minor
Tacca paxiana
Tacca roxburghii
Tacca vespertilio
Tacca wilsonii
Distribution and habitat: Tacca chantrieri grow wild in the tropical forest from the regions of West Africa and Southeast Asia, where they can get as tall as 90cm (35 inch). Most of these oddities thrive on the moist soils of the forest floor in well-drained soil and high humidity.
Description: Tacca chantrieri is a clump forming herbaceous perennial bearing exotic, log stemmed flowers. It grows from an underground rhizomes. The kinds in cultivation have creeping rhizomes or rootstocks and large, oval, crinkly foliage. Reaching lengths of up to 38cm (15 inch) broad, 20cm (8 inch) wide, the smooth, lanceolate leaves, with angular pleats, are dark green with an under surface colour of greyish green. The flowers are black and up to 30cm (12 inch) across. Curious plant with up to 25 flowers on bat-like (both in shape and color) inflorescences, where each umbel has a pair of large spreading, wing-like rich maroon-black bracts. The four large black bracts look almost like bat wings with long 10cm (4 inch) threadlike tails extending from the tip of each of the flower petals, leading to another of its common names, ‘Cat’s Whiskers Plant’. The bracts are accompanied by 25cm (10 inch) long trailing filaments or “whiskers” forming a flowing forked tail, which emanate from the nearly black with some purple, flower scape. The scapes (flower stem from the base of plant to where the flower actually is) are about 63cm (24 inch) long. The small black 5 petals flowers are succeeded by heavy berries.
They bloom mainly during the summer once they reach 2 to 3 years old. Flowering seems to begin when the plants have produced 2-3 full-size leaves. Each plant produces at least 6 and up to 12 flower stems during the warm months of the year. Each flower lifespan is five to seven weeks. After the plant blooms, it will develop seed pods. Tacca chantrieri is capable of setting seed without pollinators. Seed pods will remain on the plant for quite a long time. The leathery capsules (about 4cm (1.5 inch) long) require up to a year to ripen.
Houseplant care: When Tacca chantrieri like the conditions, they grow, flower a lot and even produce offsets. When something is not right, they slowly decline and eventually die. Unfortunately, sometimes the only way to know if you can provide them the right conditions is by trying. Large plants seem to do better than smaller ones. However they grow fast and flower a lot when the conditions are just right.
Tacca chantrieri plants are evergreen but they have a rest or dormancy period. Because they are not from a place which freezes, therefore during their dormancy, they retain their foliage, they simply stop growing.
Flower stalks may be staked to best display the blossoms.
Light: This plant loves medium to bright (indirect) light. Avoid direct sunlight as it will scald the thin leaves. It prefers at least 4 hours of bright indirect sunlight a day. The light is an important factor to promote the bloom of these plants. Set the plant in an east- or south-facing window where it receives bright, indirect light.
Temperature: Provide to Tacca chantrieri plant a temperature of 25-29°C (77-84°F) through the summer and 15-18°C (59-64°F) through the winter. These plants will prefer daily temperatures of 3-8°C (5-15°F) higher  than night temperatures.
Humidity is essential for this plant survival. Tacca chantrieri plant needs moderate to high, preferably 50-70% relative humidity. Elevate the humidity by using a humidifier, grouping plants or using humidity trays. Never mist in low humidity settings as the misting actually opens the plant pores, which causes the leaves to transpire out more moisture than the misting supplied, eventually resulting in a dead plant.
Avoid drafts from heating or air conditioning vents as this will cause the edges of the leaves to brown.
Watering: During the growing season (late spring to late summer) the plants will need frequent watering to keep the potting mixture evenly moist. Water with warm tap water until the excess drains from the bottom. Use a pot with a drainage hole and drain the excess water from the drip tray to prevent soggy soil which will cause the rhizomes to rot.
Allow to dry down a bit more during the winter resting period. Keep the potting mixture just barely moist until the plant resumes growth in spring.
Feeding: Feed every two weeks with a liquid fertiliser or orchid fertiliser diluted by half while plant is growing and flowering. Do not fertilise during the rest period.
Potting and repotting: Unlike many others rhizomatous plants, Tacca chantrieri plants do not like to be crowded (to be root-bound) and appreciate a wider, shallow pot. Repot them every year in early spring when the growth is active. Never repot a blooming plant of any kind. This is a good time to divide rhizomes and pot them separately. Typically this plant can be grown in a 15cm (6 inch), 20cm (8 inch) or 25cm (10 inch) pot.
When the maximum pot size was reached – 25cm (10 inch) -, wash the soil, cut most of the roots off and remove most of the leaves. Remove and pot separately the offsets and repot the old plant in the same pot cleaned and filled with fresh soil.
The soil is one of the most important things for success with these plants. The mixture needs to be light, very porous and something that drains well. Use something like: 60% peat moss, 30% perlite and 10% vermiculite or use a potting soil mix designed for orchids. During repotting, add controlled-release fertilizer pellets to the potting mixture. Avoid tamping the soil too much. Water to get the soil to settle around the roots and let it drain away. Put the transplant in low to medium light and allow to harden off for about 8 weeks before moving to a brighter location.
Gardening: These frost-tender plants can be grown outdoors in tropics and subtropics, but elsewhere require the protection of a greenhouse during the winter months, as frosty conditions will inevitably kill this very delicate plant. Potted plants are easy to be moved in a sheltered location during winter season. Never pot up unless there are still 2-3 months of warm weather as in winter these plants go dormant.
Tacca chantrieri is not particularly demanding once it is given everything it needs to succeed, humidity and protection from strong winds. When they like the conditions, they grow, flower a lot and even produce seeds, otherwise they slowly decline and eventually die.
If you grow the Tacca chantrieri outdoors, cover it with a bucket when outdoor temperatures will or may drop below 13°C (55°F). Also, they do not like too much heat or air that is too dry.
Location: Tacca chantrieri like shade and good air circulation. The plants thrive in 70-80% shade.
This plant should be planted in partial shade and in a humid and warm environment.
Soil: The soil is one of the most important things for success with these plants. The mixture needs to be light, very porous and with excellent drainage properties as Tacca chantrieri will not tolerate wet soil at their roots. When plant these plants outside in the garden, the soil should be acidic, fertile and rich in organic matter with a loamy to sandy consistency.
These plants require a soil ph of 6.1-7.5 meaning it does best in weakly acidic to weakly alkaline soil. Alkaline soils will cause the leaves to turn yellow.
Irrigation: Plants should be watered on a regular schedule. Care must be taken to not allow soil to remain soggy or to dry as the plant wilts. Stress of wilting will inhibit flower production.
Watering should be done through the spaces of the leaves, as well as directly on to the compost.
Fertilise: Give these plants a good dose of fertiliser on a regular basis from late spring through mid autumn. Tacca chantrieritolerates most commercial plant fertilizers and organic composts. Do not fertilise them during the rest period.
Spread 8 to 10cm (3- 4 inch) of shredded pine-bark mulch around the plant to help with moisture retention and reduce weed growth.
Propagation: Tacca chantrieri can be propagated by dividing rhizomes (including offsets) or by seed.
The rhizomes can be divided at repotting time in the spring. Make sure each rhizome section contains a bud. Plant the rizhomes in a pots that are at least 15cm (6 inch) wide – one piece per pot. Use recommended potting mixture for mature plants. Plant the rhizome upright. Let 1/8 of the rhizome show above the soil when starting. Add compost as the plant grows in the pot. Water the plant weekly during the growing season and once monthly with a foliar fertiliser mixed at half strength. Growing season is spring until late fall. Keep it in a humid area with plenty of indirect light.
Tacca chantrieri can be propagated from seed. Once the seed ponds dry out or fall, remove and split them open to remove the seeds. Let the seeds dry only a few days before sowing them. When they split along their sides, numerous 0.5cm (0.25 inch) seeds are revealed embedded in a sticky pulp. The seeds should be cleaned of the pulp and air dried. After that, soak the Tacca Chantrieri seeds 24 hours in warm/hot water. Use a thermos bottle to keep the water hot during this time. Sow at 1.5mm (1/16 inch) deep in trays or pots, using a good, moist, seed starting mix in a propagator or warm place to maintain optimum temperature of 27-30°C (81-86°F). It is essential that the soil temperature is high and kept steady. Germination usually takes 1-9 months. The seedlings benefit from frequent dilute applications of soluble fertiliser. When small, they pass through a stage of almost chronic chlorosis, even with regular fertilisation, but overcome this in a few weeks. Transplant the seedlings when they are large enough to handle into 8cm (3 inch) pots of a recommended potting mixture for mature Tacca chantrieri. During the growing season (late spring to late summer) the plants will need to be watered very regularly and the compost must be well drained. Pot on as required into 10cm (5 inch) and finally 25cm (10 inch) pots. Furthermore treat the plants as mature Tacca chantrieri. The plants will reach flowering size in about two to three years.
Problems: Bat flower seems to be mostly pest and disease free.
Soil borne disease is common. To minimize problems, keep soil moist not wet and provide air circulation.
Slugs and snails do occasionally bother these plants.
Treatment: Use a bait See Snail and Slug bait to control them.
The plant needs more humidity if leaves start to brown, grow crinkled or lay down rather than standing upright.
Treatment: A good idea is to take the plant in bathroom, turn on the hot shower and let the room steam up. Close the door and leave the light on overnight. This will perk up a Tacca chantrieriquicker than anything else. They love the moisture and heat. Furthermore, find a place with better humidity or choose grouping the plants to rise the humidity.
Sometimes, with out warning, Tacca chantrieri can go dormant and play dead in less than ideal conditions. It is a tender semi-evergreen perennial. It is evergreen in warm moist climates, but goes dormant where seasonally cool or dry conditions prevail.
Treatment: Treat the plant as mentioned for resting period. Water the plant just to prevent the potting mixture from drying out and stop fertilising. Often they will start making new leaves in an few months when the conditions are improved.
Tacca chantrieri new leaf that grew turned black and died. This may happen because Tacca chantrieri plants are highly sensitive to dry air to too much direct light. Another factor may be that the plant is getting chilled or heat-scorched from being too close to the glass.
Treatment: Change their location with one where the plant can receive better conditions. Do not place the plant too close by the window glass.
Note: Tacca chantrieri is a tender, long-lived semi-evergreen rhizomatous perennial. It is evergreen in warm moist climates, but goes dormant where seasonally cool or dry conditions prevail.
These plants will have a dormancy period when they grow in warm environments too, but they will not loose their foliage and just stop growing and producing flowers.
When they are grown in cool environments, the plants will loose their leaves, resuming all vital aspects into their underground rhizomes. After the rest period, when environment condition are optimal the plants will restart their growth from their rhizomes.
The plant flowers usually after it has produced three or four full sized leaves. Another unexpected surprise regarding Tacca chantrieri is its capability of self-pollination despite the fact that in nature they look like being pollinated by flies.
Tacca chantrieri is a magnificent plant which mimic the orchid flower, making place for confusions. The two plants may share the love for humidity, shade, same soil preference,  they may have both unusual flowers, but Tacca chantrieri is not an orchid.
Uses and display: Tacca chantrieri are grown mainly for their flowers, which typically emerge during the warmest months of the year and then will produce up to 8 long lasting flowers over the course of a single season. The flowers should be left on the plants — they do not survive in a vase for long and cannot really be used as cut flowers, but there are voices which classify these flowers being suitable for vase. It makes a peculiar and unique plant for a massed shady groundcover or a container. They also make an amazing display as tropical houseplant. It makes a great container plant and is a real conversation piece.
Height: 60-90cm (24-36inch)
Space:  90-120cm (35-47 inch) apart
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