Tillandsia recurvata

Common name: Ball Moss, Small Ball-Moss, Ballmoss, Bunch Moss

Family: Bromeliaceae

Synonymous: Renealmia recurvata
Diaphoranthema recurvata
Tillandsia monostachya
Tillandsia uniflora
Diaphoranthema uniflora
Tillandsia pauciflora
Tillandsia recurvata var. contorta
Tillandsia recurvata var. minuta
Tillandsia recurvata f. contorta
Tillandsia recurvata f. minuta
Tillandsia recurvata f. minor
Tillandsia recurvata f. elongata
Tillandsia recurvata var. ciliata
Tillandsia recurvata var. genuina
Tillandsia recurvata f. major
Tillandsia recurvata f. argentea
Tillandsia recurvata f. brevifolia
Tillandsia recurvata f. caespitosa

Tillandsia recurvata

Tillandsia recurvata

Distribution and habitat: Tillandsia recurvata is indigenous to the warmer regions of the Americas; it ranges from the southern United States to northern Argentina and Chile. The northernmost limit of its natural occurrence is coastal Georgia, although it has been introduced into coastal South Carolina on landscaping trees. It has been reported in nature from Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Arizona, Mexico, most of Central and South America and many of the islands in the West Indies.
The epithet recurvata is derived from the way the leaves tend to curl back (recurved leaves).

Description: Tillandsia recurvata is gray-green with scaly, recurved, linear leaves 5-15cm (2-6 inch) long. The leaves occur in two ranks on opposite sides of the steam. The overlapping scales which cover the steams and leaves absorb water when they are wet (rain or fog). The scales are also responsible for the relative tolerance of cold weather of this species.  They tends to form a spheroid ranging in size from a golf ball to a soccer ball. In autumn they produce 15cm (6 inch) erect spikes with one to seven funnel-shaped,  1cm (0.5 inch) long flowers with pale blue or violet petals and gray-scaly bracts at their bases.  After flowering, produce club like greenish-brown seed capsules. Most seedlings germinate on tiny branches and less often on vertical bark of tree hosts, which has been suggested to indicate that local spread of Tillandsia recurvata is mainly by seeds sprouting from bird droppings on stems of shrubs and trees. Rival authorities suggest that wind is the main agent of seed dispersal. Mature seeds have no apparent adhesive on the exterior and very little nutrient supply to support sprouting, but, like many other epiphyte seeds, they are borne plentifully and are armed with fine, straight hairs that could well adhere to wet or clinging surfaces such as rough bark.
Tillandsia recurvata does not have roots.

Houseplant care: Tillandsia recurvata is an easy to grow and prolific plant. They are very common in the commercial houseplant trade and are often decoratively attached to pieces of rock or driftwood.

Light: Tillandsia recurvata used as house plants do best in bright filtered light (a translucent blind is a useful filter). The Tillansia recurvata  with its white scales can better handle sunlight than Tillansia  species with the smooth shiny leaves.
Leave outside in the rain during the summer and bring indoors when temperatures start falling below freezing. When moving plants outdoors, gradually accustom them to increased light levels and never place them where they must endure the midday sun. When shifted to bright light too quickly, their leaves can sunburn.

Temperature: Room temperature ranging from 10 to 32°C (50-90°F) are fine for Tillandsia recurvata. These plant will adapt well to dry atmosphere by becoming dormant,  but thrives when is spray mist. They appreciate fresh air movement, so moving plant outdoor when the temperature allows is beneficial.

Watering: Soak Tillandsia recurvata  (fully submerged)  once a week during active growing season for 30 minutes to an hour, then shake them and allow to almost completely dry before replacing them in any kind of enclosure. The water should be dried in 4 hours. Do not use distilled water or softened water. Filtered water, tap water that has sat long enough for the chlorine to dissipate, bottled water are fine. Pond water, aquarium or rain water are all preferred.
Water sparingly during the winter.
Spray misting is insufficient as the sole means of watering but may be beneficial between regular waterings in dry climates to increase the humidity.
During the holidays, to leave alone the plant unattended for over two weeks, soak Tillandsia recurvata  in water for 12 hours before going in holiday and again for 12 after returning from holiday.

Feeding: Tillandsia recurvata does not require fertilising. However, an occasional dilute solution of foliar fertiliser applied during the growing season will speed up the growth.

Mounting: Hang a portion up with a wire and Tillandsia recurvata will form a cool-looking ball-shaped cluster.

Gardening: Tillandsia recurvata is relatively cold-tolerant species, but is sensitive to freezing, particularly when moist. It can tolerate temperatures as low as  minus 6°C (20°F).

Location: Tillandsia recurvata grows well in areas with low light, little airflow and high humidity, which is commonly provided by southern shade trees, often the Quercus virginiana (Southern Live Oak). It can grow in full sun but is happiest under a tree canopy.

Irrigation: Tillandsia recurvata  absorbs water from rain and can tolerate dry periods by becoming dormant. Tillandsia recurvata , like other bromeliads, is sensitive to lime. Irrigate with rain water or water that has been demineralized. To get the water where it needs to be, in the leaf axils and on the stems, use a sprayer or mister.

Fertilising: An occasional mist with quarter strength of foliar fertiliser applied during the growing season will speed up the growth.

Propagation: In nature, Tillandsia recurvata is propagating by seed. The dispersed tiny seeds that land on a tree branch, stick fast and develop root-like attachments to the bark.
Tillandsia recurvata, as ornamental plant, is propagate by dividing the balls. Clumps can be pulled apart to start new plants.

Problems:
Tillandsia recurvata is especially sensitive to lime, use pond water, aquarium or rain water ( low pH ) water for watering. Filtered water, tap water that has sat long enough for the chlorine to dissipate, bottled water are fine.

Do not plant Tillandsia recurvata in soil and do not allow them to stay wet for long time as they are prone to root.

Note: Tillandsia recurvata is a flowering plant that grows upon larger host plants. It derives mainly physical support and not nutrition from its host; it photosynthesizes its own food. It gets water and nutrients from the rain, atmosphere and dust. Tillandsia recurvata is a nitrogen fixer, meaning that it is able to convert atmospheric nitrogen (which is unusable to plants, except by legumes) into a form that plants can use. Though not a harmful parasite in the same sense as plants such as mistletoes that feed on the sap of the host, Ball Moss may compete with a host tree for sunlight and some nutrients and by restricting available surface area for new branch sprouts; however, except on stressed host trees (e.g., in some urban settings) it rarely has a noticeable effect on growth or health. When Tillandsia recurvata ball falls to the ground, it actually fertilizes the soil for other plants.
Despite their common name, the ‘ball mosses’ are not really mosses; Tillandsia recurvata are actually perennial flowering plants in the Bromeliad family and are closely related to Ananas comosus (Pineapples) and Tillandsia usneoides (Spanish moss).
Tillandsia recurvata is the only epiphyte that regularly lives on telephone wires. Clumps of Tillandsia usneoides (Spanish Moss) sometimes land on wires, but they do not survive.

Uses and display: Tillandsia recurvata can be grown like other bromeliads or orchids, tied to a decorative piece of wood or tree bark or in an orchid basket.  Also, they are used as slow-growing decorative plants for terrestrial terrariums.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Shape – spheroid cluster
Features – flowers
Height: 15-30cm (6-12 inch)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – moderately
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 10°C max 16°C (50-61°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 8a-11

 

Tillandsia recurvata Tillandsia recurvata Tillandsia recurvata Tillandsia recurvata Tillandsia recurvataTillandsia recurvataTillandsia recurvata



Air Plants, Bromeliads, Evergreen, Flowering Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants, Terrarium Plants , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tillandsia stricta

Common name: Tillys, Air Plant, Airplant, Erect Tillandsia, Upright Air Plant

Family: Bromeliaceae

Synonymous: Anoplophytum strictum
Tillandsia rosea
Tillandsia conspersa
Anoplophytum bicolor
Anoplophytum krameri
Tillandsia langsdorffii
Tillandsia krameri

Tillandsia stricta

Tillandsia stricta

Distribution and habitat:  Tillandsia stricta is native to Venezuela, Trinidad, Guyana, Suriname, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, northern Argentina, growing either on both the sands of beach dunes and in trees in the foothills of the Atlantic Range. This means that this plant has adapted to lots of different climates and would have leaves to match this diversity.
Despite the fact Tillandsia stricta is typically an epiphyte, growing upon another plant to collect light, water and nutrients, it is not an parasite plant. These plants use their roots only to anchor upon their host and they  rely solely on leaves to absorb water and nutrients.

Description: Tillandsia stricta are evergreen, clump-forming, short-stemmed, epiphytic perennials with leaves arranged into thick rosettes. They are a compact species to about 10cm (4 inch) across. There is a large number of variations that can be found in Tillandsia stricta plants: from soft leaved specimens to much harder, stiffer types and different coloured forms from light green leaves to silvery leaves and even verging on black. In early summer, they produce, when mature, bright red or bright rose bloom spikes with bright blue flowers. The spike is first held upright but then droops as it lengthens. The actual flowers are not long-lived, lasting for about a day at best, before it starts wilting, but the colourful bracts remain attractive for up to 10 weeks.
Tillandsia stricta hard leaf is one of the most vibrantly colored blooms in the genus and form a wonderful clump over time. The forms of Tillandsia stricta with gray-scaly, pale green leaves are adapted to take more sunlight than the green forms.
Tillandsia stricta plants, like other airplants, have little or no roots and absorb most or all of the water and food through their leaves. The eventual roots are used by these plants only to attache themselves to rocks or tree hosts.
The origin of this plant’s scientific name epithet (stricta) means ‘erect’ and describe the upright habit of this plant.

House plant care: Tillandsia stricta, after the initial introduction into their new home (about a month), have a much better chance of surviving in home condition than a potted plant. These plants are extremely adaptable, require low maintenance and can withstand some time of neglect.

Light: Bright filtered light is the general rule for Tillandsia stricta plants and the higher the humidity of the air the higher light will be tolerated. Place them at no more than 3m (10 feet) from the window. Direct sunlight may cause sunburn and leave unsightly marks on plants.
Tillandsia stricta can be grown in artificial light. Full spectrum artificial light (fluorescent) is best. The plant should be placed no further than 90cm (35 inch) from the fluorescent tubes and can be as close as 15cm (6 inch). A four-tube 122cm (48 inch) fixture works well. Bulbs can be any full spectrum type. Incandescent bulb are not suitable for plants grow lights. Provide 12 hours light per day.

Temperature: Optimum temperature range for Tillandsia stricta is 10 to 32°C (50-90°F). They also need moving air, not closed stale conditions. During the summer it is recommended to move this plant outside, in a shaded position to benefit from fresh air.
If Tillandsia stricta is kept in a terrarium, make sure they have air openings and is not placed where sunlight could magnify heat through the glass housing. An occasional placement in an shady outdoor place for a day can revive it.

Watering: Thoroughly wet Tillandsia stricta once a week; more often in a hot, dry environment; less often in a cool, humid one. Soak them (fully submerged) for 30 minutes to an hour, then shake them and allow to almost completely dry before replacing them in their globe or any kind of enclosure. If the plant is boasting a flower bloom, do not submerge the actual flower (just the body of the plant) as the esthetic appeal of the flower is permanently compromised.
Do not use distilled water or softened water. Filtered water, tap water that has sat long enough for the chlorine to dissipate, bottled water are fine. Pond water, aquarium or rain water are all preferred.
Plants should be given enough light and air circulation to dry in no longer than 4 hours after watering. If the plant dries within a very short period of time, it is not hydrating at all.
Spray misting is insufficient as the sole means of watering but may be beneficial between regular waterings in dry climates to increase the humidity.
If the plant is in a shell, be sure to empty the water out. Tillandsia stricta will not survive in standing water.
It is much better to water in the morning than at night. Airplants absorb the carbon dioxide from the air at night instead of the day time. If the plant is wet, it does not breath therefore, unless it can dry quickly at night, plan on morning baths.

Feeding: For Tillandsia stricta plants fertilising is not vital. Occasional fertiliser in water will speed up the growth, reproduction of pups and gain a more vibrant bloom. Apply a water soluble foliage fertiliser at quarter strength recommended on the label only during the warm months of reproduction.

Mounting: Tillandsia stricta can be grown basically anywhere, on rocks, in a seashell or on coral, in ceramic or pottery, attached to wood, but first should be considered how the plants are going to be watered. Also they should placed in a position accordingly with plants need for light. The following attaching materials are suitable to be used in air plants mounting: waterproof glue, plumbers glue, goop, shoe glue, Tilly tracker, fishing line, twisty ties, strings or even nails. Only use nails and stapling to tie around the plant. Nailing or stamping through the body of the plant will kill it. Also, do not not use superglue or copper wire as these will kill the plant.

Propagation: At the base of the mature plants will appear one to three pups or young plants that will grow to replace the mother plant now blooming that will degrade and die soon after. They will take a year to grow as large as their mother. The plant will multiply during the year with simultaneous blooms in a whole clumping community. The clump can be left to continuously grow or separate one or more pups to start new families. It is important to allow the pups to grow to 1/3 or half of the size of the original plant before removing it from the parent plant.  To separate the pups, grip with one hand the base of the mother and the base of the grown up pup in the other hand and tug apart with a slight twist. It should be easy to separate them and will not hurt the plants.
Tillandsia stricta is one of the fastest growing tillandsias from seeds. There are many cultivars of this species. Tillandsia stricta has been used in hybridization with other species such as Tillandsia albertiana and Tillandsia recurvifolia to obtain new hybrids that exhibit characteristics of both species.

Gardening: Tillandsia stricta are curious plants that may be grown outdoors as long as temperatures do not drop below 7°C (45°F).

Position: To grow Tillandsia stricta, locate this plant in a well ventilated place where there is under a shade with lots of indirect daylight and protection from hot sun. A brief morning or evening sun – about 1 hour – is fine especially for the northern climates.

Irrigation: In temperate climate with some humidity, Tillandsia stricta hanging in a tree may never need to be watered. Otherwise outdoor plants can be sprayed with a water hose twice a week for 5-6minutes and let to dray in plenty of day light. Misting them once a week is helpful but is not a substitute for soaking.
If grown outdoors, keep dry during winter.

Fertiliser: From mid spring through fall, mist daily and once a month, mist with quarter strength water soluble fertiliser.

Problems:
Do not plant Tillandsia stricta in soil and do not allow them to stay wet for long time as they are prone to root.
Treatment: Rotting areas on plant need to be removed to prevent spreading the rot.

Most commonly, Tillandsia stricta die as a result of water setting in the centre of the plant for too long.

Under-watering is evidenced by an exaggerating of the natural concave curve of each leaf, void of vitality or brown tipped leaves.
Treatment: Soak the plants as indicated on watering section.

Lighter colour in leaves is a sign that the plants needs more daylight.

Note: Tillandsia are some of the oldest members of the plant kingdom. This genus includes over 600 species. Not all of the 600 plus Tillandsia species are easy to maintain and cultivated as ornamental plants. On average, there are approximately 40-60 species available for sale and an appreciable number of hybrids and cultivars.

Buying tips: Steps that should be taken upon arrival of new air plants are the following: To reduce the plant stress, give them a bath for about 20-30 minutes. Simply soak them in a bowl of lukewarm water. Next lay them out to dry completely. Then they can be planted in a glass terrarium, mount them on a wall display or use them in other arrangements. The unsightly roots, if any, can be cut off and the brown leaves can be peeled off.
Do not fertilise plants for three weeks following their arrival, but be sure to follow directions for light and water.

Holidays: To leave alone the plant for over two weeks, soak Tillandsia stricta in water for 12 hours before going in holiday and again for 12 after returning from holiday.
Another option is to set them outdoors in all day shady area where the automatic water sprinkler system can water them twice a week.

Uses and display: Tillandsia stricta plants are suitable for epiphyte branches. They can be displayed to grace a tabletop, adorn the walls, drape across windows or nest among other plants. Tillandsia stricta grown in glass globes are becoming very popular and trendy way to display. Outdoors, grow Tillandsia stricta plant in dappled (partial) shade mounted upon a tree branch or crotch where it receives natural rainfall and has good air circulation. Use it as a tropical hanging basket specimen or as a companion to orchids in slatted wood trays. It can be grown upon a pot of coarse tree bark nuggets when young. Once it clumps into a rounded cluster, it can be set on a tray or table outdoors in frost-free regions.
Tillandsia stricta way of displays are unlimited from a single plant to collections of Tillandsia plants, from terrariums and holders to more natural mounts, from vertical gardens to container gardening or gather many of Tillandsia species together and frame them in a painting-like fashion.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Shape – rosette
Features – flowers
Height: 15-30cm (6-12 inch)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – moderately
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 13°C max 16°C (55-61°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 9a-11

Tillandsia strictaTillandsia strictaTillandsia strictaTillandsia strictaTillandsia strictaTillandsia strictaTillandsia strictaTillandsia stricta Tillandsia stricta hard leaf Tillandsia stricta soft leafTillandsia stricta



Air Plants, Bromeliads, Evergreen, Flowering Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants, Terrarium Plants , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Columnea microphylla

Common name: Goldfish Plants, Flying Goldfish Plants

Family: Gesneriaceae

Columnea microphylla

Columnea microphylla

Distribution and habitat: Columnea microphylla are tropical plants from the cloud forests of Costa Rica. In wild, they grow as epiphytic plants where they straddle rotten tree trunks or are tucked in the crevices of boulders, perching anywhere that vegetable debris has accumulated. In their natural habitat the roots are supplied with continual moisture and excellent drainage assures they never stand in water. These plants come from higher altitude where they have developed strong seasonal habits, responding to a cool conditions period (unlike most of the rest of the species in the genus) in order to flower abundantly.

Description: Columnea microphylla is a spectacular spring flowering plant with thin, trailing and branching stems, up to 2.5m (8 feet) long which are densely covered with brownish red hairs. The stems carry nearly overlapping pairs of equal size, almost round, dark green leaves up to 1.5cm (0.5 inch) in diameter; these too are densely covered with reddish hairs. Flowers, carried singly on tiny stalks, bear hairy calyxes, which are green tinged with red. Flower corollas are bright scarlet with yellow throat and are up to 9cm (3.5 inch) long. The flowers are produced from leaf axils, with a five-lobed calyx and striking in shape. Each tubular corolla flares into five differently shaped lobes. The two upper lobes are joined together to form a down-curving hood above the others. As the flower opens, its stamens can be seen just under the outer end of the hood and later the stigma also projects beyond the hood. It is the shape of the colourful open flowers that given Columnea microphylla the common name of golden-fish plant, for from some angles the flowers resembles a head-on view of a fish. Up to 100 flowers may bloom simultaneously on one large plant and each flower can last for four weeks. The flower is followed by an attractive, often white berry cupped within the calyx.
This plant looks best when it is allowed to trail down from a hanging basket. It is important to prune this plant after flowering

Houseplant care: Columnea microphylla are easy to grow under indoor or greenhouse conditions and require bright light, good air circulation and a well-drained growing medium that is allowed to dry out slightly between waterings.
Pruning and propagating is possible in any season. Prune back old stems severely after the flowering season to encourage new growth.

Light: Columnea microphylla like bright light without direct sunlight. These plants need the short day-length of winter in order to produce flowers. If such plants are being grown in artificial light, it should be adjusted accordingly.
These plants are one of the few groups of flowering plants which can be grown in an eastern or northern exposure and thrive. Fluorescent lights are also suitable, with no more than 12 to 14 hours of artificial light daily.
The baskets of  Columnea microphylla  plants may be grown outdoors in shaded areas during the summer. Place them in bright places but in the shade,  always away from direct sunlight and drafts dry or cold.

Temperature: Normally warm room temperatures 18-30°C (64-86°F) are right for Columnea microphylla plants during the active growing period. These plants set buds in autumn. In the native lands, they are subjected to substantially lowered nighttime temperatures at this time of year, often a 5.5°C (10°F) drop from day to evening. In cultivation the plants react favorably when given an autumnal diversity in climate. During the winter they need to be somewhat cooler 13-18°C (55-64°F) to promote flowering in spring.
In the rain forests where Columnea microphylla plants dwell, humidity remains constantly high. These plants require high humidity – 50% humidity – at all times. Stand pots on trays of moistened pebbles and mist spray plants in hanging baskets once a day. Water for spraying should be at room temperature. If cold water is sprayed, it can result in unattractive brown leaf stains. A humidifier remains the most effective means of increasing moisture.

Watering: Although they need high humidity around leaves, Columnea microphylla cannot tolerate wet roots which cause the stem to rot. During the active growing it is best to water sparingly, just enough to make the entire mixture barely moist and let the top third of the potting mixture dry out between waterings. During the rest period, water the plant just enough to keep the potting mixture from completely drying out. Use water at room temperature to avoid brown spots on leaves. These plants have delicate foliage which can be easily damaged by water.

Feeding: While Columnea microphylla is actively growing, give it applications of a high phosphate liquid fertiliser, about one quarter the recommended strength at every watering.

Potting and repotting: The Columnea microphylla cascading habit lends itself as a hanging plant. The most commonly used container is a clay pan, since Columnea microphylla roots grow horizontally rather than vertically. Keep them tightly potted to encourage flowering.
Because Columnea microphylla are epiphytic plants in the wild, they may be grown simply in coarse sphagnum moss or, if preferred, use a loosely packed equal parts potting mixture of peat moss, perlite and verniculite. Shallow pots or pans about 10cm (4 inch) in diameter or smaller, shallow baskets are best for growing Columnea microphylla.
When the roots of a plant fill its container, move it into a container one size larger or, alternatively, trim about one-third off the bottom of the root ball with a sharp knife and repot the plant on same size container, adding fresh potting mixture as required. Best time to repot these plants is just as the growth period begins.

Propagation: The best time to propagate Columnea microphylla is when repotting. Insert a tip cutting 7-10cm (2.5-4 inch) long in a 8cm (3 inch) pot of moistened verniculite and keep the pot at normal room temperature in a bright filtered light, watering only often enough to keep the verniculite barely moist. Rooting should occur in about four weeks after which the new plant should be transferred to an 8cm (3 inch) pot of the standard potting mixture for adult plants and treat as a mature columnea. For a really good display, it is recommended to plant three or four of the rooted cuttings in a single 25cm (10 inch) hanging basket.
Columnea microphylla can also be grown from seed. When the seed is soft and ripe, collect the seed and sow by spinkling lightly on the surface of fine soil. Germination is in approximately two weeks.

Problems:
Leaf drop causing the stems to look bare.
Treatment: Ensure that the plant has plenty of humidity and is mist-sprayed frequently. The same symptom can indicate draughts, too low a temperature, over- or under-watering and each of these must be checked.

Droplets of cold water on leaves will often cause mottling, shriveling and sometimes denuding, especially if the plant is subjected to bright light.
Treatment: Use water at room temperature to water the plants or to spray mist them. Humidifiers are a better alternative to maintain high humidity than to mist the plants.

Occasionally mealybugs infest the plants.
Treatment: These pests can be easily eradicated with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.

Cyclamen mite is a troublesome pest on Columnea microphylla plants, its presence is detected by malformed and twisted new growth.
Treatment: An application of kelthane destroys these insects before they deface the plants.

The Columnea microphylla is prone to be attracted by aphids. These insects suck the sap and make the brittle leaves. They tend to curl and may be covered with scabs.
Treatment: Spray a systemic insecticide and repeat this treatment a month later.

Fine webbing under leaves betray an attack of spider mites favored by air too hot and too dry.
Treatment: Spray with a suitable acaricide or systemic insecticide. Increase the humidity around the plant.

Stems root in the event of excess water or cold temperature.
Treatment: Find a warmer location and dry the plant.
The plant will benefit from periodical soil oxygenating to prevent the occurrence of fungi. Use a small fork to loose the soil.

The stems are thin and elongated too . The plant is lack of light.
Treatment: Place the plant in bright light protected from direct sun light.

The leaves shrivel on themselves. The soil is too dry.
Treatment: Water immediately and especially more regularly thereafter.

The leaves are stunted growth is puny and the plant does not flower. The Columnea microphylla could be suffering from heat and lack of ventilation.
Treatment: Find a cooler and better ventilated place.

Growth is sickly, small leaves and very poor flowering can be caused by lack of fertiliser.
Treatment: Fertilise the plant as recommended.

Note: Columnea species are commonly confused with another member of the Gesneriad Family, Aeschynanthus species (Lipstick Plant). These plants bear many similarities including shiny, paired leaves and brightly colored tubular flowers.

Uses and display: Columnea microphylla stands out in the world of indoor hanging plants spectacle due to their masses of flowers orange-red overflowing hanging baskets in the spring and summer and fish resembling ‘goldfish’, name which is also popularly used to refer to this beautiful plant genus. They are stunning in a hanging basket when in bloom. Also can be used as table top plant, especially when planted in high pots. This plant is ideal for apartments with limited space to spare for pots and plants.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – climbing and trailing
Height: 2.5m (8 feet)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – sparingly
Light – bight
Temperature in rest period – min 13°C max 18°C (55-64°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 18°C max 30°C (64-86°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 11

Columnea microphyllaColumnea microphyllaColumnea microphyllaColumnea microphylla



Flowering Plants, Indoor Plants , ,

Clivia miniata

Common name: Natal Lily, Bush Lily, Kaffir Lily, Clivia, Fire Lily, the South Africa Lily

Family: Amaryllidaceae

Clivia miniata

Clivia miniata

Distribution and habitat: Clivia miniata is a species of flowering plant native to damp woodland habitats in South Africa as well as in Swaziland. They are always found under tree cover in evergreen forests, growing in well-drained leaf mould rich with humus between boulders on slopes, but occasionally they may be found growing in the fork of a tree. The habitat may vary from subtropical coastal forest to ravines in high altitude forest. The Clivia miniata grows in dappled shade, often in large colonies.
Clivia miniata is also reportedly naturalized in Mexico.

Description: Clivia miniata will develop into impressive plants, but only if they are given a cool winter rest. They grow to a height of around 80cm (31 inch) with an underground fleshy stem consisting of a compact rhizome, which only rarely becomes aerial when plants are very old. Their dark green , strap shaped leaves, which vary in width from narrow to over 8cm (3 inch), fan out from a leek like base consisting of a thickly layered leaf based. The spread of a single plant can exceed 90cm (35 inch). Roots are so tick and flashy that they quickly fill the pots and some will appear on the surface of the potting mixture. In late winter thick flower stalks up to 45cm (18 inch) long begin to push up between the leaves – always slightly off-centre and each stalk will carry up to 15-20 trumpet-shaped flowers, each 5-8cm (2-3 inch) long, in the early spring, but sporadically at other times of the year. Flower colour is usually a combination of yellow and bright orange-red, but pure yellow and apricot coloured varieties are occasionally seen. The flowers are reported to have a faint, but very sweet perfume.
Clivia miniata are slow growers, so expect approximately 2-5 years for full maturity. Each stem produces one flower stock and over time produces multiple clumps, creating a magnificent flower display that lasts for weeks.
The fruits are bright orange when ripe (or golden in the case of the yellow flowered plants). The pulp should be removed from the seed when are prepared to be sown. The seeds are large with a pearly sheen and should be sown fresh for best results.

Houseplant care: Clivia miniata is a familiar house plant, long lived and fairly easy to grow and maintain. When it is in bloom, do avoid moving the plant. Wipe off the leaves with a damp cloth to keep them dust-free and shiny.
Flower trumpets fall as they fade, leaving behind embryo fruits. Remove these with a razor blade to prevent them from developing. If the embryo fruits are allowed to remain, they will grow large and absorb so much of plant’s energy that the Clivia miniata will be unlikely to flower the following spring. When the flower stalk begin to winter, pull them out from the cluster of leaves.

Light: A window position that gets bright light with early mornings or late afternoon sun is ideal for cultivation of Clivia miniata. Midday sunlight can scorch the leaves. Too little light can result in a lack of flowers.
They also enjoy a period of time outdoors at summertime in a shaded position and protected from the heavy rain.

Temperature: Though Clivia miniata thrive in warm rooms during the active growth period, they must be given a short early winter rest period – six to eight weeks – ideally at a temperature slightly bellow 10°C (50°F). If this is not possible, they may be forced into premature bloom, with flower stalks failing to rise above the foliage. Too much warmth also shortens the life of the flowers.
Avoid mist spraying these plants to keep excess moisture off the leaves.

Watering: During spring and summer water plentifully, as much as necessary to keep the potting mixture thoroughly moist, but gradually reduce the amounts in the autumn and keep Clivia miniata almost dry during the rest period. When flower stalks appear towards the end of the winter, begin a gradual increase in quantity and frequency of watering.
Over-watering will cause root rot and kill the plant.

Feeding: Give Clivia miniata applications of a liquid fertiliser once every two weeks, beginning when flower stalk are half developed and continuing until a month before watering is curtailed.

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture. Repot Clivia miniata only every three to four years; they flower best when pot-bound. Move a Clivia miniata plant into a bigger pot only when the roots fill the pot. Top dress in years when plants are not moved into bigger pots. Make sure to pack the potting mixture firmly around the thick roots and leave 5cm (2 inch) between the surface of the potting mixture and the rim of the pot, because the growing roots will force the potting mixture upwards. These plants can become top heavy, so it is best to use clay, not plastic pots. As a plant develops, it can be moved progressively into pots that are about 5cm (2 inch) larger. When maximum convenient size – probably 25cm (10 inch) – has been reached, top dressing every year is advisable. Carefully scrape away about 5cm (2 inch) of the old potting mixture ans replace it with fresh potting mixture which have been enriched by sprinkling of a substance such as bone meal.
Both repotting and top dressing are best done in late winter, just as flower stalks begin to develop.

Gardening: Clivia miniata grow well outdoors in a mild frost free climate. These plants are frost-sensitive and may be damaged if in a position that is exposed to cold winds especially. It takes a long time for the damage to grow out if this happens, so it is best to select a sheltered site.
The dark green, strap like leaves of Clivia miniata plants are attractive all year round and they slowly expand to form an excellent, low-maintenance groundcover in difficult shady spots. After flowering, remove spent flower stems near the base, unless seed is required.

Position: Clivia miniata plants thrive in shade, even quite deep, dry shade; in fact, their foliage and flowers will suffer if grown in too much sun. Protect them from milder frosts and hot sunlight by planting them under a tree or shrub canopy.

Soil: Good drainage is essential for Clivia miniata plants. Before planting them into the ground, improve the soil incorporating in some well-rotted compost and a small amount of slow release fertiliser.
Clivia miniata planted in beds will benefit from a thick layer of organic mulch such as well rotted compost, annually.

Irrigation: Clivia miniata appreciate watering in spring and summer during dry spells in their early days, but are tough and undemanding once established. Twice a week deep watering is enough for these plants during the active growth period and do not water them during the winter. Once they are established, they are remarkably drought hardy.

Fertilising: Feed immediately after flowering with a general purpose fertiliser. Generous amounts of slow release organic fertiliser (such as blood & bone) applied regularly from early Spring to mid Summer achieves maximum growth.

Propagation: To propagate, use the offsets that emerge through the tangle of the roots. Make sure to detach each offset carefully at the point where it meets the parent plant. Use a long, sharp knife. The best time to detach an offset is immediately after the last flowers of the season have dropped off, but not before the offsets comprises at least three leaves 20-25cm (8-10 inch) long. Plant it in an 8-12cm (3-5 inch) pot containing an equal parts mixture of peat moss and coarse sand or perlite and keep it warm in medium light. Water it sparingly, enough to make the potting mixture moist, but allowing the top two-thirds of the potting mixture to dry out between waterings. When roots appear on the surface of the mixture, move the young plant into a soil based potting mixture in a pot one size larger and treat it as an adult Clivia miniata. It will generally flower about a year after being detached from the parent plant.
When propagated from seed can take up to three or five years for plants to flower and may vary in colour. Seed will germinate in six to eight weeks at a temperature of 21°C (70°F), sown just under soil surface (not deep), singly in 8cm (3 inch) pots of moistened standard seed mixture. They may remain in these initial pots for up to two years before they are large enough to plant on.
Old plants can also be broken into separate crowns with the aid of a stout knife and potted up in 10 or 12cm (4-5 inch) pots. In doing this be careful not to damage the fleshy roots.

Problems:
When grown outdoors, slugs and snails can destroy the leaves and flowers.
Treatment: These pests are controlled using an appropriate molluscicide, both pellet and liquid forms or by hand pick at regular inspections.

The black and yellow striped amaryllis caterpillar (also known as the lily borer) can cause a lot of damage to the whole plant in a very short time and should be dealt with promptly.
Treatment: Use a suitable pesticide following the instructions on the label. They can also be picked off by hand and destroyed.

Conspicuous tufts of white, waxy wool appearing on the leaves indicates an infestation of mealybug, which may be troublesome.
Treatment: Use appropriate insecticides. Alternatively, remove mealybugs with an alcohol­ saturated cotton swab or wash plants with soapy water.

Watch for infestations scale insects and spider mite.
Treatment: If infestation is localized, remove scale insects by wiping affected areas with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or dipping the plant in a solution of soapy water and alcohol.
Control spider mites with a suitable acaricide.

Aphids, white fly and thrips will cause a lot of damage if they are plague numbers.
Treatment: Use a systemic insecticide to disrupt their life cycle. Follow the instruction on insecticide label.

Non flowering can be due to inadequate feeding, over-watering that leads to water logging or under-watering.
Treatment: To check, knock the plant out of its container. Any dead or rotten roots should be cut away and sour, waterlogged compost replaced. It is best to error on the side of dryness for the health of the plant.

Brown patches on leaves may be due to scorching. This can occur when light is refracted through windows or water droplets collect on leave surface.

Where plants flower on short stalks and the blooms are hidden by foliage, the cause is likely to be an insufficient cool period over the winter. During the winter period keep plants at a temperature of 10°C (50°F).

Toxicity: Clivia miniata contains small amounts of lycorine, making it poisonous. Ingested in large amounts can be dangerous.

Companion plants: The lively colour of Clivia miniata flowers combines well with other hot coloured blooms of mid-late winter and early spring which grow in part-shade, such as Camellia japonica (red camellias), Abutilon, Tropaeolum species (nasturtiums) or Justicia rizzinii (golden shrimp). The startling and unusual flower of the Scadoxus puniceus (South African paintbrush lily) appears at exactly the same time as the Clivia miniata and enjoys the same garden conditions. The colour of the Clivia miniata is also an effective partner to shade-tolerant blue or purple flowers, such as Hyacinthoides non-scripta (blubells), Brunfelsia species or Streptocarpus saxorum (sometimes called the nodding violet). In small gardens, the same colour combination can be achieved by growing Clivia miniata in a bright blue pot.
Grow Clivia miniata with Cryptanthus (earth star), Dieffenbachia species (dumb canes) and Schefflera elegaantissima (false aralia) in pots or plant it with Ficus benjamina (weeping figs) and Peperomia obtusifolia (blunt-leaf peperomias) for at least three shades of green in one vignette.

Uses and display: Clivia miniata are popular as garden plants where the climates conditions allow. These plants are extensively planted as border plants in beds or used as mass plantings. Both their leathery, deep green leaves and their showy flowers have esthetic impact in landscape. Also, they are spectacular container subjects for indoor or on shaded patios.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – rosette
Height: 80cm (31 inch)
Spread: 90cm (35 inch)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bight
Temperature in rest period – min 7°C max 10°C (45-50°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – low

Hardiness zone: 9b-11

Clivia miniataClivia miniataClivia miniata



Flowering Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants , , , , , ,

Cleyera japonica

Common name: Sakaki, Cleyera, Japanese Cleyera

Family: Pentaphylacaceae

Synonymous: Cleyera fortunei

Cleyera japonica

Cleyera japonica

Distribution and habitat: Cleyera japonica is a flowering evergreen tree native to warm areas of Japan, Korea, and mainland China. It can reach a height of 10m (33 feet) and is one of the common trees in the second layer of the evergreen oak forests.
Cleyera japonica is considered a sacred tree in the Shinto religion.

Description: Cleyera japonica is a branching shrub with glossy, elliptic, bunt-tipped leaves which are 7-10cm (3-4 inch) long and around 7cm (3 inch) wide. The leaves are dark green above, yellowish-green below. Young leaves and those grown in very bright light may have a rosy tinge, particularly near the edges. The short stalked leaves are arranged in tow ranks on the branches, one on either side.
When it is cultivated outdoor, it forms a dense, compact, rounded shape when young, but matures into an upright multi-trunked large tree up to 10m (33 feet) with handsome dark reddish brown and smooth bark. The small, scented, cream-white flowers appear on the previous year’s wood in late spring and early summer. The five-petaled, nodding blooms give rise to attractive small, fleshy, inedible fruits that are yellow-green maturing to bright red or black. These showy cherry-like fruits ripen in fall and persist through winter.

Houseplant care: Cleyera japonica is slow growing and it can be kept compact by occasionally removing the shoot tips. When pruning to control the size or shape of this plant, cuts should be made just above a leaf bud and at a slight angle. This bud will be where the new growth sprouts.
Plants that are cultivated in pots indoors seldom grow more that 60-75cm (24-30 inch) high. They sometime produce small, white scented flowers.

Light: Grow Cleyera japonica in bright light. They will benefit from some direct sunlight every day, but it is not essential.

Temperature: These plants do well in normal room temperatures during the active growth period. During the winter rest period, however, they should ideally be kept quite cool 10-13°C (50-55°F).

Watering: Cleyera japonica have dense root structure consisting of many finely branched roots that dry out rapidly. During the active growth period water moderately, as much as necessary to make the potting mixture thoroughly moist and allow the top centimetre (0.4 inch) or so of the potting mixture to dry out between waterings. During the rest period let the top third of the potting mixture dry out between moderate waterings.

Feeding: Apply a liquid fertiliser regularly (about every two weeks) during the active growth period.

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture. Move plants in pots one size larger as soon as new growth begins each year. After they have reached maximum convenient pot size, an annual topdressing with fresh mixture at this time will suffice.

Gardening: Cleyera japonica grows at a moderate rate with graceful, spreading, arching branches. These moderately drought-tolerant plants are also low-maintenance and maintain their attractive foliage during the cold months, adding winter interest to the landscape.
Pruning may be needed to remove dead branches, encourage bushier growth, promote more flowers or maintain a specific size or shape. Best time for pruning is in spring. Dead branches should be removed close to the trunk, flush with the bark. When prune for neatness, cut back any growth that is especially vigorous and out of place. Instead of cutting the tips of the stems out (which will result in two new stems growing at the outside of the tree), cut the stem back to the center of the plants. This technique will keep the inside or center of the plant full and eliminate excessive growth on the outside controlling the wideness of Cleyera japonica.
When Cleyera japonica is planted in group to form hedges, a regular shear may needed to keep them shaped. They can tolerate relatively hard pruning as hedge.

Position: Cleyera japonica excels in partial shade in a location that will allow its roots to spread and branches to grow freely. It will tolerate full sun, but especially the variegated form will appreciate some protection from afternoon sun.
Space this plants far enough from building foundations, walls and decks so that the growing foliage wold not crowd the structure.

Soil: Cleyera japonica thrives in sandy, fertile, acid soil, although it will tolerate slightly alkaline soils and some clay.
Prepare the planting area by digging a hole as deep as the root ball and three times as wide. After removing the soil, mix it with some compost or peat moss. This enriches the soil and loosens the existing dirt so that new roots can spread easily. Remove the plant from the container by gently brace the base of the plant, tip it sideways and tap the outside of the pot to loosen. Rotate the container and continue to tap, loosening the soil until the plant pulls smoothly from the pot. The container can also be removed by carefully cutting it down the side. Set the plant in the middle of the hole. Start filling the hole with soil and firmly pack it around the root ball. Fill the hole until the soil line is just at the base of the plant, where the roots begin to flare out from the main stem.
Add a layer of mulch, such as shredded bark, about 5cm (2inch) tick around the planting area to preserve the humidity into soil and keep away weeds from the plant. Keep the mulch at least 10cm (4 inch) away from the trunk of the plant as this can keep the bark too moist and cause it to decay.

Irrigation: New planted Cleyera japonica need regular watering through the first growing season. During hot spells thoroughly soak the ground around the plant every few days. Deep watering encourages roots to grow further into the ground resulting in a sturdier plant with more drought tolerance. Water regularly when the top 5 to 10cm (2-4 inch) of soil is dry to touch. Monitor the new plants through the first two years to make sure they are getting the moisture they need. After that they should be sturdy enough to survive on their own.

Fertiliser: Established trees should be fertilized every 2-3 years. Feed in early spring when plants start growing. Use a slow release fertiliser designed for trees ans shrubs. Follow the fertiliser package directions for application rates and scheduling. Over-fertilising can hurt these plants.

Propagation: Take tip cuttings 7-10cm (3-4 inch) long in late winter or early spring. Strip away the lower leaves, dip the cut ends in hormone rooting powder and plant them in a moistened mixture of equal parts peat moss and sand or a substance such as perlite.
Keep the cuttings in a warm place in bright filtered light (a translucent blind or curtain is a useful filter) and water them moderately, enough to make the potting mixture moist. After the roots have formed, probably in six to eight weeks, move the young plants into small pots of soil-based potting mixture and from then on treat them as mature Cleyera japonica.

Problem:
In hot rooms mist spray Cleyera japonica with water daily to discourage red sprier mites which thrives in very warm, dry conditions. It will also help to stand the plants on trays of damp pebbles.
Treatment: If the mites should become really troublesome (as indicated by leaves becoming yellowish with white webbing on the underside), spray the plants with an appropriate insecticide.

Recommended varieties:
Cleyera japonica ‘Tricolor’ is an attractive variegated leaved variety. The leaves are marbled in pale and dark green and edged with yellow. This variety rarely produce flowers.

Note: Cleyera japonica is often confused with Eurya Japonica, which is actually a closely related and very similar plant.

Uses and display: Cleyera japonica is commonly planted in gardens, parks and shrines. It is often associated with Japanese gardens. This is an exceptionally plant that looks great either pruned or left to its own devices. It is ideal for screening, large hedges or foundations and is pretty enough to plant as a specimen. It also works well as an outdoor or indoor container plant. It suits tropical, oriental, formal and cottage designs.
It is best used as a single specimen to provide some weight to the landscape or as a hedge. Many shrubs can be regularly sheared to keep them shaped as a formal or informal hedge, edging or formal foundation planting. They make beautiful evergreen hedge or screen. Red-tinted foliage adds a touch of color to mixed shrub borders.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Shape – bushy
Height indoor: 60-75cm (24-30 inch)
Height outdoor: 10m (33 feet)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – moderately
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – bight
Temperature in rest period – min 10°C max 13°C (50-55°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 7a-10b

Cleyera japonica flowersCleyera japonicaCleyera japonica Tricolor



Evergreen, Foliage Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants , , , , ,

Clerodendrum thomsoniae

Common name: Bleeding Heart Vine, Bleeding Glory-Bower, Glory-Bower, Bagflower, Beauty Bush

Family: Lamiaceae

Clerodendrum thomsoniae

Clerodendrum thomsoniae

Distribution and habitat: Clerodendrum thomsoniae is an evergreen liana growing to 4m (13 feet) tall, native to tropical west Africa from Cameroon west to Senegal. In some regions it has escaped from cultivation and become naturalised.

Description: Clerodendrum thomsoniae is a vigorous twining shrub with striking flowers. The leaves are rather coarse, heart-shaped, up to 13cm (5 inch) long and 5cm (2 inch) wide and coloured deep green with slightly paler vein markings. Flowers, which are produced on wiry flower stalks st stems ends during the spring and summer and early autumn, grow in clusters of 10 to 30. Each flower consists of 2cm (0.8 inch) long, white (or else greenish white), bell-shaped calyx with a scarlet, star-shaped bloom peeping through a split in its tip. The contrast of scarlet and white is highly effective.

Houseplant care: Clerodendrum thomsoniae can grow inconveniently high – 3m (10 feet) or more – but may be kept below 1.5m (5 feet) by having its stem tops pinched out regularly during the growing season; the stems themselves can also be trained around three or four thin stakes in the potting mixture. This species can make an attractive trailing plant when kept under control in a large hanging basket. Although not difficult to grow, it will not flower unless given adequate humid warmth during the active growth period.
At the end of the rest period, as new growth becomes apparent, cut back at least half the previsions year’s growth in order to keep these plants within bounds. Because flower buds are produced on current season’s growth, pruning at this time will encourage the production of vigorous flowering shoots.

Light: Grow Clerodendrum thomsoniae in bright filtered light. They will not flower unless there is a constant source of adequate light.
After pruning, move the plant to a warm, brightly lit location or outdoors if temperatures have warmed sufficiently.

Temperature: Clerodendrum thomsoniae plants will do well at normal room temperatures during the active growth period, but they should be given a winter rest in a cool position – ideally at about 10-13°C (50-55°F). To ensure satisfactory flowering, provide extra humidity during the active growth period by mist-spraying the plants every day and by standing the pots on trays or saucer of moist pebbles.

Watering: During the active growth period water Clerodendrum thomsoniae plentifully, as much as necessary to keep the potting mixture thoroughly moist, but never allow the pot to stand in water. During the rest period water only enough to keep the mixture from drying out.

Feeding: Give actively growing plants applications of liquid fertiliser every two weeks. Withhold fertiliser during the winter rest period.

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture. Young plants should be moved into pots one size larger when their roots have filled the pot, but mature plants will flower best if kept in pots that seems a little too small. Quite large specimens can be grown effectively in 15-20cm (6-8 inch) pots. Even when pot size is not changed, however, these Clerodendrum thomsoniae should be repotted at the end of every rest period. Carefully remove most of the old potting mixture and replace it with fresh mixture to which has been added a small amount of bone meal.

Gardening: Clerodendrum thomsoniae plants grow outdoors in warm, sheltered and frost-free areas. If these plants are damaged by light frost, burnt tips and leaves should be left on the plant until spring and then cut away to make way for vigorous new growth.
Clerodendrum thomsoniae plant can be kept pruned into a shrub or given support and allowed to scramble like a vine. This vine-like shrub does not spread much, thus is a good choice for a restricted support like a doorway arch or container trellis and not such a good candidate to cover a fence or arbor.

Position: Clerodendrum thomsoniae will tolerate full sun with adequate moisture but they will prefer partial shade. Best flowering results occur with morning sun and afternoon shade.
Keep these plants protected from strong winds, hot sun and frost.

Soil: Clerodendrum thomsoniae grown in garden like a well-drained soil, rich in organic material. If planted in a garden bed, make sure the soil is well-drained. Dig hole twice the width of the container. Remover plant from container and place into the hole so the soil level is the same as the surrounding ground. Fill hole firmly and water in well even if the soil is moist.

Irrigation: Clerodendrum thomsoniae likes high humidity and a moist, but not soggy, soil. Give it a generous watering regime during growth period. Regular watering will encourages new growth. As the plant grows its thirst grows with it. A Clerodendrum thomsoniae vine that occupies 9m (3 feet) trellis can drink 10l (3 gallons) of water weekly.

Fertiliser: Clerodendrum thomsoniae is a heavy feeder. To produce profuse flowers through the growing season, apply either a slow release-type fertiliser with micronutrients every two months or a liquid water soluble fertiliser with micronutrients monthly.  Bloom should continue throughout the season if adequate amounts of calcium are available to the plant. If the fertilizer chosen not have calcium, a separate calcium supplement may be applied. Crushed eggshells stirred into the soil are an excellent organic calcium supplement for plants.

Propagation: Propagate in spring from cuttings 10-15cm (4-6 inch) long. Dip each cutting in a hormone rooting powder and plant it in an 8cm (3 inch) pot containing a moistened equal-parts mixture of peat moss and coarse sand or a substance such as perlite. Enclose the pot in a plastic bag or heated propagating case and keep it at a temperature of at least 21°C (70°F) in a position where it gets medium light. Rooting will take four to six weeks; when new growth indicates that rooting has occurred, uncover the pot and begin watering the young plant sparingly – just enough to make the potting mixture barely moist – and start application of a liquid fertiliser every two weeks.
About four months after the beginning of propagation process, move the plant into a soil based potting mixture. Thereafter, treat it as a mature Clerodendrum thomsoniae plant.

Problems:
Watch for mealybugs and spider mites.
Treatment: Use appropriate insecticides. Alternatively, remove mealybugs  with an alcohol­ saturated cotton swab or wash plants with soapy water.

Glasshouse whitefly can be a problem, especially indoors.
Treatment: Successive sprays of insecticidal soaps or white oil will eradicate whiteflies infestations.

Clerodendrum thomsoniae blooms heavily in spring and summer. If it does not bloom much, move it to where it will get indirect light from a south- or west-facing window.

Recommended varieties:
Clerodendrum thomsoniae ‘Delectum’ has rose-magenta flowers in very large clusters.

Clerodendrum thomsoniae ‘Variegatum’ has flowers like those of the main species, but its leaves are pale green at the margins and have light and dark green marbling in the central portion.

Uses and display: Clerodendrum thomsoniae makes an excellent hanging container plant or can be trained on a trellis. It is a non-invasive climber for a fence, pergola or trellis indoor plant for brightly lit conservatory or sunroom bold, eye-catching flowers provide colour for much of the year. This evergreen climbing plant will clothe and decorate the wall, trellis or other support that it grows against. In a sunroom or conservatory it makes a splendid backdrop. For a formal look, grow this plant in a large white wooden conservatory box.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – climbing and trailing or bushy
Height: 4m (13 feet)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bight filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 10°C max 13°C (50-55°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 10a-11

Clerodendrum thomsoniae Clerodendrum thomsoniae VariegatumClerodendrum thomsoniae DelectumClerodendrum thomsoniae Delectum Clerodendrum thomsoniae



Climber, Evergreen, Flowering Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants, Shrubs , , , , , , ,

Cleistocactus strausii

Common name: Silver Torch, Wooly Torch, Silver Torch Cactus

Family: Cactaceae

Synonymous: Pilocereus straussii (Basyonym)
Borzicactus strausii
Cephalocereus strausii
Cereus strausii
Denmoza strausii

Cleistocactus strausii

Cleistocactus strausii

Distribution and habitat: Cleistocactus strausii is a perennial cactus native to high mountain regions of Bolivia and Argentina, above 3,000 m (9,843 feet). It is a slender, erect, grey-green columns which can reach a height of 3m (10 feet), but are only about 6cm (2.5inch) across. This cactus prefers free draining soils, strong sunlight, but not high temperatures — in fact it can withstand hard frosts down to -10°C. In its natural habitat it receives plenty of water during the summer, but almost none over the winter period.
There are about 28 species of these tall, slender desert cacti, but only Cleistocactus strausii is widely cultivated indoors.

Description: Cleistocactus strausii has a green stem that looks silvery grey because of the short, whitish spines that completely cover it. The columnar stem has about 25 low narrow ribs and each of the small, white areoles spaced at 2cm (0.8 inch) intervals along the ribs carries at least 30 thin, 2cm (0.8 inch) log white spines, together with 4 somewhat stouter, pale yellow ones that are up to 5cm (2 inch) long. The main stem often branches at the base, with upright-growing stems attached to the parent stem just above the surface of the potting mixture.
In a 20cm (8 inch) pot the plant can reach a height of 1.5m (5 feet) and will probably consist of several stems.
Cleistocactus strausii do not flower until they are 10 to 15 years old. When Cleistocactus strausii has become 1m (3 feet) or more tall, it will produce narrow, tubular flowers from areoles at the top of the main stem. The flowers are 8-10cm (3-4 inch) long and carmine-red and they appear in summer. They never fully opened, each last only for four or five days.

Houseplant care:  Cleistocactus strausii is an easy to grow plant if over-watering is avoided.
Cacti grown indoors tend to gather dust. These spiny cacti can be effectively washed down with a soft shaving brush. When cleaning them, it is a good idea to protect the roots by laying a piece of plastic sheeting over the potting mixture to prevent undue wetting at the base of the plant.
Use newspaper as a wrapping to protect the hands from the spines when handling the cactus.

Light: Like all desert cacti, Cleistocactus strausii needs as much full sunlight as it can get. Unless Cleistocactus strausii has full sunlight for several hours a day, it will not bloom. If possible, stand these plants in a sunny position outdoors during the summer months.

Temperature: During the active growth period normal room temperatures are suitable. During the winter provide a rest period at 10-15°C (50-59°F). If the winter temperature is too high, plants will try to grow; and with insufficient light of short winter days, growth is bound to be unnatural thin.

Watering: During the active growth period water moderately, enough to make the potting mixture moist and allow the top centimetre (0.4 inch) or so of the potting mixture to dry out between waterings. In the winter rest period give only enough to keep it from drying out.

Feeding: At the start of the growth period, apply a dressing of long term slow fertiliser and stir it into the surface soil in the pot. As an alternative, fertiliser may be incorporated with the potting mixture when repotting.

Potting and repotting: A porous potting mixture is essential. Add one part coarse sand and to two parts or either soil based or part-based mixture. Cleistocactus strausii grows vigorously when young and needs to be moved into a pot one size larger every spring until a 20cm (8 inch) pot has been reached. Thereafter, top-dress plants with fresh potting mixture each spring.

Gardening: Cleistocactus strausii is a high altitude cactus which can withstand hard frosts down to -10°C (14°F), but does not tolerate well high temperatures.
Cultivated plants often flower freely.

Position: Choose a location where Cleistocactus strausii gets full sun. In hot climates, this plant will benefit from light shade during the afternoon.

Soil: Cleistocactus strausii grows well in the ground where climates are mild and conditions dry during the winter months. It thrives in well-draining soil. Amend the garden soil with at least 50% sand. If the soil is clay-based, add even more sand to improve drainage. Alternatively, use 25% sand, 15% pea gravel and 10% peat moss or compost. Without good drainage, this cactus will rot.
Dig a hole as deep and twice as wide as the roots. Set the cactus in the center of the hole and back fill until the roots are covered. Make sure the crown of the cactus does not sit below the surrounding soil surface.

Irrigation: Water the cactus during the spring and summer when the top 2.5cm (1 inch) of soil dries out. Water the plant deeply to a depth of at least 15cm (6 inch), then let the soil dry before watering again. Never water if the top of the soil feels damp. Waterlogged soil leads to rot fairly quickly.
During the fall, reduce watering to every five weeks if the ground dries out. In winter, keep the cactus dry. The moist ground combined with the cool temperatures and dormancy may cause the roots to rot.
Keep an eye on the cactus and it will indicate when it needs water. A healthy cactus is plump, but a thirsty cactus looks shriveled and wilted.

Fertilising: Fertilise Cleistocactus strausii plant with a low-nitrogen fertilizer during the active growth period. A slow-release fertiliser applied in the spring will be sufficient for the whole year. Follow the manufacturer instructions for rates and application methods.

Propagation: It is possible to propagate by cutting a small branch from a Cleistocactus strausii and rooting it, but this inevitably leaves a disfiguring scar near the base of the main stem. If an offset is removed to be used in propagation, remember to let it dry for a week or so, letting the wound heal (cuttings planted to soon easily rot before they can grow roots). Rooting usually occurs within 3-8 weeks.
It is therefore best to raise these plants from seed. Be sure to get the seeds from a reputable source. Even under good conditions germination of Cleistocactus strausii seeds may be erratic. They can be sown in either pots or seed pans, depending upon the quantity. Use pots at least 5cm (2 inch) in diameter because seeds need moisture and very small pots tend to dry out too quickly.
Put about a centimetre (0.4 inch) or so of some such drainage material as gravel or perlite on the floor of the container. Then fill it to within a centimetre (0.4 inch) or so of the top with standard seed mixture and top up with a layer of fine gritty sand. Next soak the potting mixture in water and let it drain. When the excess water has drained away, scatter the seeds thinly over the surface of the potting mixture; do not bury them. Finally, lay a sheet of glass or plastic over the top of the container to conserve the moisture and place the whole in warm position – 25-26°C (77-79°F) is ideal. Light is not needed until seeds start to germinate. But because they will not all germinate at the same time, it is best to place the container in medium light from the beginning. Never leave seedlings in full light. The seeds will germinate within 5 to 180 days. When the first seedling, which usually look like minute green balls, appear, raise the cover and keep it in slightly raised position to give the seedlings some much-needed air.
These seedlings benefit from being given a full year’s uninterrupted growth before being potted up and treated as mature plants. The best time for sowing the seeds, therefore, is spring. Seedlings will be ready for potting up the following spring, after a year in seed container. During the first year, keep them at normally room temperature and water them often enough to keep the potting mixture slightly moist.
When potting up young cacti plants, take care not to damage the roots, because root damage can kill the young plant. Before trying to move a plant, gently loosen the mixture around its roots. Then lift it gently, if necessary with a pair of blunt tongs. A 5cm (2 inch) pot is big enough for a little cactus. If preferred, put several young plants about 2cm (0.8 inch) apart in a container, where they can remain until they almost, but not quite, touch each other.

Problems:
Watch for infestations mealy bugs and spider mite.
Treatment: Spray the cactus with insecticidal soap spray if the plant is bothered by spider mites or mealy bugs. Reapply every four-to-seven days, as needed.

Cacti are particularly susceptible to rot caused by fungi or bacteria. Watch out for soft brown or blackish marks on the stems, especially in places where there has been some local damages.
Treatment: Cut away such indication of rot as soon as they appear. Otherwise, the rot is bound to spread. Be sure to cut right back to healthy green tissue and dust with sulphur. Rotting at the base of the cactus is usually caused by compacted, over-wet potting mixture. If a sufficiently porous mixture is used, this should not occur. If it does occur, however, remove all infected tissue from roots as well as stems and treat what remains of the plant as a cutting.

Recomended varieties:
Cleistocactus strausii forma cristata is forming large silvery mounds. This form is propagated usually by grafting or sometime by cuttings, but the cuttings will generally not root.

Uses and display: Cleistocactus strausii makes an attractive landscape plant and or container patio plant where some height is needed, being an attractive accent plant. This columnar tall cactus is suitable for large landscape. When this multiple columnar cactus reaches 1m (3 feet) tall it will produce many red/burgundy tubular flowers that also attracts humming birds. The silver colored spines offer an interesting color change in the landscape. Being a drought-tolerant plant, it is suitable for xeriscaping such as succulents garden or rock garden.
Its silvery spined stems branch from the base and then grow straight upwards towards the greenhouse roof, making a pleasant backdrop for the more numerous globular cacti.
Indoors make a spectacular ascent plant as mature Cleistocactus strausii and will flower if it is provided with enough light. When young, it fits very well between other low growing cacti.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – upright
Height: 3m (10 feet)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – direct
Temperature in rest period – min 4°C max 10°C (39-50°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – low

Hardiness zone: 9a-11

Cleistocactus strausii Cleistocactus strausii Cleistocactus strausii Cleistocactus strausii cristata Cleistocactus strausii forma cristataCleistocactus strausii Cleistocactus strausii Cleistocactus strausii



Cactus, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants , , , , , , , , , ,

Echinopsis chamaecereus

Common name: Peanut Cactus

Family: Cactaceae

Synonymous: Cereus silvestrii
Chamaecereus silvestrii
Lobivia silvestrii

Echinopsis chamaecereus

Echinopsis chamaecereus

Distribution and habitat: Echinopsis chamaecereus is a species of mat forming  cactus with many crowded finger-like stems from mountains areas in Argentina, occurring at elevations to over 1200m (4000 feet). Established plants can reach a height of 15cm (6 inch) and width of 30cm (12 inch), with stems.
It is one of the most popular ornamental cacti and is grown for its unique finger-like shoots and bright scarlet flowers.
In cultivation Echinopsis chamaecereus plants apparently originated from one self-incompatible clone. With a low genetic diversity these cultivated cacti resist the development of new cultivars by conventional breeding techniques.

Description: Echinopsis chamaecereus young shoots somewhat resemble peanuts. With increasing age, however, the shoots of this cactus lengthen into cylindrical finger-like stems which are pale green, very soft and segmented lengthwise by 8 to 10 narrow, low ribs with broad, shallow indentations in between. The main stems are about 15cm (6 inch) long and 2cm (0.8 inch) in diameter and they tend to lie on the surface of the potting mixture with many much smaller branches distributed among them. This cactus branches and spreads so rapidly that it will cover the surface of a 15cm (6 inch) half-pot in two years. Each of the small areoles that are closely spaced along the ribs carries 10 to 15 short, whitish spines. Deep scarlet, cup-shaped flowers about 2.5cm (1 inch) wide are produced from the areoles in early summer. Individual flowers last about a day, but the flowering period extends for two to three weeks and Echinopsis chamaecereus will produce numerous blooms during early spring to early summer period under favourable conditions.

Houseplant care: Echinopsis chamaecereus is an easy to grow cactus as it requires no special care. It flowers freely indoors if conditions are suitable.

Light: Echinopsis chamaecereus needs direct sunlight; it form thin, over-elongated shoots if grown in poor light. For a neat, attractive specimen that will flower well, keep the plant close to the sunniest window possible.

Temperature: During the active growth period normal room temperatures are suitable. At other times this cactus will withstand temperatures down to freezing (although such an extreme is not advisable); ideally it should be given a winter rest in the coolest available position – no higher that about 7°C (45°F).

Watering: During the active rest period water Echinopsis chamaecereus moderately, enough to make the potting mixture thoroughly moist, but let the top centimetre (0.4 inch) or so of the mixture to dry between waterings. During the rest period give limited amounts of water depending on the temperature. If a Echinopsis chamaecereus is kept very cool – bellow 5°C (41°F), it may be left completely dry for the winter; if kept in warmer room, it will need just enough water to prevent the soil from becoming completely dry. In either case, the aim is to avoid stimulating the the plant into growth during the short day months of insufficient light.

Feeding: At the begining of the growth period apply a dressing of slow release fertiliser and stir into the surface soil of the potting mixture or alternatively, this fertiliser may be incorporated with the fresh potting mixture when the plant is being repotted.

Potting and repotting: Use either soil based or peat based potting mixture with the addition of -third portion of course sand for good drainage. Because this cactus has shallow root system and spreads rapidly, it is best grown in a wider container about 8cm (3 inch) deep; deep seed trays are ideal for large clumps. Move the plants into a container one size larger in the spring whenever the stems become crowded – or, alternatively, break the plant up and re-start the propagation process from cuttings.

Gardening: Echinopsis chamaecereus survives outside without protection in winter and is hardy to temperatures as low as −7°C (19°F) if kept dry. This cactus needs a period of cool rest in winter to produce flowers abundantly.
A rock garden may be the best spot for this small cactus to plant it in the ground. Plant Echinopsis chamaecereus between a cluster of rocks. Though it may remain unseen for many months the bright flowers in the spring will get the attention.

Position: Sun exposure should be gradual so as not to burn the plants. Best placement for Echinopsis chamaecereus is an exposure to full sun  in cool climates or lightly shaded in hot climates; it is important to provide a good brightness which is necessary for the flowering period that runs from early spring to mid summer.

Soil: Echinopsis chamaecereus plants thrive in sandy or gritty very well drained soils with some added compost.

Irrigation: As regards the watering, Echinopsis chamaecereus have to be watered deeply every 15 days in summer and during the spring ; while in winter during the cold period is necessary to force this plant to rest, therefor the plant should not be watered at all. Avoid overwatering these plants, always allowing dry for a few days between waterings. However Echinopsis chamaecereus bears well the long periods of drought.

Fertilising: The fertiliser should be sporadic and based on a fertilizer low in nitrogen and rich in potassium and phosphorus.

Propagation: Echinopsis chamaecereus does not form seed; it is always propagated from cuttings – an extremely simple process. Remove a branch from the main stem – it can be easily detached – and place it in a 5-8cm (2.5-3 inch) pot of the kind of potting mixture in which the parent plant is growing; lay the cutting horizontally on the surface of the potting mixture. Or place several such cuttings in a large seed tray spacing them 8-10cm (3-4 inch) apart. If given the same condition as the parent plant, new growth will soon be produced and the young plants will probably be ready to flower by the following summer.
While the plant is being handled, small branches often break away from the main stem. These need not be wasted for they will root at almost any time. Unlike the cuttings taken from most cacti, these do not need to dry out for a few days before being potted up; the points of attachment of the branches are so narrow that there is little risk of rot at cut surface.

Problems:
Echinopsis chamaecereus is very sensitive to the attack of mealy roots and cochineal insects (also known as mealy bugs).
Treatment: Root Mealy Bug – Remove all soil and destroy it. Wash the roots thoroughly and treat (eventually immerging the whole plant) with adequate insecticide, letting the roots dry after treatment and before replanting in completely fresh, sterilized soil. Always cleanse and sterilize frames and all other items used when replanting. Regular applications (weekly for several weeks) of insecticide watered into the soil are also effective, it is also possible to immerse the plant pot up to the top of the soil in a bucket of insecticide solution.
Cochineal insects eradication can be easily achieved by spraying them with Neem Oil, following the manufacture directions. Eradication is most effective during the winter months. No scrubbing is required in order to kill the cochineal insects.

Watch for infestations scale insects and spider mite.
Treatment: If infestation is localized, remove scale insects by wiping affected areas with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or dipping the plant in a solution of soapy water and alcohol.
Control spider mites with a suitable acaricide.

Cacti are particularly susceptible to rot caused by fungi or bacteria. Watch out for soft brown or blackish marks on the stems, especially in places where there has been some local damages.
Treatment: Cut away such indication of rot as soon as they appear. Otherwise, the rot is bound to spread. Be sure to cut right back to healthy green tissue and dust with sulphur. Rotting at the base of the cactus is usually caused by compacted, over-wet potting mixture. If a sufficiently porous mixture is used, this should not occur. If it does occur, however, remove all infected tissue from roots as well as stems and treat what remains of the plant as a cutting.

Recommended varieties:
Echinopsis chamaecereus f. lutea (Yellow Peanut) has stems that are pale yellow instead of green. This varieties is abnormal in that it does not possess chlorophyll (the green food producing material characteristic of plant life). Thus it cannot be grown on its roots and must be grafted on another cactus, such as a Cereus species. In all other respects – including the production of scarlet flowers, which look particularly attractive against the yellow stems – the plant is distinguishable from the normal Echinopsis chamaecereus. Though it cannot, obviously, be propagated from cuttings, amateur growers can buy young plants that are already grafted.
The tender body of this abnormal form needs shade from summer sun to prevent scorching. Grafting stock determines minimum temperature plant can stand but average is about 10°C(50°F).

Uses and display: Echinopsis chamaecereus is an easily grown cactus, suited to hanging baskets as well as pots. Because of its small size it is also good for succulent dish gardens. Also can be used for rock gardens. This cacti are drought-tolerant being suitable for xeriscaping.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – clustering
Height: 1m (3 feet)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – direct
Temperature in rest period – min 2°C max 7°C (36-45°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – low

Hardiness zone: 10a-11

Echinopsis chamaecereusEchinopsis chamaecereusEchinopsis chamaecereusEchinopsis chamaecereus luteaEchinopsis chamaecereus Echinopsis chamaecereus



Cactus, Flowering Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants , , , , , ,

Cattleya bicolor

Common name: Bicoloured Cattleya

Family: Orchidaceae

Synonymous: Cattleya bicolor var. caerulea
Cattleya bicolor subsp. minasgaerensis
Cattleya bicolor var. lewisii
Cattleya bicolor var. mearuresiana
Cattleya bicolor var. olocheilos
Cattleya bicolor var. splendida
Cattleya bicolor var. wrigleyana
Cattleya dupontii
Cattleya grossii
Cattleya measuresiana
Cattleya tetraploidea
Epidendrum bicolor
Epidendrum iridee

Cattleya bicolor

Cattleya bicolor

Distribution and habitat: Cattleya bicolor is native to Brazil where is occurring in different habitats. Typical, it is a species of epiphytic habit, but can also be found in earthly form growing on leaf litter and fallen pieces of wood of trees in forests, usually near rivers or swamps. In some regions can also be found growing on rocks. Also, it is found in savannah areas always between 500 to 1200m (1600-3900 feet) above sea level. When it is growing in savannah areas, does not tolerate direct sunlight, always growing in places where is protected from direct sun light and have good ventilation.
Some orchid growers are classifying Cattleya bicolor in different subspecies according to the state where they are found, but in fact it is the same species regardless of their morphological characteristics.

Description: Cattleya bicolor can grow to be a large robust plant and the larger the plant, the more flowers will be produced per spike. The slender stems are from 45 to 75cm (18 to 30 inch) high, jointed and covered with whitish membranaceous sheaths, bearing two leaves about 15cm (6 inch) long. The inflorescence is nearly erect, with 2 to 5 or more flowers. Flowers range from 8 to 10cm (3-4 inch) across. The sepals and petals are fleshy, with a distinct midnerve, greenish brown to olive-brown spotted with purple, the petals somewhat wavy, the lateral sepals bowed inward. The lip is wedge-shaped, without side lobes, curved downward with a central longitudinal depression or line, crimson-purple, occasionally with white margins. This species is unique in lacking the lateral lobes of the lip, a character usually inherited by its hybrid progeny, limiting its value in breeding. Variable in coloring, particularly with respect to the lip, this species blooms during spring and into midsummer, occasionally blooming twice, in spring and again in fall.

Houseplant care: Cattleya bicolor can be grown in a pot or basket and also mounted. It is a very demanding plant with respect to moisture and aeration of its roots, making its cultivation a little more complicated then other houseplants.

Light: Cattleya bicolor need bright light without direct sunlight.

Temperature: Warmth is essential. The minimum tolerant for Cattleya bicolor is in between 12 to 15°C (54-59°F). Protect this plants from sudden changes in temperature. For adequate humidity stand plants on shallow trays of moist pebbles throughout the growing season and mist-spray them daily whenever the temperature rises above 21°C (70°F).

Watering: During the active growth period water plentifully, but allow the potting mixture to dry out almost completely between waterings. During the six-week rest period that Cattleya bicolor take after flowering, water the plants just enough to prevent shriveling of the pseudobulbs.
Mounted plants will need daily watering during the warmer months. The roots prefer a wet-dry cycle, so should be allowed to dry quickly between waterings. Plants seem intolerant of continually wet conditions around the roots – hence the need for excellent drainage. Good air circulation is important at all times as well as high humidity during the warmer months. In winter plants need a drier rest with reduced watering. Occasional applications of water or misting of the roots in the mornings of sunny days will ensure that the pseudobulbs do not shrivel excessively.

Feeding: Give a foliar feed with every third or fourth watering during the active growth period.

Potting and repotting: Cattleya bicolor are best grown in pine bark mixture. At the end of the rest period move the plants into pots 5cm (2 inch) larger if leading growth has reached the rim of the current pots. Repotting should be only necessary every 2 or 3years. Place the old part of each plant against the rim of the new pot so that there is room to forward growth and gently firm down the fresh potting mixture around the rhizome and roots. Water the potting mixture plentifully. Then move the repotted specimen into medium light for a week or two before exposing it to bright light. After the maximum convenient pot size has been reached, divide the plant as suggested on propagation section.
They grow well in clay pots or baskets of wood because they need good roots aeration. Also this species can be grown mounted on a piece of wood or a tree branch.

Gardening: Cattleya bicolor is one of the easiest and most popular orchids to grow. These orchids are suited to intermediate conditions – 21 to 27°C (70-80°F) during day time and 13 to 18°C (55-65°F) during night. In areas where these temperatures are met more or less, these orchids can be left in place all year. In these areas, with some protection from excessive sun, wind and rain, the orchid plants can be successfully cultivated on the patio or as a part of the landscape. Where frost or temperatures fall below the recommended ones, the plants can be brought into the home to be grown on windowsills, under lights or on an unheated patio where the coldest temperatures are avoided.
Cattleya bicolor are usually grown in clay pots or baskets of wood. Alternatively these plants can be grown epiphytic mounted on trees branches.

Position: In their natural habitat, Cattleya bicolor grow and flower best in strong dappled sunlight. The most common cause of failure to flower is insufficient sunlight. Foliage should be a medium olive green. If light is sufficient the leaves will be weak and floppy and very green. If the foliage is more on the yellow side and quite hard, the plants are receiving possibly too much light.

Tree mounted epiphyte: Choose a tree that allow adequate light. Quercus species (oaks), Citrus species, Callistemon viminalis or Callistemon citrinus (bottlebrush), species from Arecaceae family (palm trees), Brassaia actinophylla (schefflera) and the less-common Crescentia alata (calabash) are prime candidates. Species of Ficus genus often casts too much shade. Rough bark is an asset, though not essential for success.
Begin to attach Cattleya bicolor orchids to trees when root activity on the orchids starts (usually the regular potting time). Set the plant directly on the trunk or limb; do not apply a pad of sphagnum moss, osmunda or other medium. Doing so may keep the surface too wet and induce rot. The roots have the ability to cling to the host. Use cotton string that will eventually decompose and not harm the environment. It fades in a few weeks, blending in with its surroundings, and the plant will have rooted in place when the fibers deteriorate one year later. Plastic ties and monofilament are alternatives. Hot-glue guns are another choice; place a dab of glue on the rhizome or pseudobulb and hold against the tree for a few seconds. Position the orchid so the flowers can be enjoyed from a patio, walkway or inside the home. Match aesthetics with cultural needs.
Provide adequate care, especially during the first few months. Mist with a hose or run a sprinkler line up into the tree. Established plants are almost carefree, although periodic applications of water and fertilizer are beneficial. When it is necessary to prune trees on which orchids grow, take care not to injure them. Once established, orchids last for many years.

Irrigation: In nature, the roots of Cattleya bicolor are exposed to a rapid cycle of wetting and drying from daily tropical storms. Cultivated orchids in pots must duplicate this wet-dry cycle. In general mature plants will need watering no more than once per week whereas smaller and younger plants in smaller pots will need watering more frequently, depending on the daily temperature.

Fertilisation: Cattleya bicolor are moderate feeders. In their natural habitat they are accustomed to a constantly available mild nutrient solution. This can be achieved with a dressing of organic fertiliser four times per year supplemented with a weak solution of liquid fertiliser every second week during their active growing period.

Propagation: To divide a Cattleya bicolor wait until forward growth has started to institute new roots and when the roots are 5-10mm (0.2-0.4 inch) long, divide and repot in fresh potting mixture. The section taken should have no less than 4 bulb sections each with a forward growth or eye. Place pots in medium light for about four weeks, then treat as mature plants. After potting stake the plant if necessary to hold the plant firm in the pot.

Problems: Cattleya bicolor orchid should be kept fairly dry in winter or flowering is impaired.

Cattleya bicolor plants are susceptible to spider mites, so it is important to provide ample humidity with air movement.
Treatment: Spray the infested orchids with a suitable insecticide and raise the humidity by standing the pot on a saucer of moist pebbles.

Scale insects and mealy bugs sometimes attack these plants, lurking in particular under the dried-up leaves on pseudobulbs and at the base of old flower stalks after these have been cut back.
Treatment: Physically removing the scales and then controlling the immature stages with chemical sprays may help lightly infested plants. Use an adequate pesticide to combat the insects infestation.

Slugs and snails like them so watch out.
Treatment: These pests are controlled using an appropriate molluscicide, both pellet and liquid forms or by hand pick at regular inspections.

Caterpillars sometimes chew the plant leaves.
Treatment: Apply a suitable pesticide to the foliage following the prescriptions on the label.

Aphids are occasionally a pest on Campanula isophylla plants.
Treatment: A heavy stream of water may be used to wash aphids off of young foliage. Also it can be used the soap sprays. Alternatively use a suitable insecticidal sprays to control these insects.

The plant failure to flower.
Treatment: Most common cause of failing to bring the plants in flower is the level of light. Artificial light work well to supplement the light quality and to increase the time to light exposure. Give to these plants no more than 16 hours a day to avoid stressing them.

Uses and display: The ornamental value of Cattleya bicolor lies especially in its fragrance. This orchid can be grown mounted on a piece of wood or on a branch tree or can be grown in clay pots or baskets of wood. Display these orchids at eye level, where its flowers can be seen up close. They suit tropical, oriental and bush garden designs.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Features – flowers, fragrance
Shape – upright
Height: 1m (3 feet)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – bright
Temperature in rest period – min 13°C max 16°C (55-61°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 10-11

Cattleya bicolorCattleya bicolorCattleya bicolorCattleya bicolor



Cutting Flowers, Evergreen, Flowering Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants, Orchids , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Catharanthus roseus

Common name: Madagascar Periwinkle, Rose Periwinkle, Old Maid, Chula, Chatas, Vinca

Family: Apocynaceae

Synonymous: Vinca rosea (basionym)
Ammocallis rosea
Lochnera rosea

Catharanthus roseus

Catharanthus roseus

Distribution and habitat: Catharanthus roseus is an evergreen shrubs or herbaceous plant, sprawling along the ground or standing erect to 1m (3 feet) in height, native and endemic to Madagascar where its natural habitat was almost been lost. It was found growing on sand and limestone soils in woodland, forest, grassland and disturbed areas.
This herb is now common worldwide as ornamental plant. It is naturalized in most tropical and subtropical regions being escaped from cultivation, spreading in rocky outcrops and roadsides in dry savanna, urban open spaces and in cultivated areas.

Description: Catharanthus roseus is a small, upright shrub prized for its shiny green leaves and delicate looking flowers. The glossy oval leaves are 2-5cm (0.8-2 inch) long, have a white centre vein and are borne in opposite pairs on slender stems. One or more flowers are produced at the stem tips throughout a flowering period that generally lasts from mid-spring to early autumn. Each flower has a 1cm (0.4 inch) long tube flattened out into five lance-shaped petals at the month, which is up to 4cm (1.5 inch) wide. Flower colour is usually soft rose-pink or occasionally, mauve.
These plants may self-seed in optimum growing conditions.

Houseplant care: Catharanthus roseus plants are usually acquired in early spring and discarded when the flowering season has ended. They are not normally worth overwintering because only young plants tend to look healthy and flower profusely when grown indoors.
Pinch it back early in the season to encourage branching and a fuller plant.

Light: Bright light, included three or four hours of direct sunlight daily, is essential for good flowering.

Temperature: Normal room temperatures are suitable at all times. Catharanthus roseus cannot tolerate temperatures that fall below about 10°C (50°F).

Watering: Water the potting mixture plentifully, but do not allow the pot to stand in water.

Feeding: Once flowering has begun, apply standard liquid fertiliser every tow weeks. These plants are not tolerant of excessive fertiliser.

Potting and repotting: Use soil based potting mixture when repotting these plants. Move them into pots one size larger every six to eight weeks. Probable maximum size needed is 10-13cm (4-5 inch).

Gardening: Catharanthus roseus is a tender plant and does not withstand frosts. It is best grown indoors in temperate climates. It thrives well in hot and humid environments, but it tolerates the hot temperatures in summer and it is also able to bear the extremes of drought and heavy rainfall.
In frostfree climates it develops a woody stem near the base and can get 0.6-1m (2-3 feet) tall and spread out just as wide. As annuals, they are usually smaller and more prostrate.
Pinch back early in the season to encourage branching and a fuller plant. The flowers drop off when they finish blooming, so no deadheading cleaning is needed.

Position: Catharanthus roseus should be planted in full sun or partial shade to promote flowers all year round in hot climates. They do best with some shade during at least some of the day during summer. They start to look a little frazzled by the end of the day without some shade and tend to get somewhat leggy when they get a lot of sun. A shady spot will promote lush foliage, but part sun seems to be their favorite spot, to obtain good foliage and plenty of blooms.

Soil: Catharanthus roseus plants are best grown as annual bedding plants in well-drained sandy loams. Superior soil drainage is the key to growing this annual well. Flowering will suffer if soils are too fertile.
The planting distance should be about 30cm (12 inch) between plants.

Irrigation: They need regular moisture, but avoid overhead watering. Catharanthus roseus plants should be watered moderately during the growing season, but it is relatively drought resistant once established. They will recover after a good watering.

Fertilising: Catharanthus roseus plants are not heavy feeders. If necessary, feed fortnightly or once monthly with a balanced liquid fertilizer. Too much fertilizing will produce luxuriant foliage instead of more blooms.

Propagation: Catharanthus roseus can be propagated from tip cuttings as well as from seed, since plants grown this way will flower more profusely. Take a 5-8cm (2-3 inch) long tip cuttings of new growth in late spring or summer. Trim each cutting immediately below a leaf, dip the cut end in hormone rooting powder and plant it in 5 or 8cm (2-3 inch) pot containing a moistened well drained potting mixture. Enclose the whole in a plastic bag or propagating case and stand it in bright filtered light. After rooting occurs (generally in three to four weeks), treat the rooted cutting as a mature plant.
In late winter or early spring, sow a few seeds in a shallow tray of moistened rooting mixture, place the tray in a plastic bag or propagating case and stand it in warm position where it will get bright filtered light. When the seeds have germinated – in two to three weeks – uncover the tray and begin watering the seedlings moderately – enough to make the potting mixture moist, but allowing the top 1cm (0.4 inch) to dry out between waterings – until they are about 1cm (0.4 inch) high. Transfer each seedling into an 8cm (3 inch) pot of potting mixture and treat it as mature Catharanthus roseus.
Outdoors, it will reseed itself if the soil is loose.

Problems:
Stem rot, leaf spot and aster yellows may occur.
Treatment: Avoid overwatering and soggy conditions. Use suitable fungicide to treat these diseases.

Watch for slugs and snails.
Treatment: These pests are controlled using an appropriate molluscicide, both pellet and liquid forms or by hand pick at regular inspections.

Recommended varieties:
Catharanthus roseus cv. ‘Albus’ is a white-flowered form.

Catharanthus roseus cv. ‘Ocellatus’ has white flowers with a brilliant, carmine-red centre.

Toxicity: Catharanthus roseus is poisonous if ingested or smoked. It has caused poisoning in grazing animals. Even under a doctor’s supervision for cancer treatment, products from this plant produce undesirable side effects.

Uses and display: Catharanthus roseus makes excellent bedding or border plant for summertime annual or perennial garden. It is great as a ground cover, planted en masse with different colours or in mixed plantings. It is perfect for raised planters, containers or hanging baskets to display its colorful beauty at decks, patios, garden porches, windowsills and balconies. This plant is attractive to butterflies too. Certain varieties can be grown as a houseplant in a brightly lit location. Cut branches can be used as vase arrangement in homes.

Catharanthus roseus is grown commercially in the pharmaceutical industry.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – bushy
Height: 1m (3 feet)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bight
Temperature in active growth period – min 10oC max 24oC (50-75oF)
Humidity – low

Hardiness zone: 9b-11

Catharanthus roseusCatharanthus roseusCatharanthus roseusCatharanthus roseusCatharanthus roseus OcellatusCatharanthus roseus Alba



Annuals, Evergreen, Flowering Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants , , , , , , , , , , ,