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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 , , , , , , , , , , ,

Capsicum annuum

Common name: Ornamental Peper, Christmas Pepper Plant, Hot Pepper, Chili Pepper, Bell Pepper

Family: Solanaceae

Synonymous: Capsicum abyssinicum
Capsicum angulosum
Capsicum axi
Capsicum bauhinii
Capsicum caerulescens
Capsicum cerasiforme
Capsicum ceratocarpum
Capsicum cereolum
Capsicum comarim
Capsicum conicum
Capsicum conoide
Capsicum conoides
Capsicum conoideum
Capsicum cordiforme
Capsicum crispum
Capsicum cydoniforme
Capsicum dulce
Capsicum fasciculatum
Capsicum fastigiatum
Capsicum frutescens
Capsicum globiferum
Capsicum globosum
Capsicum grossum
Capsicum indicum
Capsicum longum
Capsicum milleri
Capsicum minimum
Capsicum odoratum
Capsicum odoriferum
Capsicum oliviforme
Capsicum ovatum
Capsicum petenense
Capsicum pomiferum
Capsicum purpureum
Capsicum pyramidale
Capsicum quitense
Capsicum silvestre
Capsicum sphaerium
Capsicum tetragonum
Capsicum tomatiforme
Capsicum torulosum
Capsicum tournefortii
Capsicum ustulatum

Capsicum annuum

Capsicum annuum

Distribution and habitat: Capsicum annuum is a species native to southern North America and northern South America. Seeds was brought to Europe and Capsicum annuum began to be planted extensively in Portuguese colonies in Africa, India and Asia. Their popularity continues to grow across the world due to their ease of cultivation, frequently sharp taste and attractive appearance. It is now grown around the world, both commercially and domestically.
Although the species name annuum means ‘annual’ (from the Latin annus ‘year’), the plant is not an annual and in the absence of winter frosts can survive several seasons and grow into a large perennial shrub up to 1m (3 feet) tall. The species encompasses a wide variety of shapes and sizes of peppers, both mild and hot, ranging from bell peppers to chili peppers. There are numerous varieties and cultivars of Capsicum annuum which are classified on the basis of their fruit shapes.

Description: Capsicum annuum plants are prized for their bright coloured, fleshy, podlike fruit and is popular indoor species. They are bushy and low growing – 30-38cm (12-15 inch) tall and across. These plants bear fruit profusely. The stems are somewhat woody with thin, dark green branches carrying usually lance-shaped slightly hairy, green leaves 4-10cm (1.5-4 inch) long and 1-4cm (0.4-1.5 inch) wide on 1cm (0.4 inch) long stalks. White flowers are produced from leaf axils in early summer, but are insignificant. The fruit that follows the flowers usually remains decorative for 8 to 12 weeks after which it wrinkles and drop off. This species has been organized into five botanical groups of which only three – cherry, cone and cluster peppers – are familiar potted plants.
Cherry peppers have berry-like, bright yellow or purplish white fruit 2cm (0.8 inch) diameter.
Cone peppers have cone-shaped or cylindrical fruit up to 5cm (2 inch) long. Fruit colour may be green, ivory white, yellow, orange, red or purple and the colour may well change as fruit ripens.
Cluster peppers have slender pointed 8cm (3 inch) long, red fruit which grow in clusters of two or three.

Hoseplant care: Capsicum annuum are grown for the fruit and are discarded once the plant loses the fruit and the foliage becomes unattractive. The level of care needed to grow the pepper plant is moderately easy.
Pinch new growth to encourage the stems to branch out and become bushy.

Light: Capsicum annuum plants need bright light with at least three or four hours a day of direct sunlight. In inadequate light the leaves will begin to wilt and drop off prematurely.

Temperature: Capsicum annuum do well enough in normal room temperatures, but the fruit remains decorative longer in a temperature of 13-16°C (55-61°F). For increased humidity stand pots on trays of moistened pebbles.
Average room humidity is fine, but avoid too much dry air. Keep this plant away from drafts and heat vents.

Watering: Water plentifully, as often as necessary to keep the potting mixture thoroughly moist, but never let pots stand in water.

Feeding: Apply standard liquid fertiliser once a month during spring and summer only.

Potting and repotting: Repotting is not required for these plants as they are discarded after the flowering season.

Gardening: Capsicum annuum will not survive the winter frost in temperate regions and they are grown as annual plants. They do well as container plants and can be maintained over longer periods with indoor wintering, providing sufficient sunny location.
These plants demand warm weather and do not like their roots disturbed.

Position: Plant seeds in a sunny warm location in peat pots (3 seeds to a pot, thinning to 1 plant per pot) 6 to 8 weeks before transplanting into the garden after all danger of frost is past and night temperatures are consistently at or above 13°C (55°F). Plant in full sun outdoors.

Soil: Soils must be well-drained, with optimum pH of 5.5–6.5, rich in organic nutrients. Avoid planting where Capsicum species (peppers), Solanum lycopersicum (tomatoes) or Solanum melongena (eggplants) grew previously. All three are members of the same family and are subject to similar diseases. After one or more plantings of any of these three in a particular location, carryover pathogens in the soil can infect new plants.
Plant Capsicum annuum in fertile well-drained soil 45 to 60cm (18-24 inch) apart in rows 45 to 60cm (18-24 inch) apart. Do not permit seedlings or plants to suffer from low temperature or drought.
Add a 5 to 8cm (2-3 inch) layer of mulch around the base of Capsicum annuum plants once they have become well-established, after about three weeks of growth. The mulch layer will conserve vital moisture and control weeds that may compete for nutrients. Use bark mulch, hay or leaves.

Irrigation: Water plants immediately after planting to settle the soil and encourage growth. Continue watering about once a week to keep the soil uniformly moist. Soak the soil to a depth of at least 15cm (6 inch) at each watering.

Fertilising: Feed Capsicum annuum using 3 tablespoons 33-0-0 NPK fertilizer per 3m (10 feet) of row once the first fruit reaches about 2.5cm (1 inch) in diameter. Side-dress by applying the fertilizer to the ground several 8cm (3 inch) to the side of the plants. Fertilize capsicum once every two to three weeks using a high-phosphorus fertilizer after the fruit has completely set and continue until harvest time.

Harvest: Harvest Capsicum annuum fruit when they are full-sized, firm to the touch and green or coloured. Cut the stems while harvesting instead of pulling to prevent breaking the brittle branches of the plant. Store peppers in the refrigerator for two to three weeks or freeze to increase the lifespan of your yield.

Propagation: Capsicum annuum are raised from seed. Since it takes professional care to bring them to the flowering and fruiting stage for ornamental plants, however, this is not practical in the home.

Problems:
Capsicum annuum grown as indoor plant can be infested by spider mites in dry air conditions.
Treatment: Avoid dry air by misting the foliage with tepid water to rise the humidity around it and prevent this kind or infestation. Use a suitable acaracide to control mites insects.

Potential pests include aphids, white flies, cutworms, pepper maggots and Colorado potato beetles.
Treatment: Use a suitable insecticide to combat these pests, following the indicate on the label. Repeated treatment will be necessary.

Diseases include Verticillium wilt and mosaic virus.

Note: Capsicum annuum should not be confused with Piper nigrum (black pepper) which belongs to a distantly related plant family (Piperaceae).

Toxicity: The leaves and fruits of Capsicum annuum may cause indigestion and dermatitis. It is toxic only if large quantities are eaten. It can cause skin irritation. Avoid contact with eyes when handling Capsicum annuum.
The fruits are eatable when raw or coocked, but most are fiery hot.

Uses and display: Ornamental varieties of Capsicum annuum (the fruits of which are also edible) are grown primarily for the decorative value of their fruit, often displaying fruits in different development stage on one plant. The popular ‘Christmas peppers’ were originally available at Christmas time and had green and red fruits.
Capsicum annuum are also grown in gardens during summer and look attractive placed around borders or in containers.

SUMMARY:

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

PROPER CARE:
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright
Temperature in active growth period – min 13oC max 24oC (55-75oF)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 8-11

Capsicum annuumCapsicum annuumCapsicum annuum



Annuals, Culinary crop, Foliage Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Browallia speciosa

Common name: Amethyst Flower, Bush Violet, Lovely Browallia, Sapphire Flower

Family: Solanaceae

Synonymous: Browallia gigantea

Browallia speciosa

Browallia speciosa

Distribution and habiat: Browallia speciosa is a shrubby, woody perennial native to tropical South America growing in open areas, roadsides, pastures, vacant lots in moist and seasonally dry regions at elevations between 150-1200m (500-4000 feet).

Descriptions: Browallia speciosa is a blue-violet tender perennial usually grown as an annual flowering plant. When grown as an annual, it will typically rise to 0.5m (2 feet) tall. This plant has tubular, 5-lobed, purple-blue flowers with white centres and they are about 5cm (2 inch) wide . The flowers are blooming singly or in small clusters in the upper leaf axils, from late spring to fall. The oval leaves with pointed tips, up to 8cm (3 inch) long, are born on the plant. They are a matt-green colour and feel slightly sticky to touch.
Browallia speciosa is grown as a tropical annual. After it produces the show of flowers in its first year or so, it will often begin to decline, therefore it is practical to be discarded and grow a new plant in next spring.

Houseplants care: Indoors Browallia speciosa plants are prized for their vividly coloured, sapphire blue flowers. When grown in pots, their slim stems may need thin support, but they also make attractive trailing plants if grown in baskets.
As Browallia speciosa develop, nip out the growing tips of stems to encourage bushy growth.

Light: Provide a position offering bright light with at least four hours of direct sunlight every day.

Temperature: Browallia speciosa do best if they can be kept at a temperature of 12-16°C (54-61°F); temperatures much over 18°C (64°F) will tend to shorten the life of the flowers.

Watering: Water moderately, enough to make the potting mixture thoroughly moist, but allowing the top two-thirds to dry out between waterings.

Feeding: Once new plants are established, begin applications of standard liquid fertiliser every two weeks and continue throughout the whole of the flowering period.

Potting and repotting: Purchesed Browallia speciosa will normally be in 13cm (5 inch) pots of soil-based potting mixture and will not need repotting. They should be discarded after flowering.

Gardening: Browallia speciosa is typically grown as a warm weather annual. Pinch plants back to encourage branching. Prior to first fall frost, some plants may be cut back, planted in small containers and brought indoors for winter flowering.
Make sure to provide good ventilation if growing under glass.
Although cold temperatures will slow its growth considerably, it can tolerate the brisk air well and will continue to flower.

Light: Browallia speciosa plant grows  in sun to shade. Blooms best in warm shade. In hot summer areas, plants are best sited in sun dappled conditions, bright shade or afternoon shade.

Soil: Browallia speciosa performs well in humusy, consistently moist, well-drained soils.
Prepare the bed by working in a little compost or sphagnum peat moss. Plant Browallia speciosa 20 to 25cm (8-10 inch) apart in well-drained soil after the last frost date.
Mulch these plants with dried grass clippings, pine needles, wood chips or another organic material.

Irrigation: Browallia speciosa needs regular water. During the growing period, water moderately and keep it just moist in winter.

Fertiliser: Apply a low-nitrogen liquid fertiliser monthly during the growing season.

Propagation: Propagation of Browallia speciosa is by seed. If it is sown in early spring, plants will begin to flower in early autumn; later sowing will result in later flowering periods. Sow the seed thinly in small pots of moistened rooting potting mixture. Place the pots in a plastic bag or small propagation case and keep them at a temperature of 15-18°C (59-64°F) in medium light. When seedling are about 1cm (0.4 inch) tall, remove them from the plastic bag or propagator, water them enough to make the potting mixture barely moist and leave them until they are about 5cm (2 inch) tall. Then pot them individually in 8cm (3 inch) pots of soil-based mixture and treat them as mature plants. They should be moved on into 13cm pots (5 inch) after they have filled the smaller size with roots. Alternatively, six to eight small plants can be placed in a hanging basket measuring about 20cm (8 inch).

Recommended varieties:
Browallia speciosa cv. ‘Major’ general has erect stems 45-60cm (18-24 inch) tall that carry slightly drooping, 5-6cm (2-2.5 inch) long pointed egg shaped, bright green leaves on very short leaf-stalks. Violet-blue flowers 5cm (2 inch) across, which are produced from leaf axils and borne on short stalks, are tubular, but they flare out flat, dividing into five lobes. Most of the flowers have a white throat and some deep blue veining running along the lobes.

Browallia speciosa cv. ‘Silver Bells’ is a white flowered plant.

Availability: Sow Browallia speciosa seed indoors 8-10 weeks before last spring frost date or purchase spring starter plants in six packs from nurseries.

Problems:
Aphids, leafhoppers and whiteflies may feed on Browallia speciosa new shots and its leaves.
Treatment: Successive sprays of insecticidal soaps or white oil will eradicate both aphids and whiteflies infestations and reduce high populations of leafhopper nymphs; thorough coverage of leaf undersides is important. It is very difficult to control adults effectively and no control is effective.

The base of the plant rots if the plant is given too much water.
Treatment: Once the base has started to turn black the plant cannot be saved and must be discarded.

Yellow leaves occur when the plant is too cold.
Prevention: Keep the plant in a warm position.

The plant is droopy. It needs more water.
Prevention: Water more frequently.

Fungal leaf spots and tomato spotted wilt virus may occur.
Treatment: Fungal diseases can be effectively controlled using recommended range of fungicide either systemic and non-systemic. Plant hygiene will help to prevent these diseases.   Ensure proper air circulation. This will help the plant to heal if does experience a fungal or pest infestation that must be treated.

Over fertilisation causes leaf growth at the expense of flower production.
Treatment: Use low-nitrogen liquid fertiliser in small dosage to prevent overfertilisation.

Companion plants: Browallia speciosa will make a stunning display when is planted together with Petunia species, Ipomoea batatas (Sweet Potato Vine) or Lobularia maritima (Sweet Alyssum).

Uses and display: Browallia speciosa is perfect to grow in all kinds of containers or hanging baskets, cascading down a wall. Can be planted in mass or large groups in beds, borders and woodland gardens. It looks great in rock gardens and makes a breathtaking potted specimen plant. It makes a splash of colour on a windowsill, especially if placed among foliage plants. It can be kept as houseplant for bright, warm locations in winter.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – bushy
Height: 0.5m (2 feet)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – bright
Temperature in active growth period – min 13°C max 18°C (55-64°F)
Humidity – low

Hardiness zone: 9-11

Browallia speciosaBrowallia speciosaBrowallia speciosa



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

Thunbergia alata

Common name: Black-Eyed Susan Vine

Family: Acanthaceae

Synonymous: Endomelas alata
Thunbergia alata var. fryeri
Thunbergia alata var. albiflora
Thunbergia alata var. aurantiaca
Thunbergia alata var. bakeri
Thunbergia alata var. vixalata
Thunbergia alata var. lutea
Thunbergia alata var. reticulata
Thunbergia alata subvar. doddsii
Thunbergia alata var. sulphurea
Thunbergia alata var. albiflora
Thunbergia alata var. alba
Thunbergia alata var. retinervia
Thunbergia albiflora
Thunbergia aurantiaca
Thunbergia backeri
Thunbergia doddsii
Thunbergia fryeri
Thunbergia manganjensis
Thunbergia reticulata

Thunbergia alata

Thunbergia alata

Distribution and habitat: Thunbergia alata is a herbaceous perennial climbing plant species in the Acanthaceae family. It is native to Eastern Africa and has been naturalised in other parts of the world. It is found in Cerrado vegetation of Brazil and Hawaii, along with eastern Australia and the southern USA in the states of Texas and Florida.

Description: Thunbergia alata is a fast growing twining plant with attractive flowers. Its leaves are tooth-edged, triangular to arrow-shaped, up to 8cm (3 inch) long and wide, borne on slender stalks along the twining stems. Flowers are about 5cm (2 inch) wide and are produced on short stalks from the leaf axils, consist of a 2cm (0.8 inch) long tube flaring out into five petal-like lobes. Petal-lobe colour varies, but in all forms there is a central deep chocolate ‘eye’ – the centry point to the tube for insects; the tube itself is sark purple and each flower is backed with a pair of 1-2cm (0.4-0.8 inch) long, pale green bracts. The most common lobes colours are orange-yellow, bright yellow or white. The flowering period normally last from late spring to late autumn.

Proper care: Thunbergia alata is the only species of this genus sometimes grown as an indoor plant.  Although actually a perennial, it is usually treated as a temporary indoor plant to be enjoyed during the  and then discarded.
Thunbergia alata plants usually twine around three of four thin sticks pushed into the edge of the pot but they will also climb up a string fixed to the side of a window. In either case, they are probably best cut down and discarded when flowering strops.
Be sure to remove faded flowers by nipping them out with the fingertips. If this is not done regularly, flowering will be needlessly brief.

Light: Thunbergia alata must have bright light with two to three hours a day of direct sunlight to flower properly.

Temperature: These Thunbergia alata plants will do well in any normal room temperature during their stay in the home. Nevertheless, they can tolerate much cooler conditions – down to 10°C (50°F).

Watering: Water young Thunbergia alata plants moderately, enough to make the potting mixture moist at each watering, but allowing the top centimetre (0.4 inch) or so of the potting mixture to dry out before watering again. As these swift-growing plants get bigger and begin to flower, they need more water. Throughout the flowering period water them plentifully to keep the potting mixture thoroughly moist.

Feeding: Give standard liquid fertiliser to flowering Thunbergia alata every two weeks throughout year.

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture. Young Thunbergia alata plants should be moved on when they grow too big for their original pots. When roots begin to appear through the drainage hole in the bottom of a pot, move the plant into a pot two sizes larger. Probable maximum pot size needed is 15cm (6 inch).

Gardening: Since Thunbergia alata vines are perennial, they can be potted up and bring them indoors for the winter. They can be cut back to a more manageable size, when prepared to be indoor overwintered.

Position: Thunbergia alata will prefer full sun. In hot climates, growing the plants in partial afternoon shade is recommended.

Soil: Thunbergia alata likes a fairly neural soil pH, of around 6.5 and a soil rich in organic matter. When setting out plants, work about 5cm (2 inch) of compost into the soil, if it is not sufficiently rich to start with.

Irrigation: Thunbergia alata do not like sitting in wet soil, they also do not like being hot and dry. Mulching around the base of the plants will keep the roots cool and moist, without fear of rotting.

Fertiliser: Thunbergia alata is quick growing and repeat blooms throughout the summer. That means they will get hungry and will need a light feeding every 4-6 weeks, with a complete fertiliser, to keep it growing strong.

Propagation: Seed can be grown indoor without too much difficulty if it is sown early in spring. These seeds should be planted in a single 8cm (3 inch) pot containing a moistened soil based potting mixture.
They will usually germinate in three to five weeks if kept in a warm room in a position where they get bright filtered light and are watered enough to make the mixture moist, but with the top centimetre (0.4 inch) or so of the mixture allowed to dry out between waterings. The new plant will grow quickly and may be transferred to individual 8cm (3 inch) pots and treated as mature Thunbergia alata when they are 15cm (6 inch) high.

Problems: Thunbergia alata is not prone to many problems, particularly if the vines are kept healthy and have plenty of sun, water and air circulation.

Whiteflies and spider mites can be potential problems, especially during hot weather and if brought indoors with dry heat.
Treatment: Keep a keen eye, to catch and treat any out breaks quickly with insecticidal soap.

Buying tips: Buy Thunbergia alata young plants only a few weeks old in the spring.

Companion plants: With their quick growth habit and sprawling nature, Thunbergia alata vines can overtake nearby plants and are often grown as solo performers. However a nice option is to mix the Thunbergia alata vines with another vine that will intertwine with them. Species of flowering plants in the family Convolvulaceae (Morning Glories) are often used for this purpose, particularly the purple varieties, which make a nice color combo. Purple Hyacinth bean is another good choice.
They look beautiful near shorter purple flowers, like salvia and veronica, too. On the flip side, can be played up their flair with hotter colors, like brilliant red zinnias or canna, for a more tropical look.

Uses and display: Thunbergia alata are grown as ornamental plants in gardens and in hanging baskets. These vines grow quickly, once the temperature warms up. They will tangle themselves around the nearest support or spill over edges. They are perfect for hanging containers, but flow just as easily over walls and raised beds.
A lattice or link fence makes a good choice for coaxing and weaving this vine into a living wall, but these plants will clamber over just about anything, from the mail box to an old tree stump.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – climbing and trailing
Height: 1.8-2.4m (6–8 feet)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright
Temperature in active growth period – min 10°C max 24°C (50-75°F)
Humidity – low

Hardiness zone: 9a-10b

Thunbergia alataThunbergia alataThunbergia alataThunbergia alata Thunbergia alata Thunbergia alata



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

Asparagus densiflorus

Common name: Asparagus Fern, Emerald Fern, Basket Asparagus

Family: Asparagaceae

Synonymous: Asparagopsis densiflora
Protasparagus densiflorus

Asparagus densiflorus

Asparagus densiflorus

Distribution and habitat: Asparagus densiflorus grows in the coastal areas of the South Africa in a wide range of habitats, from coastal dunes to open rocky places or woods.
Asparagus densiflorus plant is mainly grown as a houseplant in cooler climates or as an ornamental plant in gardens and in pots. Within its hardiness zone, where it has escaped from cultivation, it is generally found along shady roadsides and invading woodlands or rainforests where it displaces native vegetation and prevents native species from re-establishing.

Description: Asparagus densiflorus is a scrambling, slightly woody plant with upright or trailing branches up to 1m (3 feet) long. These long, arching stems are densely covered with short, needle-like leaflets that give this plant a delicate appearance. It has a cascading habit being ideal for a hanging basket.
The structures that most refer to as leaves are actually leaf-like branchlets called cladophylls. These tiny cladophylls are linear, flattened structures that are bright green in colour. They occur singly or in groups of 3 or more at a node.
The stems of this plant emerge directly from the ground and become woody and spiny, so care should be taken when handling this species. The thorns cause significant irritation to many people that handle the plant.
Asparagus densiflorus flowers are small, most often white or pale pink and are very sweetly scented. The flowers are not very noticeable, as they are half hidden by the foliage and do not last long. They flower for about two weeks during the summer season. The flowering of the plants can be rather erratic, with the plants having a good flowering year on average only once every three years. The small flowers are followed by showy bright red berries, which each have one large black seed in them. The berries are attractive to birds and may be spread by them.
These plants have extensive root systems with fairly large tubers which are used in nature to deposit the nutrients needed during long periods of drought in summer.

Houseplant care: Asparagus densiflorus is a great houseplant for novice gardeners as it does not require any special care. Because of its tuberous roots which store water, it can tolerate periods of neglect.
Old or yellowed stems should be cut out at the base and the ends of stems can be trimmed back to keep the plant shaped. Trim off old stems of Asparagus densiflorus in the spring to make room for new growth and to keep the plant looking neat.
Indoor plants can be moved outdoors seasonally (bringing them back inside before frost), but should be acclimated to the stronger light outside before being moved to a spot in full sun.

Light: Asparagus densiflorus are adapted to a variety of conditions, growing in a bright light or semi-shade, but out of direct sun.

Temperatures: Asparagus densiflorus plants need moderate temperatures 16-24°C (60-75°F), but not les than 7°C (45°F) in winter. These plants prefer moist air, so keep the pots on trays of wet pebbles and mist leaves daily with room-temperature water during the hot season.

Watering: Water Asparagus densiflorus thoroughly, allowing soil to dry out a little between waterings. Water this plant sparingly in winter, but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

Feeding: Feed the Asparagus densiflorus monthly from spring through fall with a liquid fertiliser. Do not feed these plants during the winter rest period.

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture. Move the plant every spring into pots one size larger until they are in the largest convenient pot size. Keep the level of the potting mixture well bellow the rim of the pot because the thick asparagus roots tend to force the mixture upward. Forms of Asparagus densiflorus grown in hanging baskets should be top-dressed with fresh mixture in spring, but should be taken out divided and replanted every third year.

Gardening: Asparagus densiflorus is an extremely versatile perennial, evergreen plant that can be used as a container plant or groundcover. In more temperate climates it is used as a seasonal annual or container plant.

Cut back garden Asparagus densiflorus plants to within 10cm (4 inch) of the soil in early spring before new growth begins. The plants send up new foliage that is healthier and brighter green after pruning. At this time a thick mulch of compost can be spread around the plants to help them to rejuvenate quick.

Possition: Asparagus densiflorus can be used as a groundcover plant in full sun or light shade. Plant garden them in an area with bright, filtered light, such as under a tree. Plants grown in full sun are more compact and dense than those grown in shade.

Soil: Asparagus densiflorus grows in most soils and is fairly drought tolerant, but does much better in soil which is rich in organic matter. The distance of planting should be 0.3m (1 feet) apart.

Irrigation: Water garden Asparagus densiflorus plants once or twice a week so the soil does not dry completely. Planted in ground, Asparagus densiflorus grow best in soil that remains moist, although they can tolerate some drying.

Fertilising: Spread 5cm (2 inch) of compost around outdoor planted Asparagus densiflorus each spring to replenish the natural nutrients in the soil.

Propagation: Asparagus densiflorus can be readily propagated by separating the tubers in fairly large clumps or by sowing the seed in spring or early summer.

Propagation in home is usually done by dividing overcrowded clumps just as growth starts in spring. Remove any excess mixture from the tuberous roots and separate them with a sharp knife. Plant separated clumps in 8cm (3 inch) pots of soil-based potting mixture and treat them as mature specimens.

The seed should be removed from the fleshy berries, placed in a suitable sowing medium in a warm spot or with bottom heating of about 25°C and kept moist. The seeds germinate in 4 to 6 weeks, but the growth from seeds is slow, therefore dividing the plants is a better way to obtain new plants ready for display.

Problems:
Asparagus densiflorus is a sensitive plant and drops needles very fast if over watered or if placed in inadequate light.
Treatment: Keep this plant in a place where it will get filtered light. Water regularly, but do not overwater. The plant’s thick, tuberous roots store water and soggy soil can cause root rot.

Except for mites, pests are not a major concern.
Treatment: Use adequate pesticide to combat these insects. It is essential that the pesticide to be applied to both leaf surfaces. Repeat the treatment to avoid reinfestation.

Recommended varieties:
The appearance of the Asparagus densiflorus plants varies enormously and has led to the naming of a large number of cultivars or forms. The best known forms belong to the so-called emerald ferns of the Asparagus densiflorus ‘Sprengeri’ group. These plants form large cushions with long, arching stems more or less densely covered with dark green, needle-like leaves. The plants of this group can be used as groundcovers in shade as well as in full sun or in large containers or hanging baskets.

The cultivars Asparagus densiflorus ‘Cwebe’ and Asparagus densiflorus ‘Meyersii’ form more upright plants, particularly ‘Meyersii’, which looks very different, with its compact cat’s tail-like fronds.
Asparagus densiflorus ‘Meyersii’ (Foxtail Asparagus Fern) has more upright stems with denser foliage, resembling a fluffy animal’s tail, radiating outwards from the center of the plant. This cultivar is especially nice as an upright focal point in the ground or a container surrounded by lower plants. It does not produce seed as readily as the species so does not have the same invasive potential in mild climates.

Asparagus densiflorus ‘Cwebe’ has graceful, upright, arching stems and copper-colored new growth. It does best in light shade.

Note: Asparagus densiflorus can become a persistent weed of urban bushland in areas within its hardiness zone.

Toxicity: Some of the South African Asparagus species are used as vegetables or for medicinal purposes. The berries cause only low toxicity if eaten. When the berries are crushed, skin irritation is minor or lasting only for a few minutes. The berries are also toxic to cats and dogs.
Asparagus densiflorus is related but not edible Asparagus. Asparagus officinalis is the Asparagus used as vegetable.

Uses and display: Its fine foliage gives a soft or fluffy appearance and can be used to good effect for textural contrast in combination with plants having medium or coarse-textured foliage or very large leaves. It can be planted in the ground with other annuals as a bedding plant after the last frost in cold climates. This plant makes a great filler plant in containers, especially in hanging baskets or large urns where the delicate foliage can cascade down. It has a tropical feel when combined with Elephant Ears (Colocasia species), Canna Lilies (Canna species) and Hibiscus species. The foliage can also be incorporated as a filler with cut flowers in arrangements. The feathery short stems are found in almost every bunch of cut flowers as foliage.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Shape – climbing and trailing

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

Hardiness zone 9-10

Asparagus densiflorus Sprengeri Asparagus densiflorus Meyersii Asparagus densiflorus Cwebe Asparagus densiflorus roots Asparagus densiflorus - flowers & berries Asparagus densiflorus berries



Annuals, Cutting Flowers, Evergreen, Foliage Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants , , , , , , , , ,

Acalypha wilkesiana

Common name: Match-Me-If-You-Can, Jacobs Coat, Beefsteak Plant, Fijian fire plant, Fire Dragon Plant, Redleaf

Family: Euphorbiaceae

Synonymous: Acalypha circinata
Acalypha compacta
Acalypha godseffiana
Acalypha hamiltoniana
Acalypha illustris
Acalypha macafeeana
Acalypha macrophylla
Acalypha marginata
Acalypha musaica
Acalypha torta
Acalypha tricolor
Acalypha triumphans
Ricinocarpus wilkesianus

Acalypha wilkesiana

Acalypha wilkesiana

Distribution and habitat: Acalypha wilkesiana is shrub which occurs in tropical and subtropical rainforest, dry rainforest and vine thickets of the Pacific Islands.

Description: Acalypha wilkesiana is an evergreen shrub which can grow to 1.8m (6 feet) tall. The stem is erect with many branches. The branches have fine hairs. It has a closely arranged crown. Its pointed oval leaves which are about 12cm (5 inch) long and 5cm (2 inch) wide, are coppery green, mottled and streaked with copper, red and purple. The leaves are finely hairy. They can be flat or crinkled. The flowers are reddish in spikes at the end of branches. They have separate male and female flowers on the same plant. The male flowers are in long spikes which hang downwards while the female flowers are in short spikes. They do not show up easily as they are often hidden among the leaves.
Acalypha wilkesiana plants are prized for their attractive foliage rather for their insignificant flowers.

Houseplant care: Acalypha wilkesiana branch and become bushy naturally and therefore it is never necessary to pinch out growing tips. But, to keep these plants within bounds in warm areas, they may need to be cut back annually and severely (taking out at least half the previous year’s growth). Rather to do this, indoor plants are renewed from cuttings each year and discarded the overgrown plants.

Light: Acalypha wilkesiana plants need plenty of warmth and light. In inadequate light they tend to become spindly and they will lose much of the leaf colouration that makes these plants so attractive.

Temperature: Warmth is essential. Even during the winter rest period the temperature should not be permitted to fall below 16°C (61°F). Acalypha wilkesiana will thrive in temperatures as high as 27°C (81°F). But because they are particularly sensitive to dry air, the potted plants must be set on trays of moist pebbles or damp peat moss throughout the year.

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

Feeding: Apply standard liquid fertiliser every two weeks during the active growth period only.

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture. Move small plants into pots one size larger whenever, on examination, roots are seen to fill their pots. This is best done in late spring but may be needed more than once a year. If Acalypha wilkesiana plants are to be kept more than one year, they should be repotted into larger pots annually in late spring.

Gardening: Acalypha wilkesiana is best grown as annual bedding plants or in containers which can be overwintered indoors. Stems may be pinched to control size and shape and to promote bushiness. Cutting back once a year keeps the foliage fresh and well coloured, and the plant more compact.

It is damaged by both drought and frost. It needs a minimum temperature above 10°C (50°F).

Position: Acalypha wilkesiana plants grow in full sun to part shade, sheltered from strong winds. Best foliage colour is optioned in full sun. In hot climates it suits a protected shady position.

Soil: Acalypha wilkesiana prefers light well drained, average to moderately fertile soil. Some sand to loam  within 5.5 to 7 pH range will suit these beautiful plants.

Irrigation: The soil must be kept consistently moist for Acalypha wilkesiana plants. If soil dry out, rapid leaf drop usually occurs.
Do not overwater during winter months; slightly dry is better.

Fertiliser: A mixture of all purpose fertilizer and potash can be used in spring; the potash will enhance the leaf colours.

Propagation: Acalypha wilkesiana are most attractive when young. Plants are usually discarded in their second year after being used for propagation. The simplest way to increase a plant is to take tip cuttings 8-10cm (3-4 inch) long in early spring. Alternatively, short side-shoots can be used. To encourage side-shoots, in early spring cut the old plant down to 0.5m  (1 foot) from the potting mixture. Keep the plant in bright filtered light. Mist-spray Acalypha wilkesiana daily and water enough to keep the potting mixture moist.
When new side-shoots are 8-10cm (3-4 inch) long they should be removed – each with a heel attached. After taking either tip or side-shoot cuttings, place each in a 8cm (3 inch) pot containing a moistened mixture of equal parts of peat moss and coarse sand or a substance such as perlite. Enclose the pots in plastic bags and place them in bright light filtered at a temperature of at least 20°C (68°F). No further watering is required until new growth indicates that the cuttings have taken root. Then remove the plastic bags. Thereafter, water just enough to keep the potting mixture barely moist and feed the plant with half strength liquid fertiliser every two weeks.
When cuttings are 30cm (12 inch) tall, move them into 10cm (4 inch) pots containing the regular potting mixture. They can then be treated as mature plants.

Problems:
Indoors, scale insects, spider mites, whiteflies, and mealybugs may be problems. Keep a careful watch for mealy bugs and red spider mites to which these plants are especially vulnerable. If unnoticed, such pests can do untold damage.
Treatment: Mealybugs – Remove manually the infested parts of the plant. Dip a cotton swab in alcohol and apply it to any bugs you cannot remove or areas which the bugs have heavily occupied. Discard infected plants if prior steps are not enough to eradicate the bugs.
Red spider mites – Wash the affected plants with soft dish soap solution or use an insecticidal soap. Repeat two or three time this treatment.

In the garden, downy mildew, powdery mildew, rust leaf spots and fungal root rots can occur.
Treatment: Prevention is more efficient than controlling the fungal disease.  Provide adequate air circulation and water the  plants in the morning, so plants get a chance to dry out during the day. However, to combat a fungal  disease, use an adequate pesticide.

Recommended varieties:
Acalypha wilkesiana ‘Godseffiana’ (sometimes called Acalypha godseffiena) has shiny green leaves with creamy white margins.

Acalypha wilkesiana ‘Macrophylla’ has leaves more nearly heart shaped than oval, of russet-brown with pale brown margins.

Acalypha wilkesiana ‘Marginata’ has heart shaped, olive green leaves tinged with bronze and margined with a line of carmine-red.

Acalypha wilkesiana ‘Mosaica’ called the giant red leaf, has hart shaped leaves that are bronze-green with orange and red markings.

Uses and display: Typically grown as an annual or houseplant. Acalypha wilkesiana can be grown in a warm greenhouse, in a border or as a specimen or hedging plant (especially in warm areas). Bedding plant, filler in borders or container plant as focal point will provide stunning colour addition to any display.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – coloured
Shape – bushy

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 18°C max 27°C (64-81°F)
Humidity – high

Height indoors: 90cm – 120cm (35-47 inch)

Height outdoors: 1.2-1.8m ( 4-5 feet)
Spread outdoors: 1.2-1.8m ( 4-5 feet)

Hardiness zone: 10a-11

Acalypha wilkesiana

Acalypha wilkesiana  in container

Acalypha wilkesiana Godseffiana

Acalypha wilkesiana Macrophylla

Acalypha wilkesiana Marginata

Acalypha wilkesiana Mosaica



Annuals, Evergreen, Foliage Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants, Shrubs , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Solenostemon scutellarioides

Common name: Flame Nettle, Painted Nettle, Coleus, Painted Leaf, Poor Man’s Croton, Jewels of the Garden

Family: Lamiaceae

Synonymous: Coleus blumei
Coleus blumei var. verschaffeltii
Coleus hybridus
Coleus pumilus
Coleus scutellarioides
Coleus verschaffeltii
Ocimum scutellarioides
Plectranthus scutellarioides

Solenostemon scutellarioides

Solenostemon scutellarioides

Distribution and habitat: Solenostemon scutellarioides is native to south east Asia and Malaysia. Growing to 60–75cm (24–30 inch) tall and wide, it is a bushy, woody-based evergreen perennial, widely grown for its highly decorative variegated leaves. It has been assiduously hybridized over the years into a very large number of vegetative propagated and seed propagated strains with an almost infinite number of leaf color combinations including most colors of the spectrum except true blue.

Description: Although Solenostemon scutellarioides plants  are perennials, many growers treat them as temporary foliage plants, to be enjoyed and then discarded when past their best. This is because they are sometimes difficult to overwinter and also because they are easy to grow from cuttings. Their soft, rather thin leaves very considerably in shape, size and colour (which can be almost any shape of yellow, red, orange, green or brown or a mixture of three or more of these). Solenostemon scutellarioides plants have opposite leaves and blue to lilac colored flower spikes. Such flowers as they produce have little decorative value and are best nipped out when they are still developing; this procedure will help to keep the plants bushy.

Solenostemon scutellarioides is the only species of Solenostemon commonly grown as indoor plant. Some of its forms have hart-shaped leaves and others have slender, sometimes contorted pendulous leaves. Young seedlings only 2-5cm (0.8-2 inch) high, but already showing their true colour, can be bought in spring and these may grow into 60cm (24 inch) tall plants in one season. Named hybrids of this species are also frequently available.

Houseplant care: All Solenostemon scutellarioides should have their growing tips nipped out regularly to help them remain bushy. The flowers are best pinched out before they form to keep the plant in good shape.
If the plant is kept for a second season, prune it back to about one third of its original size in late winter or very beginning of spring.

Light: Provide bright light at all times – including several hours a day of direct sunlight, if possible. Insufficient light will result in spindly growth.

Temperatures: Solenostemon scutellarioides do well in warm rooms. In temperatures above 18°C (64°F), though, the air should be humidified by standing plants on trays of damp pebbles or moist peat moss. If the temperature is allowed to fall much bellow 13°C (55°F) leaves are in danger of wilting and dropping down.

Watering: These plants should be watered plentifully as often as necessary to keep the potting mixture thoroughly moist. If the mixture is permitted to dry out even for a short period, the leaves of Solenostemon scutellarioides will collapse; and although plants may appear to recover fully when they are watered once more the lower leaves will probably still drop off.

If the plant is being kept over winter then reduce watering and keep this plant on the dry side.

Avoid getting the velvety leaves wet. Hard water will cause white spots which cannot be washed off. Always use room-temperature water when watering these houseplants.

Feeding: Apply a liquid fertiliser about every two weeks throughout the active growth period.

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture. Young plants should be moved every two months into pots two size larger. Solenostemon scutellarioides should not be underpotted; they need room for their active roots to develop freely.

Gardening: Solenostemon scutellarioides plants are frost tender, so in most climates, they are grown as annuals. They are heat-tolerant, but they do less well in full sun in subtropical areas than in the shade. In mild areas (no snow in winter), plants can usually be kept as perennials if well managed. In colder areas, they are often grown as annuals, since the plants are not hardy and become leggy with age.
To keep the foliage lush, pinch out flower spikes as they develop. Pinch plant stem tips to keep plants compact and to promote bushiness.
Harden the seedlings off before planting them outdoors. Solenostemon scutellarioides plants should not be set into the landscape until the minimum outdoor temperature is 10°C (50°F).

Location: Plant Solenostemon scutellarioides plants in partial shade setting. In hot areas, the colors of the plant are likely to be more intense when it is planted in shaded areas rather than in full sun. Also, the plants will require less water in shaded than in full sun position.

Soil: Solenostemon scutellarioides prefers fertile, evenly moist, well-draining soil. It is adapted to chalk, clay, clay loam, loam, loamy sand, peat, sandy clay, sandy clay loam and sandy loam soils.
Plant them 30cm (12 inch) apart in rich, moist, well-drained soil preferable with a neutral or slightly alkaline pH.

Irrigation: It requires an evenly moist well-drained soil for optimal growth, but will die in standing water. If the soil is allowed to dry out, the foliage will wilt, but normally will recover quickly when water is provided. Water your plants thoroughly at planting time.
Consider applying a thick mulch around the root zone over the growing season to conserve soil moisture. The mulch will also help to heat up and retain the heat in the soil, thereby helping the new plants to get quickly established.

Fertilise: Feed these plants with a liquid fertiliser once a month.

Propagation: Young, freshly rooted plants overwinter much better than older plants. Tip cuttings about 5-8cm (2-3 inch) long taken in early autumn will root easily either in the standard potting mixture or water.
If started in water, they should be moved into the potting mixture when roots are 5-8cm (2-3 inch) long. Cuttings started in potting mixture will normally root in about two weeks if they are kept in a warm, brightly lit position, without direct sunlight. Water the cuttings enough to make the potting mixture moist, but allow the top centimetre (0.4 inch) or so of the potting mixture to dry out completely between waterings.
Seed propagation is also possible, but they will not come true from seeds.

Problems: Usually problems appear as the result of incorrect treatment of the plant.

In hot, dry rooms red spider mites can cause discolouration and leaf withering.
Treatment: Wash off any heavy infestation of red spider mites under the tap. To prevent an infestation of these pests it is important to provide a humid atmosphere around the plants and to spray the plants with water occasionally.

Leaf fall indicates that the plant is in a poor light position.

Straggly growth may also be sue to poor light or it may occur as a consequence of failure to pinch out the growing tips.

Recommended varieties:
Solenostemon X ‘Brilliancy’ which has crimson-red leaves that are market with golden yellow at the edges.

Solenostemon X ‘Candidus’ which has a white patch in the centre of the undulate, pale green leaves.

Solenostemon X ‘Golden Bedder’ which has lemon yellow leaves deepening to gold in bright light.

Solenostemon X ‘Pink Rainbow’ which has undulate, coppery red leaves marked with green bands and carmine-red veining.

Solenostemon X ‘Sunset’ which has a pink patch in the centre of its leaves.

Note: As members of the Mint family of plants (Lamiaceae), Solenostemon species are close relatives of Mentha arvensis (peppermint), Mentha viridis (spearmint), Salvia officinalis (sage), Ocimum basilicum (basil), Thymus vulgaris (thyme), Origanum vulgare (oregano) and Plectranthus verticillatus (Swedish ivy).

Solenostemon scutellarioides may became invasive in warm climates.

Uses and display: Solenostemon scutellarioides has the most incredible foliage with colors and color combinations that no other plant species can offer. The leaves are gorgeous with their frilly edges and unique color patterns. These plants are easy-care, versatile and their foliage colour, again, can only be described as spectacular! They combine well with flowering annuals to create more texture and interest or it is a great stand-alone in a container or bed. These plants can be used for group or mass as garden annuals in beds and borders; pots, containers, window boxes, hanging baskets; houseplants.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – coloured
Shape – bushy
Height: 45-60cm (18-24 inch)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – direct
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 10a-11

Solenostemon BrilliancySolenostemon CandidusSolenostemon Golden BedderSolenostemon Pink RainbowSolenostemon SunsetSolenostemon scutellarioides - flowers



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

Rhododendron simsii

Common name: Indian Azalea, Sims’s Azalea

Family: Ericaceae

Synonymous: Azalea indica var. simsii
Rhododendron breynii
Rhododendron danielsianum
Rhododendron decumbens
Rhododendron hannoense
Rhododendron indicum
Rhododendron lateritium
Rhododendron macranthum

Rhododendron simsii

Rhododendron simsii

Distribution and habitat: Rhododendron simsii is native to East Asia, where it grows at altitudes of 500–2700m (1600-9000 feet). It is a shrub that grows to 2m (6.5 feet) in height, with leaves that are ovate, elliptic-ovate or obovate to oblanceolate. Flowers range from white to dark red.

Description: Rhododendron simsii is of the two species of Rhododendron that can be grown as indoor plants. Rhododendron simsii grown indoors are almost invariably hybrids of mixed parentage and are all small shrubs rarely more than 45cm (18 inch) in height and spread and they have 2-3cm (0.8-1 inch) long leathery, generally egg-shaped leaves. Funnel-shaped flowers are borne at the ends of the stems.
Rhododendron simsii hybrids are the large-flowered specimens. The leaves are sometimes glossy, but practically all varieties have some bristly hairs on leaf margins. Flowers are carried in small clusters of two to five; each flower is 4-5cm (1.5-2 inch) across and may be single or double, sometimes with ruffle petals. The colours of flowers are white, magenta or any pink shade and sometimes they are attractively bicoloured. Their flowers are often lasting several weeks. With proper care, Rhododendron simsii in bud stage can give up to six weeks of enjoyment. Rhododendron simsii in bloom provide two to four weeks of beauty.

Houseplant care: These hybrid forms are usually grown indoors for a single season as temporary winter and early spring flowering plants, but it is possible to keep them alive and attractive for several years under the right conditions. It is useful if the plants can be taken outdoors for a few months each year on a well lit verandah or balcony. In their natural state they will flower in mid-spring, but commercial growers generally start batches of plants into growth at different times to produce a succession of well budded plants that will bloom at various periods from early winter well into spring.

The larger the plant, the more easily it is carried over into another year. Most young specimens have been removed prematurely from nursery beds, have had their roots pruned and have been packed into small pots. Thus, often they cannot tolerate the treatment that is necessary for them to continue growing and flowering in subsequent years.

Light: Potted Rhododendron simsii in bud or bloom should be placed in bright light but out of the direct sunlight. When not flowering, they do best if given only medium light, as at a sunless window, although a brightly lit position in a cool room is also suitable.

Temperature: Keep these plants in as cool position as possible, preferably 7-16°C (45-61°F). If the Rhododendron simsii are brought into warm rooms – above 20°C (68°F) – the roots will dry quickly, flower will flop and leaves will fall. Move the plants gradually from cool into warmer positions if absolutely necessary, but flower will last longer if they are kept cool.

Watering: To make sure that indoor grown Rhododendron simsii are permanently moist at the roots (they are almost always potted in pure peat moss) water them plentifully, giving enough at each watering to keep the potting mixture thoroughly moist. They dislike lime, so use soft, lime-free water.
Stand pots on trays or saucers of damp pebbles for extra humidity. Another way to provide extra humidity for a potted Rhododendron simsii is to stand it in a larger pot of peat moss kept moist.

Feeding: Apply a lime-free liquid fertiliser once every two weeks from late spring to early autumn.

How to keep these plants for more than one season: Although it is not possible to retain these plants for any longer than one season entirely indoors, they can be kept indefinitely in the right circumstances. When flowers are faded, place the plants in the coolest possible position, water them moderately – enough to make the potting mixture moist throughout, but allowing the top centimetre (0.4 inch) or so of the potting mixture to dry out before watering again and put them outdoors on mild days. In cool or cold climates, wait until any danger of frost has passed. Stand them in the shade outside, preferably with the pots sunk into the ground – only if the soil is low in lime. Keep each such plant moist, spray with clear water on hot evenings and feed with lime free fertiliser. Then bring them indoors for another flowering season just as winter begins.
Once more, keep the potted plant cool while buds develop; hot, dry air will cause buds and possibly leaves to drop off. A cool conservatory or glasshouse at 7-13°C (45-55°F) is ideal at this stage. From the beginning of the flowering period until the flowers fade, brighter light and more warmth – though not temperatures above about 21°C (70°F) – become tolerable to the plant.

Potting and repotting: Use a lime-free combination of one part of soil-based potting mixture, two parts of peat moss and one part of coarse sand or perlite. Plants should be transplanted to pots one size larger every two or three years, after flowering but before being moved outdoors.

Propagation: Rhododendron simsii can be propagated by means of tip cuttings of new growth taken in spring. Plant a 5-8cm (2-3 inch) long cutting in an 8cm (3 inch) pot of moistened rooting mixture consisting of two parts of coarse sand or perlite and one part of peat moss. Enclose the potted cutting in a plastic bag or propagating case and keep it in a shady position. When the cutting is well rooted (in about 8-12 weeks), transplant it to an 8cm (3 inch) pot of the potting mixture recommended for mature plants. Thereafter, the plants may be treated as a mature Rhododendron simsii.

Problems:
Yellow leaves is an indication of either an iron deficiency or the presence of lime in the potting medium or water.
Treatment: To counteract this, water with a sequestrene compound (a solution of iron chelates). Water the plant with soft water.

Leaf drop or shriveling is most often caused by dry soil. Other common causes are too-low humidity, too-high temperatures and too much sun exposure. If the plant has lost more than one-third of its leaves, discard it because it will never recover.
Treatment: Submerge the pot in room-temperature soft water, until the potting medium is thoroughly saturated (bubbles disappear), every day for a week and never allow it to dry out again.

Brown leaves can be an indication of root rot caused by soil-borne fungi. Infected plants should be discarded.

Spider mites are the most common pests and infestations occur when the air is too warm and/or too dry. Parched or crinkled leaf tips, with webbing on leaf undersides, is a sign of spider mites.
Treatment: Prune infested stems, but if more than one-third of the plant is infested, discard the plant.

Re-blooming: Unless the winters are short and mild, Rhododendron simsii plants are difficult to get to rebloom (unlike the hardy garden Rhododendrons/azaleas). Enjoy Rhododendron simsii plants as long as their flower bouquets last.

Notes: The genus name ‘Rhododendron’ is derived from the Greek ‘rhodon’ meaning rose and ‘dendron’ which means tree, so ‘Rhododendron’ is the Roses Tree.

Rhododendron is a member of the Ericaceae (heath plant) family. Relatives include Erica (heath plant), Calluna (heather), Gaultheria (salal, lemonleaf, wintergreen) and Vaccinium (huckleberry, blueberry, cranberry).

Uses: This beautiful flowering shrub is able to combat formaldehyde from sources such as plywood or foam insulation. Because Rhododendron simsii does best in cool areas around (60 to 65 degrees), it is a good option for improving indoor air in basement if can be provided with a bright spot.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – bushy
Height: 45-60cm (18-24 inch)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – moderately
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright
Temperature in rest period – min 7°C max 18°C (45-64°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 7°C max 18°C (45-64°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 8b-11

 

Rhododendron simsiiRhododendron simsiiRhododendron simsii



Annuals, Flowering Plants, Indoor Plants, Shrubs , , , , , , , , , ,

Nicotiana alata

Common name: Winged Tobacco, Jasmine Tobacco, Tanbaku, Persian Tobacco, Ornamental Tobacco

Family: Solanaceae

Synonymous: Nicotiana affinis
Nicotiana affinis var. grandiflora
Nicotiana alata var. grandiflora

Nicotiana alata

Nicotiana alata

Distribution and habitat: Nicotiana alata is native from southern Brazil to northeastern Argentina. It is a species of tobacco which is grown as an ornamental plant for both elegant looking and beautiful scent. Nicotiana alata is now available in a wide range of varieties and hybrids. Most of the popular cultivated varieties of ornamental Nicotiana are developed from this plant.

Description: Nicotiana alata is tender perennial that is often grown as annual. This species of flowering tobacco is a somewhat spindly plant that typically grows 90-120cm (36-48 inch) tall and features nocturnally fragrant, long-tubed, yellowish-green to white flowers that open only at night. Spatulate basal leaves to 30cm (12 inch) long are attached by distinctive winged petioles. Upper stem leaves are much smaller and sessile. The branched flower stalks produces white flowers that release their intense fragrance when they open at night. It has bigger flowers than other tobaccos do, about 8cm (3 inch).

Nicotiana alata is appreciated for its perfume. Bloom starts in in early summer and continues into fall in a protected spot.

Garden Culture: Nicotiana alata is usually grown as an annual, flowering well in its first year, but it does survive mild winters outdoors.

During the height of its blooming in hot weather, Nicotiana alata appreciates some help to continue flowering profusely. Once the first flush of blooms is past, deadhead the plant to remove spent flowers. If intended to allow the plants to self-seed prolifically, leave spent flowers in place, but the plant will not be as attractive.

Position: Give them full sun or partial shade.
In areas with hot summers plant Nicotiana alata in a location with afternoon shade.

This plant requires more than 14 hours daylight per day to induce flowering.

Soil: They grow  in well-drained soil enriched with organic matter, such as compost or peat moss. Plants grow best in soil that has been loosened before planting to allow ready penetration of oxygen and water. Spread organic matter such as compost, peat moss, well-rotted manure or leaf mould over the area to be prepared, then turn it into the soil.

Seedlings do best when gradually introduced to outdoor environment over the course of a week. Set plants outdoors in a sheltered, lightly shaded spot, increasing their exposure to sun and wind each day. After this period, they will be ready to go in the ground. Before planting, water thoroughly the potting mix. Then dig a hole just slightly larger than the pot. Remove the plant from the pot by grasping the rim, turning the pot upside down and tapping it against the heel of the hand. If the plant is root-bound, gently break up the sides of the ball with the thumbs and tease apart roots that are circling at the bottom. This operation encourages the roots to grow out of the potting mix and into the surrounding soil. Set the root ball in the hole so that the top of the ball is level with the surface of the soil. Then push soil around and just over the top of the root ball, firm the soil, and give the plant a thorough soaking to settle the soil.

Irrigation: Water thoroughly after planting and keep a close eye on the plant over the following week. If they wilt on a hot, sunny day, check the soil to a depth of about 3cm (1 inch). If dry, water thoroughly. If the soil below the surface is moist to the touch, do not water. The plant is probably wilting because the roots are not well established yet. The remedy is to provide some shading the plant if applicable. Within a week or so, the roots should catch up and the shading can be removed.

After the first week, give a new plants a good soaking once a week during summer, unless there is more than 3cm (1 inch) of rainfall per week. Established plants can get by on less water, but most grow best if the soil remains evenly moist. Do not overwater the plants.

Fertilising: Use a slow release fertiliser around the feet of annuals at planting time. When plants are established, applying a water-soluble fertiliser at half or quarter strength every other week in summer.

Window boxes & tubes: Give tall specimens grown outdoors some support, otherwise the stems with flowers may break off in windy weather.

Position: Grow Nicotiana alata in full sun, although they will tolerate some shade. If growing in a greenhouse or conservatory, protect them from strong sunlight.

Potting mixture: Use a soil based potting mixture that is light and fertile.

Watering: Water the plants moderately at regular intervals. The taller the plants, the more often they will need watering.

Feeding: Feed about once a week throughout the summer with a standard liquid fertiliser.

Propagation: Nicotiana alata can be raised from seed. Sow the seeds on surface in early spring in propagating trays using a seed-sewing compost. Keep them in a warm place and cover the seed tray with glass or polythene. Remove the cover regularly to prevent excess condensation. The seed usually germinates in 10 – 20 days at 20°C (68°F).
Give the seedlings good light and keep the soil moist. Once they are large enough to handle, pick them out into individual pots. Peat pots are preferable as they can be placed intact into a large tub. In middle spring the new plants can be planted outdoors safely.

This pants tend to self-sow if the spent flowers are left on plant.

Problems: Nicotiana alata is generally a very healthy plant with no diseases and few pests.

Pale or yellow leaves and poor growth are caused by aphids.
Treatment: In minor attacks, wash the pests away with a strong spray of soapy water and repeat is necessary. Severe attacks should be treated with an adequate insecticide.

The stems and stalks of tall plants snap off in windy weather.
Prevention: If the plants are grouped close together they will give each other some protection, but tying them to a cane is the best solution.

Availability: Nicotiana alata seedlings or seed packets are available at nurseries and garden centres.

Lifespan: Nicotiana alata is an annual that will die down in the autumn. In good position, Nicotiana alata will produce a wealth of blooms from summer through fall.

Uses: Nicotiana alata are ornamental perennials or annual border plants in a cottage garden designs. It is grown for its colour and perfume suitable in any garden. Plant them near a door or window and get their perfume indoors. It is great planted along walkways, near garden benches, around decks and patios or other places where people congregate.

Nicotiana alata is a lovely summer annual that is easily grown outdoors in pots or tubs, preferably near a window or door so its fragrance can be fully appreciated.

Toxicity: All parts of this plant are poisonous if ingested.

Height: 90-120cm (36-48 inch)
Spacing: 38-45cm (15-18 inch)
Hardiness zone: 10-11

Nicotiana alata Nicotiana alata

 

 

 

 

 



Annuals, Flowering Plants, Garden Plants , , , , , , , ,

Nertera granadensis

Common name: Coral Bead Plant, Pin-Cushion Plant, Coral Moss, English Baby Tears, Bead Plant, Hardy Baby Tears

Family: Rubiaceae

Synonymous: Coprosma dentata
Coprosma granadensis
Coprosma nertera
Coprosma nigricarpa
Coprosma taiwaniana
Cunina sanfuentes
Erythrodanum alsiniforme
Erythrodanum majus
Geoherpum alsinifolium
Gomozia americana
Gomozia granadensis
Hemiphragma heterophyllum var. dentatum
Logania dentata
Mitchella ovata
Nertera adsurgens
Nertera assurgens
Nertera dentata
Nertera depressa
Nertera montana
Nertera nigricarpa
Nertera repens
Nertera taiwaniana
Nertera tetrasperma
Peratanthe cubensis
Peratanthe ekmanii

Nertera granadensis

Nertera granadensis

Distribution and habitat: Nertera granadensis has an unusually extensive transcontinental distribution surrounding the Pacific Ocean, occurring from southern Chile and western Argentina north to Guatemala, and in New Zealand, eastern Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Taiwan. In the tropical regions of the western Pacific, Nertera granadensis only occurs at high altitudes.

Description: Nertera granadensis are very decorative creeping plants which have pea-size, orange coloured berries. It is the only Nertera species grown indoors. The thin, closely matted stems of this plant run along the surface of the potting mixture, rooting into the mixture at the nodes. The stems, which can grow up to 25cm (10 inch) long, carry medium green, broadly oval, fleshy, stalkless leaves up to a centimetre (0.4 inch) across. A fully mature plant is likely to form a low mound 5-8cm (2-3 inch) high.
Insignificant and stalkless flowers, which are produced in early summer, appear from leaf axils. The flowers are tiny and greenish yellow and they give way to shiny, orange-red berries about a centimetre (0.4 inch) in diameter. These berries are fully developed by late summer and they remain on the plant for several months. They are often so numerous that they almost hide the foliage.

Houseplant care: As a house plant, Nertera granadensis is somewhat difficult to maintain and it is not recommended for beginners.

Many home gardeners treat Nertera granadensis as annuals, disposing them and replacing older specimens with new ones every year. It is not necessary to do this, however. Under the right conditions Nertera granadensis can normally be kept quite healthy for a number of years.

Light: Grow Nertera granadensis in bright light, making sure that they gets at least three hours of direct sunlight every day.

Temperature: Nertera granadensis will flower and set fruit best if kept in an airy position at a temperature of 10-15°C (50-59°F). Ideally these plants should be kept outdoors throughout the months from late spring until the berries have formed. When placing them outdoors be sure to choose a position where they get some direct sunlight and are sheltered from the summer storms. Indoors they can tolerate warmer conditions than the recommended temperature range. But they will grow very fast in warm rooms and produce too much foliage.
To bear flowers and berries successfully, Nertera granadensis require high humidity. While they are kept indoors, stand the pots on trays or saucers of moist pebbles. Spray plants lightly with water once a day from time that flowers begin to appear until all berries are fully developed.

Water: Water moderately, giving enough at each watering to make the potting mixture thoroughly moist, but allowing the top centimetre (0.4 inch) or so to dry out before watering again.
These plants should never be allowed to dry out completelly, not even during the rather short winter rest period. While plants are resting, continue moderate watering, but allow the top couple of centimetres (0.8 inch) of the mixture to dry out between waterings.

Feeding: Excessive feeding stimulates the growth of the foliage at the expense of flowers and berries. Apply standard liquid fertiliser to these plants only during the few summer months between the end of the flowering period and the time when berries are fully matured. Even then, be sure not to apply fertiliser to the plants more often than once a month.

Potting and repotting: Use a combination of two-thirds of soil-based potting mixture and one-third of an equal-parts mixture of peat-moss and coarse sand or perlite. Nertera granadensis are normally grown in 8cm (3 inch) pots. Because they have relatively shallow roots, however, they are more suitably grown in shallow 8-10cm (3-4 inch) containers and they need never be moved into larger containers.

Propagation: Commercially, these plants are normally grown from seed, but this is a slow and not very dependable process. Instread divide old plants in spring, setting five or six small clumps of stems around the edge of a 10cm pan containing standard mixture. Alternativelly, plant short tip cuttings (2.5-5cm (1-2 inch) long) together in a 5cm (2 inch) pot containing an equal-parts mixture of moistened peat moss and sand.
Enclose the cuttings in either a plastic bag or a propagating case and place them in bright filtered light at a temperature of about 15°C (59°F). When renewed top growth indicates that roots are well established, move each group of cuttings directly into a 8cm (3 inch) pot of recommended mixture for adult specimens, after which the needs of the young plants are generally those of mature Nertera granadensis.

Toxicity: The plant possesses brightly colored fruit and likely offers visual appeal to young children and pets. Fortunately, the toxicity of Nertera granadensis appears to be quite low. There are no known toxins associated with the particular parts of the plant.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Features – flowers & fruits
Shape – climbing and trailing
Height: 8cm (3 inch)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – moderately
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – bright
Temperature in rest period – min 7°C max 16°C (45-61°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 10°C max 18°C (50-64°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 9a-11



Annuals, Ground cover, Indoor Plants , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,