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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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Calanthe triplicata

Common name: Christmas Orchid

Family: Orchidaceae

Synonymous: Orchis triplicata (Basionym)
Alismorkis angraeciflora
Alismorkis diploxiphion
Alismorkis furcata
Alismorkis gracillima
Alismorkis veratrifolia
Amblyglottis veratrifolia
Bletia quadrifida
Calanthe angraeciflora
Calanthe australasica
Calanthe bracteosa
Calanthe brevicolumna
Calanthe catilligera
Calanthe celebica
Calanthe comosa
Calanthe diploxiphion
Calanthe furcata
Calanthe furcata f. albolineata
Calanthe furcata f. albomarginata
Calanthe furcata f. brevicolumna
Calanthe gracillima
Calanthe matsumurana
Calanthe veratrifolia var. stenochila

Calanthe triplicata

Calanthe triplicata

Distribution and habitat: Calanthe triplicata is a species of terrestrial orchid native to Oceania, Asia and the islands of eastern Africa. This orchid is found growing in humus rich soils of rainforest shaded floors, near creeks, at elevations of 500 to 1500m (1640-4921 feet). These perennials reach heights of 40 to 100cm (16-39 inch).
The name ‘Calanthe’ is derivated from the Greek ‘kalos’ meaning beautiful and ‘anthos’ meaning flowers.

Description: Calanthe triplicata is an attractive evergreen, large orchid. The leaves are deep green, strongly ribbed and grow up to 50cm (20 inch) long and 15cm (6 inch) wide. Each orchid have a number of 4 to 10 leaves per shoot arising from a fleshy conical pseudobulb. It retains its leaves for several years. The nodding, spurred flowers that grow in one or two flower speaks on long, erect steams. The racemes are bearing cluster of 18 to 40 large white flowers about 5cm (2 inch) across with yellow or orange calli. The petals and sepals are narrow and equal in size, while the lip is several lobed. The characteristic features of Calanthe is the union of the column with the lip. The flowers will last 3-4 weeks. They are turning blue-black when damaged and with age.  The fruit is a capsule 3-4cm (1-1.5 inch) long.
Calanthe triplicata orchid blooms from fall through winter with multiple successively opening flowers.
The list of Calanthe triplicata synonymous can be longer.

Houseplant care: Calanthe triplicata is an orchids whose cultivation conditions are very easy to follow as this orchid is not sensitive to overwatering as other orchid species. In addition, its deep green leaves are decorative when the orchid is not in bloom.
A weekly sponging of leaves is advisable for Calanthe triplicata orchids grown indoors. Remove the spent flowers and leaves as they form.

Light: Provide Calanthe triplicata with bright filtered light at all times.

Temperature: Normal room temperature should be suitable throughout the year. Ideal temperature range for the active growth period is 15-27°C (59-81°F) and for the rest period 10-21°C (50-70°F). It is an intermediate orchid grower. Ensure that a high level of humidity is retained. To do this stand the pots on trays of moist pebbles and mist-spray these orchids daily.
Good ventilation is strongly recommended to avoid rot due to high moisture levels required by these orchids, but drafts should be avoided. Do not place them near vents.

Watering: In general the rule is plentiful watering for these types of evergreen orchids, especially during the summer months. During the rest period, after flowering is finished, give them only enough water to keep the potting mixture from drying out completely.

Feeding: Calanthe triplicata orchids need regular and generous feeding, thriving on a rich compost and application of liquid fertiliser about once every two weeks during the growing season.

Potting and repotting: The potting mixture for Calanthe triplicata orchids should be a rich one, preferably incorporating peat moss and treated hardwood sawdust with some blood and bone added (about one heaped dessertspoon to a 15cm (6 inch) pot). These orchids do not need repotting every year, once every thee years will suffice. When potting Calanthe triplicata, the pseudobulbs must be half buried into the potting media.
Grow Calanthe triplicata orchids in pretty big pots 15cm (6 inch) pot) with a fairly wide base or, eventually, provide weight and stability as they grow quite tall.

Gardening: Calanthe triplicata orchids need shelter from excessive hot sun and protection from frost. They grow well as a pot plant.

Position: Calanthe triplicata will withstand direct sun but prefers shade. Place it where will receive filtered sunlight only until mid-morning, remaining in full shade for the rest of the day.

Soil: In the wild, this evergreen orchid grows best in light well – drained soils and is often found where there is an accumulation of leaf litter. Calanthe triplicata thrives in well drained but moist soils rich in organic matter and well mulched. It is best in pots planted in orchid compost.

Irrigation: Calanthe triplicata is native to climates with heavy rainfall almost all year round. Therefor these orchids species will require regular watering. As they are evergreen species, they do not really have a rest period and should be watered throughout the year as long as the temperatures are not falling below 15°C (59°F). This orchid can become deciduous; if water is reduced in the autumn and the plant is kept cool the leaves may drop. It will resprout in the spring. If the temperature is a bit warmer and it retains the leaves, keep it slightly moist through the winter.

Fertiliser: Feed active growing Calanthe triplicata orchids with liquid fertiliser every two weeks. Overfertilising will produce soft, lush growth at the expense of flowers.

Propagation: Propagation of Calanthe triplicata orchids is by division. Divide and repot pseudobulbs in the spring after flowering. To do this separate the older pseudobulbs from the main plant, place them in a slightly moist potting mixture and wait for the new shoots to appear from the base of the pseudobulbs.

Problems:
Calanthe 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.

Note: Calanthe triplicata common name is Christmas Orchid because it is flowering during the Christmas in its southern hemisphere.  So, basically they flower during the summer months. The rest period for this orchid is winter period triggered by cold weather and short daylight. If the orchids are kept in warm environment, they are evergreen orchids so watering should be not be retained.

Availability: Calanthe triplicata are very popular hobby orchid in Asia and North America.

Uses and display: Grown mainly in pots, Calanthe triplicata can also work well in sheltered, shady rock gardens – as much for its foliage as for its flowers. This orchid suits tropical, cottage and bush design gardens. It can be grown in pot or hanging basket as accent or border plant. It thrives in shadehouse conditions – so pop it on the floor. Also this orchid is suited to growing outdoors in pots or as a landscape plant in tropical and sub-tropical climates. In landscape, it needs to be plant it in semi-shaded moist situation such as under a tree.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – upright
Height: 40-100cm (16-39 inch)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bight filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 7oC max 21oC (45-70oF)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16oC max 27oC (61-81oF)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 10-12

Calanthe triplicata Calanthe triplicata



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

Alpinia vittata

Common name: Ornamental Ginger, Marble Ginger, Striped Narrow Leaf Ginger, Sander’s Ginger, Variegate Ginger

Family: Zingiberaceae

Synonymous: Alpinia sanderae
Alpinia tricolor
Guillainia vittata

Guillainia vittata

Guillainia vittata

Distribution and habitat: Alpinia vittata is a species of flowering plants in the ginger family, native to a region from the Bismarck Archipelago in the Solomon Islands. They are evergreen rhizomatous soft-wooded perennial cultivated as ornamental plants. Alpinia vittata are plants of forest understory habitat in hot and moist climate all year round.
This plant is among the most attractive and commonly grown species of this genus.

Description: Alpinia vittata is a tropical, clumping perennial plant that grows from a rhizome. The stems are pseudo-stems – they are made up of many layers, which are leaf sheaths, tightly compressed together. It is growing up to 50cm (20 inch) tall indoor and has green pale, 20cm (8 inch) long leaves edged and banded from the centre to the margin with cream or white stripes. The leaves are more or less lance-shaped, arranged in two ranks on the reed-like pseudo-stems. These plant rarely flower in cultivation.
In the ground in warm climates it can grow to 1.5m (5 feet) tall or more, but tends to stay smaller if grown in pots. It forms a dense clump that makes a good accent plant. Large clumps produce pendulous pink flowers. Inflorescence are 18-25cm (7-10 inch) long. They form only on two years old stems consisting in a pendant branched spike carried terminally on a leafy stem.
Alpinia vittata is cultivated mainly for its beautiful and striking foliage.

Houseplant care: Alpinia vittata is a fast grower and can be used as indoor plant as long as a humid atmosphere is maintained. Remove spent leaves as they form and cut old canes to their base.

Light: Alpinia vittata thrives in medium light or filtered direct sunlight is best. Kept in too dark position will reduce variegation and make the leaves greener. Prolonged direct sunlight can cause foliage to scald, brown or bleach.
During the warm season these plants can be moved outdoor in a spot with partial shade. Bring the plants back indoors before the temperature drops under 15°C (59°F).

Temperature: During the active growth period, the warmer the better – temperatures must never drop bellow 15°C (59°F). High humidity is essential; stand Alpinia vittata plants on saucers of moist pebbles throughout the year.

Watering: Correct watering is essentially important for the successful growth of Alpinia vittata plants. As soon as the rhizomes start into growth in early spring begin to water plentifully, as much as necessary to keep the potting mixture thoroughly moist. After the active growth period gradually reduce the quantity and water only moderately during the rest period.

Feeding: Apply to Alpinia vittata a standard liquid fertiliser every two weeks from spring to summer.

Potting and repotting: In mid-spring, transfer Alpinia vittata plants into a pot one size larger. Use a soil-based potting mixture with blood and bone at the rate of one teaspoonful per 15cm (6 inch) pot.

Gardening: Alpinia vittata is best in tropical to sub tropical climates, but can be grown in frost free temperate areas in a warm spot. It can also be grown in a container. In cooler climates, it must be kept indoors or in a greenhouse over winter. This species has light frost tolerance. The tight clumps of tall slender erect stems will die back with freezing temperatures, but the rhizomes will sprout new foliage in spring. If grown in cold regions, the rhizomes can be dug up and stored indoors for the winter. Store them at 13°C (55°F) in dry pine bark mulch and then restart them in spring after frost danger has passed.
Because Alpinia vittata does not flower until its second year, it can only be enjoyed for its foliage in the cooler areas. These beautiful plants have a massive spread, so give them plenty of room to spread their wings. Place them 1.2 to 1.5m (4-5 feet) apart and allow at least 1.2m (4 feet) between these plants and the nearest shrub or tree. Alpinia vittata grow vigorously and where they spread to outgrow their allotted space in the landscape, rhizomes should be dug up split and replanted. Also, the larger specimens should be sheltered from winds to prevent the leaves from tearing.
The tallest stalks can be trimmed off to keep this plant to a lower size.

Position: Alpinia vittata is not picky when it comes to its location in the garden – it can grow in areas that provide at least six hours of sun and bright light throughout the day but can also thrive in partial shady areas of the garden. But too much shade will reduce variegation and make the leaves greener. Prolonged direct sunlight can cause foliage to scald, brown or bleach.

Soil: Alpinia vittata thrive in loose, but moist rich soil. A sandy soil that has a lot of organic matter is ideal. Before starting the plant, incorporate a layer of compost into it to promote soil moisture retention and provide nutrients. The soil should be mildly acidic (6.0-6.5 pH) to mildly alkaline (7.0-7.5 pH).
In cooler areas, a thick layer of organic mulch might help protect the roots.
The rhizomes should be planted as soon as possible. It is recommended to establish the plant in a pot before planting it in garden. The rhizome should be planted with the top up, no more than 3-4cm under the soil. Avoid planting them too deep to prevent rhizomes from rotting. Also, freshly planted rhizomes need oxygen to grow new roots and will die if the planting medium is too dense or too wet.
If planted in pots, these should be of sufficient size – at least 10 to 15cm (4-6 inch) wider than rhizome size. Keep the pots in a warm, sunny place. When leaves start to unfold the plants can be planted out – again in well drained soil.

Irrigation: Although Alpinia vittata plants do not mind dry conditions, they will look their best with regular irrigation timed so that the soil has a chance to dry out between waterings. These plants are moderately drought tolerant once established. Water regularly, especially during the initial growing season when the roots are establishing. Avoid overwatering, especially during periods of cool winter weather below 10°C (50°F), as rhizomes are prone to rot.

Fertiliser: Alpinia vittata will thrive with regular applications (3 times a year: spring, summer and fall) of a high potash (K) fertiliser such as a slow release 8/2/12 palm special. They require far less fertiliser however than palms and will fail to flower if too much is used. Fertilised plants require more water than unfertilised ones.

Propagation: Propagate Alpinia vittata by dividing overgrown clumps in late spring. These can be broken off or cut with secateurs. Pots of divided rhizomes should be kept in a warm, shaded spot for several weeks before being placed in their permanent position.
Alpinia vittata can be started from sections of rhizome in spring using a loose, airy but moist organic potting mixture. Make sure that they are not planted too deep – at most 2.5-5cm (1-2 inch). Avoid overwatering to prevent rhizomes from rotting. After planting, water thoroughly, then do not water again until soil is getting dry. Keep in warm position, evenly moist, but not wet, until shoots grow and leaves start to unfold.

Problems: Generally, Alpinia vittata is problem free.

Red spider mite may infest these plants when are kept in dry atmosphere.
Treatment: Spray with a suitable insecticide and raise the humidity by standing the pot on a saucer of moist pebbles.

The edges of the leaves turn brown if the plant lacks moisture.
Treatment: Water the plants. Spread a thick layer of organic mulch over the soil around the plant to help promote soil moisture retention.

Older leaves will appear pale with brown necrotic areas is caused by insufficient potash. Interveinal yellowing is caused by iron deficiency and distorted leaves by manganese deficiency.
Treatment: Fertilise plants as recommended to correct trace elements, especially they are grown on limestone soils.

Companion plants: Alpinia vittata makes a sticking contrast when planted in landscape along with: Cordyline species, Schefflera arboricola (Green Arboricola), Nephrolepis biserrata cv.’Macho Fern’ (Macho Fern), Brugmansia species (Angel’s Trumpet), Strelitzia nicolai (White Bird of Paradise), Tibouchina heteromalla (Silverleafed Princess Flower) and Agapanthus species.

 Note: Alpinia vittata is often confused with Alpinia zerumbet cv. Variegata. They have different flowers (Alpinia zerumbet cv. Variegata has shell-like flowers, beautiful flowers used in exotic bouquets) and different hardiness zone (again Alpinia zerumbet cv. Variegata is a harder cultivar). The size is again different. These two species also share sometime their common name as ‘Variegate Ginger’.  Grow Alpinia vittata for its beautiful foliage.

Uses and display: Alpinia vittata is used in tropical landscapes for filling borders, in containers or as building foundation plantings. In cold climates, it often serves as a seasonal container plant for the patio. The foliage can be cut and used in fresh flower arrangements. It makes an excellent landscape plant that is easily cared for. Great for mass plantings and border areas. It works as a surround for trees or palms, a filler for a corner bed or an anchor plant for a mixed garden. It is suited for tropical, oriental and contemporary designs gardens. This species in drought-tolerant, therefore it is suitable for xeriscaping.
Alpinia vittata can be used in landscape in many ways such as: single yard specimen, center of a circular drive, large accent for a mixed bed, backdrop for smaller plants, in front of tall green shrubs, corner-of-the-house accent, pool cage plant (for a large bed), surrounding a palm tree or as an understory plant among large trees.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – variegated
Shape – bushy
Height – 1.8m (6 feet)
Wide – 0.8m (3 feet)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – bight filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 13°C max 21°C (55-70°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 27°C (61-81°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 9a-11

Guillainia vittataAlpinia vittataAlpinia vittata



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

Tibouchina urvilleana

Common name: Glory Bush, Lasiandra, Princess Flower, Pleroma, Purple Glory Tree

Family: Melastomataceae

Synonymous: Tibouchina maudhiana
Tibouchina semidecandra
Lasiandra semidecandra

Tibouchina urvilleana

Tibouchina urvilleana

Distribution and habitat: Tibouchina urvilleana are evergreen plants from the tropical rainforest in southern Brazil. They are widely cultivated in warm regions for its soft foliage and showy purple flowers.
The Tibouchina urvilleana grows as a large, woody shrub or tree up to 3m (10 feet) height and it is a truly spectacular plant when in full bloom, bearing magnificent, saucer-shaped purple flowers with an iridescent sheen which are set off to perfection by the velvety foliage.
Tibouchina urvilleana can become invasive species in tropical and subtropical environments outside of their cultivation range. All Tibouchina species are considered noxious weeds in Hawaii.

Description: Tibouchina urvilleana is a shrub that grows up to a metre (3 feet) as so tall indoors. Its four-angled stems and branches are soft, green and covered with fine, reddish hairs when young. Later the stems turn woody and brown. The velvety, pointed-oval, paired leaves are medium to deep green with prominent, pale green, lengthwise veins and finely toothed edges. Each leaf is 5-10cm (2-4 inch) long and 2-3cm (0.8-1 inch) wide.
The striking saucer-shaped, five-petaled flowers are rosy purple to violet colour with a cluster of protruding purple stamens in the centre. Each flower is about 8cm (3 inch) across. The flowers are produced in clusters at branch tips from mid-summer to early winter.

Proper care: Tibouchina urvilleana is grown as indoor plants but require some special conditions and are unlikely to thrives without them. It has a fairly narrow margin for error: leaf drop and plant decline are unfortunately common, most often because of watering or temperature issues.
It is a fast growing shrub. Shorten main shoots by half their length and cut side-shoots back to two pairs of leaves each spring. In this way the leggy  growing habit of Tibouchina urvilleana is kept under control and will enhance the flower display.

Light: Give Tibouchina urvilleana bright filtered light from early spring to mid-autumn. During the short-day months keep plants where they can get about four hours a day of direct sunlight.

Temperature: During the active growth period normal room temperature are suitable. During the midwinter rest temperature of about 10°C (50°F) are best. It is a good idea to stand actively growing Tibouchina urvilleana on trays or saucers of damp pebbles to increase the humidity around the plant.

Watering: During the active growth period water plentifully as often as necessary to keep the potting mixture thoroughly moist, but never allow pots to stand in water. During the rest period give only enough to make the mixture barely moist throughout.

Feeding: Apply to Tibouchina urvilleana plants standard liquid fertiliser about every two weeks during the active growth period.

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture. Move plants into larger pots every spring until maximum convenient size is reached. Thereafter, top-dress annually with fresh mixture.

Gardening: Tibouchina urvilleana thrive in moist, humid, tropical, subtropical and warmly temperate regions. Out of its hardiness zone, the plant grows as a large, woody shrub which is best kept in a conservatory, sunroom or heated greenhouse. It will tolerate light to moderate frost if they are planted in a very warm, protected part of the garden, the plat is covered in winter and the roots thickly mulched. If the plant is cut right back by frost it will usually grow back from the roots in spring.
Their growth habit tends to become somewhat leggy if the plants are not frequently trimmed to keep them bushy; and because they bloom on new growth, trimming immediately after flowering will encourage more new growth and consequently more flowers. They do however have a remarkable ability to re-grow from ground level after being snapped off, and consequently respond well to hard pruning.

Position: Tibouchina urvilleana love full sun, but too much harsh sunlight can also be a problem; in a very hot or dry region plant these shrubs in a sunny location which is semi-shaded during the hottest part of the day.
These plants are brittle and prone to breaking in the wind, so plant them in a sheltered position in the garden.

Soil: Tibouchina urvilleana prefer slightly acidic soils with a good amount of organic matter and good drainage, but will adapt to most well-drained garden soils: from very acid to slightly alkaline. Tibouchinas will not thrive in soils that are too alkaline and will show signs of burn around the leaf margins and yellowing between the leaf veins. They are adapted to chalk, clay loam, loam, loamy sand, sandy clay loam and sandy loam soils; but if the soil is less than ideal, dig lots of acid compost into the planting hole and mulch the roots often.
These plants can sometimes be difficult to establish, and after planting, they may seem to lack the growth for a season or two, but once they are fully settled they will suddenly became fast growers.

Irrigation: Water regularly during dry spells to prevent the plant from drying out, but do not keep the soil saturated or root rot can result.

Fertilisation: Feed regularly with a balanced organic fertiliser to encourage new bud formation.

Propagation: Take stem or tip cuttings 8-10cm (3-4 inch) long in spring. Trim each cutting to just below a pair of leaves, remove the bottom leaves and dip the cut end of cutting in hormone rooting powder. Plant the cutting in an 8cm (3 inch) pot filled with a moistened equal parts of peat moss and coarse sand or perlite. Enclose the whole in a plastic bag or propagating case and stand it in a warm room in bright filtered light.
When new growth appears, uncover it and begin to water it moderately. After a further eight weeks, move the young plant into a 10cm (4 inch) pot of standard potting mixture and treat it as a mature specimen.
Tibouchina urvilleana can also be propagated by seed. Sow seeds in spring using a mixture of three parts soil-based compost and one part gritty sand. Do not cover the seeds. Place the pot or tray in indirect light at about 21°C (70°F) until the seeds start to germinate. Pot on when the seedlings are large enough to handle.

Problem: Tibouchina urvilleana are susceptible to gray mold, mushroom root rot, leaf spots, root rot of seedlings, spider mites and nematodes. If exposed to cold drafts or strong sunlight, expect the plant to start dropping leaves.

Mushroom root-rot can occur if drainage is bad or the plants are over watered.
Treatment: There are no effective chemicals to control the disease.

If there is not sufficient air circulation, leaf spots and spider mites can be problematic.

Leaves turn yellow and drop in winter if the plant is overwatered.
Treatment: Allow to dry out and water less in future.

Leaves turn brown and dry during the summer when the growth environment are too dry.
Treatment: Increase water and humidity levels and move out of the sun.

Yellow stippling on the leaves is due to red spider mites (which look like tiny red dots) on the undersides.
Treatment: Spray with a suitable insecticide and raise the humidity by standing the pot on a saucer of moist pebbles.

Mealy bugs look like small blobs of fluffy white cotton.
Treatment: Remove them with a cotton swab dipped in diluted methylated spirit. Use a suitable insecticide for severe attacks.

Companion plants: Border companions for Tibouchina urvilleana blooming shrub include the Pink Bower Vine (Pandorea jasminoides ‘Rosea’) to scramble over a nearby arbor, Dwarf New Zealand Tea Tree (Leptospermum scoparium ‘Nanum Ruru’) with its tight growth and pink flowers and Oleander (Nerium oleander).

Uses and display: Tibouchina urvilleana growth habit is somewhat weedy, requiring training and pruning to develop and maintain it as a tree. It can be trained as a standard or espaliered against a west-facing wall receiving at least five hours of full sun. It can also be trained on a trellis or arbor as a vine. Pinching new growth helps increase branching and will enhance the flower display. It is a nice addition to contemporary, cottage or tropical gardens. This plant will attract butterflies into the garden.
Plant it near outdoor living areas where its flowers can be closely enjoyed. The handsome foliage adds texture and interest to shrub borders and foundation plantings and delivers splashes of color that grab the attention of all who come near.
The spectacular Tibouchina urvilleana flowers are used as cutting for bouquets.
Also, Tibouchina urvilleana are suitable for container accent, being favored by modern designers for its pubescent foliage and intense color. Large specimens can be trained on a trellis or against the wall of a conservatory.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – upright
Height indoor: 1m (3 feet)
Height outdoor: 3m (10 feet)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 7°C max 13°C (45-55°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 9a-11

Tibouchina urvilleana Tibouchina urvilleana Tibouchina urvilleana - Flower



Cutting Flowers, Evergreen, Flowering Plants, Foliage Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants, Shrubs , , , , , , , ,

Narcissus tazetta

Common names: Paperwhite, Bunch-Flowered Narcissus, Chinese Sacred Lily, Joss Flower, French Daffodil, Cream Narcissus, Polyanthus Narcissus, Bunchflower Daffodil

Family: Amaryllidaceae
Subfamily: Amaryllidoideae

Synonymous: Narcissus linnaeanus
Narcissus canaliculatus

Narcissus tazetta

Narcissus tazetta

Distribution and habitat: Narcissus tazetta is a widespread species, native to the Mediterranean region from Portugal to Turkey and across the Middle East and Central Asia to Bhutan, as well as from the Canary Islands, China and Japan. It is also naturalized in Australia, Bhutan, Korea, Norfolk Island, New Zealand, Bermuda, Mexico and the United States.

In wild Narcissus tazetta natural habitat are garigue (especially if with considerable amount of soil) uncultivated fields and valleys.

Description: Narcissus tazetta are bulbous perenial plants grown for their fresh coloured graceful scented flowers. This plant has thin, flat leaves up to 40cm (16 inch) long and 15mm (0.6 inch) wide.
Narcissus tazetta are bunch flowered (polyanthus) types of Narcissus and are most suitable species of this genus for use as indoor plants. Umbels have as many as 8 flowers, white with a yellow corona. The flowers have a cup (trumpet) shaped corona that are sometimes very much reduced in size and are backed by 6 petals.

Plants care: Indoors Narcissus tazetta bulbs can be forced to flower in winter. Potted plants can be enjoyed while coming into flower and during the brief flowering period, but they must be discarded when the flowers have faded. The bulbs will not flower twice indoors.

It is possible to buy Narcissus tazetta that have been subjected to a special cooling treatment that makes them flower earlier than than untreated bulbs. These treated Narcissus tazetta bulbs (always clearly labelled as such) may be started into growth either in the light or in the dark. The disadvantage of untreated bulbs is that they must be started in the dark. The best time for planting is early autumn and a cool temperature for the first few weeks is essential.

Do not subject budding Narcissus tazetta to room temperatures above about 15°C (59°F). Heat will cause flower buds to shrivel. It will also shorten the life of any that do develop.

Planting on pebbles: Use a water-proof container at lest 10-13cm (4-5 inch) deep and cover the bottom with pebbles. Place 5 or 6 ‘double-nosed’ bulbs (those partially divided into two flowering-size sections, but remaining attached to each other) or 8 to 10 fair-sized single buds on top of the pebbles. Stand the bulbs together, almost (but not quite) touching and put more pebbles around them as a support. Add only enough water to reach a point just below the base of the bubs. As roots are produced, they will work their way down to the water. This method is actually a form of hydroculture. Store the container in a cool place – not above 9°C (48°C) – and top it up with water from time to time.
The bulbs should remain at this low temperature (and, if untreated, in the dark) until they have made about 8cm (3 inch) of growth and flower buds have appeared through the neck of the bulbs.
There after, move the container gradually (over a period of about a week) into a brightly lit position. Once acclimatised the plants need as much as direct sunlight as they get.

Planting in potting mixture: For growing Narcissus tazetta in potting mixture or bulb fibre use either waterproof containers (such as decorative bowls) or pots or pans with drainage holes. Plant several bulbs together, each bulb half in and half above the fibre or potting mixture which may be either soil or peat based. Make sure that the fibre or potting mixture is moist, not sodden, before planting. Store the container in the coolest possible position and in the dark (preferable even for treated bulbs). Commercial growers plunge potted Narcissus tazetta in fibre or mixture in the ground under a thick layer of peat moss. If it is impossible to provide such outdoor treatment, enclose the potted bulbs in black plastic bags and place the bags in a cool position.
Examine the container once or twice during the nest few weeks. If the potting mixture appears to be drying out, add just enough water to keep it evenly moist. When the bulbs have made 8cm (3 inch) of top growth and flower buds have cleared the necks, move the container gradually (over a period of about a week) into a brightly lit position. Once acclimatised the plants need as much as direct sunlight as they get.

Gardening: Outdoors Narcissus tazetta plants bloom in late winter or early spring. They are not as hardy as the majority plants of this genus and will not do well in gardens with very cold winters. This species will not likely do well in colder or warmer zones than its hardiness zone. The dormant bulbs will withstand soil temperatures down to at least -5°C (23°F).
Remove flower stems at the base of the plants with hand clippers after the flowers fade. This tidies up the garden and prevents the plants from using their energy to produce seeds. They will save energy in their bulbs and will help them to produce prolific blooms again the next year. Do not cut back the plants until the foliage begins to fade (about 6 weeks), typically in summer when the bulb goes dormant. Use pruning shears and snip the foliage to the ground. As long as a Narcissus tazetta is green, it is still photosynthesizing sunlight into energy, which is stored in the bulb for the next growing season, so do not prune early.

Position: Narcissus tazetta is best grown in a warm sunny corner with shelter from cold winds. Place Narcissus tazetta bulbs in full sun so the flowers and foliage receive at east six hours of sunlight a day, preferably in the morning with afternoon shade.

Soil: Narcissus tazetta plants prefer a deep rather stiff soil but succeeds in most soils and situations. They grow well in heavy clay soils, but prefer an alkaline soil with a pH between 7 and 8. These plants can live in regular well-tilled garden soil, although, they grow best in well-drained loamy ground. The flowers are not so long-lived on light land as of those that are grown on loamy soil. On ground containing a lot of clay, sand should be mixed in freely along with compost or other organic matter.
Early through middle fall is the best time to plant the bulbs in the garden. Their size determines the depth at which they should be planted. Large bulbs should be covered no less than 10-13cm (4-5 inch), medium sizes should have a covering of 8-10cm (3-4 inch) and smaller ones with 5-8cm (2-3 inch). One of the most common mistakes is to plant them too close to the surface. Narcissus tazetta bulbs can be left undisturbed for many years until they become so crowded that they fail to bloom abundantly. Usually, they need to be lifted at the end of 3 or 4 years. When they are planted in grass or woodland, they should be set further apart so that they can be left undisturbed for a longer period of time. The best flowers are obtained by lifting and replanting them annually or in alternate years, as soon as the leaves have died down.

Irrigation: Water Narcissus tazetta from fall until spring while it is actively growing and when rain is insufficient. Keep the soil moist by watering it with 3cm (1 inch) of water when the soil is dry to the touch 5 to 8cm (2-3 inch) deep.

Fertilising: Apply low-nitrogen, high-potassium fertiliser after blooming if bloom performance was poor. Feed Narcissus tazetta with a bulb fertilizer or an all-purpose fertiliser after they finish blooming and the flowers have faded. Sprinkle the fertilizer around the foliage and, because nutrient rates differ among fertilisers, use the recommended rate as stated on the package label. Repeat every two weeks for two months for a total of four feedings; however, do not fertilise after the foliage turns yellow.

Propagation: Narcissus tazetta propagate by division or separation. Divide them after flowering or in the fall. Divide Narcissus tazetta if the clump is overgrown and produced fewer blooms than previous years. Simply dig up the bulbs with a garden fork and break off the small bulb offsets from the main bulb with your hands. Replant firm bulbs immediately and discard soft ones. Narcissus bulbs are planted with their bases 13cm (5 inch) deep and spaced 5 to 8cm (1-3 inch) apart.

Problems:
Narcissus tazetta is generally free of problems in good soil, but prone to diseases in wet soils. Mammal pests generally avoid this plant.

The main enemy from which the Narcissus tazetta seems to suffer is the fly Merodon equestris (Narcissus bulb flies), the grub of which lays an egg in or near the bulb, which then forms the food of the larva. This pest causes serious damage in Holland and the south of England.
Treatment: There is now no chemical preventative or curative for this pest available to the amateur grower. Hot Water Treatment will kill the grubs within the bulb but the damage has already been done. However, it may still be possible to save them by preventing infestation. If this pest is a problem in local area, consider covering the beds with either fleece or enviromesh to prevent the fly reaching the foliage to lay its eggs. This solution will not be effective against flies that emerge from the ground when the cover is in place.

Bulb scale mite can become a serious problem with the culture of many house plants or orchids. It is a light coloured mite which is only just visible to the naked eye and is likely to found only on Narcissus tazetta in storage above 17°C (63°F), where it attacks the top third of the bulb.
Treatment: It is killed by Hot Water Treatment and may controlled by an insecticide approved for that purpose.

Bulb Mites (Rhizoglyphus and Histiostoma spp) usually only attacks bulbs in storage which are already damaged by fungal infection.
Treatment: Control is achieved by good hygiene.

Slugs and Snails are an increasing problem for Narcissus tazetta growers where although causing normally minor damage to the foliage they may also be a vector in the spread of virus disease from already infected plants. They can create serious damage, usually overnight, to the flowers.
Treatment: These pests are controlled using an appropriate molluscicide, both pellet and liquid forms, or by hand pick at regular inspections.

Dityenchus dipsaci (Eelworm or Stem Nematodes) is the most devastating pest of Narcissus tazetta. The Eelworm is not visible to the naked eye and the first symptoms are small yellow raised and lumpy lesions on the edges of leaves or stems. This is usually accompanied by large areas of the beds with weak growth, stunted plants or even no growth is seen. Bulbs cut across will show brown rings where the individual scales have been attacked by the nematodes.
Treatment: Infected plants should be destroyed and care taken not to transfer the infection on boots or clothing. There is no chemical treatment of Eelworm in the ground and infected areas should not be reused for growing these plants. Hot Water Treatment will kill the nematodes but this requires a high temperature, very careful temperature control and the use of appropriate chemicals within the solution.

Basal rot is an fungal disease caused by Fusarium oxysporum. This is the most serious disease of the Narcissus tazetta plants. The initial symptoms is the premature dying back of the foliage which when examination or at lifting time  reveals a soft or mummified bulb containing a chocolate brown rot spreading upwards from the base plate. At this point recovery of the bulb usually becomes impossible. The bulbs can become infected in storage or after planting and spores become widespread and are viable for over ten years in the soil.
Treatment: Control of this disease is very difficult even commercially. The avoidance of fresh manure or excessive nitrogen is essential and the early lifting of the bulbs is preferred. These should immediately be sprayed with a suitable fungicide and dried rapidly in a good air-flow by using fans. Storage should then be at a low temperature of 17-18°C (63-64°F) with planting in late autumn when soil temperatures are lower. Bulbs in storage should be inspected regularly and soft ones destroyed.
Do not plant bulbs that have white or pink fungus on them. Purchase and plant hot water treated bulbs.

Neck rot is a less common than basal rot. This disease spreads from the neck of the bulb towards the main body. There is more than one cause. Fusarium,(basal rot), enicillium, and botrytis (smoulder) are all implicated but usually separately.
Treatment: The avoidance of fresh manure or excessive nitrogen is essential and the early lifting of the bulbs is preferred. These should immediately be sprayed with a suitable fungicide and dried rapidly in a good air-flow by using fans. Storage should then be at a low temperature of 17-18°C (63-64°F) with planting in late autumn when soil temperatures are lower. Bulbs in storage should be inspected regularly and soft ones destroyed.

Smoulder is a disease caused by Botrytis narcissiola. Infestation will result in a lower bulb yield and unshowable flowers until the disease is eradicated. The symptoms are the appearance of a mass of grey spores as the leaves emerge from the bulb, causing the leaves to stick together. It is most likely to occur in cold, wet weather. The flowers are often spotted and the leaves can be polled away from the bulb revealing a grey mould at the base. It can also occur later in the season in cold conditions when it is less easy to spot.
Treatment: The primary infection usually occurs in the previous year so control is by Hot Water Treatment and foliar spray with an appropriate fungicide while the bulbs are in growth. Dead foliage should be removed from the beds that are left down for a second year.

Leaf scorch is a disease caused by Stagonospora curtissii. The symptoms are leaf tips that become reddish brown with a yellow border. The flowers may become spotted and there is usually premature die back.
Treatment: Control is by application of an appropriate foliar fungicide spray and Hot Water Treatment. Apply thiophanate methyl as new leaves emerge.

There are a large number of viral diseases that affects Narcissus tazetta. The most common is yellow stripe virus. It is identified by yellow stripes on the green foliage which is more apparent as the foliage emerges and which often disappears as the season progresses.
Other common viruses are cucumber mosaic virus, white streak virus and tobacco rattle virus. In some cases the flowers is also affected with breaking or light patches on the petals or dark streaks. In most cases even though the flowers are not affected there will be a loss of vigour and reduced yield in the plants involved.
Treatment: There are several vectors that transmit the various viral diseases including aphids above ground and nematodes and millipedes below ground. The spread of the disease may be slow or rapid throughout the collection but the only solution is to rigorously remove any obviously infected plants. It should be assumed that any very old cultivars are likely to be infected by viral diseases of this type and therefore it is probably wise to not grow them together with a modern collection. It is when the plant is stressed that the virus will normally be able to be most easily seen. Control is by destroying any infected bulbs and by controlling the agents that cause the spread of the disease by spraying regularly throughout the growing season to kill aphids and Hot Water Treatment for the control of nematodes.

Recommended varieties: All of the varieties named bellow bear three or four blooms per stalk.
Narcissus tazetta ‘Cheerfulness’ is a pale, creamy yellow, many-petaled form with orange petals in the centre.

Narcissus tazetta ‘Cragford’ has white petaled with a very short brilliant orange-scarlet cup.

Narcissus tazetta ‘Geranium’ has white petaled with an orange-red cup.

Narcissus tazetta ‘Paperwhite’ has white petals with a short white cup.

Narcissus tazetta ‘Soleil d’Or’ has yellow petals with an orange cup.

Toxicity: All parts of the Narcissus tazetta plant are poisonous and can cause a form of hyperactive seizure that leads to depression and possibly coma.

Uses and display: The Narcissus tazetta is one of the easiest to grow in pots in the greenhouse, conservatory and house in the winter and early spring. By potting them at intervals of a few weeks, from end of summer until the early autumn, it is possible to have blooming plants from early winter until the early of spring.
It is commercially grown outdoors for cut flowers and essential oil extraction that is used in perfume industry. The flowers of Narcissus tazetta are appreciates as cut flowers for early spring bouquets – some varieties are especially long lasting.
Narcissus tazetta are used in landscaping naturalistic garden, rock gardens or outdoor containers displays.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Features – flowers and fragrance
Shape – upright
Height:  30-45cm (12-18 inch)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – direct
Temperature in active growth period – min 4°C max 16°C (39-61°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 8a-10b

Narcissus tazetta -flowersNarcissus tazetta CheerfulnessNarcissus tazetta CragfordNarcissus tazetta GeraniumNarcissus tazetta PaperwhiteNarcissus tazetta Soleil d'OrNarcissus tazetta - hydrocultureNarcissus tazetta Narcissus tazetta - bulbs



Bulbs, Corms & Tubers, Cutting Flowers, Flowering Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants , , , , , , , , , ,

Myrtus communis

Common name: Common Myrtle, True Myrtle, Bride’s Myrtle, Roman Myrtle, Sweet Myrtle., Sweet Roman Myrtle, True Roman Myrtle

Family: Myrtaceae

Synonymous: Myrtus acuta
Myrtus acutifolia
Myrtus angustifolia
Myrtus augustini
Myrtus aurantiifolia
Myrtus baetica
Myrtus baetica var. vidalii
Myrtus baui
Myrtus belgica
Myrtus borbonis
Myrtus briquetii
Myrtus christinae
Myrtus communis var. acutifolia
Myrtus eusebii
Myrtus gervasii
Myrtus italica
Myrtus josephi
Myrtus lanceolata
Myrtus latifolia
Myrtus littoralis
Myrtus macrophylla
Myrtus major
Myrtus media
Myrtus microphylla
Myrtus minima
Myrtus minor
Myrtus mirifolia
Myrtus oerstedeana
Myrtus petri-ludovici
Myrtus rodesi
Myrtus romana
Myrtus romanifolia
Myrtus sparsifolia
Myrtus theodori
Myrtus veneris
Myrtus vidalii

Myrtus communis

Myrtus communis

Distribution and habitat: Myrtus communis is native across the northern Mediterranean region. It is a common and widespread shrub and the sole representative of the Myrtaceae in the Mediterranean Basin. It is typically found in Maquis shrubland together with other low-growing shrubs which have been developed after the clearing of the primary woods of the Mediterranean in the lower mountain environments.
Thought to originate from Iran and Afghanistan, Myrtus communis has been cultivated throughout the Mediterranean region since the beginning of recorded history. The species type develops an irregular upright oval form, eventually becoming a small tree 4 to 4.5m (12-15 feet) tall in old age; plants are often shorn to maintain a lower profile, say under 1.5 or 2m (5-6 feet); overall plants are fine textured and are reminiscent of the Common Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) in form.

Description: Myrtus communis is an evergreen shrub or small tree, growing 4.5m (15 feet) tall in its native habitat, but usually only 60-90cm (24-35 inch) high indoors. This species is a branching shrub with densely crowded, pointed-oval leaves, which are dark green, shiny and fragrant when crushed. The scented flowers have a diameter of about 1-2cm (0.4-0.8 inch) and are composed of a mass of yellow stamens concealing five small, white or pale pink petals. The flowers are normally produced singly on short flower stalks in late summer.

Proper care: Myrtus communis are the most commonly plants of this genus grown as indoor plants. These small shrubs can be easily kept in shape by judicious pruning, which should be done only when strong growing shoots that might otherwise spoil a plant’s symmetry have become apparent. Too much heavy pruning will reduce the likelihood of flowers, but a certain amount of regular pinching out of growing tips is essential for building up healthy, dense growth.

Light: Provide Myrtus communis with the brightest possible light at all time. If these plants are placed more than 30-60cm (12-24 inch) away from a fully sunlit window, they become spindly. Turn the plants regularly in order to avoid lop-sided growth and provide airy conditions when they are cultivated indoors.

Temperature: Although Myrtus communis prefers relatively cool conditions, it grow well in normal room temperature. If possible, however, give this plant a winter rest period at about 7°C (45°F). Otherwise, the relatively warm, dry air will make the leaves to fall. Fresh air during active growth period will toughen up growth, so these plants may be stood in a sunny position outdoors throughout the summer. They should be gradually accustomed to sunlight because the leaves are not used to ultraviolet rays after spending winter indoors. Also the root ball should not be exposed to direct sunlight.

Watering: During the active growth period water plentifully. During the rest period water moderately, giving enough to make the potting mixture moist throughout at each watering but letting the top few centimetres (0.8 inch) of the mixture dry out before watering again. If at all possible, use rainwater or some other calcium-free water.

Feeding: Do not feed these plants until they have been lodged in same pot for more than three months. Thereafter, apply to Myrtus communis plants standard liquid fertiliser about once every two weeks during the active growth period only.

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture with addition of one third portion of leaf mould or peat moss. The basic mixture should be lime-free, because myrtus species do best in neutral or slightly acid medium. As plant get bigger, move them into increasingly larger pots, one size at a time. This is best done just as new growth is starting in the spring. Young specimens should be repotted every 1 to 2 years, older plants every 3 to 4 years. It is important to pack the potting mixture firmly around the roots and to set these plants at the same level in successive pots – never deeper than before. Once a Myrtus communis is lodged in a pot of maximum convenient size – about 18-20cm (7-8 inch) – simply top dress each spring.

Gardening: Myrtus communis species does not succeed outdoors in the colder parts of the world. When fully dormant Myrtus communis is hardy to between -10 and -15°C (14-5°F) as long as it is sheltered from cold drying winds, though it does withstand quite considerable maritime exposure. The young growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts.
Myrtus communis is a moderately fast-growing plant when young but soon slowing with age. Overall, the growth is moderate to fairly slow, particularly on the compact cultivars. The plant is very tolerant of regular clipping and can be grown as a hedge. Any pruning is best carried out in the spring.

Position: Locate Myrtus communis plants in full sun to light shade. These plants are heat, drought and salt tolerant; avoid exposure to winds to reduce winter injury.
They cannot grow in the shade.

Soil: Myrtus communis succeeds in any reasonably good soil so long as it is well-drained. It prefers a moderately fertile well-drained neutral to alkaline loam.

Irrigation: Myrtus communis plants are intolerant of poorly drained soils and high humidity, so they are often planted in raised beds or containers. Follow a regular watering schedule during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system. Established plants do well with one deep irrigation each month in summer. Shallow, frequent irrigation may cause plants to turn yellow.

Fertilising: Needs little or no fertilizer. Eventually, use a general purpose fertiliser before new growth begins in spring.

Propagation: Cuttings with a short heel (meaning with a little of the old bark attached) are normally used for propagating these plants. The process require patience, since rooting may take six to eight weeks. Inset several cuttings together around the rim of an 8cm (3 inch) pot containing a moistened rooting mixture and enclose the whole in a plastic bag or propagating case. Keep it in medium light – at a slight shaded window for instance – at a temperature of about 15°C (59°F). When new top growth appears, move each rooted cuttings individually into 8cm (3 inch) pots of the recommended potting mixture for adult plants. Thereafter, treat the new specimens as mature plant.

Problems:
Myrtus communis is prone to infestation by scale insects and subsequently sooty mold may develop; root rots occur on wet soils; thrips and spider mites can attach in hot weather.

Toxicity: The essential oil contained in the leaves of Myrtus communis plants is slightly toxic. It may cause headaches, nausea, indigestion, and may colour urine purple if consumed in larger quantities (above 10 ml).

Recommended varieties:
Myrtus communis cv. ‘Boetica’ (Twisted Myrtle or Desert Myrtle) has leaves about 2-3cm (0.8-1 inch) long which have a pronounced fragrance.

Myrtus communis var. microphylla (Dwarf Myrtle) grows no taller than about 60cm and bears leaves less than 2.5cm (1 inch) long. Myrtus communis microphylla can be pruned and trained into practically any shape.

Myrtus communis subsp. tarentina is compact and its 2cm (0.8 inch) long leaves are usually tough. More compact and rounded than the species plant, it is a great choice for a sheltered, sunny spot in the garden.

Myrtus communis cv. ‘Variegata’ has sharply pointed green leaves bordered with creamy white.

Uses and display: Myrtus communis is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant for use as a shrub in gardens and parks. Formal sheared hedges are the principle use for the species; old specimens can be limbed up into small trees. Myrtus communis is excellent for hedges, screens, patio planters and pots or for providing a dark green background for perennial or annual color plantings. It is a classic for Mediterranean gardens and historic, period, scent or educational gardens; compact forms are a favorite for knot garden borders. This plant is a favorite of coastal landscapers and works as a bonsai. It takes pruning well and is suitable for topiaries. When trimmed less frequently, it has numerous flowers in late summer. It requires a long hot summer to produce its flowers and protection from winter frosts.
Myrtus communis is often cultivated in the Mediterranean, where the plant is regarded as a symbol of love and peace and is much prized for use in wedding bouquets.
An essential oil from the bark, leaves and flowers is used in perfumery, soaps and skin-care products. An average yield of 10g of oil is obtained from 100 kilos of leaves.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Features – flowers and fragrance
Shape – bushy
Height outdoor:  4.5m (15 feet)
Height indoor: 60-90cm (24-35 inch)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – moderately
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – direct
Temperature in rest period – min 7°C max 16°C (45-61°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 13°C max 24°C (55-75°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 8b-11

Myrtus communisMyrtus communis - bonsaiMyrtus communis - topiariesMyrtus communis trimmedMyrtus communis - berriesMyrtus communis Boetica Myrtus communis microphyllaMyrtus communis tarentinaMyrtus communis Variegata



Cutting Flowers, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants, Shrubs , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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 , , , , , , , , ,

Aphelandra squarrosa

Common name: Zebra Plant, Saffron Spike

Family: Acanthaceae

Synonymous: Aphelandra chrysops
Aphelandra coccinea
Aphelandra leopoldii
Aphelandra oostachya

Aphelandra squarrosa

Aphelandra squarrosa

Distribution and habitat: Aphelandra squarrosa is a compact evergreen shrub growing to 2m (6 feet) tall in its native tropical habitat in Brazil. In the wild, it thrives in the high humidity and frequent downpours of the rain forest.

Description: Aphelandra squarrosa plants have glossy green leaves with bold white leaf veins. The dramatic leaves are ovate to elliptic growing up to 23cm (9 inch) long and 5cm (2 inch) wide within the center of the leaf and they have pointed tips.
The plume of bright yellow flowers from yellow or orange yellow flower laden bracts up to 4cm (1.5 inch) long are an added attraction. The spikes appear at the top of the plant and sometimes there are additional spikes between the upper leaves. The small yellow flowers with attractive scent last for only a few days, but the cone-shaped spike of bracts remains attractive for 4 to 8 weeks.
Potted plants usually grow to no more than 30-45cm (12-18 inch) tall on a stout stems and are best kept in pots no larger than 15cm (6 inch) in diameter.
If properly cared for, the Zebra plant can grow as tall as 2m (6 feet) outdoors or a little over 30cm (1 foot) if kept indoors.

Houseplant care: Unfortunately, Aphelandra squarrosa are not easy plants to bring into bloom. They are usually purchased when in flower and will flower again only under the right conditions of light, temperature and humidity.
Keep the plant in a cool room for about 2 months during the winter rest. As light becomes more abundant in late spring, move plant to a bright place near a south or west window, but not in direct sunlight. Or, shift it to a shady porch or patio. When exposed to bright light for 3 months, Aphelandra squarrosa will usually rebloom in the fall, its natural bloom season. Light intensity rather than day length triggers flowering. This plant may not bloom when kept in low light, but it will earn its place with its exotic foliage. It will often bloom a second time during the year when given enough light. Aphelandra squarrosa plants are typically known to flower in the fall, but with care and attention, it can develop its distinctive yellow blooms at any time of the year.

Cut off the bracts after they deteriorate and wipe leaves often with a damp cloth to keep them glow.

Light: Aphelandra squarrosa plants need bright light, but not direct sunlight. In spring and summer place the plant in bright light. In fall and winter give them moderate light.

Temperature: Aphelandra squarrosa love warm temperatures: 18-27°C (64- 81°F). During the active growth period provide for Aphelandra squarrosa plants high humidity along with temperatures of at least 18°C (64°F). Pots should be kept on trays of moistened pebbles. Immediately after flowering, give the plants a short winter rest in a relatively cool position, but not below 12°C (54°F).

Water: Keep the potting mixture constantly moist. Do not let this plant dry out. During the active growth period water plentifully as often as necessary to keep the potting mixture thoroughly moist. During the short winter rest period make the entire mixture barely moist, allowing the top half to dry out between waterings; this should be just enough water to keep the leaves from drooping.
Maintain moderate to high humidity. use lukewarm water to keep soil temperature elevated. Mist frequently during growing season.

Feeding: Aphelandra squarrosa must be given standard liquid fertiliser every week during the active growth period.
Leach pots once during the summer.

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture incorporating peat moss or leaf mould. These plants can be moved into pots one size larger as necessary. Keep plants slightly rootbound. Most varieties will flower in 13-15cm (5-6 inch) pots. A plant that has flowered should be cut back to a single pair of healthy leaves every spring before being repotted in fresh potting mixture. This will promote flowering. As much of the old potting mixture should be removed from the roots as can be done without harming them. This treatment often results in the production of two or three main shoots per plant instead of only one.

Longevity: Aphelandra squarrosa will live in home conditions for one to several years or indefinitely if propagated from rooted cuttings.

Gardening: Like many true jungle plants, however, the Aphelandra squarrosa plant poses a challenge to indoor growers in temperate areas. It requires lots of moisture, warmth and food to really thrive. Nevertheless, even a short-lived specimen is an interesting plant and can be expected to last for several months before it succumbs.

Location: Place Aphelandra squarrosa plants in a location that provides filtered light and protection from the hot afternoon sun. Plant these plants outdoors under trees that provide light filtering with leaf cover.

Soil: Aphelandra squarrosa plants like rich soil that retains water, but drains well. Plant Aphelandra squarrosa plants outdoors in a hole that is twice the size of the plant’s root ball and the same depth as the container the plant is presently in. Add compost to the hole to increase moisture retention. Remove the plant from the container and separate the roots. Place the plant in the hole and fill with soil by lightly packing it around the plant.

Irrigation: Water Aphelandra squarrosa plants regularly so the soil is moist, but not wet. Water generously when the top 2 inches of soil become dry. Check the plant regularly as environmental factors affect soil dryness. Mulch outdoor plants to maintain soil moisture.
Plants should be watered a minimum of once a week when there is less than 2.5cm (1 inch) of rainfall per week.

Fertilise: Fertilise Aphelandra squarrosa plants every two weeks with a water soluble fertilizer that is quick release. Provide a winter rest period by not fertilising during the winter months as this will initiate new bloom growth.

Propagation: Propagate – preferably in late spring – by means of tip cuttings 5-8cm (2-3 inch) long. Plant them in potting mixture recommended for mature  Aphelandra squarrosa, moiten it well, enclose the whole in a plastic bag and keep it in a warm, humid place in bright light filtered through a translucent blind or curtain. No further watering is necessary. Cuttings should start to root in six to eight weeks.

Problems: Though it prefers humidity, the Aphelandra squarrosa plant can die if it gets too much water, as well; misting with a light application of water every day is appropriate for its needs. Cold environments will kill it, as it grows best in temperatures that fall in a fairly narrow range: 18 to 21°C (65-70°F).

Leaves become crinkled or curled. This can be caused by too much light.
Treatment: Move plant to a shadier location.

Growing tips wilt because the potting mixture is too dry.
Treatment: Aphelandra squarrosa requires constant moisture which can be a challenge in summer when the plant is kept in bright light. Rehydrate pots that may have dried out in the center. This often happens with rootbound plants grown in a peaty potting mix.

Lowest leaves wilt and drop off is caused by too dry, too wet or excessive fertiliser.
Treatment: Maintain constant moisture and reduce strength of fertiliser solution. Leach pots to remove possible accumulated salts.

Small yellow spots on leaves; tiny flying insects are present. This is caused by infestation with whitefly.
Treatment: Isolate plant and install sticky traps. Remove and destroy badly infested plat growth. Keep plants clean at all times and use an adequate pesticide regularly.

Plant is weak; grows slowly; small flying insects present. This is infestation with fungus gnats.
Treatment: The moist, peaty soil Aphelandra squarrosa prefers is attractive to this irritating pest. Keep soil slightly dry for several days, then trap larvae with potato pieces placed on the potting mixture.

White cottony masses on stems are caused by mealybugs.
Treatment: Remove mealybugs with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol or vegetable oil. Use an adequate pesticide.

Small sucking insects on leaf undersides and new leaves are caused by aphids.
Treatment: Clean plant thoroughly with water, then spray with insecticidal soap.

Recommended varieties:
Aphelandra squarrosa ‘Louisae’ is a compact form with leaves 20-30cm long and with broad yellow or orange-yellow flower bracts.

Aphelandra squarrosa ‘Brockfeld’ is compact with dark green leaves.

Aphelandra squarrosa ‘Dania’ has silvery leaf margins. It is the most difficult Aphelandra squarrosa plant to bring into bloom.

Aphelandra squarrosa ‘Fritz Prinsler’ has sharp leaf colour contrast.

Aphelandra squarrosa ‘Red Apollo’ features stems and leaf undersides blushed with red.

Aphelandra squarrosa ‘Apollo’ is another cultivar with white dramatic venation.

Uses and display: Aphelandra squarrosa are used for foliage display as well as for their showy spikes. This plant thrives best in a highly humid environment, making it ideal for bright bathrooms and greenhouses. Outdoor gardens in humid climates are also highly conducive for the Aphelandra squarrosa plant. Display in a prominent place in fall when the plant is in bloom.

Also, Aphelandra squarrosa are good plants for terrariums.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – variegated
Features – flowers
Shape – bushy
High: 1.2-1.8m (4-6 feet)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright
Temperature in rest period – min 13°C max 18°C (55-64°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 18°C max 27°C (64-81°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 10a-11

Aphelandra squarrosa LouisaeAphelandra squarrosa BrockfeldAphelandra squarrosa DaniaAphelandra squarrosa Red ApolloAphelandra squarrosa Aphelandra squarrosa



Cutting Flowers, Flowering Plants, Foliage Plants, Terrarium Plants , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Begonia coccinea

Common name: Angel Wing Begonia Plant, Scarlet Begonia, Coral Begonia, Begonia Dragon Wing, Cane Begonia

Family: Begoniaceae

Synonymous: Pritzelia coccinea

Begonia coccinea

Begonia coccinea

Distribution and habitat: Begonia coccinea plants occur primarily in Central and South America growing in shady and humid spots of Atlantic forest.
They are popularly grown as ornamentals because of their beautifully shaped and colourful foliage and flowers.

Description: Begonia coccinea has only a few bamboo-like stems up to 1m (3 feet) tall. Leathery, obliquely oblong to ovate leaves are 10-15cm (4-6 inch) long and 5-8cm (2-3 inch) wide with slightly toothed, undulate edges. Leaf surface is grass green tinged at the edges with red above and dull red bellow. The leaves are arranged asymmetrical on stems.
Begonia coccinea, with its thick, jointed stems, is an popular fibrous rooted begonia.
The flowers are irregular, unisexuate and in axillary, pendulous cymes with red peduncles. The male flowers have 2 large, pink tepals and 2 small tepals in opposite pairs at right angles to each other. There are numerous stamens with short filaments and yellow anthers. The female flowers have 5 pink tepals of unequal sizes attaches above the inferior ovary. The ovary is three-winged and dark pink with 3 styles and a golden yellow, convoluted stigma. The 1cm (0.4 inch) wide, waxy, coral red flowers appear in large, drooping clusters on red stalks from early summer to mid-autumn.
The fruit is a triangular capsule, up to 8cm (3 inch) long and three winged.

Although Begonia coccinea are herbaceous evergreen perennials, they are susceptible to frost and many cultivars planted in temperate areas are treated as annuals. They are easy to grow, both outdoors and in containers.

Angel Wing Begonia Plant name is coming from its large leaves that are shaped like the wings of an angel and is the common name of a number of Begonia species.

Houseplant care: Begonia coccinea is primarily grown for its elegant foliage, but it can be a heavy bloomer as well.
Careful pruning of Begonia coccinea canes will keep the plants compact, rounded and in many cases, suitable for hanging baskets. When the new plant is 15cm (6 inch) tall, pinch the top growing shoot; lateral shoots will develop in a few weeks. Allow any extra shoots from the base of the stem to grow since they too will develop a bushier form. If any one cane starts to take over or grows rapidly with only a few leaves, prune it out. When the plant is one year old, prune it drastically down to 15cm (6 inch) both in the winter and again in late spring.
Regularly remove spent flowers to encurage new flowers to develop.

Light: Begonia coccinea needs bright light without direct sunlight to form great foliage.
Place them in a bright east or west window. Bright light intensifies the leaf colourations and promotes good flower development.

When taken outside for the summer, they will prefer partial shade to avoid leaf scorch.

Temperature: Normal room temperatures are suitable for actively growing Begonia coccinea plants. The ideal temperature range is 21 to 24°C (70-75°F) during the daytime and no cooler than 16°C (60°F) at night, though they will tolerate temperatures as high as 40°C (104°F) and as low as 10°C (50°F).
Begonia coccinea will suffer in dry air. For increased humidity stand pots on trays of moist pebbles.

Watering: Water actively growing Begonia coccinea plants moderately, allowing the top couple centimetres (0.8 inch) of the potting mixture to dry out before watering again. During the winter rest period water more sparingly, allowing the top half of the potting mixture to dry out between waterings.
Do not allow the plant to sit in water. Promptly remove the standing water.

Feeding: Apply standard liquid fertiliser every two weeks to actively growing plants. Over-fertilising leads to excessively cane growth.

Potting and repotting: Use either a peat-based mixture or a combination of equal parts of soil based potting mixture and coarse leaf mould. Put a shallow layer of clay-pot fragments in the bottom of pots for extra drainage.
Move the plants into pots one size larger every spring until maximum convenient pot size (probably 15-20cm) has been reached. Thereafter, top-dress annually with fresh potting mixture.
When potting and repotting these plants, simply sprinkle some mixture around the roots and tap the container briskly to settle the mixture. Do not firm it down with the fingers.

Repotting should be done in spring or summer, although Begonia coccinea are better off if slightly pot bound. Too much soil around the roots may waterlog the plant and create root rot. Clay pots are preferred since they dry out faster than plastic pots.

Gardening: Begonia coccinea is a perfect understory plant if light is available. It is a very attractive addition to the garden.
Avoid frost as leaves become damaged and plants can perish.
Begonia coccinea grows at a moderate to fast rate. Cutting back is a good idea because the Begonia coccinea plant gets fuller and the size can be controlled.

Location: Begonia coccinea should be planted in a shadier area in regions where temperatures are typically high and in a less shady area if temperatures tend to be cool. Avoid extreme heat and direct summer midday and afternoon sun. Plants will grow happily in sunny positions outdoors if protected from extremes. This begonia species is quite sun tolerant, but will look and flower its finest with shade for the hottest part of the day. In tropical areas, use this as a tall accent plant in mixed borders or as part of lush foundation plantings. It will thrive dappled shade, making it an useful plant in the garden to add colour underneath trees.

Soil: Humus rich soil that is free draining is best for Begonia coccinea. Make sure the soil is sandy and loamy and has a pH between 6.1 and 7.5 as this plant is a weakly acidic soil or weakly alkaline soil loving plant. Avoid soils that are mucky or are dry, infertile sands.
Prepare the garden by breaking up the existing soil. Add organic matter such as manure, peat moss or garden compost until the soil is loose and easy to work. Organic ingredients improve drainage, add nutrients and encourage earthworms and other organisms that help keeping the soil healthy.

Irrigation: Begonia coccinea has to be moderately watered. Too much or too little irrigation can have an adverse effect on the production of leaves and flowers and on the general health of the plant. This plant is especially susceptible to over-watering. It should be watered whenever the surrounding soil appears to be dry, but it should never be drenched. Use drip irrigation practices rather than just dousing it. Ultimately, over-watering can cause shedding of leaves and buds or flowers, but too little irrigation can be equally harmful. When it does not receive enough water, vital nutrients and minerals are not carried properly through the root system to the rest of the plant and Begonia coccinea health deteriorates. Wilted plant will eventually recover when watered but over-watered plant will die. However, consider this plant as being drought tender. Water the plant when the soil is dry.
Make sure Begonia coccinea has good drainage and watering once a week should be enough to keep the soil barely moist.

Fertilising: Fertilize once a month only from spring to autumn with a dilute liquid fertiliser. Fertilising more often than this results in excessively cane growth.

Propagation: Begonia coccinea ca be propagated by cuttings or seed.
Cuttings propagation: Take a 8-10cm (3-4 inch) long cuttings of nonflowering shoots in spring or early summer. Trim each cutting immediately bellow a leaf, carefully remove the leaf and dip the cut end of the stem in hormone rooting powder. Plant the cutting in a 8cm (3 inch) pot of a moistened equal-parts mixture of peat moss and coarse sand or perlite and enclose the whole in a plastic bag or propagating case. Stand it in bright filtered light until renewed growth indicates that rooting has occurred. It will take about three to six weeks to root. Uncover the rooted cutting and begin to water it sparingly and to apply standard liquid fertiliser about once every two weeks. Do not overwater to avoid rotting. About six months after the start of propagation, move the young plant into a slightly larger pot of standard potting mixture and treat it as a mature plant.

Propagation from seed: seeds are very tiny and should be not buried when sown. Mix them with little fine sand before sowing. Sow seeds trays in any standard germination medium (equal parts of peat and perlite or equal parts of vermiculite and perlite). A light mist spray of the surface will settle the seeds adequately. Keep the propagating trays in warm, moist conditions (intermittent mist ideal) in bright light, but no direct sun.
Prick the seedlings out into individual cells or small pots 6-8cm (2.5-3inch) when the first three leaves are formed. Use same potting mixture as for mature plants. The seedlings benefit from dilute applications of soluble fertiliser every two weeks. Re-potting will be necessary in about six months or so. Pot the new plants in pots one size larger when the root ball fill the pot. Thereafter treat them as mature Begonia coccinea.

Problems:
Leaves turn yellow or brown and fall off as result of overwatering.
Treatment: Keep the plants in small pots (clay pots preferable) and water the plants only when the potting mixture become dry. Cool conditions and oversized pots contribute to this problem.

Tans spots on leaves and plant rot at the base are result of fungal disease (Botrytis).
Treatment: This disease is common with rooted cuttings and is best prevented by using a clean, pathogen-free medium. Discard affected plants and start new plants form clean stem tip cuttings.

Spots with yellow halos on the leaves are results of bacterial leaf spot.
Treatment: Remove affected leaves and increase air circulation. Discard infected winter blooming as they carry these disease throughout their system.

Mildew is not the problem with Begonia coccinea that it can be with other begonias, but fungal disorders can certainly set in if plants are too crowded, watered from overhead or have poor air circulation.

Watch out for mealybugs and aphids on foliage.
Treatment: Control them by dabbing with alcohol-soaked cotton swabs. Repeat the treatment every 5 days until the problem is solved. Do not use oil sprays to control pests on any begonias.

Begonia coccinea may be infected with nematodes, soil-dwelling plant parasites that are more difficult to treat.
Treatment: Many garden shops carry products to control nematodes. A home remedy for these pests is mothballs. Watering the plants with mothballs on the soil surface will help eliminate the nematodes.

Longevity: Begonia coccinea will lose they vigor in time (typically after 4 to 5 years). When the plants begin to lose their vigor, take stem cuttings in the spring or summer and create new healthy plants. In this way the plants will last indefinitely.

Recommended cultivars:
Begonia coccinea ‘Flamingo Queen’: This cultivar has dark green leaves with varying sizes of silver spots and with silver spotted margins with pink flowers.

Begonia coccinea ‘Sinbad’: Foliage with a silvery sheen and pink flowers.

Begonia coccinea ‘Torch’: This is an cultivar with red blooms year round in warm weather. Waxy, arrowhead-shaped leaves are dark green on top and maroon underneath. Upright stem growth with pendulous leaves and flowers. Great hanging basket, or container plant.

Uses and display: Begonia coccinea are prized as much for their attractive foliage as their flowers. This plant tends to be in bloom all year round. This plant is a great attractor for butterflies, bees, and birds, so Begonia coccinea is a great choice for the garden to attract wildlife. It is the perfect choice for beds and borders as well as it is superb for baskets, containers and window boxes. Also Begonia coccinea is an wonderful choice for combination plantings. It is perfect understory plant if light is available.
Begonia coccinea is a very attractive addition to the garden or as an indoor specimen. Indoors can be used as table top plant or hanging basket.
Pruned stems from Begonia coccinea make good cut flowers.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – coloured
Shape – upright
Height: 1m (3 feet)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – moderately
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – bight
Temperature in rest period – min 10oC max 16oC (50-60oF)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16oC max 27oC (61-81oF)
Humidity – moderate

Hardiness zone: 10a-11

Begonia coccineaBegonia coccinea Flamingo QueenBegonia coccinea SinbadBegonia coccinea - hanging basketBegonia coccinea TorchBegonia coccinea Lana



Begonias, Cutting Flowers, Flowering Plants, Foliage Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants , , , , , , , , ,

Hydrangea macrophylla

Common name: Bigleaf Hydrangea, French Hydrangea, Lacecap Hydrangea, Mophead Hydrangea, Penny Mac, Hortensia

Family: Hydrangeaceae

Synonymous: Hortensia opuloides
Hydrangea chungii
Hydrangea hortensia
Hydrangea hortensis
Hydrangea maritima
Hydrangea opuloides
Hydrangea otaksa
Viburnum macrophyllum

Hydrangea macrophylla

Hydrangea macrophylla

Distribution and habitat: Hydrangea macrophylla plant is native to China and Japan, growing in cool, moist, mineral rich soil and medium shade of the woodland habitats, hedgerows or stream banks. It is a deciduous shrub growing to 2m (7 feet) tall by 2.5m (8 feet) broad with large heads of pink or blue flowers in summer and autumn. It is widely cultivated as ornamental garden plant in many parts of the world in climates ranging from 6 to 9 hardiness zones.

Description: The term macrophylla means large- or long-leave. The opposite leaves can grow to 15 cm (6 inch) in length. They are simple, membranous, orbicular to elliptic and acuminate. They are generally serrated.
The inflorescence of Hydrangea macrophylla is a cluster with all flowers placed in a plane or a hemisphere or even a whole sphere in cultivated forms. Two distinct types of flowers can be identified: central non-ornamental fertile flowers and peripheral ornamental flowers, usually described as ‘sterile’. The four sepals of decorative flowers have colors ranging from pale pink, red fuchsia purple to blue. The non-decorative flowers have five small greenish sepals and five small petals. Flowering lasts from early summer to early winter. The fruit is a subglobose capsule.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Hortensia’ is the most common form grown in pots. It is a low growing shrub, usually with height and spread of no more than 30-60cm (12-24 inch). Each plant has a short, woody stem and from four to eight branches, which carry opposite pairs of shiny, pointed oval leaves 8-10cm (3-4 inch) long and 5-10cm (2-4 inch) wide. The leaves have stalks about 2cm (1 inch) long. The main stem and branches may each terminate in a rounded flower head about 12-20cm (5-8 inch) wide which is composed of many four petaled flowers up to 5cm (2 inch) wide. Occasionally there are small specimens available which have only an unbranched main stem with a single flower head at its top.
Flowers of Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Hortensia’ have greenish buds that open white, pink, red, purple or blue. Flower colour of all Hydrangea plants are affected by the degree or acidity or alkalinity of the soil in which they grow. Pink or red-flowered kinds develop blue or purple when grown in acid or neutral potting mixtures and the normally blue-flowered kinds turn pink or purple-red in alkaline potting mixtures.

Houseplant care: Hydrangea macrophylla is the only species grown as indoor plant. Even this one is difficult to carry over from one year to another indoors because it require constantly cool conditions in order to bloom. Thus, potted Hydrangea macrophylla are usually bought when budding in early spring and may be kept for a few weeks indoors while flowering and then planted outdoors.

Light: Grow Hydrangea macrophylla plants in bright light but not too much direct sunlight.

Temperature: Flowers of potted Hydrangea macrophylla will last for up to eight weeks if kept in a cool position (below 16°C). In normal room temperatures the blooms are likely to fade within three to four weeks.

Watering: Water plentifully as often as necessary to keep the potting mixture thoroughly moist. Never allow the potting mixture to dry out or the plant will collapse. If this happens, immerse the pot in a bucket of water until the root ball is thoroughly soaked. Even if this treatment succeeds, however, the current flowering period of the plant will have been shortened.

Feeding: Apply standard liquid fertiliser every two weeks as long as the plant remains indoors.

Potting and repotting: Repotting is not necessary for these temporary indoor plants. Most specimens will recover and thrive is planted in a sheltered position outdoors.

Gardening: Hydrangea macrophylla do not have to be pruned back – ever – unless they are very old. Removing dead stems is the only pruning that must be done for the health of the plant and these can be removed at any time. Hydrangea macrophylla blooms on large buds formed on previous season’s growth. Therefore is recommended do not cut the stems that are yet to flower as they will produce the first flowers of next year.

The white cultivars remain white regardless of the soil pH, but if colour changing is desired for other cultivars, lime the soil for pink flowers or add aluminum-sulphate for blue flowers. The change of the soil pH must be done before flower buds form. So treat the soil (in recommended dosage) several times at intervals starting with beginning of autumn and then again in spring. Test the soil pH concentration for good results.

Protect young plants in winter in cold zones as they are more tender than the older plants.

Location: All Hydrangea macrophylla plants will bloom and grow well in morning sun and afternoon shade in Southern Hemisphere. The further north they are grown the more sun these plants need and can withstand.
No hydrangea will do well in heavy shade such as under a shade tree. The blooms will be sparse and will not develop fully. If it is planted under a tree often fail to thrive. This is because trees roots are very aggressive and are drawn to the rich, moist soil usually provided for these plants.
Choose a location where Hydrangea macrophylla can reach its full size without pruning.

Soil: Plant Hydrangea macrophylla in well-drained soil. If the soil is heavy, add roughage such as pine bark mulch.
Do not plant it too deeply. Plant Hydrangea macrophylla in early summer or fall at the same depth the hydrangea was planted in the pot.
Transplant this plant when it has become dormant and has lost all of its leaves (late fall or winter).

Irrigation: Hydrangea macrophylla must be kept watered very well the first and second summer after they are planted or transplanted. The best way to water is deeply. Use a hose to water rather than a sprinkler system. However do not over-water. Watering every day can be just as destructive as allowing the plants to dry out. If the soil does not drain well, do not allow it to remain soggy around plants.
These plant have a moderate drought tolerance. They are not doing well in hot, dry conditions.

Fertilising: Hydrangea macrophylla grow best if they are fertilised once or twice in the summer. Either chemical fertilisers or organic matter can be used successfully. An organic method of applying manure and/or compost around the roots, produces excellent results and also improves the condition of the soil. If chemical fertilizers are used, applying a slow-release, balanced fertilizer once a year is probably the simplest solution. A less expensive fast release fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 will work just as well if applied twice during the summer. Do not fertilize after end of summer. Fall is the time for this plants to begin preparing for dormancy. Also, never fertilise a plant which looks sick.
Over-fertilisation can be much more detrimental than under-fertilization as fertiliser burn can occur when too much fertiliser is applied.

Propagation: Propagation is not practical for indoor plants. Although stem cuttings of Hydrangea macrophylla will normally root quite easily, the resultant plants are unlikely to produce flowers indoors.

For outdoors cultivation, Hydrangea macrophylla plants are easy to propagate from semi-hardwood cuttings taken from near the base of the plant, tip cuttings taken in summer or by layering, suckering or division. The cuttings 13-15cm (5-6 inch) long with the excess leaves removed should be placed in propagation mix and kept in a closed frame or sealed plastic bag until roots develop. The cuttings are taken in late summer or early fall.

Pests and Diseases:
Aphids distort the new growth and coat the leaves with sticky honeydew.
Treatment: The insects can be dislodged with a high pressure water spray from the garden hose.

Four-lined plant bug causes round, brown, sunken spots on the leaves. The injury is often thought to be a disease.
Treatment: Both contact and systemic insecticides are effective for control of these bugs.

A leaf tier webs the leaves over the tip of the branches.
Treatment: These insects may be picked off by hand. Handpick and destroy caterpillars, tell-tale rolled leaves and cocoons; prune out and destroy active webs, preferably when still small.

Rose chafers are light tan with red, spindly legs, though they can be darker.
Treatment: They can occur in large numbers where soils are sandy. Chemicals are ineffective because more rose chafers quickly move into a treated area to replace those killed by pesticides. Physically remove rose chafers, especially when small numbers are present. Remove them from plants and into pails of soapy water to kill them.

Oyster shell scale infests the upper stems of Hydrangea and often goes unnoticed.
Treatment Sprays of dormant plants with horticultural oil should help control overwintering stages and are less harmful to biological predators that help control scale.

Mites cause yellowish foliage.
Treatment: Treat affected plants with horticultural oils or an adequate pesticide following the instructions on label.

Bacterial wilt may blight the flower clusters and leaves. The disease is worse after heavy rains and hot weather. If severe, wilting and root rot occur, followed by plant death.

Bud or flower blight infects dense flower clusters in wet weather or after frost.

Several genera of fungi cause leaf spots on Hydrangea.

Powdery mildews in different genera cover the undersides of leaves with light gray mold. The leaves turn brown in spots and the upper leaf surfaces stay green or turn purplish brown. Young stems and flower stalks are infected and killed.

Rust causes rusty brown pustules on the leaves. The pustules are most noticeable on the undersides of leaves. Infected leaves dry up and become brittle.

Problems: There are three possibilities for lack of flowering among the Hydrangea macrophylla species: too much shade, improper pruning or unfavorable weather conditions which can damage the flower buds by late spring freezes.

Recommended varieties:
Hydrangea macrophylla ‘All Summer Beauty’ – This selection may be more appropriate for colder areas, as it supposedly blooms on current season’s growth and thus will flower despite late frost damage. The profuse mophead blooms are deep blue in acid soil, and the plant grows 1.2m (4 feet) tall and wide.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Ayesha’ – Unusual for its rounded flower petals, slight fragrance and lustrous foliage, this cultivar is gaining popularity. The mophead flowers are pink-purple. This form may be less hardy than others.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Blue Wave’ – The most popular blue-flowered lacecap form, this plant is also hardier than similar plants. It grows to 2m (7 feet) tall and wide and features outer bloom florets of blue to pink (depending on soil pH).

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Golden Sunlight’ – (a cultivar of Hydrangea macrophylla var. serrata) A new form that is very unusual for its new leaves which emerge golden yellow and mature to light green with age. The blooms are pinkish and the plant grows to 1m (3 feet) tall and wide.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Lemon Wave’  – Grown mostly as a foliage plant, this form has spectacular variegation — with zones of gold, white and green on each leaf. It rarely flowers in colder zones.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Nikko Blue’ – This is the most common blue-flowered mophead form, useful in colder areas since is reportedly will produce some flowers on new growth late in the season. Acid soil will produce the deepest blue color on this 1.2 (4feet) tall shrub.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Madame Emile Mouillere’ – A hardy mophead form, this plant is also notable for its heavy production of pure white flowers that develop hints of blue-pink with age. It grows to 1.5m (5 feet) tall and wide.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Mariesii Variegata’ (may be the same as Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Variegata’) – This is the most common variegated leaf form, with deep green foliage edged in white. It reaches 1.5m (5 feet) tall and bears lacecap blooms, but it rarely flowers well in colder zones.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Pia’, ‘Forever Pink’ and ‘Tovelit’ – A trio of dwarf forms, these selections are among the most popular compact selections, reaching only 1m (3 feet) tall and wide. The mophead flowers are in shades of pink.

Cutting flower: Hydrangea macrophylla are used as cutting flowers as well. Their blooms can make a fabulous floral arrangements as they will fill a vase with their many tiny flowers. They also last well, especially with proper care. Properly cut blooms will last for at least several weeks to a month. It is recommended do not trim non-blooming stalks on a plant less than five years old because they tend to become next year’s flowers. The flower harvested should be at least a week old and is fully colored prior to cutting it since the older the bloom, the longer the cut flower will last in water. Though hydrangea leaves are pretty, they should all be trimmed off as they will steal water from the flower part and also will shorten the life of a cut flower. Consider using a shorter vase and cutting the Hydrangea macrophylla stem short, about 15cm (6 inch) or less. A longer stem requires more water and will shorten the life of the bloom. Once the bloom is cut, which should be cut on a diagonal, the Hydrangea macrophylla bloom should be immersed in water for two hours. To increase water absorption, the bottom of the stem should be either smash the with a hammer or re-cut 2.5cm (1 inch) off the bottom of the stem while it is immersed in water. This will keep the bloom alive and drinking water for a longer period of time. Since the stem will take up water, check frequently the level of water in the vase. Change the vase water every few days.

Dry flowers: Hydrangea macrophylla can be used as dried flowers. While it is tempting to cut the hydrangea blossoms for drying at the height of their color, this does not work. Fresh, recently opened blooms, rarely dry well in the open air. Hydrangeas do best when allowed to dry on the plant before picking them. In the south, hydrangeas usually age to a blushing green color and then pick up shades of pink and burgundy as Fall approaches. In the cooler areas of the world, they seem to age to shades of blue and purple. They are both equally beautiful, but very different.
Leave blooms on the shrub until late summer. Toward the end of the summer the petals will begin to age and take on a vintage look. If left on the shrub a little longer, many blooms will pick up interesting shades of burgundy and pink.

Another method: If are used cut blooms to dry, strip off the leaves, arrange them in a vase, with or without water, and leave them to dry. It is not necessary to hang hydrangea flowers up side down to dry unless the stems are very thin and weak.
To retain extremely natural hydrangea color, use Silica Gel to dry fresh blooms.

Uses: Hydrangea macrophylla is a useful hedging plant because of its vigorous growth. It is an appreciated shrub border for its high quality foliage, adding textural variety to a landscape. It makes a stunning plant for either specimen, groupings or mass plantings. It is suitable for cottage garden style. Also, it can be used as container plant or above-ground planter.

Hardiness zone: 5b – 9a

Hydrangea macrophylla HortensiaHydrangea macrophylla All Summer BeautyHydrangea macrophylla AyeshaHydrangea macrophylla Blue WaveHydrangea macrophylla Golden SunlightHydrangea macrophylla Lemon WaveHydrangea macrophylla Nikko BlueHydrangea macrophylla Madame Emile MouillereHydrangea macrophylla Mariesii VariegataHydrangea macrophylla PiaHydrangea macrophylla Forever PinkHydrangea macrophylla Tovelit



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