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Campanula isophylla

Common name: Italian Bellflower, Star of Bethlehem, Falling Stars, Trailing Campanula, Bellflower, Jerusalem Star, Star Bellflower

Family: Campanulaceae

Campanula isophylla

Campanula isophylla

Distribution and habitat: Campanula isophylla is a perennial species found only on the cliff of Capo Noli, in Italian Alps. In their natural habitat, they grow like a trailing carpet over south-facing rocks. These plants have become popular pot plants in the Scandinavian countries, making excellent basket plants.

Description: Campanula isophylla is an easy to grow flowering trailer indoor plant. Its small, heart shaped, tooth edged leaves are bright green and rather brittle. If stems or leaf stalks are broken they exude a milky white sap with a distinctive, but not unpleasant, odor. Star-shaped, cupped flowers, which are produced from the leaf axils, are 4-5cm (1.5-2 inch) wide and pale blue.
The many slender stems, each as much as 30cm (12 inch) long, will trail down naturally or else they can be trained upward on a small trellis. Flowers, which are normally produced between midsummer and autumn, continue in succession for two or three months, usually becoming so numerous that they hide the foliage. Single flowers last 3-4 days.
Campanula isophylla is a perennial, though often is grown as annual.

Houseplant care: Remove spent flowers of Campanula isophylla plants – which can be pinched off with the fingertips – in order to prolong the flowering season.
Campanula isophylla are fast growing plants and will last many years, but need special care to survive the winters. Cut back the long stems close to the potting mixture as soon as winter approaches.
They tend to trail or hang, but if it is provided support for the trailing stems with a frame or a trellis or if their stems are tied to thin canes, these plants can be encourage to a more upright habit.

Light: Although these plants do not require full sunlight, they should have bright light, ideally with some direct sunlight at all times. This should ensure close growth and abundant flowers. Campanula isophylla can bloom reasonably, well in a sunless window but only if they are stood on the sill.
Campanula isophylla are long day plants and need about 15 hours of daylight before flower buds will develop. Supplementary artificial light can induce the plants to bloom a little earlier in summer.

Temperature: Since flowers fade quickly in great heat, indoor Campanula isophylla should be given the coolest position possible in summer. In temperatures above 18°C (64°F) provide high humidity by standing plants on trays of moistened pebbles and mist-spray them regularly; this will help prolong the flowering period. In winter these plants should rest in a very cool temperature – ideally around 4°C (39°F) and certainly not above 10°C (50°F), the rest may be started as soon as flowering finishes. Higher winter temperature will curtail the next flowering season.
For optimum flowering avoid draughts and temperature changes.

Watering: Campanula isophylla like to have moist roots. During the active growth period and for the duration of the lengthy flowering period, they should be watered plentifully, as much as necessary to keep the potting mixture thoroughly moist – but never allow pots to stand in water. Even during the winter rest period these plants should be given some water – enough to moisten the potting mixture – at approximately two-weeks intervals.

Feeding: Apply standard liquid fertiliser once every two weeks, beginning when plants have filled their pots with roots (about six weeks after potting) and continuing until the flowering season ends.

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture. For best effect, plant three or four rooted cuttings in a single 8cm (3 inch) pot in early spring; move them into slightly larger pots whenever roots appear on the surface of the potting mixture (normally, every two or three months). Maximum pot size require; probably 13cm (5 inch). To fill hanging baskets, take several plants from a few 8cm (3 inch) pots at the time they need repotting. Since blue and white varieties bloom simultaneously , they can be effectively mixed together in one basket.

Gardening: Campanula isophylla is generally not a difficult flower to grow. Being native to the temperate zones of the northern hemisphere where it grows in moist soil of montane regions, it require exposure to light and airy conditions. It is a non-invasive plant and generally tidy when not in flower. Also this plant ca be grown well in pots. It is a tender perennial ideal for a hanging basket or container that is outside in summer but brought undercover when frosts are likely.

Position: Plant them in a bright place but away from direct sunlight. The delicate flower colours are preserved best in shade. This plants can be planted under direct sunlight as long as they are generously watered.

Soil: Campanula isophylla plants enjoy a rich, well draining, light soil. Add lime if the soil is acid.

Irrigation: Campanula isophylla plant need constant moisture during the active growing season.

Fertilising: Water soluble fertilizers are generally used every two weeks during the growing season or per label instructions. Controlled, slow-release fertilizers are worked into the soil usually only once during the growing season or per label directions.

Propagation: Take 5cm (3 inch) long tip cuttings (each with three or four pairs of leaves) from old plants just as new growth appears in early spring; handle them gently so as not to break brittle stems and leaf-stalks. Dip cut ends in a hormone rooting powder to seal them and assist rooting. Gently insert each cutting about 1cm (0.4 inch) into a moistened equal-parts potting mixture of peat moss and coarse sand or a substance such as perlite, enclose the pot in a plastic bag and keep it warm in medium light. The cutting will root in two or three weeks and can then be moved into standard potting mixture for adult Campanula isophylla. After another three or four weeks of medium light and only moderate watering, the young plant can be subjected to brighter light and treated as a mature Campanula isophylla.
Propagation can also be achieved by divining established plants, but division is less satisfactory than the tip cutting method because stems of divided plants are old and always appear rather woody. If plants are divided, the clump should be pulled apart into several sections and gently shaken free of most of the old mixture. Fresh potting mixture is important for the health of the new plant.

Problems:
Campanula isophylla like plenty of moisture, but fungus diseases sometimes occurs if the soil retains too much water or if the plant is kept in excessively humid conditions.
Treatment: If this happens, a proprietary fungicide will kill the fungus, but the plant obviously needs drier soil and air in order to keep the disease from recurring.

Leaves turn yellow and shrivel. This is usually due to lack of water, light, or nutrition.
Treatment: Keep these plants evenly moist in summer, provide them with good light and feed them fortnightly.

Long flowerless trailing stems are probably caused by excessive heat.
Treatment: Keep Campanula isophylla plants out of hot direct sun.

Aphids are occasionally a pest on Campanula isophylla plants.
Treatment: Apply a suitable insecticide.

Glasshouse red spider mite, slugs, snails or vine weevil may attack these plants.
Treatment: Use an adequate pesticide to combat these pests.

Leaf spot, powdery mildew or rust are the disease that may infest these plants.
Treatment: Adequate treatment with fungicide used as recommended on their labels.

Recommended varieties:
Campanula isophylla f. alba is a white-flowered form.

Campanula isophylla ‘Mayi’ has hairy, variegated foliage and slightly darker blue flowers.

Companion plants: Campanula isophylla is looking best in landscape when planted along with dwarf conifers, alpines, acers, rhododendrons, bulbs, pines, lilies and South African bulbs and seed.

Uses and display: Campanula isophylla is and ideal plant for use in hanging baskets and raised pots. Alternatively, they can be trained upward on a small trellis. Also, Campanula isophylla plants are good in rock gardens in filtered shade. These plants deserve special settings—close-up situations in rock gardens, niches in dry walls, raised beds or containers. As they are trailing kinds are ideal for hanging pots or baskets and wall crevices; vigorous, spreading growers serve well as groundcovers for small areas on slopes in mild-winter climates.
Flower-filled baskets can be brought into the living-room window, or flower-covered pots can to used as centerpieces or in table-top compositions.

 

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – climbing and trailing
Height: 30cm (12 inch)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright
Temperature in rest period – min 4°C max 10°C (39-50°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 21°C (61-70°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 5-8

Campanula isophyllaCampanula isophyllaCampanula isophyllaCampanula isophylla Campanula isophyllaCampanula isophylla



Flowering Plants, Garden Plants, Ground cover, Indoor Plants , , , , , , , , ,

Callisia fragrans

Common name: Basket Plant, Chain Plant, Inch Plant, False Bromeliad, Purple Succulent, Basketplant, Fragrant Inch Plant, Octopus Plant

Family: Commelinaceae

Synonymous: Spironema orthandrum
Rectanthera fragrans
Spironema fragrans

Callisia fragrans

Callisia fragrans

Distribution and habitat: Callisia fragrans is endemic to Mexico and naturalized in the West Indies, scattered locations in the United States, and a few other places.
Callisia fragrans is a long-lived creeping herbaceous plant with leaves crowded into rosette-like clusters and spreading laterally via long runners. It occurs in pinelands, hammocks and disturbed areas.

Description: Callisia fragrans is a sprawling plant. It has elliptic, pointed leaves up to 25cm (10 inch) long and 5cm (2 inch) wide carried on fleshy stems up to 90cm (35 inch) long. The fresh, glossy green leaves tend to become reddish purple in strong light. In young plants the short teams are arranged in a rosette-like shape, but they rapidly lengthen. The occasional flowers are white and fragrant, clustered towards the tips of long flowering stems. Individual flowers are almost stalkless with three elongated petals, short-lived that wilt at noon. The fruit are small, three-celled, capsules.

Houseplant care: Callisia fragrans is very hardy and may able to take much abuse as overwatering or neglect of watering. It is odd-looking plant and grows fast. Provide ample room for this big, spreading plant.

Light: Give Callisia fragrans bright light including about three or four hours a day of direct sunlight at all times.

Temperature: Callisia fragrans thrive in warm rooms. It is advisable, however, to give them a short winter rest period at 10-16°C (50-61°F), if possible.

Watering: During the active rest period water plentifully, enough to keep the potting mixture thoroughly moist, but never allow pots to stand in water. In rest period water sparingly, giving enough to make the potting mixture barely moist and allow the top two-thirds to dry out between waterings.

Feeding: Use standard liquid fertiliser once every two weeks in the active growth period only.

Potting and repotting: Use either soil-based or peat-based potting mixture. Callisia fragrans grows fast and needs repotting every spring; large specimens may require 12 or 15cm (5-6 inch) pots. If a plant begins to lose its lower leaves it should be replaced.

Gardening: Callisia fragrans flourishes in warm subtropical climates but can tolerate a mild frost.
Pinch plants frequently to encourage branching and prevent long, scraggly growth.

Position: Callisia fragrans can be planted in part sun to shade. If grown in shade the plants are full and compact; in sun the leaves color more brightly.

Soil: The substrate for Callisia fragrans should be gritty loam. It grows well in fertile soils.

Irrigation: Callisia fragrans prefers moist soil, but once established will tolerate extensive drought. When watered this plant can get of good size. If no rain, water regularly every 1-2 weeks, moistening the soil thoroughly. Allow the soil to dry completely before watering again and do not allow plants to stand in water. During the winter rest period, stop watering.
Expect this plants to shed their leaves while getting established.

Fertilisation: For healthy growth use a fertiliser for flowering plants which can be added to the irrigating water, every 20-25 days. Alternatively, sprinkle the plants with a slow release fertiliser every 3-4 months.

Propagation: Take 5cm long tip cuttings in spring or summer. Insert one cutting of Callisia fragrans in a 5 or 8cm pot of standard potting mixture, and keep in bright filtered light, watering sparingly. After two or three weeks, when the new roots have developed, treat them as mature Callisia fragrans.

Recommended varieties:
Callisia fragrans cv. ‘Melnikoff’ have lengthwise white or cream coloured stripes of different widths.

Availability: Callisia fragrans is often sold bareroot tips which have already aerial roots formed. They will root readily and grow quickly. Alternatively, buy Callisia fragrans seed or palnted in pots or hanging baskets from specialised nurseries.

Note: Callisia fragrans is a known weed in subtropical gardens where forms a dense spreading ground-cover that can rapidly overtake bushland areas. It therefore has the potential to crowd out native species and prevent their regeneration. It becomes extremely aggressive and dominant in the places where it is found.

Uses and display: Callisia fragrans can be used decoratively in many ways: as edgers in hanging baskets, urns and window boxes spillover; as a groundcover beneath Zingiber (Gingers), Musa (Bananas) species and other taller tropicals; or to fill bare spots in the garden. It suits tropical designs.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Shape – climbing and trailing
Height: 15-30cm (6-12 inch)
Spread: 1.2-1.8mcm (4-6 feet)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright
Temperature in rest period – min 10°C max 16°C (50-61°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 21°C (61-70°F)
Humidity – low

Hardiness zone: 10b-11

Callisia fragransCallisia fragransCallisia fragransCallisia fragrans flowersCallisia fragrans Melnikoff



Evergreen, Garden Plants, Ground cover, Indoor Plants , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cissus antarctica

Common name: Kangaroo Vine, Kangaroo Ivy

Family: Vitaceae

Synonymous: Cissus oblonga

Cissus antarctica

Cissus antarctica

Distribution and habitat: Cissus antarctica is an evergreen climbing plant widespread in warmer rainforest of Australia’s coastal regions. It is a true climber, supporting itself by tendrils.
Because Cissus antarctica plants can grow high into rainforest canopies, their presence will be noticed because they spread fruits on the ground. These vines are also common plants of rainforest edges, with foliage forming a screen right down to the ground.

Descriptions: Cissus antarctica is the best-known species of this genus. It can grow 2-3m (7-10 feet) tall indoors use as trained or hanging baskets. Its pointed-oval leaves are shiny, medium green and up to 10cm (4 inch) long. They have lightly toothed edges and are produced singly on short, red leaf-stalks. Where overhead space is restricted, growing points can be pinched out regularly to encourage the development of side-shoots. This will make the plants lower-growing and more bushy. If permitted, they can produce at least 60cm (24 inch) of new top growth in a single year.

Houseplant care: Cissus antarctica is a popular interior or houseplant with handsome serrated leaves and airy look which will thrive in a pot or hanging basket producing cascades of fresh foliage. Pinch out growing points of the plants periodically to promote branching. Any plants that lose a large number of lower leaves and become bare at the base should be cut back (if necessary, severely) in spring.
Cissus antarctica can be trained on support. Train any vigorous stems into place and, if necessary, tie them to their supports.
It is advisable to shorten the main growth of large plants by a third in early spring. At the same time cut back lateral growths to a node within about 2cm (0.8 inch) of the main stems.
Spray and gently wipe leaves of Cissus antarctica plants when they look dusty.

Light: Cissus antarctica will adapt well to a wide range of light intensity, even in subdued light. Ideally, they should be grown in bright light, but without direct sunlight throughout the year. Over-exposure to sun causes transparent leaf markings, which will eventually turn brown.
Once established, these plants should be kept in the same position, as they dislike change.

Temperature: Cissus antarctica likes warmth, 16 to 24°C (61-75°F) during the active growing period, but it does best if given a winter rest period at around 13°C (55°F). During the rest period, it does not do well above 15°C (59°F), especially when exposed to central heating, which can cause the leaves to drop.
It can stand wide temperature changes and is fairly tolerant of draughts, but dislikes hot, dry air. Provide some additional humidity in the air in winter. Mist spray the foliage regularly, especially in extended hot conditions.

Watering: Water Cissus antarctica moderately during the active growth period, enough to moisten the entire mixture at each watering and allowing the top centimetre (0.4 inch) or so of the mixture to dry out before watering again. During the rest period water Cissus antarctica plants just enough to keep the mixture from drying out.

Feeding: Apply liquid fertiliser about every two weeks from early spring to early autumn.

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture. Move plants into pots one size larger each spring. As long as they are adequately fed, quite large plants with a height or spread of up to 2m (7 feet) can be accommodated in 20-25cm (8-10 inch) pots. After maximum convenient pot size has been reached, top-dress Cissus antarctica plants with fresh potting mixture instead of moving them on.
Do not over-pot Cissus antarctica plants since they will grow very big quite quickly.

Gardening: Cissus antarctica is often used as a vine in warm temperate to sub-tropical climates as an ornamental plant in gardens. It can be used as spreading groundcover or climber.

Position: Cissus antarctica plants should be placed in diffused sunshine to partial shade. Their leaves are hardy to full sun, but these plants prefer their roots to be well-shaded or under a thick layer of mulch.

Soil: Cissus antarctica plants will do well in loamy, sandy loam, clay loam soil, enriched soil with pH between mild acidic to mild alkaline. However, well drained soils are preferred. To increase soil drainage use additional compost or other organic matter.
Although it is recommended to place a thin layer of organic mulch to helps to feed these vines and keeps the soil cool and moist during the hot weather.

Irrigation: Cissus antarctica plants need little to moderate watering. Keep the soil either dry between watering to constantly moist, but not wet. If the rain fall is abundant, good soil drainage will keep the plants healthy.
Also, these vines can tolerate periods of drought and light frosts.

Fertilise: Cissus antarctica plants are heavy feeders as they are fast growing plants. Fertilise them every 2-3 months.

Propagation: Young tip cuttings 8-15cm (3-6 inch) long will, if taken in spring, root in six to eight weeks under suitable conditions. Strip the lower leaves from the cuttings and dip the cut ends in a hormone rooting powder; plant four or five cuttings in an 8cm (3 inch) pot containing an equal-parts mixture of moistened peat moss and coarse sand or a substance such as perlite. Enclose the potted cuttings in a plastic bag and stand them in a warm place with bright filtered light. When new growth indicates that the cuttings are rooted, remove the bag and begin to water sparingly, enough to make the potting mixture barely moist but allowing the top centimetre (0.4 inch) or so of the potting mixture to dry out between waterings. When they are well established, repot the young plants in a standard potting mixture and treat them as mature plants.
If preferred, trailing shoots can be layered into a nearby pot of suitable rooting medium.

Problems:
If the air in the room is especially dry, watch out for red spider mites which may gather on the underside of leaves and can cause considerable damage.
Treatment: Spray with a suitable insecticide and raise the humidity by standing the pot on a saucer of moist pebbles.

Brown patches on the leaves may be the result of sun exposure.
Treatment: Provide Cissus antarctica with some shade.

Shriveled, yellowing and falling leaves indicates over-watering and this may lead to rotting, if not corrected.
Treatment: Withhold watering till surface of soil has dried.

Brown dry foliage indicates lack of moisture in the air.
Treatment: Improve humidity and cut out unsightly stems once the plant shows signs of recovery.

Leaves crinkle and drop is caused by cold temperature.
Treatment: Place Cissus antarctica in an even warm temperature.

Mildew on the leaves is a sign of water-logging or inadequate drainage.
Treatment: Spray these plants with a suitable fungicide at regular intervals. Avoid over-watering and poor soil drainage.

The Cissus antarctica plants grow lush and invasive.
Treatment: Stop feeding and cut back to a more satisfactory size. Cut at a leaf joint.

LifespanCissus antarctica is long-lived and fast-growing vine which can be trimmed right back in spring if they become too larges for their position. It is an easy to grow plants and will not require special attention.

Note: Cissus antarctica is safe plant to be used in reptiles enclosures.

Recommended varieties:
Cissus antarctica ‘Minima’ is a very slow growing dwarf form which produces spreading rather than upright branches. It is therefore an ideal plant for hanging baskets.

Uses and display: Cissus antarctica is often trained on bamboo support as a room divider or as a backdrop to a collection of plants. It will fight to live, even in the most unfavourable, dark places. In shops and offices it can often be seen, the sole survivor in a container once filled with plants.
Outdoors, a vine can be used to cover a fences or convert a large pergola into a shady outdoor space or left to scramble up a large tree. Cissus antarctica are also used as ground covers on large banks and road batters. Often used in public and private shows garden sculpture is an impressive display of outdoor art that reflect the playful personalities of it is fun loving gardeners. These vines are suitable for bush and tropical designs, used as informal screens, pergolas, groundcovers, spillovers, pots or hanging basket plants.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Shape – climbing and trailing
Height: 2-3m (7-10 feet)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – bight
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 – low

Hardiness zone: 9-10

Cissus antarcticaCissus antarcticaCissus antarctica



Climber, Evergreen, Foliage Plants, Garden Plants, Ground cover, Indoor Plants , , ,

Aeschynanthus speciosus

Common name: Basket Plant, Lipstick Plant, Lipstick Vine

Family: Gesneriaceae

Synonymous: Aeschynanthus aucklandiae
Aeschynanthus splendens

Aeschynanthus speciosus

Aeschynanthus speciosus

Distribution and habitat: Aeschynanthus speciosus is a species of trailing ephiphytic flowering plant, in wild growing on branches of trees in the tropical rainforests. It is native primarily to Southeast Asia (the Malay peninsula, Java and Borneo island). It is a perennial woody subshrubs. The stems are branching and it has a spreading, weeping habit. The vines cascade downwards with long, graceful stems that can extend to more than 3m (10 feet) long.
As an epiphyte, Aeschynanthus speciosus does not live off its host like a parasite but rather, it takes nourishment from fallen leaves and twigs that accumulate in the crevices of tree’s branches.

Description: Aeschynanthus speciosus is perhaps the most spectacular species within its genus. Its dark green leaves are carried along the stems in pairs or whorls of three, but there are 4 to 8 leaves at the stem tip, where they surround a cluster of 6 to 20 flowers. The leaves are up to 10cm (4 inch) long and 4cm (1.5 inch) wide and their tips are more sharply pointed than their bases. The green calyx sheathes only a portion of the flower, which may be 10cm (4 inch) long. Both calyx and corolla are slightly hairy. The flowers are orange with the inside of the mouth orange-yellow and with a dark red bar across the lower lobes which also have scarlet borders.
These plants normally have a summertime flowering season indoors and individual flowers last for only two or three days. An Aeschynanthus speciosus plant is displayed to best advantage in a hanging basket, where the broad surface area allows the trailing stems to root down at intervals and send out abundant side-shoots. The plant will mature in 2 to 5 years.

Proper care: Aeschynanthus speciosus are perfect as hanging or trailing plants. They require high humidity and warmth throughout the growing season, as well as strong, but not direct, light. These plants are perfect for a greenhouse, sunroom or conservatory.
After the season is over, cut the trailing stems back in preparation for another year—otherwise, it will tend toward leginess.

Light: Provide bright light for Aeschynanthus speciosus plants  – but with no more than two or three hours of direct sunlight a day.

Temperature: Normal room temperatures are suitable for Aeschynanthus speciosus as long as humidity is kept high. Place trays of moist pebbles bellow the trailing stems and mist-spray plants daily during the flowering period. A humidifier can help to a great extent.
Avoid sudden temperature changes.

Watering: When an Aeschynanthus speciosus is in flower, water it plentifully. At other times water moderately, enough to make the mixture moist throughout, but allow the top 1cm (0.4 inch) to dry out between waterings. If kept in humid warmth, these plants do not have a rest period and so they require this much water all year long.
They must not be allowed to dry out when in bloom.

Feeding: Use a liquid fertiliser containing an equal-parts mixture of nitrogen, phosphate and potash. Apply a one-eighth-strength dose to these plants at every watering.

Potting and repotting: Since Aeschynanthus speciosus plants like an acid growing medium, coarse sphagnum peat moss may be used alone as the potting mixture. Equally suitable is an equal-parts mixture of peat moss and such substances as perlite and vermiculite which, if packed loosely, gives much-needed aeration around the roots.
Shallow 13 or 15cm (5-6 inch) pots or baskets are the best containers with several young plants placed in each for good effect. Repotting may be done at any time of year. When roots fill the pot, move plants into a pot one size larger. Or, preferably, cut them back by about one-third and repot the plants in the same pot, but with fresh potting mixture.

Gardening: Keep Aeschynanthus speciosus warm and humid in the spring and summer, above 18°C (65ºF). The plant can withstand day temperatures of above 23ºC (75ºF) and 18 to 21ºC (65-70ºF) during the night; but the night temperatures should not be below 13ºC (55ºF). In the winter, a brief period of 13 to 18°C (55-65ºF) will promote flowering. These plants require a humid atmosphere.
After the flowering season these plants may be trimmed. As the flowers emerge from the tips of the stalks, excessive trimming can hamper with flowering.

Position: As Aeschynanthus speciosus are native to tropical regions, they need humidity, moisture and sunlight for a healthy growth. Sunlight is one of the important factors that can affect the growth of these plants, but direct sunlight can cause adverse effects – the leaves can fall off or turn brown – unless the plants are kept moist. It is always better to grow these plants in a warm, part shaded location.

Soil: Aeschynanthus speciosus require for healthy growth evenly moist, fertile and well-drained soil. Light sandy soil with a mix of peat or humus is preferred for these plants.

Irrigation: Water Aeschynanthus speciosus plants generously, but take care not to make the soil soggy. Regular watering is more important during summers and in dry weather conditions, wherein the leaves can be moisten too to improve the atmospheric humidity. It is always better to use tepid water rather than cold water, as the latter may cause spots on the leaves that may also turn brown.

Fertilise: Adding fertilisers during the spring and summer season, can trigger flowering in Aeschynanthus speciosus plants. Use a nitrogen-free fertiliser at half the recommended strength, once in two weeks. The fertilising and watering frequency has to be reduced during the fall and winter, to allow the plant to get a resting period.

Propagation: Tip cutting 10-15cm (4-6 inch) long will root in three to four weeks at any season. Plant the cuttings in 8cm (3 inch) pots of the recommended potting mixture thoroughly moistened, enclosed them in plastic bags and keep them at normal room temperature in bright filtered light. When rooting has occurred, the bag should be removed and the new plants given just enough water to keep the potting mixture barely moist. About a week later pot several of the new plants together in a shallow 13 or 15cm (5-6 inch) pot and treat them as mature specimens. Make a particular effort to provide high humidity for these young plants.

Problems: If the Aeschynanthus speciosus plant has lost a lot of leaves over the winter, prune it more sharply, cutting the stems back to 15cm (6 inch) above their base.

Keep a watch for aphids which attack young leaves of Aeschynanthus speciosus. These tiny, highly prolific insects feed by sucking the plant sap. They form dense colonies on young shoots and under leaves and also feed on plant stems, bark, roots and fruit.
Treatment: Inspect the plant regularly for insects and use a suitable spray insecticide when necessary.

The scale insects (Coccoidea) are another pest capable of damaging Aeschynanthus speciosus plants when they are grown indoors.
Treatment: Spraying the plant with a diluted horticultural oil or soap can be an effective treatment.

Flower buds drop off and/or wilted leaves can be caused by not enough water during the growing period
Treatment: Immerse pot for 10 minutes in room temperature water and then let drain. After that adjust watering frequency.

Leaves drop off and roots rot can be caused by too much water in winter
Treatment: Cut off damaged roots and repot plant in a well-drained soil mixture. Consider cutting back on watering.

Leaf margins turn yellow and the new shoots drop off can be caused by the fact that the air around Aeschynanthus speciosus plant is too dry.
Treatment: Increase relative humidity by using a humidifier or place a tray with moist pebbles under plant pot and spray mist the foliage.

Avoid moving the plant once the flower buds have formed, to prevent them from dropping off.

Uses and display: In cultivation, Aeschynanthus speciosus is grown for its ornamental beauty in hanging baskets or pots, displaying long pendulous stems with dark green foliage and crowned with clusters of exotic flowers and buds in brilliant contrast. It is ideal as houseplants and for a conservatory or greenhouse. Perfect for hanging baskets/pots to best display their lovely cascading stems and attractive flowers or in containers placed on a pedestal or windowsill. A vine-like plant that can be trained as a climber on fences and wire-frames or grown on ground or allowed to creep on mossy rock surfaces.

The plant can be kept in a bathroom window sill or kitchen for increased humidity.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – climbing and trailing
Height: 60-90cm (24-36 inch)

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

Hardiness zone: 11

 

Aeschynanthus speciosusAeschynanthus speciosusAeschynanthus speciosus



Climber, Garden Plants, Ground cover, Indoor Plants , , , , ,

Faucaria tigrina

Common name: Tiger’s Jaws

Family: Aizoaceae

Synonymous: Faucaria tigrina f. splendens
Mesembryanthemum tigrinum

Faucaria tigrina

Faucaria tigrina

Distribution and habitat: Faucaria tigrina is a subtropical succulent plant native of South Africa  in eastern Cape Province thicket and savanna and the Karoo desert. It is found in open, rocky patches, in a dark clay soil with a low pH, in mountain renosterveld.

The Latin name for these succulent house plants is Faucaria meaning jaws and tigrina meaning tiger.
The ‘teeth’ of the Faucaria tigrina however, are actually soft and harmless, and help to trap moist fog and direct it down to the roots. Fog that comes in from the coast provides a precious source of water for plants surviving in the hot, arid thickets.

Description: Faucaria tigrina are low growing succulent plants with four or five layers of leaves arranged in criss-cross opposite pairs, forming a thick, star shaped rosette. Each pair of leaves is united at the base and these are virtually no stems. The leaves are fleshy and pointed, 2-5cm (0.8-2 inch) long and 2cm (0.8 inch) broad at the base. The roughly triangular leaves, which are usually edged with soft and bristle-like hooked teeth, have a flat upper surface, but the underside is convex. Leaf colour is greyish green marked with many small white dots. The teeth on the edge of the young leaves interlock, but they later strengthen and separate to give a jaw like appearance.
The plants send out basal offsets that form crowded clumps.
Relatively large, daisy-like flowers, which generally open in the afternoon, are produced from between the leaves in autumn. They are attractive golden yellow, stalk-less and can be up to 5cm (2 inch) wide.

Proper care: The plants in this genus represent some of the more easily cultivated succulent species.

Light: Faucaria tigrina must have at least three hours a day of direct sunlight all year long in order to flower.

Temperature: Faucaria tigrina needs warmer temperatures from spring through fall 21-32°C (70-90°F). It needs average temperatures in winter, 16-24°C (60-75°F).
If the plant is moved outdoors for the summer, be sure to bring it back indoors when nighttime temperatures drop below 16°C (60°F).
This succulent plant requires an average to dry humidity.

Water: Keep Faucaria tigrina soil lightly moist spring through fall. In winter, allow soil to dry out between waterings.

Feeding: During the active growth period only, apply standard liquid fertiliser at half-strength once or twice during growth period. Too frequent feeding will result in soft, uncharacteristic growth.

Potting and repotting: Use a mixture composed of two parts of soil-based mixture to one part of coarse sand or grit. Because Faucaria tigrina have relatively little root, plant them in shallow pans or half-pots. When a clump has covered the surface of the potting mixture, move plants into a container one size larger. Repotting should be necessary, however, only one in two or three years. The best time to pot is early spring.

Gardening: In areas prone to frost, Faucaria tigrina should be overwintered in an intermediate greenhouse or conservatory, in pots of cactus compost. Although the plants will survive mild frost if kept dry – hardy as low as -5°C (23°F) – they should be protected from frost to prevent scarring.
Faucarias become woody and untidy as they age. New plants can be started by cutting a rosette and planting it.

Position: Faucaria tigrina plants need full sun to light shade.  Keep them shaded in summer, but provide maximum light the rest of the year. They do not do well in full shade as they tend to etiolate, fall over and rot easily.

Soil: Faucaria tigrina need to be located in an accentuated and drained substratum. The substrate should be gritty-sandy soil. They thrive on a little compost and some fine mulch spread between the plants would also be a good idea.
These succulent plants will grow in a well-drained soil mix, but can tolerate a wide variety of soil types and growing locations as long as there is plenty of sun.

Irrigation: Faucaria tigrina is native to a primarily summer rainfall area but in cultivation the plant can be watered year-round. The plants are well watered during the growing season and allowed to dry thoroughly before watering again and will tolerate some over watering, but the challenge is to help them keep their compact form and prevent elongation of the stem.
Faucaria tigrina plants grow on winter rain and were heading for spring-summer dormancy. Requires little water otherwise their epidermis breaks (resulting in unsightly scars). Water moderately from the middle of summer to the end of winter and keep the compost almost dry when the plants are dormant. Water minimally in spring and summer, only when the plant starts shriveling (but they will generally grow even in summer if given water).

Fertiliser: Faucaria tigrina plants should be fertilised only once during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer diluted to half the recommended strength.

Propagation: Carefully divide overcrowded clumps of Faucaria tigrina in late spring or early summer just after plants have restarted into growth. As individual plants are separated, some will come away with their roots attached. Insert each such rooted Faucaria tigrina directly into an 8cm or 10cm (3-4 inch) container of the recommended potting mixture and treat the new plant as a mature specimen. For the first week or two, however, keep the Faucaria tigrina in medium light, well out of direct sunlight.
An individual plant without roots attached should be left unpotted for a few days to let the base of the plant harden. It may then be inserted in the recommended potting mixture. Surround the base with some additional coarse sand. This will help to prevent rotting and encourage the development of roots. Keep the plant in medium light and water only moderately until new growth indicates that rooting has occurred. Thereafter, treat the young plant as a mature Faucaria tigrina.

Problems:
The spring weather, with a high temperature swing between the day and night hours and pretty frequent rains, can favour the development of fungus diseases (phytophthora) indicated by sudden wilting and pale green discolouration.
Treatement: Remove infected plants and treat remaining plants preemptively with a systemic fungicide, before the gems grow excessively. Avoid fungus infections by improving drainage and over-fertilization.

Waxy fibres and honeydew on leaves and shoots indicate an infestation with mealybugs. Scale insects sit on the undersides of the leaves.
Treatment: At the end of the winter a wide range insecticide is recommended to be applied to prevent the insects attack. It is recommended to do these treatments when there are not flowerings in the garden. Alternatively, control biologically with predatory ladybirds or parasitic wasps can be used in garden.

Note: Continued urban development and over-grazing within its current natural habitat means Faucaria tigrina plant is classed as endangered in the wild.

Uses and display: Faucaria tigrina is used as a border or filler plant in rock gardens, xeriscaping or wild gardens. It will attract bees, butterflies and other insects into the garden. It is a suitable succulent plant for smaller gardens and can be used to stabilise banks and and reduce land erosion.  Although it can be grown just as easily indoors as windowsill plant, being well suited to growing in containers and pots.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – low growing, clustering habit
Height: under 15cm (6 inch)

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

Hardiness zone: 9b-11

Faucaria tigrinaFaucaria tigrinaFaucaria tigrina



Evergreen, Ground cover, Indoor Plants, Succulents , , ,

Tradescantia zebrina

Common name: Inchplant, Wandering Jew, Inch Plant, Cockroach Grass, Purple Wandering Jew, Silver Inch Plant, Silvery Inch Plant, Striped Trad, Striped Wandering Creeper, Striped Wandering Jew, Wandering Zebrina, Zebra Plant, Zebrina

Family: Commelinaceae

Synonymous: Commelina zebrina
Cyanotis zebrina
Tradescantia pendula
Zebrina pendula
Zebrina pendula var. quadrifolia

Tradescantia zebrina

Tradescantia zebrina

Distribution and habitat: Tradescantia zebrina is native to the Gulf Coast region of eastern Mexico. It is a weed of waste areas, disturbed sites, roadsides, urban bushland, riparian vegetation, open woodlands and forests in sub-tropical and warmer temperate regions.
Tradescantia zebrina was widely naturalized in the coastal districts of eastern Australia and on several Pacific islands. It is reported as invasive in many areas in the Pacific, spreading across shady or damp areas.

Description: Tradescantia zebrina are trailing plants that have oval leaves roughly 5cm (2 inch) long, with an iridescent upper surface and a rich purple underside. Two glistering stripes of silvery green surrounding a medium green central portion run the length of the upper surface of its pointed-oval leaves
They produce clusters of small, three petaled flowers in spring and summer. They are purple-pink coloured.

Proper care: Tradescantia zebrina is noted for its ease of culture and tolerance for wide range of growing conditions. It is quick growing and a very decorative, particularly in hanging baskets where its brilliant leaf colouring can be fully appreciated.
Pinch out growing points of lengthy shoots regularly to encourage the production of side branches. Remove all poorly coloured stems in early spring.

Light: Give Tradescantia zebrina plants bright light at all times for close growth and brilliant leaf colour. Plants can normally be grown at a short distance from a sunny window without too much loss of colour, but growth will probably become straggly and colours will tend to fade as this distance lengthens.
Tradescantia zebrina plants can be taken outside in summer. Keep them out of the direct sun light.

Temperature: Tradescantia zebrina likes warmth but they can tolerate temperatures down to 12°C (54°F). In cool conditions they grow very slowly.
Tradescantia zebrina tolerates dry air very well.

Watering: Water actively growing plants moderately, allowing the top couple of centimetres  (1 inch) of the potting mixture to dry out between waterings. When plants are resting, give them just enough water to make the mixture barely moist throughout and allow the top half to dry out between waterings. Tradescantia zebrina that have been grown slightly on the dry side show the best colour.

Feeding: Give actively growing plants standard liquid fertiliser about once every two weeks.

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture. Move Tradescantia zebrina into pots one size larger when their roots fill the pot. Plant several rooted cuttings together to create a bushy effect – as many as 12 to 15 in a single hanging basket.

Gardening: Tradescantia zebrina is a succulent-stemmed plant that creeps and sprawls and trails all over itself to make a dense groundcover. Pinch stems as needed to encourage dense foliage growth.
Individual leaves will burn and stems will die back, at around 0°C (32°F), but the plant can regrow as long as it do not get colder than minus 7°C (20°F).

Position: Tradescantia zebrina tolerates a wide range of light levels, but prefers bright shade or semi-shade. Place Tradescantia zebrina plants somewhere light, for otherwise it may lose its beautiful colours and turn green. Make certain it does not catch the full light of the midday sun, but it will love standing within some of the soft beams of morning sunshine.
Groundcover plantings can be established effortlessly, then ripped out and moved with ease when the landscape plan changes.

Soil: Tradescantia zebrina prefers rich organic soil and thrives on mulch.
When Tradescantia zebrina is grown as a groundcover, new branches cover the bare stems and fill in the planting space.

Irrigation: Tradescantia zebrina plants like a consistently moist but well-drained soil during the growing season, with reduced watering from fall to late winter.
Water Tradescantia zebrina modestly. It does not like to get too wet. Allow the soil to dry out a little before watering again.

Fertilising: Feed Tradescantia zebrina once a fortnight with diluted fertiliser during the growing season. Do not fertiliser these plants in autumn and winter.

Propagation: Because older leaves dry up leaving bare stems, it is advisable to produce new plants quite frequently. Tip cutting of Tradescantia zebrina, about 8cm (3 inch) long taken in spring or early summer will root easily in an equal-parts rooting mixture of peat moss and sand.
Keep the cuttings in bright filtered light, giving just enough water to make the mixture barely moist, and roots will develop in three or four weeks; plant four to six rooted cuttings together in an 8cm (3 inch) pot of standard potting mixture and treat them as mature plants.
Alternatively, root tip cuttings in water. Place the cuttings in small – preferable opaque – glasses of water and keep them in bright filtered light. They will develop roots 2-5cm (0.8-2 inch) long in two to three weeks and they can then be moved into standard potting mixture and treat them as mature plants.

Problems: Tradescantia zebrina has no serious insect or disease problems.

Root rot and stem rot may occur if soils are kept too moist.

Watch for aphids, mealybugs, scale, whiteflies and spider mites.
Treatment: Use a suitable pesticide to prevent these infestations.

Spindly growth and bare stems: This happens naturally with age for this plant but lack of light, water or plant food can also cause spindly growth. If the plant is old and conditions are fine (water, light etc.) then it could be time to replace it.

All green leaves: Variegated leaves turning green and losing their variegation is most likely due to too much light.

Limp stems is usually a sign that the plant is lacking water.

Toxicity: Contact with Tradescantia zebrina plant sap may cause skin irritations.

Recommended varieties: Tradescantia zebrina is the parent of a number of varieties:

Tradescantia zebrina quadricolor has irregular pink, green, cream and silver stripes on the leaves. It is the most attractive plant of this genus, although it is more difficult to grow.

Uses and display: Tradescantia zebrina is a very popular trailing plant, commonly grown in hanging baskets or pots as a houseplant. Trailing stems cascade down from a hanging basket. Where winter hardy, it is commonly grown as a groundcover that roots at the nodes as stems spread along the ground.
A few pieces poked into the soil amongst container plants in the greenhouse will quickly flow into a colorful winter carpet.
And it can be used to make a gorgeous flower arrangement out of practically anything by sticking a couple of  Tradescantia zebrina sprigs in with it.
Tradescantia zebrina are suitable for mixed plantings in bowls or for training up fan shaped trellises.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – coloured
Features – flowers
Shape – climbing and trailing
Height: 90-120cm (36-48 inch)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright
Temperature in rest period – min 10°C max 24°C (50-75°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 21°C max 24°C (70-75°F)
Humidity – low

Hardiness zone: 9a-11

Tradescantia zebrina flowersTradescantia zebrina Tradescantia zebrina Tradescantia zebrina Tradescantia zebrina Tradescantia zebrina quadricolor



Climber, Evergreen, Foliage Plants, Garden Plants, Ground cover, Indoor Plants , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Begonia bowerae

Common name: Eyelash Begonia

Family: Begoniaceae

Wrong spelling: Begonia boweri

Synonymous: Begonia bowerae var. major
Begonia bowerae var. nigramarga
Begonia bowerae var. roseflora

Begonia bowerae

Begonia bowerae

Distribution and habitat: Begonia bowerae is a native of tropical Mexico and its natural habitat is the shadowy area on the floor of the tropical forest as ground-cover and non-stem-forming plant. This creeping rhizomatous Begonia grows up to 25cm (10 inch) tall and is spreading up to 18cm (7 inch). It is a miniature Begonia with straight, scattered, single hairs on petioles, leaf margins and peduncles.

Begonia bowerae is usually offered under the incorrect name: Begonia boweri. This is a fantastic Begonia that is heavily used for breeding to create new exciting cultivars and is itself rarely on offer.

Description: Begonia bowerae it is a tender perennial that grows from a creeping branched rhizome (underground stem). It is a bushy, stemless plant, about 15-20cm (6-8 inch) tall. The small, heart shaped leaves are deep emerald green with black edging and with stiff hairs on leaf edges and leaf stalk. The purple-burgundy to nearly black markings may also create bands along the leaf veins. In late winter and early spring it produces loose clusters of white or light pink male and female flowers that are held on thin pink stems above the foliage. The flowers are tiny, shell shaped, produced on 10-15cm (4-6 inch) long stalks.

Houseplant care: Begonia bowerae cultivars are among the most preferred indoor plants for their rich colours of the leaves and because the relatively rapid growth. Pinching tips and pruning outer stems in the growing season gives a bushier plant, good for hanging baskets. Remove dead foliage to prevent disease.

Light: Begonia bowerae are grown primarily for their foliage. Their leaf colours will be saved only when the plant is kept in high humidity and away from direct sunlight, but well-lit location. A shaded greenhouse or a window free of direct sun also will suffice. Although this plant enjoys filtered light, it can take some sun in winter.
These plants do not like changing their position.

Temperature: Normal room temperatures are suitable for actively growing plants, preferable at least 15°C (59°F). Give to these plants fresh air as much as possible and avoid draughts or cold air.
Begonia bowerae suffer in dry air. For increased humidity stand the pots on trays with moist pebbles or suspend saucers of water under hanging baskets.

Watering: As these Begonia bowerae plants are able to store large amounts of moisture in their thickened stems they require less moisture than most other Begonias types, especially during the colder months.
Water regularly with trepid water, so that the potting mixt stays always moist, but never soaking-wet. Do not spray mist this plant and avoid getting the leaves wet when watering.
In winter, this plant dislikes conditions which are too moist and too dark. In this period water the plant more sparingly, allowing the top half of the potting mixture to dry out between waterings.

Feeding: Apply standard liquid fertiliser every two weeks to actively growing plants.

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 or other drainage material in the bottom of the pot for extra drainage.
Begonia bowerae is a rhizomatous begonia and has shallow roots, therefore is best planted in shallow pots or pans. Move small plants into the next size of pot or pan only when the rhizome has grown across the entire surface of the potting mixture; do this preferably in spring. Discard aging rhizomatous Begonia bowerae in favour of attractive new plants.
When potting or repotting a Begonia bowerae, simply sprinkle some mixture around the roots and tap the container briskly to settle the potting mixture. Do not firm it down with the finger as this procedure may damage the roots and stems.

Gardening: Begonia bowerae can be grown outdoors in pots, in the ground to form groundcover or in hanging baskets in filtered light and moist, but well drained soil. In mild winter areas, they may remain outdoors year-round as long as they do not freeze.

Tip pinching early develops a well-rounded plant. Pruning usually consists of replanting an old plant that is crowding itself. Rhizomes often will grow over the pot edge. This forms a nicely rounded plant and, unless it is not becoming unattractive, need not prompt pruning. Once Begonia bowerae have finished flowering, pinch out the growing tip to encourage the development of laterals and a fuller plant. Old leaves should be removed at the end of winter.

Position: These rhizomatous begonias grow nicely when given adequate light without strong direct sun. Under a shade structure or a tree is a good place to grow them outdoors.

Soil: Begonia bowerae plants prefer well drained soil rich in compost or organic matter. They like an acidic soil  with pH ranging from 5.5 to 6.5. Humidity around 60 per cent is ideal and good drainage is essential.

Irrigation: In the garden, water deeply as required, which is not as often as people may think. They should be kept on the dry side, as overwatering them can be fatal, whether they are in a pot or garden bed. Begonias are succulent or semi-succulent plants so accept quite dry conditions. Overhead watering would not harm them.

Fertilise: Feed these plants with liquid fertiliser at three of four weeks interval.

Propagation: Cut off 5-8cm (2-3 inch) long growing tips 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 cuttings in an 8cm (3 inch) pot of moistened equal-parts 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 the rooting has occurred – about three to six weeks. Uncover the rooted cuttings and begin to water it sparingly and to apply standard liquid fertiliser about once every two weeks. Do not overwater these hirsute Begonias which will rot if kept too wet. About six months after the start of propagation, move the young plants into a slightly larger pot of standard potting mixture for mature Begonia bowerae.

Another way to propagate Begonia bowerae is to cut a rhizome into 5-8cm (2-3 inch) long sections, each with at least one growth point. This way of propagation have to be undertaken in spring. Treat the cut ends of sections with sulphur dust. Plant each section half in and half out of slightly moistened rooting mixture in a 8cm (3 inch) pot or pan. Use a rooting mix of equal parts of peat moss and coarse sand or perlite. Place the section either horizontally or vertically, depending on how the parent rhizome was growing in its container.
Enclose each planted piece of rhizome in a plastic bag or a propagating case and stand it in bright filtered light. Roots should form in four to six weeks. When two or three new leaves have appeared, uncover the little plant, repot it in an appropriate container of the recommended potting mixture and treat it as a mature plant.

Begonia bowerae can be propagated also from leaf cuttings in spring. Take a healthy leaf with 2-5cm (0.8-2 inch) leaf-stalk attached and plant the stalk at an angle of 45° in a small pot of moistened propagating mixture recommended above or insert several leaves in a small pan or seed stray.
Enclose the whole in a plastic bag or propagating case and stand it in bright filtered light. Rooting should occur in two or three weeks and tiny plantlets should appear from each leaf after a further two or three weeks. Several plantlets are generally clustered together. When each of them has produced at least two recognisable leaves, pot the plantlets up singly in 8cm (3 inch) containers of the recommended potting mixture for mature Begonia bowerae. Before treating the little plants as adults, however, dampen the mixture sighly and put the plants back in a plastic bag or propagating case for another four weeks. This will acclimatise them to normal room conditions.

Problems:
Begonia bowerae can easily develop mildew if wetting its leaves.
Treatment: Spray these plants with a suitable fungicide at regular intervals.

The only pest these plants seem to be affected by is the snail.
Treatment: Use snail bait around them.

Companion plants: Begonia bowerae can be planted together with few different types of Begonias with contrasting colours and shape: plain leaved ones can be alternated with patterned forms and / or juxtaposing silvery leaves with darker foliage. They also contrast well with upright, strap-leaved plants that tolerate dry shade, such as Liriope species, renga-renga lilies (Arthropodium cirratum) and bromeliads, as well as with ferns.

Recommended varieties:
Begonia bowerae cv. ‘Tiger’ has olive-green leaves with light green spots. The undersides of the leaves and the brittle, juicy stems, are wine-red.

Uses and display: It is regarded as one of the prettiest begonias for foliage and its relative ease of culture as both a houseplant or annual bedding begonia. As a houseplant it is favoured for culture in a terrarium or glass bowl. Also it can be used as groundcover for shady tropical gardens. In frost-prone regions use it as a seasonal annual accent in containers, hanging baskets or window boxes where its ornate foliage can be highlighted.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – coloured
Shape – creeping
Height:  15-20cm (6-8 inch)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – moderately
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – bight filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 13°C max 15°C (55-59°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 27°C (61-81°F)
Humidity – moderate

Hardiness zone: 10a-11

Begonia bowerae - female flowers Begonia bowerae - male flowers Begonia boweri Tiger



Begonias, Evergreen, Flowering Plants, Foliage Plants, Garden Plants, Ground cover, Indoor Plants , , , , ,

Nephrolepis exaltata

Common name: Sword Fern, Wild Boston Fern, Tuber Ladder Fern, Fishbone Fern, Boston Fern

Family: Lomariopsidaceae

Nephrolepis exaltata

Nephrolepis exaltata

Distribution and habitat: Nephrolepis exaltata ferns grow in jungles in Central and South America where they are shaded by the jungle canopy but receive moisture on a regular basis. Within Nephrolepis exaltata genus there are many varieties, some of them quite small and compact, others quite large. These evergreen terrestrial or epiphytic ferns have short rhizomes and usually wiry spreading runners. It is considered as being a serious invasive plant, forming dense monocultures.

Description: Nephrolepis exaltata has 50–250cm (20-98 inch) long and 6–15cm (2-6 inch) broad in tufted clusters arising from underground rhizomes.  The individual pinnae (leflets) are as much as 2 to 8cm (1-3 inch) long and shallowly toothed, but not further divided. The pinnate vein pattern is also visible on these highly compound leaves. The round sori (clusters of spore-bearing organs) are in two rows near the margins on the underside of the pinnae.
The fronds grow upright at first, then arch gracefully downwards. They grow in lovely arching rosette shaped and spread by runners.

Houseplant care: Nephrolepis exaltata is one of the easiest of the ferns to grow indoors. These ferns need pliantly of space to develop their long fronds. Rotate the plant from time to time to ensure symmetrical growth, but as far as possible leave it undisturbed.

Nephrolepis exaltata ferns do not tolerate dry air. They need high level of humidity provided by regular misting and trays of moist pebbles placed under their pots. Use trepid soft water if possible. Once a week, apply a gentle shower  with trepid water. Leave them in bath to drain before returning them to their usual place.

In some of the extremely feathery forms of Nephrolepis exaltata Bostoniensis some of the fronds of the plant occasionally revers to the original species. Cut out any long, insufficiently segmented fronds as soon as they appear. If permitted to survive, they will take over the plant.

Light: Provide to Nephrolepis exaltata bright light without direct sunlight. If necessary these ferns can tolerate medium light for periods up to four or five weeks.
A good place for Nephrolepis exaltata is in front of an east-facing window or several feet from a west or south facing window.

Temperature: Normal room temperatures are suitable throughout the year. Minimum tolerable temperature is 10°C (50°F). For Nephrolepis exaltata grown at temperatures above 21°C (70°F) increase humidity by standing the pot on a tray of damp pebbles and mist-spraying the foliage daily.

Nephrolepis exaltata may appear totally dead due to frost, it will re-emerge in the spring.

Watering: In summer Nephrolepis exaltata will need lots of water and frequent misting. As long as room temperatures remains above 13°C (55°F), water the plant plentifully as often as necessary to keep the potting mixture thoroughly moist. Do not allow the potting mixture to dry out. In winter this fern will need less water.  If the temperature drops below 13°C (55°F) for more than a day or two, allow the top third of the potting mixture to dry out completely between waterings.
Water hanging baskets ferns by plunging in a bath or bucket of water, to cover the soil surface. Let it to absorb water for 15-30 minute.

Fertilising: Apply standard liquid fertiliser every two weeks to Nephrolepis exaltata actively growing in peat-based potting mixture. Feed actively growing plants that are in soil based mixture about once every four weeks.

Potting and repotting: Use either a standard peat-based potting mixture or a combination of half soil based mixture and half leaf mould. When the roots of Nephrolepis exaltata have filled its current pot, repot in the spring, moving the plant into a pot only one size larger. After maximum convenient pot size has been reached, remove the plant from its pot every spring, carefully trim away some of the outer roots and replace the plant in the same pot, which has been thoroughly cleaned. Add fresh mixture as required.

Gardening: Nephrolepis exaltata requires little maintenance, except to keep it in check from spreading too far and too fast, which it does by way of its underground rhizomes.
Nephrolepis exaltata is killed to the ground by frost but will re-emerge in spring.

Location: Nephrolepis exaltata are easily grown in mild areas in part shade or full shade. Plant them in bright indirect light with no direct sun.

Soil: Nephrolepis exaltata grows well in humus-rich soil. Good drainage is mandatory. Amend heavy clay or sandy soils with organic matter.

Irrigation: Follow a regular watering schedule as these ferns need moist soil and steady high humidity. Water them slowly and deeply, allowing the substrate to dry slightly between waterings. It is best to water early in the day to allow the fronds plenty of time to dry before night time.
Ferns need to be kept consistently moist at all times. They do not however want to be soggy or water logged.
Nephrolepis exaltata is the most drought tolerant of the commonly cultivated ferns, but it thrives only under conditions of high humidity.
Mulches them to help reduce water evaporation in hot or dry weather.

Fertilising: Nephrolepis exaltata thrives best when are added 5-8cm (2-3 inch) of compost or peat moss to the beds each spring or fall. This treatment should suffice and no additional fertilising is require.
Adding controlled release fertiliser on the soil surface should be done at low rates, as recommended on label. Ferns are sensitive to high salt levels, so moderation should be considerate when decide to fertilise them.

Propagation: Nephrolepis exaltata plant is usually propagated by division of the rooted runners, as named cultivars will not produce true spores. Propagate whanever desirable by potting up a new plantlet taken from any point where the tip of a runner has rooted down. Use a sharp knife to cut through the runner about 5cm (2 inch) from the tip, thus releasing the rooted plantlet. Plant it in a 8cm (3 inch) pot of the preferred potting mixture for adult plants and treat it in the same way as a mature specimen.

Problems:
Nephrolepis exaltata will shed fronds if potting mixture dry out, at which point all fronds may be cut back to about 5cm (2 inch) to regenerate.

Pythium or Phytophthora: Symptoms include stunting, wilting, and graying or yellowing of the foliage. More likely to occur in cool, dark weather and cool, wet media.
Treatment: Fungicides remain an important method to control losses due to Phytophthora and Pythium spp.

Rhizoctonia: Aerial blight that occurs mostly in the summer. Symptoms include brown irregular lesions commonly in the crown of the plant.
Treatment: Apply adequate fungicides. Be certain the Nephrolepis spp. to be treated is listed on the fungicide label.

Oval or round brown spots indicate fern scale.
Treatment: It the attack is mild remove the insects with a cotton swab dipped in diluted methylated spirits. Combat major attacks with a suitable insecticide. Care should be taken as some of these insecticides are not suitable for ferns.

Grey, pale or crumpled fronds indicate an attack of red spider mites.
Treatment: Submerge the whole plant in a bath of trepid water for 10 minutes. Drain well, keep evenly moist and mist to keep humidity high. Place the plant in good light. Mites are only comfortable in hot dry surroundings, so will perish if these conditions do not exist.

Small white insects on fronds occur if the plant is host to mealy bugs.
Treatment: Mild attacks can be dealt with using   cotton tipped swabs dipped in diluted methylated spirits. Combat severe attacks with careful use of a suitable insecticide. Follow the label instruction for use.

Lifespan: Give to Nephrolepis exaltata good light and adequate humidity and it will grow for many years.

Availability: Nephrolepis exaltata are available all year from garden centres and nurseries.  Buy fresh green looking plants of a reasonable size.

Note: Nephrolepis exaltata is classified as an invasive alien plant in South Africa. In some provinces it must, by law, be eradicated. In others, a permit is required to import, possess, grow, breed, move, sell, buy or accept one as a gift.

Recommended varieties: Nephrolepis exaltata cv. Bostoniensis has gracefully arching  wavy or curly fronds. It is one of the oldest and probably the most popular variety.

Uses and Display: A mature Nephrolepis exaltata, with its cascading mass of fronds will look impressive in any settings. Stand it on a medium height cane table to create a nostalgic hint of the Victorian era when ferns were more popular than today. Also Nephrolepis exaltata are ideal plants for hanging baskets. But remember that hanging baskets tend to dry quickly, so check the potting mixture to not dry out. Many prefer to keep the ferns in bathrooms, but only do this is the light is bright.
Small plants will fit onto windowsills but larger ones will need more space and should be place a little further into room.
It is used as a specimen or accent plant in large containers. Hanging baskets are often filled with this fern.

Nephrolepis exaltata is a perennial hardy plant used in warm climate zones as erosion control plant, ground cover, massing or woodland garden. It is used in landscape along walks, in front of taller growing shrubs and as a ground cover under trees.

Nephrolepis exaltata is acting as a natural air humidifier, removes formaldahyde and is a general air purifier. It said to be among the best in air purifying houseplants.
On the other hand, these ferns are known to be non-toxic, so it is safe to grow them around kids and pets.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Shape – upright
Height: 60-90cm (24-36 inch)

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

Hardiness zones: 9-11

Nephrolepis exaltata Nephrolepis exaltata Nephrolepis exaltata varieties



Evergreen, Ferns, Foliage Plants, Garden Plants, Ground cover, Indoor Plants, Top Anti-Pollutant Houseplants , , , , ,

Senecio rowleyanus

Common name: String of Pearls, String of Beads

Family: Asteraceae

Synonymous: Curio rowleyanus
Kleinia rowleyana

Senecio rowleyanus

Senecio rowleyanus

Distribution and habitat: Senecio rowleyanus is native to southwest Africa. It grows long, trailing stems of spherical leaves. In the wild they grow strings between rocks and other plants which offer them some shielding from intense sunlight. The stems of Senecio rowleyanus trail on the ground, rooting where they touch and forming dense mats.

Description: Senecio rowleyanus is a creeping evergreen perennial succulent with cascading stems of large, round, bead like leaves. Its trailing stems can reach 60-90cm (2-3 feet). There is a small point at the tips of the spherical leaves and a window on the side. This window allows the light to enter the leaf for photosynthesis but protects the cells from extreme heat. The leaf sphere shape allows the most water storage and reduce the surface area exposed to the hot sun and dry air, thus minimizing the loss of precious water through evaporation.
It bears white daisy like flowers during the summer. The flowers are clusters of small 1cm (0.4 inch), white trumpet-shaped flowers studded with colorful stamens. A compound flower which looks like a cluster of tiny white lilies with long anthers sticking out the center of each flower. The small white flower is not showy but fragrant. The bloom will last about a month. The flower is followed by seed. The seeds have cottony filaments attached probably to aid the spread with winds. It pops open like a dandelion.

This plant is more of the novelty than anything else, grown in hanging baskets by collectors of unusual plants. It is grown for its foliage, long wiry stems connecting a series of bead-like leaves.

Houseplant care: Senecio rowleyanus is cultivated indoors as an ornamental plant for hanging baskets. With good care, a Senecio rowleyanus house plant will live for several years. If long stems become straggly, cut them off. Poke healthy stem tip cuttings back into the soil to create a full, lush plant.

Despite its delicate appearance, this unusual succulent house plant is a vigorous grower, quickly creeping across the surface of the pot, then cascading down the side.

Light: Indoors, Senecio rowleyanus prefers a well lit position free from cold draughts. Give these plants bright light with some hours of direct sunlight daily.

Temperature: It prefers warm temperatures between 21-27°C (70-80°F) from spring through fall. In winter provide cool temperature about 13-16°C (55-60°F) for this plant.

As this plant is a succulent, the humidity is not an issue. It will thrive in average to dry room humidity.

Water: Water thoroughly, then allow to dry out slightly between waterings. This plant will not tolerate soggy soil. Cut back on water in winter, watering just enough to prevent the soil from drying out.

Feeding: Feed once a month from spring through fall with a standard liquid fertiliser diluted by half.

Potting and repotting: Repot in spring when this succulent outgrows its pot. Use a pot with using a cactus potting mixture or use 3 parts good quality potting soil and 1 part sharp sand. Good drainage is essential to prevent root rot.
The plant only produces weak surface roots, so a well draining mix and a shallow container would seem to be called for. Growing this succulent in a clay pot will help maintain a healthy root system.

Propagation: Take 10cm (4 inch) stem tip cuttings in spring or summer and insert them in moist potting medium. Press them into the potting mix until the leaves are almost covered. Keep the medium lightly moist. They will root quickly from the axils where the leaves are attached to the stem.

Problems:
Make Senecio rowleyanus to bloom.
Allow this succulent to rest during winter. Cool – 13-16°C (55-60°F) – and dry conditions during the winter may promote blooming in summer. In winter cut back on watering during the winter months, but do not allow the potting mix to dry out completely

The leaves of Senecio rowleyanus that look flat are a sign that the plant is too dry. Give it a good drink, but take care not to overwater.

Overwatering this succulent may promote rotting.

Be vigilant against mealybugs.
Treatment: Use an appropriate insecticide. Treatment may need to be repeated with annoying pests like mealybug, which can be spread by ants.

Toxicity: All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested.

Uses: Senecio rowleyanus is an ideal plant for indoors and patios in hanging baskets or containers. This plant is drought-tolerant, therefore it is suitable for xeriscaping.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – climbing and trailing
Height: 60-90cm (2-3 feet)

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

Hardiness zone: 9b-11

Senecio rowleyanus - flowersSenecio rowleyanusSucculent plants



Foliage Plants, Ground cover, Succulents , , , ,

Nertera granadensis

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

Family: Rubiaceae

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

Nertera granadensis

Nertera granadensis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUMMARY:

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

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

Hardiness zone: 9a-11



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