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Camellia japonica

Common name: Japanese Camellia, Rose of Winter, Common Camellia

Family: Theaceae

Synonymous: Thea japonica

Camellia japonica

Camellia japonica

Distribution and habitat: Camellia japonica is a long lived evergreen, large shrub or small tree, native to in mainland China, Taiwan, southern Korea and southern Japan. In the wild, it grows in forests at altitudes of around 300–1100m (980–3600 feet).

Description: Camellia japonica probably is the most commonly grown species in indoor or patio situations. The leathery, glossy leaves of Camellia japonica which are about 10cm (4 inch) long and 5cm (2 inch) wide, are arranged alternatively on woody stems. Flowers can be solitary or borne in clusters and each bloom can be single (with only 5 petals encircling a mass of yellow stamens) or double (with more than 20 petals and no visible stamens) or semi-double. Flower size varies from about 5-13cm (2-5 inch) across and colour may be white, pink, red or a combination of white and either red or pink.

Houseplant care: Indoor cultivation of Camellia japonica is bound to be plagued by some problems as they are very sensitive to any change in their position, temperature, humidity and moisture. They drop their buds easily, especially if they do not get enough water when they are forming flower and leaf buds (and in any case, are unlikely to flower well indoors, unless they are grown in a cool, conservatory-type situation). In warm weather, they are better off being transferred to the garden, if possible (the pot can be buried in the soil for the duration) or to a semi-shady spot on a verandah.

Light: Grow Camellia japonica in bright filtered light throughout the year.

Temperature: In the dry warmth of the average home Camellia japonica will not flower, but they grow well in cool porches, patios and plant rooms such as conservatories. An ideal temperature during the bud-forming stage (autumn and winter) is between 7 and 16°C (45-61°F). Camellia japonica cannot survive for long time indoor temperature above 18°C (64°F). Stand the pots on trays of moist pebbles and mist-spray the plants at least once a day.

Watering: During the active growth period water plentifully but never allowing the pot to stand in water. During the rest period – about six weeks from the end of the flowering season until late spring or autumn (depending on the variety) – water only enough to keep the potting mixture from drying out.

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

Potting and repoting: Use equal parts of peat moss, coarse leaf mould and a lime-free soil based potting mixture. Move plants into slightly larger pots in autumn whenever necessary. After maximum convenient size pot has been reached, top-dress the plant with fresh potting mixture at the end of each rest period. Do not repot plant in flower.

Gardening: Camellia japonica will grow in most areas apart from the hot tropics. This plant is normally hard to minus 12°C (10°F), but sudden changes in temperature can damage the foliage or kill open flower buds.

A light trim every two or three years is adequate, rather than an annual prune. It will reduce the canopy and force the flowering growth out, making the bloom more visible and will lower down the shrub. As an optional practice, can be removed some flower buds (called “debudding”) to promote larger, showier blooms. To do this, simply remove a bud that is touching another or remove all the interior buds and just leave the ones on the tips of the branches.

LocationCamellia japonica need protection from direct sun and strong winds. They grow best in partial shade as they do not like early morning or late afternoon sun. A planting site under tall pine trees or on the north or west side of a building is ideal. The plants grown in full sun may develop leaf scorch.
In the winter Camellia japonica need protection from direct sun and drying winds.

Soil: Camellia japonica prefer a slightly acid (pH 5.5-6.0), humus-rich soil with good drainage. Incorporate a 5 to 8cm (2-3 inch) layer of organic matter such as pine bark mulch before planting.
In areas with alkaline soils, they may need to be grown in containers with potting mix for acid loving plants.
Late fall to winter is the best time to plant or transplant Camellia japonica. Space plants according to their mature size. Space plants about 1.8m (6 feet) apart when planting a hedge. Individual holes should be two to three times as wide as the root ball. The depth of the hole should be the same as the root ball. Place the plant root ball into the planting hole and fill the hole with soil, tamping it down as it is filled. Avoid planting this plant too deep. Water heavily, to settle the soil and remove air pockets in the soil. After planting, mulch the plants with a 8 to 10cm (3-4 inch) of pine bark to help maintain the moisture.

Irrigation: Camellia japonica plants are moderate drinkers and they are not particularly drought-tolerant, although older plants are more adaptable. Keep Camellia japonica well watered, particularly when they are in bud or in bloom or when the weather is hot and dry. The soil should be kept evenly moist at all times.
Special attention needs new planted Camellia japonica. Keep it well watered until it is well established.
In a high rainfall area it will probably require raised beds, to allow any excess water to run away easily.

Fertilise: Camellia japonica are generally not heavy feeders, but if growth is weak or the leaves begin to turn yellow, they should be fertilised with a slow release fertiliser in late winter or very early in the spring when new growth begins. Always water fertilised plants thoroughly after the application. At the same time, mulch the plant for enriching the soil and maintaining the soil moisture.

Propagation: Camellia japonica are mostly propagated by cuttings. However, this procedure is quite difficult to carry through successfully and the amateur gardener is best advised to leave propagation to the experts and purchase a healthy young tree from a reputable nursery or plant supplier.
Propagation from cuttings is done with softwood cuttings taken from new growth in early summer, but it is a slow process. Each cutting should have at least 5 nodes. Remove the lowest leaves and trim the remaining leaves by one half before inserting the cutting into a sand and peat moss mix. Use rooting hormone to stimulate roots growth. Insert the cuttings one-third to one-half their length into the medium. Maintain the vertical orientation of the stem. The cuttings should never be allowed to dry out and should be kept moist at all times. Cover the cuttings with plastic bag and place in indirect light. When new growth emerge is sigh that the plant have been rooted (will take few months to root). At this moment remove the bag and water the cuttings enough to keep the potting mixture just moist.

The fastest and most reliable method of propagating new Camellia japonica plants is by air layering. This method will allow much larger clones to be created. Air layering of these plants can be done at any time of the year but the best results are accomplished if the process is done in the spring when the plant is actively growing.  Select a limb to air-layer. Cut through the bark a section of about 3cm (1 inch) at approximately (18-24 inch) from the top of the plant. The idea is to remove the bark on this section. After pealing off the bark, a green film like coating will surround the woody part of stem which have to be removed so that the bark will not grow back. Use a knife to scarp it away down to the woody part of stem.  Use sphagnum peat moss completely saturated with water as medium for roots to grow on. Squeeze the excessive water from the sphagnum moss to make this to be moist but not wet and arrange it around the prepared stem for air layering (the segment with the bark pealed out). Wrap a piece or plastic around the sphagnum moss ball to keep the ball in place and preserve its moisture. Finally wrap the entire thing in aluminum foil to protect the ball. Always keep the ball loose. It takes 3-6 months for the air-layering to establish sufficient roots to survive when is cut off from the parent plant. Once enough roots are formed the next step is to sever the air-layer from the original plant, cutting just below the root ball. Plant the new plant in a container (better for the new plant to establish quicker after severing from the parent plant) or in ground. Furthermore, treat the new plat as a mature Camellia japonica.

Camellia seeds harvested from hybrid plants may be sterile and those that are viable may produce plants that are not true to their parent.
Soak Camellia seeds in warm water for 24 hours before sowing them indoors during the spring or fall. Maintain a temperature in the growing medium of 21 to 24°C (70-75°F) until germination, which takes 1-2 months.

Problems:
Scale and spider mites are the main insect problems with Camellia japonica.
Treatment: Treat with insecticidal soap, spray or alcohol.

To help prevent the fungus known as petal blight, rake up and remove fallen blooms and petals.

If the leaf veins are turning yellow, the soil pH may be too high. To find out, conduct a soil test and adjust as needed.

Camellias naturally shed older leaves, so a small amount of leaf loss is normal. Large amounts of dead, yellowed, or blotchy leaves can be a sign of disease or pest.

Buying tips: Inspect plants closely before buying. Look for wounds or scars at the base of the plant that can become cankerous and cause the plant to die. Check the root system as well. Look for white roots. If the roots are brown, the plant have been poorly cared for or may have a soil borne disease.

Recommended varieties:
Camellia japonica ‘Adolphe Audusson’ has double, blood red flowers about 13cm (5 inch) across, that bloom during the spring.

Camellia japonica ‘Alba plena’ has double, white 10cm (10 inch) flowers that bloom in spring.

Camellia japonica ‘Alba simplex’ has single, white, 8cm (3 inch) flowers that bloom in winter.

Camellia japonica ‘Pink Perfection’ has double, shell pink, 8cm (3 inch) flowers that bloom in spring.

Camellia japonica ‘Purity’ has double, white, long-lasting, 8cm (3 inch) flowers that bloom in the spring.

Camellia japonica ‘William S. Hastie’ has double, crimson, 10cm (4 inch) flowers that bloom in the spring.

Uses: Making excellent specimen plants and pot plants, Camellia japonica can be used as a fence or an informal hedge. They can often be spotted as anchoring plants; their large size and dark green foliage provide structure, balance and height to an overall garden design.
Also Camellia japonica can be grown as bonsai.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – bushy

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 7oC max 16oC (45-61oF)
Temperature in active growth period – min 7oC max 18oC (45-64oF)
Humidity – high

Height: 1.2-1.8m (4-6 feet)
1.8-2.4m (6-8 feet)
2.4-3m (8-10 feet)
3-3.6m (10-12 feet)

Hardiness zone: 7-9b

Camellia japonica Adolphe AudussonCamellia japonica Alba plenaCamellia japonica Alba simplexCamellia japonica Pink PerfectionCamellia japonica PurityCamellia japonica William HastieCamellia japonicaCamellia japonica - flower budCamellia japonica - hedge



Evergreen, Flowering Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants, Ornamental Trees, Shrubs , , , , , , , , ,

Syringa vulgaris

Common name: Lilac, Common Lilac, French lilac

Family: Oleaceae

Syringa vulgaris

Syringa vulgaris

Distribution and habitat: Syringa vulgaris is native to the Balkan Peninsula, where it grows on rocky hills. It is widely naturalised in western and northern Europe and in North America.

Description: Syringa vulgaris is a large deciduous shrub or multi-stemmed small tree, growing to 6–7m (20–23 feet) high. It produce secondary shoots, named suckers, from the base or roots, with stem diameters of up to 20cm (8 inch), which in the course of decades may produce a small clonal thicket. The bark is grey to grey-brown, smooth on young stems, longitudinally furrowed and flaking on older stems. The leaves are simple, 4–12cm (2–5 inch) and 3–8cm (1-3 inch) broad. They are light green to glaucous, oval to cordate, with pinnate leaf venation, having a mucronate apex and an entire margin. They are arranged in opposite pairs or occasionally in whorls of three.
The flowers have a small tubular base to the corolla with an open four-lobed apex, usually lilac to mauve, occasionally white. They are arranged in dense, terminal panicles 8–18cm (3–7 inch) long. Syringa vulgaris is a very popular ornamental plant in gardens and parks, because of its attractive, sweet-smelling flowers, which appear in early summer just before many of the roses and other summer flowers come into bloom.
The fruit is a dry, smooth brown capsule, 1–2cm (0.4-0.8 inch) long, splitting in two to release the two winged seeds.

Garden Culture: Pruning can help keep it to a more desirable height. The shape can be irregular, oval or round. Cut away any unwanted suckers. Mature plants can be severe pruned out of older wood, so that the shrub is always producing new wood to bloom on. It is a moderate grower.
Syringa vulgaris set next year’s flower buds shortly after current year’s flowers fade. Deadhead should be done before the new flower buds form.

To improve the flowering of lilacs, keep the grass from growing around them. A 40 to 60cm (16-24 inch) circle of landscape cloth placed around the bushes and covered with bark or stone will keep the grass down.

It will require a period of chilling dormancy.

Position: Plant Syringa vulgaris in full sun exposure – at least 6 hours of sun light per day. The shrub will grow in heavy shade, but will likely fail to produce many (if at all) of the prized blooms.

Soil: It is hardy and easily grown in well-drained, sandy and gravelly, preferably neutral to slightly alkaline soil. It does not do well in clay soils. If the soil is in poor condition, add compost to enrich it.

Plant in either spring or autumn. Transplanting Syringa vulgaris from a nursery is also easy. If it is container-grown, spread out the roots when settle the plant into the ground; if it is balled or burlapped, gentle remove it and any rope before planting. Set the plant 5 or 8cm (2-3 inch) deeper than it grew in the nursery and work topsoil in around the roots. Water in. Then fill in the hole with more topsoil. Space multiple shrubs 1.5 to 4.5m (5-15 feet) apart, depending on the variety.

Irrigation: Keep new plants well watered the first year. Once established, these shrubs are very drought tolerant.

They do not like wet feet and will not bloom with too much water.

Fertilising: If the soil is rich, they would not need any food at all. If the soil is on the lean side, an early spring dose of fertilizer for flowering shrubs will keep them blooming. These shrubs will not bloom if overfertiliser.

Propagation: The species may be raised from cuttings, layers or grafts and from seed.

Propagation by cuttings is one of the most popular ways to propagate Syringa vulgaris. Cuttings should be taken when new green terminal shoots are produced. They should be 10 to 15cm (4-6 inch) long, but should not be left out too long, because they will wilt easily and die. The cutting should be dipped in a rooting hormone. The cuttings can be placed in a media with peat, vermiculite and perlite. Each cutting should contain 2-3 nodes, which are the growing points where the leaves are attached. The leaves aid in rooting by producing carbohydrates for the rooting plant. The cuttings should never be allowed to dry out and should be kept moist at all times. The cutting should root within 3-6 weeks. Once roots appear, place the plant outside in a desirable location.

Propagating Syringa vulgaris by air layering can be easily done. Pick the part of the plant desired to be propagated. Then cut a slit at an angle 1/3 of the way through the stem just below good, healthy leaf growth. Hold this slit open with a toothpick and dust or spray the cut with a rooting hormone. Take a length of plastic wrap and secure with a twist tie or string around the stem below the cut. Fill this pocket with a big handful of moistened spagnum peat moss and wrap the rest of the plastic around it making sure to over lap and seal it to the stem above the cut with another tie. Use waterproof tape to seal the over-lapped edges of the plastic. Make sure the peat moss is in good tight contact with the cut. Keep the peat moss moist during the rooting process by opening the pocket at the top and adding water when required. When roots are visible in the the peat moss, cut the stem off below the root mass and pot up.

The most common type of grafting done to Syringa vulgaris are either cleft grafts or bud grafts. The process requires a great deal of knowledge and can take several months in a greenhouse or glass-covered frame, where the air is kept moist continuously in order for the grafts to take. Cleft grafting is the most common way of grafting on a commercial basis. Bud grafting is an economical and a very rapid method for obtaining a big number of new plants.

Growing Syringa vulgaris from seed is an uncommon approach and takes long time. It usually takes 3-4 years before the shrub will finally get first blossom. Horticulture greenhouses do plant them by seed in order to use them for rootstock for other methods of propagation. At the end of the season, harvest the seed from the dead flowers after they have dried, but before they fall out of the seed pods onto the ground. Seed propagation of this shrub require a process of stratification (or a cold period) of 40-60 days in order to remove the pysiological dormancy of the seed that is needed for germination.

Problems: Insects are rarely a problem on Syringa vulgaris.

Powdery mildew is common on this shrub, especially in humid and wet summers.
Treatment: Provide good air circulation by keeping their branches pruned. Prune right after blooming is over. In addition to branch pruning, cut the dead flowers off when they are done blooming.

Oystershell scale can attach to the trunk and branches.
Treatment: Horticultural oil will help, if caught early.

There is also a lilac borer.
Treatment: The borer prefers older wood, so regular pruning will keep them at bay.

Leaf miners can make the leaves unsightly, but they would not do serious harm.

Uses: Syringa vulgaris bushes are attractive enough to be treated as specimens. They are also often planted in rows along property borders and pruned into hedges. They make excellent features for cottage garden style.

The smell of their flowers are among the most fragrant flowers. They are used as cut flowers in classic bouquets.

Because lilacs are fire retardant, they can be considered for planting near homes that are susceptible to wildfires.

Hardiness zone: 3-7

Syringa vulgaris - flowersSyringa vulgarisSyringa vulgaris - flowers



Cutting Flowers, Garden Plants, Ornamental Trees, Shrubs , , ,

Castanospermum australe

Common name: Moreton Bay Chestnut, Blackbean, Lucky Beans, The Lucky Bean Plant, Lucky Bean Tree, Jack’s Beanstalk

Family: Fabaceae

Synonymous: Castanospermum brevivexillum
Castanospermum australe var. brevivexillum

Castanospermum australe

Castanospermum australe

Distribution and habitat: Castanospermum australe is native to coastal rainforests and beaches in the east of Australia and to the Pacific islands of Vanuatu and New Caledonia. It grows in moist, fertile, well-drained soils on terraces on the side of mountains or along the banks of rivers and streams. It is a large evergreen tree growing up to 40m (130 feet) tall, though commonly much smaller.

The tree is grown for its attractive glossy pinnate leaves sometimes reaching 60cm (24 inch) long and the leaflets range in size from 9–17cm (3.5-7 inch) in length, for its flowers and as a shade tree.
It will flower in late spring, early summer, summer or late summer. The flowers from this plant are hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and they are pollinated by birds and insects. The orange or yellowish pea-shaped flowers 4cm (1.5 inch) long are borne in clusters on the branches so that they are partially hidden by the leaves. The pods 20cm (8 inch) long and woody are produced and hang from the branch, containing 1-5 brown seeds 3cm (1 inch) in diameter.

It also makes an ideal indoor plant, especially as baby plant or when is young, as described below.

Description: Castanospermum australe makes an ideal indoor plant and is widely available in florists and nurseries as baby plant with the ‘bean’ attached to its base. Multiple plantings of plants will give a good display combining the dark shiny leaves of the tree with the novelty ornamental value of the giant seeds. It is an attractive evergreen plant. The “bean” in the common name Lucky Bean Plant refers to the large seeds partially exposed above the soil and from which the plants have sprouted. The ‘bean’ pod will naturally dry up and separate from the plant in several months and can be removed without any effect to the plant.

The bark is brown to grayish-brown and smells of cucumber if chopped. The leaf is pinnate, having 11-15 lustrous green leaflets that are oblong and slightly curving on the petiole, or leaf stem. The Castanospermum australe grows erect, developing a short stem with a small crown, usually roundish.

Keeping the Castanospermum australe dry and cool in the winter can encourage it to produce sprays of red and yellow pea-shaped flowers. These butterfly like blooms are quite hard to achieve in the living room, however, the whole plant is rather decorative even without them.

Cultivated as a houseplant, trees in this genus can grow into small, shrubby plants. Size can be controlled by keeping the plant in a relatively small pot and shaping these plants with pruning, trimming, and training. Prune as desired to keep the lush ‘indoor forest’ look. They can be kept trimmed at any height.

Houseplant care: Frequent pruning can control growth and form the Castanospermum australe into a bonsai-like short ornamental tree. This tree can be grown indoors or outdoors in a container.

The potted Castanospermum australe can be placed outdoors during the warm months of spring and summer and taken inside again before the first fall frost.

Light: It will tolerate low, filtered light to full sun if gradually introduced.

It is important to select a location for the Castanospermum australe that will offer it sufficient space in all directions to grow and thrive. Provide it with lots of bright indirect light with a few hours of early or late day direct sun.

Temperature:  It prefers temps in the 16-27°C (60-80°F) range. Provide a medium humidity and minimum temperatures between 10-24°C (50-75°F) for best results.

It will enjoy being stood outside in a rain shower which will also remove any dust that has collected on the leaves – spraying regularly will help prevent dust build up.

Castanospermum australe could even be put outdoors on the patio or decking – just be sure to bring it back indoors if the temperature falls below 10°C (50°F).

Water: Ensure that the potting mixture of the Castanospermum australe is always moist but do not allow roots to sit in standing water. Water it regularly. Soak the soil well at each watering and allow it to become dry to the touch before watering again.
In early fall and throughout the winter months, water just enough to keep the soil from drying out completely. Allow the top 3cm (1 inch) of soil to dry to the touch and then water it thoroughly.

Fertiliser: In the first year Castanospermum australe does not have to be fertilized. Afterwards liquid plant food may be added monthly from spring to summer. Instead granular fertilizer or spikes can be given in the beginning and the middle of the growing season.

Potting and repotting: Castanospermum australe should be kept in a small pot (no larger than a 10cm (4 inch) pot) until the soil dries out in 3 days or less. Move it to a 15cm (6 inch) pot, no larger than that. Each time it starts drying out too fast move it to a pot 5cm (2 inches) larger.

Castanospermum australe prefers nutrient rich soil that drains well. Soil can be general all-purpose potting soil or can be a mixture of soil, sand, lime and peat.
Fill a growing container to within 3cm (1 inch) of its rim with potting soil. Place the lucky bean plant into the soil at the same level it was previously growing. Replace the soil and tamp down. Add water until the soil feels very moist but not soggy.

Gardening: Within its hardiness zone range Castanospermum australe can make an excellent standalone garden feature or it may be used with a cluster of trees to create a privacy screen or shaded area in the garden.

Many people grow these indoors until they get large, then they can be planted out and used as a shade tree. Castanospermum australe is a hardy species that is suited for a wide range of conditions in frost free zones.

Position: Generally, these trees prefer full sun, however shady situations are tolerated. Also, it is tolerant of light frost  for short periods. It grows best in full sunlight, which is defined as a minimum of six hours of sunlight per day and preferably eight hours.

Due to its extensive root system, it should not be planted within 10m (33 feet) of drainage lines, sewers, house foundations, garages or swimming pools. Also consider the wide canopy of the mature tree. In time this tree will provide a large amount of shade, making it a good choice for planting near patios or in areas where shade is welcomed.

Soil: Castanospermum australe requires a very well-drained but moist high-grade soil. Lightly amend heavy clay or sandy soils with organic matter.
It prefers best in loam type of soils.

Irrigation: Watering from a hose or sprinkler should be done slowly and deeply, but not frequently, to avoid shallow root development or root diseases. Allow soil to dry top 10cm (4 inch) before irrigating again.
Water new planted trees briefly two or three times a week to keep soil moist, not wet.
Be prepared to water during prolonged sunny, windy, dry spells even in the winter.

Woody plants need watering less frequently than young  soft plants. Established trees can go weeks without supplemental watering except in extremely hot or windy weather. Castanospermum australe becomes drought tolerant once established and matured.

Mulches help prevent water loss during hot, windy, or sunny weather.

Fertilising: During the spring use a fertiliser rich in nitrogen and potassium to favour the development of the new vegetation. Irrigate well the tree after fertilising.

Propagation: Propagation of Castanospermum australe is from fresh seed. Germination requires a temperature of 18-25°C (64-77°F). Sow in large, individual tubes using a mix of 3 parts river sand and 1 part perlite. Transplanting should be done after the first pair of true leaves have formed. Plant the seedling in a bed of thoroughly loosened, moist soil, mulch around the base of the plant and water regularly. The Castanospermum australe is slow to establish but will respond to liquid fertiliser, which should be firstly applied 3 months after germination.

Problems: When grown as houseplant, Castanospermum australe is susceptible to some insects or fungal infestation.
May occasionally be affected by scale insects and psyllids.
Treatment: Use an adequate pesticide to control insects attacks.

Over-watering may cause fungal root rot. Yellowing leaves indicate over-watering.
Treatment: Withhold watering till surface of soil has dried. If planted indoor, move it out to a bright shade location and gradually place it out in the open to receive a good amount of sunlight for the plant to bounce back.

Toxicity: The leaves and seeds are toxic, Keep the plant away from pets and small children.

Note: The seeds are poisonous, but become edible when carefully prepared by pounding into flour, leaching with water, and roasting.

Uses: Castanospermum australe as indoor plants, where their fast early growth and attractive glossy leaves make them a decorative feature for homes and offices.

It is an ideal shade tree in parks, resorts and gardens, in addition it has a strong root system, which can be used to consolidate stream banks against erosion

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Shape – upright

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 10°C max 15°C (50-59°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 27°C (60-80°F)
Humidity – medium

Hardiness zone: 9b-11

Castanospermum australeCastanospermum australe - seedsCastanospermum australe - flowers



Garden Plants, Indoor Plants, Ornamental Trees , , , , , , , ,

Xanthorrhoea johnsonii

Common name: Blackboy, Grass Tree, Johnsons Grass Tree, Northern Grasstree, Queensland Grass Tree

Family: Xanthorrhoeaceae

Xanthorrhoea johnsonii

Xanthorrhoea johnsonii

Distribution and habitat: Xanthorrhoea johnsonii is endemic to Western Australia and grows naturally in sand, loam or gravelly soils (well-drained soils) in open forest and heath. It is a slow-growing perennial shrub with thick blackened trunks topped by a dense grassy clump of leaves. It takes decades to reach full maturity and can live up to 600 years.
These plants are often found growing on slopes or sides of hills. This indicates they like good drainage and will put up with poor rocky soil conditions.

Description: Xanthorrhoea johnsonii is a spectacular caudiciform plant whose spent leaf bases create a trunk, similar to that of a cycad. They are typically single trunked specimens that grow up to 4m (13 feet) tall, but rare multi-trunk specimens may occur. Minor changes in their trunk direction are usually caused by new growth after the tree flowers while major bends have been caused by accidents such as another tree falling on to the apex or pushing it over. Usually the tree will attempt to continue growing vertically. Every tree is unique and has years of history reflected in its shape. Xanthorrhoea johnsonii have a trunk that is typically black as a result of bush fires. The trunk is composed of a mass of old leaf bases held together by natural resin which can take 10 years before it begins to form. The centre of the trunk is filled with a fibrous material.  During bushfires, the intense heat melts the natural resin in the trunk and this oozes out and solidifies.
Out of the trunk tops emerges a mass of long and thin but firm grass-like leaves, which extend 1m (3 feet) or so, arching over the trunk. The needle like foliage reduces moisture loss during periods of hot weather which makes the tree drought resistant.
The root system is shallow with the main purpose being for anchorage. Surrounding the roots are microbes called mycorrhiza fungi which are essential for nutrient uptake in deficient soils and also protect roots against some pathogen fungi.
In the wild it is rare for a tree under 80cm (31 inch) to produce a flower spike. In good soil though they can flower sooner and even produce more than one spike, which may then develop into more heads. The flowering stalk grows at a rate of 2-3cm (0.8-1 inch) a day, reaching a height of over 3m (10 feet). Honey-scented flowers normally appear in spring or after a fire and are white to cream on long spikes. Flowers are very attractive to birds, bees and butterflies and the tall woody flower spikes are a spectacular features.

Gardening: The rate of growth of Xanthorrhoea johnsonii is very slow (about 2.5cm (1 inch) per year). Once established these plants are extremely hardy, but can take few years for the plant to fully setting up and adapt.
Xanthorrhoea johnsonii grow very well in containers. It makes a great feature that requires very little water and maintenance.

Remove fallen leaves and twigs from the foliage to prevent fungal infection. Its foliage can be trimmed back to 1/3 to 1/2 if it is brown of dry. This will encourage new growth.

As the flower spike is the active growth point for the tree, after flowering, it is natural for the tree to remain dormant and not produce new leaves for months or even years. Do not overwater or over fertilise as no assistance is needed. Burning the old growth in spring or summer can encourage the Xanthorrhoea johnsonii out of dormancy.
To encourage continuous growth remove the flower spike as soon as it appears and feed the leaves and roots with seaweed fertilisers.

Position: Xanthorrhoea johnsonii prefers full sun but will also tolerate part shade. Choose an open, sunny position for it.

Soil: Xanthorrhoea johnsonii will grow in well-drained soil. These plants do best in a native garden where the level of phosphorous is not raised.  Avoid any boggy or low-lying spots that hold water during the wet season. If the soil is not suitable, then raised beds (1m (3 feet) high) filled with a free-draining soil mix will remedy the situation. Build the area up with sandy soil mixed with any medium that will provide bulk without nutrient such as gravel, rock, broken bricks, coarse sand or pebbles.
It will grow best in loam or sandy loam.

Xanthorrhoea johnsonii will always grow more vigorously in the garden than in pots as they can access the right balance of nutrients themselves.
When moving a grass tree from its pot, be extremely careful not to crack or disturb the roots. These trees do not have a strong network of roots to bind the soil around the plant. Active roots are black and fleshy, and can be easily damaged.
When planting into the ground, leave the plant in its pot and cut the base from the pot, keeping its walls intact. Place the plant in the hole burying it no deeper than the existing soil level, then cut the rim off the top of the pot.
Alternatively, cut the pot away from the root ball rather than attempting to remove it by knocking out the plant from its pot to not disturb the roots. Carefully place the plant in a hole which is larger than the root ball. Back fill and then water it in well to eliminate air pockets.

If creating a decorative potted feature with Xanthorrhoea johnsonii, choose a pot that is larger than the current one. Place large rocks, pebbeles, gravel or broken bricks into the bottom of the new pot to maintain good drainage between the two pots. Place the decorative pot on pot feet or similar for additional drainage. If desired, cut the rim of the plant pot away. Place the Xanthorrhoea johnsonii into the decorative pot and complete with a large pebble mulch to add aesthetic appeal.

Water: If the tree is planted into the ground, give it a thorough watering whenever the soil is dry 5cm (2 inch) deep. If there is no rainfall, water the plant about once a week during the summer  and about once every 10 days in spring and autumn.
If the tree is potted, water moderately allowing the top 5cm (2 inch) of potting mixture to dry out before watering again. Do not stand the pot on a saucer except in hot, dry conditions.

Even as young plants, Xanthorrhoea johnsonii are very tough and can handle drought & full sun.

Fertilising: In good soil no fertiliser will really be needed, however, feed the tree with slow release for Australian natives especially during flowering. Alternatively, feed the plant with diluted seaweed fertiliser to promote good foliage growth. Do not overfertilise the Xanthorrhoea johnsonii. As this species thrives in well drained, aerated soils that have a low nutrient content, it is not considered that Xanthorrhoea johnsonii will require fertilising.

Propagation: Xanthorrhoea johnsonii can be propagated from seed, as seed is easily collected and germinated. Seed pods can be collected when ripe and should be allowed to dry.  The seeds are then removed from the pod and can be germinated in a free draining potting soil. A little coarse sand over the top of the seeds will keep them in contact with the potting mix. Keep moist, but do not over water. Seed is relatively easy to germinate without requiring pretreatment and can emerge within approximately 21 days, although it has been reported that seed can take up to a year to germinate. The seedlings are very slow to grow and, once established, require a well-drained, light or medium soil and a sunny position.

While they do grow slowly, quite attractive plants with short trunks (10 cm) and leaf crowns up to 1.5m (to the top of the leaves) can be achieved in 10 years. The slow growth rate means that it can take 30 years to achieve a specimen with a significant trunk.

Problems: A good indication to determine if the tree is to survive, is to pull gently at the centre needles. If they come away, this indicates the crown is rotting and unfortunately there is no remedy. In some cases burning the ‘skirt’ will promote growth as mentioned below.

The most common problems are with drainage, transplant shock or nutrient toxicity from excess application of chemical fertilisers.

If it looks unhealthy (browning, yellowing or showing lack of vigour), ensure the drainage is perfect, water with seaweed fertiliser or fish emulsion for 2 months in the growing season or until it looks happier. If the leaves are almost totally brown, try burning as much of the grass as possible and cut back the rest until it is bald. Mulch well, water weekly until the new grass is over 30cm.

Scale insects are sap-suckers which have either a waxy or armoured covering. Juvenile scales (crawlers) disperse to favourable sites on the leaf and start feeding. The crawlers eventually become immobile, and start building their protective covers, but are still sucking the needles. This activity, if left unchecked, may eventually kill the plant.
Treatment: Control scale with an application of white oil, but not during hot weather as this may burn the plant.

Mealybugs often have a number of overlapping generations per year. Their development is dependent on temperatures above 25°C (77°F) with high humidity. After hatching, the juveniles (crawlers) search for suitable feeding sites in sheltered areas.
Treatment: Control is best achieved in early spring at crawler stage with an adequate insecticide. Populations reach peaks during spring and autumn.

Xanthorrhoea johnsonii are also susceptible to root attack by the Cinnamon Fungus (Phytophthora cinnamoni). This fungus attack can cause a gradual decline in health, eventually leading to death. Water spreads the fungus and it thrives where there is lots of moisture. Try to keep the garden free of extra moisture as there is no fungicide to combat this problem.

Setting fire to the crown: Contrary to popular belief, it is not necessary to set fire to Xanthorrhoea johnsonii at any stage of plant life, however in some situations can be relieving for the plant.
Flowering in nature occurs after a bushfire and in absence of fires, it will only flower in a good season or if they are very healthy plants. Setting fire to the crown is recommended as a method to control and combat bardi grubs infestation and may be helpful in controlling the crown rotting. Burning of excess of foliage every 3-4 years does little damage to the green crown, as it actually promotes growth as it would in a natural fire. The easiest method to burn the skirt is by placing a cardboard box filled with newspaper over the crown and setting fire. The foliage will burn and new foliage will develop after around 6 months.

Notes: Xanthorrhoea johnsonii is an iconic species in Australia. It occurs in fire-prone environments, it is very tolerant to fire and can recover from substantial damage. Fire tends to promote its reproductive capacity. The capacity to flower directly after a fire before most other species have time to recover not only ensures a food source for many insects and birds, it also increases the likelihood of frequent and successful pollination. It seams that not the heat, but the smoke is responsible for promoting this tree flowering. Seed-set rates of fire-affected populations can be very high, with up to 10,000 seed per flowering stem. Seed germination occurs around 6–12 months after fire. Seed production can be maximised by ensuring that plants are burnt during summer approximately every 6 years.

Xanthorrhoea johnsonii exhibit continuous although seasonally variable leaf growth, producing up to 3.2 leaves per day. Growth rates are greatest when daily average temperatures reach 20°C (68°F). Removal of the crown will increase leaf production; however, this will drop back over time. The leaves live about 2-2.8 years. When the leaves die they are not shed, and this causes a dead thatch of old leaves to form around the stem, which accumulates until burned by fire or lost through decay. Since the plants tend to store food reserves in the stem, the occasional removal of foliage can occur with little effect on the plant.

Uses: Xanthorrhoea johnsonii is an ideal choice for a courtyard, outdoor dining or entertainment area or around the pool. Rows of identical straight Xanthorrhoea johnsonii, like sentinels, are ideal in formal settings while varied gnarly Xanthorrhoea johnsonii are spectacular in bushland type landscapes. They look absolutely spectacular in paved court yards, rock garden beds, centre driveway positions.
These unique specimens compliment both formal and informal gardens. It suits mediterranean, oriental, contemporary, dry style, coastal or bush designs and can be used for pot, large planter, accents.
In the 1980s the foliage was established as a popular green filler for floral displays, along with the flower, in florist shop products.

Height: 4m (13 feet)
Width: 1.5m

Hardiness zone: 9b-11

Xanthorrhoea johnsoniiXanthorrhoea johnsonii - flowers to seedsXanthorrhoea johnsonii



Cutting Flowers, Foliage Plants, Garden Plants, Ornamental Trees , , , , ,

Ficus lyrata

Common name: Fiddle Leaf Fig

Family: Moraceae

Synonymous: Ficus pandurata

Ficus lyrata

Ficus lyrata

Distribution and habitat: Ficus lyrata is a species of fig tree, native to western Africa. It grows in lowland tropical rainforest.
It is a banyan fig meaning that commonly starts life as an epiphyte high in the crown of another tree; it then sends roots down to the ground which envelop the trunk of the host tree and slowly strangle it. It can also grow as a free-standing tree on its own, growing up to 12–15m (39–49 feet) tall. The leaves are variable in shape, but often with a broad apex and narrow middle, resembling a lyre or fiddle; they are up to 45cm (18 inch) long and 30cm (12 inch) broad, though usually smaller, with a leathery texture, prominent veins and a wavy margin. The fruit is a green fig 3cm (1 inch) diameter.

Description: Ficus lyrata is the fiddle leaf fig – so called because of its violin-shaped, puckered leaves. For the indoor plant, the leaves can be as much as 38cm (15 inch) long and 22cm (9 inch) wide with wavy edges. The plant tends to remain single stemmed. It can be forced to divide, however, by removing the growing tip.

Houseplant care: Ficus lyrata grown as a houseplant in temperate areas, it usually stays shorter and fails to flower or fruit.

To control its height keep the fig in a small size container (an applicable size container, see potting and repotting section) and prune off the top of young plants.  By pruning the top will encourage them to promote branching and enable the control over its growth and its shape in the same time.
Trimming or pruning the fig will cause bleeding milky sap that can leave stains. Also the sap is mild toxic and can cause skin irritations in same cases. Use caution when handling the figs.

During the warm season the houseplant fig can be relocated outdoors into a shady, brightly lit patio. Accommodate the plant to brighter position and avoid the direct sun light, that can cause leaf scalding.

The Ficus lyrata can tolerate a great deal of abuse but will drop foliage if not minimally maintained.

Light: This fig will need bright indirect light year-round. Move it a quarter turn every week or so to expose all sides to light for a natural upright growth.

Temperature: Ficus lyrata likes constant warmth – not less than 16°C (60°F) in winter. It prefer humid atmosphere, which will be partially provided by other plants if it is growing in a group, but sinking the pot in damp peat will also be of benefit to the plant.

Mist frequently to increase humidity and wipe the leaves occasionally with a damp sponge. In warm temperature provide plenty of ventilation.

Water: Water freely during the active growth period, but avoid water-logging, allowing the potting mixture to dry out slightly in between waterings. Water sparingly during the resting period. Always use tepid soft water.

Drooping yellow lower leaves are a sign of overwatering.

Fertilising: Feed with a liquid fertiliser every two weeks during the active growth period only.

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture. Do not overpot; these plants like slightly cramped root conditions. Move plants into pots one size larger when repotting is clearly necessary – as indicated by the emergence of a lot of root through the drainage holes and probably by the appearance of a network of fine roots on the surface. Repoting is best carried out in spring. When the maximum convinient pot size has been reached, top-dress the plants annually – in spring – with fresh potting mixture.

Garden Culture: Ficus lyrata is a popular ornamental tree in subtropical and tropical gardens. It is frost tender. If planted in the ground the Ficus lyrata will grow into a large tree however if contained in a pot in a protected shady position its growth can be easily contained.
To encourage lush new growth or more branching, prune branch tips in late winter just before new leaves emerge and temperatures warm. When pruning large outdoor fig trees, wear eye goggles, long sleeves and gloves to prevent sap from dripping onto face or mixing with sweat and reaching sensitive skin, wounds or eyes and mouth.

In big Ficus lyrata trees there are some aerial roots produced from the branches.

Position: A full to partial sun exposure is ideal, where sunlight reaches the plant at least 6 hours daily.
It will grow moderately fast in full sun or partial shade.

Soil: Plant the Ficus lyrata in a fertile, well-drained soil that is moist in the warm months of the year.

Water: Irrigate the tree’s root system to supplement natural rainfall, especially in the warm months from spring to fall when the tree actively grows new leaves and lengthens stems.
Mulch the soil under the tree’s canopy to conserves soil moisture, reduces weeds, moderates soil temperatures and as the mulch decomposes, supplies trace nutrients to the roots.

Fertiliser: Use a slow release granule fertiliser in spring and mid-summer.

Propagation: Ficus lyrata is usually slow to root from cuttings because water loss in very great throughout its big leaves.
Another possible method of propagation is air layering, that will take a great deal of time and care.

Problems:
Red spider mite, scales and mealy bug attack the Ficus lyrata.
Webbing between branches and leaves is a sign of a spider mite invasion.
Treatment: These pests thrives in hot, dry air. Daily mist-praying may help ward off attacks. Cut away badly infested leaves and adjoining stems and spray plants with an appropriate pesticide. Repeat the treatment after 3 days and again 10 days later. If mites persists, tray a different pesticide.
Scale are small brown insects that cling to stems and leaves, secreting a sticky residue on the plant.
Treatment: Mix a little mild dishwashing detergent with water and spray the infected plants. The soap will coat and suffocate the insects. Rinse the plants off with clean water to make sure the pores on the leaves are open so the plant can breathe.
Mealy bug will look like a white cottony patch.
Treatment: Use same treatment as for scales: Spray the infected plants with mix of a little mild dishwashing detergent and water. The soap will coat and suffocate the insects. Rinse the plants off with clean water to make sure the pores on the leaves are open so the plant can breathe.

The plants are also susceptible to various leaf-spotting and fungal diseases, which are typically caused by lack of air flow and too much moisture sitting on the leaves.
Treatment: Prevent this kind of attack by keeping the plant well-trimmed, removing dead leaves and twigs.

Spots on the leaves which are especially noticeable in such a large-leaved plant. This spotting is usually caused by mechanical injury to the leaf. The Ficus lyrata has mildly caustic sap that causes these brown spots when exposed to air.

Sudden leaf loss may be the result of an atmosphere which is too dry, underwatering or exposure to direct sun.

These plants are also more sensitive to high salt levels, so make sure to flush the potting medium very thoroughly, to prevent the build-up of fertilizer salts.

Uses: Ficus lyrata is one of the figs used in indoors landscaping. With its large, dramatic leaves that cluster at the top of narrow trunks, is perfect for filling a bright light corner. Ficus lyrata is most effective when growing in group with smaller-leaved specimens.

Ficus lyrata can be used in containers or planter when young or can be planted to make a striking specimen tree. They create quite an accent by a patio or in shrub bed because of the coarse leaf texture. It can be trained to grow in a variety of shapes like single stemmed, standard tree or bush form or even can be trained on espalier.

In subtropical and tropical zones, Ficus lyrata can be used as highway median or for street without sidewalk planting. As adult, it is effective tree for creating shade area.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Shape – upright

PROPER CARE:
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 27°C (60-81°F)
Humidity – high
Height indoors: 90cm – 3m (3-10 ft)

Height outdoors: 8-12m (25-40 feet)
Spread outdoors: 8-11m (25-35 feet)

Hardiness zone: 10a-11

Ficus lyrata

 

 

 

 

 



Ficus, Foliage Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants, Ornamental Trees , ,

Ficus maclellandii Alii

Common name: Alii Fig, Banana-Leaf Fig, Alii Ficus, Alii

Family: Moraceae

Ficus maclellandii Alii

Ficus maclellandii Alii

Distribution and habitat: Ficus maclellandii is a species of fig plant native to India, Southeast Asia and China. The leaves are 8-13cm (3-5 inch) and uniquely dimorphic; with narrow leaves on the lower, sterile branches and broader leaves on the higher branches.

Description: The most common cultivar of Ficus maclellandii is ‘Alii’ which was originally introduced in Hawaii. Ficus maclellandii ‘Alii’ is an evergreen grown as a houseplant being suitable for growing in large containers. It can be found in many forms, including bushes, braids, standards and spiraled trunks. Its olive-colored, slender foliage makes it an extremely interesting and attractive plant. The leaves grow to be 8 to 25cm (3-10 inch) long and create a drooping affect on its branches.
In the ground it can also grow to be 3m (10 feet) tall.

Houseplant care: Ficus maclellandii ‘Alii’ is more durable and easier to grow than other varieties of the same genus. Ficus maclellandii ‘Alii’ has not an accentuated tendency to shed leaves.

Trim the Ficus maclellandii ‘Alii’ with pruning shears any time to control the size of the plant. Cut the stems just above a leaf or stem. Remove any dead branches or weak growth.

Light: Provide filtered sunlight or bright indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight from hot windows, which may scorch the plant.

When Ficus maclellandii ‘Alii’ is situated against a wall, it is best to rotate the plant every few days to prevent the back of the plant from losing its leaves.

Temperature: Ficus maclellandii Alii prefers a temperature range of 13 to 24°C (55-75°F), although exposure to lower temperatures above 7°C (45°F) is tolerated for short periods of time.

Keep the Ficus maclellandii Alii out of cold drafts.

Water: Allow the top centimetre (0.4 inch) or so of potting mixture to dry out between waterings. When watering, water thoroughly giving enough water to make the potting mixture moist.  Use tepid water, as cold water may cause leaf loss. Do not allow the plant to stand in water or do not allow the potting mixture to dry out.

Fertilising: During the active growth period  (spring and summer), feed the Ficus maclellandii Alii once every two weeks with standard liquid fertiliser. Decrease fertiliser gradually in autumn and withhold fertiliser completely during the winter.

Potting and repotting: The roots of Ficus maclellandii Alii are very slow growing so repotting is rarely needed. When the roots fill the pot – normally every two years – pot on in spring. Move the plant in one size larger pot, using a soil based potting mixture. When maximum convenient pot size have been reached, top-dress the plants annually (in spring) with fresh potting mixture.

Propagation: Ficus maclellandii Alii can be propagated from cuttings. Cut in an angle of 45-degree a healthy branch (including the tip) of 10cm (4 inch) length. Pinch off the leaves from the bottom of the cutting, leaving two at the tip. Dip the cut end of the cutting into water and then into the rooting hormone until the bottom 3cm  (1 inch) of the cutting is coated in the powder. Pot the cutting into a 8cm (3 inch) pot size filled with moistened equal parts mixture of peat moss and sand or perlite. Make a hole in the middle of the pot and insert the cutting 3cm (1 inch) below the leaves, then press the potting mixture around the cutting. Seal the pot into a plastic bag and place it in a warm environment at 24°C (75°F) with indirect sunlight. Check the cutting in 8 weeks to see if it has rooted. New growth indicate that the rooting has occurred. At this moment remove the bag and water the cuttings enough to keep the potting mixture just moist.
When the new plant is well established – in about four months – move it into one pot size larger containing the same potting mixture used for adult plant. Thereafter treat it in same way as a mature Ficus maclellandii Alii.

Ficus maclellandii Alii can be also propagated air layering, process that takes a good deal of time and require special care.

Problems: Ficus maclellandii Alii is relatively resistant to pests.

Over watering will cause leaf drop and leaf spotting.
Treatment: Do not allow the plant to stand in water.

Dry shrivelled leaves are caused by underwatering, insufficient humidity or exposure to sun.
Treatment: Treat underwatering as following: water the plant thoroughly and completely. This may mean watering once and then again an hour later as the dry soil begins to absorb water. Pour out any water remaining in the drainage saucer after five to 10 minutes. The amount of water needed by Ficus maclellandii ‘Alii’  is predicated on the amount of light the plant is exposed to, the more light, the more water the plant will need.
Increase humidity by placing the pot on a tray or saucer with moist pebbles.

Watch for scale.
Treatment: Examine every crevice for scale and wipe them off with a damp cloth or a fairly stiff brush dipped in soapy water or an appropriate pesticide solution. Then apply the pesticide to the whole plant.

Spider mite and Mealy bug may become a problem for Ficus maclellandii ‘Alii’.
Treatment: Use an adequate spray pesticide and follow the instructions written on the label.

Uses: Ficus maclellandii ‘Alii’ is a plant that looks attractive as a stand-alone specimen or as part of a mixed display. Larger specimens are especially useful as feature plants in warm, well-lit atria, shopping malls and offices.

Ficus maclellandii ‘Alii’ aid to be a great overall air purifier.

Toxicity: Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction. Gloves are required when handling the Ficus maclellandii Alii.

Notes: Sometimes Ficus maclellandii Alii is often misidentified as Ficus binnendijkii or under the spurious name Ficus longifolia or Ficus alii, though strictly speaking neither is botanically correct.

SUMMARY:

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

PROPER CARE:
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 27°C (61-81°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 9a-11

Ficus maclellandii Alii leaves

 

 

 

 

 

 



Ficus, Foliage Plants, Indoor Plants, Ornamental Trees, Top Anti-Pollutant Houseplants , , , , , ,

Schefflera elegantissima

Common names: False Aralia, Finger Aralia

Family: Araliaceae

Synonymous: Dizygotheca elegantissima
Dizygotheca laciniata
Aralia elegantissima

Schefflera elegantissima

Schefflera elegantissima

Distribution and habbitat: Schefflera elegantissima is a species of flowering plant in the Araliaceae family, native to New Caledonia. Growing to 8–15m (26–49 feet) tall by 2m (7 feet) broad, it is an evergreen shrub or tree. Its leaves are thin, coppery red to dark green with toothed edges. On adult plants the leaves are much broader. In autumn it bears clusters of pale green flowers followed by black fruit.

Description:  Schefflera elegantissima when is grown as a houseplant rarely exceed about 2m (7 feet) in height with a spread of about 50cm (20 inch). Schefflera elegantissima is a very slender plant. Its leaves comprise 7 to 10 narrow, leathery leaflets, each 8-10cm (3-4 inch) long and 1cm (0.4 inch) wide, with toothed, undulate edges. The leaflets are arranged in roughly circular form at the tip of slender leaf-stalk. Leaf colour is coppery red at first, but changes to very deep green – in fact almost black. The central stem and leaf-stalks are mottled with creamy white.

Houseplant care: These plants do not normally branch but tend to grow strait up. For a bushy effect, plant two or three small specimens in one pot.

Light: Schefflera elegantissima like bright light but should not be placed where exposed to strong direct sunlight.

Temperature: Warmth and humidity are essential (minimum temperature even during the rest period should be above 15°C (59°F). Stand the pots on trays or saucers of moist pebbles to increase the humidity.

Water: Water Schefflera elegantissima sparingly at all times, allowing the top two-thirds or so of the potting mixture to dry out before watering again.

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

Potting and repotting: Use a soil-based potting mixture. Schefflera elegantissima are slow growing and should be moved into one size larger only once in two years. This is best done in early spring. Do not use pots that are needless big. Once plants have reached maximum convenient pot size (probably 20-25cm (8-10 inch)), top-dress them with about 2cm (0.8 inch) or so of fresh mixture every spring.

Gardening: When grown outdoors within its hardiness zones, this somewhat branched, small evergreen tree will tolerate bright light, performing best in light shade. Schefflera elegantissima needs fertile, well-drained soil and protection from strong winds to develop into a nice specimen.

Propagation: New plants can be raised from seed – a method that may sometimes succeed in well heated rooms (with fresh seed sown in spring). But young plants raised professionally are freely available and this is the normal way to acquire a new Schefflera elegantissima and probably more advisable for the amateur gardener.

Alternatively, Schefflera elegantissima can be propagated by air-layering or cuttings.

Problems: When growing Schefflera elegantissima, problems are most likely to appear from incorrect treatment. Otherwise, Schefflera elegantissima has long-term health and usually it is not affected by pests.

Falling lower leaves are probably due to insufficient light and or dry air.

Ungainly growth can be improved by cutting back the stem in early spring to encourage new growth.

Nematodes are a problem in the soil for Schefflera elegantissima.
Treatment: Nematodes should not occur if sterilised pot and potting mixture are used. Chemicals that control these pests are not recommended for indoor kept plants as they are dangerous to people. Destroy infested plants and dispose  of potting mixture. Sterilise pots. Avoid all contact between these materials and healthy plants. Do not take cuttings from an infested plant before destroying it. Upper parts can be used.
Alternatively, hot water is used to ‘clean’ roots of root knot nematode. Plants are immersed in water maintained at precisely 46°C (115°F) for 16 – 20 minutes, long enough to cook the nematodes but not the plant. After that use sterilised pot and potting mixture.

Mites and scale can be serious leaf problems for Schefflera elegantissima.
Treatment: For mites use an adequate spray pesticide following the instructions on the label.
For scale control examine every crevice for scale and wipe them off with a damp cloth or a fairly stiff brush dipped in soapy water or an appropriate pesticide solution. Then apply the pesticide to the whole plant.

Uses: Schefflera elegantissima can be used as container or above-ground planter near a deck or patio; it is suitable for growing indoors as accent plant.

Schefflera elegantissima provides a tropical look as a house plant indoors or in outdoor settings, whether in containers or at entrance ways where its distinctive foliage casts interesting shadows on background walls. It can be pruned to develop into a small tree. Due to its upright vertical habit, Schefflera elegantissima is best used as an accent or specimen plant.

Schefflera elegantissima can be used to form contrasting displays by associating it with the bold leaves of begonias, codiaeums, aglaonemas and tradescantias.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – coloured
Shape – upright
Height: 2m (7 feet)

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

Hardiness zones: 10b-11

Schefflera elegantissima leaves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Foliage Plants, Indoor Plants, Ornamental Trees , , , , ,

Yucca elephantipes

Common Names: Giant Yucca, Spineless Yucca, Soft-Tip Yucca

Synonyms: Yucca guatemalensis

Yucca elephantipes

Yucca elephantipes

Description: Yucca elephantipes produces a thickened stem (or trunk) 1-2m long and 3-5 cm thick. The base of stem is often greatly swollen. The somewhat thinner, much shorter branches at the top of the stem are topped with rossettes of downard-arching, non-rigid leaves. Each glossy, dark green leaf can grow a metre or so long and 8 cm wide. Leaf edge are roughly toothed, but leaf tips are soft.

A specimen plant used for the architectural value of its leaf clusters, sprouting from upright or branched trunks of varying height.

For a balanced development, it is best to position the the Yucca elephantipes in a place where it is exposed to at least a few hours of direct sunlight.

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Shape – upright

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright
Temperature in rest period – min 10C max 24C
Temperature in active growth period – min 16C max 24C
Humidity – low

Yucca elephantipes Yucca elephantipes Yucca elephantipes Yucca elephantipes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Foliage Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants, Ornamental Trees , , , ,

Cordyline australis ‘Red Sensati’

Common Names: Cabbage Palm, Cabbagetree, Fountain Dracaena, Giant Dracaena, Grass Palm, Palm Lily

Synonyms: Dracaena australis

Cordyline australis 'Red Sensati'

Cordyline australis ‘Red Sensati’

Description: Cordyline australis ‘Red Sensation’ is exceptional and gives a nice tropical look to any setting. With its long bronzy red foliage, ‘Red Sensation’ makes a nice contrast in mixed color plantings in the landscape or in containers. The Color of Cordyline australis ‘Red Sensation’ is best seen in bright sun. Cordyline australis matures measure about 3 m to 4 m in height. Cordyline australis is a palm-like, sub-tropical tree that grows with an upright habit and with age will branch to produce several heads.

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – coloured
Shape – rosette

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – direct
Temperature in rest period – min 10C max 16C
Temperature in active growth period – min 10C max 24C
Humidity – low



Ornamental Trees , , , , , , ,

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