Archive for the ‘Shrubs’ Category

Hydrangea macrophylla

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

Family: Hydrangeaceae

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

Hydrangea macrophylla

Hydrangea macrophylla

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Several genera of fungi cause leaf spots on Hydrangea.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hardiness zone: 5b – 9a

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

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

Gardenia jasminoides

Common name: Common Gardenia, Cape Jasmine, Cape Jessamine

Family: Rubiaceae

Synonymous: Gardenia augusta
Genipa florida
Genipa grandiflora
Genipa radicans

Gardenia jasminoides

Gardenia jasminoides

Distribution and habitat: Gardenia jasminoides is an evergreen flowering plant originated in Asia. It is most commonly found growing wild in Vietnam, Southern China, Taiwan, Japan, Myanmar and India distributed in broad-leaved forests at low to medium elevations. With its shiny green leaves and heavily fragrant white summer flowers, it is widely used in gardens in warm temperate and subtropical climates and as a houseplant in temperate regions.

Description: Gardenia jasminoides are low-growing bushy shrubs mainly prized for their fragrant flowers which give out a heady perfume. Gardenia jasminoides is the only species of Gardenia grown indoors. Despite their common name ‘Cape Jasmine’ they are not related with true Jasmine. As a potted plants rarely exceeds 45cm (18 inch) in height or spread, even through it is capable of growing up to 2m (7 feet) in climates where it can be grown outside in the garden.
The 10cm (4 inch) long leaves of Gardenia jasminoides are shinny, dark green, leathery, lance-shaped and usually arranged in opposite pairs, though sometimes in whorls of three or more. The flowers, which may be fully double (with many petals or semi-double with only two layers of slightly arching petals), are 5-10cm (2-4 inch) across and appear, usually singly, from leaf axils near the ends of the shoots.

Most Gardenia jasminoides bloom naturally during the summer months. Each flower may last only five to seven days, but the bloom can last for many months with proper care. Only a few flowers are generally open at any given time per plant. Happy plants may bloom a second time in the fall.
The plants can live up to 10 years, indoors, with proper care.

Houseplant care: Gardenia jasminoides are not difficult plants to grow, although they require particular attention in order to flower.

Some early spring pruning is usually necessary to keep the shrub low and bushy. Nip out the growing points of any long new shoot on young plants and cut out about half or even two-thirds of the old wood of the mature plants. Be careful, however, not to nip out flower buds. The stems of the plants can always be cut back later after the flowers have died. The cuts should be made immediately above the points where growth-producing duds point outward rather than toward the centre of the plant.
Remove the faded blooms.

Natural gas fumes will harm the plant, so growing gardenias near a gas stove or fireplace is not a good idea.

Light: Gardenia jasminoides do best in bright light. Always keep them out of direct sunlight, however.
Established plants may be moved outdoors in a shady, sheltered location for the summer months. Bring the plant indoors when temperatures fall bellow 15°C (60°F).

Temperature: The key to success in bringing Gardenia jasminoides into flower is to maintain a steady temperature of 16-17°C (61-62°F) during the period when flower buds are forming; a sudden change in either direction is practically certain to cause the buds to drop off. When plants are not forming flower buds, the range can be that of fairly normal room, between 15-24°C (60-75°F).

A high degree of humidity is also essential when flower buds are forming. To achieve this, stand the pots on trays of moist pebbles or peat moss and spray plants at least once a day with fine mist-spray, using water at room temperature. But try not to wet the flowers if the plants are in bloom, because water on the petals causes discolouration.
Fresh, moist (humid) circulating air is a necessity, especially during the winter. Hot, stale or dry air can cause fungal issues. Keep this plant away from radiators and avoid draughts.

Watering: Gardenia jasminoides do not have a well defined rest period. They grow less actively, though, during the winter in areas where the winter months bring on considerable reduction of light. In such places water these plants  moderately during the summer, giving enough at each watering to make the potting mixture moist throughout and allowing the top centimetre or so of the potting mixture to dry out before watering again. During the winter months allow the top few centimetre or so of the potting mixture to dry out completely before watering again.
Such reduced winter watering is desirable even with the plants that are forced into winter flowering. In areas with less winter reduction of light, watering can remain unchanged throughout the year. Always use slightly warm, preferable lime free water for these plants.

These flowering plants are thirsty. Dry soil will cause the buds to drop. Check the soil at least every couple days. Keep it moist but not soggy, which can also cause buds to drop.

Feeding: Apply an acid fertiliser every two weeks, but only during the growing season, to these lime heating Gardenia jasminoides plants.

Potting and repotting: Most growers use a lime free potting mixture even though Gardenia jasminoides can tolerate a little alkalinity. A mixture of equal parts of leaf mould and peat moss is excellent. If a propetary peat-based potting mixture is used, make sure it is suitable for lime hating plants, since some are not. Because there is relatively little nutritional value in leaf mould and none in peat moss, it is especially important to give a regular feeding as recommended if this mixture is used. It is also possible to use a soil based potting mixture as long as it is non-alkaline.  The feeding regime is less essential with soil based potting mixture than with soil-less ones.

Repot Gardenia jasminoides only when their roots have nearly filled the pot (as indicated by their appearance at the surface or outside the bottom drainage holes). These plants flower best when they are kept in pots that are just a little too small for vigorous stem growth. Ideally, any repotting should only be done when the plants are beginning to grow in the spring and the root ball should be disturbed as little as possible.

Gardening: Gardenia jasminoides can be grown in beds in areas within its hardiness zones, but growing them in containers allow the plants to be moved to more suitable seasonal sites and makes it easier to control pests.

When pulling weeds from around Gardenia jasminoides in garden, do so carefully. This plant’s roots are shallow and can damage easily. Consider to place a 5 to 8cm (2-3 inch) layer of organic mulch to keep the weeds from growing as it helps the soil to maintain moisture.

Location: Gardenia jasminoides can grow in part shade or part sun. It requires good amount of light to bloom successfully. During the hottest climate, protect the plant by keeping it in shade. Although, keep away from big bushy shrubs which can overwhelm this smaller Gardenia jasminoides.
The fragrance of Gardenia jasminoides plants is strong, so it is best planted in a place where its smell can spread easily. It can be planted near a wall, deck or patio; so that its fragrance is carried easily throughout the landscape.

Soil: The preferred soil for Gardenia jasminoides should be rich, acidic, moisture-retentive and well drained. Use a soil which has 6 or higher pH. This is a calcifuge (lime hating) plant, which means it does not tolerate alkaline soil. If the soil is not acidic enough, then many plant problems can occur.
When planting them, keep a distance of at least 1m (40 inch) between each plant.

Irrigation: Gardenia jasminoides requires average watering. However, supply the plant adequate water on a regular basis, taking care not to over water it. The soil should be kept moist at all times, but it should not be soggy. Irri­gating with drip systems keeps water off the foliage and flowers, which helps prevent leaf and petal spots. When well established, it can moderately tolerate drought conditions. To help main­tain adequate soil moisture, use mulch and avoid culti­vation around the base of the plant.

Avoid using very hard water for Gardenia jasminoides, however. If soft water is not available, then add some vinegar to the hard water to lower its pH.

Fertilise: Gardenia jasminoides requires fertilisation twice in a year to maintain dark green leaves. Fertilise during early spring (before the flowers appear) and during early summer. Use an iron chelate fertilizer and mix with an acidic soil mixture.

Propagation: Gardenia jasminoides can be propagated from 8cm (3 inch) long tip cuttings taken in early spring. Dip these in hormone rooting powder and plant them in small pots of moistened peat-based potting mixture suitable for lime hating plants. Place the potted cuttings in a heated propagating case or alternatively, enclose them in a plastic bags and keep them at a temperature of 15-18°C (59-64°F) in bright light which is filtered through something like a translucent blind or curtain. Rooting should occur in four to six weeks. In late summer move the rooted cuttings into pots a size larger, containing the potting mixture recommended for mature plants. Water them moderately and feed them at least once a month until they are well developed. Then treat them as mature plants.

Recommended varieties:
Gardenia jasminoides ‘Belmont’ which is densely bushy plant and bears large, fragrant, many petaled, white flowers that turn cream coloured as they age. This variety is often sold as cut flowers by florists.

Gardenia jasminoides ‘Fortuniana’ (Gardenia jasminoides ‘Florida’) is a less bushy plant with medium size, rather waxy, snowy-white, many petaled flowers that turn yellowish with age.

Gardenia jasminoides ‘Veitchii’ has a dense growth and medium size, many petaled flowers which normally remain pure white. This variety can be brought into flower in early winter by dis-budding (having their flower buds picked off at an early stage) throughout summer and early autumn.

Gardenia jasminoides ‘White Gem’ is a dwarf variety reaching only 60cm (24 inch) tall. It is one of the most common species of Gardenia for growing indoors.

Gardenia jasminoides ‘Radicans’ has an upright form, making it a favorite for shaping a gardenia tree. It is perfect for creating a Gardenia bonsai.

Problems: Generally  the result of incorrect treatment.

Yellowing leaves are the result of careless watering or due to deficiency of one or more micro nutrients (usually iron).
Treatment: Allow the soil to remain evenly moist but not water saturated. Micro nutrients deficiency can often be corrected by acidifying the soil with aluminum sulfate, iron sulfate or wettable sulfur. Iron chelate may be used on the soil or foliage. An acidulating houseplant fertilizer can be used to lower soil pH.

Bud drop may be caused by sudden changes in temperature or by incorrect watering.
Treatment: Maintain adequate soil moisture but avoid over-watering; avoid insufficient light; avoid planting in locations where nighttime temperatures commonly exceed 13-15°C (55–60°F); control parasitic insects.

Failure of flower buds to form is a result of too high temperatures (day and/or night) as well as too low temperatures at night.

Red  spider mite and aphids may be a problem where the humidity is low. These insects are small and often hide underneath the leaves. Symptoms are: the leaves are turning yellow, curling or there are holes in the leaves.
Treatment: Spray the plant with insecticidal soap. Follow the label directions for proper usage.

Whiteflies are white and cottony appear­ance of leaf undersides. The whiteflies have as a side effect accumulation of black sooty mold.
Treatment: Successive sprays of insecticidal soaps or white oil.
Thrips are tiny black insects that feed on flowers and leaf undersides. They cause browning the margins of the flower petal, distortion of flowers or failure of buds to open.
Treatment: Treat the plant with a suitable insecticide, but it should be used while the flowers are still in bud, because it can burn the petals.
Mealybugs suck plant juices, and heavy infestations will coat the leaves with sticky honeydew. They appear as white cottony masses found in the leaf axils, underside of leaves and other protected areas.
Treatment: Use appropriate insecticides. Remove with an alcohol­ saturated cotton swab or wash plants with soapy water and a soft brush or cloth or pick off with tweezers or a toothpick.
Look for caterpillars which feed on leaves.
Treatment: Use an appropriate insecticide to combat these pests.

In sandy soil, nematodes feed on the roots and can cause Gardenia jasminoides to be stunted or even die.
Treatment: Soil fumigation is a must prior to planting as preventive measure. Graft onto nematode-resistant rootstock such as Gardenia thunbergia can be an option where these pests are a problem. Incorporate wood shavings or organic matter in the soil mass to depress nematode population.

Root rots caused by various fungi also can be a problem, especially in poorly drained soils.
Treatment: Avoid overwatering and avoid planting these plants in heavy soils. Use a suitable fungicides.

Powdery mildew appears as white and powdery spots on leaves. This is a fungal disease favored by relatively cool nights and warm days.
Treatment: Methods of treatment this disease include preventive or curative fungicides usage, weed control and providing good soil drainage. Increase ventilation and airflow to aid in drying foliage.
Sooty mold causes black, thin layers of the fungus to form over the upper surface of the leaves. Sooty mold is caused by a group of related fungi that grow upon sugary exudate or honeydew secreted by sucking insects such as aphids, scales, mealybugs and whiteflies.
Treatment: Control sucking insects. Sooty mold usually weathers away following control of the insect infestation. Once the insects are controlled, wash the sooty mold off the leaves with soap and water.
Purchasing tips:
Buy Gardenia jasminoides plants that are loaded with well-formed buds and, perhaps, one or two open blooms.
Check flower buds, stems and leaves for signs of wilt, browning or yellowing foliage, mold and rot.

Companion plants: Combine Gardenia jasminoides fragrant beauty with other woodland shrubs and perennials like Astrantia major (Masterwort), Heuchera (Coral Bells), Camellia and Evergreen Azalea species. Create a tropical container planting for your patio or deck with Mandevilla, Colocasia (Elephant Ears), Agapanthus and Fuchsia species.

Uses and display: With its low, dense growth, Gardenia jasminoides is a favorite for limited space. Best planted close to outdoor living spaces in heavy ceramic pots or raised planters to enjoy the lovely fragrance. Although care needs to be taken in placing this plant in the landscape because its fragrance can be too intense for some people. It should not be placed below bedroom windows. Plant it near a deck, walkway or patio where the fragrance can be enjoyed throughout the whole gar­den or landscape.
With their glossy, dark green foliage, gardenia plants make a great foundation in a landscape. It is effectively used as either focus or background in informal plantings and for tropical-theme landscape plantings. Gardenia jasminoides can also be an accent plant around seating areas or near win­dows to take advantage of their extremely fragrant white flowers. They do well in containers (22-30cm (9-12 inch) tubs) and are suitable as well for hedges, low screens, mass plantings and groundcovers.
Gardenia jasminoides is also a popular cut flower for the florist for use in corsages and in Hawaii leis. The flowers float nicely in table-top glass or ceramic vessels. Gardenia flowers have a vase life of 2 days. Flowers that will be used for lei making can be stored in a refrig­erator at 4°C (40°F) for up to 1 day and 3 days for buds. Spray with water to clean the flowers or buds and place them on a wet paper towel in a bowl before refrigerating.


Foliage – green
Features – flowers, fragrance
Shape – bushy

Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright
Temperature in rest period – min 16oC max 24oC (61-75oF)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16oC max 24oC (61-75oF)
Humidity – high

Height: 30-90cm
Hardiness zone: 8b-11

Gardenia jasminoides BelmontGardenia jasminoides FortunianaGardenia jasminoides VeitchiiGardenia jasminoides RadicansGardenia jasminoides White GemGardenia jasminoides in pot






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

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.

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.


Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – bushy

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 , , , , , , , , ,

Rhododendron simsii

Common name: Indian Azalea, Sims’s Azalea

Family: Ericaceae

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

Rhododendron simsii

Rhododendron simsii

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Hardiness zone: 8b-11


Rhododendron simsiiRhododendron simsiiRhododendron simsii

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

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 , , ,

Laurus nobilis

Common name: Bay Laurel, Sweet Bay, Bay Tree, True Laurel, Grecian Laurel, Laurel Tree, Laurel

Family: Lauraceae

Laurus nobilis

Laurus nobilis

Distribution and habitat: Laurus nobilis is native to the Mediterranean region. It can vary greatly in size and height, sometimes reaching 10–18m (33–59 feet) tall.

Description: Laurus nobilis is an aromatic evergreen tree or large shrub with a broad base with many stems. The stems bear dense, pointed, elliptical leaves, rather leathery in texture, bright green when young and darker green when mature. The leaves are 6–12cm (2.5-5 inch) long and 2–4cm (0.8-1.6 inch) broad with smooth margins; on some leaves the margin undulates. The aroma of the leaves is not free; leaves have to be rubbed to release it.
The Laurus nobilis is dioecious (unisexual), with male and female flowers on separate plants. Each flower is pale yellow-green, about 1cm (0.4 inch) diameter, and they are borne in pairs beside a leaf. The fruit is a small, shiny black berry about 1cm (0.4 inch) long. Potted grown specimens seldom flower and fruit.

Houseplant care: Laurus nobilis thrives in containers, making an excellent houseplant. It can be turned into topiary (shrubs cut or trained into specified shapes) specimens which can be shaped into pyramid, ball or lollipop standards and some have ornately plaited or spirally trained stems.
Topiary-trained Laurus nobilis are trimmed with secateurs during summer to encourage a dense habit and to maintain a balanced shape. Prune new shoots to a bud facing in the direction of the desired growth.
Shrubs can be trimmed into shape by simply cutting back to a lower leaf or bud in spring or summer.

Remove any dried foliage by lightly pruning. Mature plants can be hard pruned, but should be considered that it is a slow grower and will take long to recover.

During the warm seasons, Laurus nobilis can be moved outdoors, especially if watered regularly and positioned in a sheltered spot.

Light: Give Laurus nobilis bright filtered light all years long.

When moving the plant outside in warmer weather, it must be acclimated to the sun or the leaves will burn.

Temperature: Laurus nobilis is growing well in normal room temperature. It can withstand temperatures down to -5°C (23°F), but frost and cold winter winds can damage the foliage. Take the plant indoors if temperatures fall below -5°C(23°F).

Watering: Water regularly but sparingly during growing season. Do not overwater. Water less during winter, only to make sure the root ball does not dry out.
Mature plants will tolerate some degree of negligence, but do not let it sit for long periods without water.

Feeding: Use a standard liquid feed every two weeks from mid-spring to late summer. Do not feed the shrub during the winter period and avoid high concentrations of fertiliser.

Potting and repotting: Move Laurus nobilis in one size larger pot every two years in spring. Use a soil-based potting mixture with extra grit added to improve stability and drainage. Moved up the plant as it grows to the largest pot size that is convenient and thereafter maintained at that size by pruning the rootball and top pruning. Lift the plant out of its pot and tease off a third of the roots before adding fresh potting mixture and checking drainage. Remove and replace the top 5cm (2 inch) of compost from the top of the container.

Garden Culture: Laurus nobilis is a slow growing evergreen tall shrub that if left untrimmed and grown in the ground (where the climate allows) will eventually grow into a medium sized tree. Prune it to shape when required. Plants may suffer cold or wind damage to the current season’s growth, which can be pruned out in the spring

Position: A sunny to partly shaded exposure is ideal for Laurus nobilis.
The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

Soil: Laurus nobilis is not too particular about the soil. However, a well-drained soil is important.

Plant it at the same depth as it was in its original pot. Bay roots are very shallow. Use caution when weeding or cultivating around at the base of the tree.

Irrigation: Follow a regular watering schedule during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system. Water it at least once a week or enough to keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy. Increase watering to twice per week during extremely hot temperatures or in drought-like conditions. Watering can be reduced once established.

Laurus nobilis is drought tolerant, but appreciates regular deep watering. Always allow the soil to dry out between waterings, so the roots do not rot.

Fertilising: For best results fertilise with a long term slow release fertiliser in early Spring.

Companion plants: The versatile habit of Laurus nobilis allows pairing it with a variety of Mediterranean plants. Grow it along with other fragrant, culinary herbs such as Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary), Lavandula species (Lavender) and Origanum vulgare (Oregano). Adding other trees which produce edibles fruits like Punica granatum (Pomegranate), Citrus species (Citrus) and Olea europaea (Olive) will turn this garden in true kitchen garden.

Propagation: Laurus nobilis can be propagated from seed collected in the autumn. However, male and female plants must be grown to obtain seed. Remove the fleshy outer casing and sow as soon as possible. If seed has dried or is bought, soak in warm water for 24 hours before sowing. Seed may take six months to one year to germinate. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first year.

Also Laurus nobilis can be propagated by taking semi-ripe cuttings in late summer. Wood that is just beginning to harden makes the best cuttings, but even these take up to three months to root under the best conditions. Cut 10-12cm (4-4.5 inch) of mature side shoot with heel. Pinch off the leaves from the bottom of the cutting. 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 or propagating case and place it in indirect sunlight. 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 six 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 Laurus nobilis.

Another propagating method is by layering the plant. Layering is often successful, but slower than cuttings and require extensive gardening skills.

Plants in containers are prone to leaf spots caused by waterlogged roots or wet weather conditions. This condition is usually indicating that the compost has become old and tired.
Treatment: Repot the shrub in spring into fresh, well-drained potting mixture.

Nutrient deficiency can cause leaves yellowing for in container-grown plants but is more commonly caused by waterlogged compost or cold weather damage. Older leaves will shed naturally in low numbers.
Treatment: Feed the plant and reduce watering during the cold season. Repot the shrub in spring into fresh recommended potting mixture if neccessary.

During harsh winters, Laurus nobilis may developed cracking and peeling bark, especially on the lower main stems. The cause is the winter cold and possibly other stress factors such as fluctuating soil moisture levels. Though the damage looks alarming it appears to be invariably fatal. If the rest of the plant is growing normally or recovering from winter damage (recovery should be apparent by midsummer if it is to happen) no action is needed.
Treatment: However, if the growth above the damaged area is dead, remove the dead parts cutting to healthy wood or to near soil level. Recovery from lower down or soil level often occurs.

Laurus nobilis are subject to scale insects.
Treatment: It can be treated with horticultural oil or wipe them away with a cotton swab or cotton ball dipped into rubbing alcohol.

Laurus nobilis can be susceptible to powdery mildew and black mold. These tend to grow on the leaves and branches of trees that do not get enough sunlight or that accumulate moisture on their leaves that does not evaporate quickly during the day.
Treatment: For anthracnose, mold and mildew, remove all affected foliage using sterile pruning. Dispose of all plant debris removed from the plant and that is lying under the plant. In most cases, this should enable the plant to contain the spread of infection naturally. Continue to monitor the plant for signs of further infection and removed impacted foliage as necessary.

Uses: Laurus nobilis makes a popular container plant being grown as a shrub or even topiary specimen.

It is an effective slow growing hedging or screening plant that can be kept clipped from 1-4m (3-13 feet) or left to grow into a medium sized tree. Its dark green leaves will provide an ideal backdrop for other plants. Also it is an excellent plant for topiary and is well suited to formal gardens. Its dried leaves are used in cooking and so it is an essential plant in any kitchen garden.

Culinary, the leaf is added at the beginning of cooking soups and stews and slowly imparts a deep, rich flavor. The leaf is left whole so it can be retrieved before serving the dish. To harvest leaves from a privately owned tree, cut off small branch with the desired number of leaves attached. Allow the entire branch to dry out. Remove the leaves from the branch and store them in a container to maintain the flavour of the leaf.

Height: 15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)
Hardiness zone: 8a – 11

Laurus nobilis - flowersLaurus nobilis - fruitsLaurus nobilis Laurus nobilisLaurus nobilisLaurus nobilis

Culinary Herbs, Foliage Plants, Indoor Plants, Shrubs , , , , , , ,

Coffea arabica

Common name: Coffee Plant, Coffee Shrub of Arabia, Mountain Coffee, Arabica Coffee

Family: Rubiaceae

Coffea arabica

Coffea arabica

Distribution and habitat: Coffea arabica is originally found in the southwestern highlands of Ethiopia. It is now rare in its native state and many populations appear to be mixed native and planted trees. It is common there as an understorey shrub. It has also been recovered from the Boma Plateau in South Sudan. Coffea arabica is also found on Mount Marsabit in northern Kenya, but it is unclear whether this is a truly native or naturalised occurrence.

Description: Coffea arabica is the only species of the genus Coffea grown as a house plant. It is a shrub that is actually the major source of the coffee bean. This shrub, which is single-stemmed when young but gradually becomes bushy, can grow 4.5m (15 feet) high in open ground but seldom exceeds about 1m (3 feet) indoors. The glossy, dark green leaves, which are arranged on the stems in opposite pairs, are elliptic in shape with pointed tips and undulating edges and they grow up to 15cm (6 inch) long and 5cm (2 inch) wide. After a Coffea arabica is three or four years old, it can produce star-shaped, fragrant, white flowers about 1cm (0.4 inch) wide from the leaf axils. Flowering generally occurs in midsummer or early autumn and the blooms are followed by small fruits, which gradually change colour first from green to red and then to nearly black, a process that takes several months. Within each fleshy fruit are held two seeds – two coffee beans.

Houseplant care: Prune Coffea arabica back in spring to keep it bushy and full. It also gives it an attractive shape. Use clean pruning shears to cut the stem at a 45° angle, 1cm (0.4 inch) above a leaf axil (the place where a leaf attaches to the stem).

Growing Coffea arabica indoors is easy, being attractive plants. They are vigorous growers and are long-lived.

Light: Grow Coffea arabica in medium light – for instance, close to a slightly shaded window.

Temperature: Normally warm room temperatures as 16-24°C (61-75°F) are suitable for growing Coffea arabica. These plants cannot tolerate lower temperatures than 13°C (55°F).
In warm rooms, particularly during the active growth period, stand the pots on trays of moist pebbles and mist-spray the foliage at least twice a week.

Water: During the active growth period water plentifully as often as necessary to keep the potting mixture thoroughly moist , but never allow the pots to stand in water. During the winter rest period make the potting mixture barely moist, giving only enough water to keep the mixture from drying out completely.

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

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture and put a layer of clay-pot fragments in the bottom of the pot to allow for more efficient drainage.  Move the plants into pots one size larger every spring, just as new growth begins.

After reaching maximum pot size, top-dress these plants by replacing the top 5-8cm (2-3 inch) of potting mixture with fresh one.

Propagation: Cuttings are difficult to root. The best way to propagate is from fresh seed sown in spring. Seed freshness is essential. Plant two or three  seeds about 2cm (0.4 inch) deep in an 8cm (3 inch) pot of moistened rooting mixture (equal parts of peat-moss and coarse sand), enclose the pot in a plastic bag or heated propagating case and stand it in medium light at a minimum of 24°C (75°F). No additional water is needed until after germination, which should occur in three to four weeks.
When the seedlings are about 3cm (1 inch) high, remove the covering and pull up and discard all but the most promising-looking one. If necessary, gently firm the mixture around the base of the remaining seedling and grow it on in the same pot. Begin to water very moderately and to make regular applications of liquid fertiliser about once a month. When the young plant has reached a height of 8-10cm (3-4 inch), move it into an 8cm (3 inch) pot of soil-based potting mixture. Thereafter its cultivation needs are the same as those of mature plants.

Coffea arabica will drop most of their lower leaves if the temperature drops below 13°C (55°F) for any length of time.

The leaf tips will turn brown or black if the air is not sufficient humid.

Scales insects sometimes attack Coffea arabica on the underside of the leaves.
Treatment: Scale can be easily controlled by physical removal, wash off with high pressure jet of water or scrape off with cotton wool buds or by chemical control with appropriate pesticide.

Recommended varieties:
Coffea arabica ‘Nana’ is a dwarf forms of Coffea arabica. This variety may begin to bear flowers and fruits when it is only about 45-60cm (18-24 inch) tall.


Foliage – green
Features – flowers, fragrance & fruits
Shape – bushy
Height: 1m (3 feet)

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

Hardiness zone: 10a-11

Coffea arabica - flowersCoffea arabica - fruitsCoffea arabica - seed


Flowering Plants, Foliage Plants, Indoor Plants, Shrubs , , , ,

Solanum pseudocapsicum

Common name: Christmas Cherry, Jerusalem Cherry, Kangaroo Apple, Nightshade, Madeira Winter Cherry

Family: Solanaceae

Synonymous: Solanum capsicastrum
Solanum diflorum
Solanum dunnianum
Solanum jaliscanum
Solanum tucumanense

Solanum pseudocapsicum

Solanum pseudocapsicum

Distribution and habitat: Solanum pseudocapsicum is native to Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and South America and become naturalised in southern Africa, North America, Hawaii, New Zealand and Australia. It is an small evergreen shrub usually growing 0.3-1m (1-3 feet) tall, but occasionally reaching up to 2m (6.5 feet) in height. It is found growing in forests, forest margins and waterways in temperate and sub-tropical regions, but it is occasionally also found in semi-arid and tropical environments. Sometimes it is considered a weed.

This perennial bushy shrub is living up to 10 years and has twiggy branches  which carry small, dark green leaves and insignificant star-shaped flowers which bloom in summer. The flowers are followed by highly decorative, long lasting, non-edible berries.

Description: Solanum pseudocapsicum has slightly hairy, lance-shaped leaves with stalks less than 1cm (0.4 inch) long. Each leaf is up to 8cm (3 inch) long and 3-4cm (1-1.5 inch) wide and has undulated edges. The leaves are densely arranged along the many short branches that develop from woody stems. Flowers appear from leaf axils, usually in twos or threes, on 2cm (0.8 inch) long flower stalks. Each flower is about 1-2cm (0.4-0.8 inch) across and white with central core of orange-yellow stamens. The oval berries that follow in late autumn to early winter are 1-2cm (0.4-0.8 inch) in diameter and are green, backed by green bracts. The bracts remain green, but the shinny berries gradually turn orange-red as they ripen and they remain attractive most of the winter months.

Houseplant care: Solanum pseudocapsicum is acquired when the display of berries starts and generally discarded when the berries have shriveled and fallen off. This is a waste, however as the plants will fruit again the following year if kept under the right conditions. They can be kept outdoors during the summer months.

In late spring, just before putting the mature plant outdoors, prune it drastically, cutting out two-thirds of the previous year’s growth. For bushy growth thereafter, pinch out the growing tips of new growth in spring. Mist-spray Solanum pseudocapsicum daily throughout the entire flowering period in order to encourage the fruit to set.

Light: Stand Solanum pseudocapsicum in direct sunlight indoors throughout the fruiting period (beginning in early autumn and ending in early spring). Plants to be retained for a second year must be kept outdoors, but sheltered from the midday sun throughout late spring and for the whole summer.

Temperature: During the autumn and winter months keep these plants at a temperature no higher than about 15°C (59°F), if possible, and give them high humidity. Warm rooms and dry air will considerably shorten the life of the berries. Stand the plants on trays or saucers of moist pebbles and mist-spray them once a day.

During late spring and summer, while plants are outdoors, normal summer temperatures are suitable. In dry weather mist-spray daily the specimens being kept outdoors. Be sure to bring the plants indoors before there is a risk of frost. Minimum tolerable temperature is 10°C (50°F).

Water: Water plentifully as often as necessary to keep the potting mixture thoroughly moist, but never let the pots stand in water. If a plant is to be retained for a second season, give it a short rest period for about four or five weeks just before putting it outdoors. During this period water the plant only enough to keep the potting mixture from drying out completely.

Fertilising: Apply standard liquid fertiliser once every two weeks, except during the brief rest period.

Potting and repotting: Plants which are acquired in late autumn or early winter will not need repotting until mid-spring. To keep the plants for a second fruiting season, move them into pots one size larger (probably 13cm (5 inch) size) before placing them outdoors. It is best to use a soil-based potting mixture.

A young Solanum pseudocapsicum raised from seed should be carefully moved into a bigger pot whenever root crowding is indicated by the appearance of roots on the surface of the potting mixture or through the drainage holes.

Solanum pseudocapsicum are not normally retained for a third fruiting season.

Gardening: Solanum pseudocapsicum is sometimes cultivated as a garden ornamental. In a frost free zone, Solanum pseudocapsicum will develop into a nice 0.6-1m (2-3 feet), woody shrub. These plants are growing best in moisture-retentive and well-draining soil. Water them well and let the soil become moderately dry between waterings. They are sun-lovers and hence it is best to plant them in a sunny location. For best results make sure that the plants are receiving sufficient sunshine and not grown in too windy place which can be too dry for them.

To encourage bushiness, prune Solanum pseudocapsicum regularly or pinch the growing points. Also remember to feed the Solanum pseudocapsicum with liquid fertilizer during the active growing period. Plants grown outdoors get pollinated from the wind or insects that carry the pollen from flower to flower.

Propagation: Seed sown in the early spring will flower and fruit the same year. Sow the seed in a small pot or shallow pan of moistened rooting mixture, spacing the seeds 1cm (0.4 inch) apart just bellow the surface of the potting mixture. Place the container in a plastic bag or propagating case and keep it in bright light filtered through a translucent blind or curtain until germination occurs (probably in two or three weeks). Uncover the container and grow the seedlings on in a position where they can get maximum bright light with at least two hours a day of direct sunlight. Water enough to keep the rooting potting mixture just moist throughout and begin to feed the seedlings when they are about 5-8cm (2-3 inch) high.

About eight weeks after the start of propagation, transplant the young plants singly into 8cm (3 inch) pots of soil-based potting mixture and treat them in the same way as mature Solanum pseudocapsicum. If possible, place them outdoors and keep them there until the berries begin to form in the autumn.

Leaf fall indicates overwatering.

Early berry drop indicates either too little light or hot dry air.

Solanum pseudocapsicum is sometimes infested by aphids, whiteflies or spider mites.
Treatment: Regular misting with tepid water will help to prevent an infestation of spider mites, which prefer hot, dry conditions. Use an insecticide, if needed.

Plants that do not bloom usually because they are not getting enough light.
Treatment: The cool rest followed by a warm, sunny summer should trigger a flush of new flowers followed by peppers. Do not forget to fertilise it during the growing season.

Plants bloom, but do not form fruits because they are not pollinated.
Treatment: Plants grown indoors need some help to pollinate. Use a small, clean paintbrush to dab the stamens in the center of the flowers, moving from flower to flower to spread the pollen around.

Notes: Solanum pseudocapsicum is regarded as a significant environmental weed in some regions of Australia and New Zealand.

Solanum is a large and diverse genus of flowering plants, including two food crops of the highest economic importance, the potato and the tomato.

Uses: Solanum pseudocapsicum is well worth growing as a single plant in a pot for the patio where it will become an asset for many years. It is normally bought as an annual indoor plant but can be grown for a number of years. The berries produces by Solanum pseudocapsicum are long-lasting and will “decorate” the plant right through the winter.

It makes a great ornamental garden plant in frost free climate.

Availability: Solanum pseudocapsicum are usually sold in late autumn or early winter, at time when the berries have started to change their colour – from green through yellow and orange to orange-red.

Recommended varieties:
Solanum pseudocapsicum Variegatum is a variegated form which has leaves splashed with creamy yellow or edged with creamy white.

Toxicity: Do not eat the fruit of Solanum pseudocapsicum though as they contain toxins. Keep the berries away from children. Ingestion may result in mild poisoning, but it is generally not life-threatening. It may cause gastric problems, including vomiting and gastroenteritis. They are also highly poisonous to dogs, cats and some birds.


Foliage – green
Features – flowers and berries
Shape – bushy
Height: 45cm (18 inch)
Wide: 45cm (18 inch)

Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – direct
Temperature in rest period – min 10°C max 16°C (50-61°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 9a-11

Annuals, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants, Shrubs , , , , , , , , , ,

Euphorbia tirucalli

Common name: Firestick Plants, Indian Tree Spurge, Naked Lady, Pencil Tree, Milk Bush, Rubber-Hedge Euphorbia, Finger Tree

Family: Euphorbiaceae

Synonymous: Tithymalus tirucalli
Tirucalia indica
Euphorbia viminalis
Euphorbia geayi
Euphorbia laro
Euphorbia media
Euphorbia rhipsalioides
Euphorbia scoparia
Euphorbia suareziana
Arthrothamnus tirucalli

Euphorbia tirucalli

Euphorbia tirucalli

Distribution and habitat: Euphorbia tirucalli is a shrub that grows in semi-arid tropical climates.
It has a wide distribution in Africa, being prominently present in northeastern, central and southern Africa. It may also be native in other parts of the continent as well as some surrounding islands and the Arabian peninsula and has been introduced to many other tropical regions. It grows in dry areas and is often used to feed cattle or as hedging. Euphorbia tirucalli has the ability to grow on land that is not suitable for most other crops.

Euphorbia tirucalli has unmistakable, brush-like branch masses that are a noticeable feature of the plant. It also occurs over the widest distribution of all local euphorbias and is also a very variable plant ranging from many-branched shrubs to large trees, depending on the particular habitat. Euphorbia tirucalli occurs in various habitats ranging from grassy hills, rocky outcrops and ridges, along river courses, bushveld and open savanna. Dense thickets are associated with this species and the plant itself may form hedge-like barriers in the veld.

Description: Euphorbia tirucalli can grow 9m (30 feet) tall in the wild, but the indoor plant rarely exceeds 1.5-2m (5-6 feet). When the plant is young, the many-branched stems carry minute leaves, but these soon disappears, leaving the stems smooth, cylindrical, glossy green and pencil-thick. Most of them stand upright, producing branches by forking into two equal-size sections at frequent intervals.

Houseplant care: Euphorbia tirucalli have a rangy, open growth habit and are more valued for their novelty than the sheer beauty of their foliage.
Euphorbia tirucalli can be trimmed back if they become too large, but always wear protective clothing to prevent irritation from the sap. As with all succulents, it is better to let it dry out rather than risk too much moisture and the ensuing rot.

Light: Euphorbia tirucalli need full sunlight all year long. It is perfect for a sunny window.

Temperature: These plants prefers average summer temperatures 18-21ºC (65 -70ºF). In winter, cool to 10ºC (50ºF).

Euphorbia tirucalli thrives as a houseplant in the driest atmosphere.

Water: During the active growth period water sparingly, only as much as necessary to make the entire potting mixture barely moist, but allow the top two-thirds to dry out between waterings. In mid-autumn gradually reduce the amount of water given. During the winter rest period water the plants only enough to keep the potting mixture from drying out.

Fertilising: Apply a week solution of liquid fertiliser once or twice during the active growth period. Alternatively, you can feed Euphorbia tirucalli with a slow-release fertiliser in the beginning of the season.

Potting and repotting: Use an equal-parts combination of soil-based potting mixture and coarse sand and perlite. Provide extra drainage by putting plenty of clay-pot fragments or other drainage material in the bottom of pots. Move plants into pots one size larger every spring; 15-20cm (6-8 inch) pots should be the biggest needed. After that, top-dressing with fresh potting mixture in the spring will be enough.

Gardening: Euphorbia tirucalli may also be grown outdoors in tropical desert or dry coastal areas, being an salt tolerant. This light-loving plant requires full sun to thrive and does well in dry climates. It will not thrive in freezing temperatures. Use well-draining, light soil to plant this succulent plant.

Chose a spot where the plant can receives plenty of sunlight most of the day. Euphorbia tirucalli should be planted in well-drained and fertile soil. Dig a hole in the chosen  spot. Lower the Euphorbia tirucalli root ball into the hole carefully, ensuring the top is in line with the top of the hole. Add or remove soil if necessary. Backfill with soil to cover it completely and tamp it down to prevent air pockets. Water the planting site lightly so the soil settles in place. After this, water only when the soil feels dry. Spread fertilizer pellets over the soil in spring to feed the Euphorbia tirucalli with essential nutrients. Follow label directions for application.

Watch for mealybugs and scale.
Treatment: Use for mealybugs an appropriate pesticide.  Spray all top growth with pesticide or place granule of a synthetic pesticide in the potting mixture. During the next month examine plants weekly for traces of re-infestation.
If scales are the pest that infested the plant, wipe them off with a damp cloth or a fair stiff brush dipped in soapy water or an appropriate pesticide solution. Then apply the pesticide to the whole plant.

If Euphorbia tirucalli is not receiving enough light, its vertical shoots will begin to droop.

Uses: The common name rubber-hedge refers to its widespread use as planted hedges around smallholdings, habitations and livestock pens. In this way mosquitoes and other intruders can be kept out.

Use Euphorbia tirucalli as a patio plant in a container. In tropical and subtropical climates, Euphorbia tirucalli is used as a specimen or background plant and in mixed hedges. Euphorbia tirucalli is highly salt tolerant and is often grown in gardens near the beach.

Euphorbia tirucalli makes a dramatic presentation. It can be trained and shaped to grow in endless patterns. Also Euphorbia tirucalli makes a great houseplant and is easy to grow.

Note: Euphorbia tirucalli is a hydrocarbon plant that produces a poisonous latex which can be converted to the equivalent of gasoline.
It was once thought to be a species that could yield true rubber but numerous experiments have shown that the latex contains a too high percentage of resin. It was obtained not a good quality of rubber, though.
It also has uses in traditional medicine in many cultures.
The latex is used sometimes as a fish poison.

Toxicity: The milky latex from Euphorbia tirucalli is extremely irritating to the skin and mucosa and is toxic. Contact with skin causes severe irritation, redness and a burning sensation; contact with the eyes may cause severe pain, and in some cases temporary blindness for several days. Symptoms may worsen over 12 hours.
For eye exposures, flush eyes with fresh, cool water for at least 15 minutes and repeat after a few minutes. Seek medical attention if there is no relief.
If swallowed, it may cause burning to the mouth, lips, and tongue. Deaths have been recorded from swallowing the latex and in case of swallowing should be seeking medical attention.


Foliage – green
Shape – upright
Height: 1.5-2m (5-6 feet)

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

Hardiness zone: 9a-11

Euphorbia tirucalliEuphorbia tirucalli













Indoor Plants, Shrubs, Succulents , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Euphorbia pseudocactus

Common name: Dragon Bones, Candelabra Spurge, Lucky Cowboy, Tiger Tree

Family: Euphorbiaceae

Euphorbia pseudocactus

Euphorbia pseudocactus

Distribution and habitat: Euphorbia pseudocactus is originating in subtropical coast of South Africa. It is growing in thorny bush-lands and savannah often forming colonies.

Description: Euphorbia pseudocactus is a thorny succulent, clump-forming shrub that grows to 1.5m (5 feet) tall indoors. It is closely resembling a true cactus, with several upright leaf-less stems, which are four or five sided. These stems have yellowish fan-shaped markings on a bright green  or grayish green background; they are 4-5cm (1.5-2 inch) thick, but nipped in at 10cm (4 inch) intervals all along their length and have 1-2cm (0.4-0.8 inch) long spines.

Houseplant care: When handling the Euphorbia pseudocactus should be used caution because of the sharp thorns of this plant. Also the sap can be irritable for sensitive skin.
It is  easy to grow these beautiful and rare tropical succulents. They generally require no more attention than the average houseplant.

Light: Euphorbia pseudocactus need full sunlight all year long.

Temperature: Normal room temperatures are suitable during the active growth period (spring, summer and early autumn), but these plants do best if given a winter rest period at 12°C (54°F) or fewer degree lower.

Water: During the active growth period water sparingly, only as much as necessary to make the entire potting mixture barely moist, but allow the top two-thirds to dry out between waterings. In mid-autumn gradually reduce the amount of water given. During the winter rest period water the plants only enough to keep the potting mixture from drying out.

Fertilising: Apply a week solution of liquid fertiliser once or twice during the active growth period.

Potting and repotting: Use an equal-parts combination of soil-based potting mixture and coarse sand and perlite. Provide extra drainage by putting plenty of clay-pot fragments or other drainage material in the bottom of pots. Move plants into pots one size larger every spring; 15-20cm (6-8 inch) pots should be the biggest needed. After that, top-dressing with fresh potting mixture in the spring will be enough.

Gardening: Outdoors,  Euphorbia pseudocactus is an easy species to grow that is suited for any well drained soil in full sun. It can tolerate moderate shade. A plant that has been growing in shade should be slowly hardened off before placing it in full sun as the plant will be severely scorched if moved too suddenly from shade into sun.

It is a moderately fast grower and will become large landscape masterpieces in just 3-5 years. Once established, it will be content in its position and with its soil for years. It will be best to plant Euphorbia pseudocactus in a location where winds are not a big issue as in strong winds, the columns often smash into each other, causing permanent scarring. It can be pruned for shape and branching. It is frost tender, so plant Euphorbia pseudocactus outdoors in frost free zones only.  In colder climates simply bring the plant indoors for the winter months and provide proper light and water.

Propagation: Take stem cuttings in late spring or early summer. These succulent Euphorbia pseudocactus produce a particularly large amount of milky sap and it is essential to stop the flow of latex at the cut ends quickly by spraying the wound of the parent and dipping the cut end of the cuttings in water. Allow each cutting to dry for several days before planting it in a moistened equal-parts mixture of peat moss and sand.

After filling the pot with mixture, sprinkle some coarse sand on the surface in the area where the stem is to be inserted. This will facilitate rooting and help prevent the possibility of stem rot. Leave the container uncovered at normal room temperature in a position where gets sunlight filtered through a translucent blind or curtain and water just enough to keep the mixture barely moist. In favorable conditions rooting should normally take place in about six to eight weeks; one the young plants have begun to make new growth, thus indicating that rooting has occurred, pot them up in the normal mixture and treat them as mature plants.

If plant becomes very red, this is a sign that the roots have not developed properly.
Treatment: Ensure that plant has a well drained soil with addition half coarse sand or perlite.

Euphorbia pseudocactus is prone to mealy bugs and rarely scale.
Treatment: Use for mealy bugs an appropriate pesticide.  Spray all top growth with pesticide or place granule of a syntetic pestice in the potting mixture. During the next month examine plants weekly for traces of re-infestation.
If scales are the pest that infested the plant, wipe them off with a damp cloth or a fair stiff brush dipped in soapy water or an appropriate pesticide solution. Then apply the pesticide to the whole plant.

Uses: Euphorbia pseudocactus suits suits mediterranean, contemporary and dry gardens style designs. It is used as barrier, groundcovers, accents or container plant for indoors or outdoors.

Plant Euphorbia pseudocactus into the rock garden or foundation planting bed in water-conservation gardens in frost-free regions. Elsewhere enjoy it as a low-maintenance houseplant. In summer Euphorbia pseudocactus can be displayed in gardens or on terraces.

Toxicity: Euphorbia pseudocactus contain a white sap that can be irritating to eyes and mucous membranes. If contact is made with this white sap, take care to not touch face or eyes before washing hands with soap and water.


Foliage – green
Shape – upright
Height: 1.5m (5 feet)

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

Hardiness zone: 9b-11


Indoor Plants, Shrubs, Succulents , , , ,

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