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Sansevieria cylindrica

Common name: Cylindrical Snake Plant, African Spear, Spear Sansevieria, Elepbant’s Toothpick, Bow String Hemp, Spear Sansevieria, Skyline Spear Sansevieria

Family: Asparagaceae

Synonymous: Acyntha cylindrica
Cordyline cylindrica
Sansevieria angolensis

Sansevieria cylindrica

Sansevieria cylindrica

Distribution and habitat: Sansevieria cylindrica is a succulent plant native to Angola. It is an evergreen perennial plant forming dense stands, spreading by creeping rhizome, which is sometimes above ground, sometimes underground. These plants in the wild frequently form diffuse colonies.

Description: Sansevieria cylindrica has striped, tubular leaves that are smooth and a green-gray colour with a dark-green striped pattern or just dark green colour in some cases. The leaves have pointed tips. A single leaf is about 3cm (1 inch) thick and grows to a height between 1 and 2m (3-7 feet). The Sansevieria cylindrica grows fan-shaped from underground rhizomes, its stiff leaves rising from a basal rosette. Plants are rigid, ribbed lengthwise and dark green cross-banded with grey-green when young. Long flower spikes may appear erratically on mature plants, arising from the base of the spears shaped leaves. The 3cm (1 inch) greenish-white tubular flowers are tinged with pink growing in clusters on an erect flower spike. Sansevieria cylindrica tends to bloom more readily from a young age than other varieties. These flowers are not particularly showy, but they are nicely fragrant. Occasionally flowers will be followed by spherical orange-red berries to about 1cm (0.4 inch) in diameter.

These interesting plants are one of the most unusual plants. The plant cylindrical spears that spring from the sandy soil can be braided or left in their natural fan shape. Best of all, they can be almost ignored and the plant will thrive.

Sansevieria cylindrica are extremely long lived plants.

Houseplant care: Sansevieria cylindrica is popular as an ornamental plant as it is easy to culture and take care of in a home. Truly, they thrive on neglect. One exception to this rule: their pots must be well drained.
Wipe the leaves with a damp cloth to keep them dust-free. Every leaf is tipped with narrow awl-shaped point and care should be taken not to damage it; a leaf with a broken tip will stop growing.
The growth is relatively slow and plants last for many years.

Light: Sansevieria cylindrica likes bright light and can stand plenty of direct sunlight. They will tolerate a certain amount of shade – at a slight shaded window – without detriment to their growth, but will virtually stop growing if they are forced to live in poor light for any length of time. But, they will survive in poor light.
When growing in high light, the leaves will grow more upright, desired look for a nice container plant.

Temperature: As native of the tropics, these plants thrive in average to warm room temperatures; from 18-26°C (65-79°F) suits them ideally. It will tolerate fluctuating temperatures, but never subject them to temperatures below 13°C (55°F).
Sansevieria cylindrica will tolerate dry air, but keep it away from air vents or drafts. Average room humidity will be satisfactory for this plant.

Watering: During the active growth period water only moderately, giving enough to make the potting mixture moist throughout at each watering, but allowing the top couple of centimetres of the potting mixture to dry out before watering again.
During the rest period allow at least half of the potting mixture to dry out between waterings. Overwatering leads to rot and cause the leaves to topple over at the point where they join the rootstock. Water the soil, taking care not to get water on the leaves, which will cause them to rot. If the leaves turn yellow or get soft and mushy at their base, the plant is overwatered. Empty the plant saucers after watering, to avoid that stagnant water to damage the roots.
The species is drought-tolerant and grown indoors it needs water only about once every other week during the active growing season.

Feeding: Do not over-fertilise these plants. Apply a liquid fertiliser about once a month to all plants during the active growth period, but only at half strength.

Potting and repotting: Repot in spring, only when plants get crowded and need dividing. Sansevieria cylindrica do not mind cramped root conditions and so can be left undisturbed for several years. Fleshy, usually cream-coloured roots will often appear on the surface of the potting mixture, but these plants do not really need repotting until they crack their pots. Ideally, the plants should be moved on shortly before reaching this stage, when the leaves occupy most of the pot surface. Keep the rosette of the leaves at soil level. Use a wide, heavy container to prevent toppling as this tall plant tend to be top-heavy. Repotting is best done in early spring.
In years when plants are not repotted, top-dress them with fresh potting mixture, first scraping away some of the loose old mixture carefully so as not to do any damage to the near surface roots.
For open, quick drainage add one-third coarse sand to a soil-based potting mixture and put plenty of clay-pot fragments or other drainage material into the bottom of the pot.

Gardening: Sansevieria cylindrica can be grown in the garden in mild to tropical climates and it is not fussy. When planting in ground space plants to allow clumps to form and develop properly. If planted too tightly there will not be enough room for root expansion and plants will not reach their full height and bloom potential.

In very cold zones a containerized Sansevieria can be brought inside for the winter months, when the temperatures drops below 13°C (55°F). Plants that have been living in the shade should not be moved to a sunny position without gradual acclimatization; sudden prolonged exposure to sunlight can result in leaf burn.

Position: It can be grown outdoors in partial shade. This plant needs only partial sunlight, avoiding midday direct sunshine which could cause unaesthetic burnings on the foliage.

Soil: Sansevieria cylindrica needs good drainage. Plant in ground in well drained, sandy soil enriched with peaty compost.

Irrigation: Sansevieria cylindrica only needs watering about once or twice a month during the warmer season and it should be kept drier in winter.
This plant is very drought resistant. Do not over-water it, especially in winter.

Fertilising: Mixing a small amount of slow time release fertiliser into the lower level of the soil before planting speeds up the rate of growth. However, fertiliser can be detrimental to Sansevieria cylindrica and too much can kill the plant. Use a cactus fertiliser or slow time release fertiliser once a month.
These plants are light feeders, however unfertilized they will tend to grow very slow. Do not overfertilise them. Always, less is better than too much fertiliser for these plants.

Propagation: Sansevieria cylindrica can be propagated by dividing up overcrowded clumps of leaves. Detach clusters of leaves from rootstock with a sharp knife when the leaves are 15cm (6 inch) long. Most clusters will have some roots attached and can be planted directly in the normal potting mixture; those without roots will root quickly in a mixture of peat moss and sand.
Sever suckers from the parent can be done when two or there leaves have been formed.

Also, these plants can be propagated by leaf cuttings. Slice leaves crosswise into 5cm (2 inch) long pieces, remembering which is the top and which is the bottom because cuttings must be planted right end up. Push three or four leaf sections about 1-2cm (0.4-0.8 inch) into a moistened mixture of peat moss and sand in an 8cm (3 inch) pot, place them in bright light and water sparingly, just enough to make the potting mixture barely moist. Eventually, rhizomes will be produced, but it is a slow process.

Problems: Any problems with growing Sansevieria cylindrica are usually related to watering. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings. If in doubt, keep it on the dry side. The only things that will kill this plant is soggy soil and prolonged exposure to cold temperatures.

Rotting at the base with leaves yellowing and drying back is normally due to overwatering.
Treatment: If part of the plant is still healthy, cut this away, repot and keep it warm and dry.

Curling leaves are the result of underwatering in summer.

Keep a careful watch for vine weevils which often eat pieces from the edges of leaves, causing irremediable damage.
Treatment: Pick up and destroy adults. Plants with badly damaged roots cannot usually be saved. Immediately on sighting an adult weevil, drench the potting mixture with a suitable pesticide.

Note: Watch out for the pointed tips of Sansevieria cylindrica cylindrical leaves as they are sharp.

Uses and display: Sansevieria cylindrica are a tall growing kinds very decorative in grouping, where they can be used to provide compact vertical contrast with different kinds of lower growing bushy or rosette-shaped plants. Its easy-going nature and tolerance of dry air and soil also make it a reliable office plant. The appearance of these plants is greatly enhanced by an attractive pottery container.
This plant can be used with equal effectiveness as an accent plant or in mass in planters or beds.

Sansevieria use the crassulacean acid metabolism process, which absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen at night. This purportedly makes them suitable bedroom plants. However, since the leaves are potentially poisonous if ingested, Sansevieria is not usually recommended for children’s bedrooms.
Sansevieria species are believed to act as good air purifiers by removing toxins (such as formaldehyde, xylene and toluene) from the air, thereby gaining a reputation as a good cure for sick building syndrome.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – variegated
Shape – upright
Height: 60-90cm (24.36 inch)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – direct
Temperature in rest period – min 13oC max 27oC (55-80oF)
Temperature in active growth period – min 13oC max 27oC (55-80oF)
Humidity – low

Hardiness zone: 11

 

Sansevieria cylindrica Sansevieria cylindrica flowersSansevieria cylindrica Sansevieria cylindrica rootsSansevieria cylindrica

 

 

 

 

 



Foliage Plants, Indoor Plants, Succulents, Top Anti-Pollutant Houseplants , , , , , , , , ,

Aloe arborescens

Common name: Krantz Aloe, Candelabra Aloe, Mountain Bush Aloe, Tree Aloe, Torch Aloe

Family: Xanthorrhoeaceae

Synonymous: Aloe perfoliata var. arborescens
Aloe candelabra
Aloe milleri
Aloe natalensis
Aloe viridifolia
Catevala arborescens

Aloe arborescens

Aloe arborescens

Distribution and habitat: Aloe arborescens is a species of flowering succulent perennial plant endemic to the south eastern part of Southern Africa. Aloe arborescens has adapted to many different habitats, its natural habitat usually consists of mountainous areas including rocky outcrops and exposed ridges. Its habitat can vary and is one of only a few species of aloe that is found growing from sea level up to the tops of mountains.

Description: Aloe arborescens can grow to 2m (6.5 feet) tall; only young plants are suitable for use indoors. The narrow, tooth-edged leaves which are 15-22cm (6-7 inch) long and 2cm (0.8 inch) wide, form a loose rosette on the end of a bare woody stem. Offsets normally appear around the base when plants are two or three years old. Red flowers may be produced at the top of a long branched stem.

Houseplant care: Aloe arborescens is an easy to grow houseplant as long as the light requirements are met.

Light: Bright light suits Aloe arborescens. They do well in full sunlight. No Aloe will thrive if permanently placed at a distance from a window.

Temperature: Aloe arborescens grow well in normal room temperatures and are tolerant of dry air. To encourage flowering, however, it is best to give the plants a short winter rest at a temperature of no more that 10°C (50°F).

Water: During the active growth period water plentifully as often as necessary to keep the potting mixture thoroughly moist. During the rest period water only enough to prevent the mixture from drying out.

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

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture. Aloe arborescens should be moved into one size larger pot every spring. When maximum convenient pot size has been reached, plants should be top-dressed with fresh potting mixture once a year.

Propagation: Offsets can be taken from the base of the plant in early summer. These small new rosettes are often attached to the parent by a short underground stolon and may already have little roots, which should be retained for propagation purposes.

Because very tiny offsets are hard to root, they should not be removed for planting until their leaves have begun to open into the characteristic rosette shape. Plants that have a rosette of leaves on a long stem are likely to produce additional small rosettes low down on the stem and these root more easily than the rosettes which are higher up.

Offsets will root in two or three weeks in the standard potting mixture is some coarse sand is sprinkled at the base of the rosette to prevent rotting. Until offsets are well established, they should have bright light without direct sunlight and they should be watered sparingly, only enough to moisten the potting mixture, allowing the top two-thirds of the mixture to drying out between waterings.

Problems:
Melly bugs and root mealy bugs can be troublesome. The former hide deep in the crevices of the rosette foliage and the latter generally bury themselves in the roots, just below the surface of the potting mixture.
Treatment: Use an insecticide soap or make one from dish detergent (free of perfumes and additives if it is possible) mixed in a week concentration with water and spay the plants. After treatment washing the plant is recommended. Alternatively, use an adequate pesticide. Repeat the treatment if necessary.

Uses: Grown in containers, Aloe arborescens make a remarkable houseplant or installed on porches, patios, decks, etc.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – rosette
Height: 1.8-2.4m (6-8 feet)
Wide: 1.2m (4 feet)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – direct
Temperature in rest period – min 7°C max 10°C (45-50°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – Low

Hardiness zones: 9b-11

Aloe arborescens floweringAloe arborescens rosette

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Foliage Plants, Indoor Plants, Succulents , , , , , , , , , , ,

Senecio rowleyanus

Common name: String of Pearls, String of Beads

Family: Asteraceae

Synonymous: Curio rowleyanus
Kleinia rowleyana

Senecio rowleyanus

Senecio rowleyanus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overwatering this succulent may promote rotting.

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

Toxicity: All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested.

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

SUMMARY:

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

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

Hardiness zone: 9b-11

Senecio rowleyanus - flowersSenecio rowleyanusSucculent plants



Foliage Plants, Ground cover, Succulents , , , ,

Lithops lesliei

Common name: Living Stones, Mimicry Plants, Stonefaces, Pebble Plants

Family: Aizoaceae

Synonymous: Lithops orpenii
Lithops venteri
Mesembryanthemum ferrugineum
Mesembryanthemum lesliei

Lithops lesliei

Lithops lesliei

Distribution and habitat: Lithops lesliei has just a provincial distribution in South Africa. The plant continues to be seen within its range, but this is as a threatened species of South Africa. It is found primarily in arid grasslands or savannas, usually in rocky places, growing under the protection of forbs and grasses.

Description: Lithops lesliei are resemblance to the stones among which they grow in their desert-like habitat. Each plant has a short underground stem that rise from a relatively long taproot. This buried stem carries a pair of thick and fleshy semi-circular leaves – which are identical in size, shape and colour – that are fused together for most of their length, a 5mm (0.2 inch) deep fissure. At the top of the line of fusion there is a slit or fissure, from which a single, daisy-like flower, 3cm (1 inch) wide, is produced in late summer are is golden yellow with pink shading on the underside of the petals. The upper surface of the leaves is flat-topped up to 4cm (1.5 inch) thick. Leaf colour is variable, running from pinkish gray to olive green with rust-coloured spots on the upper surface of the leaves. The leaf colour blend with its natural arid, rocky background.

Lithops lesliei are obligate outcrossers and require pollination from a separate plant. Their fruit is a dry capsule that opens when it becomes wet; in wild, some seeds may be ejected by falling raindrops and the capsule re-closes when it dries out. Capsules may also sometimes detach and be distributed intact or may disintegrate after several years.
After flowering, the old leaves gradually wither and dry up as a new pair emerges to replace them from the fissure between the two leaves.
Lithops lesliei form clumps, but it may take years to produce two or three pairs of low-lying leaves.

Houseplant care: Lithops lesliei is easy to grow, it tolerates a degree of excess water better than some particular hydrophobic species. Even so, it must have a very open mineral, fast draining potting mixture.

Light: Give these plants at least three or four hours a day of direct sunlight all year long. Care should be taken about exposing them to the full blast of the sun rays in summer. Such tiny plants can easily get scorched or broiled and their appearance spoiled.

Temperature: Normal room temperatures are suitable for Lithops lesliei. It can tolerate temperatures down to freezing, but should not generally be subjected to temperatures below 10°C (50°F).

Water: Water sparingly from late spring until the flower dies in the autumn, giving just enough to make the potting mixture barely moist and let the top two-thirds of the mixture dry out between waterings. From autumn to spring these plants have a rest period, during which new leaves replace the old ones.

During the rest period the water in the old leaves supplies the needs of the new leaves; give plants no more water until the following season. Start watering after the old leaves completely dry.

Fertilising: It is not necessary to feed these plants at any time.

Potting and repotting: Use an equal mixture of soil-based potting mixture and coarse sand or perlite. For good drainage put 2-3cm (0.8-1 inch) deep layer of clay-pot fragments in the bottom of the pot. Use a standard depth pot. A shallow pan may appear to be more than suitable for the low top growth, but it will not be deep enough for the searching taproot. Even though Lithops lesliei are clump-forming, the clumps form so slowly that the potting mixture provides nourishment for a long time.
Plant normally need to be moved on only when they begin to crowd each other in the pot – usually about once every three or four years.

Propagation: Divide overcrowded clumps in early summer. Keep a newly divided Lithops lesliei in bright filtered light and water it sparingly. Withhold water during the rest period.
Move the plant into a position where it receives full sunlight in late spring, when it should be ready to flower.

Plants can also be grown from seed, but the seedling usually take several years to reach flowering size.

Problems: Nearly all problems occur as a result of overwatering and poor ventilation especially when weather conditions are dull and cool or very humid. If too much water is supplied the plants will grow out of character, bloat, split and rot. Keep them in small pots as solitary clumps or as colonies in large, shallow terracotta pans.

Notes: Different Lithops species are preferentially found in particular environments, usually restricted to a particular type of rock. Lithops have not naturalised outside to his natural distribution, South Africa.

Lithops are partly subterranean, with only the clear ‘window’ in each leaf tip exposed above soil. A type of optical system exists whereby a layer of apical tissue rich in calcium oxalate crystals acts as a filter to intense sunlight before it reaches the thin chlorophyllous layer below. They show a striking similarity to their background rocks and are difficult to detect when not in flower. Its soil-embedded, subterranean growth form also reduces the need for chemical defences against herbivores.

Uses: Lithops lesliei is suitable for growing in containers and for indoors growing.
It is drought-tolerant; thus this it is suitable for xeriscaping in areas within its hardiness zone.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – variegated
Features – flowers
Shape – low growing
Height: under 15cm (6 inch)
Spacing: 7-15cm (3-6 inch)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – sparingly
Light – direct
Temperature in rest period – min 10°C max 21°C (50-70°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – low

Hardiness zone: 10a-11

Lithops lesliei - flowersLithops lesliei - fruitLithops lesliei - open seed capsuleLithops lesliei - new leaves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Hobbyist Plants, Indoor Plants, Rare & Unusual Plants, Succulents , , , , , , , ,

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana

Common name: Flaming Katy, Christmas Kalanchoe, Florist Kalanchoe

Family: Crassulaceae

Synonymous: Kalanchoe globulifera

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana

Distribution and habitat: Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is native to the island of Madagascar, where it grows in the relatively cool plateaus of the Tsarantanana Mountains. In its natural habitat, Kalanchoe blossfeldiana grows in humus soil and forms small upright shrubs. It has thick, waxy foliage with a succulent appearance.
In the greenhouse, Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is grown as a flowering pot plant and is considered a biennial or even a triennial plant, meaning it takes two or three years from seed germination to reach the flowering stage, after which it is discarded.

Description: Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is a long-flowering perennial succulent that is rarely seen in its original form, having been superseded by a number of improved forms. These have become popular flowering plants to be bought in full bloom, during the winter and discarded when the flowering season has passed. Most are 30-35cm (12-14 inch) tall and bushy; the leaves are thick, fleshy, dark green, often edged with red, more or less circular and 2-3cm (0.8-1 inch) long. They carry their flower erect. The small flowers are arranged in dense clusters of between 20 and 50, each cluster spreading at least 3-4cm (1-1.5 inch). They will continue to bloom for two or three months.

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana‘s hybrids make a big diversity display of forms and colours. The clasic Kalanchoe blossfeldiana‘s flowers consist of four petals that form a tubular-shape flower and can be red, yellow, orange, pink, purple and variant of these, but some hybrids have more that one row of petals.

Houseplant care: Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is usually discarded after flowering. However, if it is pruned back hard and given spell in the garden, it will probably flower again next season.

They grow best in clay pots for aeration and need drainage holes in the bottom. Setting the container on a dish filled with rocks or gravel provides extra drainage.

Light: Kalanchoe blossfeldiana should be grown in sunny window.
When growing kalanchoe in containers, they can be boosted to produce more buds and flowers by giving them 8 to 10 hours of sunlight per day.

Temperature: Kalanchoe blossfeldiana grow well in normal room temperatures.
Avoid temperatures below 5°C (40°F) because they can kill Kalanchoe blossfeldiana plant after a few hours.

Water: During the active growth period water sparingly – just enough to keep the potting mixture moist, allowing the top half of the mixture to dry out between waterings.
Kalanchoe blossfeldiana have the tendency to become abnormally gross and flabby if they are overwatered.

Avoid using cold water when watering plants because it could shock the plant.

Fertilising: Apply week liquid fertiliser once or twice to flowering plants, during the growing season only. Pruned plants may be given a dose of full strength fertilising as a boost.

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture with the addition of a small amount of coarse sand. Plants that are not to be discarded should be moved each spring into pots one size larger. Good drainage is important; have a shallow layer of clay-pot fragments at the bottom of the pot. The maximum pot size needed should be about 13cm (5 inch).

Propagation: To propagate Kalanchoe blossfeldiana take tip cuttings in spring and root them in 8cm (3 inch) pots filled with a mixture of peat moss and sand. Pot pots in a warm position in bright filtered light. Water the mixture whenever the top 1-2cm (0.4-0.8 inch) dries out. When roots have formed and new growth appears, move each young plant into a pot of standard mixture. Make sure that the pot is large enough to hold the roots. Thereafter, it should be possible to treat the plant as a mature Kalanchoe blossfeldiana.

Problems: Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is relatively trouble free.

Susceptible to stem rot, if over-watered.

Honeydew, galls and distorted leaves are a sign for an infestation with aphids.
Treatment: Use a suitable insecticide and follow the instruction from the label.

Waxy fibres and honeydew on leaves and shoots indicate an infestation with mealybugs.
Treatment: Apply insecticide.

A powdery white coat on the plants indicates an infection with powdery mildew.
Treatment: Remove affected plants and apply a fungicide. To prevent infection improve ventilation, keep the roots moist and do not water the plants from above.

White tufts or white covering on the lower surface of the leaves indicates an infection with downy mildew.
Treatment: Remove affected plants and apply a fungicide. To prevent infection improve ventilation, keep the roots moist and do not water the plants from above.

Sudden wilting and pale green discolouration indicate a fungal infection (phytophthora).
Treatment: Remove infected plants. Avoid fungal infection by improving drainage and by avoiding over-fertilization.

Uses: Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, when container grown, are ideal for sunrooms and bright windowsills and can be grown on the porch or patio. It is suited for hanging baskets, container plant and as indoor plant.

In garden,  Kalanchoe blossfeldiana can be used in border, ground cover and makes a stunning plant for rock gardens.

Recommended varieties:
Kalanchoe blossfeldiana ‘Tom Thumb’ is a miniature form never more than 15cm (6 inch) high with reddish foliage that carries small dark red flowers.

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana ‘Vulcan’ is a long bloomer miniature form with large scarlet flowers and grows up to 20cm (8 inch), blooming in 20 weeks from seed.

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana ‘Compacta Lilliput’ is a miniature form with red flowers that grows no more than 15cm (6 inch).

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana ‘Orange Triumph’ is a less frequently seen orange-flowered kind.

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana ‘Goldrand’ is an less usually form with yellow flowers.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – bushy
Height: 30-35cm (12-14 inch)

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

Hardiness zone: 10a-11

Kalanchoe blossfeldianaKalanchoe blossfeldiana - flowers

 

 

 

 

 

 



Annuals, Flowering Plants, Indoor Plants, Succulents , , , , , , , ,

Ceropegia woodii

Common Name: Chain of Harts, Collar of Hearts, String of Hearts, Rosary Vine, Hearts-on-a-String, Sweetheart Vine

Family: Apocynaceae

Synonymous: Ceropegia barbertonensis
Ceropegia collaricorona
Ceropegia euryacme
Ceropegia hastata
Ceropegia leptocarpa
Ceropegia linearis
Ceropegia schoenlandii

Ceropegia woodii

Ceropegia woodii

Distribution and habitat: Ceropegia woodii is native to South Africa, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe. It is an evergreen succulent trailing vine that grows to 10 centimetres (4 inch) in height and spreads to reach up to 2–4 metres (6.5–13 feet) in length. It lives in forested areas with its small tubers embedded on rocky ledges or in banks of soil. In its natural environment, root development is stimulated when the nodes touch the soil. The plant is thus easily grown from cuttings.

Description: Ceropegia woodii are trailing stemmed plants, pendent arising from a tuberous rootstock. Only Ceropegia woodii from Ceropegia species is popular as indoor plant, which is a highly effective trailer for use in a small hanging basket.

The tuberous base of Ceropegia woodii is quite hard, gray, woody and wrinkled and it can eventually measure as much as 5cm (2 inch) across. It usually sit on the surface of the potting mixture and from it emerge several purple, thread-like stems. These stems can grow 1m (3 feet) long, but do not generally exceed 45cm (18 inch).

Along stems, at about 8cm (3 inch) intervals, grow opposite pairs of fleshy, heart-shaped leaves on short leaf stalks. The delicate little leaves are dark green and marbled with silvery white on the upper surface and purple on the underside. From the leaf axils appear 2cm (0.7 inch) long flowers vertically oriented, each of which is a narrow, fresh-coloured tube housed in a small, round, purple base. The flowering season for Ceropegia woodii is usually late summer to early autumn. The flowers last up to six weeks.

Here and there along the stems of Ceropegia woodii, tuberous growths are produced and these are used for propagation. The flexible stems branch occasionally, usually at one of these small tubers.

The stem can grow free hanging down over the edge of the pot or basket, but alternatively the long stems can be trained upward on miniature trellises.

Houseplant care:
Light: Ceropegia woodii needs at least three or four hours of direct sunlight every day. Too little light impairs leaf colouration and extends the gaps between the pair of leaves.

Partial shading is useful when the plant is grown outdoors.

Temperature: Normal room temperatures are suitable for Ceropegia woodii throughout the year.

It can be grown outdoors only in subtropical and tropical areas, with a minimum temperature of 15°C (59°F).

Water: In the active growth period water sparingly, just enough to make the potting mixture barely moist, allowing the top two-thirds of the potting mixture to dry out between waterings. During winter, water very sparingly , just enough water to prevent the potting mixture from drying out completely.

Fertilising: During the active growth period give standard liquid fertiliser once a month, but only to fully mature healthy plants.

Potting and repotting: Use an equal-parts combination of soil-based potting mixture and coarse sand. Be sure to have a shallow layer of clay pot fragments in the bottom of pots for quick drainage. Move small plants into pots one size larger in spring; older plants will continue to thrive in 8cm (3inch) or 10cm (4 inch) pots or half pots for several years. When planting a few Ceropegia woodii in a single hanging basket, place the tubers about 4-5cm (1.5-2 inch) apart to get them the most effective display.

Propagation: At any time during the active growth period, Ceropegia woodii can be propagated by means of the tuberous growths produced along the stems. After removing a stem tuber, set it in a small pot of recommended potting mixture over which a centimetre (0.4 inch) or so of coarse sand has been sprinkled. Placing the tuber just on top of sand to prevent rot.

Alternatively, stem cuttings 15cm (6 inch) long may be used instead; they should be planted in same mixture, but some extra sand should be trickled down the hole made for the cutting as insurance against rotting.

The potted tuber (or cutting) should then be stood in medium light and watered very sparingly – allow about two-thirds of the potting mixture to dray out between applications – until the new feeding roots are established. New top growth will appear before these roots have been made; this may take around eight weeks, after which growth will be quite quick. When the young plant is established and growing well, move it gradually into a position where it will get direct sunlight. From this stage the plant can be treated as a mature Ceropegia woodii.

Problems: Ceropegia woodii is generally trouble-free.

Yellowing leaves may indicate rotting of the tuber, due either to over-watering or to winter temperatures that are too low.
Treatment: Remove soil from around the tuber and allow it to dry out if the damage is not too severe. Unfortunately, if the tuber has rotten the condition cannot be reversed and the plant will have to be discarded.

Ceropegia woodii has few pests, but mealybugs can be a problem.
Treatment: Treat any infestation immediately with an appropriate pesticide. Spray all top growth with pesticide. During the next month examine plants weekly for traces of re-infestation.

Uses: Ceropegia woodii is often grown in hanging baskets so the long trailing branches can hang down with their leaves spaced out like a row of long beads.

Ceropegia woodii may be used as a focal plant to attract interest, because the flowers have a unique shape. It is ideal for hanging baskets that could be hung from tree branches or above a patio. Alternatively, consider potting the plant and training it to grow along a small, circular trellis to produce a decorative hoop of leaves. It will be attractive when hung against a wall like a curtain or from the top of a pergola. It is best used as a container plant under roofed patios, on verandas, balconies of flats or any other place in and around the house where space is restricted.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – coloured
Features – flowers
Shape – trailing
Height: 1m (3 feet)

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

Hardiness zone: 10 – 11

Ceropegia woodii leavesCeropegia woodii flower

 

 

 

 

 

 



Bulbs, Corms & Tubers, Climber, Flowering Plants, Foliage Plants, Indoor Plants, Succulents , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Euphorbia obesa

Common name: Sea Urchin, Baseball, Vetmensie, Living Baseball, Gingham, Golf ball

Family: Euphorbiaceae

 

Euphorbia obesa

Euphorbia obesa

Distribution and habitat: Euphorbia obesa is a subtropical succulent species of Euphorbia genus. It comes from South Africa, especially in the Cape Province. The plant is dioecious, which means that a subject has only male or female flowers.

In the wild, it is endangered because of over-collection and poaching, because of its slow growth, and the fact that the pod contains only 2 to 3 seeds. Today it is protected by national (Nature Conservation) and international (CITES) legislation. The plants occur in karoo vegetation among Beaufort shale fragments, where they grow in full sun or in the partial shade provided by dwarf karoo shrubs. They are very well camouflaged and difficult to see. The habitat is very stony and hilly with summer rainfall, falling mainly in thunder showers. Summers are very hot: the average daily maximum about 26ºC (79ºF) and the minimum about 11ºC (52ºF). Light frost occurs during the winter months. However, it is widely cultivated in botanical gardens.

Description: Euphorbia obesa is a peculiar, almost ball shaped dwarf succulent plant that resembles a stone. It can grow to 20cm (8 inch) in height with a diameter of 9cm (3.5 inch). It is a single-stemmed, unbranched, firm-bodied plant. The stem is usually 8-angled and grooved, subglobose (almost spherical) in shape, elongating and becoming cylindrical as it gets older. Younger plants have a rounded sea urchin-like shape. The rotund stem is mottled grey-green in colour with dull purple transverse bands. It has a tapering tap root. The leaves are very rudimentary and soon drop off. All euphorbias have a complex floral arrangement that is termed a cyathium (a cup) and this is the unit of the inflorescence. A cyathium contains many highly reduced male flowers or a single female flower. In Euphorbia obesa, the cyathia appear in summer, from “circular flowering eyes”, situated along the tops of the angles, near the growing tip, on the stem. They are produced on fork-branched peduncles (flower stalks), have minute bracts and are finely hairy. The cyathia are cup-shaped to 3mm (0.1 inch) in diameter, expanding in the female. The fruit is a slightly 3-angled capsule , up to 7mm (0.3 inch) in diameter that explosively releases small rounded 2mm (0.08 inch) diameter mottled grey seeds when mature. The peduncles do not persist, and fall off after the seed has been dispersed.

Houseplant care: Euphorbia obesa is a slow-growing, long-lived plant.

Sudden moves from shade into the sunlight should be avoided in order to prevent scorching.

Light: Euphorbia obesa needs full sunlight all year long. In summer, plants can moved outdoors to benefit from the increased temperatures and increased exposure to daylight. Growing the plants close to a window is usually sufficient to provide the needed light in cooler temperatures for a winter dormancy period.

Temperature: Euphorbia obesa grow best when temperatures are very warm, upper then 27-35ºC (81-95ºF), but will thrive in normal room temperatures during the active growth period (spring, summer and early autumn). While not essential, Euphorbia obesa seems to benefit from a period of winter dormancy during which the plant should be kept drier and and somewhat cooler, as this reflects the growing conditions in its habitat. At this time, it will tolerate relatively cool temperatures in the winter (tolerating temperatures as low as 10ºC (50ºF) and possibly into 4ºC (40ºF). Keep the plant totally dry in these conditions of low temperatures.

Water: During the active growth period Euphorbia obesa should be frequently watered, allowing the soil to become dry 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.

Euphorbia obesa also seem to benefit from summer rains. Do not subject this plant to extended drought during the summer months, as this corresponds to their growing season and drought will prevent it from producing its annual growth.

Fertilising: Apply a week solution of liquid fertiliser about once every 6 weeks or so through the summer.

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 obesa grown outdoors will prefer very bright conditions to partial shade in zones where the frost is not too severe. It will appreciate the morning sun. It can tolerate temperatures down to -5°C to -10°C (23-14°F) if the roots are kept dry. It does best in a mineral soil, but is tolerant of a wide range of soil types. Good soil drainage is essential. Remove half the soil from the site and replace it with sand, blending well with the existing soil. Water sparingly during the summer months and keep dry in winter. It is a slow-growing, long-lived plant, and once established, it will be content in its position and with its soil for years. It can tolerate moderate shade and 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.

Propagation: Euphorbia obesa is easily propagated from seed sown during spring or summer. Sow in a sandy to gravel-rich, well drained potting soil in a sunny warm position and in a standard seed tray. Cover seed with a thin layer of sand (1-2mm) (0.04-0.08 inch) and keep moist. Germination occurs within 3 weeks. The seedlings have a slow to medium growth rate and can be planted out into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle.

Flowering can be achieved within 5-8 years. Plants can be hand pollinated with a small paint brush. Rub pollen onto the brush and transfer to stigmas of female plants. Remember to cover the female plants with a stocking or a net to catch the seeds, otherwise the capsules will shoot them far and wide.

Problems: Grown in somewhat lower light, the colourful striations will become less distinct, and the plant may have a nearly uniformly green colouration. At even lower light intensities, the growth will virtually cease or, worse still, the plant may develop etiolated growth, producing weak and leggy stems.

Do not overwater the plant to avoid roting.

Uses: Euphorbia obesa is best grown as a pot plant in a sunny position such as a window sill or verandah but can also be grown outdoors in the Karoo and other desert gardens where frost is not too severe. It does best in a gravely shale based soil, but is tolerant of a wide range of soil types. It is suitable for coastal conditions.

Drought-tolerant, Euphorbia obesa is suitable for xeriscaping.

Toxicity: As with the other Euphorbias, the sap of Euphorbia obesa is poisonous.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Shape – globular
Height: 20cm (8 inch)

PROPER CARE:
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

Euphorbia obesa - male & female flowers



Hobbyist Plants, Indoor Plants, Rare & Unusual Plants, Succulents , , , , , ,

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.

Problems:
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.

SUMMARY:

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

PROPER CARE:
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.

Problems:
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.

SUMMARY:

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

PROPER CARE:
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 , , , ,

Euphorbia milii

Common name: Crown of Thorns, Christ Plant, Christ Thorn

Family: Euphorbiaceae

Synonymous: Euphorbia Splendens

Euphorbia milii

Euphorbia milii

Distribution and habitat: Euphorbia milii is a species of flowering plant in the spurge family Euphorbiaciae, native to Madagascar. It is a succulent climbing shrub with densely spiny stems. The straight, slender spines help Euphorbia milii scramble over other plants. The leaves are found mainly on new growth and are obovate. The flowers are small, subtended by a pair of conspicuous petal-like bracts, variably red, pink or white.

Description: Euphorbia milii is a dense shrub up to a metre (3 feet) or so tall, it has 2cm (0.8 inch) tick dark brown stems armed on all sided and at frequent intervals with sharp spines of varying length (mostly around 1-2cm (0.4-0.8 inch)).

Clusters of bright green, elliptic, 5-6cm (2-2.4 inch) leaves, which are produced near the growing tips of the stems, last for at least several months before dropping off, leaving the plant’s spiny stems permanently bare. Old leaves are not replaced and new ones will appear only on new terminal growth.

The flowers are tiny, but each is surrounded by a pair of 2cm kidney-shaped, bright red bracts, which look rather like petals. Clusters of from two to six of these paired, flower-like bracts appear on 5cm (2 inch) stalk at the ends of actively growing spiny stems. They are not produced on the old stems. A sticky substance on the flower stalks adheres to the finger if touched. The main flowering season normally last from early spring through late summer, but flowering can be continuous if plants get exceptionally good light.

Houseplant care: Euphorbia milii does not require too much care but as Euphorbia milii is one of the spiniest plants, be particularly careful when handling the plant.

Euphorbia milii is not fast growing, so pruning is usually not necessary until the second or third year. Pruning is best done during cool, dry weather in late spring to lessen the risk of stem disease. Remove only dead and overly tangled stems.

Light: Euphorbia milii needs all the sun it can get. The brighter and more constant sunlight, the longer its flowering season will be.

Temperature: Warm rooms and dry air normally suit these plants, through they can, if necessary, tolerate temperature as low as 13°C (55°F). If the air becomes any cooler, the leaves are likely to begin falling prematurely.

Watering: Water plants grown in normal room temperatures moderately, enough to make the entire potting mixture moist, but allowing the top couple of centimetres (0.8 inch) of the mixture to dry out between waterings. After the main flowering season ends, give to plant a little less water; and if the temperature fall below 16°C (61°F) for long time, let the top half of the mixture dry out between waterings. Never let the roots to dry out completely as dry roots can cause premature leaf-fail.

Fertilising: Apply week liquid fertiliser every two weeks from the late spring to early autumn. If plants are in such an ideal condition that they will continue to flower during the winter, feed them once a month.

Potting and repotting: Use a combination of two-thirds of soil-based potting mixture and one third of coarse sand or perlite for good drainage. Move the plants into pots one size larger in early spring every second year. Older plants which have reached maximum convenient pot size should be top-dressed annually with fresh potting mixture.  It is essential to pack the mixture firmily around the roots of the plant when potting Euphorbia milii.

Gardening: When grow Euphorbia milii outdoors, choose a sunny, well-drained planting site. This plant will tolerate a few hours of shade during the hottest part of the day but does require sunshine for at least two-thirds of the day. Soil drainage must be excellent or the plant will develop root rot, fatal for plant. Add soil amendments, such as compost or peat moss, if the soil is sandy or of poor quality.

Dig a hole for each plant as deep as the root ball and twice as wide. Space plants 0.5m (2 feet) apart to ensure proper air circulation. Carefully remove the plant from its container and inspect the roots. Prune away any broken, shriveled or mushy roots, then gently loosen the soil around the outside of the root ball with the fingers. Set the plant into the planting hole at the same level as it was in the container. Backfill around the roots with soil, pressing firmly with the hands to remove air pockets. Water around the base of the plant to settle the soil; keep water off the foliage.
Water newly planted Euphorbia milii often enough to keep the soil slightly moist. The plant has established itself when it start new growth. At that point, water Euphorbia milii only when the top 3cm (1 inch) of soil is dry.

Propagation: New plants can be raised from short tip cuttings taken in spring or early summer. Use a sharp knife or razor blade to cut off growing tips 8-10cm (3-4 inch) long and stop the latex flow immediately by spaying the old plant and dipping the cuttings in water. Allow the cuttings to dry out for a day before setting them in small pots containing a slightly moist equal-parts mixture of peat moss and sand or perlite.

It is important not to let the mixture become more than slightly moist; if the potting mixture is too wet, the cuttings will rot before they can produce roots. Place the pots where they can get bright light but without direct sunlight, at normal room temperature. Keep the potting mixture just barely moist, allowing the top two-thirds to dry out between waterings. When rooting occurs (in five to eight weeks), move the young plants into the standard soil-based potting mixture and treat them as mature specimens after they have made around 5cm (2 inch) of top growth.

Problems: Euphorbia milii is generally trouble-free.

The plants will survive drought conditions, though under extreme drought leaves will drop permanently.

Stems that are cold-damaged (soft stems with burned leaves) are likely to rot and should be removed as soon as the damage is evident. Plants should be protected from freezing temperatures.

Uses: Euphorbia milii easily develops a hanging habit and is grown in window boxes or terrace planters. The attraction is the bright scarlet-bract flowers which may appear all year.

Both salt and drought-tolerant, Euphorbia milii  is a valuable addition to tropical gardens.

Toxicity: The sap of Euphorbia milii can irritate the sensitive skin; that of some species is poisonous and acrid and it is therefor advisable to place the Euphorbia milii where they are unlikely to be knocked and out of the reach of young children.

Recommended varieties:
Euphorbia milii var. hislopii has tick stems armed with 2cm (0.8 inch) long spines; its lance-shaped leaves are 2cm (0.8 inch) long and its red or pink bracts are up to 2cm (0.8 inch) across.

Euphorbia milii var. splendens differ from the species in that it can grow 2m tall, its stem are 1-2cm thick and its leaves are more oblong in shape than those of Euphorbia milii.

SUMMARY:

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

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

Hardiness zone: 9b-11

Euphorbia milii var. hislopiiEuphorbia milii var. splendens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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