Archive for the ‘Evergreen’ Category

Begonia incarnata

Common name: Metal-Leaf Begonia

Family: Begoniaceae

Synonymous: Begonia aucubifolia
Begonia ciliata
Begonia insignis
Begonia martiana
Begonia metallica
Begonia papillosa
Begonia subpeltata
Knesebeckia aucubifolia
Knesebeckia incarnata
Knesebeckia papillosa

Begonia incarnata

Begonia incarnata

Distribution and habitat: Begonia incarnata is a species of evergreen perennial succulent herb in the family Begoniaceae, native to Mexico. It is found in deciduous and pine forests of medium and high altitudes from 800 to 1700m (2600-5600 feet) or growing as secondary vegetation in damp places and shallow soils. This plant thrives in habitats that include wet and shaded slopes.

Description: Begonia incarnata is a fibrous-rooted hirsute begonia with fleshy stems and bushy habit, growing up to 90cm-1.2m (35-47 inch) tall. Its 15cm (6 inch) long and 10cm (4 inch) wide, oval leaves are alternate and lobed, tooth-edged and covered with white hairs. Leaf colour is olive green with metallic gloss and the deep-set veins are purple. The slender petioles about 2.5cm (1 inch) long. Sometimes stipules can be observed (at the base of the petiole) narrowly ovate , pointed, up to 1cm (0.4 inch) long, reddish.
The whitish, summer-blooming flowers are covered with pink hairs. The inflorescence with few flowers pedicellate – pedicels up to 2.9cm (1 inch) long – are clustered towards the apex of slender stalks – up to 7cm (3 inch) long. The peduncles and pedicels are without hairs. The flowers are unisexual and plants are monoecious or rarely dioecious. Male flowers are preponderant. The male flowers have 4 tepals (undifferentiated petals and sepals): two of them are external nearly circular up to 1.3cm (0.5 inch) long and the other two are shorter and narrower placed between the external tepals. In the middle of the male flowers are numerous elliptical stamens with the filaments bonded to the base and topped by anthers. The female flowers have 5 tepals oblong-ovate, up to 8mm (0.3 inch) long with the ovary which is continued by three styles united at the base. The flowers are accompanied by deciduous, narrow , bracts up to 8 mm (0.3 inch) long, pointed. The fruit is a capsule with 3 wings most probably with one wing larger then others.

Houseplant care: Begonia incarnata is primarily grown for its beautiful foliage, but the blooming can be a bonus for its appearance. Keep the leaves of Begonia incarnata clean and glossy by dusting them with a soft brush, supporting each leaf with the hand to prevent damaging it. Avoid using leaf-shine products. Pinch the plant tips and prune outer stems in the growing season to make a bushier plant. Regularly remove spent flowers to encourage new flowers to develop.

Light: Begonia incarnata needs bright light without direct sunlight to form great foliage, but can take some sun in winter.

Temperature: Normal room temperatures are suitable for actively growing Begonia incarnata. Overwinter these plants at no less than 13°C (55°F). This species does not tolerate temperatures below 10°C (50°F) and will suffer in dry air. For increased humidity stand pots on trays of moist pebbles. These plants need a constant temperature and fairly high humidity to flourish.

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

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

Potting and repotting: Use either a peat-based mixture or a combination of equal parts of soil based potting mixture and coarse leaf mould. Place a shallow layer of clay-pot fragments in the bottom of pots for extra drainage.
Move the plants into pots one size larger every spring until maximum convenient pot size has been reached – probably 15-20cm (6-8 inch) . Thereafter, top-dress annually with fresh potting mixture.
When potting and repotting these plants, simply sprinkle some mixture around the roots and tap the container briskly to settle the mixture. Do not firm it down with the fingers.

Gardening: Begonia incarnata does not tolerate temperatures below 10°C (50°F), therefor in temperate regions it must be grown under glass. They do not like cold weather.
These shrub-likes begonias need tip-pruning in the early stages to encourage lateral growth and an overall pruning as adults to achieve the desired shape and size. This may be done at any time.
Begonia incarnata grow well in the garden and they are also well suited to being a potted plant.

Location: Begonia incarnata prefer semi-shade position. The ideal place to plant Begonia incarnata is where they get morning sun and dappled shade during the day but are protected from the hot afternoon sun.

Soil: Begonia incarnata prefer a free draining soil that tends towards being more acidic with a pH of around 5.5 to 6.5. If the soil is alkaline, add some sulphur to increase the acidity. To improve the drainage, add some compost or other organic matter when preparing the soil for these plants.
Use leaves to form a thick natural mulch layer around the plants that holds in the moisture and also breaks down to enrich the garden soil.

Irrigation: The leaves on Begonia incarnata are sensitive to water and need to be watered from below. Water will blister and discolor the leaves.
In the garden, water them deeply as required. They are succulent plants so they will accept quite dry conditions.
Water pot-grown Begonia incarnata when the soil surface dries out – test with fingertip to 2cm (0.8 inch) depth. When water the plant ensure that the pot is saturated, but do not allow them to stand in water.

Fertiliser: Add controlled-release fertiliser to the planting hole and apply a good general-purpose liquid fertiliser once a month.

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

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

Yellow patches on the leaves indicate a virus.
Treatment: There is no cure and the plant should be destroyed to prevent the infection spreading.

Brown or black spots on the leaves are signs of rot which can result from overwatering or poor air circulation.
Treatment: Drench with a mild solution of fungicide to prevent the rot spreading and move the plant to an airy spot.

White spots on stems and leaves indicate an attack of powdery mildew.
Treatment: Spray with a suitable fungicide and carefully remove any dead leaves or flowers as they may be affected. Repeat the treatment at regular intervals until all the white spots have gone.

Sudden leaf drop is caused by fluctuating temperatures and irregular watering.
Treatment: Cut back the stem tips and keep the plant warm and moist. The plant will grow new leaves quite quickly.

Scorched, brown leaf tips are caused by lack of humidity and water.
Treatment: Water frequently during hot weather and raise humidity by standing the pot in a saucer of pebbles which are kept constantly damp.

Life span: With some care, Begonia incarnata will live for many years.

Companion plants: Contrast the glossy foliage of Metal Leaf Begonia with a Euphorbia pulcherrima (Christmas flowers) or Begonia semperflorens (Wax Begonia) to create an attractive display.
While they can be grown in the flower bed, try them among ferns, Cordyline species (cordylines), Croton species (crotons) and bromeliads as a contrast in height and shape.

Usage and display: Begonia incarnata are prized for their attractive foliage, but their flowers are an add-on to plants appearance. They grow well in the garden and they are also well suited to being a potted plant. These plants can be kept in standard pots or in hanging pots. It is the perfect choice for beds and borders as well as it is superb for baskets, containers and window boxes. Also Begonia incarnata is an wonderful choice for combination plantings.
It makes a wonderful specimen plant for a big room or hallway. Display it in a large pot on a pedestal to show off the leaves and their hanging clusters of flowers to best advantage.


Foliage – coloured
Shape – upright
Height: 90-120cm (35-47 inch)

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

Hardiness zone: 10a-11

Begonia incarnata flowersBegonia incarnata leavesBegonia incarnata

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

Camellia sinensis

Common name: the China Tea Plant, Tea Plant, Tea Shrub, Tea Tree, Tea Tree Camellia, Black Tea, Green Tea, Chinese Tea, Common Tea, Tea, Tea Camellia

Family: Theaceae

Synonymous: Camellia angustifolia
Camellia arborescens
Camellia assamica
Camellia dehungensis
Camellia dishiensis
Camellia longlingensis
Camellia multisepala
Camellia oleosa
Camellia parvisepala
Camellia parvisepaloides
Camellia polyneura
Camelia sinensis (Misspelling)
Camellia thea
Camellia theifera
Camellia waldeniae
Thea assamica
Thea bohea
Thea cantonensis
Thea chinensis
Thea cochinchinensis
Thea grandifolia
Thea olearia
Thea oleosa
Thea parvifolia
Thea sinensis
Thea viridis
Theaphylla cantonensis

Camellia sinensis

Camellia sinensis

Distributiona and habitat: Camellia sinensis plants are evergreen, medium sized woody shrubs growing to a height of 2 to 2.4m (7-8 feet) native to South East Asia and China. It is found growing at the forest edges and gaps, at high altitudes, in well drained soils where it grows as a tree of up to 15m tall. This is the species of plant whose leaves and leaf buds are used to produce the popular beverage tea. Today it is grown as a cash crop in plantations at high altitudes in East Africa. In Tanzania, Camellia sinensis plants have been noted to escape from cultivation and are considered to be invasive in parts of the Usambaras.

Description: Camellia sinensis is a small evergreen shrub cultivated to a height of 1.8m (6 feet), but growing wild much taller and much branched. The bark is rough and grey. The leaves are dark green, lanceolate or elliptical, on short stalks. They are usually 5-10 cm (2-4 inch) long, blunt at apex with the base tapering and shortly serrate margins. The young leaves are hairy, but older leaves become glabrous.
The flowers with mass of yellow stamens appear solitary or two or three together on short branchlets in the leaf axils. They are somewhat drooping on short stalks with a few small bracts, 2.5 to 4cm (1-1.5 inch) wide. The flowers are up to 4cm (1.5 inch) diameter, formed from five up to o nine white, occasionally pink, petals, unequal, strongly rounded, concave, spreading and caducous. The petals are surrounded by five sepals imbricate, slightly united below, ovate or rounded, blunt smooth and persistent.
It is up to one year and four months from buds blossom to fruits mature. The fruit is a smooth, flattened, rounded capsule splitted into one to five chambers, each chamber containing a solitary seed.

Houseplant care: Camellia sinensis is an attractive, glossy green leaves plant which grows indoors to a height of about 60cm (24 inch) or more and usually needs a minimum of attention. It has become a popular indoor species, partly become of the novelty of the fact that as the common name suggests, the processed young leaves of the plant yield commercial tea. Although one bush growing indoors would not yield a great amount of tea, indoor growers can try their hand at harvesting the young shoots and making their own tea. When sufficient growth has been made to allow the growing point of future shoots to be picked, these young leaves can be naturally sun dried. When these leaves are dried, they can be lightly rubbed between the hands, thus producing tea leaves. It is said that the tea is best quality when is made from tea leaves used immediately after drying and not months after.
Indoor cultivation of Camellia sinensis is bound to be plagued by some problems as these plants are very sensitive to any change in their position, temperature, humidity and moisture.

Light: Grow Camellia sinensis in bright filtered light throughout the year.
In warm weather, they are better moved in the garden – the pot can be buried in the soil – or to a semi-shady spot on a verandah.

Temperature: In the dry warmth of the average home Camellia sinensis 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 sinensis 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.
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, they are unlikely to flower well indoors, unless they are grown in a cool, conservatory type situation.

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 spring 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: Tropical and subtropical climates best suit the growth of Camellia sinensis. These plants needs warm weather and shade to grow fruitfully.
Camellia sinensis plants will grow into a tree if left undisturbed, but cultivated plants are pruned to waist height for ease of plucking. Young plants can be pruned early at about 20cm (8 inch) to promote a low, spreading branches, as needed.

Position: A half-day of sun or partial shade makes good planting place for Camellia sinensis. Plants will grow in full sun, but in colder locations will do best when protected from winter sun and winds. It does well in the dappled shade beneath larger trees.

Soil: Camellia sinensis will grow well in moist, free draining, fertile acid soils. For best results enrich the soil with well rotted compost and preserve the moisture by adding a tick layer of mulch.
The ideal time to plant Camellia sinensis out in the garden is in early fall or spring, but summer time is good enough if the plants are kept moist. After preparing the soil, dig a hole 60cm (24 inch) wider than the root ball, re-filling with conditioned soil after centering the plant.

Irrigation: These shrubs prefer a generous watering regime during growth period. Regular watering will encourages new growth.

Fertilising: Fertilize lightly in early spring with a balanced mix. Use a slow-release source of nitrogen for plants  heavily harvested, ideally no later than mid summer.

Harvesting: When being harvested for tea the shoots and 2-3 top leaves are harvested every 8-10 days. However, it is their spring leaf tips that are valued the most. Camellia sinensis usually will produce an abundant crop twice a year, once in the spring and again in the summer. Harvesting can be done every seven to 15 days during these periods, until the plant no longer produces new growth. Plucking should be done by hand so as not to damage the plant or bruise the leaves. Hold the stem and gently pinch the stem with one hand. With the other hand, gently pluck the desired leaves from the stem. Place freshly plucked leaves in a shallow basket while continuing to harvest. Using the basket to house the leaves while harvesting will allow air to flow within the leaves and discourage wilt.
Camellia sinensis plant is a perennial crop with life span of several decades even up to several hundreds years. When under good management, Camellia sinensis plants can be harvested on a small scale in 3-4 years after planting. In 5 years, it can reach a big annual output and then remain at it for above 30 years.

Propagation: Camellia sinensis can be grown from seed but the seed has a hard shell, so before sowing it must be soaked in tepid water for up to 48 hours. This can speed up the germination process considerably. Sow the seed just bellow the surface and firm down the soil. To germinate, these seeds must have a temperature of about 23°C (73°F). A seed propagator or greenhouse is ideal, but a useful alternative seed raiser can be organised. Simply sow the seed in plastic pots, water, then place the whole pot in a polythene bag, making it airtight, before putting the pot in a position where the required temperature can be achieved. Wherever possible, water the plant from the base. Refresh the air and water every two or three days.
While the plant is still a seedling, about 5-15cm (2-6 inch), a regular mist-spray of water will assist growth. Transplant the plant when is about 15-20cm (6-8 inch) tall to a 20-25cm (8-10 inch) pot.

Also Camellia sinensis plants are usually propagated by cuttings. However, this procedure is quite difficult to carry through successfully. The amateur gardener is advised to purchase a healthy young tree from a reputable nursery or plant supplier.

Problems: Camellia sinensis 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.

Algal leaf spot caused by Cephaleuros virescens. Infested plants have roughly circular, raised and purple to reddish-brown lesions developed on their leaves.
Treatment: Usually Cephaleuros does not harm the plant. Prevention methods include: avoiding plant stress and avoiding poorly drained sites. Promote good air circulation in the plant canopy to reduce humidity and duration of leaf wetness.

Brown blight and grey blight are caused by Colletotrichum sp. and Pestalotiopsis sp. Small, oval, pale yellow-green spots first appear on young leaves. Often the spots are surrounded by a narrow, yellow zone. As the spots grow and turn brown or gray, concentric rings with scattered, tiny black dots become visible and eventually the dried tissue falls, leading to defoliation. Leaves of any age can be affected.
Treatment: These diseases are very difficult to eradicate or even to manage once established. Avoid plant stress. Grow Camellia sinensis  bushes with adequate spacing to permit air to circulate and reduce humidity and the duration of leaf wetness.

Blister blight is caused by Exobasidium vexans. Small, pinhole-size spots are initially seen on young leaves less than a month old. As the leaves develop, the spots become transparent, larger and light brown. After about 7 days, the lower leaf surface develops blister-like symptoms with dark green, water-soaked zones surrounding the blisters. Following release of the fungal spores, the blister becomes white and velvety. Subsequently the blister turns brown and young infected stems become bent and distorted and may break off or die.
Spores that land on a leaf with adequate moisture will germinate and infect it, producing visible symptoms within 10 days. The fungus can directly penetrate the leaf tissue. The basidiospores have a low survival rate under conditions of drought or bright sunlight. The life cycle of the fungus is 3–4 weeks.
Treatment:  Apply an appropriate foliar or systemic fungicides to protect the plants.

Horse hair blight is caused by Marasmius crinisequi. Black fungal threads resembling horse hair are attached to upper branches and twigs by small brown discs. The fungus penetrates and infects the twigs from the discs and produces volatile substances that cause rapid leaf drop.
Treatment: Remove a and destroy all crop debris from around plants; prune out infected or dead branches from the plant canopy.

Twig dieback and stem canker is produced by Macrophoma theicola. The first symptoms include browning and drooping of affected leaves. As the disease spreads into the shoots, they become dry and die. The entire branch can die from the tip downward. Dying branches often have cankers shallow, slowly spreading lesions surrounded by a thick area of bark. The fungus usually requires wounded plant tissue to gain entry and initiate infection.
Treatment: Control of this disease should be attempted through a combination of chemical and cultural methods. Fungicides should be used during the spring at leaf drop to prevent spread of this disease. These fungicides will act as a protectant against the fungus but will not cure the disease after infection has occurred. Fungicides should also be sprayed following pruning, especially during the spring when temperature and moisture is ideal for the fungus. Pruning of plants to allow for good air circulation throughout the plant and proper spacing of camellias will help to reduce, the incidence of disease. Avoid excessive applications of nitrogen as tender new growth is more susceptible to the fungus than that which has hardened. Infected plants should be removed from healthy plants to prevent spread of the disease.

Camellia flower blight is caused by Ciborinia camelliae. Small, brown, irregular-shaped spots appear on the flower petals; the whole flower is turning brown; finally, flowers are dropping from plant. This disease emerges early in spring during periods of high moisture.
Treatment: Remove all infected flowers from plants and remove all crop debris from around plants. Drench the soil with appropriate fungicides can help to reduce the intensity of the disease.

Root rot caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi. The leaves are turning yellow; plant growth is poor; entire plant is wilting; roots are discolored; rapid death of plant is occurring.
Treatment: This disease is difficult to manage once plants become infected so control methods should focus on protecting plants; always plant Camellia sinensis in well-draining soils which are not as favorable for the survival of the pathogen; application of appropriate fungicides can help to protect plants from infection.

Poria root disease (Red root disease) caused by Poria hypolateritia. The foliage is yellowing. The plant is wilting and / or occur sudden death of part of plant. The withered leaves remain attached to the plant for several days. Uprooting the plant reveals whitish mycelium and red discoloration of the roots.
Treatment: Remove and discard any visibly infected plant and any adjacent plants which are showing signs of yellowing. Remove any stumps or trees within infested area. All living and dead roots which are about pencil thickness or more should be removed from the site by digging using a fork. All material collected should be destroyed by burning. The plants surrounding the infested area should be treated with an appropriate fungicide applied as a soil drench and the cleared site should be planted with grass for a period of two years before Camellia sinensis is replanted.

Scab, Sunburn and Salt Injury. Symptoms of scab are rather varied; however, it usually appears first as a tiny, water-soaked, and often raised area on the underside of the leaf. These spots enlarge and may become corky, brown in color, and of irregular size and shape. The condition may also appear on the top of the leaf. Too high a concentration of salts in the soil or in the irrigation water or the use of heavy doses of fertilizer coupled with inadequate irrigation will cause this condition. This problem will develop rapidly in container grown plants.
Treatment: Place the plant in draped shade. Do not expose plants to increased light radiation without acclimatisation. Plant them in a medium with good drainage. An occasional heavy irrigation will help to leach away the excess salts.

Damage caused by scale insects is usually serious, but not deadly to the Camellia sinensis plant. If the problem goes undetected for a long period of time with no treatment it is possible for all or part of the plant to be killed. Plants infected with scale insects appear unhealthy and produce very little new growth. Scale insects that attack foliage are usually seen on the underside of the leaf. Symptoms on the upper leaf surface appear as chlorotic areas. Heavily infested leaves will often drop off.
Treatment: Use a suitable insecticidal spray. Plants should by spaced to allow air to circulate between them and pruned to open them and allow air to circulate through them. This will aid in the reduction of insect populations. Insecticide applications are usually made during the spring after bloom and in the fall prior to blooming. Spring applications will greatly increase mortality of scale crawlers

Spider mites may be found on both the under and upper sides of leaves and may not be detected until high populations have occurred. Infested plants exhibit a speckled appearance on the upper leaf surface resulting in a silver or bronzed cast.
Treatment: Use a suitable acaracide to control mites insects. Often, some control may be obtained by spraying foliage with a hard spray of water.

Aphids are commonly found in large numbers on the shoots of new growth. They injure plants by sucking their juices with long feeding tubes. Aphids also excrete honeydew which attracts ants and promotes the growth of sooty mold.
Treatment: A heavy stream of water may be used to wash aphids off of young foliage. Also it can be used the soap sprays. Insecticidal sprays may or may not be necessary for control of these insects. Aphids are generally a problem only during periods when new growth on camellias is soft and succulent.

Camellia sinensis plants are hosts for a number of beetles, weevils, grasshoppers, caterpillars and other insects that chew or consume plant tissue. The size, shape and location of the injury may help to determine the pest responsible.
Treatment: Control of these pests is through proper insecticidal sprays applied to the foliage.

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.

Note: White tea, yellow tea, green tea and black tea are all harvested from Camellia sinensis plant. The difference in the teas is dependent on the age of the leaves and post-harvest processing to attain different levels of oxidation.
The first tea plant to be discovered, recorded and used to produce tea is dating three thousand years ago.

Uses and display: Camellia sinensis are primarily used for commercial production of green ans black teas. Also these shrubs are used as ornamental evergreen hedges as they respond well to regular trims. In cold weather climates, this shrub is used as indoor potted plant.


Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – bushy
Height: 1.8-2.4m (6-8 feet)

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

Hardiness zone: 7b-9b

Camellia sinensis  flowersCamellia sinensis hedgesCamellia sinensis potted plantCamellia sinensis treeCamellia sinensis harvested leavesCamellia sinensis seeds

Commercial Cultivation, Evergreen, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants, Shrubs , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Callisia fragrans

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

Family: Commelinaceae

Synonymous: Spironema orthandrum
Rectanthera fragrans
Spironema fragrans

Callisia fragrans

Callisia fragrans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Hardiness zone: 10b-11

Callisia fragransCallisia fragransCallisia fragransCallisia fragrans flowersCallisia fragrans Melnikoff

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

Calathea makoyana

Common name: Peacock Plant, Cathedral Windows, Brain Plant, Calathea Peacock

Family: Marantaceae

Synonymous: Calathea olivaris
Goeppertia makoyana
Maranta iconifera
Maranta makoyana
Maranta olivaris
Phyllodes mackoyana

Calathea makoyana

Calathea makoyana

Distribution and habitat: Calathea makoyana is a species of evergreen perennial native to eastern Brazil, occurring in the undergrowth of the tropical forests. It grows from a thick rhizome and reaches a height of 30-50cm (12-20 inch). In their native environment, the soils are sandy and seasonally moist, not consistently wet.

Description: Calathea makoyana is a tropical plant with decorative foliage. Although the leaves may seem to rise directly from the root stock, they are normally connected to short multi-trunked or clumping stems. It has roughly oval leaves 25-30cm (10-12 inch) long on 25-30cm (10-12 inch) long stalks and they turn slightly to display the pinkish-maroon underside as well as the green upper surface. Both surfaces have very fine lines running from the central vein in a V-shape to the leaf edges, along with elliptic patches dark green on the upper surface and deep maroon on the underside. The new leaves are rolled up when they emerge and are pinkish-red on the undersides.
Flowers may be seen peeping through pale green bracks on mature plants, but they are insignificant. They are white and appear periodically throughout the year.
The Calathea makoyana plants will reach their maturity and ultimate height in an interval between 5 to 10 years.

Hoseplant care: Typically tropical, Calathea makoyana need heat and humidity and shade from direct sunlight. Remove the dying or discoloured leaves.

Light: Calathea makoyana prefers medium light – for example at a tree-shaded window. Bright light is often the cause of spoiling the foliage.
Move the plant outdoor in the spring and summer, bringing them indoors in autumn.

Temperature: A temperature ranging between 16°C (60°F) and 21°C (70°F) is ideal. In warmer rooms high humidity is essential and the foliage should be mist-sprayed daily. Rainwater is excellent for this, since it leaves no unsightly white lime deposit.

Watering: During the active growth period water plants plentifully – as often as necessary to keep the potting mixture thoroughly moist. In the rest period water moderately, enough to make the potting mixture moist, but allow the top centimetre (0.4 inch) or so of the potting mixture to dry out between waterings. Use water at room temperature.

Feeding: Calathea makoyana should be given generous amounts of standard liquid fertiliser every two weeks during the active growth period. Additional, foliar fertiliser with nitrogen or iron content can be used if the foliage colour needs improvement.

Potting and repotting: Add up to one third leaf mould or peat moss to a soil based potting mixture. In later case, however, the mixture must be kept constantly supplied with application of liquid fertiliser when plants are in active growth. Healthy plants need to be moved into pots one size larger every year – which should preferably take place in late spring or early summer.

Gardening: Calathea makoyana can be grown outdoors in warm, sheltered, frost free climate in draught-free conditions.
The dead leaves should be pruned away.

Position: Bright or direct light will cause the leaves to appear washed out. Calathea makoyana plants need shade from full sun, but can stand a little morning sun.
Very low light will cause leaf colour to pale.

Soils: Calathea makoyana thrive in well-drained acidic soils and will grow in clay, sand or loam soils as long as they are given sufficient organic material. Amend garden soil with organic matter such as compost and ground bark to enhace both drainage and water-holding capacity.
Keep the plants mulched with 3cm (1 inch) of organic matter such as ground bark. Work the mulch into the bad as it rots and replace it with fresh one.
Space the plants 30cm (12 inch) apart in beds.

Irrigation: Water only as the soil begins to dry. Water thoroughly, keep soil evenly moist to touch (not saturated). Do not allow plants to sit in water. In winter, water only when the soil becomes dry and do not soak the soil to avoid root rot.
Prepare to water outdoor plantings very regularly, using shaker hoses or dip irrigation.

Fetiliser: Feed with a liquid fertiliser every two weeks during spring and summer and once a month during autumn and winter. Do not fertilise the plant too often as overfertilising may cause leaf spots.

Propagation: In late spring divide any overcrowded clumps of Calathea makoyana, making sure that some roots remain on each part. Plant the sections in 8cm (3 inch) pots of moistened standard mixture, enclose them in plastic bags and keep them in medium light. Remove the plastic bag when the new roots have formed on the sections.

Brown tips or edges on leaves indicate low humidity, fluoride in water or too much fertilizer.
Treatment: Increase the humidity around plants by placing the pots on trays of moistened pebbles. Use only soft water to water the plant or to spray the foliage. Flush the pot with water to wash the potting mixture from fertiliser surplus.

Plants do not thrive in low humidity where leaves may roll or brown up.
Treatment: Increase the humidity around plants by placing the pots on trays of moistened pebbles. Additionally mist-spray the plants with soft water. Water the plant adequatelly in high temperatures.

New leaves that are lighter in color are not getting enough nitrogen or iron.
Treatment: If the fertiliser does not contain nitrogen and iron nutrients, use a foliar spray that lists these nutrients on their label. Improvements should appear within a few weeks.

Calathea makoyana plants tend to be vulnerable to root rot.
Treatment: Avoid constantly wet soil. Water the plants only when necessary as recommended.

Spider mites are common plant pests of the Calathea makoyana plant. Signs of an infestation include bronzing, flecking or scorching of leaves. Once injured, the leaves will fall off and the plant may die if the infestation is not controlled.
Treatment: To control spider mites, ensure the plant has adequate water. Occasionally hose the dust off leaf surfaces to remove and kill spider mites. For heavier infestations use suitable miticides, but these do not affect the eggs and must be repeated in two-week intervals until the mites are under control.

Watch for aphids and scale insects.
Treatment: Remove the scale insects by gently scraping them off. Aphids should be removed by hand. Isolate plants that show signs of insect pest infestation to prevent infestation of other plants.

Slugs and snails may damage the beautiful foliage of these plants.
Treatment: These pests are controlled using an appropriate molluscicide, both pellet and liquid forms or by hand pick at regular inspections.

Bacterial diseases which may affect Calathea makoyana plant is Pseudomonas leaf spot.
Fungal diseases which may affect Calathea makoyana plant are Alternaria leaf spot, Fusarium root rot and Helminthosporium leaf spot.
Parasitic nematodes which may affect Calathea makoyana plant are Burrowing and Root-knot.
Viral diseases which may affect Calathea makoyana plant is Mosaic.
Treatment: Prevent and treat most fungal and bacterial diseases with a broad spectrum bio-fungicide which uses a patented strain of Bacillus subtilis that is registered for organic use. Isolate or discard affected plants to contain the diseases. Sanitize the soil and containers of the affected plants.

Note: Calatheas are closely related to marantas and species from the two genera are often confused.

Companion plants: Calathea makoyana plant is excellent in combinations with Burbidgea scheizocheila (Golden Brush Ginger) and cane Begonia species and looks sweet beneath Medinilla magnifica (Malaysian Orchids) and Rhapis excelsa (Lady Palms). It will work good when planted with Orchid, Aglaonema or Bromeliad species.

Uses and display: The handsome leaves of Calathea makoyana plant are the attraction for tropical gardeners and indoor plant lovers as well. These warm climate plants will grow well under taller plants in their dappled shade or under trees. They will make a wonderful ground cover foliage in shaded positions.
Also, this plant is perfect for home or office if humidity can be provided. It is perfect for all kinds of containers and is very decorative on a small table or in a hanging basket. Calathea makoyana plant are mostly used for sub-tropical patio planting or as container plants. They look best when grouped with other foliage plants. Also, as these plants need high humidity and are relatively small in size, they can be used in a bottle garden or terrarium.


Foliage – variegate
Shape – bushy
Height: 30-50cm (12-20 inch)
Spread: 45-60cm (18-24 inch)

Watering in rest period – moderately
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – medium
Temperature in rest period – min 16°C max 21°C (61-70°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 21°C (61-70°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 10a-11

Calathea makoyana leafCalathea makoyana Calathea makoyana Calathea makoyana flowersCalathea makoyana

Evergreen, Foliage Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants , , , , , , , , , ,

Bryophyllum daigremontianum

Common name: Mother of Thousands, Alligator Plant, Mexican Hat Plant, Devil’s Backbone

Family: Crassulaceae

Synonymous: Kalanchoe daigremontiana

Bryophyllum daigremontianum

Bryophyllum daigremontianum

Distribution and habitat: Bryophyllum daigremontianum is a succulent perennial plant native to the Fiherenana River valley and Androhibolava mountains in southwest Madagascar. It has been introduced to numerous tropical and subtropical regions, such as Florida, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, parts of the Canary Islands and Australia. Like other members of the genus Bryophyllum, it is able to propagate vegetatively from plantlets (epiphyllous buds) that develop on the leaf edges. The plantlets that grow on the edges of each leaf fall easily and root wherever they land.
It is commonly found growing on gravelly and sandy soils. This succulent plant is a weed of bushland and disturbed sites such as roadsides, along fence lines, around rubbish tips and abandoned rural dwellings. It also occurs frequently along creeks and rivers where it is spread by floodwaters.

Description: Bryophyllum daigremontianum grows from a single unbranched stem 45-90cm (18-35 inch) tall, which carries opposite pairs of fleshy, shiny, lance-shaped leaves that are 10-25cm (4-10 inch) long. The leaves grow at an 8° angle to the stem and are bluish green with purple blotched undersides. The saw-toothed leaf edges curl slightly inward. The tiny plantlets that form in the gaps between the teeth often have tiny aerial roots attached. One leaf can carry as many as 50 such plantlets in a single season. Pink flowers, which bloom only on mature plant, are roughly tubular, 2cm (0.8 inch) long and pendent. They are carried in rather flat clusters at the top of 30cm (12 inch) tall stalks in late autumn and early winter. The plant dies after blooming. Flowering is, however, not an annual event and will occur sporadically if at all. Particularly in climates with distinct seasonal temperature differences, flowering is most frequently observed at the beginning of a warm season.
Bryophyllum daigremontianum take a year or two to mature.

Houseplant care: Bryophyllum daigremontianum requires minimal care and can tolerate dry conditions and high temperatures. It is an unusual, fast growing succulent.

Light: These plants like bright light; do not subject them to direct sunlight.

Temperature: Bryophyllum daigremontianum thrive in normal room temperature.

Watering: During the active growth period water moderately, but allow the top centimetre (0.4 inch) or so of the potting mixture to dry out between waterings. In the rest period water sparingly.

Feeding: Apply standard liquid fertiliser once a month during the active growth period.

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture. Move small plants into pots one size larger every spring. A Bryophyllum daigremontianum big enough to need 15cm (6 inch) pot is usually unshapely and best discarded.

Gardening: Bryophyllum daigremontianum is not frost-hardy and typically dies if subjected to temperatures below freezing. Within its hardiness zone, Bryophyllum daigremontianum have the potential to escape from cultivation and spread into natural environments becoming a problematic weed. Therefore, precaution have to be taken when grow these plants in garden.
Newly transplanted Bryophyllum daigremontianum have the tendency to wilt. It is recommended to stake the taller ones to keep them growing straight until their roots are reestablished; these plants can be also planted deeper than the original root to give more support and promote more root growth. They will soon resume their growth.

Position: Plant Bryophyllum daigremontianum in full sun or partial shade. Leaves will develop a pinkish-red colour with lots of light, or will stay a greener coluor under less bright conditions.
It is very heat resistant, if planted in shade.

Soil: Bryophyllum daigremontianum thrive in well draining, sandy soil. The plants establish well in leaf litter or other debris on shallow soils.
Space the plants 15-25cm (6–10 inch) apart to make room for the leaves to display their plantlets.
To promote new plants, do not mulch the ground around Bryophyllum daigremontianum. The plantlets which loosen from the plant will grow much better if allowed to fall directly onto soil rather than onto mulch.

Irrigation: Water well when plant the Bryophyllum daigremontianum. After that these plants can be neglected or if watered, do so no more than once or twice a week. These succulent plants are adapted to dry conditions and can survive long periods of drought.

Fertilising: Use a water soluble fertiliser on Bryophyllum daigremontianum plants, following the directions given by the manufacturer.

Propagation: Plantlets growing at the base of the plants may be dug up at any time, replanted in 5-8cm (2-3 inch) pots of standard potting mixture and treated as mature plants. Or plantlets may be picked from the leaves and shallowly planted in standard potting mixture.

Problems: Bryophyllum daigremontianum is generally problem free, but their succulent leaves are a great attraction for insects like mealy bugs, scale or aphids.
Treatment: Control mealy bugs by wiping the infested leaves with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol. Remove brown scale insects by gently scraping them off. Aphids should be removed by hand. Isolate plants that show signs of insect pest infestation to prevent infestation of other plants.

Prune tall growth and old flower stems and allow plenty of air flow around your plant to avoid powdery mildew.
Treatment: If the plant becomes infected with powdery mildew, potassium bicarbonate can be used to control it.

If rot affects the plant, it normally starts at the root.
Treatment: It is recommended to discard affected plants and start new ones from plantlets.

Toxicity: All parts of the Bryophyllum daigremontianum plant are poisonous (they contain daigremontianin and other bufadienolides), which can even be fatal if ingested by infants or small pets. It is also poisonous to humans.

Note: Bryophyllum daigremontianum is a widespread weed of pastures, grasslands, open woodlands, waste areas, disturbed sites, fence lines, roadsides, embankments, and railways in subtropical, semi-arid, tropical and warmer temperate regions. It is commonly found growing in rocky sites or on poor soils. It prefers rocky outcrops in dry savannas and urban open spaces.
Bryophyllum daigremontianum has been introduced to many parts of the world as an ornamental plant. However, these uses cannot compensate for this plant’s overall negative impacts.

Uses and display: Bryophyllum daigremontianum is more ideal for container growing than landscape planting because it can be difficult to control in outdoor gardens. Both, its unusual leaves which carry the plantlets and its tubular cluster of flowers have ornamental value. Arranged with other succulents, Bryophyllum daigremontianum makes a lovely desert window sill planter. It is a great looking as specimen plant as well as mass planting or group planting.
Bryophyllum daigremontianum is growing in shallow rocky soils, so it is an excellent plant for rocky gardens and xeriscaping.


Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – upright
Height: 90-120cm (36-48 inch)

Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – bright
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: 9b-11

Bryophyllum daigremontianumBryophyllum daigremontianum - plantletsBryophyllum daigremontianum - flowers

Evergreen, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants, Succulents , , , , ,

Asplenium scolopendrium

Common name: Hart’s Tongue Fern

Family: Aspleniaceae

Synonymous: Phyllitis scolopendrium
Scolopendrium vulgare
Asplenium altajense
Phyllitis japonica

Asplenium scolopendrium

Asplenium scolopendrium

Distribution and habitat: Asplenium scolopendrium is an evergreen fern widely distributed in central and southern Europe, eastern Iran, northwestern Africa, Korea, Japan, Sakhalin and scattered populations appear in eastern North America. It occurs at sites on or near dolomite (magnesium-rich limestone) that remain consistently moist year-round such as sinkholes, cave entrances, wooded limestone ravines and talus slopes and steep north-facing slopes with rich, moist soil. Within these sites, it is typically found in microhabitats such as moist crevices, moss mats, depressions, spray zones and shady cliff margins.
The common name is in reference to the supposed resemblance of the frond shape to a deer’s tongue.

Description: Asplenium scolopendrium is commonly grown as indoor plant. Tufts of fronds unfurl from an upright, branching rhizome that lies partly above, partly below the surface of the soil. The rhizome which is covered with light brown, furry scales, is usually hidden by the fronds stalks.
Depending on their age and growing conditions, the stalks are from 2 to 25cm (0.8-10 inch) long and their colour is usually black at the base shading to green at the point where they became the midrib of the bade. Frond blades are strap-like, pointed at the tip, lobed at the base and medium green in colour. In the wild each blade can grow 50cm (20 inch) long and 13cm (5 inch) wide, but in potted plants they are seldom more than half that size. The fronds grow erect at first, but arch over as they lengthen. Spore cases grow in a herringbone pattern on the beck of the most of them. The edges of blades can be undulate and sometimes frilled and the tip of each blade can be either pointed or crested like a cockscomb. These differently shaped blades can all be present at one time on the same plant. In fact, it is this characteristic of Asplenium scolopendrium that chiefly appeals to many indoor gardeners.
Asplenium scolopendrium is often grown as an ornamental plant, with several cultivars selected with varying frond form, including with frilled frond margins, forked fronds and cristate forms.

Houseplant care: Asplenium scolopendrium grow actively throughout the year under ideal condition. Growth slows down, however, during the short-day winter months.

Light: Medium light is best for these ferns throughout the year. They should never be subjected to direct sunlight which will scorch the fronds.

Temperature: Asplenium scolopendrium grows well in normal room temperatures and can also tolerate temperatures down to 10°C (50°F). These ferns need high humidity in warm positions. When the temperature rises above 18°C (64°F), stand the ferns on trays of damp pebbles.

Watering: Water moderately, giving enough at each watering 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. If room temperature is allowed to fall below 13°C (55°F) for more than two or three days at a time, water more sparingly during this cool period, allowing a full half of the potting mixture to dry out between waterings.

Feeding: Use half-strength standard liquid fertiliser. Frequency of feeding depends on the type of potting mixture. For plants that are potted in soil-based potting mixture monthly feedings should be adequate. For those ferns grown in peat-based potting mixture apply fertiliser once every two weeks.

Potting and repotting: Either use a peat-based potting mixture or one composed of half soil-based mixture, half leaf mould.
If peat based potting mixture is used, add a tablespoon of lime chips to each cupful of mixture in order to neutralise the acidity of the peat. Repotting is necessary only when roots fill the pot. When this happens, carefully move the ferns into pots one size larger. This is best done in spring.
After maximum convenient pot size – probably 15-20cm (6-8 inch) – has been reached, use these ferns for propagation or carefully cut away about one-third of the root ball and replace plants in the same pot size, adding fresh potting mixture at the same time. When repotting, always plant rhizomes vertically with half of each rhizome below and half above the surface or the potting mixture.

Gardening: Once planted, Asplenium scolopendrium fern grows slowly and needs little attention apart tidying in spring. Tatty or damaged fronds can be removed in early spring as or just before the new growth emerges. Removing the old fronds prevent disease and limits lasting damage and the ferns will look tidy.

Position: Asplenium scolopendrium need a cool shady place to thrive. Plant these ferns in part shade to full shade. If grown in full sun, the ferns are yellow and stunted, while the ferns that grow under the shade are luxuriant and dark green. In alpine areas, plant them in a sheltered location where they are exposed to sun rays only during the coolest hours of the day.

Soil: Asplenium scolopendrium thrives in humusy, limestone soils. It needs superior soil drainage to avoid root rot. The ideal growing conditions are a slightly alkaline well-drained but moist soil that has lots of leaf mould incorporated.
In wild these ferns can be found growing with their roots in very small amounts of soil founded between rocks and crevices. This kind of environment can be replicated in the garden but ferns grown in poor conditions will be small.
It is recommended to mulch annually around the plants with compost to keep the soil moisture even.

Irrigation: Water Asplenium scolopendrium ferns regularly during the growing season and keep them on the dry side during the cold winter months. Keep these ferns in medium moisture without overwatering. Do not allow the soil to dry out until the ferns have become established otherwise the tips will dry out. Once established, they becomes more tolerant of dry soil.
Avoid watering fronds by watering straight to the roots whenever possible, not on the crown. Also watering in the morning allow ferns to dry their frond before the cold night. These precautions help to avoid crown rot.

Fertilising: Asplenium scolopendrium planted in the ground, like a spring dressing of blood and bone or cow manure as well as a regular liquid fertiliser at half strength in the summer months.

Propagation: Propagate old Asplenium scolopendrium ferns in spring by cutting off small branched of the main rhizome. Make sure that each cutting bears a tuft of fronds. Plant cuttings individually in 8cm (3 inch) pot of one of the recommended potting mixtures, only half-burring each cutting. Place the potted cuttings in medium light at normal room temperatures and make the potting mixture barely moist throughout until new growth develops. Thereafter, it is possible to treat the new ferns as mature Asplenium scolopendrium ferns.
These ferns may also be propagated from spores at any time of the year, best sown as soon as they are ripe on the surface of a humus-rich sterilized soil. Keep the compost moist, preferably by putting a plastic bag over the pot. The spores usually germinate in the spring. Spring sown spores germinate in 1 – 3 months at 15°C (59°F). Pot on small clumps of plantlets as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse. Keep the plants humid until they are well established. Once the plants are 15cm (6 inch) or more tall, plant them out into their permanent positions in the spring.

Root rot can be a problem in poorly drained soils. Also crown rot may appear when the crown is wet in cold conditions.
Treatment: Apply a suitable systemic fungicide and clear all debris away from the crown to facilitate good air circulation.

Greenfly and blackfly are rare in the garden; they are more likely to occur on ferns grown indoors or in greenhouse. Capsids are graze the frond creating tiny white blotches at random.
Treatment: Apply a suitable insecticide as indicated on the label. To avoid scorching, spray in evening when there is no risk of the sun burning the damp fronds.

Slugs and snails are sometimes attracted to the thicker textured fronds of Asplenium scolopendrium ferns.
Treatment: Use a snail and slugs pesticide to prevent and control them.

Vine weevil grubs are a common pest, their grubs eating any part of the ferns, usually starting with the roots and moving to the leaf base. Vine weevil is common in gardens, but rarely cause any problems outdoors; it is with pot grown plants the real damage done.
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.

Typically eelworm damage is seen as dead patches of fronds confined by larger veins.
Treatment: Control is just about impossible. It is best to remove fronds suspected of being infected as soon as possible. The problem is most likely to occur in damp, humid conditions.

Recommended varieties:
Asplenium scolopendrium with frond blade margins or tips that are non-variable in shape.

Asplenium scolopendrium ‘Capitatum’ has fronds blades with undulating edges and heavily crested tips.

Asplenium scolopendrium ‘Crispum’ has deeply indented and greatly undulating or frilled edges (like an Elizabethan ruff) with simple pointed tip.

Asplenium scolopendrium ‘Crispum cristatum’ has frond blades with crested tips as well as very frilled edges.

Note: Asplenium scolopendrium has been placed in a segregate genus Phyllitis. Asplenium scolopendrium forms hybrids with other Asplenium species, including those species sometimes classified in the separate genus Camptosorus, which is one reason that both Phyllitis and Camptosorus species are now generally included in Asplenium. On the other hand, a recent phylogenetic study of the Aspleniaceae family suggests that Asplenium scolopendrium is only distantly related to other Asplenium species and that the genus Phyllitis should again be recognized.

Companion plants: The tall vertical straps of the Asplenium scolopendrium fern are perfect partners for the rounded foliage of the small-leaved Hosta species. Wide clumps of the Asplenium scolopendrium look particularly good underplanted with the variegated foliage of Hosta ‘Ginko Craig’. Ferns grow well together and those with more delicate foliage associate successfully with the leathery fronds of Asplenium scolopendrium.

Uses and display: Asplenium scolopendrium fern grows wild in shaded areas, often forming large drifts under trees amongst rocks and streams where its upright pointed tongues contrast strikingly with the softer shapes of damp-loving wild flowers. In gardens, these evergreen ferns are good for shaded wild gardens and are also invaluable for year-round interest amongst shrubs or other shade and moisture-loving perennials. In decorative groupings the unusual shape of these ferns, along with their fresh colouring, makes an interesting contrast with flowering plants.
It makes a good selection for shady areas of limestone rock gardens, alpine and shade gardens or for edging in a moist woodland garden. It is also valuable for adding vertical interest towards the front of a partially shaded border or for underplanting established trees and shrubs.


Foliage – green
Shape – bushy
Height: 30-40cm (12-16 inch)
Spread 30-45cm (12-18 inch)

Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – medium
Temperature in active growth period – min 10°C max 13°C (50-55°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 13°C max 24°C (55-75°F)
Humidity – low

Hardiness zone: 5a-9b

Asplenium scolopendrium Asplenium scolopendrium CrispumAsplenium scolopendrium Asplenium scolopendrium - fronds variation

Evergreen, Ferns, Foliage Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants , , , , , , , ,

Bougainvillea glabra

Common name: Paper Flower, Paperflower, Lesser Bougainvillea, Bougainvillea

Family: Nyctaginaceae

Bougainvillea glabra

Bougainvillea glabra

Distribution and habitat: Bougainvillea glabra is an evergreen, climbing shrub with thorny stems. It usually grows 3-4m (10–12feet) tall, occasionally up to 9m (30 feet). Tiny white flowers usually appear in clusters surrounded by colorful papery bracts, hence the name paperflower.
Bougainvillea glabra is native to Brazil growing in well drained sandy desert soils, slopes, mesas and disturbed rocky soil in a broad elevation range, anywhere from sea level to 750m (0-2500 feet). Its natural habitat is equatorial where day and night lengths are almost equal. Bougainvillea glabra in these areas tend to bloom year round. Elsewhere, best blooming occurs when the night length and day length are almost equal (in spring or fall).

Description: Bougainvillea glabra is a vigorous climbing species, which flowers at an earlier age than most kinds. It is a subtropical woody plant armed with spines. Though normally climbers – as seen outdoors in warm climates – they can be trained and pruned to keep them bushy indoors and there are some recently introduced dwarf-growing kinds that remain bushy without special attention. Their oval leaves are sparse and uninteresting, but they have decorative papery bracts surrounding small cream-white coloured flowers. The bracts appear in clusters of 10 to 20. Purple or magenta bracts are produced in late summer and fall and the varieties include other colours.
They tend to flower all year round in equatorial regions. Elsewhere, they are seasonal, with bloom cycles typically four to six weeks. But the real flowers are tucked away inside the papery bracts from summer to autumn.

Houseplant care: Bougainvillea glabra are not easy to grow indoors. Because they require better condition than are normally available, they are grown most successfully as windows plant. In naturally warmer areas they will do well in sunrooms or conservatories.
These plants have spines; use extreme caution when handling them.

Light: In order to flower, Bougainvillea glabra need at least four hours of direct sunlight every day during the active growth period. And they must have bright light at other times or they will not thrive in an indoor situation.

Temperature: Normal room temperature are suitable during the active growth period. In the winter rest period they should be kept cool but not bellow 10°C (50°F).

Watering: Water actively growing plants moderately, giving enough to moisten the potting mixture thoroughly; allow the top two-thirds to dry out between waterings. Amounts should be drastically reduced as the rest period approaches and the potting mixture should just be kept from drying out.

Feeding: Begin applications of a complete liquid fertiliser as soon as growth starts in early spring and continue the applications once every two weeks throughput the flowering period.

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture with a little extra peat moss well mixed in. Move young plants into pots one size larger in early spring. Disturb the roots as little as possible because the plant might go into shock and take weeks to recover. Bougainvillea glabra blooms best when pot-bound. Do not repot these plants in pots unnecessary large.
Annualy top dress these plants with fresh potting mixture.

Gardening: Bougainvillea glabra is heat and drought tolerant and frost sensitive. They can usually tolerate die back from a freeze, but will withhold blooms for a while.
If unsupported, these plants will remain compact or behave as ground covers, while if given support they will climb vigorously, using their sharp thorns as a means of attachment.

Also, Bougainvillea glabra takes well pruning which is a useful attribute in styling bonsai. Because these plants generally blooms on new growth, each branch, as blooms begin to fade, should be cut back to a point somewhat shorter than the desired length. Seal all cuts to prevent rot. If rot is detected on a collected specimen, cut it out completely.

Position: Bougainvillea glabra needs full sunlight, warm weather to flower well. The length of time they will bloom is dependent upon the health of the plant and the environment they are in, the more sun and heat, the better. However, long days and short nights limit a Bougainvillea glabra ability to bloom, this plant preferring equal days and night length as flowering season.
It is rampant by nature and will cover a whole shed or large tree stump – but it is best trained over a trellis against a warm wall.

Soil: For best results, plant Bougainvillea glabra in a light well-drained soil.

Irrigation: Although drought tolerant, they need plenty of moisture during the flowering season. Give copious quantities of water in the hot weather, but allow almost to dry out in winter.

Fertilising: Fertilise once in the spring with a low nitrogen fertiliser and maybe once again in the fall.

Propagation: Cuttings of new growth 15cm (6 inch) long may be taken in spring. After dipping the cut ends into hormone rooting powder, insert them in a moistened equal-parts mixture of soil-based potting mixture and coarse sand or perlite. The potted cutting should then be placed in a heated propagating case and kept at 23°C (73°F) in bright filtered light. Roots will form in eight weeks after which plants can be repotted in standard mixture. Considerable care is required when repotting to avoid damage to the delicate roots of the young plants.

Problems: It is not common for Bougainvillea glabra to be affected by pests and diseases, but some problems may appear due to unbalanced feed and poor conditions.

Overfeeding will produce masses of foliage but very little in the way of colorful bracts.

The old established method of forcing flowers is to withhold water to a point of causing severe stress to the plant.

Caterpillars, aphids and scale  may infest Bougainvillea glabra plants.
Treatment: Use a suitable pesticide to eradicate these pests.

Bougainvillea glabra may also develop chlorosis as response to mineral deficiencies:
Nitrogen deficiency: Older leaves turn a pale green and the veins are usually a reddish color. New growth will be stunted.
Phosphorus deficiency: The veins will turn red to purple and the plant as a whole will look purplish.
Potassium deficiency: Causes the edges of older the leaves to be a purple color and the leaf tips will be a brownish color.
Magnesium deficiency: First appears on older leaves where they turn a spotted yellow or tan color.
Zinc deficiency: (rare) Will look almost like magnesium but here the leaf will be twisted.
Iron deficiency: Young growth is stunted and pale, but the veins on the leaf remain green.
Calcium deficiency: Dead areas appear in young growth and the tips soon die.
Treatment: Recommended remedy for any of the deficiencies above is the application of a complete micronutrient blend.

Root rot will appear when plants are over-watered or are subjected to water logged conditions.
Treatment: These situations are easier to be prevented. Apply a broad spectrum fungicides during transplanting or planting in landscape.

Fungal and Bacterial Leaf Spot (Pseudomonas and ropogonis) infections appear as dark necrotic spots on leaves and bracts and  puckered and distorted growth. Defoliation will occur when leaf spotting, blighting or marginal necrosis becomes severe. Care must be taken that fungus does not invade other trees and shrubs around.
Treatment: Maintaining dry foliage is the primary control measure. Remove and dispose infected leaves and/or plants from the growing area. Apply fungicides as preventive measure.

Uses and display: Bougainvillea glabra can be easily grown as a hedge, an arch or a tree on the ground and in pots. It is a characteristic porch and arbor vine in warm countries and sometimes grown in greenhouses. It can groomed as a ground cover, pruned as an espalier, trained as a tree or contained in a pot in a variety of shapes. This plant is ideal for bonsai. Also, this plant can be grown in hanging basket with a hard pruning to maintain the shape and size, making a splendid specimen for balcony or sunroom.


Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – climbing and trailing

Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – moderately
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

Height: 5-6m (15-20 feet)
Spread 3-5m (10-18 feet)

Hardiness zone: 9a-11

Bougainvillea glabraBougainvillea glabraBougainvillea glabraBougainvillea glabraBougainvillea glabraBougainvillea glabraBougainvillea glabraBougainvillea glabraBougainvillea glabra

Climber, Evergreen, Flowering Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants , , , ,

Justicia brandegeeana

Common name: Mexican Shrimp Plant, Shrimp Plant, Shrimp Flower, False Hop

Family: Acanthaceae

Synonymous: Beloperone guttata
Calliaspidia guttata
Drejerella guttata

Misspelling: Justicia brandegeana

Justicia brandegeeana

Justicia brandegeeana

Distribution and habitat: Justicia brandegeeana is an evergreen shrub native to Mexico and also naturalized in Florida. It is a sprawling, suckering, tropical evergreen shrub which grows to 1m (3 feet) tall (rarely more) with spindly limbs. This shrub is cultivated for its very decorative flowers and long lasting flowering season.
Pollination is usually by hummingbirds.

Description: Justicia brandegeeana is a perennial shrub and will last for several years. It has become a quite common indoor plant. It is popularly known as Shrimp Plant because of its drooping, shrimp-like flower spikes. The most prominent parts of these spikes are terminal bracts, which are heart-shaped, reddish brown or pink and up to 2cm (0.8 inch) long. The bracts almost conceal white flowers that protrude from between them. The 10-13cm (4-5 inch) long flower spikes are produced continuously during the growing season, which lasts for as much as 10 months a year.
The leaves, which have 2-3cm (0.8-1 inch) long leaf stalk and are carried on upright woody stems, are 2-8cm (0.8-3 inch) long, oval, fresh green and slightly hairy.
Unless Justicia brandegeeana is kept well trimmed, it tend to become a rather untidy shrub; also, if it is left alone, it usually grows over 60cm (24 inch) tall. It therefore needs cutting back annually if it is to hold its shape and retain a manageable size at the same time.
This shrub is expected to last for 10 to 20 years.

Houseplant care: Justicia brandegeeana thrive in containers and survive well as houseplants with a long flowering season. Apart from periodical pinching out of growing points to encourage bushy growth, mature Justicia brandegeeana require cutting back annually. Cut away up to half the top growth (down to any leaf axil) just as the plant is beginning to make new growth in the spring.

Light: Bright light with some direct sunlight is essential for satisfactory production of the colourful bracts.

Temperature: Normally warm room temperatures suit Justicia brandegeeana plant, but too much heat makes for soft and spindly growth. The recommended winter temperature is 18°C (64°F).

Watering: Water Justicia brandegeeana sparingly – enough to make the potting mixture barely moist and allowing the top two-thirds of the potting mixture to dry out between waterings.

Feeding: Feed Justicia brandegeeana plants from late winter to early autumn only using standard liquid fertiliser once every two weeks.

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture with the addition of a one third portion of peat moss. Move these plants into pots one size larger every spring until the maximum convenient size – probably 15cm (6 inch) – have been reached. Thereafter top dress the plant annually with fresh potting mixture.

Gardening: Justicia brandegeeana is winter hardy to hardiness zones 9 to 11. Roots may survive in zone 8. Frosts will kill it to the ground, but it comes back in spring. As it dislikes temperatures below 7°C (45°F), it is best grown under glass in cooler temperate areas, where it is excellent as a potted houseplant, owing to its ability to tolerate low light and some neglect. The plants grown in containers may be overwintered in a warm sun room or watering can be severely reduced to force plants into dormancy for winter storage in a dark, cool, dry location. Alternatively, Justicia brandegeeana can be treated as a fast-growing annual plant in hardiness zone 9 or colder.
The shape is generally long and spindly. If trimmed back regularly, it can maintain a bushy habit and will not need support. If the branches are allowed to grow long, they will become unable to support themselves and sag towards the ground. Prune annually after flowering for a more compact, formal appearance and to encourage branching. Keeping the shrubs tip pruned will promote fullness as well as increase flowering.
These plants grow quickly and may form buds in the first year.

Position: Justicia brandegeeana can handle a variety of environments, more sun on the coast, more shade inland. Plant it in full sun to partial shade in sheltered, frost free spot in cold climate. The colourful flower bracts tend to bleach out in full sun, so these plants are generally best grown in part shade with some protection from hot afternoon sun. Bright light with some direct sun is ideal for bloom formation. This plant thrives in the shade in tropical areas.

Soil: Plant Justicia brandegeeana outdoors in fertile, moist, well-drained soil. It does best in well-drained sandy or loamy soil, but will tolerate most soil types which drain well.

Irrigation: Follow a regular watering schedule during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system. Keep soil evenly moist from spring through fall. Allow to stay only slightly drier in winter.

Fertiliser: Feed with a general purpose fertiliser before new growth begins in spring.

Propagation: Tip cuttings 5-8cm (2-3 inch) long will root easily in spring. Insert each cutting in a small pot containing a moistened mixture of equal parts of peat moss and coarse sand or perlite. Enclose the pot in a plastic bag and keep it in a bright filtered light. Rooting should occur in six to eight weeks. To produce a bushy plant, pot three or four cuttings together in the recommended potting mixture for mature Justicia brandegeeana. Water sparingly and do not move the pot into direct sunlight for another month or two.

Yellow leaves are caused by overwatering.
Treatment: Allow the soil to dry out almost completely before watering again and always use a pot with a drainage hole to prevent soggy soil. Water less in winter.

Leaves may drop if soil is either too wet or too dry.
Treatment: Test the soil by pushing a stake into the potting mixture. If the stake is dry, the plant should be watered. If the stake is too wet can be caused by poor drainage, cool conditions and oversized pots.

These plant are susceptible to fungal leaf spot and rust.
Treatment: Apply fungicides and repeat the treatment as directed on fungicide instructions. Provide adequate air circulation and water the  plants in the morning, so plants get a chance to dry out during the day.

Watch for whiteflies and spider mites, particularly when grown indoors.
Treatment: Successive sprays of insecticidal soaps or white oil will eradicate whiteflies infestations. For spider mites, spray with a suitable insecticide and raise the humidity by standing the pot on a saucer of moist pebbles.

Justicia brandegeeana are prone to become leggy plants.
Treatment: Constantly pinch and prune, start new plants from cuttings.

Pale leaves is usually caused because the plant is lacking food.
Treatment: Feed the plant.

Drop or pale flower heads is because the plants need more light.
Treatment:  Move the plants to a brighter location.

Recommended varieties:
Justicia brandegeeana cv. ‘Yellow Queen’ is a rarer form with yellow bracts.

Justicia brandegeeana cv. ‘Fruit Cocktail’ has yellow and green bracts with pink flowers.

Companion Plants: In a location with filtered shade, plant near an exotic fern, such as the Dicksonia antarctica (Tasmanian Tree Fern) or groundcover Nephrolepis exaltata (Sword Fern).
Can also be used to cover the unattractive base of tropical foliage plants, such as Ensete ventricosum (Abyssinian Banana) or Philodendron x ‘Xanadu’ (Xanadu Cut-Leaf Philodendron).
They can be folded in among Zingiber (Gingers), Musa (Bananas) and Canna species (Cannas) for a contrasting look. Also Justicia brandegeeana can be associate with Begonia (Begonias), Porphyrocoma pohliana (Brazilian Fireworks) or Curcuma longa (Curcuma).

Uses and display: Justicia brandegeeana are grown as ornamentals in tropical and subtropical gardens and as conservatory plants in temperate areas. These showy perennials are good plants for mixed borders and beds where they produce masses of ornamental flowers. These plants are great display  anywhere a splash of continuous colour is needed since they bloom almost all year long. They will display the best color when planted in a bright location that receives direct sunlight. In cooler climates, Justicia brandegeeana plants can be grown in containers and brought indoors for overwintering.
Although featured this striking plant in the garden, Justicia brandegeeana can be used in different settings. Their lush foliage and distinctive flowers make them a natural for a tropical garden. They are also showy and long-blooming enough to feature by themselves in a large container or as a focal point in a part-shade location.


Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – bushy
Height indoor: 60cm (24 inch)
Height outdoor: 1m (3 feet)

Watering in active growth period – sparingly
Light – bright
Temperature in active growth period – min 18°C max 24°C (64-75°F)
Humidity – low

Hardiness zone: 9-11

Justicia brandegeeanaJusticia brandegeeanaJusticia brandegeeana

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

Aucuba japonica

Common name: Spotted Laurel, Japanese Laurel, Japanese Aucuba, Gold Dust Plant

Family: Garryaceae

Synonymous: Aucuba vivicans

Aucuba japonica

Aucuba japonica

Distribution and habitat: Aucuba japonica is a dioecious evergreen shrub 1–5m (3.28-16.40 feet) high. It is native to rich forest soils of moist valleys, thickets, by streams and near shaded moist rocks in China, Korea, and Japan.

Description: Although Aucuba japonica plant can reach a height of 4.5m (15 feet) outdoors, non of the several forms grown indoors is likely to grow more than 90cm (35 inch) tall. Their oval leaves are arranged in pairs, alternate on 1cm (0.4 inch) long leaf-stalk. They are 10-17cm (4-7 inch) long, glossy and coarsely toothed. They have leathery texture and green colour or attractively variegated in many cultivars on the rounded green stems. These plants form dense, upright, rounded shrub with a thicket of erect to arching shoots with limited branching.
Aucuba japonica are dioecious plants which means that they have separate male and female plants, but these plants are grown for their foliage rather than flowers or fruits. The flowers are small, 4–8mm (0.15–0.31 inch) diameter, with four purplish-brown petals; they are produced in clusters of 10-30 in a loose cyme. The fruit is a red berry approximately 1cm (0.4 inch) in diameter. It matures in fall and persists till spring, but often is hidden by foliage.

Houseplant care: Aucuba japonica has become a popular indoor plant. If it become inconveniently large, cut it back in early spring.

Light: Indoors Aucuba japonica need bright light or filtered sunlight. Some cool, direct morning sunlight is fine.
Do not move these plants outdoors unless they are provided with a cool, shady spot.

Temperature: Aucuba japonica plants are particularly good for use in cold, doughty positions; they can even withstand frost. But they cannot tolerate temperatures much above 23°C (73°F). In warm rooms should be provided a high degree of humidity. Stand pots on trays of moist pebbles in order to increase humidity.

Watering: Throughout the year water Aucuba japonica plentifully as often as is necessary to keep the potting mixture thoroughly moist, but never allow pots to stand in water.

Feeding: Apply to Aucuba japonica plants a standard liquid fertiliser monthly throughout the year.

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture. Aucuba japonica plants thrive in relatively small pots; a 12-20cm (5-8 inch) pot gives adequate root room for quite a large plant. Small plants may be moved into pots one size larger in the spring when necessary. After maximum convenient pot size has been reached, an annual spring top-dressing is advisable.

Garden: Aucuba japonica plant is valued for its ability to thrive in the most difficult of garden environments such as dry shade. It also copes with pollution and salt-laden coastal winds.
This plant is a moderate grower, although faster growth can be accomplished with yearly fertilizing and regular watering until it reaches the desired size. Prune to any shape or size. Aucuba japonica will take any pruning abuse inflicted on it and keep growing back.
They are low maintenance banks and slopes hedging and they form drought resistant screen.

Location: Aucuba japonica plant is tolerant of full shade, pollution and salt winds. It is used in full sun to part-shade. It will do best in full shade when used in hot summer areas.
It will benefit from being planted in a relatively sheltered location.

Soil: Aucuba japonica is adaptable to almost any soil, except waterlogged soil. It will thrive either in loam, chalk or sand, soil which is moist but well-drained. If the soil is heavy clay, set Aucuba japonica in well-drained area in raised bed and add to the soil 1cm (0.5 inch) of pine bark.
This plant is not very fussy about soil conditions but would prefer a slightly acidic to near neutral soil. In alkaline soils the plant may need supplemental fertilizing to provide nutrients not readily available under this condition.
Do not plant deeper than the soil level in the container.
Consider applying a thick mulch around the root zone in winter to protect it in exposed locations or colder zones. Mulch  the plants but keep it about 15cm (6 inch) away from the main stem.

Irrigation: Aucuba japonica does best in average to evenly moist conditions, but will not tolerate standing water. Keep the soil slightly moist at all times. Water this plants regularly always leaving the soil dry for a few days between one watering and the other. Deep irrigation every 2 to 3 weeks with one or two buckets of water.
For specimens grown in a container, overwaterig should be avoided. Keep the soil evenly moist from spring through fall. Then, cut back on watering in winter when growth has slowed.

Fertiliser: Fertilise Aucuba japonica with a slow release general purpose fertiliser or a liquid seaweed emulsion fertiliser and keep well mulched to retain moisture. Fertilise only lightly, spreading it evenly over the root zone.

Propagation: Cuttings 10-15cm (4-6 inch) long will root easily in spring if planted in small pots containing a moistened rooting mixture of peat moss and coarse sand or perlite. Place each pot in a plastic bag and keep it at normal room temperature in filtered sunlight, giving no additional water until new growth indicates that rooting has occurred. Thereafter, remove the plastic bag, water the young plant sparingly and begin monthly feedings of liquid fertiliser. When the plant is 30cm (12 inch) tall, move it into a 10cm (4 inch) pot of standard potting mixture and treat the plant as recommended for a mature Aucuba japonica.

Problems: Wet root rot, Southern blight and fungal leaf spots may affect Aucuba japonica plants.

Crown rot is caused by the soil-borne fungus Sclerotium rolfsii. This fungus attacks and kills plants at the ground level when humid conditions resulting from a tight plant canopy or debris near the stem persist. Eventually, the black decay (necrosis) may extend several centimetres upwards in the stem. Foliage of affected plants wilts and the plant dies quickly. This fungus can attack both large and small plants.
Root rot of Aucuba japonica is caused by the soil-borne fungi Phytophthora cinnamomi and Phytophthora citricola. Above ground symptoms are similar to crown rot, however, the roots are usually more extensively rotted, white fungal growth and sclerotia are absent and decay may not extend as far up the stem. Diseased plants eventually die.
Several nematodes cause root damage to Aucuba japonica. The root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne sp.) is the most common and causes the development of galls on the naturally thick roots. These and other nematodes reduce vigor and growth, as infected plants cannot take up water or fertilizer as well as healthy plants.
A nonpathogenic root rot may also develop on Aucuba japonica growing in soil very high in organic matter and soil that is poorly drained. Excess fertilizer placed too close to the crown of the plant can also cause stem or root injury.
Treatment: Because eradicating these bacterial diseases is difficult or impossible, the best recourse for infected plants is to remove and destroy them. The treatment begins with good sanitation to prevent the spread of the disease. Destroy affected plants and remove the surrounding soil and garden debris that has come in contact with them. Do not transplant any nearby plants to other parts of the garden. Quarantine new plants by growing them in a bed that is isolated from the rest of the garden until proven that they are disease-free.
Do not plant Aucuba japonica were other Aucubas, Azaleas or Rhododendrons have died before.

Foliage problems, such as wilting or necrotic spotting, may reflect a root problem or other stress condition. Aucuba japonica grow best in shaded areas. Plants growing in exposed areas may develop black leaf spots or blotches. A dieback characterized by total decay of leaves, petioles, and branches often occurs on exposed plants in early spring. This can be caused by exposure to full sun combined with cold injury. A weakly pathogenic fungus (Botryosphaeria sp.) is often found in such tissue and is common on many woody ornamental plants under environmental stress.
Treatment: Plant Aucuba japonica in partially shaded areas. Give exposed plants some protection during cold winter weather. Promptly prune out dead branches several inches below any sign of discoloration. Avoid excess fertiliser, especially during late summer and fall.

Significant dieback is often a sign that the plant may be under stress from root rot, crown rot, nematodes or other factors.
Treatment: These problems are much more severe in poorly drained and waterlogged soils. Control involves improving the soil drainage wherever possible and drenching with a suitable soil fungicide. Make sure the soil crust is broken beneath the plants so the fungicide will penetrate down into the root zone of the plant.

Recommended varieties:
Aucuba japonica cv. ‘Variegata’ is the most popular cultivar of this species. Its leaves are heavily spotted with gold-coloured markings. This is a female clone, a similar male clone being named Aucuba japonica cv. ‘Maculata’.

Aucuba japonica cv. ‘Crotonifolia’ with at least half its mid-green leaf surface white or ivory spots. This variety is a female clone with somewhat larger leaves than standard species.

Aucuba japonica cv. ‘Goldiena’ is a cultivar with a yellow centre and contrasting green margins.

Dwarf Aucuba japonica cv. ‘Nana’ is compact, tight form and 8 x 8cm (3 x 3 inch), slow grower; foliage green with dusting of yellow.

Toxicity: The fruit and leaves of Aucuba japonica are poisonous if ingested.

Uses and display: Aucuba japonica is often seen as an informal hedge, but may also be grown indoors as a houseplant.
In landscape, Aucuba japonica is cultivated as woody shrub, used for beds and borders, screening, hedge but can make a handsome specimen plant or focal point into the landscape. It is used for woodland garden styles, architectural patio and container plants for coastal locations.


Foliage – green
Shape – bushy
Height indoor: 90cm (35 inch)
Height outdoor: 4.5m (15 feet)

Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright
Temperature in active growth period – min 4°C max 24°C (39-75°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 7a-10b

Aucuba japonica cv. VariegataAucuba japonica cv. CrotonifoliaAucuba japonica cv. Crotonifolia fruits

Evergreen, Foliage Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants , , , , , , , , , ,

Alpinia vittata

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

Family: Zingiberaceae

Synonymous: Alpinia sanderae
Alpinia tricolor
Guillainia vittata

Guillainia vittata

Guillainia vittata

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Problems: Generally, Alpinia vittata is problem free.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Hardiness zone: 9a-11

Guillainia vittataAlpinia vittataAlpinia vittata

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