Hibiscus Care|Space Gardening

Hibiscus flowers are one of the most spectacular blossoms a container gardener can grow. The blooms are large, colorful and incredibly graceful. The foliage of the hibiscus plant is also beautiful – the dark green, glossy leaves, provide a wonderful contrast with the extravagant blooms.

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Caring for hibiscus is easy and can make any container garden feel luxurious and exotic. Here are some important information to care your hibiscus the best way:

  • Sun Requirements – While most plant tags will tell you that hibiscus takes full sun to partial sun, in reality, if you live somewhere hot and light, you should go more towards partial sun. In Northern climes, your hibiscus will probably be happier in full sun.
  • Drainage and Watering are Key – Hibiscus are thirsty plants and will only thrive and produce blossoms if they are given enough water. Depending on heat, wind and humidity, your plant may need to be watered daily – in extremely dry conditions – twice a day. These are tropical plants, so they don’t like to dry out. They also don’t like to be soaking wet, so you have to be careful not to drown your plants. Keep the soil moist, watering your plant slowly and deeply. If your hibiscus is dropping leaves, or you’re seeing yellowing leaves at the top of the hibiscus, chances are it’s not getting enough water. If your hibiscus has yellowing leaves in the middle or towards the bottom of the plant, chances are it’s suffocating from too much water.
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  • Pot Size – For consistent production of hibiscus flowers, you don’t want to transplant your hibiscus in too deep a container. If you do, your plant will be healthy, but will spend more energy producing roots than flowers and top growth, so you may see fewer flowers until the roots have hit the bottom of the pot. However, if you are doing a mixed container, you will want to put the hibiscus in a larger pot, so optimally, look for one that is wider than the nursery pot, but not much deeper.
  • Fertilizer – Chances are good that when you buy your hibiscus, it has a slow release fertilizer mixed into to the soil so you probably don’t have to worry about feeding your plant for the first few months you own it. After that feed it regularly. I use a diluted, liquid fish emulsion, seaweed combination every other week.
  • Overwintering Hibiscus – If you live in a northern climate, it is possible to overwinter hibiscus indoors, though it’s not easy. Your hibiscus will need at least 2-3 hours of direct sunlight. Try putting your hibiscus in an East, West or South facing window. Though your hibiscus will need less water in the winter, be aware that once you turn on your heat, your air will be dry, which can be hard on tropical plants, so you will need to water more often. If you see any buds remove them – you don’t want your hibiscus to flower in the winter. In the spring, cut the plant back and put it back outside, once the nighttime temperatures are consistently above 50°F.
  • Happy Hibiscus – If your plant is consistently producing hibiscus flowers, it is happy, so keep doing what you’re doing. If your plant is not producing buds and flowers, try moving it into an area that has either more or less sunlight.

Care For Christmas Cactus|Space Gardening

Good Christmas cactus care will ensure beautiful blooms in time for the holidays.

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This tropical cactus does not exist in the wild. It is a hybrid of Schlumbergera truncata and Schlumbergera russelliana that grow as epiphytes in the rain forests of South America.

Schlumbergera bridgesii has dark-green flattened stems composed of segments joined in a scalloped pattern. Flowers appear at the tips of the stems and are available in shades of pink, red, purple, yellow, and white. Newer cultivars bring together two colors, offering some exciting new combinations.

After your Christmas Cactus is through flowering for the season, it needs about a one-month rest. Water sparingly and stop fertilizing until new growth begins in spring.

Regular pruning will encourage the plant to branch out where the stem was cut, creating a fuller plant. Spring is the best time to prune it back, when it begins actively growing again.

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How to Get Christmas Cactus to Bloom Again

Growing this plant is easy, but there are a few things you should do to make it bloom before the holidays.

  • Shorter, cooler days and nights for about 8-10 weeks are needed for the plant to set buds. Moving it outdoors in fall is ideal, just keep it out of direct sun. Bring the plant back inside before the first frost.
  • Keep soil barely moist, but not too dry. Shriveled, limp stems are a sign that it’s too dry.
  • Once it starts budding, keep the plant in the same location. Changes in light and temperature by moving it around will cause it to drop its buds and flowers. Also keep it away from drafty areas like doorways and heat vents.

Repotting Christmas cactus plant is usually only necessary every 2 to 3 years. It prefers to be slightly pot-bound and blooms best this way. Wait till spring or early summer to repot — never while it’s blooming.

Christmas Cactus Care Tips

Origin: Hybrid with parents native to Brazil

Height: To 2 ft (60 cm)

Light: Bright indirect light

Water: Keep the soil moist, but not soggy while plant is growing. After flowering, water sparingly until new growth begins in spring.

Humidity: Moderate — about 50-60% relative humidity. Stand the pot on a dish of wet pebbles.

Temperature: To set flower buds, the plant needs cool 60-65°F/16-18°C days and 45-55°F/7-13°C nights. Once buds set, 70-75°F/21-24°C days and 60-70°F/16-21°C nights.

Soil: Well-drained potting medium is essential. Mix 1 part potting mix and 1 part fine-grade fir bark.

Fertilizer: Feed every 2 weeks with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted by half. After blooms have dropped, stop fertilizing for a month.

Propagation: Take stem segments in spring and place upright in moist perlite.

Allium For Garden|Space Gardening

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With their classic, plump flower heads, which seem to hover like purple clouds above other plants, alliums are one of the highlights of the summer garden. You might be surprised at the range of flower shapes and colours available among these ornamental onions – bright blue, white, gold, darkest purple and pale pink hues, as well as pendulous flowers, flat blooms and enormous flower heads like fireworks.

How to grow alliums

Planting

Plant bulbs at 2½ times their own depth in autumn and space them about 8 inches (or 4 inches in the case of smaller bulbs such as A. triquetrum). Some alliums have rhizomes (underground stems) instead of bulbs – these are the ones that look more like spring onions than dry bulbs on arrival. Plant these in autumn just below the soil surface and 4 inches apart.

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Position

Alliums aren’t too fussy, but a sheltered spot with well-drained soil in full sun is their ideal position.

For impact, plant alliums in groups. Create a year-long display with spring bulbs and hellebore hybrids in spring that will die down to make way for late-flowering herbaceous perennials, such as Japanese anemones, that will hide any untidy allium leaves and provide colour once the alliums are over.

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After care

To keep alliums tidy, gather up the dead leaves in early summer and remove any stems that become detached at their bases in late summer. Although all on trial stood up well, in a very exposed site you may need to provide support for stems. Keep an eye out for rust and cut back diseased foliage. Alliums are hardy in Britain and can be left in the ground all year round.

Some of the most noteworthy ornamental alliums include:

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  • Ornamental garlic (A. aflatunense) – lovely lilac-colored, spring-blooming type.
  • Giant onion (A. giganteum) – one of the largest blooming species, with globe-shaped flowers that grow up to 5 feet or more.
  • Golden onion (A. moly) is beautiful, especially when placed in a rock garden. Its yellow, star-like flowers make an impressive sight in the garden when planted in drifts too.
  • Bride’s onion (A. neapolitanum) – spring-blooming with star-shaped white flowers and narrow, green leaves.
  • Rosy garlic (A. roseum) – with its sweet-scented pink blooms, this allium species is great for adding to beds and borders.
  • Drumstick allium (A. sphaerocephalon) – these have reddish-purple globes and fit in nicely with companion plants like hosta. Their blooms, even once faded, still remain attractive throughout fall and winter.

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Wheatgrass Decoration|Space Gardening

Wheat grass centerpiece is not a new concept. I liked this idea very much, so thought to share with you all. You can use wheat grass to decorate your house when it is a party, wedding, birthday or even in Easter. Here’s what you will need to grow your own wheat grass at home.

Supply List:

  • Potting soil
  • tiny rocks or gravel
  • scissors
  • grosgrain ribbon
  • 1 cup of hard red wheat
  • 7-9 tea cups or other fun small containers for planting

For this project, I grew wheat grass in soil.

Growing Wheat Grass in Soil

Kids can complete most of these steps with your supervision and they love this project because the grass grows so quickly, it actually holds their interest.

1. Soak 1/2 cup of seeds in water for 24 hours (you can leave it for up to 48 hours if you tend to get distracted like me, and still plant it).

2. Put some gravel or very small rocks in the bottom of your container for drainage (I tried skipping this step once and my grass roots got moldy)

3. Fill it with soil, leaving about 1/2 inch of space at the top of the container and add a little water ( if your kids are doing this part, they may need a little help measuring, as you’ll see below 😉

4. Spread your seeds on top of the soil. You want your grass to be dense, so the whole surface of your soil should be covered with seeds, but they shouldn’t piled on top of each other. You may have left over seeds depending on the size of your planters.

5. Cover the seeds with a very thin layer of soil- just enough so they aren’t exposed.

6. Water twice a day.

7. Within about 48 hours, you should see little green sprouts- very exciting!

8. Transfer your planters to a sunny spot (near a window) and keep the soil moist. Watering 1/4 cup per planter, twice a day, worked well for me.

9. By day 10 you should have a very healthy crop of grass

10. Give it a hair cut (my daughter loved this part) and show it off.

Here are some ideas on how you can use wheat grass for decoration:
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All About Lilies|Space Gardening

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True lilies belong to the genus Lilium and grow from plump, scaly bulbs. They are magnificent flowers that command attention wherever they are planted.

Lily flowers are valued for their very showy, often fragrant flowers. The 6 plain or strikingly marked tepals (“petals”) are often trumpet-shaped, sitting atop tall.

At home in both formal and naturalistic settings, lilies also most take readily to containers. They all make wonderful cut flowers.

By carefully blending early, mid-season, and late varieties into your garden, you will enjoy their bewitching blooms and seductive scents from spring through frost.

 

Planting

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  • Plant bulbs in autumn. Loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches. The deep planting encourages the developing stem to send out roots to help stabilize the plant and perhaps eliminate the need for staking.
  • Note: Lilies do not thrive in Zones 9 to 10 without a period of refrigeration; they need a cold, dormant period.
  • For dependable blooms, lilies need six to eight hours of sunshine a day, yet they prosper in the presence of other low plants that protect their roots from drying out.
  • Water trapped beneath the scales may rot the bulb, so a well-drained site is essential.
  • Most of the popular varieties prefer acidic to neutral soil, but some are lime-tolerant or prefer alkaline soils (e.g., Madonna lilies).
  • Grow in soil enriched with leaf mold or well-rotted organic matter.
  • Dig a hole 2 to 3 times as deep as the bulbs are high and set the bulb in the hole pointy side up. Fill the hole with soil and tamp gently.
  • Space bulbs at a distance equal to 3 times the bulb’s diameter.
  • Water thoroughly.

Care

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  • In active growth, water freely and apply a high-potash liquid fertilizer every 2 weeks.
  • Keep moist in winter.
  • Apply a thin layer of compost each spring, followed by a 2-inch layer of mulch.
  • Water plants in the summer if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week.
  • Stake tall lilies.
  • As flowers fade, cut back the stalks to the base of the plant.
  • After bloom, divide lilies. Replant using compost and bonemeal.

Pests

  • Gray mold is sometimes a problem, especially in a wet, cool spring or summer.
  • Viruses, spread by aphids, may be troublesome, although some cultivars are virus-tolerant.
  • Red lily beetles, slugs, and snails may occur.
  • Deer, rabbits, voles, and groundhogs may eat entire plants. Consider a wire cage for bulbs if this seems to be an issue where you live.

Harvest/Storage

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Displaying Lilies in Vases

  • Lilies make wonderful cut flowers. Choose lilies with buds that are just about to open, not tight and green, witha bit of the flower color showing.
  • As soon as you get lilies inside, trim the stem ends an inch or so, making a diagonal cut with a sharp knife.
  • If you worry that the orange pollen of lilies might cause stains, simply snip off the stamens in the flower’s center.
  • Before arranging in a vase, remove the lower leaves on the stems so that no foliage will be underwater.
  • A good lily arrangement will last 2 or more weeks. Change the water every few days.
  • To help prolong the life, add cut-flower food to the water. Lilies require only half the amount of food recommended for other flowers.

Recommended Varieties

Of the nine divisions of classification, Asiatic and Oriental are the most popular with gardeners.

  • Asiatic lilies are the earliest to bloom and the easiest to grow. Hybrids come in pure white, pinks, vivid yellows, oranges, and reds; heights are from one to six feet. Intense breeding has erased much of the Asiatics’ fragrance, but in spite of their lack of perfume, they are a favorite with floral arrangers.
  • Oriental hybrids bloom in mid- to late summer, just when Asiatic lilies are beginning to fade. From tiny two-footers to towering eight-foot-tall giants, Orientals are always a striking choice (the shorter ones are great for patio beds or container gardens). Adored for their intoxicating fragrance that intensifies after dark, Oriental lilies produce masses of huge white, pink, red, or bi-color blooms. They make wonderful cut flowers that will fill even the largest of rooms with their spicy scents.

Special Features

  • Attracts Butterflies

Wit & Wisdom

The name “lily” can be misleading because lots of other plants use it besides true lilies. Daylilies and water lilies aren’t lilies at all, and neither are lilies-of-the-valley or lilyturf.

With so many other plants using the name “lily,” it’s apparent that identity theft must have been around long before the use of computers and credit cards!

Air Plant|Space Gardening

How to Grow Air Plants

Even though they are easy to care for, there are a few rules to follow when growing air plants:

  • Constant air circulation — as the name indicates — is paramount to keeping your plant happy.
  • Air plants need some moisture; from late spring to mid-autumn, mist daily. In winter, mist only once or twice a week.
  • Fertilize monthly in spring and summer using a low-nitrogen liquid fertilizer mixed at only one-quarter strength. In general, fertilize weakly.
  • Although they love warm weather, most air plants need protection from full sun. If it’s a type that grows naturally wild on trees, keep it in moist, partial shade. If it is a ground type, such as T. cyanea orT. lindenii, grow it indoors in bright, filtered light and outdoors in partial or dappled shade.
  • Don’t let an air plant sit somewhere that’s colder than 45 degrees; it will die at those temperatures. If you live in Zone 9 or warmer, you can grow an air plant outdoors all year if you keep it dry during the winter.

How to Use Air Plants

Air plants look great alone as architectural elements or in an air plants terrarium. Place varieties such asTillandsia aeranthos ‘Amethyst’, also called the rosy air plant, into a pot or against a container that will complement or contrast with its pink flower spike.

Play off the spikiness of the foliage by grouping three Tillandsia ionantha and add a tiny toucan, parasol, or other tropical touch.

Air plants that are naturally suited to growing in trees can be lashed against a protected wooden post using translucent fishing monofilament and a bit of sphagnum moss to add extra moisture. Tillandsia species also make fine companions on a planted branch with orchids since they like essentially the same conditions. Hanging air plants are a popular design element.

Here’s some ideas on how to display your air plant:

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I found this video very helpful and interesting. You can follow the link for clear instruction:

Homemade Weed Killer|Space Gardening

Strong chemical herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides can end up polluting our drinking water, our groundwater, and surface water, so it’s important to consider the longer term effects of using them, and to instead make the choice to use a gentler herbicide, which won’t contribute to the larger issue of water contamination.

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The most environmentally friendly way to get rid of weeds is to pull them up, dig out the roots, let them dry in the sun, and then add them to a compost or mulch pile. However, that method can also take quite a bit of time, so if you’re looking for a quicker way to effectively get rid of weeds, one of these homemade herbicides might be the way to go.

Drench with boiling Di-hydrogen monoxide:

This homemade herbicide is by far the simplest to prepare, and unless you happen to spill boiling water on yourself, is also the least harmful to both people and the environment. Simply bring a big pot of dihydrogen monoxide (that’s a fancy way of saying water) to boil on your stove, and then pour it over the leaves and stems of the weeds you wish to get rid of. Using boiling water is an effective method for killing weeds in places such as sidewalk or driveway cracks, or over a larger area that you’d like to replant after the weeds are gone, as it doesn’t leave any residue or have any harmful long-term effects. As with all of these homemade herbicides, it’s still important to only apply it to the plants you wish to get rid of, as they can easily also kill your flowers or vegetable plants.

Light ’em up with fire:

The application of direct heat to the foliage of weeds will cause the plants to immediately wilt, and repeated applications will kill any leaves that may resprout from the roots. A flame-weeder tool is available from home and garden stores, which allows you to apply flame and heat directly to the weeds without catching the whole neighborhood on fire. In fire-prone areas, weeding with flame needs to be done with some extra precautions, as dried weeds and grasses can easily catch fire and get away from you.

Douse with sodium chloride:

Sodium chloride, or common table salt, is an effective herbicide, and has some historical notoriety for possibly being used to lay waste to the soils of conquered peoples (salting the fields prevents plants from growing there). Because salt can have a detrimental effect in the soil, it’s important to only apply it directly to the leaves of the weeds, and to not soak the soil, especially in garden beds with other, more desirable, plants. Dissolve 1 part salt in 8 parts hot water (it can be made stronger, up to 1 part salt to 3 parts water), add a small amount of liquid dish soap (to help it adhere to the leaf surfaces), and pour into a spray bottle. To apply, cover or tie back any nearby plants you don’t want to kill, then spray the leaves of the weeds with the solution. Be careful to not soak the soil, and keep this mixture away from cement sidewalks or driveways (it may discolor them). Multiple applications may be necessary.

Pickle ’em with vinegar:

OK, so it’s not exactly pickling, but by applying this common household item, white vinegar, to weed leaves, they’ll die off and make room in your yard for more desirable plants. The white vinegar sold in grocery stores is about 5% acetic acid, which is usually strong enough for most weeds, although a more industrial strength version (up to 20% acetic acid, which can be harmful to skin, eyes, or lungs) is available in many garden supply stores. The vinegar can be applied by spraying full strength onto the leaves of the weeds, being careful to minimize any overspray on garden plants and nearby soil. Repeated applications may be necessary, and the addition of a little liquid dish detergent may improve the effectiveness of this homemade herbicide.

Season them like chips:

Another common homemade herbicide recipe calls for combining table salt or rock salt with white vinegar (1 cup salt to 1 gallon vinegar), and then spraying this mixture on the foliage of weed plants. Adding liquid soap is said to help the efficacy of this weedkiller, as is the addition of certain oils, such as citrus or clove oil.

Harness up the 20 mule team:

Borax, which is sold as a laundry and cleaning product in many grocery stores, might not actually get transported by a 20 mule team anymore, but it could help lend a hand in the yard as an herbicide. Add 10 ounces of powdered borax to 2.5 gallons of water, mix thoroughly, and use a sprayer to coat the leaves of unwanted weeds in your yard. Keep overspray off of any plants you want to keep, avoid saturating the soil with the solution, and avoid contact with bare skin.