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.
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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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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!

Different Styles Of Japanese Garden|Space Gardening

You have made a good choice if you want to have a Japanese garden. Japanese gardening has been quite popular for the last few years and it is well known for the peacefulness and calmness that it can offer. In this gardening tips blog post, we are going to look at various styles of Japanese garden which you can incorporate into your current garden design.

Although there are different styles for Japanese gardens, your creativity and innovation will always come into play as you are free to combine or innovate some of the styles. Adding creativity into planning and setting up a garden always helps you to have your own unique garden that others will admire.

Japanese Garden Style 1: Zen Garden

Boulders of various sizes, gravel, sand and rocks are some of the elements that form a Zen garden. The plant that they use for this type of garden are normally small trees or shrubs. Zen gardens are designed to be dry. Boulders represent islands and the sand and gravel are drawn with some patterns on them to represent water.

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Originated from Buddhist monks, Zen gardens aim to provide the space for meditation as well as contemplation. If you are interested in some form of self healing arts such as yoga, a Zen garden is definitely the type of garden that you should have.

Japanese Garden Style 2: Tea Garden

Tea garden is the most important chapter in explaining Japanese gardening. Tea garden is normally being integrated within a Japanese garden because it would be odd to have a garden with just tea plants. There should be an outer garden and an inner garden when designing a Japanese tea garden.

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The outer garden will have a low gate with a path that leads to the inner garden. Plants in the outer garden are less formal as well. Tea ceremony is normally held between the gardens where a basin called tsubakai is found. Non flowering plants are normally used for tea gardens. In traditional Japanese environment, people will also have a building within the inner garden for tea ceremony purposes.

Japanese Garden Style 3: Island and Pond Garden

There are two types of pond garden. One will cover a large landscape with a pond that is big enough to fit in a boat. Bridges are sometimes incorporated into these gardens and bushes are planted on small islands created for the garden. The elements that can be included in such gardens are rocks, logs, lilies and other water living plants.

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Another type of pond garden will be the ordinary concept of designing a pond for your garden. Japanese style pond gardens often have features such as miniature buildings and bonsai trees around the pond. You can always start rearing Japanese Koi fish in the pond to add in more Japanese flavor to your garden.

Japanese Garden Style 4: Stroll Garden

A stroll garden simply means a garden that offers various paths where visitors can enjoy their time strolling though the garden.

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The practicability of this type of garden is extremely low as you are required to have a large yard in order to create an impressive stroll garden with a wide array of features.

Japanese Garden Style 5: Courtyard Garden

If you already have an existing garden where you would like to have some Japanese style, you can consider a courtyard garden. A courtyard garden is also suitable for those who have a small land for gardening activities. Bricks or fences are used to draw a border between a courtyard garden and the rest of the landscape.

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Keeping things simple is a golden rule of designing a courtyard garden. It often consists of a dry stream, miniature plants such as perennial plants and of course, small water features. A courtyard garden is simply an eye candy when seen from your house.

Growing Bamboo In Container|Space Gardening

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Bamboo In Containers

Bamboo grown in beautiful ornamental pots or containers can look quite stunning. The combination of sizes, textures, colours and shapes to go with your bamboo is limitless. Growing in pots gives flexibility in manoeuvring in the garden, patio or balcony. Because the pot itself is a barrier, there is no need to be concerned of bamboo taking over the garden. Because bamboo achieves tall heights in small growing spaces, it is very ideal for those balconies/patios with tight spaces.

Most species of bamboo can be grown in pots or containers. However, care and maintenance can potentially be more involved depending on the species and pot sizes chosen.

As with any plant (not just bamboo), they all eventually outgrow their pots and their roots become ‘root bound’. For bamboo, some species grow much more vigoriously than others and therefore will get root bound much quicker. If bamboo remains root bound for too long, it will suffer as there are no more nutrients for the roots to seek out. Leaves do not grow as green or dense. New shoots do not emerge as often and the new culms do not grow as thick or tall. For this reason, bamboo will need to either be re-potted or divided.

Choosing a Bamboo For Your Container

Choosing a bamboo for your container is quite similar to choosing a bamboo for your garden. You will need to know the amount of sunlight or shade your desired location will get. Most importantly, choose a bamboo that is cold hardy enough for your location. Is the bamboo for a privacy screen? If so, how tall or dense? The Bamboo Species section will list the hardiness, light tolerance and growth characteristics.

Running Bamboos will generally give the best height (if that is the objective). Because they are running bamboos, their roots are much more vigorous growing and will get root bound much sooner.

Clumping Bamboos do not grow as aggressively and therefore will generally last much longer in pots before they get root bound and need repotting. Generally, most clumping Bamboos will not achieve the heights that a running bamboo would in a similar sized container.

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Repotting Bamboo

When a containerized bamboo gets root bound, it will either need to be re-potted into a bigger container or it can be divided and replenished with fresh new soil. If dividing, the best time is either in Fall or Winter. Disturbing the root balls during the active growing seasons (Spring and Summer) may potentially destroy the bamboo. Re-potting into a larger pot can be done anytime of the year. Care needs to be taken to not disturb the root ball if this is done during the Spring or Summer months.

Dividing and repotting bamboo may sound discouraging to some, but it is a fairly simple task and only needs to be done every 3 – 5 years (depending on species and size of pot). One has to trim trees, branches and mow the lawn on a regular basis. So if you compare this to repotting bamboo once every few years, it is not much more effort in the bigger picture.

Winter Protection For Potted Bamboo (for extreme cold areas)

Although most potted bamboos will survive a typical winter here in the Pacific Northwest, precautions should be taken during extreme freezes.

As with most potted plants, bamboo in containers are much more susceptible to cold temperatures. Because potted bamboo is not in the ground, it does not get the benefit of a natural water supply in the moist winter soil. It also does not have the insulation effect of the soil surrounding the roots during winter. The root system in a pot is very vulnerable to freezing. In areas of extreme cold, wrapping the pot in insulating material such as burlap or moving it indoors is recommended. A regular watering routine will help make sure the roots receive enough water throughout the winter. Mulching will also help prevent freezing to the root ball. See Mulching Bamboo.

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Potted Bamboo During Hot Temperatures

Bamboo grown in containers are also sensitive to hot temperatures and strong winds. Hot temperatures and winds evaporate moisture quicker. Potted bamboo does not have the benefit of moisture deeper in the soil to maintain a water supply during extreme heat. During summertime, potted bamboos need watering every other day and more often during extreme heat periods.

Bamboo Growth In Pots

The size of the root ball is directly related to the size of the bamboo. The bigger the root ball, the bigger the bamboo. The smaller the root ball, the smaller the bamboo. Because the growing area in pots is limited, the growth potential of bamboo is also limited. This translates to much shorter bamboos with thinner canes when grown in pots. Bamboo grown in pots will never reach the sizes of the same species grown in the ground. If tall and thick canes is the objective, then getting the biggest possible pot will give the best potential for size.

Pots For Bamboo

When choosing a pot for bamboo, always choose something that is low profile or squats lower to the ground. Ideally, the pot should be wider than it is deep. Because bamboo is a tall plant, it is easier for wind to tip it over in a taller or light pot. Putting gravel or rocks at the bottom of a pot will make it bottom heavy and will less likely be blown over.

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Bamboo For Privacy

Bamboo is the perfect choice for a fast growing hedge as they are very dense and bushy. Many people think that bamboo hedges are hard to maintain. The bamboos that we use for hedging are all non-invasive clumping type. This means that your screening does not spread out under ground but stays growing in the same spot, so your hedge does not affect the neighbors or the rest of your yard but keeps you private. These Non-invasive clumping bamboo hedges come in all size and can be grown to suit your situation. Bamboo Gracilis is the most popular garden/fence screening or hedging plant. The right Bamboos in large pots is a good mobile screen for you deck or around your swimming pool, move them to where you need them. Bambusa ventricosa Budda Belly,Bambusa ventricosa Kimie yellow Buddy Belly and Bambusa vulgaris wamin Buddy Belly are the best Bamboos to grow in pots. Other species will also grow in pots, but will need a lot of care.

Smoke Bush|Space Gardening

Growing Smoke Trees In Your Garden

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Have you ever seen a smoke tree (European, Cotinus coggygria/American, Cotinus obovatus)? Growing smoke trees is something people do to make great looking shrub borders or even just as a pretty patio or accent tree in a front yard garden. When in full bloom, they have gorgeous reddish brown or dark mauve feathery flowers that make the tree look like a puff of smoke.

Planting smoke trees is easy enough. These trees make a great landscaping addition to most front yards. A lot of people prefer to use them as accent trees similar to the Japanese maple. When the smoke tree blooms, it makes a great accent.

Planting smoke trees throughout the border of your yard is another excellent idea for a pretty border that separates your yard from your neighbor’s that both you and your neighbor will enjoy.

Tips for Growing Smoke Trees

If you are planting smoke trees in your yard, you will want to know how to grow a smoke tree. This is simple enough. Purchase a good tree from your local garden center. They grow well in a high pH soil and should be located where they can get full sun or partial shade; however, they do prefer full sun and will bloom at their best in full sun.

When the smoke tree blooms, it is a beautiful tree. The puff of smoke that is the flowers will last most of the summer before it starts to fall off and fade for fall foliage. Again, the smoke tree blooms are like feathery, fuzzy flowers and look like a beautiful cloud of smoke.

Growing smoke trees is easy but you should be careful not to damage the bark. The bark is thin and easily damaged. Therefore, be careful not to hit it with a lawnmower or other gardening equipment while gardening. Weed whackers can also do harm, so again, use caution.

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Pruning a Smoke Tree

The plant will also droop as it gets larger, so pruning your growing smoke trees is very important. Wait until late fall or early spring to do so after the tree is done blooming. You don’t want to stop the tree from blooming as the smoke tree blooms are the best part of the tree.

Pruning your smoke tree will make sure it grows up strong. Further, keeping the soil alkaline should help your tree be healthy as well. You can get food for the tree or treatments for the soil if you feel you need them from your local garden center.