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!

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.

 

3 Air Purifying Plants|Space Gardening

This YOUTUBE image shows images from a Kamal Meattle video, showing plants he uses to clean the air, Areca Palm (L) Sansevierias, commonly known as mother-in-law's tongue or snake plant (centre) and Money Plant. Meattle is an Indian environmental activist and CEO of Paharpur Business centre & Software Technology Incubator Park based in New Delhi, India. Meattle held a talk at TED 2009 entitled How to Grow Your Own Fresh Air.  16JAN15  [25JANUARYY2015 FEATURE POST MAGAZINE]

In today’s growing world, clean and fresh air is getting harder to come by. Due to booming populations and rapidly advancing technologies there is a plethora of products on the market to help make fresh air. However, these products have repeatedly been found to contain chemicals linked to adverse health effects. Here are three plants that you can add in your house to produce clean fresh air the whole day.

The Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus Lutescens)

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This plant takes carbon dioxide and turns it back into oxygen. In addition to producing oxygen and lowering carbon dioxide levels, it also removescertain pollutants from the air helping to produce clean indoor fresh air. Meattle suggests that for one person four shoulder high plants are sufficient. The Areca palm grows well in filtered light and likes to be watered often. For more information on how to take care of the Areca Palm visit SFGate’s page on special care.

Mother-In-Law Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata)

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This is a very common household plant in America. Meattle calls it “The Bedroom Plant,” because it produces oxygen at night. It’s also known as the Snake Plant. It was discovered by NASA to remove Benzene from the air and works in great combination with the other two plants mentioned in Meattle’s TED talk. The Snake plant can sit in full sun light but also does well in dim light. It doesn’t need to be watered very often since it is part of the succulent family.

This is a good plant for the first time plant owner because of its heartiness. Meattle suggests that for one person, six to eight waist high plants are sufficient. OF course just one would help if you don’t want that many. Check out Amazon for a nice selection of starter plants.

Money Plant (Epipremnum aureum)

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While many plants colloquially claim the name “money plant,” this one is a native to the Eastern Hemisphere. If you plan on purchasing one of these make sure to check the scientific name to be sure you’re getting the correct one. This plant has been shown by NASA (along with many others) to remove chemicals and other pollutants from the air. In the trio suggested by Meattle in his TED talk, this one does most of the pollutant removal. This plant enjoys medium, indirect sun light and regular watering. For more information about care check Princeton’s care page. This plant can be propagated from cuttings, so check with friends to see if anyone has one; but of course there’s always Amazon.

WARNING: This plant has also been declared toxic to cats, dogs and children by the ASPCA, so if you have animals or children that like to eat your indoor plants, please do be careful and place this plant away from them, or find an alternative plant to help make fresh air.

10 Easiest Houseplants To Grow|Space Gardening

Here’s some houseplants that  you can grow with little amount of gardening knowledge. Those who love to add green to their house, these plants are the best choice.

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1. Norfolk Island Pine: The secret to keeping Norfolk Island pine healthy is to give it ample light and humidity. In low light, the lower branches may turn brown and fall off. If the air is too dry, it becomes a prime target for spider mites, a common houseplant pest. In its native habitat, Norfolk Island pine can reach 200 feet tall, but don’t worry — indoors, it seldom grows taller than 10 feet.

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2. Peperomia: Peperomias are a diverse group of small houseplants with waxy and often highly textured leaves. Red-edge peperomia (pictured) has a narrow band of red surrounding a wide creamy leaf margin. Other peperomias we love include ripple peperomia, watermelon peperomia, baby rubber plant, and silverleaf peperomia.

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3. Chinese Evergreen: This plant has great foliage; the leaves are punctuated with shades of silver, gray, or shades of green making Chinese evergreen an attractive choice to brighten low-light areas of your home. Take a cue from shopping mall plantings and use Chinese evergreen as a ground cover around an upright, treelike houseplant. Or showcase it alone as a specimen plant.

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4. Grape Ivy: ‘Ellen Danica’, the variety of grape ivy pictured here is often called oakleaf ivy because its leaves are more deeply cut than other types of grape ivy. Regardless of the variety, grape ivy is a vine with tendrils that readily cling to a trellis or stake. It offers shiny, deep green leaves that create a very nice texture.

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5. Dracaena: Don’t confuse this plant with the vegetable of the same name. This beautiful houseplant offers variegated leaves and a single upright stem — so it resembles a decorative corn stalk without the ears. Plant several together in a large container for a fuller appearance.

Here’s a tip: If your corn plant grows too tall, cut back the cane to a foot or two above the soil and new shoots to form below the cut.

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6. Snake Plant: This carefree succulent plant tolerates neglect extremely well. If you’ve had no success with houseplants other than plastic ones, give snake plant a try. In addition to the tall form pictured here, shorter, bird’s-nest forms are available. All types withstand low light but appreciate brighter conditions. The only problem likely to develop is root rot if you overwater the plant.

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7. Philodendron: Heart-leaf philodendron is a durable foliage plant that has long been the backbone of indoor gardening. It has pretty, heart-shape leaves and adapts well to low-light spots. It is often grown with stems trailing over the edge of bookshelves or large pieces of furniture.

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8. Spider Plant: You may remember this from your grandmother’s house; spider plants have been grown for years and are still popular today. Look for a number of varieties — from types with plain green leaves to others that offer foliage marked with cream or white stripes. All make handsome hanging plants that develop plantlets at the ends of arching stems. These babies readily root in water or potting soil to start new plants.

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9. Columnea: Often called goldfish plant because of its bright orange tubular blooms, Columnea has trailing branches that make it an ideal candidate for hanging baskets. The plants are easy to care for and have few insect or disease problems. Flowers appear in the spring and summer, but even when not in bloom the plant still looks great with rich, dark green foliage.

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10. Zeezee Plant: Sometimes called eternity plant because it lasts so long, succulent zeezee plant tolerates low light and neglect. The thick, fleshy leafstalks are so durable that you might even think it’s plastic. It is a slow grower, so purchase a large plant if you want a big specimen. Cut stems remain green and healthy in appearance for several weeks, even without water.