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.

Allium giganteum

Allium giganteum

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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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.

Root bound bamboo removed from pot

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.

Basics Of Gardening|Space Gardening

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Planting a garden can be a wonderful hobby. Gardening is a great gentle physical activity that can help older people and people with chronic degenerative conditions stay active and healthy. Gardening is also a great way for active, busy, and very stressed out people to take some time to relax and get back in touch with nature. Gardening is a fabulous family activity and lets parents spend some quality time with their kids while teaching their kids about nature and how to be ecologically responsible. Here’s some tips for beginners on gardening:

Make sure the soil is rich

One significant step considered on planting tips for beginners is before you even start planting, the soil should have been prepared already.  Till the soil and add compost to it so that it will be rich and ready for planting. Preparing the soils should be done as early as 6 weeks before planting. So if you are planning to plant annuals that grow best under the heat of the summer, start preparing the soil as early as the last sign of frost is gone.

Prepare and loosen the soil

The soil on which you will be planting should be loose. Not as loose enough as sand but just right so that the roots will be able to grown and penetrate further than the topsoil.

In most farms, the soil is ploughed but in the garden you can loosen the topsoil by tilling it. It is also a good way to aerate the soil. It is easier to plant when the ground is not impacted. Plants will have difficulty growing when they still have to penetrate through impacted ground.

Spray, dig and plant

Even if the soil has already been prepared for several weeks, it should be a bit damped. So spray the ground with water using a garden hose before putting in the seeds or seedlings. One important aspects of planting tips for beginners is to remember that the hole wherein you are going to plant  your seedlings should be as deep as its original container so that the plant will not have a hard time adjusting in its new environment.

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Mulch

As part of the planting tips for beginners, after planting, protect your plant by mulching its surrounding area with dried leaves to prevent the soil from drying up under the heat of the sun. This is very important since your seedling is still adjusting to its new environment. Some types of mulch also give nutrient to the plants.

Keep away from pests and disease

New plants are vulnerable to attacks by insects and pest. The most cost-effective of warding them off is by wiping the leaves with vinegar. It drives away insects and it makes the plant more resistant to fungi too. This is very crucial because at this point the energy of the plant must be focused on growing instead of fighting off plant diseases.

Don’t drown the plant

A lot of us are guilty of flooding our plants with too much water. This is actually the most common cause of plant mortality. Planting tips for beginners teaches you to always use sprinkler when watering your plants. Spray but do not pour. Just make the soil damp so that your plant will not drown.