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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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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Up-cycled Garden|Space Gardening

Birdcage Planter

Do you love succulents as much as we do? If so, odds are you will love this birdcage planter. This birdcage planter makes for an easy upcycle. With little more than succulents, a birdcage and soil you can add a splash of greenery to your home or garden. Find out how to make your own birdcage planter!

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Succulents are awesome plants for upcycling as they require little water and can be planted almost anywhere! Pallets, corks and bricks are just some of the succulent-based upcycles we’ve showcased. A few weeks ago we featured a birdcage planter on our Facebook page and the crowd went wild! Happy to please our upcyclers, we immediately went on the hunt for a birdcage to repurpose. We found this turquoise gem at our local flea market. It was looking a little worse for the wear with some loose metal rods. Nonetheless, we thought it would make for a spectacular birdcage planter. So we took it home and got cracking!

How to make a birdcage planter

Once you’ve found your birdcage, give it a good soapy wash with disinfectant. Next determine if you need to give any additional TLC by reinforcing any loose metal rods etc. Once sorted assemble your succulents for use. One of the best things about succulents is that they grow easily from cuttings. If you’re lucky enough to have some big succulent plants in your garden, go ahead and cut some clippings to work with. Otherwise you can pick up some plants from your local nursery.

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The next thing we did was affix our birdcage base to the metal top. We thought of numerous possibilities for this and settled upon the simple solution of plastic zip ties. Our plastic base had a couple slits on each side so it was easy to slip the zip ties in and secure through the metal rods. If your base doesn’t have any slits you might have to create some or come up with an alternative method of affixing it. We attached one side first so that we were able to plant comfortably.

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We then filled the base of our birdcage planter with soil. Because there was an open slot on one side of the plastic base we reinforced the area with a bit of landscaping fabric. This allowed our soil to stay contained. We then started filling our birdcage planter with succulents.

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Once the inside of our planter was filled we closed it up. We then secured the second side of the birdcage planter with plastic zip ties. Now working from the outside in, we started adding some accent succulents to the outer sides of the planter.

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Satisfied our birdcage planter was complete we hung it up using a ceiling hook.

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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.

Indoor Crocus Bulb|Space Gardening

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Crocus flowers are among the first to herald spring, sometimes popping their bright blooms through the snow. Fortunately, we don’t have to wait till spring to enjoy these glorious flowers. Growing crocus indoors is easy to do by forcing them into bloom mid-winter. Start the process in fall — October is an ideal time. A crocus bulb is actually a corm. Corms produce beautiful cup-shaped blooms in purple, lavender, white or yellow — plain or striped — each with a bright orange stigma. All have slender, upright leaves that are green and white striped.

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Crocuses need a cold treatment for 12 weeks to bloom. If you bought pre-chilled corms, you can skip this step.

  1. Choose a shallow pot (at least 3 in/7 cm deep) with drainage holes in the bottom. Fill the pot loosely with potting mix. Set several corms side by side — close but not touching — pointed end up. Set corms so that their tips are even with pot rim. Do not press the corms into the mix. It should be loose so the roots can grow through it easily. Cover with additional potting mix until just barely covered.
  2. Water thoroughly and discard drainage.
  3. Move pot to a dark, cool, but not freezing, (40°F/4°C) location such as a basement, unheated garage or refrigerator. Avoid storing corms near ripening fruit or vegetables which give off ethylene gas which can damage the corms. Keep them in cold storage for about 12 weeks. Keep the medium barely moist.
  4. When shoots reach about 2 in (5 cm) tall, bring the pot out of cold storage and place it in a slightly warmer (50°F/10°C) location with low light intensity. Over the next few days, gradually move it toward a sunny window. Turn the pot every day for even growth. When in full bloom, keep crocuses in a bright location out of direct sun to prolong the bloom.

Crocus Care Tips

crocus, crocus bulbs, crocus flowersOrigin: Hybrids with corms originating from Europe, North Africa and Asia

Height: Up to 8 in (20 cm)

Light: Keep in a dark location during cold treatment. Cover pot with a box, pot or black garbage bag if necessary. After shoots appear, move to bright light with some direct sun as directed above.

Water: Water sparingly until growth appears, then water enough to keep soil evenly moist. Flowering plants are thirsty, so check them often.

Humidity: Average room humidity.

Temperature: Cool to average (40-60°F/6-16°C)

Soil: Any good potting mix.

Fertilizer: Feed monthly with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted by half from planting until start of blooming. Do not fertilize while plants are in bloom.

Propagation: Corms will not bloom a second time indoors. They do produce offsets, but they take a few years to mature. If you want to keep them, allow the foliage to die back naturally, then store them in a cool, dry place. Plant the corms in your flower garden in the fall and let Mother Nature take care of them. They’ll bloom when they’re ready.

 

Mailbox Makeover|Space Gardening

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A small garden around the base always adds curb appeal to a traditional wooden or metal post mailbox. Keep in mind that whatever you plant in your mailbox garden needs to be hardy since this area of the yard is often subjected to people walking their dogs, storm-water runoff, street salt from winter snow, traffic fumes and other less garden-friendly factors. At the same time, you don’t want to plant something sharp and spiky, like a yucca that could injure someone (like your mail carrier) or scratch car surfaces.

Vines
Flowering climbing vines can be an ideal natural decoration for the mailbox and Callahan singles out clematis as a favorite choice because it is a “super simple, easy bang-for-your-buck. The only issue is if they do well in that spot, they will require a little bit of maintenance because they grow quickly and you do need to tie them up so they don’t cover the mailbox.” ‘Albina Plena’ ,‘Blue Dancer’ and ‘Pink Flamingo’ are all good examples of winter-hardy, disease-resistant clematis.

Depending on the climate zone where you live, here are some other suggestions for flowering vines:

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  • Carolina jasmine (Gelsemium sempervirens) has evergreen leaves and produces trumpet-shaped flowers that are strongly scented and attract pollinators.

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  • The sweet pea vine (Lathyrus latifolus) produces flowers that look like tiny orchids and attracts butterflies and bees.

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  • The morning glory loves full sun, blooms all summer long and makes an ideal climber for walls, trellises and mailboxes with “Sunspots’ and ‘Heavenly Blue’ as two popular cultivars.

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  • The black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata) is a striking ornamental plant that typically produces orange flowers with dark centers and grows well in southern regions of the U.S. such as Texas and Florida.

 

Mailbox with Purple Flowers

Annuals
Callahan recommends petunias “around the mailbox base if you want that constant pop of color.” Some homeowners might do a single annual color scheme for their mailbox garden, as with petunias which can make quite a pleasing visual impact in a mass planting. Other hardy, colorful annuals to consider are marigolds, vinca, portulaca, coleus and zinnias.

Perennials
The beauty of perennials, of course, is that they come back seasonally and require less maintenance than annual plantings. Callahan, who resides in the Chicago area, suggests lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantine), a dense, low-growing, drought-resistant plant with white, woolly foliage.

“A good one that is green and variegated is lilyturf,” she states. “Another favorite is called threadleaf coreopsis and it is bright yellow. That’s particularly pretty with a combination of a salvia, so you’d have the purple with the bright yellow.”

You can find some tips about choosing plants for mailbox gardening following this video.

Pond In Patio|Space Gardening

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Have you had your eye on an expensive water feature for your back yard patio? Water features are a great way to add visual interest to your back yard, and can help provide a calming oasis for you and your family to relax next to after a long day. Water features, however, don’t have to be expensive or labor intensive. With a few items from your local home improvement store, you can make a patio container pond in less than an hour.

mini-ponds-patio-tableThings you will need:

  • Any tublike container
  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) flexible liner in 20 mil thickness
  • Dechlorinator (available at any aquatic store)
  • Large stone or glass objects to add character
  • Water plants
  • Water creatures

 

Instructions:

1.  Go to your local home improvement store or pond supply and purchase a small pump and spray head to take it with you when you choose your pots. Examine your pump and spray head to see if you will need  glue to keep them together.

2.  Choose a large pot (with no holes in the bottom) for the exterior of your pond. You can use a large plastic container, but clay pots are beautiful and makes a big difference in the overall look of your pond.

3.  Choose a second, smaller pot that fits upside down in the bottom of the large pot.  This will be where you set the pump.  You want the pump under water, with the sprayer above the surface of the water.

4.  In the garden section, choose several inexpensive water plants. We chose several that were only a couple of dollars each. One has a purple flower on it, and another one looks like a miniature head of lettuce.

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*Goldfish are fun to add to container ponds.  You can buy them at pond supply stores, but they are cheaper at your local pet store. We bought some “feeder” fish for .15 each.Be sure to pick up some food while you’re there.

5.  To assemble the pond, place your large pot on your patio somewhere near an electrical outlet so you can plug it in. Next place the smaller pot upside down in the center of the large pot.

6.  Attach your sprayer to the pump. If necessary, seal them together with glue. Place the pump upright on top of the small pot.

7.  Fill the large pot with water. We filled ours about 3/4 full. You just want the pump to be underwater and the sprayer to be above the surface of the water.

8.  Arrange your plants in the water, and plug in the pump to make sure everything is working correctly.

*If you chose to add fish, float them in the bags for at least a few hours to acclimate them to the new temperature and allow the sprayer to eliminate any chlorine from the water.  Last but not least, open the bags and add your fish.

Here’s a video link  you can follow to learn the basics of patio pond.

That’s it, enjoy your work of art!