The Bonsai plant

Every once and a while we all think or try to grow a plant in our life, whether a flower, tree, or even a vegetable. It may have been for the reason passion, interest or school project.

One type of plant that grabbed my interest is the bonsai plant. Majority of the most stunning houses I have been to was or is decorated with a bonsai plant.

I often compliment the bonsai plant that I see and ask what type of bonsai they have. My interest in bonsai plants truly gives a few points to start an appealing conversation to its owners.

Small facts that I share with bonsai owners that they may or may not know about:

  1. Just like other trees the bonsai plant can grow very old. Some bonsai plants have already grown more the 500 years old, four of the oldest bonsai plant can be found in Japan.
  2. Watering your bonsai plant in not really difficult, all you have to look out for is the soil around it.  Once the soil is slightly dry this means it’s time to water your bonsai plant. You should not water your bonsai if the soil is still wet.
  3. Plants can also feel stress whenever you interfere with its usual movement. Meaning, we should not repot or move the plant whenever it’s going through a phase like when it’s blooming a flower or growing a fruit otherwise the plant may get stressed out and stop growing or worse die after the repotting.

Having these three simple yet useful and interesting facts sometimes merits me a few amazed friends on what I know. It even helped me to avert an unwanted topic one time just by talking about what I know about the bonsai plant.

I remember having my first bonsai plant a few years back. It was being sold on the sidewalk and I just wanted to buy one to help purify the oxygen inside the house. I now have at least 15 bonsai plants inside the house as part of my decoration in the living room, kitchen and my backyard garden.

It is a good thing to have and look at whenever I feel that I need to think or want a clear mind. I encourage anyone who is looking for a hobby or wants a pet but can’t have one. Plants are very wonderful things to have inside your house.  They will make you feel fresh just by looking at them.

Another way to keep your air fresh is to have your carpets cleaned. Try calling Done Right, they always do a great job.


Chrysanthemums

(Chrysanthemum morifolium) from China and C.indicum from China and Japan are the parents of most of the plants known to American growers as mums and in Europe and Australia as chrysanths. They are grown as pot plants and used as cut flowers for table arrangements, bridal bouquets and for spectacular flower displays both indoors and out. Flowering can be timed by regulating the day length, making blooms possible every month.

Colors offered are white, bronze, yellow, red, maroon and lavender pink, with pastel shades of each.

Flower form is varied. There are pompons with globe-shaped, compact flowers, some with flat, fluted or quilled ray florets. Disbudded pompons measure up to five inches in diameter. The smallest button pompons in colors mainly white and yellow are less than 1 ½ inches across.

  • Single and daisy types come in all sizes and forms.
  • Cushion types have tiered ray florets. Their dwarf growing habit makes them fine for potting.
  • Anemone-flowered plants have one or more layers of ray florets and a large raised center disk.
  • Spider chrysanthemums have curling tubular ray florets with ends shaped like a fishhook.

Fancy are Japanese types, which are rather shaggy in appearance. There are also feathery flowers that are carnationlike with cupped or twisted ray florets.

Hardy varieties sold as pot plants can be set outdoors to give flowers again in the autumn. It is well known that not all varieties sold are hardy. Only a few varieties cultured as florists’ chrysanthemums are hardy to northern latitudes (check with your florist). When flowers have faded, cut the foliage back to about four inches and, as soon as the freezing weather is gone, plant outdoors.

Plant in a sunny location with a well-drained, well-prepared bed of garden soil. Addition of a complete garden fertilizer like a 5-10-5 is desirable. In hot climates protection from afternoon sun should be considered. Well-rooted cuttings can be planted directly in the garden bed. Vigorous single-stem sections are made when dividing a clump. Use the outside of the clump, discarding the woody centers. A second and third application of fertilizer during the growing season is beneficial. However, the last application applied two to three weeks before blooming, using a low-nitrogen type, will produce better quality flowers.

Pinch top growth when stems are five to six inches high to promote lateral growth. Select from one to four for continued growth. Continue pinching all shoots reaching a five to six inches. In areas of early frost pinching should cease by mid-July.

If large blooms are desired, begin disbudding when buds are large enough to handle. Remove all flower buds except on two per flower cluster; allow these to develop.

Plants not hardy enough to live over winter can be dug up, potted and moved indoors for late fall flowering. Grow as cool as possible. Give full exposure to sun and keep potting mix moist. Cuttings are made from suckers which sprout from the base of the plant, are rooted in peat, sand or vermiculite. Pot them up, moving to larger pots as needed. The short days of winter will naturally initiate buds, and flowering may take place February or March. Grow in a room about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Give full sun days but long night of darkness. Do not expose the plants to any light during the night if you want flowers.

Home care for lasting quality of a potted chrysanthemum is the same as for most florist flowering plants. Provide bright light not but not direct sun. Keep the temperature at night at least 10 degrees lower than in the daytime. Water daily, if needed, to keep pot moist.

San Antonio Residential Hardscaping Experts DONE RIGHT thanks you for your loyalty!


Orchids as House Plants

Orchids can no longer be considered difficult to grow, provided that certain basic principles are followed. While the variety of shapes and colors may initially bewilder the home grower, he should make his first plant purchases from among the species and hybrids within the genera Paphiopedilum, Phalaenopsis, Cattleya, Miltonia and Oncidium. Orchid plants may be obtained from numerous nurseries at a reasonable cost today.

The following orchids have all been flowered repeatedly under home conditions by orchid growers everywhere. All require low to medium light intensities and a predominantly intermediate temperature range with a 40-50 percent relative humidity. Maintain the proper humidity in a windowsill collection by placing plants on a wire-mesh platform above a bed of pebbles kept continually wet. The evaporation of the water will create a suitable microclimate, particularly if a small, oscillating fan blows across the surface of the water. Ventilation is equally important. Orchids should have fresh air on all but the coldest of days. Avoid extreme hot or cold drafts directly on the plants.

A large, fluorescent light set-up—a plant cart or benches built in the cellar or study—can duplicate greenhouse conditions. Enclose the entire area in clear plastic sheeting and install a small home humidifier.

LIGHT: Diffused, indirect sunlight is essential for orchids. Any window exposure except directly north will be suitable. The main light categories are: high—nearly direct sunlight; medium—early morning or late afternoon sunlight; low—shaded conditions. Orchids also flower successfully under a bank of four 40-watt fluorescent tubes. Summer your orchids out of doors, in relatively shaded conditions, if possible.

TEMPERATURE: The main temperature ranges are warm-75 degrees day, 65 degrees night; intermediate-70 degrees day, 60 degrees night; cool-65 degrees day, 55 degrees night. A five-to 10-degree drop in temperature at night is critical for good flowering. Many orchids, however, will grow well in more than one temperature range.

MOISTURE: Most orchids are epiphytes; their roots, in nature, are quickly dried by the winds. Such orchids as Cattleya, Oncidium and Miltonia should approach dryness prior to watering. Terrestrial orchids such as Paphiopedilum or moisture-loving ones such as Phalaenopsis require some moisture at all times at their roots. This does not mean a soggy medium!

PROPAGATION: Orchids may be started from seed, using the asymbiotic culture method (without fungus fertilization) in an agar medium in a sterile environment. However because special equipment is required, this method is not usually practiced by home growers. Most orchids take four to six years from seed before they reach flowering size. Orchids may also be divided, as shown in the illustrations. Keep all cutting tools sterile by flaming after each cut.

Certain orchids may also produce “keikis” or offsets, which may be potted once they have produced their own root system.

POTTING: Various potting media are available at greenhouse supply firms. Fir bark in varying grades is used, often in combination with perlite and sphagnum moss. The dense roots of Osmunda fern may also be used, but water sparingly.

Orchids should be reported when the old medium has decayed, when the newest growth reaches outside the pot, or if the root system is unhealthy. Report while the orchid is in active growth, usually as it is producing a new set of roots.

Clay or plastic pots are used for most orchids, although some species may grow better on cork or tree fern slabs.

FERTILIZER: Though nutrient requirements vary within the orchid family, most orchids require less fertilizer than other plants. A water-soluble fertilizer that balances the nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and has trace elements, applied in dilute solution once a month, is adequate for home culture. Orchids in active vegetative growth utilize fertilizer; those in a dormant or resting stage require none. Apply all fertilizers sparingly.

INSECTS: Orchids, like other plants, have their share of insect pests, even in the home. The rare attacks of fungus or of mealy bugs, aphids or scale insects, can be remedied with a combination spray of Benlate (fungicide) and Melathion (insecticide). Use all pesticides and fungicides with extreme caution.

REMARKS: in summation, give most orchids good but diffused light, water them well but do not permit the medium to become soggy, and provide a five-to-ten-degree drop in temperature at night. Orchids are normally very vigorous plants and will flourish with a minimum of care.


A Potful of Pansies

With their colorful flowers and cat’s whisker faces, pansies are the stuff of childhood gardens. But the appeal of these amiable plants reaches far beyond the novice gardener.

The fact that they are easy to grow, undiscerning about site or soil and immune to most pests and diseases makes pansies and their close relatives, the violas, a must for every pot, plot and window box.

Pansies need very little introduction-even those of you with nothing more than a window box will probably have grown them at some time. You might not be so well acquainted, though, with their close relatives the violas, or the fact that both belong to a group of plants which also includes our common little woodland plant-the violet.

PANSIES have the largest flowers of the group-most of them with the familiar dark blotch in the center of the petals-and are generally grown as an annual or at best a biennial. You will find the flowers becoming smaller as the season progresses and eventually the plants will have exhausted themselves and become quite straggly. You can sometimes prolong their lives by cutting the stems back to about an inch from the base of the plant, which encourages them to grow and flower again. But essentially their flowering life is over.

However, there’s no need to worry too much about their demise as pansies are prolific self-seeders and you’ll usually find a few seedlings coming up elsewhere in the garden. To ensure that this happens, leave one or two of the distinctive three-pronged seed capsules to develop after the flowers have died. Otherwise you should keep picking off the fading flowers and their stalks to encourage more flower growth and to stop the plant from looking too leggy. Pansy seeds will also germinate quite easily in compost and, although you will rarely reproduce the color of the parent plant, this makes the process all the more intriguing.

VIOLAS look very similar to pansies but have a more compact habit, produce more abundant and smaller flowers and are mostly perennial. Many bear flowers of just one color, but there are others which are bi-colored with the two top petals a contrasting shade to the three lower ones. You are less likely to find violas at the garden center but there are plenty of specialist nurseries around who can supply them by mail order. These dainty relatives of the pansy are well worth growing as they have all the pansy’s good points with the added bonus that, provided they are in a favorable position, they will grow and spread each year.

THE IDEAL SITE for both plants is somewhere they can have their roots in a cool moist soil and their tops in the sun. They’ll be quite happy, though, in the dappled shade of larger shrubs, which is why they’re often used for under planting with roses. The compact shape of violas makes them particularly good for edging borders and paths, and both pansies and violas have been traditionally used over the years for filling in the spaces of a knot garden or a parterre edged with box hedging.

FOR CONTAINER GROWING use a proprietary potting compost which will provide enough food for your plants for about six weeks. After this, give them a balanced liquid feed once a week throughout the growing season. Both violas and pansies can be grown in containers, but it’s a shame to limit the violas’ spreading potential, and the larger-flowered pansies tend to make more of a show. In either case, make sure your container has good drainage-plants can suffer from root rot if they are waterlogged.

PROBLEMS when growing pansies and violas are rare, but do look out for aphids and red spider mite, both of which are likely to strike when the weather is hot and dry, and especially if your plants are under stress through lack of water. The only other common pests are the grubs of the vine weevil. This hatch from eggs laid in the compost or surrounding soil eats their way through plant root systems. The first sign is usually a limp and flagging plant, and eventually it will simply come away at the base minus its roots.


Your Garden in November

Make the last cuts of the lawn when the weather is mild and dry; rake off any fallen leaves, dampen them and store in a plastic bag to make leaf mould for next year.

Pick late-season apples and store them carefully; dry, or cook and freeze the windfalls.

Test your greenhouse or conservatory theater; replace any malfunctioning parts or have the equipment serviced if necessary.

Make late-season garden visits (it’s often cheaper, less crowded and rewarding) and note shrubs with good autumn foliage for planting now or next year.

Leave parsnips in the ground as their flavor is improved by a few early frosts.


Planting Bulbs

Select bulbs that are quite firm with no sign of rot or mould, and keep them in a cool, dry place until you’re ready to plant them.

Use a small trowel or a gardener’s bulb planter to excavate a hole. It should be a bit more than twice as deep as the depth of the bulb. Loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole and add some sharp sand to the bottom of it. If you have heavy clay soil, you should loosen the soil around the hole as well as at the bottom. Place the bulb (or corn) to the required depth. If you are planting in drifts in turf, plant in a naturalistic way, not in straight rows.

Replace the soil on top of the bulb and then firm it down gently.


Light Up Your Garden with Bulbs

As the air chills deliciously and the first frost touches the ground, the gardener has to learn to look in two directions at once. Immediately outside, the glamour of autumn can be complemented by the colors and textures of late-season bulbs such as crocuses and colchicums. Yet, while we enjoy this finale, we must look ahead to next year’s new bulbs, for this is also the time for planting daffodils, snowdrops and tulips for the spring.

Many people don’t think of autumn as a time for bulbs to be in flower, but there are, in fact, a select number of easily grown and manageable ones such as colchicums that are well worth investigating.

I like to plant the pink colchicum speciosum in grass; the strappy leaves that appear in spring to replenish the fat bulbs can be safely and quite attractively allowed to bunch unobtrusively among naturalized spring-flowering wildflowers, then all the grass can be mown after everything has died back.

Colchicum speciosum “Waterlily” explodes into an astonishing burst of dark mauve petals, but the intricately marked Colchicum agrippinum, with its mottled-pink subtlety, is my favorite-although it is slightly less robust, so it will need a good site.

Strictly speaking, colchicums should be planted from earliest autumn when the bulbs start coming into the shops, but there is plenty of nourishment in their large bulbs, so if you can still find any on sale, it’s worth planting them and seeing what happens in a few weeks’ time-and in almost every case you will be rewarded.

Autumn crocuses such as Crocus speciosus, which is robust and reliable with lilac-blue flowers strongly veined in purple and the softer-colored Crocus pulchellus, all flower late, often in bloom well into November. They also naturalize well and, in my view, are at their best in the grass under trees, where their sweet-smelling flowers attract bees and hoverflies on sunny days. There are many good and equally hardly varieties, such as the white “Albus”, and the deep blue “Conqueror”.

Looking ahead to spring, the most exciting flowers to plant this autumn are undoubtedly tulips because bulb specialists are now selling exceptional varieties. To celebrate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first exotic tulips in northern Europe, growers are busy producing different tulip styles from earliest times up to the latest available. I have a particular affection for the delectable pink-splashed white tulips known as Tulipa clusiana, named after Charles Clusius, the Dutch gardener who created a sensation when he introduced tulips into the botanical gardens at Leiden.

Over the past few years, there has been a rising tide of interest in early tulips and it’s well worth learning more about how and where to place them in the garden. I find it heartening that some of those tulips that delighted gardeners so many centuries ago are now available once more, and still have the power to move us. Tulips that are species, or very close to the original species, are slender and rather dainty, but quite hardy and grow well in a fertile, well-drained bed, preferably in a sunny position.

As well as clusiana there are starry yellow Tulipa tarda, which open their flowers very wide to expose their bright throats, and the beautiful milky-yellow Tulipa clusiana chrysanta, which has soft bronzed coloration to the outside of its petals. Also creamy yellow, the larger flowers of the batalini group of tulips tone softly with the grey-green of their foliage, especially in “Bronze charm”, which is lightly streaked with red-bronze markings.

Tulips that dramatically produce several flowers on one stem were favorites in the 17th century and are still much sought after (I often get enquiries about them from readers). These include Tulipa praestans “Fusilier”, which has fiery flowers hat look especially attractive grouped on a raised bed-for example, on a rockery or sloping bank.

The gold-colored tulip “General de wet”, which I grow both for its color and for its sweet, citrus scent, is another very old tulip variety. I love this along with the other yellows and oranges (such as the big-flowered “Golden Apeldoorn”, bright yellow “Bellona” and the orange multi-flower Orange Bouquet) among fresh, green spring foliage. The best combination for pinks I have so far achieved juxtaposes the stripy-leaved “New design” and pink and green variety of Tulipa viridiflora, Greenland, with the tumultuous, pink cow-parsely Chaerophyllm hirsutum roseum.

While tulips can be planted at leisure up until late November (they actually benefit from late planting), other spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils, fritillaries (both the snake’s head and the imposing crown imperials), the twinkling daisy-flowered anemone blanda and snowdrops should be planted without delay. All will do well in pots and naturalize well.

Pots are important when experimenting with new tulips and daffodils-I often use them to try out a new variety, planting it out in the garden afterwards if I like it. This way you can observe them closely, and assess their color and height before you decide on integrating them into your garden scheme. It also provides you with an opportunity to experiment with unusual colors and shapes. The 10 browny-orange “Prinses Irene” I planted in a terracotta pot last year was a great success, and of the daffodils, I’d go for the bright gold but dainty “Alliance” and the paler “Quail”.

In pots, you can plant the bulbs close to each other (but not touching), and in several layers, in a good compost to make a dense, brilliant show. Rather than muddling different colors and types of plant, I find the most striking effects come from planting one variety all together, but I then move the pots around frequently, arranging them for best effect.