How to grow White Sage

White Sage, scientifically called Salvia Apiana, is a plant that is mostly found in the high desert ecosystems. The plantation of white sage is common in Mountain West and California. It is also known as sacred sage and bee sage.

It has been, for centuries, considered a cleansing, purifying, sacred, and protective plant. A refreshing aroma is released when the long, leathery whitish-green leaves of white sage are rubbed between the thumb and the forefinger.

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Native Americans have been using this plant to ward off negative energy and evil spirits. It has also been found in ceremonies where people use it to seek blessings of protection, health, and prosperity. Not just in the locations where it is grown, people who belong to the other parts of the west also use the plant.

Although it is native to the south-western region, it can be grown in other zones as well. White sage not only provides the cleansing and energizing services to the humans, but it also provides food to the native wildlife as well.

To grow sacred sage at your place, you need to take care of a few things. Here’s everything you should do to have a white sage grown in your yard.

Soil

Soil which is capable of draining must be used to grow sacred sage. The ideal soil for a white sage plant is the one which has a lot of decomposing granite in it. Sage does not grow well in the soggy soil. It rather needs natural soil for proper nourishment.

Seed

For most of the plants out there, the seed is the starting point. To get better results, make sure you plant the seeds in early spring. Rather than directly seeding it, the much better practice is to plant it in a tray or a pot.

Water

Sprinkle the seeds all across the soil surface and water them gently. Place the pot at a location that has a temperature range of 75-80 degrees. Enough lighting is necessary for white sage to grow. Keep the soil lightly moistened and water it the next time when the soil gets dry. Heavily wet soil can cause the roots of white sage to rot very quickly.

Light

Like most of the other plants, white sage needs sufficient light to grow. It generally demands full sun. Always remember that white sage does not perform well in the shaded conditions. It does not love to be in the cold weather conditions as well.

Temperature

Bee sage does not love to be in the cold weather conditions. Anything below 20 degrees Celsius is cold for a white sage. If you belong to an area where the temperatures go below the desired range, make sure you transplant it indoors. But never keep it in the area where there is a lack of light.

Spacing

A white sage can achieve a height of as much as 6 feet and can get 3-4 feet wider. It requires enough space for the roots to expand and the plant to grow. So make sure you have enough room for a white sage to grow.

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Essential Tips:

  • To enhance the growth of a white sage, you must trim down the dead leaves and limbs of the plant frequently.
  • Sugar Bush, Hollyleaf Cherry, California Sagebrush; are some of the plants with which white sage companions well.
  • Insects like aphids, whiteflies, and red and black flat mite, and spider must not get close to a white sage. Neem oil can be used to keep all these pests away from the white sage.
  • Never over water a white sage. It prefers somewhat dry conditions. Overwatering can damage the plant, something you don’t want to see.

Conclusion

Neither is it easy to grow a white sage at a location which is not meant for survival nor is it impossible. All it needs is some care and maintenance so that it can provide you with its qualities that most people crave for. Follow the steps given above and take enough care of the plant to have it in your yard.

Bird of Paradise houseplant care

Bird of Paradise aka Strelitzia plant blooms beautiful, bright colored flowers that add strong tropical flair in any place you grow them. The plant got its name from its stylistic flowers resembling the plumage of a bird. With its symmetrical shape and pretty oval-shaped canopy leaves, it’s often regarded as the Banana Plant.

Bird of Paradise is a stylishly sophisticated choice to be kept as an indoor houseplant. They are fairly easy to take care of. However, there are a few things to keep in mind to help them thrive in optimum condition:

Flowering Bird of Paradise Varieties

There are five Strelitzia species. But only two of them are grown as indoor plants: Strelitzia reginae (orange bird of paradise) and Strelitzia Nicolai (white bird of paradise). These plants grow with upright standing leaves coming out directly from the soil with no visible trunk. The large leaves range in size around 1 foot long. They tend to shred when exposed to heavy windy conditions or when often brushed in a crowded, busy hallway.

Here’s a short guide on how to look after the bird of paradise plants to keep them looking pristine and proper in your home or business area: 

Environment

S. Reginae and S. Nicolai are beautiful plants that can be successfully grown inside. The biggest drawbacks are their size, as they grow at around 5 to 6 feet. The plants require anywhere from three to five years before they flower. However, the wait is well worth it as they can complement the massive plantings outside when their flowers rise above the foliage for an impressive display

Indoors, the plants only need moderate-to-high interior lighting condition. This way, the light can be diffused when sunlight is available. Low lighting could cause difficulty in processing water for the plants. This may lead the plant to be leggy or to experience discoloration. 

Light and Soil 

Since birds of paradise are tropical plants, it’s no surprise that they appreciate splendid daylight. Place the plant in a spot where it will get the most sunshine, but not where it may also suffer during the harshest temperatures in the early afternoon.

By any chance, if your plant leaves turn yellow, expand the plant’s exposure to sunlight. Birds of paradise plants thrive better in rich soil that stays moist but allows for good drainage. If you’re growing it in a pot, make sure the pot has well drainage. 

Water 

Bird of paradise does best with a consistent watering plan. Keep the soil around the plant wet in spring and summer. Water, having a high salt concentration, could cause the leaves to burn out. If this is the case with your water, consider utilizing rainwater, or refined water when necessary, to water your plant. Bird of paradise grows best in normal household temperature, however, the plant could benefit from misting during dry winter months. 

Fertilizer

In spring and summer seasons, give your plant enough nutrients by preparing a compost with a fluid manure thinned to a large portion of its prescribed strength. Remember, you must not fertilize your plant during fall and winter time. Extra feeding can cause the leaf tips to fold and curl on itself. 

Creepy crawlies and Pests 

Birds of paradise are vulnerable to scale, coarse bugs, and spider mites, but these bugs are easy to identify and remove. Wipe the leaves with a thin cloth or warm, foamy water. Avoid using liquid pesticides on your plant. Pesticides can hurt the leaves or completely burn them off with the chemical content. 

Growing bird of paradise successfully is not a rocket science. So don’t get anxious by their size and their affinity for some rays. Just make sure to provide lots of bright light with some direct sunlight, regular watering, and warmth. Feed them with organic compost early in spring before the new growth begins, and then fertilize every week during the growing season. Grow the plant in a container that can be efficiently moved outside in the warm summer months and then bring back the plants inside for fall and winter. 

 

Birds of paradise are large, enchanting plants that give off an intense tropical aesthetic to any indoor space. With the right amount of care, these exotic tropical beauties can develop to more than six feet tall. Its wide, vibrant leaves can make a definite and chic statement for your home. 

Growing pumpkins in Florida

Growing pumpkins in Florida seems to be a Herculean task. After all, it’s way too hot to sprout them that long south. Nevertheless, you can grow healthy and juicy pumpkins in the northeastern region of the state. It may not be easy, and the capital needed may be a bit high for an average earner. But you can definitely do it!  

Though pumpkin is native to North America, English and Irish immigrants introduced the custom of carving jack-o-lanterns for Halloween in America. They would use beets and turnips in England & Ireland to sculpt their festive moments. Pumpkins replaced turnips and beets as they were more suitable for engraving and setting a light inside.

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Northeastern Florida is known for growing potato and cabbage, but the market is also available for venturers looking into growing other crops in the area. Pumpkins need a significant amount of fertilizer and 3-4 months long  growing season. You’ll need to plant your seeds around late May to early July in the southern states. The month of July and the state of Florida is probably the worst time and place to do back-breaking work such as planting pumpkins, but you must endure the extreme heat if you want your juicy harvest-ready by October!  

CHOOSING THE  GROUND 

Pick  an area with full exposure to the sun (at least 8-12 hours+ sunlight per day) and enough space for vines.  If you have a limited garden space, no worries! Pumpkins can still thrive at the outskirt of your garden, provided that vines can grow across your sidewalk or up a custom trellis. You can also try miniature  varieties to fit in with your space. Pumpkins are heavy feeders that prefer well-drained soil. Before sowing the pumpkin seeds or transplanting them, you need to mix lots of  (6-8 bags for 300-900 sq feet space) aged manure and compost into the growing site.  

PLANTING  SEEDLINGS 

Hand-plant seeds with a row spacing of 2.75 feet, and with 6.5 feet between row centers. Spread reflective plastic mulch over the rows to deter pests and insects as well as to keep the ground cool. Pumpkins are likely to grow best when you plant the seeds directly in the  selected area. If you plan to transplant,  harden them off ahead of transplanting. The ideal soil temperature is at 95ºF.  

Prepare the row hills in  advance  with a mixture of old manure placed about one foot deep into the ground. If manure isn’t available, you can slacken the soil and blend in a 2-4 inch stretch of  compost. Plant the seedlings an inch deep into your cultivated rows with about four or five seedlings in each row. Make sure to allow a space of 4 to 8 feet  apart between each row.  Expect the seeds to germinate in a week with the right soil temperature and emerge in about 5 to 10  days.  

PLANTING 

Incorporate fertilizer into the soil, and lay the plastic with poked holes. When you see the plants to be around 2 – 3 inches long, snip off the unnecessary plants without harming the roots of the desired  ones. Cut down the excess plants to trim the placement to 1 plant for every 1.5-3 feet. 

 

CARE 

Use  row plastic covers  to protect the plants early in the season and to prevent insect infestation. Pumpkins need lots of water. Northeast Florida gets a fair amount of rainy weather, but you may still have to irrigate your rows when necessary. Therefore, you need to water deeply, especially during the fruit  setting. Try to keep the foliage and fruit dry because the dampness or extra moisture will make rotting and other diseases more  likely. You can add  mulch  around your pumpkins to preserve the required moisture and curb weeds.   

Do not over-cultivate to avoid damaging the roots. Most small vine varieties can climb up a customized trellis, which would save you space in your garden, but be sure to make them sturdy to support the expected weight. 

Bees  are crucial for pollination of your crops and fruits, so avoid using insecticides for killing pests. If it’s extremely necessary, use it in the late afternoon or early evening, when the blossom of flowers is done for the day. To entice more bees, you can try setting up a bee house  in your  garden. 

PESTS AND DISEASES 

Squash bugs  and  cucumber beetles  are common pumpkin pests, particularly in late summer. Aphids, Powdery Mildew, poor lighting, and poor weather can adversely impact a healthy fruit set. So, spray for fungus and downy mildew on a 2-3 day regular basis for 3 or 4 weeks, but be wary of driving off the honeybees.

Also, pumpkins are highly vulnerable to leaf burn from bug-killing chemicals due to the intense Florida heat and sun conditions. So, use the smallest dosage possible.

HARVESTING AND STORAGE 

The best time to harvest pumpkins is when they reach maturity. They will best stay fresh this way. Avoid picking pumpkins off the vine as soon as they reach your intended size, you should let them reach their maturity. If you prefer small pumpkins, purchase the small  variety of seedlings. A pumpkin is due for ripening when its skin takes on a deep, sturdy orange color (in most  cases). The shell will feel tough and it will make a hollow sound when you thumb the surface. Try to nail the skin as well. If it repels puncture, it should be  ripe.   

To harvest your pumpkin, cut the fruit off the vine carefully without rupture. Make sure you don’t cut too close to the pumpkin and you handle it very gently to avoid bruising. Keep them under the open sun for a couple of days to further harden the skin. Store them in a cellar, or  anywhere with a temperature of about 55ºF. Remember that pumpkins grown in Florida will never be the big jack-o-lantern types so expect your produce to be around 8 to 15 pounders.  

Do you think growing pumpkins in Florida worth the risk? Yes, of course! Florida-grown pumpkins taste good enough to compete with those grown in other states and are of supreme delectable quality for consumers to buy. Follow the tips above and you’ll soon see that pumpkins are easy to maintain if you have  space and enough determination! 

How to grow and care for Bougainvillea bonsai

Purple Bougainvillea Bonsai

Lend some colorful accents to your surroundings with the beautiful plant of Bougainvillea Bonsai. It is a tropical plant that comes in several colors like orange, bright red, white, purple and pink. Originated in South America and native to Peru, Brazil, and Colombia, it is considered as a subtropical species that is known for its large-sized flowers. Their branches resemble that of a vine and can be pruned into Bonsai.

This plant has a beautiful display of flowers with an interesting branch structure and a thick trunk. Depending upon their species, Bougainvillea Bonsai can be grown against a fence, in the containers, as hedge, ground cover, in tree form, and more.

Yellow Bougainvillea Bonsai

How To Grow A Bougainvillea Bonsai

Bougainvillea Bonsai plants are not different from Bougainvillea Vines. But if you want to grow a Bougainvillea Bonsai, you need to start by selecting a good container with excellent drainage.

Purchase a small Bougainvillea in springtime. Keep the plant in a small container, brush the soil from its roots, and prune one-third of its roots.

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Now prepare a growing medium with equal parts of perlite, pine bark, peat moss, and potting soil. Add the medium in the one-third of the container and keep the plant into its center. Tamp the soil down firmly and stop an inch below as you are about the rim.

Once you have planted, it will require sunlight to thrive all day long. Always keep the plant where the temperature is above 40 degrees. Make sure that you prune the plant during the growing season and do shape the plant to enhance its center trunk.

Bougainvillea Bonsai also grow their best when the weather is warm.

Bougainvillea Bonsai Bloom

Care Instructions For Bougainvillea Bonsai

Bougainvillea Bonsai care is as important as correct planting. Here are the care instructions to follow to make your Bougainvillea Bonsai grow its best.

Sun Exposure

If this plant does not get enough amount of sun, it will not show its full colors and hues.

Hardiness

Bougainvillea Bonsai comes from the USDA zones 9B-11 and does not grows below 30 degrees Fahrenheit. This plant cannot withstand freeze; especially the newly planted ones.

Pruning and Styling

The care of Bougainvillea Bonsai includes trimming at regular intervals. You can trim the foliage at any time of the year, but make sure that you do not trim off the bracts when they have started to gain the color.

Whenever you style the Bonsai plant, you need to take care of the special areas like canopies, form pads, and long sweeping limbs.

Water Tolerance

Bougainvillea Bonsai prefers deep watering, i.e. regular watering every three to four weeks. Whenever you plant a Bougainvillea, make sure that you water it regularly, and the soil is damp as well.

Container/Pot Selection

It is essential that you choose an ideal container for your Bonsai. Look for a round or a rectangular pot that goes with the shape of your plant. However, the round pot should be 1/3rd of your plant’s height, and the rectangular one should be 2/3rd of it.

Irrespective of the fact, whether you are planting it inside or outside, the depth of the container should also be equal to the diameter of the plant.

Soil

Bougainvillea Bonsai prefer a fair amount of organic matter in the soil. The soil that you use should at least contain 40% of it. However, the inorganic part of the soil should consist of coarse sand, agricultural pumice, decomposed granite, or different portions of all the above.

Pests and Diseases

This plant is mostly pest free, but they are somewhat vulnerable to aphids and a bit of black spot fungus.

Use Of Fertilizers

During the spring, low nitrogen fertilizer should be used in the plant. The plant will have more blooming if the content of potassium is more than the Nitrogen in it. You can also make the soil acidic by adding the azalea fertilizer to it.

Bottom Line

Out of all the tropical species used for Bonsai, Bougainvillea will grow and will give you one of the most impressive displays for your home decor.

Things to keep in mind while growing Bamboo palm

Bright and cheery, the deep green foliage of bamboo palm is a green-fingered gardener’s go-to plant for adding a tropical appeal to a shade garden. Also famed as “lucky bamboo”, the fantastic houseplant can add interest to an overlooked corner of your home. With the right knowledge, these plants are relatively less-fussy to grow.

Be it the striking appearance or the associated good luck and fortune that entice you to plant the bamboo palm, a bit of care and attention can keep it healthy for a longer time.  This rugged palm has exceptional shade tolerance so it can even grow well while kept in a bright window. If you wish to introduce this green stunner into your garden or indoor, here are some things to keep in mind.

Make Sure the Soil is moderately Moist

Although bamboo palms don’t have to be planted in soil, they can be if you prefer.  Make sure to add well- aerated, well-drained and moderately moist soil.  But remember, it shouldn’t be soggy or desert dry. Also, never let your plants become water-logged.

Provide Indirect Light and Moderate Temperature

Bright indirect light is great for growing bamboo palms, but they can even grow in low light conditions. Low light may reduce their growth speed. The temperature that ranges between 60 and 70 degrees is ideal for the plant which can be easily provided in the most home or office conditions.

Don’t Over Water

Bamboo palms need adequate moisture to thrive, so it is better to mist it every couple of days. However, don’t ever submerge the plants completely underwater otherwise it will cause root rot.  Never overwater it and change the water once in two weeks to prevent rotting of the leaves. Keeping the bamboo in a clear glass container filled with pebbles and water is a good option to provide a humid micro-environment to the plant.

Occasional Fertilizing Is Good For The Plant

Although the plant can survive for a long time with just water, a small amount of fertilizer added to the water can benefit the plant to a great extent. If you are planting it in the soil, feed it with a high-nitrogen slow-release formula during the spring.

Get Rid of Yellow/ Brown or Mushy stalks

If you are noticing yellow leaves and stalks, it can be a sign of too much fertilizer or too much light. Eliminate the yellow portion of the stalk and re-plant the part that is still green. Brown or mushy stalks indicate root rot so you should also remove the brown affected portion.

Protect The Plant From Pest

The presence of white, sticky matter or snail-like growths on the bamboo stalks signals the scale or spider mites infestation. If you observe any of these sign in your plant, wipe the stalks using soapy water, rinse thoroughly, and then replace the water.

Prevent Leave Burn

One of the common problems that your bamboo palm may encounter while kept in a container setting is leaf burn. The presence of too much salt in the water or excessive fertilizers within the soil can cause the leaf burn problem.

Either re-pot the bamboo palms or take out as much old soil as possible to solve the issue. Leaching the soil by flushing the pot with water can also help you get rid of such leave burn.

Keep It Away From Spider Mites

Spider mite can be a serious problem to your bamboo palms in hot and dry season. You will often observe small webbing at the leave edges before the appearance of the mites.

As the pests like hot and dry conditions, it is better to be on the lookout in the summer. Rinsing the leaves with a heavy stream of water cam eradicate the spider mites from the plant. Or you can simply use insecticidal soap or horticultural oil to treat the issue.

 

 

 

Arrowhead plants: how to grow and care for this plant in containers

Looking to enhance your indoor garden? Well, look no further than the beautiful Arrowhead Plant.

Arrowhead Plant is known by a variety of names and is known as Arrowhead Vine, Synovium, Nephthytis, Five Fingers, and American Evergreen. It has withstood the test of time and is considered as one of the best houseplants.  This plant grows out as a solid green plant and has green and white colored leaves with the distinct shades of green and pink. The leaves of this plant always come in the shape of an arrowhead.

These plants, when young are pretty full and make an attractive choice for side tables, coffee tables, bedside, and other surfaces. As this plant comes with the colored foliages, they add both edge and interest to your décor. For augmenting the appeal of your space, you can also let it grow alone or keep it mixed with other plants too.

Arrowhead is a great choice for décor and here is how to care and grow this plant in containers.

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Arrowhead Growing Guide

The arrowhead plant serves as a great container plant for indoor and balcony spaces or gardens that don’t get light directly from the sun. You should only allow southern exposure from the sunlight inside your surroundings as this plant can get bleached in the direct sun. This plant is winter hardy in Florida and grows very well as a houseplant in all other states which have the US hardiness zones 10 and 11.

You will have to water this plant as the surface starts to dry. But make sure that you only moist the plant and not wet it completely. Its proper care requires humid conditions. So, spray little droplets of water daily or place the container in a tray that is filled up with water and pebbles.

Fertilizing is not mandatory. However, you can always use a houseplant fertilizer in spring or summer season as it is not required to be fertilized in winters. Furthermore, you can prune it according to your convenience.

Arrowhead Plant Propagation

This plant propagates from its roots, cuttings, and air layering. The root structure of this plant is quite extensive and also becomes invasive, even in a container environment. It is recommended that you should cut off the foliage and steps as they develop.

If you want it to re-pot; just divide the root, and you are good to go.

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Arrowhead Care Instructions

The overall care of this plant is quite easy. But lack of essential nutrients in light, soil, and the entire growing process may retard the growth of the plant. Its growth also slows down in the winter months, but with these care instructions, you can let the plant grow effectively.

  • Light:

    Arrowhead plants need a medium to low lighting. If your plant starts yellowing, it is a sign that it is receiving too much light.

  • Temperature:

    This plant is known to grow best in the temperatures between 16 degrees Celsius and 24 degrees Celsius. The temperatures below 10 degree Celsius kill the plant.

  • Pot Size:

    These plants grow their best when they are bound to their roots. Do not rush them to the next size container and ensure that there are drop holes at the bottom.

  • Soil:

    These plants prefer rich organic soil that drains well. However, an African violet mix serves as a good choice.

  • Pests:

    Keep an eye on spider mites and mealy bugs. If you see any of them, you can treat them by spraying isopropyl alcohol.

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Arrowhead Flowering Conditions

It is unusual for these plans to produce flowers. But when flowers appear, they are the green and white blooms.

What Do You Need To Remember?

Keep the growth tips and long runners pruned so that you can use them on the indoor tables. If you leave these plants untrimmed, they make beautiful indoor plants and enhance the overall aura of your space. Moreover, the leaves of this plant change its shape as it matures.  It begins with an arrowhead shape and then grows into the three to five finger sections.

These plants are highly poisonous so it should be kept away from pets and children.

What to know about Baby’s Tears: planting, growing and care tips

Baby’s Tears with its round tiny apple-green leaves cascading down to the slender, threadlike stems makes an appealing addition to any garden or pot.

Also famed as Soleirolia Soleiroli, Mind-Your-Own-Business and Irish Moss, this fast-growing evergreen plants spills beautifully over the sides of a pot or container.

Originated from the western Mediterranean islands, this ground-hugging plant makes a perfect mound of foliage, and with enough light, it can even bless you with tiny white flowers.

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However, this mosslike, creeping plant can dry out quickly without enough care and attention. Whether you want it to grow it as an indoor plant in a terrarium or container, or under benches in a greenhouse, a lot of care is required to keep it alive.

Here are some helpful tips to plant, grow and care for the plant to make it last for years.

Planting Tips

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Plant it in a well-aerated, quick draining soil

The well-aerated, quick-draining potting soil with a good amount of peat moss is ideal for planting these delicate-looking foliage plants.

Use moist soil

Although the tiny strands of baby tears look delicate, it roots readily in moist soil. Lure out individual stems with some of their roots attached.

Dig a hole that is 2 times larger than the root ball in the soil and deep enough to keep the plant at the same level as the soil level in the container. Then set the plant in the hole and dribble a little soil over it.

Water well

Once you plant the baby’s tear, gently press the soil down and pour enough water to prevent the drying of the plant.

Growing Tips

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Provide medium to high humidity

Medium to high humidity is ideal for growing the moisture loving plant. If you want to boost the moisture in the air, keep it in a more humid room like a kitchen or bathroom.

Or you can just place it on a saucer of pebbles and water with the pot resting atop the pebbles. You can even group it with other houseplants or keep a small humidifier near it increase the moisture content.

Keep it in Normal room temperature

Place the plant in normal household temperatures or a little cooler to promote its growth. Normally 60°-75° is good for the plant.  Even a light frost can dry the plant, but it soon rejuvenates upon the return of spring.

Fertilize in every 2 week

It is better to fertilize the Baby’s Tears plant in the spring and summer when it is growing. A houseplant fertilizer diluted to half of the recommended strength is ideal for growing the plant.

Let it have bright indirect light but no direct sun

Shade or part shade is best for the bay’s tear plant. While growing indoor, keep it in a bright window but make sure it does not receive direct sun.

The golden and variegated baby’s tears are more susceptible to browning and burning from the direct sun exposure. This creeping fig prefers a bright, indirect light so shade this plant from hot afternoon sun while planting it outdoor.

Provide ample horizontal room

As the plant tends to grow aggressively with its creeping stems if not outright invasive, make sure to offer ample horizontal space for the plant to grow.

Caring Tips

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Prune it occasionally

Snip off the faded blooms carefully or remove entire flower stalk once the blooming period is over. Removing old flower helps the plant utilize its energy on vigorous growth instead of seed production.

Trim the foliage through the season to eradicate damaged or discolored leaves, or to maintain its shape and fullness.

Don’t overdo the watering

The soil should be kept moist but make sure it is never soggy as if the soil stays too wet, it can rot the stems.

Daily watering for a couple of weeks is recommended for the new plants, but after that, it should be shifted to every two or three days depending on the weather and soil type.

Protection from pests

As these delicate looking plants are susceptible to whitefly, scale, and Aphids, so give attention and take proper care to prevent the damage.

There you go!

Just give a decent amount of light, high humidity, abundant water and occasional trimming and watch these stunning plants living happily for a long time.

 

Tips to grow healthy and enchanting African Violets at home

African Violets

If bringing beauty to your indoor space is your goal, then African Violets are just what you are looking for. Clusters of violet, blue, purple, white and a myriad of other splendid colors bloom beautifully over a neat rosette of dark-green fuzzy leaves.

The flower is recognized worldwide to be one of the prettiest houseplants that come with the perk of blooming almost constantly. All you need is a bright window, and you’ll find your African Violets brightening up your space all year round. However, African Violets have earned quite the reputation of being a fuzzy plant to grow and care for.

The African violet does come with a few quirks since they are really demanding of the growing conditions. African Violets are peculiar about the water, light, temperature and soil requirements. But fret not! We are here to help you learn all about growing and nurturing the dainty houseplant.

Conditions for Culture

Light

African Violet

Adequate light is one of the pre-requisites for an African violet to stay healthy and produce abundant flowers. Insufficient light makes the leaves turn dark green and thin, while the leaf stems also become very long and weak.

On the other hand, too much sunlight can turn the leaves pale yellow-green, and you may also notice some bleached out burned or dead areas. However, you can diffuse bright sunlight with the help of a sheer curtain.

It’s important to ensure the right intensity and duration of light. Placing the plant in bright and indirect light should give good results. Generally, 3 feet from a south, east or west windows offer good exposure to the light. Maintain proper light exposure for eight hours every day, and try to make up for the insufficient lighting with the help of artificial fluorescent lights.

A little testing will easily help you determine if the light conditions at your home are suitable for the growth of violets. Also, you must note that the duration and intensity of light will vary according to the climate and weather.

Water

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African Violets grow most beautifully when properly watered. You can water the violets either from the top or from the bottom.

African violets are at risk of developing leaf spotting when splashed with cold water on the leaves. Hence, tepid water is recommended in case your water from the top but do not let the plant sit in standing water to avoid root damage. Keep watering until the water runs out from the bottom and be sure to drain the excess if you are using a tray or saucer below the pot to prevent problems from waterlogging.

In order to water the plant from the bottom, simply fill the tray below the pot with tepid water and it will be automatically drawn up to the soil with capillary action. You can pour off the excess water from the tray after about an hour.

Temperature

Common indoor temperatures that range around 65 degrees to 75 degrees Fahrenheit at night and 70° to 90°F during the day are fine for violets.

Humidity

Humidity is essential for the growth and flowering of African violets. The flower tends to grow in high humidity ranges, so you’ll be required to set the pot in watertight trays filled with pebbles or water and gravel. Ensuring shallow water level is essential. Also, you must not let the plant sit in water for too long

Potting

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Containers and Pots

African Violets like to be snug and hence grow best in small pots. But at the same time, they do require some space to grow. So, shallow pots that give them enough space to spread their roots are best for these beauties. It’s imperative to see that the root ball of the plant fits comfortably in the pot. The pot must have drainage holes at the bottom in order allow excess water to drain out and let the water seep into the soil when watering from the bottom.

Propagation

Violets are easy to propagate from the leaf cuttings of a well-developed and mature plant. The leaf must be removed from the main stalk with a clean break. Place the leaf into a glass of water and make sure that it isn’t completely covered with water. Gradually, roots will start forming near the base.
You may also take a leaf with plenty of stems and place the stem into a pot containing sterile potting soil. Keep the soil moist and it will eventually grow into a new plant.

Soil Mix

An ideal potting mix is the one that offers proper nutrition, moisture, aeration, and physical support to the plant so that it grows to its utmost capabilities. When it comes to African Violets, they grow best in soil that is loose and porous in structure, in addition to being well-draining and well-aerated. You can prepare a potting mix or opt to grow your plant in a soilless mix to meet your cultural requirements.

Caring

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Fertilizer

African violets can benefit from small amount of fertilizers, especially if you notice they haven’t bloomed or aren’t growing for several months. Use fertilizers that are specially made for African Violets and make sure to use the same in moderation. Mix the fertilizer at a one-quarter strength and use while watering the plant. Excessive or too little fertilizer may impact the growth of violets.

Repotting

African violets thrive in small pots as they like to be root bound. Eventually, a mature plant tends to produce an offspring that can be grown into a new plant. As soon as you witness the formation of new crowns in the pot, gently remove the plant from the pot and separate the new growth. Repot the plants in separate containers to keep up with their growth.

Garden with clean hands

African violet is vulnerable to attack from diseases, organisms, and insects and may develop mildew, blight or stem rot if not taken care of. Make sure you always wash your hands and use gloves while handling any organic matter. Also, clean your gardening tools before and after use to prevent the spread of diseases from one houseplant to another.

Remove dead blooms

African violet is a plant that grows close to the soil. As such, dead leaves or flowers may start causing excessive moisture near the stem, ultimately leading it to rot. Therefore, in order to keep the plant healthy, you must remove any dead or dying leaf immediately from the pot.

Enjoy gardening!

Aralia: uses for home interiors and maintenance tips

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Aralias make unique houseplants. They find varied uses in homes and gardens. Available in varied heights, the plants can fit into most interior spaces and sit in different positions indoors. The different plants under the genus mean there’s a specific plant form for every homeowner. The plant can also be used in various forms in the home setting.

Unlike most houseplants, Aralias are aesthetically beautiful and can create a focal point indoors in natural-themed interior spaces. The plants are increasingly being used indoors due to their successful application in high-end in home interiors. What’s more, they thrive in conditions unsuitable for most houseplants.

What are Aralia Plants?

Also known as Spikenard, Aralias belong to the Araliaceae family. It comprises about 70 plant species. They come in the form of evergreen and deciduous plants, trees and even shrubs. Some varieties are also herbaceous perennials with rhizomatous rooting systems.

The plants are native to the Americas, Asia, and regions with mountain woodlands. Varied in sizes, some Aralia cultivars grow up to 20 meters high while others barely hit half a meter in height.

Aralia Plants for Home Interiors

Most Aralia species are superior houseplants with great capability to adapt to conditions indoors. They have unmatched ‘staying power’ in home interiors even when grown in hot, dark places. The plants have been on and off gardeners’ list of favorite plants over the last many years.

International botanicals have grown Aralias for years to come up with the best cultivars for home interiors. They diversified the forms and sizes of the plants. The plants come in varied colors and leaf forms. Ming aralia feature elegant, lacy leaves while the chicken gizzard has spherical leaflets.

‘Dinner plate’ aralia feature large, aptly leaves while ‘spinach leaf’ aralia have dark, tightly-crinkled leaves. Aralia leaves, petioles and general foliage range in color from cream and gold to solid green and white. Others come in dark-green, almost black to burgundy hues.

Aralias sweeping, curving branches; massively woody trunks; and shaggy, heavily-dense foliage make them stand out in home interiors as houseplants. They find use indoors as large or small plants. The plants can be grown as ‘bonsai’ plants in 6-inch or 8-inch pots. Use them to accentuate reception counters in offices or table tops in homes with their attractive colors and shapes.

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Certain varieties that grow up to 4 feet tall can fit in 10-inch pots. Stump or bush plants that grow up to 3 to 6 feet in height can comfortably fit in 14-inch pots for indoor use. However, varieties that range in height from 7 to 12 feet fit 17-inch to 21-inch pots. The large Aralia plants are suitable for placement in entryways and other places indoors with lots of open spaces.

Aralia Growth Conditions and Maintenance Tips

The kind of care Aralia plants receive in nurseries determines their successful growth indoors. Aralias thrive in light, well-drained soils with proper drainage. The plants require sufficient watering for optimal growth. The amount of light the plants can access indoors determines the level and frequency of watering and applying fertilizers.

Although it’s recommended for soils to be kept moist, some gardeners report that the plants thrive in dry soils. If the amount of light available is low, water the plants at least once every three weeks. Avoid overwatering to prevent the development of plant diseases such as root rot. Opt for sub-irrigation or a controlled watering device for efficient Aralia watering.

With proper care and growth conditions, the plants can successfully grow indoors for a minimum of a decade. Unlike most houseplants, Aralias can be pruned to foster new foliage growth and maintain their lush look. Granular fertilizer rich in nitrogen is recommended.

Some Aralias can be costly during initial planting stages and growth. However, it rewards gardeners and homeowners with a long lifespan as long as they’re accorded proper care and placed in locations with all the growth requirements.

3 Popular Aralia Species for Home Interiors

  1. Aralia Fabian

Just like Feng Shui, a plant popular for its energy, love and calmness flow, Aralia Fabian offers similar benefits. Also known as Plum Aralia, it’s a shrub tree with maroon leaves that tend to be purplish on the undersides. The shiny leaves range in size from large to medium. The round leaves are deeply veined. Although the plant’s flower in the wild, cultivated cultivars rarely bloom.

Aralias grow upright as columnar plants in containers, making them ideal houseplants. Potted Aralia Fabians make perfect housewarming gifts.

  1. Celeryleaf Aralia

Also known as Aralia ‘Chicken Gizzard’, the plant has leaves similar in shape to chicken gizzards. It features branches with spherical leaflets with at least two lobes. Just like Aralia Fabian, it grows a columnar plant. Its leaves are uniquely-shaped, which, together with the plant’s distinct growth stature, are bound to improve an existing interior décor.

Unlike other houseplants, they’re more costly due to the time and care they require to grow. They’re worth each cent spent on them.

  1. Aralia Balfour

Aralia Balfouriana is a beautiful, potted floor plant. Some species boast large, shiny, dark-green leaves while others feature crinkled leaves with deep veins. The leaves are waxy on the surface and lobed. The container plant grows upright and less wide than the pot housing it.

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5 Common Aralia Problems

  1. Wilting from overwatering – leaves drop if the plant is excessively wet. Extremely hot or cold temperatures also result in dropping of leaves.
  2. Aralia Leaf Drop – Low humidity indoors or dry air conditions causes leaves to drop.
  3. Weak / Over-grown Limbs – Aralias require lots of light to grow. Insufficient lighting conditions lead to weak, stretched plant growth. Prune in spring to foster plant growth and fill spots without foliage.
  4. Leaves with Brown Edges – Excess fertilization and low humidity levels result in browning of leaf edges. Exposure to air dries the leaves, leading to the browning of their edges.
  5. Insect Pests – Aralias are prone to spider mites, aphids, and scale. Use natural pest control solutions such as neem oil to eliminate Aralia pests.

Aralia Cultivars

Other popular Aralia species for home interiors include the following:

  • Aralia spinosa
  • Aralia stipulata
  • Aralia Tibetan
  • Aralia racemosa
  • Aralia malabarica
  • Aralia nudicaulis
  • Aralia hispida

Conclusion

Aralia plants can be grown indoors or outdoors. With proper care and maintenance, the plants can grow successfully for many years. They require proper watering, fertilization, soil, and lighting conditions to grow optimally.

Do you want to grow Aralia in your home or office? Contact us to find out more on how to grow Aralia plants in pots or grow bags.

Things you need to know about Areca palms

Areca palms are one of the most popular plants used in home interiors across the world. They are native to Madagascar and naturally found in the islands. The best thing about the Areca palms is that they get acclimatized to the environment. This makes them perfect for growing the tropical regions with humid environments.

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These plants have beautiful lush green leaves, with long feathery fronds, which contain about 40 to 50 leaflets on it.  Areca palms are perfect to use for interior decoration in homes and offices.

How to grow Areca palm in your home

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

There are two ways to plant the Areca palm plants. Planting with seeds and growing from tiny plants. You can put multiple seeds in a pot, but growing the Areca palms from seeds is difficult, as seeds take at least six weeks to germinate. You can easily get the plants from a nursery and plant them in your pots in the yard or indoors.

Light and Watering

Areca palms need bright light for proper growth as they last longer when placed in direct sunlight. They also need adequate water, but they cannot tolerate the waterlogging or drenched over-drenched soil. You should let the soil completely dry between the watering sessions.

Soil mix and fertilizer

Areca palms need a peat based soil mix and adequate water drainage. Palms prefer good drainage to avoid the water logging of roots. You can use a weak liquid fertilizer once or twice in the growing season, but not in the winter season.

Propagation of Areca palms

It is difficult to find the seeds of Areca palms, but if you find them, you can germinate them at your home by planting them in a seed starting soil. The new green colored seeds have a slow germination rate than the mature orange seeds.

The germination of seeds requires high humidity and takes six weeks to germinate. That is why it is better to plant the grown-up plants than waiting for the seeds to germinate.  The best way to propagate the Areca palms is to divide the clumps and plant them in new containers.

Re-potting the Areca Palms

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Areca plants are often planted in clumps, and they grow very fast as compared to other plants. With the time they also form their own clusters which require you to re-pot them in the new containers. Whether you plant the indoor or outdoor, Areca palms need repotting every year. You need to be careful while re-potting, as a slight mistake can damage the root ball.

Maintenance and Care

The fastest way to kill an Areca palm is overwatering or inadequate drainage. You should provide them with proper drainage holes to prevent the over-drenched soil and water them less frequently in winters. Also, they need adequate light if planted indoors. You need to place them outdoors for a few hours every week in the winter season.

Potential Problems

The biggest problem that occurs with these plants is the root rotting. However, you can prevent the rotting of roots by offering adequate watering and drainage. Brown leaf tips can appear if the air is too dry which makes them susceptible to spider mites and bugs. In case of an infestation, wash the plant with insecticidal soap to get rid of the pests and move the plant to a more humid environment.

Final Words

Areca Palms not only adds to the aesthetic appeal of your home but also filters the air from the toxins. It removes the harmful chemicals from the environment which makes it a must-have plant in your home. Whether you plant Areca palm in your house or yard, taking adequate care can make them grow and accompany you for years.