African Violets

African Violets – A Brief History

African Violets (Saintpaulias) are tropical plants that were found in the wilds of Africa in 1892 and their common name is from their resemblance to true violets (Violaceae). Before the end of the 19th century, African Violets were being propagated in hothouses in Europe.

African Violet - Varied Colors

Figure 1: Colors of African Violets

In 1927 a California nursery ordered seeds for the African Violet from England and Germany – then these flowering plants became known globally and are now among the most popular house plants. Of the 1,000 plants grown, ten were chosen as the first hybrids and introduced to the world in 1936. Despite the fact that most commercial plants are grown from cuttings and tissue culture, many of the species of African Violet are now endangered, as their habitats are cleared for agriculture.

African Violet Description

African Violets are a flowering perennial, highly sensitive to temperature change — particularly if their leaves cool rapidly. The leaves are covered in a stiff “velvet” that adds to the beauty of these flowering plants. The sheen on the leaves in Figures 1, 2, and 3 are the light reflecting off of the fine filaments that make up the velvet.

Like Cyclamen, these plants are valued more for the beautiful flowers than the foliage. In the wild they produce violet, pale blue, white and purple flowers; as a general rule size varies from the micro at less than 3 (three) inches to the giant that can grow to approximately 16 inches.

 African Violet Propagation

The simplest way to begin new plants is to pick a leaf off at the base of the African Violet and stick it into damp soil. Keep the humidity right and you’ll have a new plant coming.

One other method that I have used is to fill a glass with water and put a plastic bag over the top secured with a rubber band. Make a small slit in the bag and push the stem through into the water; soon you will see roots appearing, ready to plant. Make sure that when you plant it the soil is not touching the leaf – only the stem.

African Violet Care

As indoor plants, grown under proper conditions including the use a sterile pot and soil, good water flow/drainage, and indirect, filtered afternoon sunlight, African Violets will bloom endlessly. There are many beautiful flower pots and indoor plant stands that suit African Violets perfectly.

African Violet - Decorative Basket

Figure 3: African Violet Plants in a Decorative Basket

I recommend buying small stones from the nursery to line the bottom of the pot for improved drainage and using potting soil made specifically for African Violets. Optimal plant health care requires you to periodically repot the African Violet to avoid overcrowding the roots.

The soil for the plant should be kept slightly damp. The easiest way to water is from the base; do not get the leaves wet as it makes ugly brown spots on them. Never saturate the soil. Daytime temperature should be between 70 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit; don’t let it drop below 60 degrees overnight.

To keep the plants growing evenly and to obtain a good shape to your African Violet, turn the pot one-quarter turn every second day – always the same direction. Regular fluorescent lights for about 16 hours per day with 8 hours of darkness will usually give sensational bloom but the plants will need extra food and water. Group your plants to help keep the humidity at the required level. Whatever fertilizer you choose, use it in the water according to directions and give them this every time you water.  If you also have Succulent plants, the African Violet fertilizer can be used on them as well.

African Violets - Basket Bouquet

Figure 4: Mixed Basket of African Violets and Ivy

Alternative Growth Methods

African Violets give amazing growth hydroponically. Old leaves may yellow as they adapt to the new system; remove them and soon the plant will offer brighter blossoms and stronger leaves. The link, Hydroponics Systems, offers complete hydroponics systems, educational books, and organic fertilizers to aid you in setting up your own hydroponics system.

You can also grow African Violets in a terrarium or similar atmosphere where they get plenty of humidity.

Modern Uses of African Violets

African Violets - Mixed basket

Figure 5: Mixed Basket of African Violets, Roses, Azaleas, Ivy and Pink Hypoestes

Florist shops have recently had an increasing demand for bouquets that include African Violets. A decorative bouquet of this type is often made up of blooms from flowering plants such as Roses, Azaleas, Hibiscus, Hydrangea, Gardenia, OrchidsPeonies, and spring flowers – add beautiful potted violets in varying shades and you have a rainbow of colors to delight the eye! The baskets featured in Figures 3, 4, and 5 are examples of how beautiful such bouquets from florists can be.

Some species of spring flowers are poisonous to cats, among them the Peony, Tulips and certain Lilies; however, the African Violet, Easter Orchids, Miniature Roses and other popular types of flowering plants and most varieties Palm Plants are non-toxic to them. However, if a child or pet ingests or gets cut on any plant, call a poison control center immediately. It’s better to be overly cautious than to lose a loved-one, and many plants are very toxic. For more information on the subject, see Poisonous Plants.

 

Sources and Citations

http://www.hydro-orchids.com/tp-AFV.html  – research source

http://www.articlesbase.com/gardening-articles/advice-to-gardeners-wanting-to-grow-african-violets-1835058.html?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=ab_paid_12&gclid=CJnd3K_upboCFcU5Qgode2AArw  – research source

http://answers.ask.com/Home/Gardening/how_to_grow_african_violets?ad=semD&an=google_s&am=broad&o=2469  – research source

http://www.agardenforthehouse.com/2012/11/my-african-violet-growing-guide/  – research source

http://www.skh.com/gardeningatoz/cactus-succulent-care/ – research source

 

 

Indoor Plant Stands

 

The primary reason to use a plant stand is to elevate the plant – indoors or outdoors – which improves plant health care by making the plants more accessible. Indoor plant stands give an interesting depth to a plant collection, and, single or tiered, cart, shelving, or other design, can be the quintessential accent to your foyer, hall or any room. They come in many sizes, shapes, colors and materials as well as ones made for specific plants or for personal reasons; indoor/outdoor, decorative or basic. Hanging plant holders are great for plants like Spider Plants, while shelves or tables are good for Cylamen, African Violets, many varieties of succulent plants, and improving Orchid care. Stands with wheels on the bottom are great for moving large plants such as Palm Plants, potted Roses, and other tropical plants that might need a periodic change of environment. Custom-made plant stands can be unique and often fill a niche in the room that otherwise appeared useless. Floating shelves offer a sensational display for your plants. See how to install floating shelves :

 

Plant stands add an elegant touch to patio furniture, garden furniture, planters, beside raised garden beds, holding groupings of plant pots, at the side of a garden, near an Adirondack chair or under the edge of a patio umbrella where they are shielded from direct sunlight.

Indoor Plant Stands - Handcrafted Scroll and Lattice

Figure 1: Handcrafted Scroll and Lattice Plant Stand

Accessorize any room or patio area with beautiful plant stands made of scrolls and lattices. Figure 1 is a wonderful example of a handcrafted plant stand that can be used for indoor plants or with patio furniture.

Raising a plant to eye-level is visually appealing and makes it much easier to water, spray and prune. In addition, having a plant higher up can protect children and pets from poisonous plants. Size-wise, plan on about 3 inches of space around the flower pots; consider what surface the stand will be placed or hung on and make sure it will not tip over or fall. Shelving can be fastened to a wall for more stability.

 

Indoor Plant Stands - Elegant stands

Figure 2: Tiered Indoor Plant Stands

Selecting Indoor Plant Stands

Be careful to not let the plant stand take the focus from the plant; you want it to be serviceable, sturdy, and to just showcase your best indoor plants not ‘steal the scene.’ Figure 2 is a good example of elegant indoor plant stands and can be purchased through Amazon.  Buy a suitably-sized plant stand; too large or small can spoil the whole appearance. If you are purchasing a plant stand for  flowering plants you may want to buy it in a neutral color so the blooms become the highlight.

Lighted Indoor Plant Stands

Small indoor plant stands are a good solution if you have limited space at home or in the office.

Indoor Plant Stands - Office

Figure 3: Intelligent Plant Light in Office

Even many of the smaller stands offer 1-2 shelves, a tray, sometimes a tabletop light with a fluorescent fixture; some have humidity domes. Small indoor plant stands may have a wire frame to allow you to adjust the fixture height.

One computer operated indoor plant stand – Intelligent Plant Light – takes care of numerous gardening needs. The automated, computerized timer is responsible for lighting – turning it off and on and synchronizing the length of day with spring, summer, winter and fall. The base of the lamp is the indoor plant stand. A full spectrum light simulates the sun’s rays; an adjustable stem can handle plants from 4 inches to 12 inches or can also increase/decrease light intensity. A moisture sensor indicates just when the plant needs watered and the pebbled base catches and holds the water for extra humidity, the moisture sensor also keeps the pot from sitting in the water.

Sources and Citations

http://www.amazon.com/Handcrafted-Rectangular-Metal-Plant-Stand/dp/B000F1ONE8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1333457549&sr=8-1 – research source

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gibVoELMNQ – research source

http://www.thriftyfun.com/tf/Gardening/Creative_Planters/Creative-Planter-Ideas.html – research source

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVjgVqWowKc – research source

http://www.amazon.com/Handcrafted-Rectangular-Metal-Plant-Stand/dp/B000F1ONE8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1333457549&sr=8-1 – research source

Succulent Plants

Succulent Plants - Desert Cactus Dish Garden

Figure 1: Desert Cactus Dish Garden

Succulent plants are sometimes referred to as ‘Succulents’ or ‘fat plants’ since parts of them are thick and they usually retain more water in dry climates/soils, according to Wikipedia. Their low demand for water allows them to survive periods of neglect, making them some of the best indoor plants for beginners. They are perennial tropical plants often grown as ornamental plants in flower pots and gardens because many of them have a very unusual appearance. Joshua Trees (pictured in Figure 2, below) are often confused with succulent plants, but they are actually a variety of Yucca.

Succulent Plants - Joshua Tree Yucca

Figure 2: Joshua Tree

Many Succulent plants are flowering plants that offer easy care and look beautiful in your home alone or with a companion plant such as CyclamenHibiscus, Hydrangea, Azaleas or Geraniums–which have similar requirements for lighting. Succulent plants come in a myriad of colors and leaf shapes and a current trend that is gaining popularity is to include different varieties of succulent plants with Peonies and other flowers in bridal bouquets. Unlike Spider Plants and Palm Plants, Succulents generally like the low humidity and warm conditions found in many houses; they seem to be able to adapt to direct or lower light. Many of the smaller plants look great on indoor plant stands, and stands with wheels are available for larger plants. Succulent Plants prefer a good draining soil that’s not watered often, and it’s best to let the soil become completely dry between waterings.

Succulent Plants – Interesting facts

  • The tallest free-standing Cactus is about 63 feet tall (19.2 m); the smallest is approximately 0.4 inches (1 cm) at maturity
  • Plant health care for Succulents is less demanding than Orchid care
  • A fully mature Saguaro Cactus (Figure 3) can absorb as much as 200 US gallons of water during heavy rainfall.

    Succulent Plants - Saguaro Cactus

    Figure 3: Saguaro Cactus

  • Both Succulent Plants and Orchids produce oxygen at night, unlike most other types of plants which only produce oxygen while they are receiving light. For that reason they are a great option for bedrooms.
  • Remember that all Cacti are succulents but all succulents are not Cacti
  • Popular because they use less water and have less impact in droughts
  • They are fire-resistant and fire retardant
  • Many of them are not poisonous plants, but use barbs or needles for their protection, similar to Roses

Some of the Simplest Succulent Plants to Care For

Aloe Vera: Although the sap of this plant has been used for hundreds of years to heal wounds or sunburn, it has sharp teeth on the edge of the leaves that can cut – needs to be placed where it will not be bumped into for that reason.

Succulent Plants - Aloe Vera

Figure 4: Aloe Vera

Let the soil dry out between heavy waterings but do not leave it standing in water. Keep Aloe Vera in direct sunlight and fertilize 3 (three) times in the summer with a 10-10-10 fertilizer. If you have African Violet fertilizer you can use that on your succulent plants as well. Do not repot unless you particularly want to or the roots are pushing their way out of the pot.

 

Pin Cushion Cactus: There are approximately 200 species of this group for home-growing, most of them coming from Mexico.

Succulent Plants - Cactus Garden with Pincushion Cactus

Figure 5: Cactus Garden with Pincushion Cactus

The spines (modified leaves) appear fine and harmless but have hooked ends like a porcupine quill, which makes it difficult to pull out of the skin.  These cacti may take different shapes and often flower in the house. They require a lot of light. Let the soil get fairly dry between waterings; do not water in the winter time as the plant is in a dormant period, necessary for flowering. A balanced fertilizer, 10-10-10 is needed three times during the summer months.

Burros Tail: This succulent plant looks cute in a hanging plant pot or basket with its tails out over the side; gray with green or blue ‘leaves’ can grow up to 3 feet long.

Succulent Plants - Burros Tail

Figure 6: Burros Tail

Allow the soil to dry a little between waterings and fertilize in summer with a 10-10-10 fertilizer; be aware that it rarely flowers but it is possible that pink or red flowers could appear during the summer. Leaves fall off of a Burros Tail easily; try to keep it where it will not be bumped by anything. If you move it outside for the summer, put it in the shade so that it does not get sunburned, or, on the patio where it could get morning light then shade from the afternoon sun.

Ponytail Palm: The Ponytail Palm is not a palm tree and does not appear to be a succulent plant although related to the agave. Use a quick draining soil for this plant – cactus potting soil is a good one.

Succulent Plants - Ponytail Palm

Figure 7: Ponytail Palm

It is a long-lived indoor houseplant with average room temperature good for most of the year in a location with bright light. Winters it prefers temperatures around 50-55°F. Spring through fall you should allow the surface soil to dry before watering; during the winter only water once-in-a-while. Fertilize in the spring with a 10-10-10 balanced fertilizer, and give it a very bright room for the summer months. Repotting every second year is adequate for this succulent. This plant can grow up to twenty (20) feet high indoors!

                                                     

Snake Plant (also called Mother-in-Law’s Tongue):

Succulent Plants - Snake Plant

Figure 8: Snake Plant

These succulent plants have stiff, upright leaves that can grow to 3-4 feet tall. The Snake Plant has a green border on the leaves while the Mother-in-Law’s Tongue has a yellow border.

They make a tough houseplant and can withstand almost any conditions with the exception of over-watering or not watering. Soil should be a loose and well-drained potting material; preferably with sand in it. Give it a mild 10-10-10 cactus fertilizer in the growing season. Prune out damaged leaves.

Hens and Chicks: Two succulent plants use this name – both produce chicks – little plants offset from the mother. The flowering patterns are different: one grows bell-shaped blooms while the other grows pink star-shape flowers on plants that die after flowering.

Succulent Plants - Hens & Chicks

Figure 9: Hens and Chicks

Grown in the house, the two perform identically; both should be allowed to dry a little between waterings – overwatering will rot both plants. Water very little during dormant period. Feed them a 10-10-10 fertilizer in the summer. New growth can be started by removing the offsets and potting them. The plants will be scarred if water touches them or the leaves get bumped.

Panda Plant: This succulent plant is a native of Madagascar and is grown for its foliage – thick, green leaves covered with silver hairs; the edges tipped with brown or rust-colored hairs.

Succulent Plants - Panda Plant

Figure 10: Panda Plant

Let the top couple of inches of soil dry out between waterings and in winter, its dormant period, barely water it at all – just don’t let it dry out completely. The panda plant likes medium to bright filtered light. A 10-10-10 fertilizer should be used in the summer. The plant doesn’t require much in the way of pruning.

Jade Plant: this succulent plant, originally from South Africa, is so easy to grow. It has thick stems with shiny green leaves that have a touch of red. Allow the soil to become bone dry between waterings, but don’t leave it that way.

Succulent Plants - Jade Plant

Figure 11: Jade Plant

Jade plants are most commonly killed by too much water. Fertilize three times in summer with a 10-10-10 fertilizer. The terra cotta pot offers good air movement through the soil; repotting is rarely necessary as the plant has a small root system. Keep the plant pruned for balance – both appearance and weight – if one side grows too large it could upset the whole plant.

 Sources and Citations

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Succulents – research source

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Succulent_plant – research source

http://www.bhg.com/gardening/houseplants/projects/top-10-succulents-for-home/ – research source

http://www.skh.com/gardeningatoz/cactus-succulent-care/ – research source

The Best Indoor Plants for Beginners

The best indoor plants for beginners are ones that are low maintenance and only require easily attainable equipment such as regular potting soil, or no soil at all. Some indoor planters come in  ready-made kits that makes it very easy to get started with having plants in your home. If you are like me, you like to jump into things with both feet without first having to run to 50 different stores and learn an entirely new subject before starting on a new hobby or project.

Lucky Bamboo – Best Indoor Plants for Cleanliness

Lucky bamboo is one type of plant that generally does not require potting soil. Ironically Lucky Bamboo isn’t really bamboo, but is a species of Dracaena called “Dracaena braunii” or also “Dracaena sanderiana” that grows in the tropical rainforests of west Africa. Under ideal conditions the plant will grow to 1.5 meters (5 ft) tall. In some ways these plants resemble miniature Palm Plants (also known as Bamboo Palm).

Caring for Lucky Bamboo

The Best Indoor Plants - Lucky Bamboo

Figure 1: Three Potted Lucky Bamboo

Lucky Bamboo plants are very easy to care for but it is also possible to kill them with enough neglect or unsuitable conditions. It is most commonly found in pots like the ones pictured here, and rather than growing in potting soil the roots are usually covered with stones and water. Other plants that can grow without soil are Spider Plants and Orchids, but there is much more involved with orchid care than the Lucky Bamboo. Lucky Bamboo grows slowly, but it’s important to maintain a 5 cm (2 in) depth of water, and be sure to use distilled water for best results. Replace the water in the plant pot every two weeks. Also, there are special fertilizers made for Lucky Bamboo.

Lucky Bamboo is a great plant for an office environment because it’s very clean.  Since there are no holes or potting soil with most of the plants, there’s very little cause for messes on desks. Similar to a topiary, it is possible to braid the stalk as they grow to make the plant more ornamental. Also, it thrives in fluorescent light. If you have it at home or near a window, make sure that it is not in direct sunlight, as the sun will scorch the leaves. Keep the plant away from drafts and the direct path of air vents as the changes in temperature can cause problems.

Succulents – Best Indoor Plants for Living With Neglect

Succulents are a class of plant that thrives in dry climates and are some of the best indoor plants for beginners because they can withstand a certain amount of neglect. In fact, a person who is overly attentive is more likely to kill succulent plants than one who is neglectful. They tend to hoard water within their stems, leaves and trunks and require little active care. As with any plant, over-watering will kill a succulent, but the rot will start sooner with a succulent than with a plant that requires frequent watering. An example of a succulent is the common cactus. Figure 2 shows a wide variety of succulents and some of the range of colors and shapes that they come in.

The Best Indoor Plants - Succulents

Figure 2: Mixed Succulents

Caring for Succulents

Many varieties of succulents cannot tolerate full direct sunlight. If in doubt, opt for bright, indirect light to avoid burning your plant. While most of the year your succulent plants can go long periods of time without water, in the warm season they go through a growth spurt and need more water than the rest of the time. During the growth season, a good rule of thumb is to wait until the soil is dry and then water it. A little more neglect is acceptable during the cooler seasons, but too much neglect will kill your plant, so do keep an eye on it to make sure it’s not getting too dry. If the soil looks like it’s rotting and smells sour, then you are watering your plant too frequently. Also, if the base of the plant turns brown, then it is being over-watered and is beginning to rot. Succulents prefer sandy soil with good drainage, so be sure to use flower pots with drainage holes, otherwise it is more likely that  your plant will rot.

Cyclamen – One of the Best Indoor Plants for Colors

While some Succulent plants do flower, the main attraction to both Lucky Bamboo and Succulents is their foliage. Cyclamen is one of the best indoor plants for beginners in that it has nice foliage, colorful flowers, and requires very basic plant health care, unlike Roses. Cyclamen can be grown in outdoor planters in moderate climates, but is commonly sold as an indoor plant and can liven up an indoor garden, or indoor plant stands. The flowers tend to come in shades of pink, red or white and the leaves tend to be heart shaped, as shown in Figure 3. Be cautious with Cyclamen around children and pets because it is a poisonous plant. If that is a concern, then another choice of beautiful, and relatively easy, flowering plants are African Violets.

The Best Indoor Plants - Cyclamen

Figure 3: Potted Cyclamen

Caring for Cyclamen

Much like succulents, Cyclamen tends to have a growth season and a dormant season. These flowering plants look gorgeous on most indoor plant stands, and their vivid colors bring cheer to a home. During the growth season (when leaves are present), it is best to let the soil dry between waterings, and during the dormant season (when the flowers fade) it can dry out for two to three months. If the plant gets too much water during the dormant season, the tuberous base can rot.

Cyclamen prefers ordinary potting soil, high humidity (especially during winter), low-nitrogen fertilizer, and (like most the plants featured on this page) bright, indirect light.

Sources and Citations

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dracaena_braunii – research source

http://apairandasparediy.com/2013/02/how-to-care-for-your-succulents.html – research source

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Succulent_plant – research source

http://www.extension.umn.edu/yardandgarden/ygbriefs/h145cyclamen.html – research source

http://gardening.about.com/od/houseplants/a/Cyclamen.htm – research source

 

 

 

 

Flowering Plants

The earth laughs in flowers.”
…  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Flowering Plants – A History

Flowering Plants - Mixed BouquetFlowering plants (Angiosperms) are seed-bearing vascular plants—the largest grouping within the plant kingdom in terms of the number of described species—about 352,000 species or 90% of all known species of plants; also the most varied group of land plants. Found in almost all habitats, the reproductive structures are flowers with the ovules enclosed in an ovary. Angiosperms have a large number and variety of life forms; the largest plant families being Orchids, Compositae (daisies) and Legumes (beans). There are various theories of flower evolution as described in Wikipedia. The first flowering plants (also referred to as fruiting plants) known to exist are from well over a million years ago; they became widespread about 120 million years ago, replacing conifers (plants that bear cones) approximately 60-100 million years ago. Many beautiful flowering plants are also very poisonous plants, so be cautious when selecting them for your home or yard if you have pets or children.

The orchid has 21, 950 species; the daisy has 22,750 species and the legumes have 19, 400 species.

Flowering Plants and Reproduction

The main feature of angiosperms is the flower, whose function is to ensure fertilization of the ovule as well as the development of fruit that has seeds. Flowers enable a wider range of adaptability for the species. The flowering plants have stamens with two pairs of pollen sacs, which have become modified over the centuries in order to prevent self-fertilization. The male parts are reduced to three cells. Fertilization begins quickly after pollination, allowing the species to produce seeds early. After the ovary has been fertilized, the carpel and surrounding tissue develop into a fruit, which attracts seed-dispersing animals thus helping the plant to spread and adapt to other areas.

Flowering Plants - Lavender PansiesThe flowering plants have reduced female gametophyte – 7 cells, 8 nuclei, possibly an adaptation for more rapid seed set. Endosperm is a nutritious tissue that provides food for the embryo, the cotyledons and more rarely the tiny seedling. These specific traits together have made flowering plants the most commercially viable group of plants to our existence. Some plants (like Spider Plants, many Succulent Plants and Palm Plants) are valued for their foliage, but still produce flowers for reproduction or when the plant is stressed.

Popular Flowering Plants

Modern flowering plants are used to brighten our homes, clean the air, increase humidity, improve our health and sharpen our attentiveness.

Examples include:

Hibiscus

Flowering Plants - HibiscusThe Hibiscus are beautiful tropical plants that create an exotic atmosphere with their huge blooms that last for only a short time; however, similar to Gardenias, the plant will bloom from spring through autumn. Keep the soil moist and give it lots of sunlight. The flowering plants can be trained to grow into trees.

Roses

Roses are one of the oldest flowers known to humans and are still one of the most-loved for their beauty and scent—honored also in medicine, art, literature, romance and ballads.  Roses do best in full sunlight, well-drained soil and lots of organic matter. In 1986 the rose became America’s national flower.

Cyclamen

Cyclamen is a popular plant for both indoor and outdoor growth. It is in the list of Best Indoor Plants for Beginners, and is hardy and easy to grow.

Hydrangea

Flowering Plants - HydrangeaSome Hydrangea plants are flowering plants native to Asia and the Americas. The most diverse plants are in China, Korea and Japan – some are shrubs, some small trees and some are lianas that climb up taller trees as high as 98 feet (30m).

Flowering Plants - Pink Hydrangea

The Hydrangea can also be grown in your garden or indoors. It will bloom from spring until autumn. Some species of the Hydrangea have 2 types of flowers s—mophead (large, round flowerheads) and lacecap (round, flat flowerheads). Most species of Hydrangea have white flowers but the color is affected by the level of soil acidity – an acid soil will normally produce a bluish flower; an alkaline soil will produce a pink Hydrangea bloom. The Hydrangeas can be deciduous or evergreen; the commonly seen plants here in the US are normally deciduous

Orchids

In 1922 a physiologist discovered how to germinate Orchid seeds, leading to mass production. Orchid breeders have now created in excess of 100,000 hybrid orchids. Some varieties of Orchids are not hard to grow. The plants do not grow in soil but in a chunky-textured medium such as moss, bark, charcoal and other ingredients mixed in. The roots must have exposure to air otherwise the plant will die! Mist the leaves lightly; after the flower stem dies the Orchid will go into a resting mode. It isn’t dead—don’t throw it out! The Phalaenopsis Orchid is a good plant to begin with. We have a Basic Orchid Care page on this website, but, for questions that we don’t address, there is an orchid care forum at: http://www.justaddiceorchids.com/frequently-asked-questions.

Peonies

Flowering Plants - PeoniesThe horticulture of Peonies is native to Western North America, Asia and Southern Europe. The number of species of this perennial is approximately 35-40 and boundaries between the species are not clear. The flowers are beautifully fragrant and appearing in colors of red, white, pink or yellow. The leaves are actually many leaflets with deeply indented margins and a single stem. Garden peonies start from tubers, while tree Peonies are grown from seed or from a graft.

Peonies are robust plants that take little care and can handle severe cold. They need a full day of sunlight unless you live where there is intense heat—in which case the plants may want partial shade. Peonies are often used in landscaping or planted just in a row. Do not overcrowd them—since that reduces air flow, and make sure the soil is well-drained or disease and rot could result. The plants have beautiful bright green foliage up to 3 feet high. Peonies can be grown in many zones if you prepare the soil properly, and once established in a garden they bloom regularly in the spring. If Peonies are growing where they have the correct balance of space, water, drainage, sunlight and air they may possibly bloom for a century with minimal care.

African Violets

African Violets are popular houseplants and are easy to grow when you keep in mind basic plant health care. They produce beautiful flowers and have velvety leaves. These plants can be gorgeous when displayed on suitable indoor plant stands.

Chrysanthemum

Flowering Plants - CrysanthemumThe Chrysanthemum flowers come in a wide variety of shapes, colors and sizes. Each Chrysanthemum flower is a cluster of several flowers—short disk flowers and rings of longer ray flowers; there are 9 categories depending on the type and arrangement of disk and ray flowers. This plant is not specific to any season; can be grown in most types of soil; needs sunny weather; they are easy to grow and flower for months.

Azalea

Plant an Azalea in loose, well-drained soil with good organic matter during the early spring or early autumn. Azalea roots are shallow; pH needs to be kept at about 4.5-5.5; soak the plant while in the pot prior to planting it in the garden. Flowering Plants - AzaleaPlant the azalea higher than the surrounding soil; they usually settle some—then water the area and add a layer of compost: pine needles, bark that has been shredded up or just pine bark. A mulch helps to keep the area damp and cool and deters weeds. If the weather is dry water the azalea weekly.

Sources and Citations

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flowering_plant – research source

http://www.bhg.com/gardening/houseplants/flowering/blooming-houseplants/#page=2 – research source

http://www.colonialdistrictroses.org/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/abriefhistoryoftherose.pdf – research source

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrangea – research source

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrangea – research source

http://www.theflowerexpert.com/content/mostpopularflowers/morepopularflowers/peonies – research source

http://www.gardeners.com/Peony-Care/8106,default,pg.html – research source

http://www.theflowerexpert.com/content/aboutflowers/tropicalflowers/chrysanthemum – research source

http://www.usna.usda.gov/Gardens/faqs/azaleafaq2.html – research source

 

Roses – Outdoors and Indoors

Roses - Pink Roses

“We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.” ~ Dale Carnegie, American playwright 1888 – 1955.

Roses

Roses - 'Apricot Twist' Miniature RoseRoses—one of my favorite flowering plants! My first experience with growing them came by me being too practical! As a young bride I loved the roses that my husband brought home to me but decided maybe he should buy bare root rose plants instead and we could save money and have our own rose garden; thus began a series of learning rose tips (and learning to not expect many more bouquets!!) There are many varieties of roses available, but don’t be fooled by other plants that have rose in the name. For example, the Desert Roses are actually a form of Succulent Plants.

 

Roses - Creamy Yellow, Ruffled BloomsHow to Plant Roses

In order to have beautiful, healthy plants with gorgeous flowers, first choose an open area of your garden or yard that gets approximately 6 hours of sunlight; this also helps avoid mildew or thrips (a type of insect). If roses have been planted in that location previously I recommend using fresh soil. I rototilled my chosen area thoroughly then decided where to place which roses, according to type, color arrangement, etc.

 

Soak a bare root rose in a pail of water before putting it in the ground; if it is a potted rose soak the plant well and allow it to sit until the ground is prepared. Since I wanted my roses to have plenty of sun and space for the roots to grow, I dug holes about 18 inches deep by 36 inches across (some sites recommend 15″ x 18″); my roses were stupendous!

 


Post-Planting Maintenance

Later, when the plants are in the ground and roots are taking hold, check the soil an inch below the surface to see if they need watered. If it is dry, soak them slowly to a depth of about 6 inches. Mist the plants as often as you can while they are getting rooted; continue misting daily until the new leaves are out.  Once the rose bushes have fully leafed out, apply a fertilizer and again after the first 6 weeks. Check the package for regular fertilization tips. ‘Miracle-Gro Rose Plant Food’ gave exceptional results.

Roses - Deja Blue My Bouquet Rose

 

Mulching helps the plants to retain moisture, discourages weeds and keeps the roots cooler during hot days. Cultivate just the top soil so you do not damage roots but allow air to enter the soil. Roses should be transplanted in the early spring while the bushes remain dormant.

 

Roses - Peachy Cream Rose

Raising Roses in Cold Climates

If you live in a cold climate, plant roses deeper (crown 1-2 inches below the surface), cover them well for winter—check with your local nursery on protection, fertilization, watering, spraying, misting and other tips. Choosing a variety of rose that is hardy in cold weather is a good way to reduce the risk of losing your plants during the cold season. Look for notes  in the rose bush’s description that say “Hardy cold weather”. I’m not particularly familiar with growing roses in below zero weather.

Roses - White RosesPest Control

Aphids are insects that live in colonies on the back of rose leaves and on the buds. They reproduce rapidly and can cause major damage to your plants. Liquid Castile or olive oil soap (in a spray bottle) will make an environmentally-friendly insecticidal spray that will kill aphids within an hour of spraying. When an hour has passed, gently rinse the roses with the water hose to wash off soap residue and dead bugs. This spray only kills on contact so you will have to repeat as necessary to keep the aphids down. Spray or dust for black spot and mildew as required (mildew can cause a loss of scent on the flower).

Caring for Miniature Roses Indoors

When most people think of rose bushes they think of gardens, but fortunately Roses also come in miniature versions that are beautiful on indoor plant stands and are great for patios as well. The care of miniature roses is very similar to that of full-sized roses, except that the potted miniatures may require more frequent watering, have fewer pest issues if kept indoors, and no rototilling required if grown in flower pots. Keeping those differences in mind, the plant health care tips here generally apply to both potted miniature and full-sized roses.

Roses - Rose Garden BasketUnlike Cyclamen, Roses are not poisonous plants and aside from being cautious of the thorns around children and animals, there is no danger of having them in the house. Caring for roses indoors is more challenging than most houseplants. I do not recommend them in the list of Best Indoor Plants for Beginners, and they are not as easy to grow as African Violets; however, you may find it less stressful than Orchid care, at least in my opinion. Be sure that you place your potted roses near a window where they get at least 6 hours of sunlight every day. If your roses start to fail, set them outside for a few days where they have plenty of light and fresh air (weather permitting).

Pruning your Rose Bushes

Prune for plant health, vigor and direction before new growth begins in the spring; also to get rid of diseases or weakened/damaged canes. Check carefully on pruning instructions before you use those shears!

If you like flowers in the house, early morning is the best time to cut roses—slice the flower stem at an angle using a sharp knife.

 

Rose Bouquets and the Symbolism of Colors

A rose from the florist shop usually has been engineered and bred for longevity and affordability at the cost of the fragrance, so if you want fragrant blooms you are better off growing your own roses. Many types of flowers are beautiful with roses, for example, the picture below shows the dramatic beauty of roses with Calla Lilies while a picture above shows a mixture of miniature and full-size pink roses. A current trend is to have multicolored or unusually colored rose flowers, but if you are buying rose seeds or bare root rose bushes be certain that the picture is not of a dyed rose or photoshopped for appeal. While searching for nice photos for this website I came across purple roses that were dyed and multicolored roses that were truly bred that way. Be sure to read labels and descriptions carefully before purchasing. With the wide varieties of colors and breeds of flowers that have been developed over centuries, people have attributed meanings to specific flowers. If you want to send flowers but aren’t sure whether your choice symbolizes the meaning you hope to convey, check with a florist.

  • red rose means passionate love
  • pink rose signifies appreciation
  • peach or yellow roses indicate friendship and happiness
  • Calla Lily is regal
  • hydrangea is for perseverance
  • pink tulips signify caring
  • peonies are for healing
  • both orchids and hibiscus (2 reputedly tropical plants) mean delicate beauty

 

If flowers aren’t your thing, check out our pages on Spider Plants and Palm Plants for care tips.

Sources and Citations

http://happyboomernurse.hubpages.com/hub/Roses-in-Pictures-Poetry-and-Famous-Quotes – research source

http://www.rose.org/planting-roses – research source

http://www.rose.org/bare-root-roses – research source

http://www.raveplants.com/tips/rose-care.htm#Getting – research source

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/natural-control-aphids-roses-29990.html – research source

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/02/14/living/flowers-lose-scent – research source

http://www.rkdn.org/roses/colors.asp – research source

http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-to-care-for-miniature-roses.html – research source