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

 

Palm Plants – Exotic Beauties

The Benefits of Palm Plants 

Much like African VioletsPalm Plants are among the best-known and most widely planted of tropical plant families. Many resources disagree whether Palm Plants are trees or just plants, yet many of these plants have the word tree as part of their name. Think that’s confusing? I do too!

There are in excess of two thousand varieties of Palm Plants living in climates from deserts to rain forests across the globe. Some of them are flowering plants while others are simply appreciated for their foliage.  Palm Plants have helped humans to survive throughout history. Numerous common foods and products used in our daily lives are made from palms. They are also often used in gardens and parks in areas where the temperature will allow – these plants do not tolerate heavy frosts.

Palm Plants - Areca Palm

Figure 1: Areca Palm

Many varieties of Palm Plants also make great houseplants. Before choosing a palm plant, always check your plant hardiness zone map and make sure that the environment you plan to grow it in is appropriate for the plant.

Palm Plants also have a reputation for cleaning the air. Some of the best clean air plants for your home or office include the:

    • Areca Palm–best known for ridding the air of all tested toxins
    • Bamboo Palm—adds needed moisture to the air when dry and removes benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene from the air
    • Rhapis Palm—is very resistant to attack by insects and the palm plant improves air quality

 

Palm Plants for Home, Office, or Patio

Palm plants make great exotic house plants, but like all plants, palms need the correct balance of moisture, light, fertilizer, and warmth to stay healthy. There are a wide variety of indoor plant stands that can nicely offset your palm plant. You can also buy little wheeled stands that allow you to easily move your larger potted plants without worry of tipping them. Different palms have various specifications for survival. Some notable dwarf palm trees suitable as exotic house plants or décor for patio or deck include:

Palm Plants - Windmill Palm Tree

Figure 3: Windmill Palm Tree

The Windmill Palm

The Windmill Palm Tree can be planted in large containers and placed on a patio or on a pool deck since the plant creates hardly any debris to dirty your pool.

Windmill Palms grow well in full to partial sun, can adapt to various soil types with good drainage, and will flourish with small effort from you. It is highly pollution resistant so can even be planted in a road divider since vehicle fumes or similar types of pollution will not bother it. The Windmill Palm Tree is easy to grow; it also adds a tropical appeal to any setting.

Palm Plants - Kentia (Sentry) Palm

Figure 4: Kentia (Sentry) Palm

The Sentry Palm

The Sentry Palm is a good example of a Palm houseplant suitable for a large office building or atrium. It grows to a height of 180 – 300 inches (15 – 25 feet) with a spread of 72-120 inches (6 – 10 feet).

The plant will grow in various types of soil–acidic, clay, loamy, neutral, sandy or low alkaline as long as it has good drainage.  It will take full shade to full sun and since it is drought tolerant, is a good plant for a container.

Palm Plants - Pindo Palm

Figure 5: Pindo Date Palm

The Pindo Palm

The Pindo Palm is a Southern Palm that can stand the coldest Southern winters–even below zero. The plant leaves have a blue-grey sheen and the fronds curl inward, giving the palm a distinctive appearance.

This palm can grow in large flower pots and used on/near the deck or patio although it can be messy when the fruit appears–just don’t call me to move it if it succeeds in growing 30 feet tall with a 20 foot leaf span and a 2-foot base! Always water the Pindo Palm at the base of the trunk; water on the fronds can cause disease to spread.

The Bamboo Palm

Palm Plants - Bamboo Palm

Figure 6: Bamboo Palm

When I first read about Bamboo Palm Plants I thought that they meant “Lucky Bamboo” or Dracaena plants that you see in grocery and drug stores with “Bamboo Plants for Sale” signs on them. Apparently the Bamboo Palm is a variety of Palm Plant that is also known as the Reed Palm and is unrelated to “true” bamboo.

This plant prefers shade and is ideal as a house plant because its normal maximum growth is 7 feet high; however, if it is exposed to brighter light and warmer temperatures it will produce small flowers and berries. Since this plant is used to being in the shade of taller trees, it prefers indirect light, but can tolerate direct sunlight if acclimated slowly. Use soil with good drainage, but keep it moist. 

Facts Regarding Palm Plants

Palm Plants - Dwarf Palm Tree

Figure 7: Dwarf Palm TreePalm Plants will start from seeds or division of roots

  • seeds need to be harvested when they are fully ripe then immediately sown with a high ratio of sand to soil
  • seeds may begin germinating at 3 months, and for some plants continue up to 2 years
  • new, tiny plants may be lifted when there is a pair of leaves; put them in small pots
  • seem to prefer to be root-bound; they thrive even in pots that are too small for the plant
  • when new plants are almost cracking their pot, it’s time to replant in a larger container
  • may be fertilized about every 2 weeks with liquid manure that includes oil cakes and ammonium-sulphate
  • need water regularly every other day
  • over-pruning your palm plant/tree can rob it of valuable nutrients
  • acclimatize them sufficiently prior to keeping them as indoor plants
  • Palm plants can be a nice addition to rockery plants in a rock garden
  • Palm Plants can be cultivated into Bonsai Trees (see Figure 8)

 

Palm Plants - Ponytail Palm Bonsai Tree

Figure 8: Ponytail Palm Bonsai Tree

Plants that Complement Palm Plants

Other potted plants that would complement the Palm Plants on the deck, patio or in the yard include: Hibiscus, Hydrangea, Bonsai Tree, Bougainvillea, various Yucca and Succulent plants, Viburnum, Cyclamen, Roses and Ferns. Even hanging basket plants, like Spider Plants, can beautifully offset Palm Plants in the right settings.

Your local nursery can order any of these plants for you, or you can find many of them at Amazon.com; if they are exotic plants such as Palm Plants make sure you understand the growth and care requirements. Caring for Palm Plants can be as interesting as Orchid care, so if you have any plant health care questions visit our pages here or speak with your local florist.

 

Threats to Palm Plants

Although fully grown palms are usually fairly free of damaging insect pests, there are still ‘bugs’ and other problems that can destroy the plants. Problems can include:

Palm Plants - Sago Palm

Figure 9: Highly Poisonous Sago Palm

  • insects and mites
  • palm aphids
  • scales
  • banana moth
  • coconut mites
  • spider mites
  • rotten sugarcane borer
  • royal palm bug
  • palm leaf skeletonizer
  • palmetto weevils
  • grasshoppers
  • caterpillars
  • bud-/root-/trunk-rot and wilt

Other problems are possible:

  • trunk splits or cracks
  • leaf spot diseases
  • trunk constrictions
  • pencil pointing
  • lightning strike (usually fatal to the palm)
  • if your palm grows tall enough to be near high-voltage power lines the electromagnetic fields could injure the palms—turning the leaves yellow in spite of regular fertilization and no sign of pests.

WARNING: Sago Palms, as pictured in Figure 9, are extremely poisonous plants and a danger to dogs, cats, and humans; be cautious if you are considering them. They are not actually Palm plants but belong to the Cycadaceae family. Every part of the plant is toxic and can kill the person or animal who ingests any part of it. According to the video embedded below, the smell and taste of the Sago Palm is appealing to pets and if they encounter one they are likely to eat it–especially the seeds (the most poisonous part).

 

Sources and Citations

http://www.hgtvgardens.com/trees/sentry-palm-howea-forsteriana – research source

http://www.fast-growing-trees.com/Windmill-Palm.htm?gclid=CMu688TrrboCFUlyQgod_WUAgw – research source

http://agritech.tnau.ac.in/horticulture/horti_Landscaping_plant%20components.html#PALMS – research source

http://www.canarydatepalmtreesforsale.com/nursery/pindo-palm-for-sale – research source

http://www.fast-growing-trees.com/Pindo-Palm-Trees.htm?gclid=CJGxj7yLrroCFeh0QgodlAUAdA – research source

http://houseplants.about.com/od/pickingahouseplan1/a/PalmBasics.htm – research source

http://www.bhg.com/gardening/plant-dictionary/shrub/viburnum– – research source

http://www.rockerylandscaping.com/retaining-walls/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=rockery-seattle&utm_campaign=BDRockeries&mtch=broad&gclid=CLSp56-vs7oCFWZBQgodhmQArQ – research source

http://sfrc.ufl.edu/urbanforestry/Resources/PDF%20downloads/Pest_Problem_Palms_2004.pdf – research source

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/sago-palm – research source