Begonia bowerae

April 1st, 2014

Common name: Eyelash Begonia

Family: Begoniaceae

Wrong spelling: Begonia boweri

Synonymous: Begonia bowerae var. major
Begonia bowerae var. nigramarga
Begonia bowerae var. roseflora

Begonia bowerae

Begonia bowerae

Distribution and habitat: Begonia bowerae is a native of tropical Mexico and its natural habitat is the shadowy area on the floor of the tropical forest as ground-cover and non-stem-forming plant. This creeping rhizomatous Begonia grows up to 25cm (10 inch) tall and is spreading up to 18cm (7 inch). It is a miniature Begonia with straight, scattered, single hairs on petioles, leaf margins and peduncles.

Begonia bowerae is usually offered under the incorrect name: Begonia boweri. This is a fantastic Begonia that is heavily used for breeding to create new exciting cultivars and is itself rarely on offer.

Description: Begonia bowerae it is a tender perennial that grows from a creeping branched rhizome (underground stem). It is a bushy, stemless plant, about 15-20cm (6-8 inch) tall. The small, heart shaped leaves are deep emerald green with black edging and with stiff hairs on leaf edges and leaf stalk. The purple-burgundy to nearly black markings may also create bands along the leaf veins. In late winter and early spring it produces loose clusters of white or light pink male and female flowers that are held on thin pink stems above the foliage. The flowers are tiny, shell shaped, produced on 10-15cm (4-6 inch) long stalks.

Houseplant care: Begonia bowerae cultivars are among the most preferred indoor plants for their rich colours of the leaves and because the relatively rapid growth. Pinching tips and pruning outer stems in the growing season gives a bushier plant, good for hanging baskets. Remove dead foliage to prevent disease.

Light: Begonia bowerae are grown primarily for their foliage. Their leaf colours will be saved only when the plant is kept in high humidity and away from direct sunlight, but well-lit location. A shaded greenhouse or a window free of direct sun also will suffice. Although this plant enjoys filtered light, it can take some sun in winter.
These plants do not like changing their position.

Temperature: Normal room temperatures are suitable for actively growing plants, preferable at least 15°C (59°F). Give to these plants fresh air as much as possible and avoid draughts or cold air.
Begonia bowerae suffer in dry air. For increased humidity stand the pots on trays with moist pebbles or suspend saucers of water under hanging baskets.

Watering: As these Begonia bowerae plants are able to store large amounts of moisture in their thickened stems they require less moisture than most other Begonias types, especially during the colder months.
Water regularly with trepid water, so that the potting mixt stays always moist, but never soaking-wet. Do not spray mist this plant and avoid getting the leaves wet when watering.
In winter, this plant dislikes conditions which are too moist and too dark. In this period water the plant more sparingly, allowing the top half of the potting mixture to dry out between waterings.

Feeding: Apply standard liquid fertiliser every two weeks to actively growing plants.

Potting and repotting: Use either a peat-based mixture or a combination of equal parts of soil-based potting mixture and coarse leaf mould. Put a shallow layer of clay-pot fragments or other drainage material in the bottom of the pot for extra drainage.
Begonia bowerae is a rhizomatous begonia and has shallow roots, therefore is best planted in shallow pots or pans. Move small plants into the next size of pot or pan only when the rhizome has grown across the entire surface of the potting mixture; do this preferably in spring. Discard aging rhizomatous Begonia bowerae in favour of attractive new plants.
When potting or repotting a Begonia bowerae, simply sprinkle some mixture around the roots and tap the container briskly to settle the potting mixture. Do not firm it down with the finger as this procedure may damage the roots and stems.

Gardening: Begonia bowerae can be grown outdoors in pots, in the ground to form groundcover or in hanging baskets in filtered light and moist, but well drained soil. In mild winter areas, they may remain outdoors year-round as long as they do not freeze.

Tip pinching early develops a well-rounded plant. Pruning usually consists of replanting an old plant that is crowding itself. Rhizomes often will grow over the pot edge. This forms a nicely rounded plant and, unless it is not becoming unattractive, need not prompt pruning. Once Begonia bowerae have finished flowering, pinch out the growing tip to encourage the development of laterals and a fuller plant. Old leaves should be removed at the end of winter.

Position: These rhizomatous begonias grow nicely when given adequate light without strong direct sun. Under a shade structure or a tree is a good place to grow them outdoors.

Soil: Begonia bowerae plants prefer well drained soil rich in compost or organic matter. They like an acidic soil  with pH ranging from 5.5 to 6.5. Humidity around 60 per cent is ideal and good drainage is essential.

Irrigation: In the garden, water deeply as required, which is not as often as people may think. They should be kept on the dry side, as overwatering them can be fatal, whether they are in a pot or garden bed. Begonias are succulent or semi-succulent plants so accept quite dry conditions. Overhead watering would not harm them.

Fertilise: Feed these plants with liquid fertiliser at three of four weeks interval.

Propagation: Cut off 5-8cm (2-3 inch) long growing tips in spring or early summer. Trim each cutting immediately bellow a leaf, carefully remove the leaf and dip the cut end of the stem in hormone rooting powder. Plant the cuttings in an 8cm (3 inch) pot of moistened equal-parts of peat moss and coarse sand or perlite and enclose the whole in a plastic bag or propagating case. Stand it in bright filtered light until renewed growth indicates that the rooting has occurred – about three to six weeks. Uncover the rooted cuttings and begin to water it sparingly and to apply standard liquid fertiliser about once every two weeks. Do not overwater these hirsute Begonias which will rot if kept too wet. About six months after the start of propagation, move the young plants into a slightly larger pot of standard potting mixture for mature Begonia bowerae.

Another way to propagate Begonia bowerae is to cut a rhizome into 5-8cm (2-3 inch) long sections, each with at least one growth point. This way of propagation have to be undertaken in spring. Treat the cut ends of sections with sulphur dust. Plant each section half in and half out of slightly moistened rooting mixture in a 8cm (3 inch) pot or pan. Use a rooting mix of equal parts of peat moss and coarse sand or perlite. Place the section either horizontally or vertically, depending on how the parent rhizome was growing in its container.
Enclose each planted piece of rhizome in a plastic bag or a propagating case and stand it in bright filtered light. Roots should form in four to six weeks. When two or three new leaves have appeared, uncover the little plant, repot it in an appropriate container of the recommended potting mixture and treat it as a mature plant.

Begonia bowerae can be propagated also from leaf cuttings in spring. Take a healthy leaf with 2-5cm (0.8-2 inch) leaf-stalk attached and plant the stalk at an angle of 45° in a small pot of moistened propagating mixture recommended above or insert several leaves in a small pan or seed stray.
Enclose the whole in a plastic bag or propagating case and stand it in bright filtered light. Rooting should occur in two or three weeks and tiny plantlets should appear from each leaf after a further two or three weeks. Several plantlets are generally clustered together. When each of them has produced at least two recognisable leaves, pot the plantlets up singly in 8cm (3 inch) containers of the recommended potting mixture for mature Begonia bowerae. Before treating the little plants as adults, however, dampen the mixture sighly and put the plants back in a plastic bag or propagating case for another four weeks. This will acclimatise them to normal room conditions.

Begonia bowerae can easily develop mildew if wetting its leaves.
Treatment: Spray these plants with a suitable fungicide at regular intervals.

The only pest these plants seem to be affected by is the snail.
Treatment: Use snail bait around them.

Companion plants: Begonia bowerae can be planted together with few different types of Begonias with contrasting colours and shape: plain leaved ones can be alternated with patterned forms and / or juxtaposing silvery leaves with darker foliage. They also contrast well with upright, strap-leaved plants that tolerate dry shade, such as Liriope species, renga-renga lilies (Arthropodium cirratum) and bromeliads, as well as with ferns.

Recommended varieties:
Begonia bowerae cv. ‘Tiger’ has olive-green leaves with light green spots. The undersides of the leaves and the brittle, juicy stems, are wine-red.

Uses and display: It is regarded as one of the prettiest begonias for foliage and its relative ease of culture as both a houseplant or annual bedding begonia. As a houseplant it is favoured for culture in a terrarium or glass bowl. Also it can be used as groundcover for shady tropical gardens. In frost-prone regions use it as a seasonal annual accent in containers, hanging baskets or window boxes where its ornate foliage can be highlighted.


Foliage – coloured
Shape – creeping
Height:  15-20cm (6-8 inch)

Watering in rest period – moderately
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – bight filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 13°C max 15°C (55-59°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 27°C (61-81°F)
Humidity – moderate

Hardiness zone: 10a-11

Begonia bowerae - female flowers Begonia bowerae - male flowers Begonia boweri Tiger

Evergreen, Flowering Plants, Foliage Plants, Garden Plants, Ground cover, Indoor Plants , , , , ,

Primula malacoides

March 31st, 2014

Common name: Fairy Primrose, Baby Primula

Family: Primulaceae

Synonymous: Primula delicata
Primula forbesii subsp. delicata
Primula malacoides subsp. pseudomalacoides
Primula pseudomalacoides

Primula malacoides

Primula malacoides

Distribution and habitat: Primula malacoides is an evergreen perennial plant native to Yunnan province of China. This plant was naturalized in many parts of the world where it has adapted successfully to sub-tropical alpine climates.
The word primula is the Latin feminine diminutive of primus, meaning first (prime), applied to flowers that are among the first to open in spring.

Description: Primula malacoides is a small mauve-flowered wild species. There are some forms with bright pink, red or white flowers. The plants form a foliage rosette 20 to 40cm (8-16 inch) high and 30cm (1 feet) wide; soft, pale green, oval, 4 to 8cm (1.5 – 3 inch) long leaves, with lobed and cut edges are carried on long stalks. From midwinter to spring the best of these forms carry between 20 and 30 blooms in tiers, on slender stems above hairy, pale green, scallop-edged leaves. Tiered blossoms in loose, lacy whorls along many upright stems.

Houseplant care: Although they are perennial, they make a quite effective indoor plants, most treated as annuals to be enjoyed while in bloom and then disposed of. Those that are to be carried over to another season, require cool, light shade and airy conditions during the summer, with just enough water to prevent the mixture from drying out. Alternatively, in areas within its hardiness zone, these plants can be transplanted into the ground when they finish blooming and enjoy them for several years.

The flowering season can be prolonged by picking off dead flowers as soon as they fade.

Light: Bright light, including some sunshine must be provided for Primula malacoides at all times. They make a wonderful plant for window sills. Turn the pots regularly so stems grow strait and tall.

Temperature: Primula malacoides purchased already in flower are best kept between 10-13°C (50-55°F). Room temperature over 15°C (59°F) will shorten the life of the flowers. If plants are brought into warmer room temporarily, give them added humidity by standing them on trays of moist pebbles and mist-spray the plants frequently.
Reduce the temperature if individual flowers only last a couple of days.

Watering: Water plentifully, enough to keep the entire potting mixture thoroughly moist, but never let the pot stand in water.

Feeding: Apply standard liquid fertiliser every two weeks during the entire flowering period.

Potting and repoting: Use a soil based potting mixture. Small plants, which can usually be bought in early autumn, should be quickly moved into 10 or 13cm (4-5 inch) pots to give them room for development.

Gardening: Young plants of Primula malacoides are more productive of blooms than the old ones and hence it is desirable to raise these plants from seeds each year. Ideal the temperature in summer should be 16°C (61°F), in winter should be 5 to 10°C (41-50°F).

The stems of Primula malacoides should be removed after flowering in order to promote new growth.

Position: Primula malacoides are perfect for shady areas although they can tolerate dappled morning sun. It is a plant that thrives in the cool, short days of winter and early spring.

Soil: They prefer soil that is rich in organic matter so it is important that you add compost to the soil before planting. Its ideal setting is woodland with soil that is rich in humus and remains moist throughout the year, but is also well drained.

Plant Primula malacoides 20 to 25cm (8-10 inch) apart one from another. Water the plants before removing from their pot to plant them in beds. Water again next morning the new planted Primula malacoides.

Irrigation: Primula malacoides prefers moist to wet soil and will grow well in almost any setting provided if it is kept well watered. Keep the soil moist, but not sodden and pay particular attention to watering if these plants are grown in pots or baskets. Primula malacoides do not like to get thirsty.
If the weather turns too warm, mulch around the plants with compost to help keep the root systems cool.

Fertilising: This plant has moderate feeding requirements. If in beds, a soluble multi-feed, used every six weeks is adequate. Monthly feeding is preferable if in containers or hanging baskets. This feeding will ensure prolific blooming and healthy, strong plants.

Propagation: Primula malacoides are prolific self seeders. They can be propagated by sowing when seeds are ripe or by division in late summer.

The seeds are small and special care should be taken for sowing small seeds. Sow them using a peaty potting mix. These seeds need light for germination, so barely cover with soil. Watering the seeds pans should be done from bellow: the water is placed in a trough of water and it is absorbed through the drainage holes. Keep seeds moist until germination. The germination, which is irregular, is completed in two to three weeks. When the seedling are large enough to be handled with ease, they should fist transplanted to 8cm (3 inch), then finally in beds or 13cm (4 inch) pots. To pot them, use same potting mixture as for mature plants. The plants raised from seeds will flower in about six months – Seeds are sown in autumn and the plants will flower in spring. Begin to feed when the flower stalks begin to develop and continue to feed at intervals of 14 days until flowering has finished.

Honeydew, galls and distorted leaves are a sign for an infestation with aphids.
Treatment: Use an adequate insecticide. Outdoors biological control can be an alternative, introducing parasitic wasps or predators such as Aphidoletes aphidimyza.

A powdery white coat on the plants indicates an infection with powdery mildew.
Treatment: Remove affected plants and apply a fungicide. To prevent infection improve ventilation, keep the roots moist and do not water the plants from above.

White tufts or white covering on the lower surface of the leaves indicates an infection with downy mildew.
Treatment: Remove affected plants and apply a fungicide. To prevent infection improve ventilation, keep the roots moist and do not water the plants from above.

Fine webs on the plants indicate an infestation with red spider mites. These sap-sucking insects mainly appear under glass.
Treatment: These pests can be controlled either with insecticide or outdoors can be controlled biologically with parasitic mites.

Sudden wilting and pale green discolouration indicate a fungal infection (phytophthora).
Treatment: Remove infected plants. Avoid it by improving drainage and do not over-fertilise these plants.

Gnaw marks and slime trails indicate a problem with slugs.
Treatment: Prevent infestation by improving hygiene and by regularly working the soil. In case of an infestation use slug pellets or nematodes to control pest. Handpicking the slug also helps, do this preferably in the evening hours.

Primula malacoides are eaten by the larvae (caterpillars) of some Lepidoptera species, including Duke of Burgundy butterfly, Large Yellow Underwing, Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, Setaceous Hebrew Character and Silver-ground Carpet.
Treatment: Use an adequate pesticide.

Disfigured and discoloured leaves and flowers indicate a viral infection.
Treatment: Remove affected plants. Keep the plants pest free as they may spread the disease.

Companion plants: Primula malacoides show to great effect in striking mass displays, as companion plants to spring-flowering bulbs such as Tulipa species and mixed with viola species, pansy (Viola tricolor subsp. hortensis), Phlox species and Iceland poppies (Papaver nudicaule) in sparkling herbaceous borders. They make a wonderful display in front of the Iris species beds, sharing the same cool and humid habitat.

Availability: Primula malacoides become available as flowering pots from the florists and nurseries centres during midwinter till early spring.

Toxicity: The leaves may irritate the skin. Use garden gloves when handling these plants.

Uses and display: Primula malacoides is a perennial in mildest winters but treated as an annual, potted plant or houseplant everywhere. These plants are good planted in rock gardens, used as bedding plants and in containers. They are suited for cultivation in a cold house. Also they are very appreciated as indoor plant for their colourful early blooms.
They are good plants for the woodland garden and for a wonderful display when planted en masse, creating a meadow in the garden. Due to their height, they are a good filler for the middle to back section of flower beds. Primula malacoides are wonderful for attracting butterflies. In containers and hanging baskets they can be used to create a vertical accent. Primroses look terrific when displayed in baskets. Place several small pots of primulas in a large basket and fill in the space between the pots with moss.

Primula malacoides, together with all Primula species, provide relief from a somewhat barren winter landscape. Their sea of dreamy colours is a must have when planting a winter garden.

Foliage – green
Shape – rosette
Features – flowers
Height: 30cm (12 inch)
Width: 20cm (8 inch)

Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright
Temperature in active growth period – min 7°C max 18°C (45-64°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 8-11

Primula malacoides Primula malacoides Primula malacoides

Flowering Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants , , , , , ,

Platycerium grande

March 28th, 2014

Common name: Staghorn Fern

Family: Polypodiaceae


Platycerium grande

Platycerium grande

Distribution and habitat: Platycerium grande is coming from the Philippines where in growing on tree branches near cultivated plants. Apparently Platycerium grande did escape from cultivation in the early stages of becoming established in the wild. It grows on both trees and rocks, usually in rainforest.
This ferns are epiphytes, using trees for support only; they do not obtain nourishment or water from the host tree as would a parasite plant do. Photosynthesis takes place in the green fronds just like any ordinary plant leaf. But the overlapping brown fronds near the base of this fern serve to trap falling debris such as dead insects and pieces of plant material; this is where the fern gets its minerals and other nutrients that most plants would get through their roots from the soil.

Description: Platycerium grande is an epiphytic fern (a fern that grows on the branches of tree canopies or on fallen logs). It is a large fern that produces enormous sterile fronds, like a large battle shield, with forks off of the top edge. The fertile fronds up to 2m (6 feet) length, have two lobes with long fingers hanging down off of their lower edge. In between those two lobes, on the underside of the frond is a large spore patch. Each fertile frond also has a second spore patch located on the lower side of a large triangular lobe.

Platycerium grande is very similar with Platycerium superbum. Platycerium grande can be identified from other Platycerium species by having two spore patches, no frills around the growth bud and having thin papery sterile fronds.

Houseplant care: Platycerium grande ferns are best suited to greenhouse cultivation, but can be grown in the home if water is supplied regularly. Platycerium grande is advisable to be mounted on a sphagnum covered wood plaque. This fern does not do well growing on a hanging basket.

Clean the fronds of Platycerium grande by leaving them in gentle rain in mild weather or by mist-spraying them; Wiping them with a soft cloth or sponge is not a good idea as it will remove the attractive felty scurf. Do not allow water to remain on the fronds.

Light: In nature, Platycerium grande usually grow high up in the branches of the trees; thus, they strive in bright light. Strong direct sunlight, however, will rob the fronds of much of their colour and may cause unsightly markings.
Keep them in bright light without direct exposure to sun. If only artificial light is available, they should have at least 4300 lux (400 foot-candles).

Temperature: Platycerium grande like temperatures up to 24°C (75°F) as long as humidity is kept high. These plants should be mist sprayed once a day when they are grown in warm rooms. An ideal summer temperature is about 21°C (70°F) with a minimum winter temperature of 13°C (50°F). Airy, well ventilated situation suit these plants best.

Water: During the spring and summer give to Platycerium grande enough water at every watering to make the potting mixture thoroughly moist, but allow the potting mixture to dry out almost completely before watering again. During the rest period water these ferns much more sparingly than in the growing period, giving only enough water to make the mixture barely moist throughout.

Because the ‘shield’ frond often covers the surface, it may be virtually impossible to water some potted Platycerium bifurcatum from above. The way to solve this problem is to submerge the root portion in a large container of water until it is soaked. During the active growth period leave the plant in water for 15 minutes or so at each watering. During the rest period leave the plant in the water for no more then one or two minutes at a time. Whatever the plant is growing actively or resting, do not soak it again until it is obviously in need of water, which will be indicated by abnormally droopy fronds or by an evident loos of weight of the plant.

Feed: Feeding is rarely necessary, but mature plants – especially those growing on bark – should have two or three applications of standard liquid fertiliser during the period of active growth. For a satisfactory feeding, the bark section that carries the roots should be immersed for a few minutes in the fertiliser solution until it is thoroughly soaked.

Potting and repotting: Platycerium grande plants are often sold growing on a piece of tree fern or bark. When the sterile fronds of such plants have almost covered their backing, fasten the fern onto larger piece of material, either tying or carefully nailing the two together.
To fasten a plant initially to bark wrap the small, spongy root mass in an equal parts mixture of very coarse peat moss and sphagnum moss and tie this bundle securely to the backing with some strong cotton – not nylon – thread. Keep both bark and root mass moist until the roots (which are sparse) and the sterile fronds have adhered to the support.

Alternatively, plant the fern in a wooden, slatted hanging basket (similar to those used for orchids) which is filled with same mixture of peat and sphagnum moss. When established, the plant will gasp the slats firmly.

Platycerium grande can be grown in pots only when very small, since they wrap their supportive fronds around the pot, which must be broken to sever their hold. It is extremely difficult to move them into larger containers.

Gardening: Platycerium grande prefers to be mounted on a sphagnum covered wood plaque. This fern does not do well growing on a hanging basket.
Platycerium grande prefers temperatures to be above 15°C (60°F). It will survive short periods of colder temperatures. Damage will begin to occur below 4°C (40°F).

Light: Platycerium grande ferns do best in bright light, but not direct sun. It will thrive suspended in the filtered light beneath a canopy of trees.

Water: Water regularly, but don’t keep it too wet. The entire Platycerium grande fern and the organic material to which it is attached should be dunked once a week in a dilute solution of fertilizer and rainwater. This species likes high humidity. It will thrive when the fronds are misted daily, but they can do without. Rainwater is best, but soft water can be used.

Fertilise: Feed Platycerium grande with diluted liquid fertiliser once a month during the spring and summer.

Propagation: Nonclumping species such as Platycerium grande can only be propagated from spores and this can be quite a difficult undertaking.

Problems: Scale and mealy bug, sometimes attack Platycerium grande.
Treatment: Use an adequate insecticide.

May be confused with: Platycerium holttumii, Platycerium superbum and Platycerium wandae
When immature, Platycerium grande, Platycerium holttumii, Platycerium superbum and Platycerium wandae will look more or less identical to one another. The adults, however, differ from each other in for key aspects: only Platycerium superbum has only one spore patch, the other three species have two spore patches, only Platycerium wandae frills around growth bud and only Platycerium holttumii has thick and spongy sterile fronds.

Uses and display: Platycerium grande are grown on a moisture retentive medium such as tree bark, osmunda fern root or sphagnum moss, usually in hanging containers or mounted on wall planters. In frost free climates they can be attached to trees or they are often grown in containers suspended beneath a large tree. Platycerium grande ferns are best suited to greenhouse cultivation, but can be grown in the home if water is supplied regularly. Platycerium grande ferns can grow to enormous size, even with little care and a large specimen is truly impressive.


Foliage – green
Shape – climbing
Height: 60-90 cm (24-36 inch)

Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright
Temperature in rest period – min 13°C max 18°C (55-64°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 18°C max 24°C (64-75°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 9 – 11

Evergreen, Ferns, Platycerium ,

Nephrolepis exaltata

March 25th, 2014

Common name: Sword Fern, Wild Boston Fern, Tuber Ladder Fern, Fishbone Fern, Boston Fern

Family: Lomariopsidaceae

Nephrolepis exaltata

Nephrolepis exaltata

Distribution and habitat: Nephrolepis exaltata ferns grow in jungles in Central and South America where they are shaded by the jungle canopy but receive moisture on a regular basis. Within Nephrolepis exaltata genus there are many varieties, some of them quite small and compact, others quite large. These evergreen terrestrial or epiphytic ferns have short rhizomes and usually wiry spreading runners. It is considered as being a serious invasive plant, forming dense monocultures.

Description: Nephrolepis exaltata has 50–250cm (20-98 inch) long and 6–15cm (2-6 inch) broad in tufted clusters arising from underground rhizomes.  The individual pinnae (leflets) are as much as 2 to 8cm (1-3 inch) long and shallowly toothed, but not further divided. The pinnate vein pattern is also visible on these highly compound leaves. The round sori (clusters of spore-bearing organs) are in two rows near the margins on the underside of the pinnae.
The fronds grow upright at first, then arch gracefully downwards. They grow in lovely arching rosette shaped and spread by runners.

Houseplant care: Nephrolepis exaltata is one of the easiest of the ferns to grow indoors. These ferns need pliantly of space to develop their long fronds. Rotate the plant from time to time to ensure symmetrical growth, but as far as possible leave it undisturbed.

Nephrolepis exaltata ferns do not tolerate dry air. They need high level of humidity provided by regular misting and trays of moist pebbles placed under their pots. Use trepid soft water if possible. Once a week, apply a gentle shower  with trepid water. Leave them in bath to drain before returning them to their usual place.

In some of the extremely feathery forms of Nephrolepis exaltata Bostoniensis some of the fronds of the plant occasionally revers to the original species. Cut out any long, insufficiently segmented fronds as soon as they appear. If permitted to survive, they will take over the plant.

Light: Provide to Nephrolepis exaltata bright light without direct sunlight. If necessary these ferns can tolerate medium light for periods up to four or five weeks.
A good place for Nephrolepis exaltata is in front of an east-facing window or several feet from a west or south facing window.

Temperature: Normal room temperatures are suitable throughout the year. Minimum tolerable temperature is 10°C (50°F). For Nephrolepis exaltata grown at temperatures above 21°C (70°F) increase humidity by standing the pot on a tray of damp pebbles and mist-spraying the foliage daily.

Nephrolepis exaltata may appear totally dead due to frost, it will re-emerge in the spring.

Watering: In summer Nephrolepis exaltata will need lots of water and frequent misting. As long as room temperatures remains above 13°C (55°F), water the plant plentifully as often as necessary to keep the potting mixture thoroughly moist. Do not allow the potting mixture to dry out. In winter this fern will need less water.  If the temperature drops below 13°C (55°F) for more than a day or two, allow the top third of the potting mixture to dry out completely between waterings.
Water hanging baskets ferns by plunging in a bath or bucket of water, to cover the soil surface. Let it to absorb water for 15-30 minute.

Fertilising: Apply standard liquid fertiliser every two weeks to Nephrolepis exaltata actively growing in peat-based potting mixture. Feed actively growing plants that are in soil based mixture about once every four weeks.

Potting and repotting: Use either a standard peat-based potting mixture or a combination of half soil based mixture and half leaf mould. When the roots of Nephrolepis exaltata have filled its current pot, repot in the spring, moving the plant into a pot only one size larger. After maximum convenient pot size has been reached, remove the plant from its pot every spring, carefully trim away some of the outer roots and replace the plant in the same pot, which has been thoroughly cleaned. Add fresh mixture as required.

Gardening: Nephrolepis exaltata requires little maintenance, except to keep it in check from spreading too far and too fast, which it does by way of its underground rhizomes.
Nephrolepis exaltata is killed to the ground by frost but will re-emerge in spring.

Location: Nephrolepis exaltata are easily grown in mild areas in part shade or full shade. Plant them in bright indirect light with no direct sun.

Soil: Nephrolepis exaltata grows well in humus-rich soil. Good drainage is mandatory. Amend heavy clay or sandy soils with organic matter.

Irrigation: Follow a regular watering schedule as these ferns need moist soil and steady high humidity. Water them slowly and deeply, allowing the substrate to dry slightly between waterings. It is best to water early in the day to allow the fronds plenty of time to dry before night time.
Ferns need to be kept consistently moist at all times. They do not however want to be soggy or water logged.
Nephrolepis exaltata is the most drought tolerant of the commonly cultivated ferns, but it thrives only under conditions of high humidity.
Mulches them to help reduce water evaporation in hot or dry weather.

Fertilising: Nephrolepis exaltata thrives best when are added 5-8cm (2-3 inch) of compost or peat moss to the beds each spring or fall. This treatment should suffice and no additional fertilising is require.
Adding controlled release fertiliser on the soil surface should be done at low rates, as recommended on label. Ferns are sensitive to high salt levels, so moderation should be considerate when decide to fertilise them.

Propagation: Nephrolepis exaltata plant is usually propagated by division of the rooted runners, as named cultivars will not produce true spores. Propagate whanever desirable by potting up a new plantlet taken from any point where the tip of a runner has rooted down. Use a sharp knife to cut through the runner about 5cm (2 inch) from the tip, thus releasing the rooted plantlet. Plant it in a 8cm (3 inch) pot of the preferred potting mixture for adult plants and treat it in the same way as a mature specimen.

Nephrolepis exaltata will shed fronds if potting mixture dry out, at which point all fronds may be cut back to about 5cm (2 inch) to regenerate.

Pythium or Phytophthora: Symptoms include stunting, wilting, and graying or yellowing of the foliage. More likely to occur in cool, dark weather and cool, wet media.
Treatment: Fungicides remain an important method to control losses due to Phytophthora and Pythium spp.

Rhizoctonia: Aerial blight that occurs mostly in the summer. Symptoms include brown irregular lesions commonly in the crown of the plant.
Treatment: Apply adequate fungicides. Be certain the Nephrolepis spp. to be treated is listed on the fungicide label.

Oval or round brown spots indicate fern scale.
Treatment: It the attack is mild remove the insects with a cotton swab dipped in diluted methylated spirits. Combat major attacks with a suitable insecticide. Care should be taken as some of these insecticides are not suitable for ferns.

Grey, pale or crumpled fronds indicate an attack of red spider mites.
Treatment: Submerge the whole plant in a bath of trepid water for 10 minutes. Drain well, keep evenly moist and mist to keep humidity high. Place the plant in good light. Mites are only comfortable in hot dry surroundings, so will perish if these conditions do not exist.

Small white insects on fronds occur if the plant is host to mealy bugs.
Treatment: Mild attacks can be dealt with using   cotton tipped swabs dipped in diluted methylated spirits. Combat severe attacks with careful use of a suitable insecticide. Follow the label instruction for use.

Lifespan: Give to Nephrolepis exaltata good light and adequate humidity and it will grow for many years.

Availability: Nephrolepis exaltata are available all year from garden centres and nurseries.  Buy fresh green looking plants of a reasonable size.

Note: Nephrolepis exaltata is classified as an invasive alien plant in South Africa. In some provinces it must, by law, be eradicated. In others, a permit is required to import, possess, grow, breed, move, sell, buy or accept one as a gift.

Recommended varieties: Nephrolepis exaltata cv. Bostoniensis has gracefully arching  wavy or curly fronds. It is one of the oldest and probably the most popular variety.

Uses and Display: A mature Nephrolepis exaltata, with its cascading mass of fronds will look impressive in any settings. Stand it on a medium height cane table to create a nostalgic hint of the Victorian era when ferns were more popular than today. Also Nephrolepis exaltata are ideal plants for hanging baskets. But remember that hanging baskets tend to dry quickly, so check the potting mixture to not dry out. Many prefer to keep the ferns in bathrooms, but only do this is the light is bright.
Small plants will fit onto windowsills but larger ones will need more space and should be place a little further into room.
It is used as a specimen or accent plant in large containers. Hanging baskets are often filled with this fern.

Nephrolepis exaltata is a perennial hardy plant used in warm climate zones as erosion control plant, ground cover, massing or woodland garden. It is used in landscape along walks, in front of taller growing shrubs and as a ground cover under trees.

Nephrolepis exaltata is acting as a natural air humidifier, removes formaldahyde and is a general air purifier. It said to be among the best in air purifying houseplants.
On the other hand, these ferns are known to be non-toxic, so it is safe to grow them around kids and pets.


Foliage – green
Shape – upright
Height: 60-90cm (24-36 inch)

Watering in rest period – moderately
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 10°C max 13°C (50-55°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 13°C max 24°C (55-75°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zones: 9-11

Nephrolepis exaltata Nephrolepis exaltata Nephrolepis exaltata varieties

Evergreen, Ferns, Foliage Plants, Garden Plants, Ground cover, Indoor Plants, Top Anti-Pollutant Houseplants , , , , ,

Asparagus densiflorus

March 25th, 2014

Common name: Asparagus Fern, Emerald Fern, Basket Asparagus

Family: Asparagaceae

Synonymous: Asparagopsis densiflora
Protasparagus densiflorus

Asparagus densiflorus

Asparagus densiflorus

Distribution and habitat: Asparagus densiflorus grows in the coastal areas of the South Africa in a wide range of habitats, from coastal dunes to open rocky places or woods.
Asparagus densiflorus plant is mainly grown as a houseplant in cooler climates or as an ornamental plant in gardens and in pots. Within its hardiness zone, where it has escaped from cultivation, it is generally found along shady roadsides and invading woodlands or rainforests where it displaces native vegetation and prevents native species from re-establishing.

Description: Asparagus densiflorus is a scrambling, slightly woody plant with upright or trailing branches up to 1m (3 feet) long. These long, arching stems are densely covered with short, needle-like leaflets that give this plant a delicate appearance. It has a cascading habit being ideal for a hanging basket.
The structures that most refer to as leaves are actually leaf-like branchlets called cladophylls. These tiny cladophylls are linear, flattened structures that are bright green in colour. They occur singly or in groups of 3 or more at a node.
The stems of this plant emerge directly from the ground and become woody and spiny, so care should be taken when handling this species. The thorns cause significant irritation to many people that handle the plant.
Asparagus densiflorus flowers are small, most often white or pale pink and are very sweetly scented. The flowers are not very noticeable, as they are half hidden by the foliage and do not last long. They flower for about two weeks during the summer season. The flowering of the plants can be rather erratic, with the plants having a good flowering year on average only once every three years. The small flowers are followed by showy bright red berries, which each have one large black seed in them. The berries are attractive to birds and may be spread by them.
These plants have extensive root systems with fairly large tubers which are used in nature to deposit the nutrients needed during long periods of drought in summer.

Houseplant care: Asparagus densiflorus is a great houseplant for novice gardeners as it does not require any special care. Because of its tuberous roots which store water, it can tolerate periods of neglect.
Old or yellowed stems should be cut out at the base and the ends of stems can be trimmed back to keep the plant shaped. Trim off old stems of Asparagus densiflorus in the spring to make room for new growth and to keep the plant looking neat.
Indoor plants can be moved outdoors seasonally (bringing them back inside before frost), but should be acclimated to the stronger light outside before being moved to a spot in full sun.

Light: Asparagus densiflorus are adapted to a variety of conditions, growing in a bright light or semi-shade, but out of direct sun.

Temperatures: Asparagus densiflorus plants need moderate temperatures 16-24°C (60-75°F), but not les than 7°C (45°F) in winter. These plants prefer moist air, so keep the pots on trays of wet pebbles and mist leaves daily with room-temperature water during the hot season.

Watering: Water Asparagus densiflorus thoroughly, allowing soil to dry out a little between waterings. Water this plant sparingly in winter, but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

Feeding: Feed the Asparagus densiflorus monthly from spring through fall with a liquid fertiliser. Do not feed these plants during the winter rest period.

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture. Move the plant every spring into pots one size larger until they are in the largest convenient pot size. Keep the level of the potting mixture well bellow the rim of the pot because the thick asparagus roots tend to force the mixture upward. Forms of Asparagus densiflorus grown in hanging baskets should be top-dressed with fresh mixture in spring, but should be taken out divided and replanted every third year.

Gardening: Asparagus densiflorus is an extremely versatile perennial, evergreen plant that can be used as a container plant or groundcover. In more temperate climates it is used as a seasonal annual or container plant.

Cut back garden Asparagus densiflorus plants to within 10cm (4 inch) of the soil in early spring before new growth begins. The plants send up new foliage that is healthier and brighter green after pruning. At this time a thick mulch of compost can be spread around the plants to help them to rejuvenate quick.

Possition: Asparagus densiflorus can be used as a groundcover plant in full sun or light shade. Plant garden them in an area with bright, filtered light, such as under a tree. Plants grown in full sun are more compact and dense than those grown in shade.

Soil: Asparagus densiflorus grows in most soils and is fairly drought tolerant, but does much better in soil which is rich in organic matter. The distance of planting should be 0.3m (1 feet) apart.

Irrigation: Water garden Asparagus densiflorus plants once or twice a week so the soil does not dry completely. Planted in ground, Asparagus densiflorus grow best in soil that remains moist, although they can tolerate some drying.

Fertilising: Spread 5cm (2 inch) of compost around outdoor planted Asparagus densiflorus each spring to replenish the natural nutrients in the soil.

Propagation: Asparagus densiflorus can be readily propagated by separating the tubers in fairly large clumps or by sowing the seed in spring or early summer.

Propagation in home is usually done by dividing overcrowded clumps just as growth starts in spring. Remove any excess mixture from the tuberous roots and separate them with a sharp knife. Plant separated clumps in 8cm (3 inch) pots of soil-based potting mixture and treat them as mature specimens.

The seed should be removed from the fleshy berries, placed in a suitable sowing medium in a warm spot or with bottom heating of about 25°C and kept moist. The seeds germinate in 4 to 6 weeks, but the growth from seeds is slow, therefore dividing the plants is a better way to obtain new plants ready for display.

Asparagus densiflorus is a sensitive plant and drops needles very fast if over watered or if placed in inadequate light.
Treatment: Keep this plant in a place where it will get filtered light. Water regularly, but do not overwater. The plant’s thick, tuberous roots store water and soggy soil can cause root rot.

Except for mites, pests are not a major concern.
Treatment: Use adequate pesticide to combat these insects. It is essential that the pesticide to be applied to both leaf surfaces. Repeat the treatment to avoid reinfestation.

Recommended varieties:
The appearance of the Asparagus densiflorus plants varies enormously and has led to the naming of a large number of cultivars or forms. The best known forms belong to the so-called emerald ferns of the Asparagus densiflorus ‘Sprengeri’ group. These plants form large cushions with long, arching stems more or less densely covered with dark green, needle-like leaves. The plants of this group can be used as groundcovers in shade as well as in full sun or in large containers or hanging baskets.

The cultivars Asparagus densiflorus ‘Cwebe’ and Asparagus densiflorus ‘Meyersii’ form more upright plants, particularly ‘Meyersii’, which looks very different, with its compact cat’s tail-like fronds.
Asparagus densiflorus ‘Meyersii’ (Foxtail Asparagus Fern) has more upright stems with denser foliage, resembling a fluffy animal’s tail, radiating outwards from the center of the plant. This cultivar is especially nice as an upright focal point in the ground or a container surrounded by lower plants. It does not produce seed as readily as the species so does not have the same invasive potential in mild climates.

Asparagus densiflorus ‘Cwebe’ has graceful, upright, arching stems and copper-colored new growth. It does best in light shade.

Note: Asparagus densiflorus can become a persistent weed of urban bushland in areas within its hardiness zone.

Toxicity: Some of the South African Asparagus species are used as vegetables or for medicinal purposes. The berries cause only low toxicity if eaten. When the berries are crushed, skin irritation is minor or lasting only for a few minutes. The berries are also toxic to cats and dogs.
Asparagus densiflorus is related but not edible Asparagus. Asparagus officinalis is the Asparagus used as vegetable.

Uses and display: Its fine foliage gives a soft or fluffy appearance and can be used to good effect for textural contrast in combination with plants having medium or coarse-textured foliage or very large leaves. It can be planted in the ground with other annuals as a bedding plant after the last frost in cold climates. This plant makes a great filler plant in containers, especially in hanging baskets or large urns where the delicate foliage can cascade down. It has a tropical feel when combined with Elephant Ears (Colocasia species), Canna Lilies (Canna species) and Hibiscus species. The foliage can also be incorporated as a filler with cut flowers in arrangements. The feathery short stems are found in almost every bunch of cut flowers as foliage.


Foliage – green
Shape – climbing and trailing

Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright
Temperature in active growth period – min 13°C max 24°C (55-75°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone 9-10

Asparagus densiflorus Sprengeri Asparagus densiflorus Meyersii Asparagus densiflorus Cwebe Asparagus densiflorus roots Asparagus densiflorus - flowers & berries Asparagus densiflorus berries

Annuals, Cutting Flowers, Evergreen, Foliage Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants , , , , , , , , ,

Phyllostachys aurea

March 4th, 2014

Common name: Golden Bamboo, Fishpole Bamboo, Fairyland Bamboo

Family: Poaceae

Synonymous: Bambusa aurea
Phyllostachys bambusoides aurea
Sinarundinaria aurea

Phyllostachys aurea

Phyllostachys aurea

Distribution and habitat: Phyllostachys aurea is a running type of bamboo native to China which was introduced in Taiwan and in Japan long ago. These cold hardy bamboo was naturalised in Indonesia, New Zealand, southern USA, Australia and Hawaii.

Description: Phyllostachys aurea are easily identified by their characteristic compressed internodes in the lower part of the canes which have a tortoiseshell-like appearance. This internodal compression result in shorter heights and thicker cane diameters (relative to height) than many other Phyllostachys species. The canes are typically green, but will turn yellow in full or partial sun, and deepen into a gold-orange colour as the plant matures. Branching and foliage tend to start lower to the ground than many other Phyllostachys, but some prefer to cut off lower branches to show off the interesting ‘tortoise shell’ lower part of the canes.
The leaves are clustered and produced on short shoots which grow from the joints on the branches. They consist of a leaf sheath 25-35mm long, which surrounds the stem and a spreading leaf blade. The base of the leaf blade is very narrow and stalk-like in appearance. Leaf sheaths are mostly hairless, except near their margins and where the sheath meets the leaf blade there is a tiny membranous structure about 1mm long topped with long hairs. On either side of this structure there are sometimes also 1-3 larger bristles. The leaf blades, 5-15cm (2-6 inch) long and 5-22mm wide are elongated in shape, may be either hairless or softly hairy and have rough but entire margins.
Flowers and seeds are very rarely produced, if ever. When produced, flowers occur in spikelets up to 5cm (2 inch) long with 8 to 12 flowers. Most reports indicate that Phyllostachys aurea produces masses of flowers sporadically and synchronously, but reported intervals between mass flowering events range from 7 to 30 years. When they do come into flower most of the plants energies are directed into producing seed and consequently the plant is severely weakened. They sometimes die after flowering, but if left alone they will usually recover though they will look very poorly for a few years.

Phyllostachys aurea is a long-lived bamboo with upright stems usually growing 2-8m (6-26 feet) tall, but occasionally reaching up to 12m (40 feet) in height. Plants form dense or loose clumps and spread rapidly via creeping underground stems, with the upright stems being produced from their joints. They will grow in large thickets or groves if left alone.

Gardening: Phyllostachys aurea is cultivated as an ornamental plant for gardens. It is the most commonly cultivated bamboo in the United States. Growing rigidly upright, this bamboo is one of the best for hedges and for planting next to driveways and walkways. Phyllostachys aurea can be an aggressive spreader in hot climates, where care must be used in its placement.
It is a fast grower in warm climate zones, but less aggressive in colder climates. Provides a thick impenetrable grove when untrimmed.

In some micro climates of zone 6, this species does not remain evergreen. This beautiful bamboo will drop foliage when temps drop to around 15°C bellow 0 (5°F). Canes will most likely be killed when temps drop to 20°C below 0 (-5°F). Unless temps drop to 34°C bellow 0 (-30°F) the root system of established well mulched groves will put up new canes each spring. But, these plants will need a frost-free period of at least 26 weeks to survive.

Of course, growth rate depends a lot on soil, climate, food and water. Small plants are slow to get going, so starting off with a bigger plant will grow much faster.

Location: Phyllostachys aurea will grow in sparsely wooded secondary forests and does best in full sun or part shade. It is best to protect these plants from cold drying winds.

Soil: Phyllostachys aurea growth is considered best in rich, deep, well-drained sands or in moist, deep loams with a pH between 5 and 7,5. These plants need a soil depth of at least 36cm (14 inch) for good growth. Although, it may persist on a variety of soils, stem diameter and height are likely reduced in fine textured and/or poorly drained soils. These plants should be planted where they can be monitored and contained. The use of barriers, sunk to a depth of 60cm (24 inch) may contain their spread.

Irrigation: Give to this bamboo species plenty of water in warmer months. These plants will be less likely to suffer from overwatering.
Phyllostachys aurea prefers moist soil and established plants can tolerate drought.

Fertilising: Fertilise Phyllostachys aurea in spring with decayed animal manure.

Container plants: Phyllostachys aurea can be grown in containers. When grown in containers these plants will not exceed 2m (6 feet) in height. The containers should be at least 30cm (12 inch) diameter and filled with good moisture retaining compost based on peat, leaf mould and charcoal. They need to be kept well watered. Spray the foliage when grown indoors. Fertilise monthly with liquid fertiliser if used in a container.

Propagation: Phyllostachys aurea by division in spring as new growth commences. Divisions from the open ground do not transplant well, so will need careful treatment and nurturing under cover in pots until at least late spring. Division is best carried out in wet weather and small divisions will establish better than large clumps.
Another report says that you can take large divisions from established clumps and transfer them straight to their permanent positions, misting or drenching them frequently until they are established.

Also, Phyllostachys aurea can be propagated by basal cane cuttings in spring. Plant pieces of runners in early spring, just as new shoots are bursting into life. Keep them continuously moist and these soon root in the pot and continue growing.

Problems: Bamboo is a strong and resilient plant and is more likely to die from lack or too much water. The most common pests are most likely biological and come in forms of insects such as aphids, scales, mealybugs and mites.
Treatment: Use adequate pesticide to combat these insects. It is essential that the pesticide to be applied to both leaf surfaces. When chemical application is not feasible, infested plants can be cut down and infested debris destroyed to avoid reinfestation.

Note: In sub-tropical and warmer temperate regions, Phyllostachys aurea is problematic in untended areas, near gardens, along roadsides and waterways and in urban bushland. Rhizome growth by these bamboo clones can result in the development of dense thickets and colonies. A single Phyllostachys aurea clump can produce up to 15 km (9.3 miles) of stems in its lifetime. This bamboo once established, is very aggressive in both its rate of growth as well as the sprouting of new stems. Spread is often rapid in all directions from the point of establishment.

Management and control:
This bamboo is fast growing and will quickly spread via underground rhizomes. Despite containment efforts, the rhizomes of Phyllostachys aurea will often find their way out of confinement to infest nearby areas. The first step in preventative control of Phyllostachys aurea is to limit planting and removal of existing plants within the landscape. Care must be exercised to prevent seed spread and dispersal during the removal process.
Cutting and mowing can be used on small infestations or where herbicides cannot be used. Cut plants as close to the ground as possible. Repeat several times throughout the growing season as plants resprout. Monitoring and re-treatment will be necessary for several growing seasons until the energy reserves in the rhizomes are exhausted.
Foliar applications are most effective if canes are cut and herbicides applied to newly expanded leaves. Air temperature should be above 18°C (65°F) to ensure absorption of herbicides.

Uses and display: Phyllostachys aurea is cultivated for its edible shoots in China; it has the sweetest taste of the genus.
It has been widely planted as an ornamental in the Mediterranean and seems to be naturalizing there. This is a good companion species to grow in a woodland because the plants have shallow root systems that do not compete with deep tree roots. Grown for its screening abilities, Phyllostachys aurea provides visual as well as noise barriers. It is a prime choice for privacy screening or a bamboo fence. Also, this bamboo is suitable for planting in tubs or planter boxes: balconies, patios or indoor displays of bamboo create an exotic atmosphere.

Container Plants Height: 2m (6 feet)
Ground Planting Height: 8-12 (26-40 feet)

Hardiness zone: 6a-11

Phyllostachys aurea Phyllostachys aurea grove Phyllostachys aurea containers

Bamboo, Foliage Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants , , , , , ,

Psidium guajava

March 3rd, 2014

Common name: Apple Guava, Common Guava, Lemon Guava

Family: Myrtaceae

Synonymous: Psidium guajava var. cujavillum
Psidium guajava var. guajava
Psidium guajava var. minor

Psidium guajava

Psidium guajava

Distribution and habitat: Psidium guajava is an evergreen shrub or small tree native to Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
Psidium guajava is grown successfully in tropical and subtropical regions up to 1500m (5000 feet) above sea-level. It was adopted as a crop in Asia and Africa. Now it occurs throughout the Pacific islands. Generally, it is a home fruit tree or planted in small groves, except in India where it is a major commercial resource.

It is cultivated in gardens but often it was escaped and naturalized where introduced. In some tropical areas, Psidium guajava can become invasive and it is a major problem in the Galápagos Islands, Hawaii, New Zealand and southern Africa.

Description: Psidium guajava, is a large evergreen to 10m (33 feet) with spreading branches. It is easy to recognize because of its smooth, thin, copper-coloured bark that flakes off, showing the greenish layer beneath. Also because of the attractive, “bony” aspect of its trunk which may in time attain a diameter of 25cm (10 inch). Young twigs are quadrangular and downy. The leaves, aromatic when crushed, are opposite with short-petiole, oval or oblong-elliptic, somewhat irregular in outline; 7 to 15cm (3 to 6 inch) long, 3-5cm (1-2 inch) wide, leathery, with conspicuous parallel veins and more or less downy on the underside. Faintly fragrant, the white flowers, borne singly or in small clusters in the leaf axils, are 2.5cm (1 inch) wide, with 4 or 5 white petals which are quickly shed and a prominent tuft of perhaps 250 white stamens tipped with pale-yellow anthers.
The fruit, exuding a strong, sweet, musky odour when ripe, may be round, ovoid or pear-shaped, 5 to 10cm (2-4 inch) long, with 4 or 5 protruding floral remnants (sepals) at the apex; and thin, light-yellow skin, frequently blushed with pink. Next to the skin is a layer of somewhat granular flesh, 3 to 12.5mm (1/8-1/2 inch) thick, white, yellowish, light- or dark-pink or near-red, juicy, acid, subacid, or sweet and flavourful. The central pulp, slightly darker in tone, is juicy and normally filled with very hard, yellowish seeds, 3mm (1/8 inch) long, though some rare types have soft, chewable seeds. Actual seed counts have ranged from 112 to 535 but some guava are seedless or nearly so.
When immature and until a very short time before ripening, the fruit is green, hard, gummy within and very astringent.

Gardening: When cultivated from seed, Psidium guajava trees are notable for an extremely slow growth rate for several months, before a very rapid acceleration in growth rate takes over. From seed, Psidium guajava may bloom and set fruit in as few as 2 years or as many as 8 years. Highly adaptable, Psidium guajava can be easily grown as container plants in temperate regions, though their ability to bloom and set fruit is somewhat less predictable.
The Psidium guajava is said to produce more fruit in areas that have a distinct winter season, compared to tropical areas.
Psidium guajava tree survives well the competition of weeds, grass and brush. Growth is benefited by root association with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. This thin-barked species is easily top-killed by fire and is sensitive to frost.

Hard pruning can be employed to keep the fruit low enough to be easily harvested.

Location: Plant Psidium guajava in full sun. It grows well over a wide climatic range. It thrives in both humid and dry climates. Protect these plants in frost prone areas.
Optimum distance between the trees should be at least 10m (33 feet). Planting 5m (16 feet) apart is possible if the trees are “hedged”.
The species is moderately intolerant of shade. It develops a broad, low crown if open grown, grows a more vertical crown with side shade and becomes tall and spindly in intermediate shade positions.

Soil: Psidium guajava can be cultivated on varied types of soils from heavy clay to very light sandy soils. Nevertheless, very good quality guavas are produced in river-basins. It tolerates a soil pH of 4.5 to 8.2. Maximum concentration of its feeding roots is available up to 25cm (10 inch) soil depth. Thus the top soil should be quite rich to provide enough nutrients for accelerating new growth which bears fruits.
Good drainage is recommended, but Psidium guajava are seen growing spontaneously on land with a high water table–too wet for most other fruit trees.

Irrigation: Water well from flowering to harvest. Exposure to drought conditions will delay flowering or cause the fruit to drop prematurely. Water it regularly and deeply for the best fruit quality. The Psidium guajava requires an annual rainfall between 1000 and 2000 mm (40-80 inch).
It is salt-tolerant to a certain degree. It is drought resistant at the expense of fruit production.

Fertiliser: Feed the tree every other month during warm weather. Use a fertilizer containing copper and zinc for at least one feeding per year. Otherwise, any complete fertilizer will do.

Propagation: Propagation is by seed. Cuttings and grafting are more commonly used as a propagation method in commercial groves.

Psidium guajava seeds remain viable for many months. They often germinate in 2 to 3 weeks but may take as long as 8 weeks. Pre-treatment with sulphuric acid or boiling for 5 minutes or soaking for 2 weeks, will hasten germination. Seedlings are transplanted when 5 to 75cm (2-30 inch) high and set out in the field when 1 or 2 years old. Seedlings will bear within 4 years. Because Psidium guajava trees cannot be depended upon to come true from seed, vegetative propagation is widely practiced.

Pieces of any roots except the smallest and the very large, cut into 12 to 20 cm (5 to 10 inch) lengths, are placed flat in a prepared bed and covered with 5 to 10cm (2-4 inch) of soil which must be kept moist. Alternatively, cut through roots in the ground 0.5 to 1m (2-3 feet) away from the tree trunk; the cut ends will sprout and can be dug up and transplanted.

Air-layers method is done by allowing the selected clones to grow for 3 to 5 years. Then a ring of bark is removed from each new shoot; root-inducing chemical is applied. Ten days later, the shoots are banked with soil to a height 10 to 12cm (4-5 inch) above the ring. After 2 months, the shoots are separated and planted out.

Pruned branches may serve as propagating material. Cuttings of half-ripened wood, 6 to 12mm (1/4-1/2 inch) thick will root with bottom heat or rooting-hormone treatment. Using both, 87% success has been achieved. Treated softwood cuttings will also root well in intermittent mist. Softwood treated cuttings should root in 18 days in conditions of shade and high humidity (mist-spray the plants 2 or 3 times daily). Under tropical conditions (high heat and high humidity), mature wood 2 to 3cm (3/4-1 inch) thick and 45 to 60cm (18-24 inch) long, stuck into 30cm (12 inch) high containers filled with soil, readily roots without chemical treatment.

Approach grafting yields 85 to 95% success. Trials have been made of the shield, patch and Forkert methods of budding. The latter always gives the best results (88 to 100%). Vigorous seedlings 1.5 to 2.5cm (0.5-1 inch) thick are used as rootstocks. The bark should slip easily to facilitate insertion of the bud, which is then tightly bound in place with a plastic strip and the rootstock is beheaded, leaving only 6 to 8 leaves above the bud. About a month later, an incision is made halfway through 5 to 8cm (2-3 inch) above the bud and the plant is bent over to force the bud to grow. When the bud has put up several centimetres of growth, the top of the rootstock is cut off immediately above the bud. Sprouting of the bud is expedited in the rainy season.

Lifespan: Psidium guajava live 30 to 40 years but productivity declines after the 15th year. Orchards may be rejuvenated by drastic pruning.

Problem: Insect pests are numerous and in some cases severe. Avoid planting trees in soil known to be infested with nematodes. White fly and fruit fly may be a problem in some areas. In rainy years, fungal disease may become a problem.

Psidium guajava are seriously damaged by the citrus flat mite (Brevipa1pus californicus) in Egypt. In India, the tree is attacked by 80 insect species, including 3 bark-eating caterpillars (Indarbella spp.) and the guava scale, but this and other scale insects are generally kept under control by their natural enemies. The green shield scale (Pulvinaria psidii) requires chemical measures in Florida, as does the guava white fly (Trialeurodes floridensis) and a weevil (Anthonomus irroratus) which bores holes in the newly forming fruits.

The red-banded thrips feed on leaves and the fruit surface. In India, cockchafer beetles feed on the leaves at the end of the rainy season and their grubs, hatched in the soil, attack the roots. The larvae of the guava shoot borer penetrates the tender twigs, killing the shoots. Sometimes aphids are prevalent, sucking the sap from the underside of the leaves of new shoots and excreting honeydew on which sooty mold develops.

The guava fruit worm (Argyresthia eugeniella) invisibly infiltrates hard green fruits and the citron plant bug (Theognis gonagia), the yellow beetle (Costalimaita ferruginea) and the fruit-sucking bug (Helopeltis antonii) feed on ripe fruits. A false spider mite (Brevipalpus phoenicis) causes surface russting beginning when the fruits are half-grown. Fruit russeting and defoliation result also from infestations of red-banded thrips (Selenothrips rubrocinctus). The coconut mealybug (Pseudococcus nipae) has been a serious problem in Puerto Rico but has been effectively combatted by the introduction of its parasitic enemy, Pseudaphycus utilis.

Soil-inhabiting white grubs require plowing-in of an approved and effective pesticide during field preparation in Puerto Rico. There are other minor pests, but the great problems wherever the Psidium guajava tree is grown are fruit flies.
The Psidium guajava is a prime host of the Mediterranean (Ceratitis capitata), Oriental (Bactrocera dorsalis or Dacus dorsalis), Mexican (Anastrepha ludens) and Caribbean (Anastrepha suspensa) fruit flies and the melon fly (Dacus cucurbitae). Ripe fruits will be found infested with the larvae and totally unusable except as feed for cattle and swine. To avoid fruit fly damage, fruits must be picked before full maturity and this requires harvesting at least 3 times a week. In Brazil, choice, undamaged guavas are produced by covering the fruits with paper sacks when young (the size of an olive). Infested fruits should be burned or otherwise destroyed. In recent years, in Florida have been introduced wasps that attack the larvae and pupae of the Caribbean fruit fly and have somewhat reduced the menace.

In Puerto Rico, up to 50% of the guava crop (mainly from wild trees) may be ruined by the uncontrollable fungus (Glomerella cingulate) which mummifies and blackens immature fruits and rots mature fruits. Diplodia natalensis may similarly affect 40% of the crop on some trees in South India.

Fruits punctured by insects are subject to mucor rot (caused by the fungus, Mucor hiemalis) in Hawaii. On some trees, 80% of the mature green fruits may be ruined.

Algal spotting of leaves and fruits (caused by Cephaleuros virescens) occurs in some cultivars in humid southern Florida but can be controlled with copper fungicides. During the rainy season in India and Cuba, the fungus Phytophthora parasitica is responsible for much infectious fruit rot. Botryodiplodia sp. and Dothiorella sp. cause stem-end rot in fruits damaged during harvesting. Macrophomina sp. has been linked to fruit rot in Venezuela and Gliocladium roseum has been identified on rotting fruits on the market in India.

In Bahia, Brazil, severe deficiency symptoms of Psidium guajava was attributed to nematodes and nematicide treatment of the soil in a circle 1m (3 feet) out from the base restored the trees to normal in 5 months. Zinc deficiency may be conspicuous when the Psidium guajava tree is grown on light soils. It is corrected by two summer sprayings 60 days apart with zinc sulphate.

Wilt, associated with the fungi Fusarium solani and Macrophomina phaseoli, brings about gradual decline and death of undernourished 1 to 5 year old Psidium guajavatrees in West Bengal. A wilt disease brought about by the wound parasite (Myxosporium psidii) causes the death of many Psidium guajava trees, especially in summer, throughout Taiwan. Wilt is also caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. psidii which invades the trunk and roots through tunnels bored by the larvae of Coelosterna beetles. Anthracnose (Colletotrichum gloeosporioides) may attack the fruits in the rainy season. Pestalotia psidii sometimes causes canker on green guavas in India and rots fruits in storage.

Severe losses are occasioned in India by birds and bats and some efforts are made to protect the crop by nets or noisemakers.

Uses and display: In addition to being eaten fresh, the fruit of Psidium guajava is great for jams and stewing. Also, it is ideal juice as fruit is high in Vitamin C.

The medicinal uses of the Psidium guajava are many and varied. Tea made from the leaves and/or bark is known to help cure diarrhea and dysentery, as well as treat stomach upsets, vertigo and regulate menstrual periods. Trees serve as shade/shelter for livestock and are used for erosion control.

When parasitised by the mistletoe ( Psittacanthus calyculatus ), the Psidium guajava tree produces rosette-like malformations known as ‘wood flowers’. These are sold as ornamental curiosities. Psidium guajava is also becoming a popular bonsai species.

Height : 9-12m (30-40 feet)
Hardiness zone: 9a-11

Psidium guajava Psidium guajava flower Psidium guajava fruit Psidium guajava Psidium guajava Psidium guajava bonsai

Evergreen, Fruit Tree, Garden Plants , , , , , ,

Epiphyllum anguliger

March 2nd, 2014

Common name: Fishbone Cactus, Moon Cactus, Queen of the Night, Rickrack Cactus, Rick-Rack Orchid Cactus

Family: Cactaceae

Synonymous: Phyllocactus anguliger
Phyllocactus serratus
Phyllocactus angularis
Phyllocactus darrahii
Epiphyllum darrahii
Epiphyllum beahmii
Epiphyllum gertrudianum
Epiphyllum anguliger var. darrahii
Epiphyllum anguliger var. pillocarpa
Epiphyllum anguliger var. pulocarpa

Epiphyllum anguliger

Epiphyllum anguliger

Distribution and habitat: Epiphyllum anguliger is an epiphytic cactus species in evergreen oak forests. It is endemic to Mexico, where it is distributed in the States of Guerrero, Jalisco, Nayarit and Oaxaca at elevations of 1100 to 1800m (3600-5900 feet). Most grow in trees where they tuck their roots into pockets of decaying vegetable matter which settle into nooks and crannies of tree branches. They share their habitat with orchids, bromeliads, ferns and mosses. Their tropical environment provides them with lots of warmth and high humidity and most important… shading from full sun.

Description: Stems profusely branched, primary stems terete at base, often woody, apical part and secondary stems flat and rather succulent, 20–30cm (8-12 inch) long, 3–5cm (1-2 inch) wide, deeply lobed, often to near midrib, the lobes rectangular to obtuse or rounded; areoles small nude or with 1-2 white bristles; epidermis green, smooth. Flowers 6–20cm (2-8 inch) long, 6–7cm (2-3 inch) wide, nocturnal, strongly sweet-scented; pericarpel with podarium; receptacle 8–16cm (3-6 inch) long, 4mm thick, pale yellow, greenish or pinkish, bracteoles few, minute, linear and green, adpressed; outer tepals 10, linear to linear-lanceolate, acute, spreading or reflexed, 4–5cm (2 inch) long, lemon yellow to brownish yellow; inner tepals lanceolate to ovate, acute or acuminate, white, sometimes toothed, as long as outer tepals; stamens in two rows, white, erect to subdeclinate, nearly as long as tepals; style longer than inner tepals, white; stigma lobes 8-11, linear. Fruit ovoid, brownish, greenish or yellowish, 3–4cm (1.5 inch) thick.
Epiphyllum anguliger is a true species and the leaf-like stems are shorter than most, with deep broad notches, giving the plant a very fishbone-like appearance. Flowering generally occur in late summer or fall. Up to six flowers may open at once and each last about a day.

Epiphyllum anguliger is a very variable species but rather distinct and recognition of sub-specific taxa seems unnecessary.

Houseplant care: The species is commonly grown as an ornamental for its beautiful, fragrant flowers in the fall. Epiphyllum anguliger is an easily cultivated, fast growing epiphyte.

Light: Give Epiphyllum anguliger medium light. If possible, keep them in a shady spot outdoors in summer.

Temperatures: These plants require warmth with high humidity. They should be kept at 16–25°C (61–77°F), it may drop to 10–15°C (50–59°F) for shorter periods. Mist spray them daily and stand the pots on trays or saucers of moist pebbles.

Watering: During spring and summer water plentifully, keeping the potting mixture thoroughly moist . Give plants a brief rest at the end of each flowering period by watering only enough during the next two or three weeks to prevent the potting mixture from drying out. At all other times water moderately, allowing the top centimetre (0.4 inch) or so of the potting mixture dry out completely between waterings.
Epiphyllum anguliger stems do not signal a lack of water by shrivelling as some cacti do. Cuttings of stems left in a dry place have been known to root perfectly well after as long as a year without being potted up.

Feeding: After flower buds start to form, apply a tomato-type fertiliser every two weeks. Stop feeding when most buds are open.

Potting and repotting: Use a potting mixture composed of one part of coarse sand and perlite to three of peat-based mixture. Move the plants into slightly larger pots every spring until they reach the 13 or 15cm (5-6 inch) pot size. Thereafter, simply shake off the old potting mixture from the roots and replace plants in their pots, which have been cleaned. Add fresh potting mixture as necessary. Epiphyllum anguliger which grow taller than 20cm (8 inch) will usually need to be staked unless they are permitted to trail for decorative effect in hanging baskets.

Propagation: Propagate from cuttings taken in spring or summer. Remove a 13 or 15cm (5-6 inch) long branch and allow it to dry for a day before inserting it about 2cm (0.8 inch) deep in a 10cm (4 inch) pot of the potting mixture recommended for mature plants. Several such cuttings are usually planted around the rim of a single pot.
Keep the potting mixture slightly moist until the cuttings root in tow to three weeks. After rooting they may be treated as mature plants. They should flower within two years.
Propagation from seed is only really useful when starting to build up a collection of Epiphyllum. When young, Epiphyllum anguliger seedlings are cylindrical and covered with whitish spines. They will not flower until this stage has been passed and the mature flattened stems are produced. When the flattened stems appear, it is thought to be a good idea to take them as cuttings because it is said they will flower earlier than if left on the seedling roots.

Epiphyllums are susceptible to various bacterial and fungal pathogens that cause black rot diseases. The bacterium Erwinia cacticida can take advantage of the excessively moist soil and delicate root system of the Epiphyllum to create what is known as black rot disease. It acts in much the same way as any pathogen, infecting the cells of the cactus’s roots to procreate, using it as food and spreading until nothing remains of the root structure but a wet, black mushy mass. Symptoms above ground include a yellowing of the upper stems and lateral brown striations rising from the trunk, as the fungi sends tendrils up the Epiphyllum’s vascular system.
Treatment: If caught early enough, affected portions of the root system can be cut away. Otherwise, there is no treatment. These plants should be watered only when the soil is dry to the touch. Drafts and chills should be avoided.

These plants are also vulnerable to fungal leaf spot. Fungi of the Phyllosticta genus have been known to infect the stems of Epiphyllums. They occur during spring rains and attack the stems. The first symptom is the appearance of one or more brown spots or lesions with raised centres on the Epiphyllum’s stems. These lesions can bore all the way through to the opposite side of the stem in the worst cases, but are not fatal. They create scar patterns and raised ridges which will never heal.
Treatment: Infected plant tissue should be removed and destroyed before the disease spreads to the other plants. Fungicides are ineffective against this kind of fungi. Adequate ventilation reduces the risk the pathogens spreading.

Corky scab is also known as edema and, while a disease, it is not infectious. Symptoms are limited to the appearance of bumps, blisters, warts or scabs with a distinct cork-like, woody texture. They can occur on any part of the epiphyllum. Possible causes include reaction to biting insects, injury from sand or dirt particles carried by the wind and the accumulation of water outside the cactus’ vascular system.
Treatment: Moderate watering schedule should help in treating corky scabs.

Potential pest problems include mealy bugs, slugs, aphids, mites andscale.
Treatment: Use an adequate insecticides to combat the pests.

Epiphyllum plants frequently turn a yellowish colour when they receive too much sunlight.
Treatment: If moved to a shadier place they should regain their green colour in time. A bad sunburn may not kill the plant but will scar the stems permanently.

A stem will wither when it has literally almost flowered itself to death.
Treatment: After a rest period and attention to watering, the stem may return to normal. If it does not, remove it.

If stems die back it is a sign that either the root system is damaged or the plant is not getting enough food either from spent soil or from lack of proper fertilizing.

Availability: Epiphyllum anguliger cacti will live for many years and grow fairly large.

Uses and display: Grow Epiphyllum anguliger cacti in heavy pots to prevent them from overbalance or plant them in hanging baskets. They are ideally suited to window-sill conditions or shaded balconies or patios. Their blossoms are unbelievably beautiful and perfumed. The giant flower unfurl at night time, spreading their fragrance around as they glow in the moonlight like some strange sea-creatures. A short life but a joyful one – for they are dead by down.


Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – weeping plant
Height: 90-120cm (36-48 inch)

Watering in rest period – moderately
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – medium
Temperature in rest period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 18°C max 27°C (64-81°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 10b-11

Epiphyllum anguliger Epiphyllum anguligerEpiphyllum anguliger flower Epiphyllum anguliger fruit Epiphyllum anguliger stems Epiphyllum anguliger

Cactus, Flowering Plants, Indoor Plants , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Trachycarpus fortunei

March 1st, 2014

Common name: Chusan Palm, Windmill Palm, Chinese Windmill Palm

Family: Arecaceae

Synonymous:  Chamaerops excelsa
Chamaerops fortunei
Trachycarpus caespitosus
Trachycarpus wagnerianus

Trachycarpus fortunei

Trachycarpus fortunei

Distribution and habitat: Trachycarpus fortune is a palm native to central China, south to northern Burma and northern India, growing at altitudes of 100 to 2400m (328–7874 feet). It is one of the hardiest palms growing in the mountains of southern China. This brings it into a climate not only with cold winters, but also cool, moist summers.
Today, being widely cultivated throughout China, Japan and SE Asia for the fibres within the leaf stalk and it is rarely found in forests.

Trachycarpus fortunei is cultivated as a trunking palm in gardens and parks throughout the world in warm temperate and subtropical climates. Its tolerance of cool summers and cold winters makes it highly valued by palm enthusiasts, landscape designers and gardeners. It can be grown successfully in such cool and damp but relatively winter-mild locales as Scotland and British Columbia Canada, as well as in warm temperate climates in parts of the United States, Europe, New Zealand and Asia. It does not grow well in very hot climates.

Description: Trachycarpus fortunei has a slender stem that bears fan shaped leaves with finely toothed stalks a metre (3 feet) or so long. In wild Trachycarpus fortunei grows about 12m (40 feet) tall, but growth indoors is slow and plants are unlikely to reach a height of more than 2.5m (8 feet) in the home. When young, the leaves are pleated and they are covered with fine short grey or light brown hair. As the leaves ages, this woody covering disappears and the pleats divide almost to the base into many stout but pliant segments, each up to 30cm (12 inch) long and 2-3cm (1 inch) wide. Individual segments are sometimes pleated into two or three fronds. The mature leaves are up to 60cm (24 inch) wide and dark green above, bluish green below. The main stem which does not normally branch, becomes covered with a coarse brown fibre.
Eventually the leaves turn from green to yellow to brown, but they do not fall off. They should be gently pulled away or cut off when they become unsightly. The tips of the leaf segments, in particular, become discoloured with age and are liable to split along about 2cm (0.8 inch) or more of their length. This is natural and is not necessary a sign of illness. An affected tip can be cut off without detriment to the rest of the leaf.

The flowers and fruits which are produced by mature Trachycarpus fortunei palms are not normally found on indoor specimens. Male and female flowers are borne on separate plants (dioecious). The flowers are densely arranged on 0.5-1m (2-3 feet) long branched stalks called an inflorescence. The Trachycarpus fortunei palm’s bright yellow inflorescence erupts from a packet-like bud in late winter and early spring and is held within the crown. On female plants the flowers are followed in late summer by round or oblong blue fruits that are about 1.5cm (0.5 inch) in diameter.

Houseplant care: Trachycarpus fortunei is the only species from its genus grown as an indoor plant.

Stand these palms when are not kept outdoor in the milder months in gentle rain or wash them carefully under cold shower in order to free them of the accumulation of dirt and dust that collects on the leaves.

Light: Throughout the year, Trachycarpus fortunei palms need bright light with three or four hours a day of direct sunlight. New growth will be limited if palms receive insufficient light.

Temperature: These plants not only grow well in normally warm room temperatures, but are also completely unharmed by temperatures down to 7°C (45°F). If possible stand the Trachycarpus fortunei palms outdoors in a sheltered but sunny position from late spring to about mid-autumn. This will promote new growth and encourage the development of stiff, healthy leaves.

Watering: Water actively growing palms moderately, giving enough water to make the potting mixture thoroughly moist, but allowing the top centimetre (0.4 inch) or so of the potting mixture to dry out before watering again. In a normally warm room temperature Trachycarpus fortunei will not have a regular rest period, but its growth will slow down or even stop whenever the temperature drops 12°C (54°F). At such times, it is best to water only once a month and sparingly – just enough to make the potting mixture barely moist throughout.

Feeding: Apply standard liquid fertiliser to actively growing plants about once every two weeks.

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture. Move small Trachycarpus fortunei palms into pots one or, at the most, two sizes larger every second or third spring until the maximum convenient size is reached (likely to be 25-30cm – 10-12 inch). Thereafter, it should suffice to top-dress these palms with fresh potting mixture.

Gardening: Trachycarpus fortunei palm prefers cooler, temperate areas and although it will grow in the sub-tropics, but it will struggle in the tropics. This is a hardy palm and can withstand subfreezing temperatures. In its native habitat, this tough palm is sometimes subjected to a cover of snow and ice. This palm should be planted in sheltered sites when grown in hardiness zone 7. Young plants are less hardy and can be damaged by only −8°C (17°F). Very young plants should be given some protection during their first winter or two outdoors.

Location: Sunny sheltered position, especially from the cold drying winds of the north and east in temperate zones or partial shade in sub-tropical zones are best for Trachycarpus fortunei palms.
This palm is moderately salt tolerant and can be planted behind the first line dunes or against a structure that will shield it from direct exposure to sea breezes. Protection from harsh winds will minimize leaf tearing and will allow this palm look its best. Individual leaves live for about three years if they are not damaged by wind.

Soil: Trachycarpus fortunei does best in well drained soils with above average fertility but it will survive in almost anything except perpetually soggy conditions.
These palms usually have deep penetrating root systems and generally establish best when planted out at a young stage. In areas at the limit of their cold tolerance, therefore, it is prudent to grow the plants in containers for some years, giving them winter protection and only planting them into their permanent positions when sheer size dictates. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.
These palms can also be transplanted even when very large. Although the thick fleshy roots are easily damaged and / or desiccated, new roots are generally freely produced.

Irrigation: Plants should be watered faithfully. Water the base of palms thoroughly but do not keep wet. Form a small basin around palms to hold irrigation water longer. Mulches help keep shallow palm roots from drying out quickly. Trachycarpus fortunei has moderate drought tolerance.

Fertilising: Fertilize the palm regularly with granular fertilizer intended for palms and follow the label rates and directions.

Propagation: Trachycarpus fortunei are propagated by fresh seed sown in early spring. Seed takes up to a year to germinate, however and the seedling are also slow growing – they may take several years to assume palm like characteristics. The best way to acquire Trachycarpus fortunei palms, therefore, is to purchase the young plants from nurseries or garden centres.

Scales and palm aphids are pests of Trachycarpus fortunei.
Treatment: Inspect the palm regularly for insects and use a suitable spray insecticide when necessary.

Trachycarpus fortunei may be infected by root rot, moderately susceptible to lethal yellowing disease and leaf spots caused by a number of fungal pathogens.
Treatment: Avoid over-watering the palm, as this leads to root rot and decay. There is to date no cure for lethal yellowing. Sanitation and water management are critical for leaf spot disease management. Avoid overhead irrigation. These fungal infections are difficult to treat and an accurate diagnosis is essential for proper treatment.

Note: The names Chamaerops excelsus and Trachycarpus excelsus have occasionally been misapplied to Trachycarpus fortunei; this is correctly a synonym of Rhapis excelsa, with the confusion arising due to a misunderstanding of Japanese vernacular names.

Usage and display: Trachycarpus fortunei palm makes a great accent which fits well into small areas like courtyards and entries. It is a tough plant and survives in hot urban landscapes and even thrives there if watered and fed. It is a perfect palm for containers. It is very attractive planted in groves and groupings especially when plants of different heights are staggered in irregular patterns (plant the tallest palms in center of the groups and shorter ones at the edges). These palms can be used successfully lining an entry walk to a large building. This adds a formal elegance to any structure, especially one with glass façade. Also, Mass plantings of Trachycarpus fortunei palms around a patio or sitting area will create an luxuriate atmosphere.
As indoor plant Trachycarpus fortunei palm makes a great plant to any home or office. It will fit into narrow spaces and bring a sense of tropics to any place. Because of its compact foliage and slow growth rate it will make a nice potted plant for a patio, deck or pool.


Foliage – green
Shape – bushy

Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – bright
Temperature in rest period – min 7°C max 24°C (45-75°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – low

Outdoors height: 12m (40 feet)
Outdoor spread: 3m (10 feet)
Indoor Height: 2.5m (8 feet)

Hardiness zone: 8a-11

Trachycarpus fortunei Trachycarpus fortunei multi-trunk Trachycarpus fortunei Trachycarpus fortunei in winter Trachycarpus fortunei inflorescence Trachycarpus fortunei fruits

Foliage Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants, Palms , , , , , , ,

Fuchsia magellanica

February 28th, 2014

Common name: Fuchsia, Lady’s Eardrops, Fuchsia Angel Earrings, Earring Flower, Hardy Fuchsia

Family: Onagraceae

Synonymous: Fuchsia gracilis
Fuchsia macrostemma
Fuchsia magellanica var. gracilis
Fuchsia magellanica var. macrostema
Fuchsia riccartonii

Fuchsia magellanica

Fuchsia magellanica

Distribution and habitat: Fuchsia magellanica is found in forest clearings and margins, especially in mixed evergreen/deciduous woods of South America – Argentina and Chile. Also, this plant was widely naturalised in Bolivia, the UK, the Azores, the Canary Islands, eastern Africa, New Zealand, Hawaii, western USA (California and Oregon) and in the coastal districts of southern Australia.

Description: Fuchsia magellanica is an upright deciduous shrub with lance shaped leaves that have reddish undersides. It grows to 3.6m (11 feet) by 2m (6 feet) at a medium rate and produces many small, tubular, pendent flowers in shades of red, pink and sometimes white. The branching structure is horizontal with the flowers dangling beneath the stems. The flowers are emerging from a deep tube that flares to become pointed petals, while the corolla and petals are protrude. Blooms profusely over a long period from late spring through late fall. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by insects. Flowers are followed by reddish purple fruits.

This cold tolerant species is the parent of most hybrid cultivars of today.

Gardening: Fuchsia magellanica plants are popular garden shrubs with medium growth rate and, once planted, they can live for years with a minimal amount of care. These plants are hardy in mild temperate areas. The long branches may be nipped during frosty weather, but the shrub will rebound in spring. In Hardiness Zone 6 a heavy mulch in late fall will help to bring plants through the winter.

Keep these plants blooming longer by picking off spent blooms and seed pods. To encourage branching, prune plants heavily in the spring and pinch off the tips of the new growth. Continue to pinch until the plant is filled out.

Location: Fuchsia magellanica prefers part sun. It should be located in morning sunlight and afternoon shade, especially in warm, sunny climates. Very dense shade is not desirable as it will inhibit flowering.

Soil: Plant Fuchsia magellanica in rich, moist soil. If the soil does not drain well or puddles after a rain, improve drainage by mixing 8 to 10cm (3 to 4 inch) of organic material such as compost.

Irrigation: Water Fuchsia magellanica deeply enough to saturate the soil only when the top 3 to 5cm (1-2 inch) of soil is dried. Do not over-water. The plant will be more susceptible to fungal disease if the soil is not allowed to dry between watering.

Fertilisation: Feed the Fuchsia magellanica every three to four weeks during spring and summer, using an all-purpose fertiliser for blooming plants. Alternatively, apply a balanced time-release fertiliser every three to four months. Apply the fertiliser after watering and never fertilize dry soil. Refer to the fertiliser label for specific instructions and rates of application, which may vary depending on the size of the plant and the type of soil.

Container plants: Fuchsia magellanica is a favorite for hanging baskets and, under the proper care, will give abundant colorful blooms throughout the season. But this plant is difficult to keep in good condition indoors without a cool, shaded planthouse or conservatory. Good air circulation is essential, but shelter it from hot, dry winds, which remove moisture too rapidly and cause wilting.
Occasionally trim back the long branches of Fuchsia magellanica kept in a hanging basket to obtain a fuller plant. Trimming the plant will not harm it, but enable it to bush out and create more blossoms.

Light: Fuchsia magellanica enjoy bright light, but keep it safe from the hot afternoon sunlight.

Temperature: Fuchsia magellanica are not frost hardy and like a mild winter temperature of 10°C (50°F), especially when grown as potted plants. In cold winter areas, Fuchsia magellanica needs special care over winter. Prune the plant back to 10 to 15cm (4-6 inch), removing all leaves and store it in a cool, dark place. Placing it in a dark environment will prevent the plant from beginning to sprout and grow before climate conditions are optimum. Water the dormant Fuchsia magellanica plant only two or three times just to prevent the potting mixture to dry completely during this resting period. When the last frost has passed, move your Fuchsia magellanica back to its summer placement so it can begin to grow.

Water: Water them regularely. To water Fuchsia magellanica, submerge the pots in room-temperature water until completely saturated and then allow them to stand until all dripping has stopped. Do not allow the plants to remain in standing water or root rot may result. On hot days, mist the foliage with water.

Feeding: Feed Fuchsias with a water-soluble bloom fertilizer.

Potting and repotting: Grow them in large 25 to 30cm (10-12 inch) pots or hanging baskets of rich, peaty compost mixed with sand and bone meal. Repotting should be strictly attended to, never allowing the plant to form a mat of roots around the ball before it gets a shift into a larger pot.

Propagation: Fuchsia magellanica can be propagated easily from softwood cuttings. The best time to root them is spring or autumn. The cutting should be 8cm (3 inch) in length potted singly in 5cm (2 inch) pots, in three parts sand, one part loam and another of leaf-mold. Place the pots in a shady position with a temperature of not less than 15°C (60°F) at night. When the small plants are well rooted, shift them along into a 10cm (4 inch) pot, using this time potting mixture recommended for adult plants. In this size of pot, the shoot will have made four or five joints and should now be pinched to encourage side breaks. The plant, where it is stopped, will start into two breaks and the strongest should be taken for a leader; pinch the weaker one when two leaves are well formed. Strict attention from now on should be paid to keep the plants in good shape. The side shoots must be kept in bounds, so that the symmetry of the plant is preserved, pinching “the stronger ones hard and allowing the weaker to grow a little longer so that they gain more vigour. The leader may be allowed to make six pairs of leaves, and then be stopped, always choosing the strongest breaks to increase the height of the plant.

Watch out for scale insects and spider mites, pests which love to invade Fuchsia magellanica. Problematic mites include the fuchsia gall mite (Aculops fuchsiae) and red spider mite (Tetranychus urticae).
Treatment: First thoroughly spray the plant, both top and underside of leaves with water, then administer either insecticide or insecticide soap according to the label instructions.

Fuchsia magellanica are eaten by the caterpillars of some Lepidoptera, such as the Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila elpenor) and the Black-lyre Leafroller Moth (“Cnephasia” jactatana). Other major insect pests include aphids, mirid bugs such as Lygocoris, Lygus and Plesiocoris spp., vine weevils (Otiorhynchus spp.), and greenhouse whitefly (Trialeurodes vaporariorum).
Treatment: Use an adequate pesticide following the label recommendations.

Rust (Puccinia graminis), gray mold (Botrytis blight), crown gall (Agrobacterium tumefaciens), rots (Phytopthora cinnamomi), southern blight (Sclerotium rolfsii) and verticillium wilt (Verticillium alboatrum and Verticillium dahliae) can also damage or kill Fuchsia magellanica shrubs.
Treatment: Because eradicating these bacterial diseases is difficult or impossible, the best recourse for infected plants is to remove and destroy them. The treatment begins with good sanitation to prevent the spread of the disease. Destroy affected plants and remove the surrounding soil and garden debris that has come in contact with them. Do not transplant any nearby plants to other parts of the garden. Quarantine new plants by growing them in a bed that is isolated from the rest of the garden until proven that they are disease-free.

Life span: Fuchsia magellanica plants will remain in bloom for several weeks, with each flower lasting several days, depending on location and care. The plants can last for years with proper care.

Companion plants: Fuchsia magellanica mixes well with other semi-tropical flowers, such as Salvia, Plectranthus and Justicia species.

Note: Fuchsia magellanica is regarded as an environmental weed in some parts of the world such as Australia and some islands in the Indian Ocean.

Uses and display: Fuchsia magellanica is used for planting in temperate and subtropical gardens, within conservatories and for containers on patios, balconies and sunny houseplant positions. Fuchsia magellanica adds bright colors and a tropical feeling to the garden. Use as a specimen or in a bed or border. It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Fuchsia magellanica is a large, fairly hardy, tropical-looking shrub with many showy flowers, used as beds, borders and hedge plant in garden or as specimen plant in containers.

Height: 60-120cm (23-47 inch)
Spread: 60-90cm (23-35 inch)

Hardiness zone: 6a-9b

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