Archive for the ‘Shrubs’ Category

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

Fuchsia magellanica Fuchsia magellanica Fuchsia magellanica Fuchsia magellanica Fuchsia magellanica hedge Fuchsia magellanica bonsai

Flowering Plants, Garden Plants, Shrubs , , , , , , , , , ,

Acalypha wilkesiana

February 22nd, 2014

Common name: Match-Me-If-You-Can, Jacobs Coat, Beefsteak Plant, Fijian fire plant, Fire Dragon Plant, Redleaf

Family: Euphorbiaceae

Synonymous: Acalypha circinata
Acalypha compacta
Acalypha godseffiana
Acalypha hamiltoniana
Acalypha illustris
Acalypha macafeeana
Acalypha macrophylla
Acalypha marginata
Acalypha musaica
Acalypha torta
Acalypha tricolor
Acalypha triumphans
Ricinocarpus wilkesianus

Acalypha wilkesiana

Acalypha wilkesiana

Distribution and habitat: Acalypha wilkesiana is shrub which occurs in tropical and subtropical rainforest, dry rainforest and vine thickets of the Pacific Islands.

Description: Acalypha wilkesiana is an evergreen shrub which can grow to 1.8m (6 feet) tall. The stem is erect with many branches. The branches have fine hairs. It has a closely arranged crown. Its pointed oval leaves which are about 12cm (5 inch) long and 5cm (2 inch) wide, are coppery green, mottled and streaked with copper, red and purple. The leaves are finely hairy. They can be flat or crinkled. The flowers are reddish in spikes at the end of branches. They have separate male and female flowers on the same plant. The male flowers are in long spikes which hang downwards while the female flowers are in short spikes. They do not show up easily as they are often hidden among the leaves.
Acalypha wilkesiana plants are prized for their attractive foliage rather for their insignificant flowers.

Houseplant care: Acalypha wilkesiana branch and become bushy naturally and therefore it is never necessary to pinch out growing tips. But, to keep these plants within bounds in warm areas, they may need to be cut back annually and severely (taking out at least half the previous year’s growth). Rather to do this, indoor plants are renewed from cuttings each year and discarded the overgrown plants.

Light: Acalypha wilkesiana plants need plenty of warmth and light. In inadequate light they tend to become spindly and they will lose much of the leaf colouration that makes these plants so attractive.

Temperature: Warmth is essential. Even during the winter rest period the temperature should not be permitted to fall below 16°C (61°F). Acalypha wilkesiana will thrive in temperatures as high as 27°C (81°F). But because they are particularly sensitive to dry air, the potted plants must be set on trays of moist pebbles or damp peat moss throughout the year.

Watering: During the active growth period water plentifully as often as necessary to keep the potting mixture thoroughly moist, but never let the pot stand in water. During the winter rest period water only enough to keep the mixture from drying out.

Feeding: Apply standard liquid fertiliser every two weeks during the active growth period only.

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture. Move small plants into pots one size larger whenever, on examination, roots are seen to fill their pots. This is best done in late spring but may be needed more than once a year. If Acalypha wilkesiana plants are to be kept more than one year, they should be repotted into larger pots annually in late spring.

Gardening: Acalypha wilkesiana is best grown as annual bedding plants or in containers which can be overwintered indoors. Stems may be pinched to control size and shape and to promote bushiness. Cutting back once a year keeps the foliage fresh and well coloured, and the plant more compact.

It is damaged by both drought and frost. It needs a minimum temperature above 10°C (50°F).

Position: Acalypha wilkesiana plants grow in full sun to part shade, sheltered from strong winds. Best foliage colour is optioned in full sun. In hot climates it suits a protected shady position.

Soil: Acalypha wilkesiana prefers light well drained, average to moderately fertile soil. Some sand to loam  within 5.5 to 7 pH range will suit these beautiful plants.

Irrigation: The soil must be kept consistently moist for Acalypha wilkesiana plants. If soil dry out, rapid leaf drop usually occurs.
Do not overwater during winter months; slightly dry is better.

Fertiliser: A mixture of all purpose fertilizer and potash can be used in spring; the potash will enhance the leaf colours.

Propagation: Acalypha wilkesiana are most attractive when young. Plants are usually discarded in their second year after being used for propagation. The simplest way to increase a plant is to take tip cuttings 8-10cm (3-4 inch) long in early spring. Alternatively, short side-shoots can be used. To encourage side-shoots, in early spring cut the old plant down to 0.5m  (1 foot) from the potting mixture. Keep the plant in bright filtered light. Mist-spray Acalypha wilkesiana daily and water enough to keep the potting mixture moist.
When new side-shoots are 8-10cm (3-4 inch) long they should be removed – each with a heel attached. After taking either tip or side-shoot cuttings, place each in a 8cm (3 inch) pot containing a moistened mixture of equal parts of peat moss and coarse sand or a substance such as perlite. Enclose the pots in plastic bags and place them in bright light filtered at a temperature of at least 20°C (68°F). No further watering is required until new growth indicates that the cuttings have taken root. Then remove the plastic bags. Thereafter, water just enough to keep the potting mixture barely moist and feed the plant with half strength liquid fertiliser every two weeks.
When cuttings are 30cm (12 inch) tall, move them into 10cm (4 inch) pots containing the regular potting mixture. They can then be treated as mature plants.

Indoors, scale insects, spider mites, whiteflies, and mealybugs may be problems. Keep a careful watch for mealy bugs and red spider mites to which these plants are especially vulnerable. If unnoticed, such pests can do untold damage.
Treatment: Mealybugs – Remove manually the infested parts of the plant. Dip a cotton swab in alcohol and apply it to any bugs you cannot remove or areas which the bugs have heavily occupied. Discard infected plants if prior steps are not enough to eradicate the bugs.
Red spider mites – Wash the affected plants with soft dish soap solution or use an insecticidal soap. Repeat two or three time this treatment.

In the garden, downy mildew, powdery mildew, rust leaf spots and fungal root rots can occur.
Treatment: Prevention is more efficient than controlling the fungal disease.  Provide adequate air circulation and water the  plants in the morning, so plants get a chance to dry out during the day. However, to combat a fungal  disease, use an adequate pesticide.

Recommended varieties:
Acalypha wilkesiana ‘Godseffiana’ (sometimes called Acalypha godseffiena) has shiny green leaves with creamy white margins.

Acalypha wilkesiana ‘Macrophylla’ has leaves more nearly heart shaped than oval, of russet-brown with pale brown margins.

Acalypha wilkesiana ‘Marginata’ has heart shaped, olive green leaves tinged with bronze and margined with a line of carmine-red.

Acalypha wilkesiana ‘Mosaica’ called the giant red leaf, has hart shaped leaves that are bronze-green with orange and red markings.

Uses and display: Typically grown as an annual or houseplant. Acalypha wilkesiana can be grown in a warm greenhouse, in a border or as a specimen or hedging plant (especially in warm areas). Bedding plant, filler in borders or container plant as focal point will provide stunning colour addition to any display.


Foliage – coloured
Shape – bushy

Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright filtered
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

Height indoors: 90cm – 120cm (35-47 inch)

Height outdoors: 1.2-1.8m ( 4-5 feet)
Spread outdoors: 1.2-1.8m ( 4-5 feet)

Hardiness zone: 10a-11

Acalypha wilkesiana

Acalypha wilkesiana  in container

Acalypha wilkesiana Godseffiana

Acalypha wilkesiana Macrophylla

Acalypha wilkesiana Marginata

Acalypha wilkesiana Mosaica

Annuals, Evergreen, Foliage Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants, Shrubs , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Abutilon hybridum

January 13th, 2014

Common name: Flowering Maple, Albution, Chinese Lantern, Chinese Bell Flower

Family: Malvaceae


Abutilon hybridum

Abutilon hybridum

Distribution and habitat: Abutilon x hybridum (Abutilon hybridum) are cultigens, not occurring in the wild. Cultivars produced by hybridising some of the South American abutilons have all been placed in one group known as Abutilon x hybridum.
Abutilon x hybridum is a popular group of hybrids that are semi-tropical, frost-tender shrubs typically growing up to 2-3m (6-10 feet) tall in zones where can be left in the ground year-round. It is an evergreen shrubs with attractive maple-like leaves and an open, pendulous habit.

Description: Abutilon hybridum is the name given to a group of hybrids of mixed parentage.
The common name ‘Flowering Maple’ cames from the shape of its broad, five-lobed leaves, but it is not a true maple. It is more closely related to the Alcea species (hollyhock) and to the weed known as Abutilon theophrasti (velvet leaf).
There are many named varieties of Abutilon hybridum, which can grow up to 1.5m (5 feet) spread and can start to flower while very young. The pendent blooms are usually about 5cm (2 inch) long and bell shaped with prominent orange or yellow stamens and pale green calix (the papery, bract like growth that protects the unopened flower bud).
When given good light and proper care, Abutilon hybridum is producing papery blossoms on drooping stems nearly year-round. Flowers may be red, yellow, pink, orange or peach, depending on variety. Some varieties feature leaves mottled with yellow, but the strongest growers have solid green leaves.

Houseplant care: Abutilon hybridum plants tend toward legginess, so it is important to prune them back by one-third their size in the spring, just before the most vigorous flush of new growth begins. Remove any thin shoots that crowd the centre and reduce other stems by one-third. Also pinch back stems occasionally through the summer to promote a full, bushy shape. Regular pruning makes it easy to keep an Abutilon hybridum less than 45cm (18 inch) high and wide. If an upright plant is wanted to 1m (3 feet) tall, tie long branches to sturdy stakes.

Abutilon hybridum benefit from being kept outdoors in filtered sun during the summer months, but must be returned indoors before frost.

Light: Abutilon hybridum plants need bright light with at least three to four hours of direct sunlight every day. Place the plant to receive the light from a south or west window.

Temperature: This plant grows well in average room temperatures 18-24°C (65-75°F) year-round. Minimum temperature is 10°C (50°F).

Watering: During the active growth period water moderately, enough to moisten the potting mixture throughout, but allowing the top 1.5cm (0.5 inch) to dry out between waterings. In the rest period water only enough to keep the mixture from drying out completely.
This plant needs moderate humidity. Mist foliage with room-temperature water every few days when needed, especially in winter when indoor humidity is low. This practice will help to prevent problems with spider mites.

Fertiliser: Aply standard liquid fertiliser every two weeks during the active growth period only. In winter, feed monthly, as plants grow more slowly.

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture. Move plants into pots one size larger in spring. It is best to discard Abutilon hybridum after two or three years.

Gardening: Abutilon hybridum plant stems tend to be weak. Pinch stem tips of younger plants to promote both bushiness and stronger, more compact plants. It can also be pruned back hard in the spring, if size control is needed.
In frost zones, these plants are usually grown as annuals in the garden or in containers.

Location: A full sun position is best, but Abutilon hybridum will also flower in part shade. Best in part shade (a position where the plants receive morning sun) in hot summer climates, particularly for those cultivars with variegated foliage. Foliage may wilt in full afternoon sun.
These plants will not cope so well with full shade as they need sunny spots to bloom over a long period of time (about 9 months per year or even year round).

Soil: Abutilon hybridum plants like a rich, well drained soil and a cool root run.

Irrigation: Water well and keep it protected with mulch. Abutilon hybridum needs consistently moist soils which do not dry out. This plant abhor dry conditions.

Fertilising: Avoid heavy feeding as Abutilon hybridum are inclined to produce foliage at the expense of flowers.

Propagation: Take tip cuttings 8-10cm (3-4 inch) long from the plant in spring or summer, dip the cut end in hormone rooting powder, insert them in small pots in a mixture of equal parts of moistened peat moss and coarse sand or in perlite and cover each pot with a plastic bag.
Place pots in filtered sunlight; cuttings will root in three to four weeks. Thereafter, move them into slightly larger pots of soil-based potting mixture, but keep the uncovered pots in filtered light for another two or three weeks and water just enough to keep the potting mixture barely moist. The plants can then be treated as mature Abutilon hybridum.

Longevity: Plants become woody and unattractive by the time they are 3 or 4 years old, but can be kept indefinitely by propagating stem tip cuttings.

Plant does not bloom when has not enough light or needs additional fertiliser.
Treatment: Move plant to a place where it will get bright natural light half the day. Switch to a high-phosphorous fertilizer. Some plants bloom very little in winter, but vigorous hybrids should bloom year-round with good light and regular feeding.

Flowers and low leaves drop when uneven watering, resulting in some roots remaining dry; also, these drops can be promoted by too much direct sun.
Treatment: Rehydrate pot. In summer, move plant to a place where it will be protected from hot midday and afternoon sun.

Sticky leaves can be caused by aphids; these small insects are present on leaves.
Treatment: Prune plant to remove badly infested leaves. Clean thoroughly with plenty of water every 3 days for 2 weeks. Can be used insecticide soap.

Leaves are pale and stippled with yellow dots and faint webbing appear on leaf undersides. The cause are the spider mites.
Treatment: Isolate plant and and prune off and dispose of badly infested leaves. Clean undersides of remaining leaves with warm, soapy water. Mist daily for a week and see if plant shows signs of recovery. If plant has a stem that is not infested, attempt to propagate its tip, because seriously damaged plants may not be worth saving.
To prevent an infestation of these pests it is important to provide a humid atmosphere around the plants and to spray the plants with water occasionally.

Diseases affecting Abutilon hybridum include: root rot, rust, Alternaria and Cercospora leaf spot.
Treatment: These can be controlled by providing air circulation, keeping the leaves dry and using a fungicide, if necessary.

There is also Abutilon mosaic virus, but the leaf discoloration or variegation is usually considered a feature.

Recommended varieties:
Abutilon hybridum ‘Boule de Neige’ has white flowers with striking orange stamens.

Abutilon hybridum ‘Golden Fleece’ has yellow flowers.

Abutilon hybridum ‘Master Hugh’ has rose-pink flowers.

Uses and display: In addition to being grown in pots or hanging baskets, Abutilon hybridum can be trained to assume a treelike shape by tying the main stem to a sturdy stake and inching off all branches that emerge from the lowest 38cm (15 inch) of stem.
It is also a beautiful addition to cottage garden, shade garden shrub border where dense screening is not required.


Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – bushy
Indoors: 1.5m (5 feet)
Outdoors: 2-3m (6-10 feet)

Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – direct
Temperature in rest period – min 10oC max 24oC (50-75oF)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16oC max 24oC (61-75oF)
Humidity – low

Hardiness zone: 10a-11

Abutilon hybridum VoodooAbutilon hybridum in potAbutilon hybridum Boule de NeigeAbutilon hybridum Golden FleeceAbutilon hybridum Master HughAbutilon hybridum

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

Hydrangea macrophylla

December 29th, 2013

Common name: Bigleaf Hydrangea, French Hydrangea, Lacecap Hydrangea, Mophead Hydrangea, Penny Mac, Hortensia

Family: Hydrangeaceae

Synonymous: Hortensia opuloides
Hydrangea chungii
Hydrangea hortensia
Hydrangea hortensis
Hydrangea maritima
Hydrangea opuloides
Hydrangea otaksa
Viburnum macrophyllum

Hydrangea macrophylla

Hydrangea macrophylla

Distribution and habitat: Hydrangea macrophylla plant is native to China and Japan, growing in cool, moist, mineral rich soil and medium shade of the woodland habitats, hedgerows or stream banks. It is a deciduous shrub growing to 2m (7 feet) tall by 2.5m (8 feet) broad with large heads of pink or blue flowers in summer and autumn. It is widely cultivated as ornamental garden plant in many parts of the world in climates ranging from 6 to 9 hardiness zones.

Description: The term macrophylla means large- or long-leave. The opposite leaves can grow to 15 cm (6 inch) in length. They are simple, membranous, orbicular to elliptic and acuminate. They are generally serrated.
The inflorescence of Hydrangea macrophylla is a cluster with all flowers placed in a plane or a hemisphere or even a whole sphere in cultivated forms. Two distinct types of flowers can be identified: central non-ornamental fertile flowers and peripheral ornamental flowers, usually described as ‘sterile’. The four sepals of decorative flowers have colors ranging from pale pink, red fuchsia purple to blue. The non-decorative flowers have five small greenish sepals and five small petals. Flowering lasts from early summer to early winter. The fruit is a subglobose capsule.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Hortensia’ is the most common form grown in pots. It is a low growing shrub, usually with height and spread of no more than 30-60cm (12-24 inch). Each plant has a short, woody stem and from four to eight branches, which carry opposite pairs of shiny, pointed oval leaves 8-10cm (3-4 inch) long and 5-10cm (2-4 inch) wide. The leaves have stalks about 2cm (1 inch) long. The main stem and branches may each terminate in a rounded flower head about 12-20cm (5-8 inch) wide which is composed of many four petaled flowers up to 5cm (2 inch) wide. Occasionally there are small specimens available which have only an unbranched main stem with a single flower head at its top.
Flowers of Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Hortensia’ have greenish buds that open white, pink, red, purple or blue. Flower colour of all Hydrangea plants are affected by the degree or acidity or alkalinity of the soil in which they grow. Pink or red-flowered kinds develop blue or purple when grown in acid or neutral potting mixtures and the normally blue-flowered kinds turn pink or purple-red in alkaline potting mixtures.

Houseplant care: Hydrangea macrophylla is the only species grown as indoor plant. Even this one is difficult to carry over from one year to another indoors because it require constantly cool conditions in order to bloom. Thus, potted Hydrangea macrophylla are usually bought when budding in early spring and may be kept for a few weeks indoors while flowering and then planted outdoors.

Light: Grow Hydrangea macrophylla plants in bright light but not too much direct sunlight.

Temperature: Flowers of potted Hydrangea macrophylla will last for up to eight weeks if kept in a cool position (below 16°C). In normal room temperatures the blooms are likely to fade within three to four weeks.

Watering: Water plentifully as often as necessary to keep the potting mixture thoroughly moist. Never allow the potting mixture to dry out or the plant will collapse. If this happens, immerse the pot in a bucket of water until the root ball is thoroughly soaked. Even if this treatment succeeds, however, the current flowering period of the plant will have been shortened.

Feeding: Apply standard liquid fertiliser every two weeks as long as the plant remains indoors.

Potting and repotting: Repotting is not necessary for these temporary indoor plants. Most specimens will recover and thrive is planted in a sheltered position outdoors.

Gardening: Hydrangea macrophylla do not have to be pruned back – ever – unless they are very old. Removing dead stems is the only pruning that must be done for the health of the plant and these can be removed at any time. Hydrangea macrophylla blooms on large buds formed on previous season’s growth. Therefore is recommended do not cut the stems that are yet to flower as they will produce the first flowers of next year.

The white cultivars remain white regardless of the soil pH, but if colour changing is desired for other cultivars, lime the soil for pink flowers or add aluminum-sulphate for blue flowers. The change of the soil pH must be done before flower buds form. So treat the soil (in recommended dosage) several times at intervals starting with beginning of autumn and then again in spring. Test the soil pH concentration for good results.

Protect young plants in winter in cold zones as they are more tender than the older plants.

Location: All Hydrangea macrophylla plants will bloom and grow well in morning sun and afternoon shade in Southern Hemisphere. The further north they are grown the more sun these plants need and can withstand.
No hydrangea will do well in heavy shade such as under a shade tree. The blooms will be sparse and will not develop fully. If it is planted under a tree often fail to thrive. This is because trees roots are very aggressive and are drawn to the rich, moist soil usually provided for these plants.
Choose a location where your hydrangea can reach its full size without pruning.

Soil: Plant Hydrangea macrophylla in well-drained soil. If the soil is heavy, add roughage such as pine bark mulch.
Do not plant it too deeply. Plant Hydrangea macrophylla in early summer or fall at the same depth the hydrangea was planted in the pot.
Transplant this plant when it has become dormant and has lost all of its leaves (late fall or winter).

Irrigation: Hydrangea macrophylla must be kept watered very well the first and second summer after they are planted or transplanted. The best way to water is deeply. Use a hose to water rather than a sprinkler system. However do not over-water. Watering every day can be just as destructive as allowing the plants to dry out. If the soil does not drain well, do not allow it to remain soggy around plants.
These plant have a moderate drought tolerance. They are not doing well in hot, dry conditions.

Fertilising: Hydrangea macrophylla grow best if they are fertilised once or twice in the summer. Either chemical fertilisers or organic matter can be used successfully. An organic method of applying manure and/or compost around the roots, produces excellent results and also improves the condition of the soil. If chemical fertilizers are used, applying a slow-release, balanced fertilizer once a year is probably the simplest solution. A less expensive fast release fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 will work just as well if applied twice during the summer. Do not fertilize after end of summer. Fall is the time for this plants to begin preparing for dormancy. Also, never fertilise a plant which looks sick.
Over-fertilisation can be much more detrimental than under-fertilization as fertiliser burn can occur when too much fertiliser is applied.

Propagation: Propagation is not practical for indoor plants. Although stem cuttings of Hydrangea macrophylla will normally root quite easily, the resultant plants are unlikely to produce flowers indoors.

For outdoors cultivation, Hydrangea macrophylla plants are easy to propagate from semi-hardwood cuttings taken from near the base of the plant, tip cuttings taken in summer or by layering, suckering or division. The cuttings 13-15cm (5-6 inch) long with the excess leaves removed should be placed in propagation mix and kept in a closed frame or sealed plastic bag until roots develop. The cuttings are taken in late summer or early fall.

Pests and Diseases:
Aphids distort the new growth and coat the leaves with sticky honeydew.
Treatment: The insects can be dislodged with a high pressure water spray from the garden hose.

Four-lined plant bug causes round, brown, sunken spots on the leaves. The injury is often thought to be a disease.
Treatment: Both contact and systemic insecticides are effective for control of these bugs.

A leaf tier webs the leaves over the tip of the branches.
Treatment: These insects may be picked off by hand. Handpick and destroy caterpillars, tell-tale rolled leaves and cocoons; prune out and destroy active webs, preferably when still small.

Rose chafers are light tan with red, spindly legs, though they can be darker.
Treatment: They can occur in large numbers where soils are sandy. Chemicals are ineffective because more rose chafers quickly move into a treated area to replace those killed by pesticides. Physically remove rose chafers, especially when small numbers are present. Remove them from plants and into pails of soapy water to kill them.

Oyster shell scale infests the upper stems of Hydrangea and often goes unnoticed.
Treatment Sprays of dormant plants with horticultural oil should help control overwintering stages and are less harmful to biological predators that help control scale.

Mites cause yellowish foliage.
Treatment: Treat affected plants with horticultural oils or an adequate pesticide following the instructions on label.

Bacterial wilt may blight the flower clusters and leaves. The disease is worse after heavy rains and hot weather. If severe, wilting and root rot occur, followed by plant death.

Bud or flower blight infects dense flower clusters in wet weather or after frost.

Several genera of fungi cause leaf spots on Hydrangea.

Powdery mildews in different genera cover the undersides of leaves with light gray mold. The leaves turn brown in spots and the upper leaf surfaces stay green or turn purplish brown. Young stems and flower stalks are infected and killed.

Rust causes rusty brown pustules on the leaves. The pustules are most noticeable on the undersides of leaves. Infected leaves dry up and become brittle.

Problems: There are three possibilities for lack of flowering among the Hydrangea macrophylla species: too much shade, improper pruning or unfavorable weather conditions which can damage the flower buds by late spring freezes.

Recommended varieties:
Hydrangea macrophylla ‘All Summer Beauty’ – This selection may be more appropriate for colder areas, as it supposedly blooms on current season’s growth and thus will flower despite late frost damage. The profuse mophead blooms are deep blue in acid soil, and the plant grows 1.2m (4 feet) tall and wide.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Ayesha’ – Unusual for its rounded flower petals, slight fragrance and lustrous foliage, this cultivar is gaining popularity. The mophead flowers are pink-purple. This form may be less hardy than others.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Blue Wave’ – The most popular blue-flowered lacecap form, this plant is also hardier than similar plants. It grows to 2m (7 feet) tall and wide and features outer bloom florets of blue to pink (depending on soil pH).

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Golden Sunlight’ – (a cultivar of Hydrangea macrophylla var. serrata) A new form that is very unusual for its new leaves which emerge golden yellow and mature to light green with age. The blooms are pinkish and the plant grows to 1m (3 feet) tall and wide.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Lemon Wave’  – Grown mostly as a foliage plant, this form has spectacular variegation — with zones of gold, white and green on each leaf. It rarely flowers in colder zones.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Nikko Blue’ – This is the most common blue-flowered mophead form, useful in colder areas since is reportedly will produce some flowers on new growth late in the season. Acid soil will produce the deepest blue color on this 1.2 (4feet) tall shrub.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Madame Emile Mouillere’ – A hardy mophead form, this plant is also notable for its heavy production of pure white flowers that develop hints of blue-pink with age. It grows to 1.5m (5 feet) tall and wide.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Mariesii Variegata’ (may be the same as Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Variegata’) – This is the most common variegated leaf form, with deep green foliage edged in white. It reaches 1.5m (5 feet) tall and bears lacecap blooms, but it rarely flowers well in colder zones.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Pia’, ‘Forever Pink’ and ‘Tovelit’ – A trio of dwarf forms, these selections are among the most popular compact selections, reaching only 1m (3 feet) tall and wide. The mophead flowers are in shades of pink.

Cutting flower: Hydrangea macrophylla are used as cutting flowers as well. Their blooms can make a fabulous floral arrangements as they will fill a vase with their many tiny flowers. They also last well, especially with proper care. Properly cut blooms will last for at least several weeks to a month. It is recommended do not trim non-blooming stalks on a plant less than five years old because they tend to become next year’s flowers. The flower harvested should be at least a week old and is fully colored prior to cutting it since the older the bloom, the longer the cut flower will last in water. Though hydrangea leaves are pretty, they should all be trimmed off as they will steal water from the flower part and also will shorten the life of a cut flower. Consider using a shorter vase and cutting the Hydrangea macrophylla stem short, about 15cm (6 inch) or less. A longer stem requires more water and will shorten the life of the bloom. Once the bloom is cut, which should be cut on a diagonal, the Hydrangea macrophylla bloom should be immersed in water for two hours. To increase water absorption, the bottom of the stem should be either smash the with a hammer or re-cut 2.5cm (1 inch) off the bottom of the stem while it is immersed in water. This will keep the bloom alive and drinking water for a longer period of time. Since the stem will take up water, check frequently the level of water in the vase. Change the vase water every few days.

Dry flowers: Hydrangea macrophylla can be used as dried flowers. While it is tempting to cut the hydrangea blossoms for drying at the height of their color, this does not work. Fresh, recently opened blooms, rarely dry well in the open air. Hydrangeas do best when allowed to dry on the plant before picking them. In the south, hydrangeas usually age to a blushing green color and then pick up shades of pink and burgundy as Fall approaches. In the cooler areas of the world, they seem to age to shades of blue and purple. They are both equally beautiful, but very different.
Leave blooms on the shrub until late summer. Toward the end of the summer the petals will begin to age and take on a vintage look. If left on the shrub a little longer, many blooms will pick up interesting shades of burgundy and pink.

Another method: If are used cut blooms to dry, strip off the leaves, arrange them in a vase, with or without water, and leave them to dry. It is not necessary to hang hydrangea flowers up side down to dry unless the stems are very thin and weak.
To retain extremely natural hydrangea color, use Silica Gel to dry fresh blooms.

Uses: Hydrangea macrophylla is a useful hedging plant because of its vigorous growth. It is an appreciated shrub border for its high quality foliage, adding textural variety to a landscape. It makes a stunning plant for either specimen, groupings or mass plantings. It is suitable for cottage garden style. Also, it can be used as container plant or above-ground planter.

Hardiness zone: 5b – 9a

Hydrangea macrophylla HortensiaHydrangea macrophylla All Summer BeautyHydrangea macrophylla AyeshaHydrangea macrophylla Blue WaveHydrangea macrophylla Golden SunlightHydrangea macrophylla Lemon WaveHydrangea macrophylla Nikko BlueHydrangea macrophylla Madame Emile MouillereHydrangea macrophylla Mariesii VariegataHydrangea macrophylla PiaHydrangea macrophylla Forever PinkHydrangea macrophylla Tovelit

Cutting Flowers, Flowering Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants, Shrubs , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Gardenia jasminoides

November 11th, 2013

Common name: Common Gardenia, Cape Jasmine, Cape Jessamine

Family: Rubiaceae

Synonymous: Gardenia augusta
Genipa florida
Genipa grandiflora
Genipa radicans

Gardenia jasminoides

Gardenia jasminoides

Distribution and habitat: Gardenia jasminoides is an evergreen flowering plant originated in Asia. It is most commonly found growing wild in Vietnam, Southern China, Taiwan, Japan, Myanmar and India distributed in broad-leaved forests at low to medium elevations. With its shiny green leaves and heavily fragrant white summer flowers, it is widely used in gardens in warm temperate and subtropical climates and as a houseplant in temperate regions.

Description: Gardenia jasminoides are low-growing bushy shrubs mainly prized for their fragrant flowers which give out a heady perfume. Gardenia jasminoides is the only species of Gardenia grown indoors. Despite their common name ‘Cape Jasmine’ they are not related with true Jasmine. As a potted plants rarely exceeds 45cm (18 inch) in height or spread, even through it is capable of growing up to 2m (7 feet) in climates where it can be grown outside in the garden.
The 10cm (4 inch) long leaves of Gardenia jasminoides are shinny, dark green, leathery, lance-shaped and usually arranged in opposite pairs, though sometimes in whorls of three or more. The flowers, which may be fully double (with many petals or semi-double with only two layers of slightly arching petals), are 5-10cm (2-4 inch) across and appear, usually singly, from leaf axils near the ends of the shoots.

Most Gardenia jasminoides bloom naturally during the summer months. Each flower may last only five to seven days, but the bloom can last for many months with proper care. Only a few flowers are generally open at any given time per plant. Happy plants may bloom a second time in the fall.
The plants can live up to 10 years, indoors, with proper care.

Houseplant care: Gardenia jasminoides are not difficult plants to grow, although they require particular attention in order to flower.

Some early spring pruning is usually necessary to keep the shrub low and bushy. Nip out the growing points of any long new shoot on young plants and cut out about half or even two-thirds of the old wood of the mature plants. Be careful, however, not to nip out flower buds. The stems of the plants can always be cut back later after the flowers have died. The cuts should be made immediately above the points where growth-producing duds point outward rather than toward the centre of the plant.
Remove the faded blooms.

Natural gas fumes will harm the plant, so growing gardenias near a gas stove or fireplace is not a good idea.

Light: Gardenia jasminoides do best in bright light. Always keep them out of direct sunlight, however.
Established plants may be moved outdoors in a shady, sheltered location for the summer months. Bring the plant indoors when temperatures fall bellow 15°C (60°F).

Temperature: The key to success in bringing Gardenia jasminoides into flower is to maintain a steady temperature of 16-17°C (61-62°F) during the period when flower buds are forming; a sudden change in either direction is practically certain to cause the buds to drop off. When plants are not forming flower buds, the range can be that of fairly normal room, between 15-24°C (60-75°F).

A high degree of humidity is also essential when flower buds are forming. To achieve this, stand the pots on trays of moist pebbles or peat moss and spray plants at least once a day with fine mist-spray, using water at room temperature. But try not to wet the flowers if the plants are in bloom, because water on the petals causes discolouration.
Fresh, moist (humid) circulating air is a necessity, especially during the winter. Hot, stale or dry air can cause fungal issues. Keep this plant away from radiators and avoid draughts.

Watering: Gardenia jasminoides do not have a well defined rest period. They grow less actively, though, during the winter in areas where the winter months bring on considerable reduction of light. In such places water these plants  moderately during the summer, giving enough at each watering to make the potting mixture moist throughout and allowing the top centimetre or so of the potting mixture to dry out before watering again. During the winter months allow the top few centimetre or so of the potting mixture to dry out completely before watering again.
Such reduced winter watering is desirable even with the plants that are forced into winter flowering. In areas with less winter reduction of light, watering can remain unchanged throughout the year. Always use slightly warm, preferable lime free water for these plants.

These flowering plants are thirsty. Dry soil will cause the buds to drop. Check the soil at least every couple days. Keep it moist but not soggy, which can also cause buds to drop.

Feeding: Apply an acid fertiliser every two weeks, but only during the growing season, to these lime heating Gardenia jasminoides plants.

Potting and repotting: Most growers use a lime free potting mixture even though Gardenia jasminoides can tolerate a little alkalinity. A mixture of equal parts of leaf mould and peat moss is excellent. If a propetary peat-based potting mixture is used, make sure it is suitable for lime hating plants, since some are not. Because there is relatively little nutritional value in leaf mould and none in peat moss, it is especially important to give a regular feeding as recommended if this mixture is used. It is also possible to use a soil based potting mixture as long as it is non-alkaline.  The feeding regime is less essential with soil based potting mixture than with soil-less ones.

Repot Gardenia jasminoides only when their roots have nearly filled the pot (as indicated by their appearance at the surface or outside the bottom drainage holes). These plants flower best when they are kept in pots that are just a little too small for vigorous stem growth. Ideally, any repotting should only be done when the plants are beginning to grow in the spring and the root ball should be disturbed as little as possible.

Gardening: Gardenia jasminoides can be grown in beds in areas within its hardiness zones, but growing them in containers allow the plants to be moved to more suitable seasonal sites and makes it easier to control pests.

When pulling weeds from around Gardenia jasminoides in garden, do so carefully. This plant’s roots are shallow and can damage easily. Consider to place a 5 to 8cm (2-3 inch) layer of organic mulch to keep the weeds from growing as it helps the soil to maintain moisture.

Location: Gardenia jasminoides can grow in part shade or part sun. It requires good amount of light to bloom successfully. During the hottest climate, protect the plant by keeping it in shade. Although, keep away from big bushy shrubs which can overwhelm this smaller Gardenia jasminoides.
The fragrance of Gardenia jasminoides plants is strong, so it is best planted in a place where its smell can spread easily. It can be planted near a wall, deck or patio; so that its fragrance is carried easily throughout the landscape.

Soil: The preferred soil for Gardenia jasminoides should be rich, acidic, moisture-retentive and well drained. Use a soil which has 6 or higher pH. This is a calcifuge (lime hating) plant, which means it does not tolerate alkaline soil. If the soil is not acidic enough, then many plant problems can occur.
When planting them, keep a distance of at least 1m (40 inch) between each plant.

Irrigation: Gardenia jasminoides requires average watering. However, supply the plant adequate water on a regular basis, taking care not to over water it. The soil should be kept moist at all times, but it should not be soggy. Irri­gating with drip systems keeps water off the foliage and flowers, which helps prevent leaf and petal spots. When well established, it can moderately tolerate drought conditions. To help main­tain adequate soil moisture, use mulch and avoid culti­vation around the base of the plant.

Avoid using very hard water for Gardenia jasminoides, however. If soft water is not available, then add some vinegar to the hard water to lower its pH.

Fertilise: Gardenia jasminoides requires fertilisation twice in a year to maintain dark green leaves. Fertilise during early spring (before the flowers appear) and during early summer. Use an iron chelate fertilizer and mix with an acidic soil mixture.

Propagation: Gardenia jasminoides can be propagated from 8cm (3 inch) long tip cuttings taken in early spring. Dip these in hormone rooting powder and plant them in small pots of moistened peat-based potting mixture suitable for lime hating plants. Place the potted cuttings in a heated propagating case or alternatively, enclose them in a plastic bags and keep them at a temperature of 15-18°C (59-64°F) in bright light which is filtered through something like a translucent blind or curtain. Rooting should occur in four to six weeks. In late summer move the rooted cuttings into pots a size larger, containing the potting mixture recommended for mature plants. Water them moderately and feed them at least once a month until they are well developed. Then treat them as mature plants.

Recommended varieties:
Gardenia jasminoides ‘Belmont’ which is densely bushy plant and bears large, fragrant, many petaled, white flowers that turn cream coloured as they age. This variety is often sold as cut flowers by florists.

Gardenia jasminoides ‘Fortuniana’ (Gardenia jasminoides ‘Florida’) is a less bushy plant with medium size, rather waxy, snowy-white, many petaled flowers that turn yellowish with age.

Gardenia jasminoides ‘Veitchii’ has a dense growth and medium size, many petaled flowers which normally remain pure white. This variety can be brought into flower in early winter by dis-budding (having their flower buds picked off at an early stage) throughout summer and early autumn.

Gardenia jasminoides ‘White Gem’ is a dwarf variety reaching only 60cm (24 inch) tall. It is one of the most common species of Gardenia for growing indoors.

Gardenia jasminoides ‘Radicans’ has an upright form, making it a favorite for shaping a gardenia tree. It is perfect for creating a Gardenia bonsai.

Problems: Generally  the result of incorrect treatment.

Yellowing leaves are the result of careless watering or due to deficiency of one or more micro nutrients (usually iron).
Treatment: Allow the soil to remain evenly moist but not water saturated. Micro nutrients deficiency can often be corrected by acidifying the soil with aluminum sulfate, iron sulfate or wettable sulfur. Iron chelate may be used on the soil or foliage. An acidulating houseplant fertilizer can be used to lower soil pH.

Bud drop may be caused by sudden changes in temperature or by incorrect watering.
Treatment: Maintain adequate soil moisture but avoid over-watering; avoid insufficient light; avoid planting in locations where nighttime temperatures commonly exceed 13-15°C (55–60°F); control parasitic insects.

Failure of flower buds to form is a result of too high temperatures (day and/or night) as well as too low temperatures at night.

Red  spider mite and aphids may be a problem where the humidity is low. These insects are small and often hide underneath the leaves. Symptoms are: the leaves are turning yellow, curling or there are holes in the leaves.
Treatment: Spray the plant with insecticidal soap. Follow the label directions for proper usage.

Whiteflies are white and cottony appear­ance of leaf undersides. The whiteflies have as a side effect accumulation of black sooty mold.
Treatment: Successive sprays of insecticidal soaps or white oil.
Thrips are tiny black insects that feed on flowers and leaf undersides. They cause browning the margins of the flower petal, distortion of flowers or failure of buds to open.
Treatment: Treat the plant with a suitable insecticide, but it should be used while the flowers are still in bud, because it can burn the petals.
Mealybugs suck plant juices, and heavy infestations will coat the leaves with sticky honeydew. They appear as white cottony masses found in the leaf axils, underside of leaves and other protected areas.
Treatment: Use appropriate insecticides. Remove with an alcohol­ saturated cotton swab or wash plants with soapy water and a soft brush or cloth or pick off with tweezers or a toothpick.
Look for caterpillars which feed on leaves.
Treatment: Use an appropriate insecticide to combat these pests.

In sandy soil, nematodes feed on the roots and can cause Gardenia jasminoides to be stunted or even die.
Treatment: Soil fumigation is a must prior to planting as preventive measure. Graft onto nematode-resistant rootstock such as Gardenia thunbergia can be an option where these pests are a problem. Incorporate wood shavings or organic matter in the soil mass to depress nematode population.

Root rots caused by various fungi also can be a problem, especially in poorly drained soils.
Treatment: Avoid overwatering and avoid planting these plants in heavy soils. Use a suitable fungicides.

Powdery mildew appears as white and powdery spots on leaves. This is a fungal disease favored by relatively cool nights and warm days.
Treatment: Methods of treatment this disease include preventive or curative fungicides usage, weed control and providing good soil drainage. Increase ventilation and airflow to aid in drying foliage.
Sooty mold causes black, thin layers of the fungus to form over the upper surface of the leaves. Sooty mold is caused by a group of related fungi that grow upon sugary exudate or honeydew secreted by sucking insects such as aphids, scales, mealybugs and whiteflies.
Treatment: Control sucking insects. Sooty mold usually weathers away following control of the insect infestation. Once the insects are controlled, wash the sooty mold off the leaves with soap and water.
Purchasing tips:
Buy Gardenia jasminoides plants that are loaded with well-formed buds and, perhaps, one or two open blooms.
Check flower buds, stems and leaves for signs of wilt, browning or yellowing foliage, mold and rot.

Companion plants: Combine Gardenia jasminoides fragrant beauty with other woodland shrubs and perennials like Astrantia major (Masterwort), Heuchera (Coral Bells), Camellia and Evergreen Azalea species. Create a tropical container planting for your patio or deck with Mandevilla, Colocasia (Elephant Ears), Agapanthus and Fuchsia species.

Uses and display: With its low, dense growth, Gardenia jasminoides is a favorite for limited space. Best planted close to outdoor living spaces in heavy ceramic pots or raised planters to enjoy the lovely fragrance. Although care needs to be taken in placing this plant in the landscape because its fragrance can be too intense for some people. It should not be placed below bedroom windows. Plant it near a deck, walkway or patio where the fragrance can be enjoyed throughout the whole gar­den or landscape.
With their glossy, dark green foliage, gardenia plants make a great foundation in a landscape. It is effectively used as either focus or background in informal plantings and for tropical-theme landscape plantings. Gardenia jasminoides can also be an accent plant around seating areas or near win­dows to take advantage of their extremely fragrant white flowers. They do well in containers (22-30cm (9-12 inch) tubs) and are suitable as well for hedges, low screens, mass plantings and groundcovers.
Gardenia jasminoides is also a popular cut flower for the florist for use in corsages and in Hawaii leis. The flowers float nicely in table-top glass or ceramic vessels. Gardenia flowers have a vase life of 2 days. Flowers that will be used for lei making can be stored in a refrig­erator at 4°C (40°F) for up to 1 day and 3 days for buds. Spray with water to clean the flowers or buds and place them on a wet paper towel in a bowl before refrigerating.


Foliage – green
Features – flowers, fragrance
Shape – bushy

Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright
Temperature in rest period – min 16oC max 24oC (61-75oF)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16oC max 24oC (61-75oF)
Humidity – high

Height: 30-90cm
Hardiness zone: 8b-11

Gardenia jasminoides BelmontGardenia jasminoides FortunianaGardenia jasminoides VeitchiiGardenia jasminoides RadicansGardenia jasminoides White GemGardenia jasminoides in pot






Evergreen, Flowering Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants, Shrubs , , , , , , , , , , ,

Camellia japonica

November 2nd, 2013
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Common name: Japanese Camellia, Rose of Winter, Common Camellia

Family: Theaceae

Synonymous: Thea japonica

Camellia japonica

Camellia japonica

Distribution and habitat: Camellia japonica is a long lived evergreen, large shrub or small tree, native to in mainland China, Taiwan, southern Korea and southern Japan. In the wild, it grows in forests at altitudes of around 300–1100m (980–3600 feet).

Description: Camellia japonica probably is the most commonly grown species in indoor or patio situations. The leathery, glossy leaves of Camellia japonica which are about 10cm (4 inch) long and 5cm (2 inch) wide, are arranged alternatively on woody stems. Flowers can be solitary or borne in clusters and each bloom can be single (with only 5 petals encircling a mass of yellow stamens) or double (with more than 20 petals and no visible stamens) or semi-double. Flower size varies from about 5-13cm (2-5 inch) across and colour may be white, pink, red or a combination of white and either red or pink.

Houseplant care: Indoor cultivation of Camellia japonica is bound to be plagued by some problems as they are very sensitive to any change in their position, temperature, humidity and moisture. They drop their buds easily, especially if they do not get enough water when they are forming flower and leaf buds (and in any case, are unlikely to flower well indoors, unless they are grown in a cool, conservatory-type situation). In warm weather, they are better off being transferred to the garden, if possible (the pot can be buried in the soil for the duration) or to a semi-shady spot on a verandah.

Light: Grow Camellia japonica in bright filtered light throughout the year.

Temperature: In the dry warmth of the average home Camellia japonica will not flower, but they grow well in cool porches, patios and plant rooms such as conservatories. An ideal temperature during the bud-forming stage (autumn and winter) is between 7 and 16°C (45-61°F). Camellia japonica cannot survive for long time indoor temperature above 18°C (64°F). Stand the pots on trays of moist pebbles and mist-spray the plants at least once a day.

Watering: During the active growth period water plentifully but never allowing the pot to stand in water. During the rest period – about six weeks from the end of the flowering season until late spring or autumn (depending on the variety) – water only enough to keep the potting mixture from drying out.

Feeding: Apply standard liquid fertiliser every two weeks during the active growth period.

Potting and repoting: Use equal parts of peat moss, coarse leaf mould and a lime-free soil based potting mixture. Move plants into slightly larger pots in autumn whenever necessary. After maximum convenient size pot has been reached, top-dress the plant with fresh potting mixture at the end of each rest period. Do not repot plant in flower.

Gardening: Camellia japonica will grow in most areas apart from the hot tropics. This plant is normally hard to minus 12°C (10°F), but sudden changes in temperature can damage the foliage or kill open flower buds.

A light trim every two or three years is adequate, rather than an annual prune. It will reduce the canopy and force the flowering growth out, making the bloom more visible and will lower down the shrub. As an optional practice, can be removed some flower buds (called “debudding”) to promote larger, showier blooms. To do this, simply remove a bud that is touching another or remove all the interior buds and just leave the ones on the tips of the branches.

LocationCamellia japonica need protection from direct sun and strong winds. They grow best in partial shade as they do not like early morning or late afternoon sun. A planting site under tall pine trees or on the north or west side of a building is ideal. The plants grown in full sun may develop leaf scorch.
In the winter Camellia japonica need protection from direct sun and drying winds.

Soil: Camellia japonica prefer a slightly acid (pH 5.5-6.0), humus-rich soil with good drainage. Incorporate a 5 to 8cm (2-3 inch) layer of organic matter such as pine bark mulch before planting.
In areas with alkaline soils, they may need to be grown in containers with potting mix for acid loving plants.
Late fall to winter is the best time to plant or transplant Camellia japonica. Space plants according to their mature size. Space plants about 1.8m (6 feet) apart when planting a hedge. Individual holes should be two to three times as wide as the root ball. The depth of the hole should be the same as the root ball. Place the plant root ball into the planting hole and fill the hole with soil, tamping it down as you fill it. Avoid planting this plant too deep. Water heavily, to settle the soil and remove air pockets in the soil. After planting, mulch the plants with a 8 to 10cm (3-4 inch) of pine bark to help maintain the moisture.

Irrigation: Camellia japonica plants are moderate drinkers and they are not particularly drought-tolerant, although older plants are more adaptable. Keep Camellia japonica well watered, particularly when they are in bud or in bloom or when the weather is hot and dry. The soil should be kept evenly moist at all times.
Special attention needs new planted Camellia japonica. Keep it well watered until it is well established.
In a high rainfall area it will probably require raised beds, to allow any excess water to run away easily.

Fertilise: Camellia japonica are generally not heavy feeders, but if growth is weak or the leaves begin to turn yellow, they should be fertilised with a slow release fertiliser in late winter or very early in the spring when new growth begins. Always water fertilised plants thoroughly after the application. At the same time, mulch the plant for enriching the soil and maintaining the soil moisture.

Propagation: Camellia japonica are mostly propagated by cuttings. However, this procedure is quite difficult to carry through successfully and the amateur gardener is best advised to leave propagation to the experts and purchase a healthy young tree from a reputable nursery or plant supplier.
Propagation from cuttings is done with softwood cuttings taken from new growth in early summer, but it is a slow process. Each cutting should have at least 5 nodes. Remove the lowest leaves and trim the remaining leaves by one half before inserting the cutting into a sand and peat moss mix. Use rooting hormone to stimulate roots growth. Insert the cuttings one-third to one-half their length into the medium. Maintain the vertical orientation of the stem. The cuttings should never be allowed to dry out and should be kept moist at all times. Cover the cuttings with plastic bag and place in indirect light. When new growth emerge is sigh that the plant have been rooted (will take few months to root). At this moment remove the bag and water the cuttings enough to keep the potting mixture just moist.

The fastest and most reliable method of propagating new Camellia japonica plants is by air layering. This method will allow you to create much larger clones. Air layering of these plants can be done at any time of the year but the best results are accomplished if the process is done in the spring when the plant is actively growing.  Select a limb to air-layer. Cut through the bark a section of about 3cm (1 inch) at approximately (18-24 inch) from the top of the plant. The idea is to remove the bark on this section. After pealing off the bark, a green film like coating will surround the woody part of stem which have to be removed so that the bark will not grow back. Use a knife to scarp it away down to the woody part of stem.  Use sphagnum peat moss completely saturated with water as medium for roots to grow on. Squeeze the excessive water from the sphagnum moss to make this to be moist but not wet and arrange it around the prepared stem for air layering (the segment with the bark pealed out). Wrap a piece or plastic around the sphagnum moss ball to keep the ball in place and preserve its moisture. Finally wrap the entire thing in aluminum foil to protect the ball. Always keep the ball loose. It takes 3-6 months for the air-layering to establish sufficient roots to survive when is cut off from the parent plant. Once enough roots are formed the next step is to sever the air-layer from the original plant, cutting just below the root ball. Plant the new plant in a container (better for the new plant to establish quicker after severing from the parent plant) or in ground. Furthermore, treat the new plat as a mature Camellia japonica.

Camellia seeds harvested from hybrid plants may be sterile and those that are viable may produce plants that are not true to their parent.
Soak Camellia seeds in warm water for 24 hours before sowing them indoors during the spring or fall. Maintain a temperature in the growing medium of 21 to 24°C (70-75°F) until germination, which takes 1-2 months.

Scale and spider mites are the main insect problems with Camellia japonica.
Treatment: Treat with insecticidal soap, spray or alcohol.

To help prevent the fungus known as petal blight, rake up and remove fallen blooms and petals.

If the leaf veins are turning yellow, your soil pH may be too high. To find out, conduct a soil test and adjust as needed.

Camellias naturally shed older leaves, so a small amount of leaf loss is normal. Large amounts of dead, yellowed, or blotchy leaves can be a sign of disease or pest.

Buying tips: Inspect plants closely before buying. Look for wounds or scars at the base of the plant that can become cankerous and cause the plant to die. Check the root system as well. Look for white roots. If the roots are brown, the plant have been poorly cared for or may have a soil borne disease.

Recommended varieties:
Camellia japonica ‘Adolphe Audusson’ has double, blood red flowers about 13cm (5 inch) across, that bloom during the spring.

Camellia japonica ‘Alba plena’ has double, white 10cm (10 inch) flowers that bloom in spring.

Camellia japonica ‘Alba simplex’ has single, white, 8cm (3 inch) flowers that bloom in winter.

Camellia japonica ‘Pink Perfection’ has double, shell pink, 8cm (3 inch) flowers that bloom in spring.

Camellia japonica ‘Purity’ has double, white, long-lasting, 8cm (3 inch) flowers that bloom in the spring.

Camellia japonica ‘William S. Hastie’ has double, crimson, 10cm (4 inch) flowers that bloom in the spring.

Uses: Making excellent specimen plants and pot plants, Camellia japonica can be used as a fence or an informal hedge. They can often be spotted as anchoring plants; their large size and dark green foliage provide structure, balance and height to an overall garden design.
Also Camellia japonica can be grown as bonsai.


Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – bushy

Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 7oC max 16oC (45-61oF)
Temperature in active growth period – min 7oC max 18oC (45-64oF)
Humidity – high

Height: 1.2-1.8m (4-6 feet)
1.8-2.4m (6-8 feet)
2.4-3m (8-10 feet)
3-3.6m (10-12 feet)

Hardiness zone: 7-9b

Camellia japonica Adolphe AudussonCamellia japonica Alba plenaCamellia japonica Alba simplexCamellia japonica Pink PerfectionCamellia japonica PurityCamellia japonica William HastieCamellia japonicaCamellia japonica - flower budCamellia japonica - hedge

Evergreen, Flowering Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants, Ornamental Trees, Shrubs , , , , , , , , ,

Rhododendron simsii

October 16th, 2013

Common name: Indian Azalea, Sims’s Azalea

Family: Ericaceae

Synonymous: Azalea indica var. simsii
Rhododendron breynii
Rhododendron danielsianum
Rhododendron decumbens
Rhododendron hannoense
Rhododendron indicum
Rhododendron lateritium
Rhododendron macranthum

Rhododendron simsii

Rhododendron simsii

Distribution and habitat: Rhododendron simsii is native to East Asia, where it grows at altitudes of 500–2700m (1600-9000 feet). It is a shrub that grows to 2m (6.5 feet) in height, with leaves that are ovate, elliptic-ovate or obovate to oblanceolate. Flowers range from white to dark red.

Description: Rhododendron simsii is of the two species of Rhododendron that can be grown as indoor plants. Rhododendron simsii grown indoors are almost invariably hybrids of mixed parentage and are all small shrubs rarely more than 45cm (18 inch) in height and spread and they have 2-3cm (0.8-1 inch) long leathery, generally egg-shaped leaves. Funnel-shaped flowers are borne at the ends of the stems.
Rhododendron simsii hybrids are the large-flowered specimens. The leaves are sometimes glossy, but practically all varieties have some bristly hairs on leaf margins. Flowers are carried in small clusters of two to five; each flower is 4-5cm (1.5-2 inch) across and may be single or double, sometimes with ruffle petals. The colours of flowers are white, magenta or any pink shade and sometimes they are attractively bicoloured. Their flowers are often lasting several weeks. With proper care, Rhododendron simsii in bud stage can give up to six weeks of enjoyment. Rhododendron simsii in bloom provide two to four weeks of beauty.

Houseplant care: These hybrid forms are usually grown indoors for a single season as temporary winter and early spring flowering plants, but it is possible to keep them alive and attractive for several years under the right conditions. It is useful if the plants can be taken outdoors for a few months each year on a well lit verandah or balcony. In their natural state they will flower in mid-spring, but commercial growers generally start batches of plants into growth at different times to produce a succession of well budded plants that will bloom at various periods from early winter well into spring.

The larger the plant, the more easily it is carried over into another year. Most young specimens have been removed prematurely from nursery beds, have had their roots pruned and have been packed into small pots. Thus, often they cannot tolerate the treatment that is necessary for them to continue growing and flowering in subsequent years.

Light: Potted Rhododendron simsii in bud or bloom should be placed in bright light but out of the direct sunlight. When not flowering, they do best if given only medium light, as at a sunless window, although a brightly lit position in a cool room is also suitable.

Temperature: Keep these plants in as cool position as possible, preferably 7-16°C (45-61°F). If the Rhododendron simsii are brought into warm rooms – above 20°C (68°F) – the roots will dry quickly, flower will flop and leaves will fall. Move the plants gradually from cool into warmer positions if absolutely necessary, but flower will last longer if they are kept cool.

Watering: To make sure that indoor grown Rhododendron simsii are permanently moist at the roots (they are almost always potted in pure peat moss) water them plentifully, giving enough at each watering to keep the potting mixture thoroughly moist. They dislike lime, so use soft, lime-free water.
Stand pots on trays or saucers of damp pebbles for extra humidity. Another way to provide extra humidity for a potted Rhododendron simsii is to stand it in a larger pot of peat moss kept moist.

Feeding: Apply a lime-free liquid fertiliser once every two weeks from late spring to early autumn.

How to keep these plants for more than one season: Although it is not possible to retain these plants for any longer than one season entirely indoors, they can be kept indefinitely in the right circumstances. When flowers are faded, place the plants in the coolest possible position, water them moderately – enough to make the potting mixture moist throughout, but allowing the top centimetre (0.4 inch) or so of the potting mixture to dry out before watering again and put them outdoors on mild days. In cool or cold climates, wait until any danger of frost has passed. Stand them in the shade outside, preferably with the pots sunk into the ground – only if the soil is low in lime. Keep each such plant moist, spray with clear water on hot evenings and feed with lime free fertiliser. Then bring them indoors for another flowering season just as winter begins.
Once more, keep the potted plant cool while buds develop; hot, dry air will cause buds and possibly leaves to drop off. A cool conservatory or glasshouse at 7-13°C (45-55°F) is ideal at this stage. From the beginning of the flowering period until the flowers fade, brighter light and more warmth – though not temperatures above about 21°C (70°F) – become tolerable to the plant.

Potting and repotting: Use a lime-free combination of one part of soil-based potting mixture, two parts of peat moss and one part of coarse sand or perlite. Plants should be transplanted to pots one size larger every two or three years, after flowering but before being moved outdoors.

Propagation: Rhododendron simsii can be propagated by means of tip cuttings of new growth taken in spring. Plant a 5-8cm (2-3 inch) long cutting in an 8cm (3 inch) pot of moistened rooting mixture consisting of two parts of coarse sand or perlite and one part of peat moss. Enclose the potted cutting in a plastic bag or propagating case and keep it in a shady position. When the cutting is well rooted (in about 8-12 weeks), transplant it to an 8cm (3 inch) pot of the potting mixture recommended for mature plants. Thereafter, the plants may be treated as a mature Rhododendron simsii.

Yellow leaves is an indication of either an iron deficiency or the presence of lime in the potting medium or water.
Treatment: To counteract this, water with a sequestrene compound (a solution of iron chelates). Water the plant with soft water.

Leaf drop or shriveling is most often caused by dry soil. Other common causes are too-low humidity, too-high temperatures and too much sun exposure. If the plant has lost more than one-third of its leaves, discard it because it will never recover.
Treatment: Submerge the pot in room-temperature soft water, until the potting medium is thoroughly saturated (bubbles disappear), every day for a week and never allow it to dry out again.

Brown leaves can be an indication of root rot caused by soil-borne fungi. Infected plants should be discarded.

Spider mites are the most common pests and infestations occur when the air is too warm and/or too dry. Parched or crinkled leaf tips, with webbing on leaf undersides, is a sign of spider mites.
Treatment: Prune infested stems, but if more than one-third of the plant is infested, discard the plant.

Re-blooming: Unless you live where winters are short and mild, Rhododendron simsii plants are difficult to get to rebloom (unlike the hardy garden Rhododendrons/azaleas). Enjoy Rhododendron simsii plants as long as their flower bouquets last.

Notes: The genus name ‘Rhododendron’ is derived from the Greek ‘rhodon’ meaning rose and ‘dendron’ which means tree, so ‘Rhododendron’ is the Roses Tree.

Rhododendron is a member of the Ericaceae (heath plant) family. Relatives include Erica (heath plant), Calluna (heather), Gaultheria (salal, lemonleaf, wintergreen) and Vaccinium (huckleberry, blueberry, cranberry).

Uses: This beautiful flowering shrub is able to combat formaldehyde from sources such as plywood or foam insulation. Because Rhododendron simsii does best in cool areas around (60 to 65 degrees), it is a good option for improving indoor air in basement if can be provided with a bright spot.


Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – bushy
Height: 45-60cm (18-24 inch)

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

Hardiness zone: 8b-11


Rhododendron simsiiRhododendron simsiiRhododendron simsii

Annuals, Flowering Plants, Indoor Plants, Shrubs , , , , , , , , , ,

Syringa vulgaris

September 18th, 2013

Common name: Lilac, Common Lilac, French lilac

Family: Oleaceae

Syringa vulgaris

Syringa vulgaris

Distribution and habitat: Syringa vulgaris is native to the Balkan Peninsula, where it grows on rocky hills. It is widely naturalised in western and northern Europe and in North America.

Description: Syringa vulgaris is a large deciduous shrub or multi-stemmed small tree, growing to 6–7m (20–23 feet) high. It produce secondary shoots, named suckers, from the base or roots, with stem diameters of up to 20cm (8 inch), which in the course of decades may produce a small clonal thicket. The bark is grey to grey-brown, smooth on young stems, longitudinally furrowed and flaking on older stems. The leaves are simple, 4–12cm (2–5 inch) and 3–8cm (1-3 inch) broad. They are light green to glaucous, oval to cordate, with pinnate leaf venation, having a mucronate apex and an entire margin. They are arranged in opposite pairs or occasionally in whorls of three.
The flowers have a small tubular base to the corolla with an open four-lobed apex, usually lilac to mauve, occasionally white. They are arranged in dense, terminal panicles 8–18cm (3–7 inch) long. Syringa vulgaris is a very popular ornamental plant in gardens and parks, because of its attractive, sweet-smelling flowers, which appear in early summer just before many of the roses and other summer flowers come into bloom.
The fruit is a dry, smooth brown capsule, 1–2cm (0.4-0.8 inch) long, splitting in two to release the two winged seeds.

Garden Culture: Pruning can help keep it to a more desirable height. The shape can be irregular, oval or round. Cut away any unwanted suckers. Mature plants can be severe pruned out of older wood, so that the shrub is always producing new wood to bloom on. It is a moderate grower.
Syringa vulgaris set next year’s flower buds shortly after current year’s flowers fade. Deadhead should be done before the new flower buds form.

To improve the flowering of lilacs, keep the grass from growing around them. A 40 to 60cm (16-24 inch) circle of landscape cloth placed around the bushes and covered with bark or stone will keep the grass down.

It will require a period of chilling dormancy.

Position: Plant Syringa vulgaris in full sun exposure – at least 6 hours of sun light per day. The shrub will grow in heavy shade, but will likely fail to produce many (if at all) of the prized blooms.

Soil: It is hardy and easily grown in well-drained, sandy and gravelly, preferably neutral to slightly alkaline soil. It does not do well in clay soils. If your soil is in poor condition, add compost to enrich it.

Plant in either spring or autumn. Transplanting Syringa vulgaris from a nursery is also easy. If it is container-grown, spread out the roots when settle the plant into the ground; if it is balled or burlapped, gentle remove it and any rope before planting. Set the plant 5 or 8cm (2-3 inch) deeper than it grew in the nursery and work topsoil in around the roots. Water in. Then fill in the hole with more topsoil. Space multiple shrubs 1.5 to 4.5m (5-15 feet) apart, depending on the variety.

Irrigation: Keep new plants well watered the first year. Once established, these shrubs are very drought tolerant.

They do not like wet feet and will not bloom with too much water.

Fertilising: If the soil is rich, they would not need any food at all. If the soil is on the lean side, an early spring dose of fertilizer for flowering shrubs will keep them blooming. These shrubs will not bloom if overfertiliser.

Propagation: The species may be raised from cuttings, layers or grafts and from seed.

Propagation by cuttings is one of the most popular ways to propagate Syringa vulgaris. Cuttings should be taken when new green terminal shoots are produced. They should be 10 to 15cm (4-6 inch) long, but should not be left out too long, because they will wilt easily and die. The cutting should be dipped in a rooting hormone. The cuttings can be placed in a media with peat, vermiculite and perlite. Each cutting should contain 2-3 nodes, which are the growing points where the leaves are attached. The leaves aid in rooting by producing carbohydrates for the rooting plant. The cuttings should never be allowed to dry out and should be kept moist at all times. The cutting should root within 3-6 weeks. Once roots appear, place the plant outside in a desirable location.

Propagating Syringa vulgaris by air layering can be easily done. Pick the part of the plant desired to be propagated. Then cut a slit at an angle 1/3 of the way through the stem just below good, healthy leaf growth. Hold this slit open with a toothpick and dust or spray the cut with a rooting hormone. Take a length of plastic wrap and secure with a twist tie or string around the stem below the cut. Fill this pocket with a big handful of moistened spagnum peat moss and wrap the rest of the plastic around it making sure to over lap and seal it to the stem above the cut with another tie. Use waterproof tape to seal the over-lapped edges of the plastic. Make sure the peat moss is in good tight contact with the cut you have made. Keep the peat moss moist during the rooting process by opening the pocket at the top and adding water when required. When roots are visible in the the peat moss, cut the stem off below the root mass and pot up.

The most common type of grafting done to Syringa vulgaris are either cleft grafts or bud grafts. The process requires a great deal of knowledge and can take several months in a greenhouse or glass-covered frame, where the air is kept moist continuously in order for the grafts to take. Cleft grafting is the most common way of grafting on a commercial basis. Bud grafting is an economical and a very rapid method for obtaining a big number of new plants.

Growing Syringa vulgaris from seed is an uncommon approach and takes long time. It usually takes 3-4 years before the shrub will finally get first blossom. Horticulture greenhouses do plant them by seed in order to use them for rootstock for other methods of propagation. At the end of the season, harvest the seed from the dead flowers after they have dried, but before they fall out of the seed pods onto the ground. Seed propagation of this shrub require a process of stratification (or a cold period) of 40-60 days in order to remove the pysiological dormancy of the seed that is needed for germination.

Problems: Insects are rarely a problem on Syringa vulgaris.

Powdery mildew is common on this shrub, especially in humid and wet summers.
Treatment: Provide good air circulation by keeping their branches pruned. Prune right after blooming is over. In addition to branch pruning, cut the dead flowers off when they are done blooming.

Oystershell scale can attach to the trunk and branches.
Treatment: Horticultural oil will help, if caught early.

There is also a lilac borer.
Treatment: The borer prefers older wood, so regular pruning will keep them at bay.

Leaf miners can make the leaves unsightly, but they would not do serious harm.

Uses: Syringa vulgaris bushes are attractive enough to be treated as specimens. They are also often planted in rows along property borders and pruned into hedges. They make excellent features for cottage garden style.

The smell of their flowers are among the most fragrant flowers. They are used as cut flowers in classic bouquets.

Because lilacs are fire retardant, they can be considered for planting near homes that are susceptible to wildfires.

Hardiness zone: 3-7

Syringa vulgaris - flowersSyringa vulgarisSyringa vulgaris - flowers

Cutting Flowers, Garden Plants, Ornamental Trees, Shrubs , , ,

Laurus nobilis

September 18th, 2013

Common name: Bay Laurel, Sweet Bay, Bay Tree, True Laurel, Grecian Laurel, Laurel Tree, Laurel

Family: Lauraceae

Laurus nobilis

Laurus nobilis

Distribution and habitat: Laurus nobilis is native to the Mediterranean region. It can vary greatly in size and height, sometimes reaching 10–18m (33–59 feet) tall.

Description: Laurus nobilis is an aromatic evergreen tree or large shrub with a broad base with many stems. The stems bear dense, pointed, elliptical leaves, rather leathery in texture, bright green when young and darker green when mature. The leaves are 6–12cm (2.5-5 inch) long and 2–4cm (0.8-1.6 inch) broad with smooth margins; on some leaves the margin undulates. The aroma of the leaves is not free; leaves have to be rubbed to release it.
The Laurus nobilis is dioecious (unisexual), with male and female flowers on separate plants. Each flower is pale yellow-green, about 1cm (0.4 inch) diameter, and they are borne in pairs beside a leaf. The fruit is a small, shiny black berry about 1cm (0.4 inch) long. Potted grown specimens seldom flower and fruit.

Houseplant care: Laurus nobilis thrives in containers, making an excellent houseplant. It can be turned into topiary (shrubs cut or trained into specified shapes) specimens which can be shaped into pyramid, ball or lollipop standards and some have ornately plaited or spirally trained stems.
Topiary-trained Laurus nobilis are trimmed with secateurs during summer to encourage a dense habit and to maintain a balanced shape. Prune new shoots to a bud facing in the direction of the desired growth.
Shrubs can be trimmed into shape by simply cutting back to a lower leaf or bud in spring or summer.

Remove any dried foliage by lightly pruning. Mature plants can be hard pruned, but should be considered that it is a slow grower and will take long to recover.

During the warm seasons, Laurus nobilis can be moved outdoors, especially if watered regularly and positioned in a sheltered spot.

Light: Give Laurus nobilis bright filtered light all years long.

When moving the plant outside in warmer weather, it must be acclimated to the sun or the leaves will burn.

Temperature: Laurus nobilis is growing well in normal room temperature. It can withstand temperatures down to -5°C (23°F), but frost and cold winter winds can damage the foliage. Take the plant indoors if temperatures fall below -5°C(23°F).

Watering: Water regularly but sparingly during growing season. Do not overwater. Water less during winter, only to make sure the root ball does not dry out.
Mature plants will tolerate some degree of negligence, but do not let it sit for long periods without water.

Feeding: Use a standard liquid feed every two weeks from mid-spring to late summer. Do not feed the shrub during the winter period and avoid high concentrations of fertiliser.

Potting and repotting: Move Laurus nobilis in one size larger pot every two years in spring. Use a soil-based potting mixture with extra grit added to improve stability and drainage. Moved up the plant as it grows to the largest pot size that is convenient and thereafter maintained at that size by pruning the rootball and top pruning. Lift the plant out of its pot and tease off a third of the roots before adding fresh potting mixture and checking drainage. Remove and replace the top 5cm (2 inch) of compost from the top of the container.

Garden Culture: Laurus nobilis is a slow growing evergreen tall shrub that if left untrimmed and grown in the ground (where the climate allows) will eventually grow into a medium sized tree. Prune it to shape when required. Plants may suffer cold or wind damage to the current season’s growth, which can be pruned out in the spring

Position: A sunny to partly shaded exposure is ideal for Laurus nobilis.
The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

Soil: Laurus nobilis is not too particular about the soil. However, a well-drained soil is important.

Plant it at the same depth as it was in its original pot. Bay roots are very shallow. Use caution when weeding or cultivating around at the base of the tree.

Irrigation: Follow a regular watering schedule during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system. Water it at least once a week or enough to keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy. Increase watering to twice per week during extremely hot temperatures or in drought-like conditions. Watering can be reduced once established.

Laurus nobilis is drought tolerant, but appreciates regular deep watering. Always allow the soil to dry out between waterings, so the roots do not rot.

Fertilising: For best results fertilise with a long term slow release fertiliser in early Spring.

Companion plants: The versatile habit of Laurus nobilis allows pairing it with a variety of Mediterranean plants. Grow it along with other fragrant, culinary herbs such as Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary), Lavandula species (Lavender) and Origanum vulgare (Oregano). Adding other trees which produce edibles fruits like Punica granatum (Pomegranate), Citrus species (Citrus) and Olea europaea (Olive) will turn this garden in true kitchen garden.

Propagation: Laurus nobilis can be propagated from seed collected in the autumn. However, male and female plants must be grown to obtain seed. Remove the fleshy outer casing and sow as soon as possible. If seed has dried or is bought, soak in warm water for 24 hours before sowing. Seed may take six months to one year to germinate. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first year.

Also Laurus nobilis can be propagated by taking semi-ripe cuttings in late summer. Wood that is just beginning to harden makes the best cuttings, but even these take up to three months to root under the best conditions. Cut 10-12cm (4-4.5 inch) of mature side shoot with heel. Pinch off the leaves from the bottom of the cutting. Dip the cut end of the cutting into water and then into the rooting hormone until the bottom 3cm  (1 inch) of the cutting is coated in the powder. Pot the cutting into a 8cm (3 inch) pot size filled with moistened equal parts mixture of peat moss and sand or perlite. Make a hole in the middle of the pot and insert the cutting 3cm (1 inch) below the leaves, then press the potting mixture around the cutting. Seal the pot into a plastic bag or propagating case and place it in indirect sunlight. New growth indicate that the rooting has occurred. At this moment remove the bag and water the cuttings enough to keep the potting mixture just moist.
When the new plant is well established – in about six months – move it into one pot size larger containing the same potting mixture used for adult plant. Thereafter treat it in same way as a mature Laurus nobilis.

Another propagating method is by layering the plant. Layering is often successful, but slower than cuttings and require extensive gardening skills.

Plants in containers are prone to leaf spots caused by waterlogged roots or wet weather conditions. This condition is usually indicating that the compost has become old and tired.
Treatment: Repot the shrub in spring into fresh, well-drained potting mixture.

Nutrient deficiency can cause leaves yellowing for in container-grown plants but is more commonly caused by waterlogged compost or cold weather damage. Older leaves will shed naturally in low numbers.
Treatment: Feed the plant and reduce watering during the cold season. Repot the shrub in spring into fresh recommended potting mixture if neccessary.

During harsh winters, Laurus nobilis may developed cracking and peeling bark, especially on the lower main stems. The cause is the winter cold and possibly other stress factors such as fluctuating soil moisture levels. Though the damage looks alarming it appears to be invariably fatal. If the rest of the plant is growing normally or recovering from winter damage (recovery should be apparent by midsummer if it is to happen) no action is needed.
Treatment: However, if the growth above the damaged area is dead, remove the dead parts cutting to healthy wood or to near soil level. Recovery from lower down or soil level often occurs.

Laurus nobilis are subject to scale insects.
Treatment: It can be treated with horticultural oil or wipe them away with a cotton swab or cotton ball dipped into rubbing alcohol.

Laurus nobilis can be susceptible to powdery mildew and black mold. These tend to grow on the leaves and branches of trees that do not get enough sunlight or that accumulate moisture on their leaves that does not evaporate quickly during the day.
Treatment: For anthracnose, mold and mildew, remove all affected foliage using sterile pruning. Dispose of all plant debris removed from the plant and that is lying under the plant. In most cases, this should enable the plant to contain the spread of infection naturally. Continue to monitor the plant for signs of further infection and removed impacted foliage as necessary.

Uses: Laurus nobilis makes a popular container plant being grown as a shrub or even topiary specimen.

It is an effective slow growing hedging or screening plant that can be kept clipped from 1-4m (3-13 feet) or left to grow into a medium sized tree. Its dark green leaves will provide an ideal backdrop for other plants. Also it is an excellent plant for topiary and is well suited to formal gardens. Its dried leaves are used in cooking and so it is an essential plant in any kitchen garden.

Culinary, the leaf is added at the beginning of cooking soups and stews and slowly imparts a deep, rich flavor. The leaf is left whole so it can be retrieved before serving the dish. To harvest leaves from a privately owned tree, cut off small branch with the desired number of leaves attached. Allow the entire branch to dry out. Remove the leaves from the branch and store them in a container to maintain the flavour of the leaf.

Height: 15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)
Hardiness zone: 8a – 11

Laurus nobilis - flowersLaurus nobilis - fruitsLaurus nobilis Laurus nobilisLaurus nobilisLaurus nobilis

Culinary Herbs, Foliage Plants, Indoor Plants, Shrubs , , , , , , ,

Coffea arabica

September 11th, 2013

Common name: Coffee Plant, Coffee Shrub of Arabia, Mountain Coffee, Arabica Coffee

Family: Rubiaceae

Coffea arabica

Coffea arabica

Distribution and habitat: Coffea arabica is originally found in the southwestern highlands of Ethiopia. It is now rare in its native state and many populations appear to be mixed native and planted trees. It is common there as an understorey shrub. It has also been recovered from the Boma Plateau in South Sudan. Coffea arabica is also found on Mount Marsabit in northern Kenya, but it is unclear whether this is a truly native or naturalised occurrence.

Description: Coffea arabica is the only species of the genus Coffea grown as a house plant. It is a shrub that is actually the major source of the coffee bean. This shrub, which is single-stemmed when young but gradually becomes bushy, can grow 4.5m (15 feet) high in open ground but seldom exceeds about 1m (3 feet) indoors. The glossy, dark green leaves, which are arranged on the stems in opposite pairs, are elliptic in shape with pointed tips and undulating edges and they grow up to 15cm (6 inch) long and 5cm (2 inch) wide. After a Coffea arabica is three or four years old, it can produce star-shaped, fragrant, white flowers about 1cm (0.4 inch) wide from the leaf axils. Flowering generally occurs in midsummer or early autumn and the blooms are followed by small fruits, which gradually change colour first from green to red and then to nearly black, a process that takes several months. Within each fleshy fruit are held two seeds – two coffee beans.

Houseplant care: Prune Coffea arabica back in spring to keep it bushy and full. It also gives it an attractive shape. Use clean pruning shears to cut the stem at a 45° angle, 1cm (0.4 inch) above a leaf axil (the place where a leaf attaches to the stem).

Growing Coffea arabica indoors is easy, being attractive plants. They are vigorous growers and are long-lived.

Light: Grow Coffea arabica in medium light – for instance, close to a slightly shaded window.

Temperature: Normally warm room temperatures as 16-24°C (61-75°F) are suitable for growing Coffea arabica. These plants cannot tolerate lower temperatures than 13°C (55°F).
In warm rooms, particularly during the active growth period, stand the pots on trays of moist pebbles and mist-spray the foliage at least twice a week.

Water: During the active growth period water plentifully as often as necessary to keep the potting mixture thoroughly moist , but never allow the pots to stand in water. During the winter rest period make the potting mixture barely moist, giving only enough water to keep the mixture from drying out completely.

Feeding: Apply a liquid fertiliser about every two weeks from early spring to early autumn.

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture and put a layer of clay-pot fragments in the bottom of the pot to allow for more efficient drainage.  Move the plants into pots one size larger every spring, just as new growth begins.

After reaching maximum pot size, top-dress these plants by replacing the top 5-8cm (2-3 inch) of potting mixture with fresh one.

Propagation: Cuttings are difficult to root. The best way to propagate is from fresh seed sown in spring. Seed freshness is essential. Plant two or three  seeds about 2cm (0.4 inch) deep in an 8cm (3 inch) pot of moistened rooting mixture (equal parts of peat-moss and coarse sand), enclose the pot in a plastic bag or heated propagating case and stand it in medium light at a minimum of 24°C (75°F). No additional water is needed until after germination, which should occur in three to four weeks.
When the seedlings are about 3cm (1 inch) high, remove the covering and pull up and discard all but the most promising-looking one. If necessary, gently firm the mixture around the base of the remaining seedling and grow it on in the same pot. Begin to water very moderately and to make regular applications of liquid fertiliser about once a month. When the young plant has reached a height of 8-10cm (3-4 inch), move it into an 8cm (3 inch) pot of soil-based potting mixture. Thereafter its cultivation needs are the same as those of mature plants.

Coffea arabica will drop most of their lower leaves if the temperature drops below 13°C (55°F) for any length of time.

The leaf tips will turn brown or black if the air is not sufficient humid.

Scales insects sometimes attack Coffea arabica on the underside of the leaves.
Treatment: Scale can be easily controlled by physical removal, wash off with high pressure jet of water or scrape off with cotton wool buds or by chemical control with appropriate pesticide.

Recommended varieties:
Coffea arabica ‘Nana’ is a dwarf forms of Coffea arabica. This variety may begin to bear flowers and fruits when it is only about 45-60cm (18-24 inch) tall.


Foliage – green
Features – flowers, fragrance & fruits
Shape – bushy
Height: 1m (3 feet)

Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – medium
Temperature in rest 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: 10a-11

Coffea arabica - flowersCoffea arabica - fruitsCoffea arabica - seed


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