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19 Sep 2018

Solving Common Garden Issues – Yes, There’s a Plant for That Too


“Bloom where you’ve been planted.” That’s great advice about life in general – if you’re a person. However, the familiar old adage doesn’t make much sense in the garden where most plants tend to be choosy about where they’re planted. The truth is, figuring out exactly where to put that old-fashioned rose bush or blue-green hosta is a lot more complicated than just digging a hole. If you’ve got a tricky spot in your garden (don’t we all), things can get downright perplexing.

The folks at Bluestone Perennials have been providing beautiful plants for three generations, and they’ve always been a great source of information and inspiration. If you’re not sure where to turn with those tricky garden questions, they’ve provided easy-to-use Gardening Solutions to help you answer those difficult questions – what to plant, and exactly where to plant it. Here is what Gardening Solutions says about some of the trickiest garden situations:

Dry shade: When it comes to difficult gardening situations, dry shade wins the prize. Most plants aren’t tough enough to survive dry spots under tall trees or on difficult slopes, but Bluestone’s Gardening Solutions comes to the rescue with a long list of hardy but beautiful options. Take a look at their selection of hellebore, available in a variety of stunning solids and multi-colors, as well as hosta, brunnera, geranium, ajuga, phlox and many others.

Deer: No plant is 100 percent deer tolerant, and hungry wildlife will eat nearly anything if food is in short supply. However, there’s a good chance that deer will find the following plants less palatable: coreopsis, echinacea, rudbeckia, salvia, agastache, monarda and allium. These gorgeous plants (and many others) may not be on the top of the list for deer, but you’ll love them all.

Winter interest: Hundreds of plants provide color when the days are warm and sunny, but gardens don’t need to look forgotten and forlorn during the winter. For example, Bluestone’s Gardening Solutions recommends grasses such as feather reed grass, a tall perennial that grows in a variety of conditions. Carex ‘Banana Boat’ is a great selection for shady areas or along streams or ponds, while pink muhly grass provides billowing clouds of color, even in poor, dry soil.

Foot traffic: You’ve got kids and dogs, or you’re trying to figure out what to plant between pavers or stepping stones. This sounds like a serious conundrum, but if you take a look at Bluestone’s Gardening Solutions, you’re bound to find something that suits your needs to a ‘T.’ Suggestions include colorful sedum, liriope or ajuga, or mats of evergreen plants like thyme or Irish moss.

Not finding answers to your particular problem? Check out Gardening Solutions to find plants suitable for nearly every situation you can imagine, including those that thrive in salty air, shade or humidity, or those that attract bees, butterflies or hummingbirds, and much more.



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13 Sep 2018

Bat Flower Plant – How To Grow And Care For Tacca Bat Plants


The Bat flower plant – Tacca Chantrieri has a wild, unusual looking flower. As exotic as it may look, the Bat Plant is not a difficult plant to grow. In fact, it is very hardy. I have found Tacca available in some garden centers. It is available online.

TACCA (tak’-ah) – A genus of tropical, tuberous-rooted perennial herbs having large leaves at the base of stems which are surmounted by brown or greenish flowers in dense, round-topped clusters.

The name “bat flower” comes from the plant’s bractea shape which looks similar to bats.

 

Also known as the Devil’s Flower, the plant has the most interesting flower seen and the most beautiful foliage as well.

In addition to the green and shiny leaves, the Bat Flower plant produces dark purple or maroon flowers with “eyes” on the bloom that seem to follow one’s moves.

There are whiskers on the bloom look like the flower has a Fu Man Chu that form flowing or fine forked tails. More of these strange flowers are produced with the conditions are right for the plant.

However, the Bat Flower plants are easier to grow outdoors than indoors.


Requirements Of The Tacca Chantrieri

  • Light: Tacca needs a northern, eastern or western exposure of shade or partial sun.
  • Temperature: Maintain temperatures indoors above 60° degrees Fahrenheit
  • Humidity: The bat plant is an understory plant growing in high humidity areas. Keep plants above 50% of higher humidity. Plants will tolerate lower humidity levels.
  • Watering: Allow soil to dry out between waterings. Water thoroughly until the soil is completely saturated and soil runs out the bottom of the pot. Try submerging the whole pot and plant into a bucket of water until all air bubbles stop. Drain off excess water. Overwatering and wet soil will cause root rot.
  • Fertilizer: Feed the bat flower with a balanced liquid fertilizer at 1/3 strenghth every two weeks during the growing season.
  • Pruning: Remove old leaves as they die off.
  • Insects and Disease: Tacca flowers experience few insect problems. Proper watering, will prevent root rot from developing.

Caring For The Bat Flower

In the North, Tacca plants can grow in the greenhouse or a “bat house” and also as an indoor houseplant.

Plant Tacca Chantrieri in a rich well-drained soil or potting mixture in a pot with good drainage.

The black bat flower blooms throughout late spring and summer.

During winter hold off on watering and allow the plant to rest over winter. It is also important to give them warm shade with high humidity.

When growing the black bat plant outdoors place them near trees or walls to protect them from direct sunlight.

These tropical plants are increased by division.


Other Species Of Bat Plants

Tacca pinnatifida, with finely cut leaves sometimes 4 foot long, is grown in the tropics as a source of arrowroot, which is obtained from the ground tubers or rhizomes. It has greenish and purplish flowers.

Tacca integrifolia also known as the white bat plant is another exquisite species from the yam family.

They are native to tropical forests and subtropical rainforests of Central Asia.

Almost all plants have been labeled as beautiful, lovely, captivating, and the likes. But have you ever heard of a mysterious, almost scary, strange plant?

Other than being fascinating, Tacca chantrieri or the Bat Flower is no doubt a perfect example of a mysterious, almost scary, strange plant.





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07 Sep 2018

Rezha Macedonian Pepper Information – Gardening Know How’s Blog


From the humble bell to the outrageously hot ghost, peppers come in an exciting and wide range of colors, shapes, and, of course, heat. If you want something a little different from your pepper crop, check out the Rezha Macedonian pepper, a truly unique specimen covered in tiny horizontal striations.

What is a Rezha Pepper?

As the name implies, these peppers are native to Macedonia and some neighboring Balkan countries. “Rezha” is Macedonian for “engraved,” an obvious choice when you see the state of the peppers’ skin. Another common local name, “Vezeni,” means “embroidered. The underlying skin of these peppers comes in shades of green to red, but the color is more than half obscured by thin, horizontal, raised stripes.

Rezha Macedonian Pepper Information

While heat can vary from pepper to pepper, Rezhas are not, as a rule, particularly hot. The most heat can be found toward the stem, where the seeds are concentrated. The peppers are not usually eaten fresh, mostly because the striations on the skin can make for a granular, slightly unpleasant texture. Instead, cooks tend to roast them whole or split down the middle.

The resulting flavor is richer than when the peppers are raw, slightly smoky, and with just a little heat. They lose a little bit of their hotness in the cooking process, but the emergence of the other, sweeter flavors is worth it.

Growing Rezha Macedonian Peppers

Rezha pepper seeds should be planted when all chance of frost has passed, and preferably started indoors in areas with a late last frost. Fruits can start to be harvested after 80 days. As well as being good roasted, these peppers dry well and make for excellent conversation pieces. The peppers are very tasty, but in the end it’s their appearance that is the real showstopper.



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01 Sep 2018

The Value Children Learning To Garden


There are lots of good reasons for kids gardening. It’s good to garden with your children and to set them up with small plant and garden projects of their own.

In this article, we share the many benefits children gain from gardening, along with some clever independent plant and gardening ideas for children. Read on to learn more.


How Does Gardening Help Children Develop Physical Skills?

In the garden, kids gain mastery of a lot of physical skills. For example, carrying and using gardening tools helps develop:

  • Body management skills
  • Object control skills
  • Whole hand grasp
  • Locomotor skills
  • Pincer grasp

These and many other fine and gross motor skills are necessary for success in school, sports and life. Additionally, developing the habit of spending time outdoors adds to lifelong quality of life.

In addition to the motor skill benefits of the lighter aspects of gardening, heavy work, such as:

  • Carrying water
  • Moving soil
  • Pushing a wheelbarrow or cart
  • Digging
  • … can actually help calm a child’s nerves.

This sort of work is believed to help children stay focused and calm in other activities.


How Does Gardening Boost The Immune System?

The physical activity of gardening also promotes physical health in ways that may surprise you.

In addition to healthy physical activity outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine, gardening also brings your child in contact with the earth.

You may have heard of the “hygiene hypothesis” which posits that lack of exposure to germs in childhood actually exacerbates susceptibility to a number of serious health conditions, such as:

  • Immune system disorders
  • Allergies
  • Asthma

Gardeners have always waxed lyrical about the joys of getting their hands dirty. Now we know that there’s a scientific reason why! [source]

What Are The Sensory Benefits Of Gardening?

Gardening provides a wealth of sensory stimulation. The sight and scent of flowers and herbs, the taste of herbs and food crops, the warmth and texture of soil and stones, the splash of water and the sound of birdsong and much more combine to delight and revive the senses. [source]


How Does Gardening Develop Adventurous “Foodies”?

Children who participate in gardening are seldom picky eaters. Helping food grow seems to pique the appetite and the sense of adventure.

Can Gardening Boost Academic Skills?

Although it’s not something you’d automatically associate with gardening, you may be surprised to learn that when children participate in growing plants, it can boost literacy skills.

Think about it: children who garden have a need to read seed packets, make plant labels and perhaps even draw up garden plans or map out the existing garden.

When you are working on the garden together you can teach your child a wide variety of scientific concepts, such as:

  • Why does the quality of the soil matter?
  • How do earthworms benefit plants?
  • How does photosynthesis work?
  • Why do plants need water?

Learning to differentiate one plant from another and recognize the various parts of plants adds to general knowledge.

Gardening can also help kids get practical math experience. Think about the measuring necessary to set up a garden. Keeping track of plant growth by measuring on a regular basis is a solid practice.

Measuring fertilizer and other soil amendments and supplements is also a good math exercise.

How Does Gardening Encourage Critical Thinking?

Gardening also helps kids develop intellectual and cognitive skills. A good gardener must have the ability to analyze cause and effect and to remember what has been planted and what has been done.

Parents can boost the intellectual development aspects of gardening by talking with their children about what the garden chores that have been done, what still needs doing and why. Helping your children understand the reasons behind garden planning, soil preparation, fertilizing, watering at certain times and so on, helps your child develop the ability to think logically, plan and reason. [source]


How Do You Start Kids Gardening?

When you first start plant projects and gardening with your kids, remember that time for children is a bit different than time for adults.

It moves very slowly, and a week in the life of a toddler can seem very long, indeed. For this reason, the best initial plant projects for kids are those that produce quick results.

Here’s a collection of good ideas for children’s plants.

Quick Growing Seeds

You can sow seeds in potting soil, cotton or damp paper. Add just a little moisture, and your seed will sprout in just a few days.

Some of the best choices for quick growing, readily available seeds include:

  • Sunflower
  • Mustard
  • Melon
  • Cress
  • Beans

Various seasoning seeds, such as chia, flax, coriander, caraway, poppyseed and others can be sprouted and grown. Wild bird seed and plain popping corn will also sprout and grow, just for fun!

If you sprout seeds between layers of a damp paper towel, you can see how the seed sends out a vegetative shoot and a root.

You can then transplant the shoot into damp soil, or if you’ve planted edible sprouts, add them to a salad, sandwich or stir-fry and enjoy!

Edible Sprouts

The best seeds to use for creating edible sprouts include dried beans and peas. These are inexpensive and abundant.

You can sow them in damp fabric, cotton or paper toweling or in seed trays to grow an ample amount of sprouts to be enjoyed just a few days after starting your project.

You can also plant these seeds individually in larger containers with soil to grow full blown plants that will eventually produce fresh beans and peas to eat. Try preparing some as sprouts and some as potted plants so that you can compare their progress.

It can be fun to plant these large seeds in glass jars so that you can watch the roots and the vegetation grow.

Grain Crops

Your child can sow a little grass, wheat or grain in a tilled area outside to play farmer. This small activity gives an idea of how farmers grow grain crops.

It also provides a nice, seedy crop to benefit your bird population.

If you do not have an outdoor area to sow grain seed, try sowing it in a small, shallow pot on a sunny windowsill.

If you have a cat, he or she may enjoy having the fresh greenery as a healthy addition to the typical dry and/or canned cat food diet.

Freshly grown grass also makes a nice treat for a pet rabbit or guinea pig.

Grow Herbs

Herbs are fast and fun to grow indoors or outdoors. You can grow herbs in pots or between rows in a larger garden.

With their interesting scents and flavors, they make rewarding crop for little ones. Gathering them and hanging them to dry is also a fun activity.

If you don’t have garden space for herbs, set up a mini-herb garden on a sunny windowsill or under artificial light in your kitchen.

Keeping a mini-herb garden indoors provides your child with the fun of planting seeds, watching them grow and then harvesting and using the resulting crop on a regular, ongoing basis.

Grow Little Trees

Horse chestnuts, acorns, pecans, avocado pits, peach, apricot and cherry pits can all be planted in pots to grow into nice little trees.

These take a while to grow, so you may want to start nuts and pits in damp paper toweling inside a closed jar so that your little one can see the start when the seed sprouts.

With avocado pits, you can use the classic starting technique of poking toothpicks into the sides of the pit and suspending it (pointy end up) on the lip of a small jar.

Related Reading: How To Sprout An Avocado Pit

Fill the jar with water so that it touches the bottom of the seed. Before you know it, roots will form and a green shoot will sprout from the top.

Your little one can enjoy watching the seed grow like this for a month or so and then transplant it into a pot of well draining potting mix.

Citrus fruit seeds will also grow when planted in a small pot of good potting soil. Oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes and tangerines all yield viable seed that can be grown into pretty little houseplants in a few months’ time.


Grow Your Own Date Palm Tree

If you purchase a package of dried dates with seeds still in, keep a few of those seeds and try planting them. Good soil, warmth and ample light are all that are needed to encourage these seeds to sprout.

Growing bushes and trees can teach patience. These projects are a bit slow and should be combined with quicker growing seed projects to hold little ones’ attention.

Plant Related Art Projects

In addition to sprouting and planting seeds and bulbs, there are a number of enjoyable plant related art projects children can pursue. Among them are:

  • Creating small container gardens, such as terrariums, fairy gardens, miniature rock gardens
  • Making name tags to identify which plant belongs to which child
  • Making identifying tags for crops
  • Making macramé pot hangers
  • Painting pots and planters
  • Pressing flowers

Seed Art

If you are planting very small seeds, you can sow them in the shape of a picture or letters on the surface of soil laid shallowly in a tray. Keep the soil moist and in a few days you’ll have a tiny, living image, word or phrase.

One of the best seeds to use in this way is cress. This is a very tiny seed that can be successfully sown on the surface of fine soil or sand, on clay, on damp paper toweling or even on the cut surface of fruits or potatoes.

Plant Bulbs

Planting outdoor bulbs in the autumn can bring surprise and delight in the springtime. Plant crocuses, hyacinth, narcissus and other springtime bulbs indoors early in winter to enjoy their scent and beauty during the holidays. These bulbs can be “forced” in water for easy, beautiful results.

Water Plants

If you are lucky enough to have a creek, stream or pond near your home, your child may enjoy experimenting with collecting water plants to grow in a miniature water garden or an aquarium.

A DIY patio water feature with running water can provide a good habitat for natural water plants.


Exotic Plants For Older Kids

Once your child has passed the seed sprouting stage, he or she may be interested in taking on the challenge of growing an exotic plant such as an echeveria succulent, donkey tail cactus, fern, African violet, orchid or even a Venus flytrap.

This sort of project is good for pre-teens and young teens who have had some practice with gardening and indoor planting.

Caring for a more exotic plant involves learning about seasonal care cycles, starting new plants from cuttings, repotting, fertilizing and so on.

Starting off with a succulent plant is a good idea.

These plants are fairly carefree, and there are many varieties of succulents that can make a nice addition to the landscape of a model train setup, around a dollhouse or simply placed on the windowsills in an older child’s room.

Succulents are forgiving of quite a bit of neglect. They live a long while, and some of them even produce blossoms.

Cacti are also an option for older children, but because of the thorns, they are not recommended for little ones.


Gardening Is Great For Your Child’s Mind, Body And Soul

It’s easy to see that there are lots of great plant and gardening projects you can pursue with your children.

Helping your kids enjoy gardening contributes to their overall health and well-being and helps them learn to appreciate and evaluate food quality for lifelong great eating habits.

Luckily, you don’t have to have a lot of outdoor space to help your kids enjoy gardening. Use square foot gardening techniques, indoor self-watering planters, soilless sprouting and planting and other innovative methods to make the most of your small space and the light you have.

You’ll be amazed at how many edibles your child can grow in a small raised bed garden or large planter. Countertop hydroponic setups also provide a bounty of edible food with a small amount of input from your curious child.

If you do have garden space, be sure to start your child off with easy-to-grow plants that provide a lot of quick success.

Examples include zucchini, radishes, lettuce and tomatoes. If you have the room, plant some pumpkin seeds for a delightful end of season harvest.

When your child helps with food production, he or she learns the value of home-grown food and enjoys the vitamin, mineral and phytonutrient benefits fresh, wholesome produce delivers.

Eating homegrown, garden veggies contributes greatly to your child’s growth, strength, development and brain power. Furthermore, when your child participates in growing the food for your family, success brings a huge boost of self-esteem.


How Does Gardening Strengthen Family Relationships?

Working with your child in the garden provides an excellent opportunity for “quality time”. As you strive together toward the common goal of helping things grow and creating a beautiful and bountiful garden space, you are also helping family bonds grow and creating lifelong memories.

Gardening takes kids and parents away from the screen and into nature. It provides an opportunity for family members to communicate directly and build genuine connections.

When you and your child plan a garden, plant and germinate seeds and watch them grow, you have a sense of shared responsibility and purpose.

When you care for the seedlings with the right amount of water, food, pruning and care you and your child develop a sense of mindfulness.

When you engage in activities such as gathering collecting rainwater for gardening and composting basics like kitchen scraps, you teach your children the importance of using resources carefully and respecting and caring for our one and only planet.

Spending time in the outdoors engaged in honest labor in contact with the soil has long been touted as a way to ease the mind, calm the nerves and soothe the soul. Today, science is validating this long held belief. [source]





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26 Aug 2018

Top 5 Annuals For Shade


Perennials make up the bulk of many home gardens, and for good reason. Costs are lower when plants come back year after year, and many perennials are native and attract local wildlife. On the other hand, it’s hard to beat the spectacular show you get from lining walkways and surrounding beds or filling pots with vibrant annuals. If you have a yard with shade, but you long for the showy annuals that thrive in sun, here are 5 shade-tolerant annuals that will do the trick:

1. Fuchsia. This shade-loving flower is hard to beat for showiness, even when compared to annuals that thrive in full sun. With a nice, cool, and partially shady area of the garden, the fuchsia plant will give you gorgeous, two-toned pink flowers throughout the summer.

2. Browallia. Also sometimes referred to as silver bells, this is a less common shady annual, but it is well worth seeking out for your less sunny garden spots. They produce silvery-white to light blue flowers on stems about 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm.) tall. Browallia plants take well to pots and hanging baskets.

3. Tuberous begonia. The wax begonia is a very common choice for shady beds, but for something different, look for tuberous begonia at your local nursery. This is actually a bulb, but it can be grown as an annual. It produces rose-like flowers in rich shades of orange, red, and yellow.

4. Wishbone flower. Like browallia, this is a less common shade annual, but it produces stunning flowers, so if you can find it, you won’t regret buying it. The flowers may be white, blue, yellow, pink, purple, or two-toned with an unusual tubular shape. The stamens in wishbone flowers are fused and look like a wishbone, hence the name.

5. Coleus. Coleus is an annual is prized for its foliage rather than its flowers. It thrives in the shade and is available in a range of cultivars that provide varied textures, patterns and colors. The big leaves may be green and purple striped, deep red, or lime green, among other options. The flowers are small and insignificant, so trim them off to keep focus on the leaves.



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20 Aug 2018

Care, Propagation, Pest and Disease


The world of the peperomia plant comes in many varieties. Some you’ll find down at the local garden center in the houseplant section.

Others are strictly for hobby collectors.

Peperomias have long been favorite indoor houseplants due to their adaptability to the atmosphere of the house as well as their attractive foliage and compact growth habit.

Peperomia: South American Pepper Family Relative

Peperomia a perennial related to pepper plants, comes from a large South American family (about 1,000 species in the genus, a few from Africa). In fact, the name alone means “the plant related to the pepper.”

Their succulent, heart-shaped leaves distinguish peperomia plants them from other small potted table top houseplants.

Unique, succulent leaves both attractive and plants many find fun to collect.

Peperomia Care

Size and Growth

Generally, any of the 1,000 – relatively slow growing – peperomias along with many cultivars will only achieve an overall maximum height of 10-12 inches high.

Some varieties of Peperomia make good hanging plant specimens.

Flowering and Fragrance

The long flower spikes are covered closely with very tiny flowers have no scent.

Light and Temperature

These plants are easy to grow in the house. They like warmth, but do not need high humidity. They like bright light, but do not need direct sunlight. In fact, peperomia obtusifolia makes a good ground cover in shade.

Peperomias do not like deep shade or strong sunlight, two very big extremes. Grow them somewhere in between and you’ll be fine.

During the summer months, temperatures between 68 – 78 F. In the winter, temperatures should not go below 50 F.

Peperomia plant also known as the "Radiator Plant"

The peperomia plant was given the common name “Radiator Plant” by Bailey

Peperomia Plant Care – Watering and Feeding

Do not over-water these plants. Watering every 7 – 10 days should be enough, depending on time of year and temperature.

Peperomias resent overwatering and will rot off at the base. Personally, I like to let the soil dry completely between waterings. This will greatly help prevent root rot.

Apply a balanced liquid plant food every 3 watering during the “growing” summer months.

Soil and Transplanting

Generally, peperomias do not need repotting. In fact, they do better under potted than over potted.

However, repot when the plant becomes too large for its pot. When repotting, use a well-draining soil (50% peat moss /50% perlite).

Grooming

At any time of the year, if the plant gets scraggly or out of hand, it may require pruning.

Peperomia plant leaves, growth and foliage comes in many forms that are:

  • A single solid color
  • Shiny
  • Fleshy
  • Variegated
  • Smooth
  • Crinkled
  • Small pale green
  • Reddish foliage and stems
  • Oblong
  • Round
  • Corrugated
  • Trailing
  • Erect

peperomia-potted-05312016

Propagating Peperomia

Peperomia propagation is as easy as taking a few tip, leaf or stem cuttings. Using a very light rooting media and dipping the ends in a rooting powder, tips and leaves root quickly.

Learning to root peperomia cuttings will help keep plants in shape. They can, become straggly and “wild” over time.

root system of peperomia

A healthy peperomia root system

Soil For Rooting

Soil plays an important role in rooting peperomia. Since most peperomia plants have small root systems, making them excellent canidates for dish gardens, use a well-drained soil that gets lots of air.

A soil mix like a 50/50 mix of peatmoss & perlite, is simple and reliable for rooting and growing peperomias.

Leaf Cuttings

Most peperomias will propagate from leaf cuttings like African violets. The best time for propagation is spring, but rooting can also be done in fall.

  • Cut off leaf along with a little stem
  • Stick several leaf cuttings in one pot
  • Press or tamp soil down around cuttings after watering
  • Cover pot with a plastic bag or “soda bottle” – put several holes in bag or soda bottle
  • Leave pot in normal room temperature
  • Remove plastic bag or soda bottle regularly for fresh air and prevent rotting
  • New plants will start growing from leaf base
  • When plants are rooted well and big enough they can be repotted into individual pots

Tip Cuttings

Peperomia Pest & Problems

Peperomias belong to a unique group of plants which have few pests or diseases attacking them. They greatest enemy is probably neglect.

However, peperomias do have a few maladies.

For more info on these recommended products, read our detailed review here.

Fading Dull Leaves – When a peperomia plant has dull looking leaves, it is usually caused from light which is too strong.

Remedy – Move the plant to more shade.

Discolored Leaves and Flowers – This condition usually happens from over watering.

Remedy – Allow the soil to dry out and avoid getting water on the leaves which can sometimes cause them to rot.

Peperomia Questions & Answers

Leaves Of Large Peperomia Dropping Off?

Question: Can you tell me why the leaves of my large peperomia are dropping off? I have had it a number of years and would hate to lose it. Darcy Lincoln, Nebraska

Answer: Darcy, your plant may be taking a natural rest and signals its need by dropping the older leaves. If this is the case, do not water so often and withhold all fertilizer until new growth is obvious.

HOWEVER… If it has not been repotted in fresh soil in a long time, this may be the time to repot.

Be certain that the base of the plant has not rotted.

If this happens, the ends of the stems where they join the base of the plant turn to watery, tan colored mush.

Peperomias sometimes rot in this manner when overwatered, especially in soil that does not drain readily.

Your plant was originally potted in spongy, loose soil. However, over time the soil breaks down into smaller particles and compacts reducing its ability to properly drain.

If you diagnose the trouble as rot, spread a newspaper out on your kitchen table, tap the plant and soil out of the pot.

Shake the soil away and wash roots clean so you can determine what portion of the plant has rotted and what part is still healthy.

Using a sharp knife, salvage the parts of the plant that have not yet rotted.

Peperomias form many rosettes of leaves as they mature. To root one of these, remove the lower leaves and dust the cut portions with a rooting hormone like this (such as Rootone if you have it), and insert in moist, fresh soil.

Placed back in a sunny window, the cutting should root quickly and form a handsome new plant within a few months.

Peperomia Caperata – Mouse Tails

peperomia-550

Peperomia Caperata (emerald ripple), who flower axils resemble ‘mouse tails” (as do all peperomia plants) stand above the leaves are one of the most popular peperomia varieties.

Its origin – the Brazilian rainforest. Grown as a small houseplant, no more than about 8 inches tall, the plant is characterized by its dark green wrinkled leaves no “real” stalks.

The tiny (seen through a magnifying glass) yellow-white flowers emerge on the “mouse tails” standing above the crinkled, corrugated foliage.

Another popular variety is the watermelon peperomia – Peperomia argyreia.

This is a list of some available peperomias sometimes called the “baby rubber plant”. There are some beauties of stiff, upright habit. These are the dangling and spreading varieties, with a wide variety of foliage design.

Peperomia clusiifolia ‘Ginny’ – Know as ‘Rainbow’ or ‘Tricolor’ large medium green leaves, creamy white edges with rosy-pink blushes.

Peperomia clusiifolia 'Ginny' or Rainbow

Peperomia cubensis (rotundifolia, ‘Yerba Linda’) – Branching, red-tinged stems with pointed-oval, gray-green leaves divided by precise indented veins. The variegated form is dashingly splashed with creamy white.

Peperomia fosteri – Deep, dull-green pointed leaves with lighter veins; branches low and spreading.

Peperomia glabella – Glossy gray-green leaves tapering to a point, on lax, thin stems. The variegated version sports a white border.

Peperomia obtusifolia – pepper face – Popular florist, green leaf, dish-garden plant with thick, cupped leaves carrying an almost rubber plant like appearance. This plant evidently sports freely, because variegated, miniature, variegated miniature, albino, white-edged, and ‘Gold Tip’ varieties are available.

Peperomia polybotrya – coin leaf peperomia – large green heart-shaped glossy leaves, and very easy to care for. Keep away from cold, allow the soil to dry between watering. The green glossy leaves are sometimes circular on young plants. Grow outdoors in USDA hardiness zone 10.

the coin peperomia - Peperomia polybotrya 'Jayde'

Peperomia polybotrya ‘Jayde’ known as the coin peperomia – Image By Mokkie CC BY-SA 3.0, from Wikimedia Commons

Peperomia prostrata – Tiniest trailer or creeper with threadlike stems stringing together perfect little blue button leaves, etched with a pattern of silver. This one may be reluctant to move about, takes a while to adjust to any new quarters.

Peperomia quadrangularis – Low creeper with dull bronze-green leaves indented with yellowish veins.

Peperomia scandens – Sturdy trailer with glossy green, heart-shaped leaves.

Peperomia trinervis – Creeper or trailer with small pointed leaves marked deeply with parallel veins.

Peperomia ‘Ginny’

peperomia-ginny

Peperomia ‘Ginny’ also known as ‘Tricolor’ or ‘Rainbow,’ is a popular peperomia houseplant and a very tender perennial. It has a thick stem and leaves with green, cream & red color. ‘Ginny’ also has a slender spikes of tiny white flowers that occurs throughout the year on mature plants.

As with most Peperomias, ‘Ginny’, generally, is easy to grow and can add color to your garden. It is best in containers because of its large leaves and upright growth habit. Peperomia ‘Ginny’ can also be used as a groundcover with its ability to tolerate heat or shade.





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14 Aug 2018

Q&A with Kevin Vaughn, Author of “Sempervivum”


Kevin Vaughn has been breeding and growing Sempervivum since he was nine years old. From his hybridizing work, he has introduced about 80 cultivars to the market, including the award winning “Lipstick” and “Jungle Shadows.” These early experiments in plant hybridizing led to a PhD in botany and a career with the USDA. Since moving to Oregon in 2010, he has organized a yearly “Hybridizers Clinic” and produces from 4-6,000 new seedlings each year from his breeding efforts.  In his latest book “Sempervivum: A Gardener’s Perspective of the Not-So-Humble Hens-and-Chicks“, Vaughn covers their history, taxonomy, culture, propagation, hybridizing, and much more.  Read on to learn more and enter below to win one of two copies from Schiffer Publishing!


1. I have always had a penchant for “hens and chicks” but never knew them by their generic name “sempervivum” nor did I know just how diverse sempervivum was. How many cultivars and colors of sempervivum are there? How many of those cultivars are easily obtainable in the United States?

There are about 7,000 cultivars available worldwide. What is offered from nurseries in the US vary by year but there are probably ~1000 cultivars that are offered for sale in any one year. Colors range from yellow, top orange, red, purple and near black along with greens and silvers.

2. What are some of the best reasons for growing sempervivum and how does your book help us to successfully grow it? Are all cultivars of sempervivum easy to grow and propagate?

Sempervivum are VERY easy plants to grow. Almost any of these can be grown easily even on a balcony or patio provided there is good light. They are NOT house plants, however. A few cultivars are more difficult to grow but most are very easy plants once a few simple rules are followed.

3. Why are sempervivum magical to you? What are some of your favorite cultivars?

Symmetry of the rosettes has always appealed to me but for me the most fun aspect is being able to create new varieties. I have created ~80 varieties on the market and won international prizes when I was in my 20’s.

4. I have seen sempervivum being grown in some unusual places, such as shoes or boots for example. What is one of the most unusual places you have seen it grown?

Because Sempervivum require little soil they can be grown in all kinds of containers. The most beautiful were the huge living sculptures that Winnie Crane constructed out of huge pieces of driftwood, with Sempervivum being grown in the cavities.

5. Tell us some surprising or fascinating facts about sempervivum.

In Europe they are planted as charms against lightning. Emperor Charlemagne even ordered all of his subjects to do this! Because they contain a lot of water, there was probably some protection from fires on the thatched roofs.

Win one of two copies of Sempervivum!

To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post by midnight on Sunday, August 19th, 2018 (be sure to provide a valid e-mail address) in answer to the following question:

  Why is appealing to you about sempervivum?

Be sure to include a valid e-mail address. The winner will be drawn at random from all qualified entrants, and notified via e-mail. (See rules for more information.)

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08 Aug 2018

9 Common Poisonous Plants You May Grow


Poisonous plants – can you tell me which ones are?” That is a question I get all the time. Very often the email is asking for a list of poisonous plants for cats.

Most of the time our focus is on plants to provide color where it looks best – indoors or in the landscape. When we buy, plant or grow a plant we seldom think of the plant being some type of possible health hazard – beauty, color, form, function are what our focus is on.

I remember as a kid always being told never to eat the “rosary pea or castor bean plant – they are poisonous and can kill you”!
As adventurous as I was, the “peas and beans” were never tested.

The unfortunate side is that many plants you find in the garden and indoors may be poisonous – not the whole plant but parts of it in certain stages. Poisonous can be considered from fatal (death) to vomiting or mild upset stomach. Pets, children and even adults can all be at risk. Read on to learn more about these poisonous plants you grow.

9 Common Poisonous Plants

Here are 9 plants (there are many more) you are probably familiar with and carry some sort of “poison” label.

Now please do not assume that because these toxic plants are listed, doesn’t mean you should not grow them – just be aware. Let’s be realistic – there are many poisonous items in our home we use everyday… bleach maybe?

  • Hyacinth, Narcissus, Daffodil – The flowers and bulbs are the toxic part and have been know to cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, which can be fatal.
  • Rosary Pea, Castor Bean – The seeds of rosary pea and castor bean or castor oil plants are what to watch out for on these plants. The results can be fatal. It’s been noted that one single Rosary Pea seed has caused death. For adults just one or two Castor Bean seeds are close to a lethal dose.
  • Autumn Crocus & Star of Bethlehem – Again the bulbs are considered the toxic part which can cause nervous excitement and vomiting when ingested.
  • Iris – Underground stems considered highly toxic, severe upset digestive system but not usually that serious.
  • Oleander – The branches and leaves of this poisonous herb are extremely toxic. Has death, severe upset digestive system and affects the heart.
  • Wisteria – The toxic part is the seeds and pods. Many children have experienced the “poison” with a mild to severe upset digestive system.
  • Lantana Plant – Toxic, the green berries. Found growing “wild” in the southern United States, as a landscape ground cover or potted plant. The results can be fatal, affecting kidneys, lungs, nervous system and heart.
  • Jack-in-the-Pulpit – All parts of the plant but especially roots are toxic. Very much like the “Dumb Cane Plant” (Dieffenbachia) which causes burning and irritation of the mouth and tongue from the small calcium oxalate needle-like crystals contained in the plant.
  • Poison Oak – The acorns and foliage are known to be toxic especially when eaten. The symptoms slowly appear over days or weeks and can gradually affect the kidneys. However, it takes a large quantity amount for poisoning.

Also remember that some people may have reactions to plants and others will not. Plus humans are different than cats and dogs. Animals have their own tolerance for and to plants.

Always treat unknown plants with respect, and make sure you teach your children to treat unknown plants the same.

What plants do you grow that are poisonous?

Image: LittleDebbie11
Source: AgriLife Extension





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02 Aug 2018

Accentuating Garden Views with Bay and Bow Windows


You spend hours in your garden, making it look beautiful. And that’s half the fun, but the rest of it is sitting back and enjoying the results of your labors. For those times when you have to be inside, wouldn’t it be nice to have a better view of your beds and landscaping? With carefully selected bay or bow windows, you can create the perfect indoor retreat with great garden views. Milgard is a great place to start in your search.

 

New Windows, Better Views

Replacing old windows is often a smart move, both because it makes living in your house nicer and because it enhances the value. Old windows can have a number of issues: not well insulated, too difficult to open, won’t stay open, or they just aren’t big enough and don’t let in a lot of light.

A new set of windows can give you better natural light while also providing a better view of your yard and garden. You don’t have to replace all the windows in your home to get the benefits. Choose the best couple of spots where you’ll benefit from additional light and that will give you a pleasant panorama of the garden, like a breakfast nook or sitting room where you spend a lot of time.

 

Optimal Viewing with Bay Windows and Bow Windows

A bay window is a great option for your garden-perfect spot. Not only do these windows provide a sweeping look out at the yard, they also provide a seating area. Bay windows are large and usually have open panes, including one large central pane for unobstructed views. The bench area can be used for seating, storage, or just for displaying nice pillows, flowers, or potted plants.

Bay windows are great for a lot of homes, but often only the two side windows can open. With a bow window, you get four large panes with the potential to open all of them and get more air circulation, as well as the fragrance from the plants in your beds and on flowering trees.

Just like a bay window, this style can come with a bench area for seating, display, or storage and offers the chance to open up the view from any room into the garden. Alternatively, a bow window can be taller, going nearly all the way to the floor, with no bench seating and even more garden viewing.

In addition to giving you a lovely vista of your garden space, bow windows and bay windows have the effect of opening up the space in any room. They make a room seem bigger, lighter, and more open. They also add architectural interest, both inside and on the exterior wall.

When you put a bay or bow window into your favorite room, you will enjoy the view so much you may even find yourself planning next season’s garden around maximizing it. Check out the many options for durable, energy efficient, beautiful windows at Milgard.



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27 Jul 2018

How To Make A Beautiful Backyard Pond From An Old Tractor Tire!


Many a homeowner would love to step out into their backyard to enjoy a pond, with the relaxing aura it can provide.

The steps of adding a backyard pond often times seem too difficult for homeowners. However, that’s not the case.  An old tractor tire comes in handy when creating this garden decoration and water feature.

In this particular case the tire functions as the “frame” for the pond liner to create a beautiful pond. It takes some work but well worth it.

The first step starts by finding a tire for your pond. The one pictured makes a nice size pond about 5-6 feet across.

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Cutting the top or sidewall out of the tire using a reciprocating saw or something similar makes short order of this task. Below you can see the sidewall removed and the tire inside washed and cleaned out.

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Roll the tire and place it in the location of your new pond. Outline the the area with a hose or spray paint. Move the tire out of the way and its time to start digging.

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Everything dug out and ready to drop in the tire!

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Tire in place, plastic “liner” installed and filled with water. From the picture this “liner” appears to look like black plastic film. Look for a pond liner material which can handle the exposure to the sun and able to withstand potential holes.

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Soil filled back in on the sides as pond begins to take shape.

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Two level waterfall installed, flat stones placed around edge of pond and solar lights added.

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Backyard pond finished!

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Below is a short video of the process titled: Redneck Fish Pond

Here’s another tractor tire pond via campinglifequest.com

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