Please tell me what I need to know about transplanting Ivy. The patch that
I want to transplant from is a thick tangle. Do I need to get a root ball
or will the plant survive if planted bare root? *** Ivy (Hedera
species) is generally very durable, and can take a lot of abuse. It
would be better for the plant to include as much of a root ball as possible,
but ivy is easy to divide, layer, or propagate from softwood cuttings.
If you are able to include even a few roots with each segment, the new
plant will rapidly get over the shock and produce new growth. As with most
perennials, you can divide the ivy clump by cutting through the mass using
a sharp knife or your shovel or just pull the root ball apart with your
hands. Remove any dead or sickly portions and then simply replant. If time
is not a consideration you can take softwood cuttings about 6 to 8 inches
in length, remove the lower 2-3 leaves and insert the cutting into some
damp sand or vermiculite. Keep it in a warm spot, and the roots should
develop fairly rapidly (anywhere from 10-20 days) giving you a new small
plant. If you intend to keep the plant in the same general area, you might
want to layer the stems by just pinning the stem to the soil. The new roots
will develop soon, and you can clip the stem between the old and new plant,
after which you can remove the parent plant.
22, 1998Anoniw wrote: I live in Pensacola, Fl. what's the
best time to plant Gourds, and how should I care for them? *** Gourds (Cucurbita
species) are very closely related to cucumbers, squash and melons. They
have a growing season of anywhere from 120-180 days, so you will want to get
them started as early as possible. Sow your seeds outdoors when all frost
danger has passed. Plant the seeds in full sun, about 10 to 12 inches apart
where you want them to grow (they do not transplant well). The seeds will
germinate more quickly if you soak them in warm water for 24 hours prior to
planting. Gourd vines will trail along the ground if no support such as a
fence or trellis is supplied, but the fruit will often be misshapen and less
perfect. It is strongly recommended therefore that the gourds be grown on
a strong arbor consisting of posts and several overhead crosspieces. The fruit
will then hang down below the lattice. Gourds and most other vining plants
are heavy feeders, so add a considerable amount of manure and compost to the
soil prior to planting. When your gourds are well established, additional
fertilizer is probably not necessary, but you may want to occasionally feed
with a water soluble low-nitrogen fertilizer like 5-10-5. Avoid high nitrogen
fertilizers because they will encourage leafy growth and actually delay fruit
maturity. When the vine has reached about 10 feet long, you might want to
snip the end to promote lateral side growth, and consequently, more fruit.
The male flowers appear on the main stem, while the fruit producing female
flowers will emerge from the side stems...... .
Clematis cuttings March
19, 1998Kelli wrote: I have a cutting from a Clematis,I
have it in water. The buds that were on it are going but I'm not getting any
roots. Could you please help!Thank you,Kelli
In your letter you didn't mention
how long that your cutting had been in the water. I haven't had much luck
trying to root cuttings in water myself, but I am reasonably certain that
you can expect the process to take at least 3-4 weeks, possibly longer. I
prefer to do cuttings in vermiculite or damp sand myself, after dipping the
cutting in a rooting hormone. Whether you are using sand, vermiculite or water,
be sure to keep the medium at about 70-75 degrees, and be patient. If the
buds are growing, I'm sure that the roots will follow. Good luck,
Calla lilies March
8, 1998Vallery Dietrich wrote:
I received a beautiful Cala Lily from a friend. Yellow blooms. I have only
had it for about two weeks. It is still thriving with new leaves forming.
However, it is twice as tall as the container and the stems near the soil
are turning yellow. Do I repot and how? Do I cut the blooms back at any time?
I have an African Violet that I am sure needs repotting. The roots are coming
above the soil. I am reluctant to repot/divide because I have killed plants
before. Help! Thanks,
Vallery Dietrich, Outer Banks, NC
If your lily has become root bound,
it is easy enough to move it to the next larger size pot by simply removing
it from its pot and potting it up. Unlike many plants it is not necessary
to loosen or disturb the roots, just place it in the pot and add sufficient
soil to fill it to within 3/4 of an inch from the rim. When they are grown
in pots Calla lilies (Zantedeschia species) should be kept constantly
wet and should be given a weak solution of liquid plant food every 3 weeks
while they are showing signs of new growth. Grow them in a sunny window at
a temperature of about 70 degrees F. Remove the flowers when they begin to
fade. When the plant has finished blooming, allow the foliage to mature and
gradually reduce watering until the leaves have all died back. Allow the tubers
to rest for two or three months in the dry pot. The tubers of the yellow calla
lily (Zantedeschia elliottiana) should be left exposed in a warm, dry
room for 3-4 weeks. After the ripening period, the tubers can again be repotted
in fresh soil, and the process begun again. Water sparingly until the new
growth is well above the surface of the soil, then keep the soil wet again.
Do not feed until the plant has again become root bound. The ripened tubers
can also be planted outside once the temperatures and soil have warmed in
the spring, but because they are frost tender, they will have to be dug up
in the fall. When repotting houseplants such as your African violet (Saintpaulia
species) it is best to only increase the pot size by an inch or so. Always
use a good commercial potting soil rather than dirt out of the garden to prevent
insects and disease. Remove the plant from its old pot and use your fingers
to gently loosen the outer roots from the root ball. Place enough soil in
the bottom of the pot to bring the plant up to its original soil line, and
then add the remaining soil to fill the pot to within 3/4 of an inch from
the rim of the pot. Water it thoroughly so that the soil fills in any air
space around the plant, after which you may have to add a little more soil.
Do not fertilize the plant until it shows signs of renewed growth. When you
are working with African violets use care not to touch the stems more than
necessary, because they are by far more succeptable to damage than either
the leaves or roots. When feeding African violets, always use a fertilizer
which is specifically formulated for them. If it is at all possible violets
should be watered from the bottom, by soaking, because they are prone to crown
Indoor palms March
8, 1998Fiona wrote:
Am back again with another cats & greens question. I just got an indoor palm
but it didn't have an ID sticker so I don't know what kind it is. It's tall & frondy
with dozens of skinny stalks - quite pretty. I have it on a tall box in a
corner behind the stereo and didn't think the cats would go on the stereo
'cause they haven't yet. Plants at home are new for me since I haven't had
windows before now, to grow them in. So as I can, I am getting greens for
home. The hot/dry summers will, I suppose, have something to do with what
can survive - but green is beautiful to look at. Although the ficus aren't
doing really great. I appreciate your help. You do nice things for people.
My guess is that you have a parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans). To
the best of my knowledge it is not toxic to animals. Parlor palms should
be grown in indirect light or a north window. It should be planted in a
good commercial potting soil with some course builders sand added for drainage.
The soil should be kept evenly moist. They prefer reasonably high humidity
or the tips of the leaves will turn brown, so you might want to mist it
daily if the air is very dry. Feed your palm monthly in the spring and
summer with an all purpose 10-10-10 liquid fertilizer.
8, 1998Rich Brooks wrote:
What can do to protect daffodils from freezing? Our winter has been mild here
in Pittsburgh, Pa. The forcast for the next few days is for freezing weather.
Many of the daffodils have formed heads. Do you have any advice?
While there are a few exceptions
to the rule such as the Paper white narcissus, most daffodils are pretty durable
and will tolerate a certain amount of freezing. If your buds are showing any
color, you might want to pick them (daffodils should be snapped off, not cut)
and bring them into the house where they will open up. If you expect snow
with the freeze, you have little to worry about because the snow will act
as an insulator. Adding a mulch of dry leaves will be helpful if the temperature
is going to drop much below 20 degrees or the freeze is expected to continue
for an extended period of time. My daffodils have been up and in bloom for
10 days now, and we've had freezing night temperatures for 5 of the 10 days
with no ill affects. If you have one of the varieties that you know to be
frost tender, you can create a little tent for them using stakes and sheet
plastic during the freeze. Keep in mind that if it warms up and the sun shines,
you will have created an oven so be sure to remove or open the plastic.
8, 1998nancy hill wrote:
Its me again! I want to plant geraniums in Florida. How to, where to plant,
fertilize, sunlight needs....etc...Thanks, Nancy
Geraniums (Pelargonium species) are
among the most popular flowering plants. They should be planted outdoors where
they will receive at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight daily, but only after
all danger of frost is past and the soil has warmed. They should be planted
at the same soil level that they were growing at in their pot. The soil should
be light, loose and well draining; to which you have added compost, leaf mold
or peat moss. The optimum ph is 6.5 (slightly acid). Mulching is recommended
to conserve water in the soil and to reduce high soil temperatures during
the summer. Water geraniums at least once per week if you have had no rain.
Geraniums dislike having wet leaves and flowers so it is best to use a soaker
hose but if that isn't possible, water early in the day to allow leaves and
flowers to dry before nightfall. Geraniums like to be well fed, so you should
fertilize them with an all purpose 10-10-10 liquid plant food every 2-3 weeks
when they actively growing. Remove the flowers promptly as they fade, or the
bloom production will decline. Most bedding plant geraniums are seed grown,
and this is an excellent way to aquire different varieties. For the home gardener
who wishes to keep a certain variety alive, geraniums will root easily from
stem cuttings. Take cuttings in September from healthy plants which have been
kept rather dry for a couple weeks. Use a clean, sharp knife and make a cutting
3 to 4 inches in length from the growing tips. Trim off the lower leaves from
the cutting, and stick it into a coarse, sandy medium in a small pots or in
flats, and water well. Place them in indirect light. Do not allow the cuttings
to dry out. After roots are formed, move the new plants into full sun and
water only enough to keep them from shriveling. Fertilize with a weak solution
of liquid fertilizer every two weeks.
8, 1998 Tachovazquez wrote to me and indicated that he would like some
information about kiwis. It took me a while, but here it is!
Kiwi vines (Actinidia species) are
native to southwestern China. These perennial plants are dioecious which means
that male and female flowers are borne on separate plants, so vines of both
sexes must be grown to ensure pollination. Actinidia deliciosa is the variety
of kiwi which is usually grown commercially. This is because of its large
fruit size. The stems and leaves are covered with velvety red hairs. It has
1 1/2-inch cream-colored flowers that appear in midsummer. They turn orange-yellow
as they age and are followed by 1 1/2- to 2-inch fuzzy green fruits. It is
only winter hardy down to approximately 10 degrees F and consequently will
not survive the mid west winters. Actinidia arguta and Actinidia kolomikta
are cold hardy kiwi which can survive temperatures of -25 degrees F. The fruit
size is considerably smaller than that of A. deliciosa and is about the size
of a large cherry. The skin of A. arguta is smooth and consumed with the fruit.
Fruit are greenish-yellow in color. When ripe they are very sweet and juicy.
A. kolomikta has smaller fruit than A. arguta and has pink and white variegated
leaves. Hardy kiwi are often used as a screen or shade vine because of their
dense cover of 3 to 5 inch glossy dark green leaves on long red stalks Kiwis
thrive in full sun or partial shade. They can be grown in any good garden
soil but prefer rich humus soils. Plants do best when the soil pH is around
6.5. Plant them in an area that is moist but well drained, and be sure that
the soil does not become dry in hot weather. The roots are very sensitive
to fertilizer burn, so over fertilization should be avoided. Feed established
plants sparingly in spring when the plants are dormant and then just after
bloom in early June with a general-purpose (10-10-10) garden fertilizer. Prune
the vines in late fall after fruiting or in early spring, cutting back to
about one third of the previous year's growth to produce more numerous blooms.
Flowers develop on growth of the previous year. Since male plants do not produce
fruit, they can be pruned immediately after flowering and are cut back to
vigorous new growth. Propagate actinidia plants from stem cuttings taken in
midsummer, rooted in moist sand and set out the following spring.
7, 1998nancy hill wrote:
I am definitely not a gardener!!...However, I would like to plant some azaleas
and need to know the following: -In what form to purchase for
-lots of them out in front of the stores right now, so one would
assume it is a good planting time in Florida???yes or no.
-how often to they bloom and for how long each year?
-they are in full bloom all over the place now.
-how large do I buy for planting now
-where around the outside of the house can I plant....sunlight
-can they be right up against the house?
-when I see "annuals" does that mean all year....or once a year.
Thanks.....what else can I plant that would blossom year round in Florida.
I have two tree areas that I would like to build up the soil, mulch and place
nice flowering plants that blossom all year..You can tell I am very "green" at
this.....not a green thumb...green as in NEW.Thanks for all the
help you can give.
Azaleas can be planted at any
time of the year, even if they are in bloom but it is best to plant them in
the early fall so they have a chance to adjust to their new home before winter
freezes. When you are shopping for an azalea, there are many factors to consider.
Whether it is sold in a pot with it's rootball wrapped in burlap is of little
consequence, nor is the size of the plant. Many nurseries provide tags on
their plants which will tell you the name and blooming period, as well as
the eventual size of the plant and how cold hardy it is. Some have fragrant
flowers (mainly Exbury azaleas). Azaleas can be low growing, and never reach
a height of more than two feet, but others can grow as tall twelve feet. You
can use these facts to your advantage and purchase plants that will give you
an extended blooming season by choosing a few of the very earliest blooming
and a few late flowering varieties. Plantings can also be staggered by size.
It is best to buy plants which have been grown out of doors locally, which
pretty much insures that the plant is hardy in your area. Azaleas must be
grown in an acid soil, with a pH of 5.0 to 6.5. They will not tolerate lime.
Many nurseries will test your soil pH for free,, and give you recomendations.
Try to plant azaleas in an area which receives a few hours of morning sun,
but receives at least partial shade during the very hottest part of the day.
Dig your planting hole twice as wide and 1 1/2 times as deep as the rootball.
Mix compost and peat moss into the soil, and if is necessary for drainage,
add in course builders sand or grit. When you remove the plant from the pot,
use your fingers to loosen up the roots a little to get them to grow into
the new soil. Set the plant so that the soil level is the same as it was previously
growing at. Sprinkle a small amount of rhododendron food into the hole at
the dripline of the plant. Fill in the hole and water it very thoroughly.
Azaleas resent drying out, so use some kind of mulch to conserve moisture
in the soil. You can use leaves, bark, compost or whatever. The buds for next
years blooms will be formed this year, so it important that the faded blooms
are removed, otherwise you will not get a flower on that stem next year. Rhododendron
food should be applied after the plant has finished blooming. Pruning consists
mainly of removing the spent flowers, and cutting back longer branches which
may spoil the symmetry of the plant. Year
round bloom To have flowers in bloom all year long will take planning
on your part, using a combination of shrubs, bulbs, annuals and perennials.
Annuals Put out a large number of beautiful flowers all summer, but they complete
their life cycle from seed to flower to seed again, all within one year. (zinnias,
marigolds, petunias......) Perennials are plants which have a more limited
blooming period, but they live and bloom year after year. (carnations, columbine,
chrysanthemums....) Here again nursery tags can be very helpful. You can find
plants which will flower during any month of the year, and combine them to
create a year round flower show.
Pruning roses March
6, 1998Ethel Oliver wrote:
Bill, I live in the sandhills of North Carolina. Should I start pruning my
roses now? Also how much should I take off? We have had an exceptionally mild
winter. What do you suggest about the hydrangea? I did not prune ours in February
as I normally would because of the odd weather. It is starting to bud out.
Roses are very heavy feeders, so you should feed them as soon as the new
growth appears, and then then again after the first heavy bloom using a
5-10-5 fertilizer or commercial rose food. The how and when of pruning
roses is pretty much determined by the type of rose that you are dealing
with, so I will try to cover them all. Sucker growth (stems which originate
from below the budding union) should always be removed at their point of
origin no matter which type of rose. Pruning cuts should always be made
1/4 to 1/2 inch above an outward facing bud. Make your cuts at a 45 degree
angle to prevent moisture from collecting on the cut, which will cause
rot or disease. Always use a clean, sharp pair of shears. Hybrid
tea roses Prune hybrid tea roses in early spring when the new growth
just begins to show. Start by removing old, winter damaged or diseased
wood, cutting it back to a healthy point. You will want to create a somewhat
cup shaped plant by removing center stems, and branches pointing inwards.
This will admit more light and fresh air, and help to prevent mildew and
disease. Cut the remaining stems to about 1/2 of their original length,
leaving the stronger stems longer than the younger, thin ones. Hard pruning
will result in fewer long stemmed blooms than light pruning, but if it
necessary you can cut some of the older stems back to within 6 inches of
the base. Floribundas and grandifloras Prune
this type of rose in early spring. Remove all criss-crossed stems, and
cut the remaining stems at various lengths leaving the center stems longer
than the outer ones to form the desired shaped plant. Pruning the canes
at different lengths will help to insure continuous blooming. Ramblers Ramblers
grow a completely new set of blooming canes each year. The flowers are
formed on year old canes, which should be cut back to within 2-3 inches
of their base when they are finished blooming. This will allow the plant
to devote its energy into producing the new shoots that will bear the next
years flowers. Climbers Climbing roses resent
hard pruning.In early spring, remove any dead or diseased canes, other
than that you should only do light pruning. Climbers should be trained
to grow in a more fan shaped pattern rather than upward growth. If it becomes
necessary, the canes can be shortened at any time of the year. Miniature
roses Miniature roses need very little pruning. Just prune them
to the desired shape. Cut any new shoots which have emerged from below
the soil line to about 1/2 its length. When the branches finish flowering,
cut them back to a new outward facing bud.
Pruning Hydrangeas???? The French hydrangea (Hydrangea
macrophylla) blooms from the previous years buds, and should be pruned
in the summer when the blooms have faded. Most hydrangeas bloom on new
wood so if you decide to cut your plant back now, I would think that it
will send new buds again, but I can't promise you that. Since it isn't
necessary to prune hydrangeas every year, I think that if it were my plant,
I would snip any dead branches, and possibly do a little shaping, but otherwise
let the plant go ahead on its own schedule.
Bird of Paradise March
5, 1998Atlas Antiques wrote:
Thank-you in advance! We just purchased a Bird of Paradise & need to know
where to plant as well as feeding. It has a flower and is assumed to be an
outdoor plant. (Outdoor pot) We live within four blocks of Monterey Bay in
The Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia
reginae) do best with at least four hours of direct sunlight a day, but
should have bright light all day, with day temperatures of 68-72° and night
temperatures of 50° to 55°. Generally they are hardy to about 20°. They flower
more readily when they are somewhat rootbound, which is why they are more
often grown in large pots or tubs. It should be potted in a mixture of sterile
potting soil, peat moss, and sand with a liberal amount of bone meal added.
Excellent drainage is essential. Keep the soil evenly moist except from November-February
when the plant should be kept on the dry side. Feed every two weeks from March
through September with a balanced (10-10-10) fertilizer. Plants are propagated
by divisions and seed, neither of which is difficult. Divisions may take two
years to reach blooming size, when grown from seed it will take from seven
to ten years before you see your first flower.
BIG Boston fern March
4, 1998 Lorrie Johnsten wrote:
I am in dire need of some info. I recently purchased a boston fern at an estate
sale. This thing is HUGE!! at least 4 feet in diameter and some of the spines
(?) are 2 feet long. It is truly amazing only the pot has dead leaves and
stems in it.. I am unable to feel any soil in the pot and I am concerned about
the 12 inch pot it is in. Is it big enough to handle to plant within it? Is
there a way to divide or seperate it without killing this beautiful plant?
Also.. what are some of the things I need to do to help it thrive?? I am told
that this plant was purchased 23 years ago as a birthday gift..and has been
under a grow light which by the way I know nothing about... :-) . So , any
help of course would be just great!! Thank you so much for your time... Hugs
From the sound of it you found a real treasure. I am sure that the plant
is in need of some fresh soil, and to accomplish this you will either need
to repot it in a larger pot, or divide it. Either of these options will
create a certain amount of stress for the plant, but in the long run it
will be beneficial. If you decide to repot, remove the plant from its current
pot and carefully loosen up the root mass and remove as much of the old
soil as possible. The roots will have become ingrown over time, and you
will want them to be able to reach out into the new soil. You will undoubtedly
do some damage to the roots, but don't worry about it, just do your best.
You will want to use a 15 inch pot which will also be a bit deeper. Put
enough good commercial potting soil into the bottom of the pot so that
when you put the plant in, the original soil level will be about an inch
below the rim of the pot. Clip off all of the dead fronds from the plant
and put it into the new pot, then add more potting soil to the sides, watering
liberally to move the soil down into the root structure. Keep adding soil
until the pot is filled to within an inch of the pot rim. The important
things to remember are that you want to use good, sterile soil, and to
eliminate all of the air pockets around the roots. You will probably lose
some more fronds before you are done because of shock and root damage,
but just trim them off, and the plant will recover on its own. If you would
prefer to divide the plant, you basically follow the same procedure. You
can either cut the root ball vertically with a sharp butcher knife in half
or quarters, or you can use your hands and seperate the roots. Cutting
with the knife is easier and will do less root damage. Grow lights are
special bulbs which are designed to imitate natural sun light. Plants need
both red and blue light to thrive, which they get from natural light but
it is not available in normal light bulbs. There are several companies
which produce these grow lights in florescent tubes and standard bulbs.
Using artificial light will enable you to regulate the amount of time that
your plants receive the light, which should be between 12 and 16 hours
a day. In some instances it is very convenient if the plant you are growing
relies on seasonal changes to induce blooming, such as with Christmas or
Easter cactus. If you are growing your fern in a room with a lot of indirect,
bright light you don't necessarily need the grow lights, but they sure
can't hurt since the plant obviously did well under them. Boston ferns
like it cool, they would be very happy to have a 60 degree room, with bright
light. Since it doubtful you have a place that cool, I recommend that you
keep your fern as far away from heat sources as possible, even at the sacrifice
of some light. Ferns thrive on humidity, so they appreciate a daily misting.
If there are dead or dying fronds, cut them off, so that your plants energy
can go to replacing them rather that supporting them. I've always had the
best luck, when I would allow the pot to soak up water in a sink for a
few hours, and then not water it again until the soil is dry again. Feed
your fern once a month with a balanced (10-10-10) liquid houseplant fertilizer.
Sticky Jade plants March
4, 1998Bonnie Schaefer wrote:
Can you tell me what causes my jade plant to give off a sticky substance?
It's on the leaves and all around it on the shelf where it is placed. Also,
the leaves sometimes seem to be very fragile and fall off easily. I've heard
that jade plants need lots of sun, but not much water, and that they're easy
to propagate. But other than that I can't find any reference to sticky substances. Thanks.
I am not absolutely sure as to the cause of the sticky substance, especially
since it is also on the shelf under the plant. My guess would be that it
is sap which the plant is producing in an attempt to protect itself from
drying out. While it is true that Jade plants (Crassula argentea) do
not need as much water as a typical houseplant, it does require quite a
bit more than most succulents and cacti. If the plant is to dry, the leaves
will become thin and drop with the slightest touch. I would recommend that
you increase the watering, both in frequency and quantity. When the plant
is actively growing, it should get a thorough watering every 7-10 days,
depending on the conditions such as room temperature and humidity and the
size of the plant. Let the soil become completely dry before you water
again. During the winter months when the plant growth slows, decrease the
water quantity, and the plant can be left dry for a longer period of time
(about once a month) After the first thorough watering I think that you
will notice a very definate thickening of the leaves and stems. You should
then be able to carefully wash the sticky sap from the leaves with a damp
cloth. Jade plants can be propagated with either leaves or stem cuttings.
Leaves which have fallen from the plant will often root by themselves,
and produce a tiny plantlet. If you would like to start new plants, you
can remove a couple healthy leaves and simply set them on top of a pot
of fast draining potting soil, and after a week or so the leaf will begin
to root itself. It may be a couple of months before you actually get a
new plant. If you want to start with a stem cutting, use a clean knife
or razor blade and make your cut just below a stem joint. You must allow
the cut to callous over (3-4 days) before you insert the stem an inch or
two into the moistened soil in which the plant will grow. This method will
produce a larger plant much faster. Keeping the soil temperature at about
80 degrees F. will speed the rooting process along considerably.
More bananas March
2, 1998 lisa wrote:
I have a Banana Tree. I an unsure if it can/will grow bananas. Any way to
find out. If so, is there anything special I do to get it to produce bananas.
I have read the other article describing the care of banana trees and I feel
that I am doing ok. Just need to fertilizer more. Any info would be great.
I have had my tree for approx 5 years now. I belive its in a 7gal pot and
extends 4+ ft from from the top of the pot. Thanks Lisa.
Hi Lisa, I am afraid
that I won't be of much help to you this time. There are several hundred different
varieties and hybrid types of bananas. Some are seed grown, which are strictly
ornamental while others are grown from corms which develop from the parent
plant. To actually identify the variety usually involves keying the different
properties of the plant, including the flowers and fruit. If you visit Stokes
Tropicals web site "http://www.stokestropicals.com/plantdisplay.cfm?Category=Bananas",
you will find an extensive listing of different varieties which are available.
Perhaps they will be able to give you a little better idea of which type of
banana plant you have. The people at Stokes are certainly more knowlegeble
about bananas than I am. Sorry!
1,1998 I received several requests for a variety of information about
Clematis so I will attempt to cover all the bases at once. Clematis
require about 6 hours of full sun per day to grow best although some light
shading during the hottest part of the day is beneficial. It is essential
for the roots to remain cool and moist, so protect them with a heavy mulch,
the shade of low growing plants, or even a large flat rock. A few of the very
large flowered varieties should be planted in a more easternly exposure, to
prevent excessive flower fading caused by to much sun. You can plant your
clematis in early spring, as soon as the soil is workable, but if the plant
has already started budding it must be protected from frost. Dig a hole about
a foot in diameter and 15 inches deep, large enough to allow for ample root
growth.The soil should be well-draining and rich, with a pH close to neutral
(6.6-7.0). Clematis likes peaty soil, but you must add enough lime to ensure
the soil is not to acidic. Generous amounts of bone meal and compost should
be added to the soil, coarse builder's sand should be added to soils which
have a high clay content. Position the plant in the hole so that the roots
are spread over a mound of soil in the bottom of the hole. The roots should
be 2" below the soil line when you are finished. Set a stake next to the plant
for support. Most clematis will require staking so the twining leaf petioles
can cling and climb upward, although it is not a problem if you choose to
let the plants sprawl over the ground, fences, or whatever. Fill in the hole,
and water liberally to promote good root-to-soil contact. Provide the plant
with a ground cover plant or a mulch such as shredded leaves, pine needles,
straw, bark or even stones to help conserve moisture and to keep the roots
cool. Clematis resent root disturbance, so extreme care must be exercised
when working around the plant to prevent any root damage. Water well, keeping
the soil always moist during the first year after planting. Fertilizer such
as 5-10-10 should be applied twice during the growing season. Clematis flowers
form either on the current season's growth or on that of the previous year.
Clematis that form its buds on the new growth have a tendency to become bare
at the bottom of the vine unless pruned annually in late winter or very early
spring. Cut these plants back to about 12 inches above the ground, leaving
at least one pair of healthy looking buds on the trunk. Plants which bloom
in the spring from buds set the previous season should be pruned as needed,
after they are finished blooming. Seeds need to be sown into prepared soil
in late fall to germinate in the spring. If you plan to start your seeds indoors,
the seeds must be placed in a moistened rooting medium and kept in the freezer
for the three weeks prior to planting. Then they will need to be planted about
1/2 inch in a growing medium and kept at 80-85 degrees F. until they sprout.
In either instance germination will be very slow, and may not happen for several
Spider Plants March
1, 1998Margie-Jo Miller wrote:
I have one spider plant left that is dying. The leaves turn a flimsy brown
from the tips, that then moves back till it is dead. I have a water meter,
and check it once a week to see if it needs watering. The others have died
this way too. Please help! Thank you for any advice you can give!
Spider plants (Chlorophytum
comosum) need bright natural light but will sunburn if grown in direct
sunlight. They also do very well when grown under grow lights, but will be
reluctant to produce the plantlets unless you decrease their light hours to
simulate the naturally shorter days of fall, when they normally produce their
'babies'. Keep the soil evenly moist, but never soggy. They also prefer to
be in a cooler (55-65 degrees F.) room but will tolerate warmer temperatures.
Feed the plant every 3 or 4 months with any houseplant fertilizer. Spider
plants are generally easy to grow, and mature plants are quite beautiful until
the tips brown out. Tip burn is usually caused chemicals in the water. If
you are using city water for your plants it has been clorinated, and very
likely has been treated with flouride, either of which will cause the burn.
Using rainwater or distilled water will take care of this problem. Over fertilizing
will also damage the plant, so when you feed it, use 1/2 of the recommended
The big brown thumb February
28, 1998 Anne Miller wrote: Hi! I, in my determination to rid myself
of a brown thumb and learn something new, have decided to try (again) to grow
plants. I live in an apartment in Houston, with a north-facing roofed porch
and south-facing windows. Given my lack of space and lack of knowledge, I
decided to try mostly edible plants (I do enjoy cooking, when I have the time
and energy), and a dwarf rose; all in pots. I also picked up a Norfolk pine
from the grocery store flower shop (it spoke to me). I'm new to Houston (moved
from Colorado), new to gardening (I once had a scraggly pot of shamrocks last
14 months, but even they died eventually), and largely baffled. However, I
am also new to fish-keeping, and the tanks are doing fine, including the aquatic
plants. We have 4 tanks, ranging from 10 - 55 gallons in size. And now to
the point of my email: I started some of my potted plants from seeds (some
are growing, some not yet visible) and some from seedlings. To guard against
over-watering, I put a layer or two of small rocks (large gravel) in the bottoms
of the pots to aid drainage, making sure there was enough room for the roots
to grow sideways and down for a while. I place the plants in the southern
window to get sunlight (at least half a day's worth). But I have gnats. My
boyfriend's mom recommends putting sand on top of the soil of the established
plants to discourage them, which sounds logical, and I have a good source
of round, medium-grained sand. But for the seeds just sprouting or not yet
there, what should I do? The sand seems rather heavy, and I'm worried it would
smother the new seedlings. Also, sand won't get rid of the gnats I already
have. Can you recommend a good natural, non-toxic insecticide for edible vegetables
and herbs grown in pots? Can you think of any good books to recommend for
apartment container gardening for the botanically illiterate? When we clean
our fishtanks and change the water we come up with some wonderfully rich (in
fish waste and uneaten food -- we still overfeed) water. To your knowledge,
is there any reason why this water would or would not be good plant-watering
water? It has few if any chemicals in it, since it is carefully filtered before
being put in the tanks, and is often high in nitrates (the reason for regular
water changes). Anne Miller
Hi, Anne I will do my best to
help you out with as much information as I can as I read through your letter.
Miniature roses need at least four hours of direct sunlight each day, as well
as moderate humidity and fresh air during their active growing season. They
also will do very well when grown under flourescent 'grow' lights. Temperature
range should be between 60 and 70 degrees F. Do not use to large of a pot,
a 4-5 inch pot is plenty big enough. The soil should be kept moist, but NEVER
soggy. Feed with a diluted rose food in early spring, and every 2-3 weeks
until the plant is finished blooming. The plants can be pruned to the shape
you would like, pinching the tips prior to budding will make a much bushier
plant. Give your plant a rest in November and December by moving it to a cool,
well lighted room, and cut back on the watering. In the spring, cut the plant
back by about 1/3, and move it back to warm temperatures and the bright light.
When the new growth begins, start feeding again. Norfolk Island pines (Araucaria
heterophylla) would do best in your south or east facing windows. They
like it cool (60-70 degrees F.) and quite humid. Keep the soil moist, and
mist the branches regularly. Lack of humidity will cause the loss of the lower
branches. They require a somewhat acid ph soil mix, and grow proportionate
to the pot size. Most pot grown shamrocks (Oxalis) are grown from tubers
or rhizomes. They need full sun and lots of moisture when they are actively
growing. If they become to dry, the leaves will die back and the plant will
become dormant. If you still have your old plant, it may only be in the dormant
stage, and watering and warmth may bring it back to life. Be sure to feed
it regularly when it is growing with either a liquid african violet food,
or bulb food mixed into the soil when you repot. Having a layer of gravel
in the bottom of your pots is an absolute must if there is no drainage hole.
In your situation of growing food plants I think that you would be better
off to use pots with drainage holes built in, and the pot itself sitting on
a layer of gravel which is in a waterproof saucer or tray. Not only will this
prevent the overwatering, but you will add humidity to the air around it.
Use one larger piece of gravel, or a piece of broken pottery to cover the
drain hole to keep the soil from coming out. As to your 'gnats'.....unless
they are whiteflies which are sucking insects and sap the strength from the
plant, most fruit flies, no-see-ems,etc. are harmlesss to the plant, and are
only a nuisance. I found one website on the net which advertises their product
as being 'all-natural', 'earth friendly' and 'non-toxic'. I know nothing about
their product or the company so I can't endorse it. Check with a local garden center to find out what products may be
available locally. Sand is a good medium for sprouting seeds, so it shouldn't
be a problem to use it as a topdressing to the soil, provided you don't use
to thick of a layer. Some seeds require light for germination, others should
be barely covered, so it all depends on the seed. Once they have sprouted,
the plantlets should be OK, as long as everything else is to their liking.
There are so many good books on the market these days, but for the novice
I think I would have to recommend the Sunset Gardening and Landscaping books
or the Ortho book series. They both cover a wide variety of subjects, and
you can choose from many different 'project specific' titles, such as container
gardens, or vegetables. Another excellent but more expensive book is the Better
Homes and Gardens 'Garden Book'. The fact that you have several aquariums
in your home is a deffinate plus for your plants because of the humid atmosphere
it creates. Using the water from your aquariums is an excellent idea, and
essentially adds an organic food to your plant each time you water. Good luck
with your plants.
8, 1998 Steve and Tammy wrote: I live in Idaho and recently found a
strain of peanuts advertised in a seed catalogue that should mature within
our growing season. Unfortunately, I know nothing about peanuts or anyone
who does. How are they planted and cared for? What makes them do well? What
kind of soil do they do well in? I would appreciate any information you might
be able to provide in raising peanuts. Thanks,Steve
Peanuts (arachis hypogaea) do
best during a long, hot growing season. Plant them in early to mid April,
or when the soil has warmed sufficiently. Remove the seeds from the shells
and plant them about 1 to 1 1¦2 inches deep. Plant about four or five seeds
for each foot of row. The rows should be 30-36 inches apart. The soil should
be light and sandy, with plenty of organic matter. The soil should be loose,
not clayish and hard. Leaves, compost or well rotted manure should be added.
Rocks and sticks should be removed. A soil test should be used to determine
the lime and fertilizer needs for peanuts. A soil pH of about 6.0 would be
optimum for peanuts, but the crop can produce well over a wide soil pH range.
If lime is needed, broadcast the recommended amount and incorporate with the
soil well in advance of planting. One-half cup 8-8-8 fertilizer for each 10
feet of row prior to planting, however if the area was heavily fertilized
during the previous year, you can use considerably less. Peanuts need calcium
in the top three to four inches of soil where pods develop. Without calcium,
nuts will not fill out. Gypsum (calcium sulfate) can be applied when the peanuts
flower to supply needed calcium at a rate of one cup for each ten feet of
row. Cultivation to control weeds should be shallow. This prevents damage
to peanuts because they develop near the soil surface. Don't let peanuts dry
out during flowering. Water them weekly until the soil is soaked six to eight
inches deep. If the plants are allowed to dry out at any time after flowering,
the plants will make fewer peanuts. Mulching with well rotted compost will
help to keep the soil moist and help to control the weeds, however over-watering
can cause the nuts to sprout in the ground. Peanuts flower over a long period
of time and therefore all pods do not mature at the same time. Consequently,
judgment and experience is necessary when determining when to harvest the
peanuts. Generally, peanuts are ready for harvest when older plants begin
to yellow. They should be dug and left to dry upside down on the row for a
day or two, much as you would with potatoes. If it's rainy, dry them in an
airy place, out of rain. When the nuts are dry, pull them from the roots and
store them. Happy munching!
Prayer plants February
8,1998 Derrick Thorne wrote: Browning tips on prayer plants leaves
Could you tell me what is causing this and what could done to preventit. Thank
you Derrick ("T:)
Prayer plants Maranta leucoreura need
very high humidity to thrive. They do best in a warm greenhouse or a terrarium.
Provide medium or bright filtered light, but never direct sun. Use a well
drained soil with a little peat moss added, because they need a slightly acid
soil. Keep the soil evenly moist but never soggy. When plants rest in winter
keep the soil drier. Use an equal analysis acid fertilizer such as 'Miracid'
every 2 weeks except when the plant is resting. Ideal temperatures are between
60 and 85 degrees. Dry air will be a problem in the winter, and this is probably
the cause of the brown leaf tips. Putting the plant in among several other
house plants will help to create a more humid atmosphere. Another aid would
be to place a bowl of water in the immediate vicinity of the plant. Another
possible cause of the problem could be chlorine or flouride in the water supply.
This can be alleviated by using bottled water, or allowing the water to sit
in an open container for 24 hours before using it. Repot in early spring if
needed, at which time you can propagate new plants by division.
Calamondin orange February
7, 1998 Mary Maxwell wrote: I bought a medium size calamondin orange last
November from a reputatable garden center in the Pittsburgh area. It was (and
still is) covered with ripe oranges. I transplanted it to a 12" pot which
gives it some room to grow but is not overly large. I first used a peat based
soiless mix and noticed some leaf curl. I then unpotted it and an trying one
of the cheaper mixes and added additional sand thinking the growing medium
was too rich. I still have a pretty large amount of leaf curl. I am very careful
not to over water. I also put the correct amount of osmocote fertilizer in
the mix. Do you have any idea what is causing the leaf curl? Also the day
temperature is approx 68 nite temp 64 and being winter the humidity is pretty
low. This plant is in a west facing window (which is covered with a translucent
cover) and light is supplemented by fluorescent lighting. I would appreciate
any input as I have wanted a calamondin orange for a very long time and do
not want to loose it. Incidentally, I picked one of the oranges and planted
the seed and it has sprouted!! Thank you.
It is not to say that your Calamondon
orange (citrus mitis) doesn't have leaf curl, but leaf curl is typically
a fungus which attacks peach, nectarines, and plums. My first impression is
that rather than 'leaf curl' you have curling leaves, brought on by transplant
shock. Leaf curl is usually evident in the first two weeks after the new leaf
buds have opened up. If the curled leaves were mature leaves at the they curled,
I don't think that you actually have leaf curl. Have the suspected leaves
fallen from the plant, and has the plant deteriorated since you first noticed
the problem? If the plant is maintaining its vigor, and hopefully has shown
a little improvement, then keep up with a little TLC, and don't worry to much
about it. Unless you were excessively rough with the roots when you transplanted
it, I think your plant will recover beautifully. Citrus trees like four hours
of full sunshine or VERY bright a day to grow and ripen their fruit. They
have a shallow root system, so when you are growing them in a container, a
wide diameter is far better than a deep one. They prefer light, well-drained
soil which is rich in nitrogenous food, such as manure or leaf mold which
they need for growth, especially from September to December. In Autumn, fruiting
citrus will benefit from plant food rich in Phosphorus and Potassium, which
promote flower development and fruit growth. The best growing temperature
range would be 68 to 75 degrees F. During the summer months, be sure to provide
ample water. Citrus respond to pruning. Keep all the dead branches pruned
off, and thin the plant to the three strongest trunks. Since you are growing
the plant indoors, be aware that you might need to act as a bee, and do the
pollinating yourself with a small, soft bristled paint brush Citrus trees
are succeptible to plant scale, mealy bugs, and spider mites, so watch out
for them, and treat them appropriately. Having said all of this, I hope that
you don't actually have leaf curl. You said that you purchased the plant from a
'reputable' nursery, if your plant does indeed have leaf curl, I would think,
and hope that the nursery would do everything they could to fix the problem,
like replacing the plant. I certainly would!....Good luck.
1, 1998 Lorimyn@aol.com wrote: There is mold growing on top of the
soil of some of my houseplants. I live in a very humid climate. What is the
cause and how can I get rid of it? THANKS!! ******* Mold
is of a type of fungus, mildew is also a type of fungus and is sometimes used
interchangeably. I know very little about either, and I was unable to find
much help in my reference books or on the internet. Because there are so many
different types of fungi it is difficult to know how to fight an outbreak.
Mold propagates by spreading a millions of spores, which travel through the
air. Mold spores are everywhere, and can grow on almost any organic material.
Mold likes high temperatures (mid 70°F), high humidity, darkness, and stagnant
air. When mold is discovered check to see if it is active (soft, fuzzy, smears
easily) or dormant (powdery, easy to wipe). If it is active and it is in single
plant, consider withdrawing it from the collection, and carefully remove and
replace the top inch of soil from the pot. If it is in the dormant stage,
allow the soil to become quite dry, then brush off the spores, working outdoors
and (if possible) with a fan blowing the spores away. Some varieties of mold
are toxic to humans, so please use great care. Wearing rubber gloves and a
dust mask are not unreasonable precautions. How to combat
mold There are fungicides on the market that will kill the mold, check
with your local nursery or garden center for an appropriate one, and use only
according to directions. To help prevent a repeat occurrence, move the plant
to brighter light, keep the soil on the dry side, (during the winter months,
this is a good idea, anyway) maintain moderate temperature and humidity, and
provide good air circulation. I wish that I could be of more help, but I think
you can easily defeat the mold.
Jade plants January
25,1998 mccull wrote:
Please reply with any info on jade care.Do all flower?and how can I do this?
thanks,kevin. The Jade Plant (Crassula
argentea) originated in south Africa, but has been cultivated as a house
plant in Europe and America for over a hundred years. Generally, it is a very
easy and productive plant to grow, provided its needs are understood and met.
Jades, and all other Crassulas are succulent plants, in that they have the
ability to store water in it's leaves, stems, and roots. Jade plants are best
grown in very bright sunlight with low humidity, however if the plant is accustomed
to dimmer light, you must move it into the sun in stages. Jades will sunburn
if they are not used to the full sun. Jades are best grown between 55F at
night and 75-80F during the day, however they will tolerate temperatures down
to 40F. They should be repotted every two to three years. Use a well drained
commercial potting soil mixed equally with sharp builder sand, and a scoop
of bone meal added. The optimum soil ph is 6.5. Jade plants have an active
and a dormant growing cycle. Watering and feeding are determined by the cycle.
During the spring and summer months keep the soil slightly moist . Water liberally,
approximately once per week but allow for slight drying between watering.
Remove any excess water from pot saucer. Fertilize with a 10-20-10 or 5-10-5
ratio soluble plant food every two weeks. African violet food works very well
for most succulents. Keep plant dry during the winter months as plant has
a slight dormancy. Do not fertilize from November through March. Typically,
all healthy Jades will bloom, usually around Christmas, in the northern hemisphere.
Blooming is triggered by the natural shortening of the days. If your plant
is in a room which usually has lights turned on at night, it will more than
likely fail to bloom for you. Try to find a suitable, naturally lighted place
for the Jade sometime in early October, along with your Christmas cactus.
Your plant will do the rest for you!
Peach leaf curl January
24,1998 Caroline wrote: I'm new at this computer stuff...so I hope
you get my e.mail question..... The peach trees fruit always drops off....it
also has curl...some ants.....thanks....we live in San Jose, California. thanks....Caroline Peach
leaf curl is a fungus disease called Taphrina deformans. It can cause
defoliation and crop loss on nearly all varieties of peach and nectarine trees.
The most common characteristic is the curling and crinkling of the leaves
as they unfold in spring. Usually, the entire leaf is affected, but sometimes
only small areas are involved. In addition to the curling, diseased leaves
often turn red or purple. This disease also may occur on the fruit, blossoms,
and young twigs. Diseased fruits will usually fall off of the tree prior
to harvest. A diseased tree does not usually yield well do to blossom loss
in the spring. Luckily, peach leaf curl is one of the easiest fruit diseases
to control. Leaf curl can normally be prevented with a single, well-timed
fungicide application of an appropriate fungicide, either in the autumn after
90% of the leaves have fallen, or in the spring before bud swell. Remember,
for effective disease control the fungicide must be applied at the proper
time, and the tree must be thoroughly covered with the fungicide spray. When
applying a fungicide, or any chemical for that matter, be sure to read the
label and follow instructions to the letter. Be certain that you are using
the correct product for the type of plant, as well as for the disease or pest
you are using it to control. If leaf curl is severe, it is important to maintain
tree vigor by thinning more fruit than usual, irrigation, and applying extra
nitrogen fertilizer. As far as the ants go, I doubt that they are causing
to much of a problem to your tree, unless you also have a problem with aphids.
Ants supposedly herd and protect aphids like cattle. Aphids tend to congregate
on new plant growth. Salivary secretions cause a stunting of leaf and stem
growth. If aphids appear to be a problem, there are many insecticides on the
market, which will effectively control them, as well as the ants. A preferred
and safer method would be to purchase a quantity of lady bugs next spring,
and allow them to cure the aphid problem for you. The ants will just go about
their own business, doing ant things. Good luck!!
Cats and Calla lilies January
23,1998 selket wrote:
Hi, Are Calla Lillies bad for cats or boston ferns. You have some great
gifs and letting us have them for free is extraordinarily nice. . Will
use the fairy/roses bar in my homework. Am building a home page for computer
class. Just what I was looking for. thanks!! All
parts of the Calla lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica) are toxic to animals.
That doesn't mean you should get rid of all of your Calla though, unless
there is a problem with your cat being interested in it. Normally a cat
would only be interested if he discovered how much fun it was batting the
leaves about. If that's the case, try staking the plant, and tying it up
to keep the leaves out of kitties reach. If in fact your cat does seem
inclined to chew on the plant, and you are unable to isolate the plant
from the cat, it might be necessary to get rid of the plant. Perhaps you
could give the plant to a catless friend. Boston ferns (Nephrolepis
exalta) On the other hand, are an entirely different story. Your cat
will do far more damage to the plant, than the poor little fern does to
your cat. Boston ferns are not toxic. However your cat could possibly get
a stomach ache if he decided to munch a little to much.
Clematis Jackmanii January
1,1998 Hi, I have a question regarding a Clematis Jackmanii vine. I
have read that the pruning methods for this plants varies according to variety.
Some will only flower on old growth and some will only flower on new growth.
Some varieties will flower on both. I can't seem to locate anything specific
for the variety I have. I was wondering if you could give me some guidance
on this particular variety. In addition, I live in the San Francisco Bay area,
which has a very Mediterranean-like climate. The Clematis vine has already
begun to sprout and the Fairy Lilies ( Zephyranthes) that I planted last year
have not died back at all. As I have only seen both of these plants grown
in more temperate climates, I am concerned that the mild winters and extended
growing season will have an adverse affect on these plants. Is this something
I should be concerned about? Thanks for you help and guidance. Sincerely,
Jamie Collins Happy New
Year! Jamie, Clematis Jackmanii, like any other plant, will thrive
if you are able to meet its growing requirements, and give it reasonable care.
Clematis require about 6 hours of full sun per day to grow best although some
light shading during the hottest part of the day is beneficial.It is essential
for the roots to remain cool and moist, so protect them with a heavy mulch,
the shade of low growing plants, or even a large flat rock. A few of the very
large flowered varieties should be planted in a more easternly exposure, to
prevent excessive flower fading caused by to much sun. Soil should be well-draining
and rich, with a pH close to neutral (7.0). Clematis likes peaty soil, but
you must add enough lime to ensure the soil is not to acidic. Generous amounts
of bone meal and compost should be added to the soil, but only cultivated
in shallowly. Clematis flowers form either on the current season's growth
or on that of the previous year.Jackman clematis forms its buds on the new
growth.This type of Clematis have a tendency to become bare at the bottom
of the vine unless pruned annually in late winter or very early spring.
Cut these plants back nearly to the ground, leaving at least one pair of healthy
looking buds on the trunk. Most clematis will require staking so the twining
leaf petioles can cling and climb upward, although it is not a problem if
you choose to let the plants sprawl over the ground, fences, or whatever. El
Nino??? About the weather,,,Hmmmmmmm. At my home, at this time
of year, I would normally have a foot of snow on the ground, and be looking
forward to the temperature getting back above freezing. That hasn't been the
case here, this year. I have new growth on many of my plants as well. The
unknown denominator is what will happen between now and spring. A sudden drop
in the temperature to freezing can be fatal. Should the weather remain mild,
there will be no problem, your plants will have a healthy headstart.It will
pay off to pay attention to the upcoming weather forecasts,though, and if
frost or a hard freeze is imminent, you must take measures to protect your
plants. The roots of bulbs, ground covers, and other low growing plants should
be mulched with a heavy cover of preferably dry leaves and clippings. Larger
plants can be protected by covering them with a blanket, burlap, or a tent
made from plastic sheeting. If you create a plastic greenhouse, be sure that
the film is removed before any bright sunny days, otherwise you will 'bake'
your plants. I guess the keyword in this instance would be vigilance, but
we are all at the mercy of mother nature. I hope that I have been a little
help to you,,,,good luck!!
Carolina Jessamine December26,1997 Melinda
M. Hipp wrote:
Hi - thanks for your service. I have four Carolina Jessamine plants that have
been doing well for over 4 years. One on the end suddenly started getting
sick and died. Now the one next to is is starting the same process. The leaves
start turning a reddish color and the plant gets really thin. HELP-
I really want to save them. Hi
again, Melinda Your situation is one of those where I would really like to
be able to examine the plants in person.I'll do the best I can with what I
have. As I was researching, I found Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens)
in toxic plant lists far more than culture and care lists. Most of them had
a warning such as : All parts of the plant usually contain toxic alkaloids.
Eating just one flower has reportedly been lethal to children[207, 222]. The
plant can also cause skin allergies in some people and it is possible that
the plant toxins can be absorbed through the skin, especially if there are
cuts. (Apparently children think the flowers are honeysuckle, and suck on
the blossoms.) I am not suggesting that you shouldn't have the plant, but
I want to pass on any pertinent warnings that I come across. Carolina jasmine
grows best when its roots are shaded and cool, but the vine tolerates either
full sun or partial shade. Plant it in rich, somewhat acid, well-drained soil
with organic matter worked into it. Keep soil moist and feed monthly with
a balanced 10-10-10 liquid fertilizer except when plants are resting in the
fall.Although a moist soil is ideal, the vine is able to withstand short periods
of drought. Prune immediately after flowering, removing dead or broken branches
and shaping the plant. Plants may be propagated easily by air layering, from
stem cuttings taken in spring from established new growth, or from seeds in
spring. Pests rarely attack Carolina Jessamine. Plants growing in a particular
habitat generally do not transplant well since they will need all of their
soil, water and light conditions replicated in order to grow. Having said
all of that, I have done nothing to solve your problem. There has to be a
clue in the fact that it is apparently spreading up the line, rather than
all the plants ailing at once. My first instinct was root knot nematode, but
my books say that Gelsemium is practically immune to them. Jessamine has thick
rhizomous roots as well as stems which often run underground for a considerable
distance.... Has there been any digging or other changes within 20 feet or
so? Is there any possibility that the roots might have reached a source of
toxin, itself? The only other thing that I could suggest would be to do a
complete soil test for PH, iron, etc. I wish I could be more help to you,
maybe with what I've told you you can figure it out. Please let me know if
you do. Good luck! Bill
Jerusalem Cherry December
21,1997 Sharlene Floam wrote: Hi there! Received a Jerusalem Cherry
- know it is poisonous - no animals or little ones near by - would like to
know the care it takes? Light - water- indoor/out temps. Thanks a million. Good
morning Sharlene, I didn't know much about Jerusalem cherry(Solanum pseudocapsicum)
before you wrote. Most of what I found out didn't surprise me a bit. I knew
that it was in the same family as Nightshade, and like Nightshade is very
toxic. It did come as a bit of a shock to find eggplant and potatoes in the
same family though. Jerusalem Cherry is a tender perennial. As a houseplant,
it requires full sun to thrive, but it will survive with moderate to
bright light. Mist the plant often. Temperatures above 70 degrees or lack
of humidity will cause the plant to lose its leaves and blooms. The plant
should be potted in a rich, well drained potting soil, and kept moist during
the growing cycle. Feed with a liquid 5-10-5 'blooming houseplant' fertilizer
every two weeks while the plant is growing vigorously, but discontinue feeding
when the plant has finished blooming. After the fruits have dropped, cut the
plant back drastically, and in the spring, when ALL danger of frost has passed,
plant it outside, in a semi- sunny place. If you live in a frost free zone,
the plant will develop into a nice 2-3 foot, woody shrub. If you want to keep
the plant going in frost zones, you will need to dig the plant up, repot,
and begin the cycle all over again.
Poinsettias 12-17-97 Ranee
Williams wrote: Where did the Poinsettia come from, it's original place and
how do you care for one? Hi
Ranee, Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherima) were first brought into the United
States in 1825 by Joel Robert Poinsett,while he was serving as the first U.S.
ambassador to Mexico. He found the plants growing on a hillside near Taxco,
Mexico. When he returned to the United States, he sent the plants to different
botanical gardens around the world. The first Poinsettias were sold in the
US about 1850. Today there are over 50 million sold each year. Poinsettias
require medium to bright light, but never full sun. They prefer to be kept
on the cool side, 65-70 degrees during the day and 55-60 at night. They will
lose leaves if they are exposed to temperatures below 50 degrees or above
80. Keep the plant as far as possible from heat sources, or cold drafts. Poinsettias
prefer moderately moist soil, so when the soil begins to feel dry to the touch,
add enough water so the excess drips out the drain holes, but never allow
the plant to sit in water. Feed every 2 weeks with an all purpose liquid 10-10-10
fertilizer when the plant is growing. Poinsettias are perennials, so it's
possible to keep them growing from year to year. In order to get them to produce
their flower bracts again next December, they must be kept at 50 degrees and
kept in total darkness for 14 hours per day beginning in mid September. ANY
light,,,,even turning on a light bulb for a few seconds will delay the bloom,
so it takes a little effort, but it is very satisfying to see your results
when you succeed. Merry Christmas
Banana Plants 12-17-97 Dan
I have a banana tree that was grown from a shoot off of another plant.
My brother gave it to me, but I am not sure how to properly care for it.
I have it in a window with afternoon sun and have been keeping it well
watered. Please let me know if I am doing things right and if I need to
be doing anything else for its success. Thanks! Hi
Dan, Banana plants (Musa sp.) are fun to grow, but don't do 30 like I did,
unless you have a machette,,,,,talk about taking up a lot of space... It
sounds like you are doing fine with your plant. Give it a lot of root space,
and the plant will grow proportionately. Banana plants need a rich, humus
soil, and heavy feeding when they are actively growing. I would use soluable
20-20-20 fertilizer monthly. Banana plants like it hot and humid so it
is helpful to mist the leaves often, and sponge them off when they get
dusty. Since you are growing the plant indoors, protect it from the very
hottest sun in the afternoon, otherwise it needs full sun. Some varieties
of banana plants produce edible fruit, others are inedible, and others
even make little tiny miniature bananas. Which ever you have, it's cool!(as
long as you have enough space!)
Allamanda cathartica 12-17-97 Nanceaned@aol.com
We would like some info on fertilizing allamanda-the flowering vine. Thank
you, Ed Bond - Allamanda cathartica
The Golden trumpet vine, Allamanda cathartica, is another plant that I will have to add to my
TOXIC plant list, but I can also add it to my Hummingbird flower list,,,if I ever get busy and make
You didn't mention if you were growing your plant as a house plant , or if it was in the garden,
so you get a little information for each.
Allamanda grows best in full sun or very bright light. If this is a house plant, give it a little
protection from the sun, during the hottest days in the summer. It originated in the jungles of
Brazil, but is now cultivated worldwide. Allamanda prefers a rich humus soil.
Because Allamanda is such a prolific bloomer, give it a rest during the winter months,
watering less, and no fertilizer. Around the first of April you can start feeding your plant with a
5-10-5 liquid fertilizer, mixed HALF STRENGTH. Fertilize with this mixture every 2-3 weeks
throughout the spring and summer, but start cutting back on the feeding frequency in late
August, with the last feeding at the end of September. Continue watering as long as the plant is
still blooming, but when it is done, keep the plant on the dry side till spring.
Crown of thorns
David Comstock wrote: My fifty + year old crown of thorns is dying. The
branches are rotting. I've had it for 8 years and I've never killed it
before. I moved it to my new (temporary ) office and put it in a corner
where it didn't get enough light. I have since rearranged my office and
moved it over by the window. A few branches seem still to be alive, but
for how long? Is it possible to take a cutting and start over? How is that
done? any help would be appreciated. Thanks
Sorry to hear
about your plant. A crown of thorns (Euphorbia splendens) that old is quite
awesome. Cuttings from a Crown of Thorns are possible, but it'll take a
little effort, and time. With
a very sharp, clean knife(I like single edge razor blades) cut a branch
off at the point where it meets the main trunk..... CAUTION!::::::The
white milky sap is VERY poisonous, use care, wash your hands afterwards::::::CAUTION! Set
the cutting aside, and allow the cut to callous over, this will take 2-3
days. When the callous has formed, dip about 1-2 inches of the cut end
into a rooting hormone, such as 'Roottone', and insert it into a clean
pot of sterile potting soil. The pot should then put in a warm place with
bright light. Do not water at all for the first 2 weeks, and then water
very sparingly until you see signs of new growth, usually in about a month.
For fastest rooting, the soil should be kept at a constant 75 degrees,
but do the best you can. I would take several cuttings, to be sure that
you succeed with at least one of them. Because of the leaves, most people
don't consider a Crown of thorns to be a succulent, but in reality it is.
They should be watered once a week when they are in a growth cycle, but
only once a month when dormant. Whether dormant or active, don't water
until the soil is dry. Cut any of the rotted branches back to a point where
you find clean healthy growth. If the rot started in the roots, you may
only be able to salvage a lot of cuttings, however if the rot is at the
tips, you can cut it back to healthy wood, and your plant will come back
from the rootstock. I hope that makes sense to you.. I wish you a lot of
luck. If you have any more questions, feel free to write. Hoping you have
a very happy holiday season! Bill
for vegetables ***
Shelton Droke wrote: Great web page! I enjoyed reading others
problems. Mine is basic, but I can't find much about it. I
would like to have the soil pH for all garden vegetable plants.
Can you help? Thanks Shelton Droke
OK! Let me know if I missed any.
Soil PH requirements
Hard water?Soft water? Greg
hello my name is greg and i would like to know the effects of growing plants
(violets). with hard and soft water. i need to know with works better,
and so forth. Thanx Greg
Distilled water!!! That would be the very best. Violets do need many
of the minerals found in hard water, but the mineral content in water
can vary considerably. The chlorine used in public water systems can
be deadly to houseplants.
I strongly recommend that you fill your watering container, and let
it sit for a minimum of 24 hours. The chlorine will have dissipated
by then, making it somewhat more safe for your plants.
I keep several gallon milk bottles filled for watering, and use them
as needed. The water will be room temperature, which is much less of
a shock to the plant.
It is wise to bottom water all house plants, but particularly african
violets. Watering from the top can cause crown rot in violets, which
African violets like a great deal of humidity, but not wet leaves and
There are many commercial fertilizers especially for violets. For the
best plants, you must use these products, since violets have very definite
requirements for Ph and trace elements.
If you have a chance, try growing violets under fluorescent GRO lights.
The colors of both the flowers and foliage will become more intense
Good luck.... Bill
Spotted ivy Al
I'm not much of a gardener, so I hope I'm able to give you enough info.
to help me out...
I have an ivy plant - I'm not sure what kind it is, but it's leaves are
a solid green. It was once a healthy plant, and I'm not sure what I did
to it. Some of the leaves have started to get small dark spots of dried
out area, then they turn yellowish and drop off. The spots don't come on
the edge, more toward the center. Not very many leaves have the spots either.
But, all the leaves are kind of puckering on the corners. I used to have
the plant in a west window, but I live in the mountains so it doesn't get
all that much sunlight. I've moved it further from the window and have
been really keeping track of it's progress. Now, it only has 3 leaves with
spots (one or two spots per leaf). I really loved this plant and it used
to be so healthy. Please help me!
It would be my best guess that your ivy plant has red spider mites.
Use a magnifying glass and examine the underside of the leaves. Spider
mites are extremely small, so look closely for any mites(they look like
a miniature spider), or any webbing.
Should you find any evidence, isolate the plant from all of your other
plants. Check your other houseplants too, mites are small enough that
a breeze can transport them to the next plant.
There are commercial insecticides available to control mites, but read
the label, some types can not be used on ivy. Before you resort to poison,,,,try
dipping the foliage in room temperature, mildly soapy water. Dip it
again in a week or so, and then recheck for mites. With any luck,,,you'll
have 'em beat.
Ivy, as with most glossy leafed houseplants, need their leaves wiped
with a damp cloth, occasionally. A periodic misting is helpful also.
As far as lighting goes, ivy likes bright light, but not necessarily
full sun. The amount of light does have a direct bearing on the size
of the leaves.
If you check your plant, and find no evidence of insects, write back,
and I'll try again. Bill
Bird of paradise Robert
Smout wrote: I have a large bird of paradise which needs to be transplanted.
I need info on how to do it, so I don't kill it. It seems to be splitting
into two but I need to know if I separate when transplanting or leave as one.
This is the first time it has bloomed since I got it ten years ago, and I
would like to keep it this way. Considering I live at 9600 ft. in the rockies
I thought this was a good sign. Hi
To someone living in L.A., the fact that your Bird of paradise bloomed,
is just another ho-hum. However, since I live in the mountains of Washington,
I assure you that you deserve an 'atta boy'. My Strelitzia regenia took
7 years to bloom, and it was in a hothouse!
Now you can be twice as proud.......Dividing the two plants is easy,
once you have removed it from the pot. The roots are very thick and
fleshy, so be careful, but don't be nervous, the plant is pretty tough.
Try to seperate the roots coming from each division, and carefully cut
between the two sections, with a CLEAN, sharp knife. It is advisable
to then dust the cuts with a rooting hormone, such as 'Roottone'. Cut
off any of the roots that may have been badly damaged during the operation.
Repot each section in a sterile pot, using a good commercial potting
soil. Keep in mind that Bird of paradise blooms best when it is rootbound,
so keep the pots as small as is feasible. Do not water the plants for
2-3 days to give the cuts a chance to 'callous' over, and then only
Give 'em a shot of all purpose fertilizer next spring, and watch them
go. With luck, they will be blooming again in a year.
Sedum'autumn joy' Connie
I have about 10 Autumn Joy Sedum plants in my garden. One by one they
have dropped stems and turned yellow.Are they dead and do they need to
be replaced? How soon should I replace them?
Since I live in Washington, the Everwet state, the first thing I would
suspect would be overwatering. Sedum telephium 'Autumn Joy', being a
succulent, stores an abundant supply of water to get itself through
a drought. If the plant does not have sufficient drainage, it will drown,
plain and simple.
My suggestion would be to lift the root ball on a couple of them and
look for anything obvious, i.e. rot. If you dont see anything, and the
plants haven't been over watered, cut them back to the ground, and see
what the spring brings forth. If you were to replace them , spring is
the time to plant sedums, after all frost danger has passed.
Potted Chrysanthemums ***
I'm in a situation where we had invested in a large number of potted mums
this fall, and am now not quite sure as to the best method of preparing them
for winter. I have been told that one may store the plants after they dry
out for the entire winter and should be able to re-establish them in the garden
in the spring. Please advise as to the method of storage that would allow
for the best possible outcome next year. BM in NJ Hi
You didn't mention what type of facilities you have for storage,so I'll
go for the best case scenario.
Once the flowers fade,Move the plants to a cool but well-lighted location.
Remove any foil or other covering from the pot at this time. Be sure to
keep your plants watered, but don't over water them. When the potting soil
dries to a depth of two to three inches, water them well so that water
runs out the hole in the bottom of the pot.
By keeping the plant in a cool, brightly lighted location, you can keep
the plants alive until the worst of the winter is past and you can plant
it outdoors. If there is no new growth, it can be planted while the freezing
temperatures are expected at night.
If new growth is present, wait until frost is past to plant outside. Gradually
acclimatize the plants as you bring them to life in the spring. Place them
in a protected part of the garden, with partial shade, during the day,
and in your coolest room at night. As the temperatures moderate, so there
is less variance between day and night temperatures, you can leave them
When frost danger has passed, give em a shot of a 'bloom' fertilizer, for
the earliest flowers. Happy Holidays, Bill
Subject: Nonblooming hydrangea Date: Thu, 20 Nov 1997 19:17:03 -0600 From:
"Rose Meadows" To: I have 2 hydrangeas
(the kind that has blue blooms in acid soil). I started them about 4 years
ago from sprouts given to me by a friend. My friend and I are both having
trouble getting them to bloom. My friend says that she brought her plants
from her former home where they bloomed beautifully. I am considering digging
them up and replacing them with another shrub. although the blue hydrangea
is one of my favorites.. Please advise *** Hi
Rose, I am sorry that it took so long to reply to your letter, seems like
I never get caught up.
The 'blue' flowering Hydrangea you refer to is Hydrangea macrophylla.(Natures
little PH test OH! OH! ALL GONE BEYOND HERE! ****************