Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Sunday Drive......To An Awesome Nursery!

My husband and I love to take "Sunday drives". Today we were on our way to Fernwood Botanical garden in SW Michigan, but decided not to go that far. We hit a couple of antiques stores on US 12 and just enjoyed the scenery. He did however take me to The Root System, an awesome specialty cactus and succulent nursery in Jonesville, Michigan. I love this place and the owner and I always have a great conversation about the plants. (I like to pick his brains about all the plants and how he grows them.) Following are some of the plants I saw there. Most of these plants were for sale, but some were the owner's personal plants, for display only.

Leuchtenbergia principis in bloom
Euphorbia viguieri capuroniana
Synadenium grantii

Faurcaria tigrina
I love how the spines on this tiger jaw above are pink!

Glottiphyllum hybrid

Orbea variegata

Euphorbia perrieri elongata

I love how the trunk of this Euphorbia above and below twists as it gets larger.

I can't remember the name of this cactus, but I loved the orange flower.

Sansevieria elliptica
I may have purchased one of these Sansevierias........

Euphorbia suzannae x bupleurifolia

Oreocereus trollii
....and this Euphorbia on the left and the Oreocereus below....

Euphorbia suzannae x bupleurifolia

Peperomia columella

 I had a great time today, mostly because I spent the day with my husband, but also because I was able to go to a great place filled with hundreds of cool houseplants! I hope you enjoyed visiting this place with me. This was just a smattering of what they had there.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Cultivate 14' New Houseplants

I just returned from Columbus OH having attended something called Cultivate 14', a trade show for the green industry. This event is a showcase for the new plants that have been released to the green world. I thought I would show some of the new houseplants. 

Ficus benghalensis 'Audrey'
I absolutely love this new ficus above. Its pink veins make all the difference.

Aglaonema 'Pink Jade'

There were a ton of new agloanemas. I loved this one because I thought it was a Ficus elastica of some sort. This plant group has come a long way from the mottled dark green leaves that used to be the only thing to choose from.

Aglaonema 'Emerald Holiday'

Aglaonema 'Pink Valentine'

Ficus microcarpa 'Moclame'

Anthurium andreanum 'Orange Champion'

These two new anthuriums were beautiful. The orange one may look red at first until you scroll down and see the red one.

Anthurium 'Royal Champion'

New Optimara African violet mySensation

Of course I LOVED this new African violet by Optimara!  It is an amazing shade of green. For you African violet enthusiasts out there, yes, it does have 'Frozen In Time' ancestry.

Well, these are the plants I saw that are new to me and new to the industry. I hope you see these soon at an IGC near you. If you do, buy them!

Monday, July 21, 2014

More Astrocities Done to Plants

Money tree glued down

How many of you have bought plants that have pebbles glued on top of the soil? I hate this. I realize it is done for ease of shipping. The soil stays put, the plant stays upright. It's all good. And to add insult to injury, the containers they are in are usually without a drainage hole. I  recently bought a Pachira or money tree after Father's Day.  It was 1/2 off -I couldn't pass it up!

Pachira out of the pot with stones still attached

So my question is-how would you know your plant needs water. You certainly can't stick your finger in the soil to check for the plant's water needs. Or how would you know if it has too much? You can't look inside the pot.
So, where to begin? First, I chiseled the plant out of its pot. As you can see above, the stones are still intact on top of the root ball and around the stem.

Second, I pulled the glued stones from around the stem. I was as careful as I could be, but as you can see in the above picture some of the bark of the Pachira tree was also removed from around the stem.

After removing the stones, I realized how much soil was around the stems. The soil was way too high up the trunk. After removing the superfluous soil, I found a tie around the stems. When they braid the stems, they need to be tied to stay and grow that way. That is necessary, but as you can see in the pictures below, the tie was cutting into the stem. I'm not sure how long it would have been before this tie girdled the tree and killed it. Would we think out plant just died, or think we had done something wrong? When all along, it is being slowly strangled. Had I not removed the rocks and the soil that were too high on the stems, I would never have know the tie was on there, slowly killing my plant.

So, to help the plant live, I cut the tie so it could "breathe". I think it felt like I do when I take my belt off at the end of the day.

As you can see in the pictures above and below, this plant already has damage from the too tight band.

Even the tag is glued into the rocks.

Lastly, I drilled a hole in the container it came in, added new soil and replanted it. I know it is going to be a much happier plant! So if you see one of these plants and really want it, it isn't a terrible job to get the glued rocks off and re-pot the plant. You may just be saving the plant!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Houseplant Bonsai


I recently (yesterday) went on a garden walk. I love garden walks as I have stated before in a previous post. I especially love seeing people's houseplants which they've placed outside for the summer. One of the gardens we visited had tropical bonsai on the deck. Some of them were protected from the harsh West sun by a latticed area. The ones that could take the sun were in the full exposure, such as the above bougainvillea. It was blooming beautifully.

Ficus grove
I loved this ficus grove. It was beautifully landscaped with bridges and rock outcrops. The details in the landscape made all the difference. The sedum and golden baby tears added additional color and there was even a man boating under the bridge. An overall beautiful vignette and as you can see, a ribbon winner.

The above bonsai is a crested form of a Euphorbia. It is a succulent which is nice when considering bonsai, as watering is a crucial part of growing bonsai. Because of their small root systems, they dry out quickly. Using a succulent means the watering practices are much reduced compared to other varieties of bonsai.

Portulacaria afra
This bonsai above, Portulacaria afra,  is also a succulent and is called elephant bush and dwarf jade. This plant is native to South Africa and is very important to browsing animals, such as the elephant, because of its ability to thrive in dry areas. It can grow 8-12' tall in its native habitat.

Fukien Tea
The Fukien tea, Ehretia microphylla, is a common bonsai plant. It has very attractive leaves and bark and is relatively easy to grow. It is named after its native habitat which is the Fukien or Fujien Province in Southern China. It has an abundance of small white flowers a lot of the time, which adds to its popularity. 

Natal Plum

This cascading bonsai is very attractive and the Natal plum is well suited to this form. It is native to South Africa, and blooms with fragrant white flowers. The fruit formed can be eaten or made into pies, jams, and sauces. It has shiny, deep green leaves and makes a very attractive bonsai.

I love the work and imagination these small plants take to make them look like old, full grown trees. Using houseplants is much easier than using outdoor trees which need a cold dormant season. This means a place to keep them in the winter is essential. With the houseplant bonsai, they are beautiful year round and can be kept in the house. I'd like to try one, and with my schedule, I think the succulent form would be my only choice.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Baby Making Onion

This is the pregnant onion or Ornithogalum longibracteatum,  an unusual plant and a real conversation starter. First of all, its not an onion, it just resembles one. It is in the same family, Liliaceae, though. This houseplant should never be eaten, it is poisonous. It may actually cause a rash on your skin from handling it, but I haven't had that problem. Make sure your pet doesn't chew on it, either. 
 It is so amazing how the little bulblets form on the "Mom's" side. You can peel back the skin and reveal the green underneath and the babies growing. These eventually start growing themselves, sending up little green spikes. At this point it is easy to share them with your friends and family. It is an indestructible houseplant and easy to grow. They'll thank you. 
Definitely looks like the skin on an onion.

Baby bump.
This bulb originates in South Africa.  It does flower, but it really isn't anything to write home about. Then again, I appreciate any flowers my plants produce, no matter how insignificant. It sends up a long shoot and the little white flowers with a green stripe are borne on the end.

 The leaves can grow very long. Mine are about 3' long.They twist and twirl and undulate as they hang down from the plant. I have had to trim the ends because they turn brown. Don't ask me why. I don't know why. It may be the water with chlorine and fluoride or low humidity, I'm just not sure. Besides this small glitch, the plant is easy and certainly not your "run of the mill" houseplant. This is a great plant for the beginner and collector alike.

Babies in the making.
New foliage coming up from a bulblet

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Iron Cross Begonia

Leaves with the sun shining through

I love the iron cross begonia, or Begonia masoniana. I love it so much, I keep killing it and trying again! I swear I'm not going to fail this time. What keeps pulling me back in? Look at that foliage! Who needs flowers?! Iron cross is one of the beautiful foliage plants called Rex begonias, and is named after the German iron cross which it resembles.
Why do mine keep dying? Well, they probably didn't die. They went into a resting period and I thought I had killed them. Now I know that if they "die" in the late fall or early winter, they will probably come back in the Spring. Good to know. Or, I might have kept them too wet, or not humid enough..... All of these are possibilities. They need extra humidity, but also good air circulation, or they may get a bad case of powdery mildew, which can also kill the plant. Letting water set on the leaves can also cause powdery mildew.

The surface of the iron cross begonia leaf

Plant your begonias in a porous, slightly acidic potting mix that contains peat moss and leaf mold. African violet potting mix is good for begonias. Some sources say to fill the bottom of the pot with half-decayed leaves. Also, Rex begonias like a shallow pot, keeping their roots snug in the pot, never over potting them.

The leaves from underneath

Notice the hairs on the outer edge of this leaf

Hopefully you have had better luck with your iron cross than I have had in the past, but if not, try it again.

You can also see the hairs on all the bumps on the top of this leaf