The Dragon Tree and Its Characteristics
Dracaena Marginata is the scientific name of the jungle originating Dragon Tree. The good reason for their fearsome name is because these plants are sturdy, drought-tolerant, and an awe-inspiring sight to see when fully grown. Even with a minimum amount of care, Dragon Trees will likely grow to be fairly healthy. The terrifying moniker, however, does not show the fact that this actually vulnerable species requires dedicated care from its gardener to achieve its full potential, as several pests and diseases can prey and kill this tree or at least cause it damaging harm.
Dragon Trees are also affectionately called Rainbow Plants. They are slender, with a thin trunk that branches into multiple stalks. These have a tendency to grow wild, so you’ll have to train them to point upwards and keep your tree looking organized. The bark is usually brown or gray, and the trunk will grow to a few inches in width.
The leaves of the Dragon tree are long and slender, arching in various directions, although this can be straightened out by pruning them diligently. Leaves come in several color varieties such as red with a green center, green with red or yellow stripes, and red with a yellow center.
If you maintain the Dragon plant properly, it will retain a slim profile, using up only minimal floor space, and grow to an impressive height of around 8 feet. Their look and size also make them ideal indoor plants, and they are, in fact, commonly featured in offices and institutions that benefit from its appearance and simplicity.
The Dragon tree is a hearty plant, and able to grow in low light and broad temperature variations, but never in extremely cold climates. They are capable of some limited air filtration, removing chemicals and toxins like formaldehyde from the air. Since the Dragon plant will be helping you keep your indoor air clean, it’s best not to abuse it.
Varieties of Dragon Trees
There are many different species of dragon trees, and in fact, there are approximately 40 species in total. Some of the most well-known Dracaena varieties include green dracaena, corn plant, Pleomele, and gold dust dracaena.
Some varieties of the plant are commonly grown for their exotic leaves. The plants are commonly cultivated as specimens and border plants. The trees often appear as potted plants on balconies, patios, and office hallways and corridors. A red resin is extracted from the Dracaena draco species of the dragon tree plant. This red resin was mostly used for medicinal purposes in ancient times in order to heal gastrointestinal and respiratory issues. It was then known as “Dragon’s Blood.”
How to Care for a Dragon Tree
The Madagascar dragon tree plant likes moderate to low lighting, and they can grow best in partial or filtered sun, or in full shade. While sunlight is important to the plant to maintain their foliage colors, they still prefer indirect sunlight. Dragon trees cannot withstand frost or below freezing temperatures and will only survive above -1 degrees C. Outdoor dragon tree, especially in pots, should be brought in greenhouses or the garage. If your region’s temperature falls below the above temperature, don’t plant ground-bound outdoors. Frozen Dragon trees will slowly die out by starting to drop off its leaves.
Outdoors, you should plant Dragon trees in the shade to protect it from direct sunlight. Indoors, leave them close to your East or West windows, or a few feet away from your South windows, so they can receive indirect sunlight.
Dragon tree plants don’t need to be watered frequently. The most common mistake with this plant is over-watering and this is the fastest way to kill the plant. Water only about once a week. Watch out even when watering only once a week if your plant begins to drop its leaves and has a soft stem. Soil should be allowed to dry out before watering again. You will also know if the plant needs watering when its leaves begin to wilt.
The first rule of growing Dragon trees – regardless of soil – is patience. These are slow growers, so you’ll have to invest a deal of time to see them reach their maximum size. By some estimates, it takes about ten years for them to reach their first five feet.
Well-drained soil is still necessary and good, loose potting soil should be fine for it. If the soil is too tightly packed, add peat, mulch, bark or sand to loosen it. Too much moisture in the soil will commonly lead to root rot, for which the cure is re-potting in dry soil.
When starting out, you won’t need a gigantic pot to plant the plant, but you will need the right kind of soil. A loose and well-drained potting mix should do the trick. It should also have low amounts of perlite and well-balanced pH between 6.0-6.5. Pack it into your pot and water your dragon plant well, but don’t pack the soil too tight. Don’t go overboard with the watering because you’ll kill the Dragon Plant with too much water. Only water the plant when you know the top inch of soil is dry, and drain excess water from the bottom of the pot.
Fertilizer is mostly not needed for this hardy jungle plant, but you can fertilize lightly, as little as once a year, or as often as once a month during the plant’s active growth period in the summer if desired, to help in the plant’s growth. Use only small amounts of fertilizer to feed the plant. In the spring and summer, fertilize every two weeks if so desired. In the fall and winter, fertilize only monthly. Avoid any superphosphate fertilizer, and instead, use a slow-release all-purpose fertilizer and water the plant after feeding.
Pruning and Repotting Guide
All you need for a dragon tree are small pruning shears or hard plant scissors.
Even beginner gardeners can consider growing dragon trees. This plant is easy to maintain and prune and naturally drops their lower leaves in favor of a mostly bare trunk and denser canopy. The larger mature trees that grow in outdoor ground-bound gardens rarely need pruning, but the ones growing in pots require a bit of cutting to promote denser foliage and a more rounded appearance, whether they are growing indoors or outdoors. Prune between mid-spring and early summer.
Cut back excessively long growth to a more manageable size by making a 45-degree angle cut in relation to the stem at your desired location on the stem. The 45-degree angle cut ensures water will not collect at the location of the cut. Prune back stems to encourage denser growth. Dragon trees have the tendency to use most of their energy to induce growth at the tip of a stem. This causes the bottom of the plant to appear bare as it grows. Pruning back the stem to where you want new growth to form will result in two stems forming at the cut.
Cut back dead stems to the main cane or where the stem shows signs of health. Scratch the outside of the stem slightly with a knife. If a greenish color appears, that part of the stem is healthy. If a brownish color appears, that part of the stem is dead or dying. Unhealthy stems will feel soft and soggy or have noticeable physical damage. Remove discolored leaves you’re your shears or plant scissors. Dragon trees drop lower leaves naturally, but removing them when you notice they change colors will have no effect on the plant’s growth and keeps your plant looking nice.
Water the plant after pruning so that the soil turns slightly damp and this also promotes recovery and growth after pruning. For a mature tree growing outside that is ground bound and has grown to around 8 feet tall and with thick branches, prune it only if you notice the canopy is outgrowing its location or if the branch is diseased or dying. Branch discoloration and abnormal growth both indicate branch disease or death. If the branch is too thick for your shears, use a pole saw to cut back a dead branch to where it meets the parent branch. To cut back healthy branches due to excessive growth, make the cut where the canopy is manageable again.
Repotting should be done about once every two years or so. If they become root bound, plant growth is likely to be very slow. You can check the bottom of the pot to see if roots are appearing through the drainage holes and if the plant is becoming root bound. To start the re-potting process, first get yourself a new pot that is 1 to 3 inches bigger in width than the current pot. Lean the pot on its side holding the plants stem carefully and try to ease the plant out. You may need to tap the bottom or press and squeeze the sides of the pot (if it is plastic) to encourage the plant to come out.
Loosen as much of the old soil from the roots as much as possible and check for any unhealthy roots and also remove these. Loosen all the roots so they are kind of hanging down rather than spiraling around with each other. This spiraling appearance is a sign the plant is becoming root bound. Place enough potting mix in the pot so the plant is kind of sitting at the same level as it was previously. Cover the outer edges of the plant within the pot a couple of centimeters at least below the top of the pot. An all purpose potting mix is fine to use for this plant. Water the plant thoroughly and place it back in the same position it was before treating it.
Rooting cane cuttings. Dragon tree plant foliage grows atop long, bare stems called canes. Cut the cane into pieces about two inches long, each with one node, reserving the top 4 to 6 inches of the cutting for use as a tip cutting. You may get faster results and stronger roots if you roll each piece in rooting hormone. Lay the pieces horizontally on a tray of seed-starting medium and push them down so that about half of the cutting is above the soil. Enclose the tray in a plastic bag to keep the humidity high and place it out of direct sunlight. Plant the pieces in individual pots when they begin to grow.
Tip cuttings. Tip cuttings should be 4 to 6 inches long. Remove all but a few leaves at the top and dip the lower two inches in rooting powder. Stick the cutting two inches deep in a pot of seed-starting medium. Like cane cuttings, tip cuttings need a moist environment. Enclose the pot in a plastic bag or cover it with a clear plastic soda bottle with the bottom cut out and keep it away from direct sunlight.
Air layering. This is a sure way to get a good-sized Dragon plant. Using this method, you root the plant before cutting it away from the parent plant. Make a wound no more than 1/3 of the way through the stem where you want the new roots to grow. Root no more than the top 12 inches. The small new roots will have trouble supporting anything larger. Coat the wound with rooting hormone and wrap it in damp sphagnum moss. Cover the sphagnum moss with plastic wrap and secure it at the top and bottom with tape. You’ll be able to see the new roots when they form. Cut the rooted portion of the plant from the main plant when the roots are 2 or 3 inches long and plant it in an individual pot.
Stubs. Leave at least six inches of the stub in the pot when you remove the top part of the original plant. Continue to keep the soil moist, and in a few weeks, a pair of new shoots will form to take the place of the old top growth. Fertilize the plant with a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer every two weeks after the new shoots appear.
Common Problems (Pests and Diseases) and How to Cure Them
An excess of soluble salts, fluorides or boron in the soil will cause the Dragon tree plant to suffer discoloration or rot on the tips of its leaves. To prevent excess soluble salts apply 3-1-2 fertilizer monthly at the rate of 1/3 ounce per square foot. The fertilizer numbers refer to the ratio by weight of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Low humidity, bright light, high temperatures, and very windy conditions can also cause an increase in fluoride accumulation. Do not irrigate with water containing excess fluoride and adjust the potting media to pH 6 to 6.5. Add limestone or wood ash to raise the soil pH. Add granular sulfur to safely lower the soil pH if needed. Avoid fertilizers containing superphosphate or phosphorous containing fluorides. Boron is necessary for plant growth, but avoid fertilizers with high levels of boron.
The Dragon tree plant can suffer infections by spider mites and mealy bugs that are best countered by spraying the foliage with soapy water. Give your plant an occasional shower using this mixture.
Preventive maintenance. Though a sturdy jungle plant, this domesticated variety needs to be provided with consistent care. Unstressed, even healthy and sturdy plants have an increased likelihood of avoiding problems when compared with stressed plants in poor health. Grow your Dragon tree plants in areas of the garden that offer partial shade with some direct sunlight, but not totally in direct sunlight for most of the day. If grown indoors, provide bright, indirect light by standing them near windows that are hit by the sun. Overexposure to the sun may result in damage so develop the plant successfully in shaded conditions. Maintain moist soil high in organic content with a pH level from 6.0 and 6.5. Irrigate with lukewarm water when the top layer of soil is dry.
Problems. You may assume your dracaena has fallen ill with a particular mold disease when you observe a fuzzy white substance on plant surfaces. However, these fuzzy white spots are not molded but rather, they are caused by sucking pests that feed on plant tissue fluid. Cottony cushion scale attacks Dragon tree plants and a variety of other plants such as citrus and nandina. These female pests display orange bodies. The fuzzy white substance includes the cotton like egg sac the females carry on their backs as well as the molted skin of its larvae. Look for white, half-inch sacs on the Dragon plant. Mealybugs display gray-hued bodies and measure up to 1/5 inch in length. The females are coated with a white, cotton-like wax substance. With their habit of gathering in groups, this is the fuzzy white mass that will appear to your eyes.
As the cottony cushion scales or mealybugs feed on the Dragon tree plants, they diminish the plant’s health. In addition, these sucking bugs excrete a sticky, sugary substance known as honeydew. As the honey falls onto plant parts, it promotes the growth of a fungal disease called sooty mold. Plant parts saturated with black-hued sooty mold do not receive adequate light. Damage from these infestations includes stunted growth, branch dieback, and leaves dropping off slowly but in groups and clumps.
Viable solutions. To control pests, you can release the pest’s natural enemies on the plants. Natural enemies kill pests without harming the plants. For cottony cushion scale, release vedalia beetles; for mealybugs, release mealybug destroyers. You can purchase natural enemies from popular or reliable garden supply stores in your area. Try avoiding online retailers as you don’t know the condition of the insects until they are delivered to your home. For severe infestations, saturate the plants with an organic botanical pesticide called horticultural oil.
Other troubles you need to watch out for. Flecking, leaves having yellow and white spots near the tips. The disease is treated by maintaining moderate moisture, light conditions, and temperature; Fusarium leaf spot, reddish spots on young leaves. The plant can be saved with the help of applying iprodione, thiophanate methyl, mancozeb and chlorothalonil; and Soft rot, soft, brown rot and foul odor on rooted cuttings. The only way out is to buy plants without diseases and get rid of those that have them.
Things to Keep in Mind When Growing Dragon Trees
Since these are jungle plants, they appreciate higher humidity levels, but not to the point of overwatering or leaving stagnant water in the soil. You can use a spray bottle or humidifier when watering the plant once a week, but it’s not really necessary to place the plant in the bathroom or laundry room as some people tend to do. Generally, dragon trees do best with lower humidity. If you want to train your dragon plant to grow in an arrangement or style, slightly more frequent watering will soften the stems and make them easier to wire or bend.
Take note that one major drawback to growing Dragon trees is its toxic effect on cats and dogs. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reports a variety of symptoms in pets eating or chewing on the tree’s unidentified toxins. They include vomiting, loss of appetite, weakness, drooling, and even loss of coordination. Affected cats may also have dilated pupils and digestive pain. Keep your indoor dragon trees where pets cannot reach them, and supervise the pets when they’re around your outdoor Dragon plants.
From mid-fall through winter, Dragon tree plants go into rest mode so don’t prune during this period. When pruning, make sure your pruners are clean and sharp. You want to get as precise a cut as possible and you don’t want the plant or the cuttings to get any type of infection. Always cut at an angle as this lessens the chance of infection. The canes that you cut off will root very easily in water. You can then replant them at the base of the mother plant, give them away, or replant them in another pot.
Gardening has become one of the most popular hobbies today. Many people use gardening to relax, relieve stress and enjoy the great outdoors. If you have been gardening for any length of time, you know how pricey the hobby can get. From an economic standpoint, growing plants from seed are by far the cheapest way to populate your plant. Planting seeds represent a significant monetary saving, not to mention it’s a lot of fun.
One of the main reasons people grow plants from seed is because they can choose from a wide variety of plants in seed catalogs. Growing plants from seeds are also often cheaper than buying them. More importantly, you get to guide the plant through a whole life cycle, potentially establishing an addition to your garden that will last for years. Vegetable or flower seeds are good choices for first-time growers.
Types of Garden Seeds
Springtime brings with it another garden season and it seems a good time to review all the different types of seeds available to you now.
The five types of seeds you may encounter when making your seed purchases include Open-Pollinated Seeds, Heirloom Seeds, Hybrid Seeds, GMO Seeds, and Spores.
Open-Pollinated Seeds. Open-Pollinated Seeds are seeds that have been pollinated by nature. Meaning to say, they are the offspring of two plants of the same variety, pollinated by bees, butterflies, etc. They are also often referred to as the standard varieties. So, if plants of an OP variety are kept isolated from different plants with which they can cross, they will produce seed that will come “true to type.” In other words, the plants in the following generation will resemble the parent plants.
Heirloom Seeds. Heirloom seeds are a special classification of open-pollinated seeds. Each year, for at least 50 years, seeds were gathered in the fall and planted in the spring to be allowed to mature without human interference in the process.
All Heirloom seeds are open pollinated. And, whatever the birds, bees or wind does, these seeds remain the same. That year after year they will still be able to produce the same plant characteristics as the parent plants.
Many times, the seeds that are produced by heirlooms are sterile and if they are not, they generally revert to the traits of a single parent plant – losing all the uniqueness that makes the hybrid so desirable.
Before applied science, gardeners and farmers would choose their best plants and save the seeds from the for the next year’s crop. In this way, the crop would improve year by year through a selection of the highest quality plants.
Hybrid Seeds. Hybrid Seeds are seeds that have been crossbred by humans to express certain traits in the plants. They are used in affluence in agriculture because the hybrid is generally a stronger and more potent plant compared to its parents. They often also deliver a higher yield per acre – something every commercial farmer desires.
On the other hand, these seeds also enable people to get creative and develop crosses between two compatible plant species. Usually seen in the supermarket when fruits like apples that taste like grapes, melons that taste like lemons, etc.
And of course, the seed companies love hybrids because they make the farmers dependent on them every year for a new shipment of seed for their crops.
Hybrid seeds are not ideal for preppers because you can’t usually use them for the next season. However, for many reasons, gardeners prefer them since you could just easily buy them in any stores.
GMO Seeds. GMO seeds mean they will undergo a genetic modification and have the DNA of one species introduced to another species. It is sort of like hybrid seeds on steroids – compressing many, many generations of manipulation in one fell swoop. This is usually done in laboratories where they turn something impossible to possible. The risks are enormous and the outcomes for the future are unknown and feared dangerous.
Meanwhile, there’s still a lot of controversy regarding the safety of produce grown from GMO seeds that make them a terrible source of seeds. While most GMO crops have been designed to produce sterile seeds by inserting what they call a gene terminator. This means farmers must re-purchase new seeds each year from the corporations that own the patent rights to these seeds.
Spores. Spores are very tiny like powder that is produced by plants. It can be collected at the appropriate time to plant a new harvest. There are a variety of plants that produce spores, and not seeds. The most common food plant that is grown from spore is the mushroom.
Methods for Planting Seeds
All seeds require a few basic things to grow: sunlight, a growing medium, and water. The key to making sure a seed germinates and grows into a healthy plant is to provide these elements according to the needs of the plant species.
There are 3 methods for planting seeds. First is the hand planting, next is the half-automatic planting, and last is the automatic planting
Hand Planting. The furrow is made after the seedbed preparation. It is placed in the furrow by hand and the seed is covered with soil by closing the furrow.
With this system, there is little risk of sprout damage, but planting depth and planting distance may be irregular.
Also, the soil that surrounds the planted tuber may dry in case the intervals between each of the operations are long.
Half-Automatic Planting. With this system planting depth and distance can be well adjusted.
There is little sprout damage and the soil surrounding the planted tuber does not dry, since making the furrow, planting, and closure of the furrow are all done in one operation.
Automatic Planting. The capacity of these planters is high and the quality of planting is high since planting depth and distance can be well adjusted. Sprout damage may be a problem when the pre-sprouted seed is planted.
The soil surrounding the planted tuber does not dry, since making the furrow, planting, and closure of the furrow are all done in one operation.
You will start by preparing the growing containers. But how are you going to do it? First, you moisten the seed-starting medium so that it will have a good growing environment. Second, fill the containers with the medium and leave a ½ inch of space between the top and the rim of the containers. And third is to place the container in a sunny and well-ventilated area that has a warm and steady temperature.
Growing seeds indoors is one way of starting your garden. Another option is to tuck seeds directly into soil – outdoors. Planting seeds this way is called direct sowing, and it’s an easy process that yields great results.
Unlike indoor seed starting, direct sowing involves unpredictable elements: weather, wildlife, and insects. Even so, many vegetables, annuals, herbs, and perennials sprout easily from seed sown directly into garden soil.
Sowing the seed will depend on the type of the plant that you are growing so it’s essential to check on the packet carefully. While some seeds do best when they are chilled or soaked before sowing, others do best with a temperature of about 78 degrees. Some would also need a colder or a warmer condition to germinate. Be sure you’re providing the right sunlight conditions for your specific seed species since most seeds can germinate without light. However, they’ll need the sun as soon as they sprout.
Also, be sure to water the seeds consistently and never allow them to dry out too much. However, don’t overwater the containers, or the seeds could become waterlogged. They should be moist, but not dripping wet. You can also lightly drape a piece of plastic wrap over the seed trays to help in trapping the moisture.
You’ll see thin green stems emerge from the growing medium as the seeds sprout into seedlings. If the containers aren’t already placed in a sunny area, make sure to move them to a place with direct sunlight or provide them with grow lights overhead. You can place a heat mat under the seed-starting tray to maintain the correct temperature.
After a week or two, weed out the weaker-looking seedlings so that the stronger ones
Which Seed Planting Method is Right for You?
Choosing the right type of seed can be very important. If you are just worried about the next season, choosing a series of hybrid seeds and properly storing them until the garden season is a perfect choice. They are easier to work with than heirloom seeds and will generate a perfectly fine bounty of food for you for that season.
But if you are preparing for a long-term scenario or just truly want to be independent of the system, your only choice is to get a good variety of heirloom seeds and learn how to save seeds from one year’s crop for the next year’s planting. Prep work needed before planting seeds:
Select a type of plant that thrives in your growing region. When you pick out seeds to plant, do a little research to make sure the plant species does well in your area because not all plants can grow in every region. A good way to figure out what plants grow well in your area is to visit a local nursery to be able to help you pick out hardy seeds that have a great chance of germinating and growing into healthy plants.
The area’s temperature and climate have also a big factor in the plant’s chances of success to grow, but if you have a greenhouse or plan to grow your plant indoors, you may be able to plant a seed even if the species is not native to your growing region.
Know what time of year to plant the seed. Starting seeds too early or late can prevent germination from occurring, so it’s important to always research your specific seed and plant to understand how best to start it.
If you live in a place with long, cold winters, you may need to wait until mid-Spring to plant your seeds. If you live in a place that warms up early in the year, you can probably start earlier. Check your seed packet for information on how early to start your seeds.
If you are starting seeds indoors, you should keep in mind that most vegetable seeds need to be started at least two weeks before the last frost, and some as early as 2-3 months before the last frost. Even if you live in a cold area, you’ll need to plan to make sure you start your seeds in time for the growing season.
Get seed-starting supplies. Most seeds need similar growing conditions when they’re first starting out. When the seeds sprout and grow into plants, they’ll have more specific needs in terms of soil, sun, and temperature conditions. In getting ready for planting seeds, you need to have the following supplies:
- Seed containers. Each seed is going to need 1–2 inches or 2.5–5.1 cm of space to germinate and take root. However, you can grow them all together in an open flat, or choose an individual seed container. When you have all the time in the world, you can make DIY containers out of recycled yogurt cups or egg carton.
- Seed growing medium. Seeds contain all the nutrients they need to germinate, so there’s no need to use a growing medium that has been enriched with nutrients. Don’t use potting soil, since it’s too dense for fragile new roots to penetrate, instead, use a mix of vermiculite or perlite and either peat moss, coir, or compost.
When to Plant Seeds
Starting flower seeds early indoors gives you a jump on the growing season. Knowing the best time to start flower seeds depends on your climate and the hardiness of the flowers you intend to plant. Cool season flowers are hardier to the cooler temperatures that may be experienced in early spring. Flowers that are tender to cold temperatures should not be grown outdoors until the chance of frost has passed.
If you choose to start seeds indoors while temperatures are still cool outside, remember that young plants need warmth and light. They can be accommodated with a heating pad placed beneath the seedling tray for added warmth. Although sunlight through the window can be adequate for growth, a fluorescent light or grow light is ideal. Insufficient light can lead to weakened stems. To ensure your seed-starting efforts are rewarded with healthy, flowering plants, proper seedling care is essential.
Steps for Planting Garden Seeds
Growing flowers from seed can be a difficult task for beginners. Seeds and seedlings are delicate, and the wrong conditions can ruin them easily. To achieve the best results, plant your seeds indoors into a small, sterile container using professionally packaged potting soil. Follow the instructions on the back of your seed packet and provide plenty of light and water to your growing seedlings. Once the flowers have developed strong enough roots, transplant them into your garden.
- Set the planting time
- Select a starting pot
- Add seed starting mix
- Plant your seeds
- Cover seeds based on their size
- Seal moisture in with plastic
- Keep the seeds in warm, indirect sunlight
- Check moisture levels every day or two
Aftercare for Planted Seeds
Watering. Deep, infrequent watering is preferred over frequent, light watering. Slow deep watering allows the soil to become thoroughly moist and encourages a deep root system
Fertilization. Additional fertilizer application can be made 6-8 weeks after planting if the appearance of the plants requires it. Apply about one-quarter to one-half the recommended bed preparation rate (1-2 pounds per 100 square feet) of fertilizer to the planting bed. If dry fertilizer is used, follow the application with water to remove fertilizer from the foliage. Liquid fertilizer is also an option and it should be applied to moist, not dry soil.
Mulching. After annuals are planted, a 2-3-inch layer of organic mulch may be applied. Not only is it attractive but it also helps to conserve soil moisture, retard weed growth and helps keep the soil cool. Mulch materials such as dry grass clippings, hulls, pine needles, compost or shredded leaves are acceptable.
Weeding. It is essential that weeds be controlled while small and as they appear. Weeds will compete for space, moisture, and nutrients with the annuals. Remove them with shallow cultivation. Mulch added afterward will help retard future weed growth. As annuals get larger and start to fill in and shade the soil surface this will also help to slow down the growth of weeds.
Grooming – Deadheading and Pinching. Many annuals require little additional care to keep them attractive and blooming all summer. However, some annuals benefit from the removal of spent flowers to encourage a strong bloom. Annuals such as geranium, marigold, salvia, the cosmos, snapdragon and other spike-type flowers benefit from the removal of old flowers. Deadheading will help the plants remain attractive, keep them from going to seed, help prevent disease and increase flower production with a pruning shears.
Most annuals need no deadheading as they are “self-cleaning” meaning the old blooms fall off naturally and do not require the manual removal of old flowers. Annuals such as begonia, petunia, impatiens, and vinca are examples of “self-cleaning” annuals.
While hard to do, pinching off the blooms of new transplants when setting them into the garden results in bushier plants with more flowers potential as the season progresses. If your transplants are tight and compact, to begin with, there might not be any reason to pinch them. Many of the newer hybrids display a short compact growth habit. Use your judgment but remember to not be afraid to pinch.
Common Mistakes When Planting Seeds
Whether you have experience starting seeds, you’ll improve your success by avoiding these common errors.
Catalog Hypnosis. It’s tough to resist the beautiful pictures and glowing words in seed catalogs. Even experienced gardeners struggle to resist the allure. That’s the first mistake most seed starters make: ordering too many seeds.
A simple secret to success with seed starting is exercising self-restraint. If you’re new to the practice, don’t start too many different types of seeds. Stick with simple ones, such as tomato, basil, zinnia or cosmos.
Starting Too Soon. In many regions, sowing seeds give you a chance to get your hands dirty when it’s too cold to garden outdoors. Don’t start your seeds too soon. Most plants are ready to shift into the great outdoors in four to six weeks.
Planting Too Deep. Read seed packets carefully, for detailed information about how deep to plant seeds. The rule of thumb is to plant seeds at a depth equal to two or three times their width. It’s better to plant seeds too shallow than too deep. Some seeds, such as certain lettuces or snapdragon, need light to germinate and shouldn’t be covered at all.
Not Labeling Trays. Once you start sowing seeds and get dirt on your fingers, you won’t want to stop and make labels. Before planting, prepare labels and add them to containers as soon as the seeds go into the soil. Otherwise, it can be tough to tell seedlings apart. Be sure to include sowing date on your labels.
Soil Isn’t Warm. Seed packets specify the temperature seeds need to germinate – soil temperature, not air temperature. Most seeds germinate at 78 degrees F. You’ll have sure success if you use a waterproof root-zone heating mat. Once seeds germinate, aim to keep soil temperature in the 65- to 70-degree range.
Too Little Light. In the warmest regions of the country, there’s enough ambient light in a south-facing window to grow stocky seedlings. In northern areas where winter brings persistent cloud cover; you’ll need supplemental lights. Purchase or build an illuminated plant stand to start seedlings
Water Woes. For seeds to germinate, you need to keep the growing soil damp but not too wet. Many seed starters cover the container to keep the soil moist until seeds germinate. Once the seeds sprout, don’t miss a watering. Unlike established plants, seedlings don’t have an extensive root system they can rely on for vital moisture. At the same time, it’s important not to over water and let seedlings sit in water.
Not Enough Pampering. Seedlings are delicate creatures. They need daily attention and lots of tender loving care, especially when they’re young. If you can’t monitor seedlings daily, checking on germination, soil moisture, temperature, and lights, you’ll reduce your chances of success. Seedlings don’t survive neglect
Growing plants from seeds at home can also give you more control over the plant’s health and longevity. Growing plants from seed is an art as well as a science. Many different techniques will produce healthy plants. Experiment with different methods until you find what works best for you.
The more you learn about gardening, the more you realize how commercially grown plant selections can be very limiting. It is easy to go out and buy multiple flats of beautiful plants each spring, but you will probably have the same flowers as everyone else on the block. The need for immediate gratification is certainly satisfied, but it does not take long for a gardener to discover that growing plants from seed opens a whole new world in terms of the wide selection of varieties that are available for your garden. Before you know it the “need for seed” is a driving force in your hobby.
A hanging basket can serve as a lot of things. It can accent your front porch or even fill up your empty wall. No matter how you use your hanging basket it allows you to play with colors.
As we know today, our landscapes are shrinking and shrinking. Therefore, we have lesser spaces to plant our flowers. And that is where hanging baskets come in handy. If you plan to expand your garden kingdom, hanging baskets is your ticket. It’s also the easiest and most convenient way of bringing your garden close to home.
The first thing to remember is that traditionally you put trailing plants with three other types of flowers with the same variety on top. But you can also use an openly sided hanging basket and just plant the sides as well. When using the technique of the openly sided hanging basket it gives you the ability to plant three times more than in the traditional basket. If you want to create an illusion of having mountains of texture and colors you could use a lot of clumpers and trailers.
Hanging baskets are perfect accent pieces that add a touch of lavish extravagance to any garden. Hanging baskets are a great opportunity to get creative and explore with a lot of combinations of colors and textures. Including houseplants, and escape from run-of-the-mill bedding options.
A lot of people buy ready-made hanging baskets instead of making their own and seeing their creation bloom. Instead of buying and spending too much you should try making your own hanging basket. Aside from being able to save a lot, you can customize it.
When it comes to hanging baskets, there are a lot of choices you can pick from. The solid plastic ones can stock water so you won’t have to water them daily. We also have the woven wicker baskets that show an earthier aura. Meanwhile, a homemade wire framed basket also gives a bit of a modern touch.
While you are deciding what hanging basket to use, remember that the size is important. If you get a hanging basket that’s too small for your plants you will have to water and prune it regularly. A bigger basket allows higher retention of water. Therefore, with large baskets, there is less maintenance and it gives you more chances to plant more vibrant plants. It will help you a lot if you already have a plant in mind before picking the size.
Hanging baskets are one of the best places to get creative.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Hanging Baskets
You can use different types of plants for your hanging baskets. You include herbs and fruits, and of course flowers and create an interesting and colorful display for the whole year or so.
Let’s begin with the step by step guide in creating your hanging baskets.
When’s the best time to plant your hanging basket? If you are planning to plant summer beddings you should be planting them in late spring. You should give them a few weeks to launch themselves before they make their moment when you hung them outdoors.
It best to plant tender plants in mid-spring. It is the time when you’ll be able to grow them properly.
You should know that winter plants should be planted in mid-spring. It should be around the same time as spring flowering bulbs.
For other plants, you can check the instructions on its packaging. You should be able to see an advice on when they should be planted.
What are the importance of liners and the type of baskets? As I’ve told you earlier, hanging baskets come in different varieties. But the most popular one’s today are the solid sided baskets that have built-in water reservoirs. These types are ideal for hot and exposed conditions.
When you want to keep your basket, moist and keep the compost from falling out you use the liners. Traditionally, the material for liners is sphagnum moss. These type of material is farmed just for this use so don’t try to collect it from the wild, okay?
Another commonly used material is coco fiber. But there are also hanging baskets that you can buy which are already pre-lined. For these types, depending on the material used, you should puncture a few holes in the bottom for the drainage.
Making Your Own Hanging Basket
- Flower Starts. Wouldn’t we want an empty hanging basket, would we? The choice of flower to use is all yours. But remember our guideline on when types of flowers bloom. So, make sure the flower you pick is in the season. Consider different textures and colors, play with your creativity.
- A hanging basket with holes on its sides. This type of basket makes the flower bloom earlier than in the traditional ones.
- Potting mix
Let’s Get Started!
- First, you pour some potting mix into a bucket, then you wet it. After wetting it you should stir it. The idea is for you to make it sticky but don’t overdo it because you don’t want it to be mud like.
- You should fill it from the bottom of your first-row side slots. Smooth your potting mix then pat it down gently.
- Now you should start adding your first row of flower starts. If the potting mix base of the start is small enough you can work with the flower from the outside. Feed it into the pot from the outside in carefully. But if it’s otherwise you’ll need to be very careful in feeding the plant from inside out which can be a bit difficult.
- Carefully spread the roots of your flower starter. Until the base of your flower is even on the side of the hanging basket, adjust the flower to the soil.
- Feed in your flower starts onto the slot right across from the one you just did. If you plan to do a combination of flowers, make sure you’re paying attention where you’re putting it.
- Carefully add more potting mix into your hanging basket. It should be on top of the roots and up to the bottom of the second row.
- Make sure that your first-row roots are fully covered and your potting mix is evenly patted down.
- Again, plant your flower starts the same way you did to the first row. You’ll see a gap between the flower starts base and the top of the planting slot. Don’t worry about that because the layers of your moistened potting mix will close those up and fill them in.
- After you plant the whole second layer carefully add more potting mix. Add around an inch or two below the rims top of your hanging basket.
- Again, gently pat down your potting mix. Make sure to be careful so you won’t damage any root.
- Don’t forget that when you water this basket your potting mix will tighten a bit. So, you’ll have to have enough in your basket from the very start as this won’t be a problem and expose your flower start roots. You don’t want to starve them of their needed nutrients
- Now you’ll start planting from the top. Make holes large enough for planting your flower starts. As you plant your flower starts, make sure they are fully covered. As needed add more potting mix around each flower.
- You’re almost done! Insert the wire hangers in the pre-punched holes in your basket. Make sure the wire lengths are even, bend them back against each other and secure it by twisting the ends around the wires themselves several times.
And you’re done! You may now enjoy your hanging basket as it blooms. Don’t forget to add a container focused fertilizer to your hanging basket two to three times a week to make sure it blooms perfectly. Follow the instructions on its packaging to achieve the right ratio. Do not guess because it might kill your plant.
These types of plants benefit from having the fertilizer sprayed on its leaves occasionally. So, in a month, one of the weekly fertilization can have a sprinkle all over the foliage. On the days between fertilization schedules, you can simply water the basket. Remember to not overdo it as well as under do it.
Remember that this type of basket allows the flowers to bloom faster than in traditional ones. So, if you’ve made others in a traditional one don’t expect it to bloom at the same time.
A garden cart is a wheeled vehicle used for carrying small loads that can be pushed by a person. It has handles and has one or more wheels. If you want to get a lot of work done in the garden then you shouldn’t go without a garden cart. Indeed, they’re extremely valuable to help you finish any of your most loved planting exercises in your day-by-day life.
Garden carts could be the gardener’s best working buddy because they are what every serious gardener needs. They also may be friends with the farmers, the migrant workers, the landscapers, and even the construction workers; for they have a lot to do with transporting, hauling, moving and lifting stuff. Nonetheless, they are adaptable, versatile, and flexible, and they can really give you an edge over your backyard projects and duties. They work remarkably well to help avoid problems when you’re out there, doing your gardening. All in all, they make the big jobs easy.
So, what do I recommend for you? Here is a list of garden carts with its sizes and features. I have looked at each cart to personally inform you the distinct attributes of each, as a guide in a way, when choosing your garden helper.
Small Sized Cart. These carts are a good compliment to a small or lightweight lawn tractor. And, since they are small, they are not intended for heavy-duty jobs. The load capacity is only 500 pounds and the load size is 6 cubic feet only. But, never underestimate this little thing, for it could still be of help in keeping your garden lush and beautiful.
Medium Sized Cart. These carts are rugged and durable. They are tough and long lasting. I would not have any problems recommending them as your gardening help. They will hold more. In general, they have better tires than the small carts. The load capacity is 1000 pounds, and its load size is 12 cubic feet.
Large Sized Carts. While it provides a lot of room for your large and bulky loads, this cart is also perfect for the heavy-duty jobs. Not that this type of cart got only good tires in it, in fact, it also has a heavy one-inch axle so you won’t have to worry about bending or breaking an axle.
Benefits of Garden Carts
If you’re doing farm, backyard, or landscaping work, you should consider having a garden cart. You need all the help you can get when you’ve got tons of supplies and materials to haul in, out, and about.
Garden carts are well-made, easy to maneuver, and stable, thus making our life easier and smoother especially when we do gardening. Not that it only continues to be a staple in the garden, but it can also haul everything, even heavy loads. It can hold more, compared to a wheelbarrow and has also the added stability. What amazes me about garden carts, are those big bicycle tires that make the work handily to haul even the heavy loads.
A garden cart is a very important tool in gardening, thus helping the gardener to haul dead leaves, wood, and many other things. So, it is necessary to choose your garden cart carefully. Make sure that it would be able to withstand frequent use, huge loads, and sometimes rough grounds.
And, there are several factors to consider when buying a garden cart such as the wheel type, the load capacity, and its durability. Finding the right cart for you involves finding the correct balance of these features for the loads and uses that you need.
Different Types of Garden Carts
Determining how much weight you will be transporting on a regular basis can help narrow down your options. When selecting a cart, be sure to select one that will support a little more than your heaviest load. You want to be sure to give yourself the option in the future to move a larger load if needed, without splurging on more cart than you need.
There are four major types of garden carts. They’re the utility wagons, flatbeds, dump carts, and foldable carts. To mention some of the carts functions would be for hauling dirt, debris, mulch, compost, and plants, and some for moving around tools, supply, and pots.
In buying garden carts, it is important to know what you are looking for and what qualities you want your cart to be. You must choose the one that can last long term. Thus, making you buy the best one out of your money.
To help you decide on what potential garden cart to purchase, I will discuss the different types of garden carts complete with its features. Remember to choose wisely!
The Utility Wagon Cart
This cart, also known as the Marine foldable utility cart is the most commonly industrious handy-bearer garden cart you will ever have in your life! And this kind of cart is produced using Marine-review aluminum that can prevent rust and erosion. Not only that this cart can be utilized as a part of any marine situations, with no issues; this type of cart is also one of the most used and most popular garden carts you can find in the market because of its features.
To mention some; it conveys up to 350 pounds of rigging to go up against and off water crafts and we have its unit that involves up to 2 square feet for your storage room. It also has 4 metal sides that can be pulled with a long handle, and is usually open, or can be easily removed for cleaning purposes. In addition, it has a removable front entryway, which takes control in the dumping of soil or mulch. When you are done, simply utilize a garden hose to tidy up with no stresses over rust.
Also, this type of cart is best for hauling plants, fertilizer, wood chips, and dirt. Removable sides give you greater versatility of use, as you’ll be able to move bulky, awkward-sized loads.
This is simply a cart with a body that can be tilted or a bottom that can be opened downward to discharge contents. They come in a four-wheel wagon design or a two-wheel design that looks like a wheelbarrow. The only thing that tells the difference between a dump cart from a wagon or a wheelbarrow is the bed’s ability to dump and to haul any kind of material you have around your property; that even the wet, sticky, dry, rough, scratchy, and hard to handle materials can be dumped easily depending on the load capacity.
A dump cart is usually used to haul rocks, soil, pavers, gravel, grass, fertilizer, or firewood. Having a cart with a dump feature gives you added flexibility to dump and swivel. It could also save you some back strain. BUT, you must examine wisely the cart before buying it. Make sure that it’s worth every of your penny.
Just some few tips to be kept in mind:
- See to it that the cart is strong enough to handle any task
- As much as possible choose the cart needs less maintenance
- Make sure it will not dent under normal use
- Check if the cart will handle wet or dry materials
- Make sure that the cart will not bend or warp when loaded with gravel
A flatbed garden cart is a type of cart that has an open bed and doesn’t come with sides. They are best for hauling large or non-standard sized objects, as well as stacking bag of soil or fertilizers. Its function is like a utility wagon. This is also the perfect solution when you transport large and heavy items on a level terrain. Thus, making it ideal for all your outdoor transportation and yard work needs. Also, this kind of cart provides great maneuverability, which makes it ideal also for industrial, commercial and warehouse use.
But prior to deciding to purchase one, please do examine it thoroughly and check the following features:
- Check for its durability
- Check for its chemical and scratch resistance
- Make sure that has an outstanding longevity and long resilience
- Make sure it is a heavy-duty construction
- Check for its load capacity
In any business or industrial setting, there always seem to be a hundred different tasks to do on any given day, so whether you need to move heaps of files, crates, or any other smaller items, you can improve your efficiency and ease with the benefits provided by a foldable cart. The most prominent element of a folding cart is its ability to neatly tuck away into small places, allowing you to prop the cart right back up and continue using it within seconds.
Most foldable garden carts have fabric sides with an accordion metal frame that allows them to be collapsed when not in use. Also, the sides are not removable and the load capacity is significantly less than a metal-framed garden cart. But beforehand, you need to keep an eye on its features for you don’t want your money to go to waste.
- Make sure to check its durability
- Check on the framings
- Check on its portability
- Check on its sturdiness
It is best to assess the capacity of the garden cart that you are planning to buy; to make sure that it is perfectly suitable for your needs. Also, to see to it that it’s in its best condition and is fully functional, for you don’t want to purchase a garden cart that won’t be of help to you. When you know that in the very first place, the reason why you are purchasing a garden cart is to make your gardening time a smooth sailing one.
In addition, it is ideal if the garden cart has a big capacity so that you can load more objects into it. You need to consider a few things before purchasing your garden helper. Go ahead and ask yourself if how big are the loads you wanted to move. And how far do you usually move them?
If you regularly carry loads over 650 pounds then you will need a heavy-duty cart with a large load capacity. Usually, these carts have larger tires and thicker body construction. On the other hand, for loads less than 650 pounds, you would want to have a bed that is wide and deep enough to accommodate your average load type and size. It’s also important to choose the one with high sides since it will keep your load contained. If you aren’t planning on pulling the cart behind a vehicle, be sure the load is weighted to make it easier when transporting and dumping.
The garden cart’s carrying capacity is highly important especially when you are mostly loading and moving gardening equipment. When you deal with liquid or semi-liquid gardening materials, it is best to purchase a garden cart with a vertical or pail-like structure. On the other hand, when you deal with solid gardening objects and equipment, a large horizontal cart structure would be best for you.
There are garden carts that offer additional features such as extra side pockets, insulated coolers, removable bag or beverage holders. Thus, it is best to purchase a garden cart that offers multi-functional benefits that make your work lighter and easier.
Types of Tires
Garden carts usually have a long-connected bar and two wheels in front and often seem to be bulkier. An addition to their front wheels, they also have a third or two more wheels in the back. To further understand regarding the types of tires a garden cart has, let me give you a short overview about it.
There are 2 types of garden cart tires. The plastic tires and the pneumatic tires. It is best to determine where you are mostly going to use the garden cart so that you can assess if its tires are ideal for it. Let me give you some views about it.
Pneumatic Tires. Pneumatic tires are made of reinforced rubber and are filled with air, which allows them to absorb some of the shocks of moving over rough terrains. Making it the ultimate tire for heavy-duty works. These tires also make the cart easy to move over uneven areas without getting stuck. It is susceptible to puncture; nevertheless, it also provides stability when you pass the garden cart through rocky terrains.
Plastic Tires. Lightweight garden carts come with plastic tires, some have tread and some don’t. If you only plan to use the cart in your yard on a grass with a small load, plastic tires are probably going to be sufficient. The benefit of plastic tires is that they cannot get punctured on sharp rocks or hardware that may be in the driveway or yard.
Garden carts have the added benefit of a second wheel that helps greatly with stability. So, this is a better choice, especially for the younger ones, the elderly, and to people without a lot of strength because of its stability. They are far more expensive, but they are also a smart investment especially when you’re concern with your area.
Although easy to push and pull, garden carts are harder to maneuver through paths or tight spaces. That is the negative thing about garden carts.
There are 3 kinds of bed material. We have the plastic, Polyethylene, and steel. The garden cart’s construction material is essential for you to determine if you can reliably use it for an extended period. Garden carts with metal trays are stronger, but they can be highly susceptible to rust and weathering.
Plastic trays are durable and weather-resistant, but not as durable as metal trays. Furthermore, garden carts with a fabric support are highly multi-purposes, lasting and weather-resistant, but they are not as durable as garden carts with metal trays. These have advantages and disadvantages, so it is best to assess which one for you is the best to use.
Let me give you a short overview of it.
Plastic. Plastic beds are lighter compared to steel so they are easier to pull. Nonetheless, they are smaller and have the lowest quality among bed constructions, so the risk of cracking is high especially when exposed to the sun most of the time.
Polyethylene. Polyethylene beds are scratch and dent resistant. It weighs less and they can stand up better in inclement weather.
Steel. This type of bed material will be able to withstand heavy use without being damaged since this is the strongest and the most durable garden cart. However, they are the heaviest, pose a risk of rusting, and may be damaged by acidic loads such as animal waste (bed construction).
Another option to optimize your garden dump cart will depend on the extremities in which you will be using your cart. For instance, if your garden dump cart will be exposed to rain and snow, make sure that the cart comes with a rustproof bed and wheels. Also, most carts come with a polyethylene finish to meet those needs. Similarly, if you will be using your cart in the snow make sure it has the correct type of tires, to prevent rusting.
Choosing the Right Size for Your Need
You may want and need a heavy-duty cart but if you do not have the strength to pull it when loaded, the cart loses its value. Check the weight of the cart itself and then determine your average load size.
If you have a tractor or quad, you can find garden carts that can be pulled eliminating the limits placed by human strength. However, without that aid, if strength were an issue, a lightweight cart would be the best choice. In addition, take into consideration it’s unloading capability because many carts have different options in terms of unloading your supplies. Some come with a release mechanism in the handle for easier dumping. Other models keep it simple with a tip and dump design. There is also the wheelbarrow style, which is a very hands-on style of unloading.
Another thing to keep in mind is to make sure to consider all the people who will be using the cart in your family or workplace. Some of the more heavy-duty carts can weigh a lot and could be too difficult for some to use. Take into consideration the dimensions of your garden cart. If you frequently need to move your cart through doorways, make sure the measurements will work for you to prevent snagging of the wheels or getting stuck.
Gardening is a perfect pastime since this is a great way to relax when you’re bored, while at the same time you get in touch with nature and your surroundings. However, if it involves getting strained from lifting heavy objects and constantly carrying a lot of garden tools with you, it creates stress. Knowing that garden carts are available, it sure cuts your hassle and strenuous hauling.
If you don’t have any information to go on, you could end up spending a lot of money that would be unnecessary. Wise landscapers know that the best garden carts will be precisely tailored to their need. They don’t go about wasting money just because there is a perfect garden cart out there that seems like it would handle everything possible.
Anticipating where you will spend most of the time using your garden dump cart can help pinpoint the best features to meet your needs. For instance, if you plan on using your cart at one location for extra-large loads, purchasing a heavier model will be your best option.
And now, we’ve come to the difficult part—when we decide on which cart to buy since you already know the various types of garden carts as mentioned above. However, if you are purchasing one for the first time, the wide array of choices can be a bit overwhelming.
But don’t worry too much since I’ve already listed above the distinctive feature of each garden cart. I hope that did help you a lot. One thing is for sure; there are a lot of choices and carts for sale in your local hardware stores, gardening specialty stores, and online shops.
And if you have used any of the products listed above, then make sure to share your opinion and review to your friends for them to be aware as well.
There is nothing like a well-curated display of indoor plants! It’s impressive on two levels–the artistic and the sensible. In other words, we can’t help but admire the beauty of artful indoor plant displays.
Do you know that what is the key to a fresh and colorful interior? It is to use indoor plants! They instantly change the atmosphere adding that pleasing view to your indoor. Along with, making the inside of your home to stand out and to feel complete.
So, when it comes to sprucing up your house and health, spending a little green on greens can go a long way. After all, it is not just about improving your indoor aesthetic. When in fact, most of us know instinctively that being close to greenery makes us feel more at ease with our surroundings, thus making us experience less stress. Plants can also teach us a thing or two about empathy.
Even if you do not normally notice a plant’s presence, seeing a plant can subconsciously make you feel calm and relaxed. Where it can also boost your mood, and make you feel less sick because of the microclimate around them. In many cases, it is recommended to have one potted plant per 100 square feet to feel the benefits. According to studies, people who spend their time caring for nature are more likely to care for others.
Take time to read at these indoor trees that can warm up your home:
(Brassaia Actinophylla). Goes by another name as the umbrella tree, this plant was once the most famous indoor plant. With average growths reaching remarkable heights of 8 to 10 feet, and with larger versions reaching growths as high as 49 feet. With another variety, Schefflera arboricola now offers homeowners a smaller version of this easy-to-grow plant which functions as an air purifier. It is said to purify the air from benzene, which is a carcinogenic substance. It has green leaves in clusters of seven leaflets. It is usually multi-trunked, and the flowers mature at the topmost part of the tree. They are usually simple and providing if you water at least a few times each month you can have an attractive looking plant to brighten up and give structure to a dull corner or can be used more confidently by having it edge an entrance or a doorway. The adaptability endures because you can choose to have it as a big and lean specimen positioned at floor level and reaching for the ceiling or keep it compact and small on the coffee table, it can suit numerous locations and can also very well adapt to different types of conditions.
Fiddle-Leaf Fig Tree
(Ficus Lyrata). The Ficus Lyrata, generally called the fiddle-leaf fig, is a perfect indoor plant. The plant features very hugely, deeply patterned, and violin-shaped leaves that grow straight on a tall plant. These plants are natural to the tropics, where they flourish in very warm and wet environments. This makes them somewhat more challenging for the homeowner, who is likely to have distress repeating these steamy environments, but they are luckily relatively tough plants also that can endure less-than-perfect surroundings for an extensive period. Really intended as bigger specimen plants: they are perfect if you can place them in a floor-standing container where the plant can grow to 6 feet or more. Because of their very huge leaves, these are not regular plants to trim down to a controllable size. In addition to the visual appeal, the Ficus Lyrata will bring a variety of health benefits for the homeowner. For starters, its wide leaves will aid with purifying the air. Through the process of metabolic breakdown, the indoor plants will remove many chemical compounds from the air. This means lesser ailments especially those associated with the respiratory system. In addition to that, the plant will greatly assist the home with control of its humidity. This is important for the elimination of dust from the air and avoiding lots of problems such as coughs, colds, sore throats, and fatigue. At the end of the day, having this as part of your indoor plants will greatly enhance the homeowner’s productivity and generally lift their moods.
Madagascar Dragon Tree
(Dracaena Marginata). The obvious reason for buying a houseplant is for the ornamental benefits. The Madagascar Dragon Tree is absolutely one of the easiest indoor plants to grow and sustain. Dracaena Marginata trees can grow up to 6 feet high while inside your home, and they are slowly growing.The plant belongs to a huge plant genus, which is the Dracaena, that has numerous distinctions in leaf sizes, leaf colors, and diverse trunk types. The Marginata is one of the most commonly seen inside a house that grows into a beautiful plant and develops a great vital point of a room, once it has aged enough. One of the easiest house plants to grow that can endure neglect from the homeowner then recuperates rapidly once the right conditions and care are given. It is included in one of the plants on NASA’s air filtering plants list that decreases benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene, existing in the air. The plant converts the organic chemicals to sugars, organic acid, and amino acids. Not only is it limited to purifying formaldehyde and benzene from the air, it can also decrease trichloroethylene and carbon dioxide. In addition to that, the indoor plant will control humidity in the house by discharging moisture.
(Ficus Elastica Robusta). Considered as one of our planet’s greatest natural resources. In 2008, it was estimated the world used up 22.18 million metric tons of rubber. Rubber is used in an assortment of applications extending from latex gloves, valves in machinery, to shoes. Rubber plantations offer jobs and resources for the local economy. Rubber trees are not just a great source of latex, but are also, used as bio-fuel, the raw material for manufacturing, and for furniture making. The greatest use of rubber trees is the quantity of carbon elimination from the environment the trees offer. Of the Ficus plants tested, the rubber plant is the best for eliminating chemical toxins from the inside of a house, especially formaldehyde. Its capability to eliminate air pollutants and its exceptional performance in all groupings make it a most valuable plant for the inside of one’s home.
Norfolk Pine Tree
(Araucaria Heterophylla). The Norfolk Island pine is an evergreen tree with a slender, extend, pyramidal crown comprised of consistent tiers of tiny, horizontal, scattering branches. This plant can grow up to 65 meters high in its natural environment but is likely to be much lesser grown elsewhere. The straight, cylinder-shaped bole is usually 40 to 60 centimeters in diameter, with some old trees supposed to be up to 300 centimeters. It was determined that this plant’s leaf powder can be used as an effective, low cost, and environment-friendly for the removal of different harmful chemical compounds found in the air. This plant can be a spectacular specimen when positioned on large areas of the lawn as well as inside the house. A hard tree, it can be used in urban sites, adding elevation to projects, framing entries and decorating tall structures. They make beautiful groves and are happily at home in containers inside the house as well as the outside. And of course, every December, many can decorate their tables, desks, and counters with these. So, if you get a Christmas pine this year I hope that you will continue to relish it even after the holiday season.
(Citrus x Meyeri). A lemon tree complements a splish-splash of hue and heady scent to its surroundings, whether cultured as an indoor plant, inside of a container on a balcony, patio or deck, or grown outside of a house as a shade tree. This evergreen is strong and can live for 50 years or more. In climates with warm temperature, a lemon tree blossoms the whole year through. The white, sweet-smelling blossoms are purple beneath and open independently or in clusters of two or much more. The light yellow, with the shape of an oval fruit, is palatable with a strong taste. This lemon tree can obtain heights of 6 to 10 feet tall and 4 to 8 feet wide. This grows to 3 inches in diameter and is thought to be a hybrid cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange, the Citrus reticulata. The round-shaped fruit has smooth, thin skin that varies from the bumpy surface of a true lemon, and it is much juicier, sweet and much less acidic.
A lemon tree offers a diversity of uses, as well as the solid, fine-grained wood, which can be effortlessly carved into toys, chess pieces, spoons and other wooden items. The juice extracted from its fruit aids in removing stains. It has been used to lessen freckles and is added into some facial cleansing creams. Extracted oil from the peels of its fruit is frequently added as an ingredient in soaps, shampoos, detergents and furniture polishes and is mixed into perfumes and colognes. Most livestock can also feed on the peels which have been dehydrated. The fruits of this plant also contain unique flavonoids and are high in antioxidants which can fight free radicals and cancer cells. The antioxidants in lemons also help with providing vascular defense as well as enhancing the immune system. Its fruits are helpful in treating urinary tract infections, and many digestive problems, and can also be used as a natural antiseptic on wounds.
To take care of this indoor lemon tree, it needs at least 8 to 12 hours of bright sunlight every day. Setting it outside of the house in summer when temperatures rise is a must for the plant to survive.
(Pachica Aquatica). The Pachicaaquatica is a tropical wetland tree of the mallow family Malvaceae, native to Central and South America where it grows and found swamps. It is known by the common names Malabar chestnut, Guiana chestnut, provision tree, saba nut, monguba, pumpo and is commercially sold under the names as a money tree and money plant. The noticeable fascinating feature is the trunks of the plant are braided which is thick and woody, just like any other tree, with bark. The upper portion of the trunk produces green branches with long thin stalks and palmately compound or whorled leaves sitting at the top of the petiole. The plant has a combination of a tree and palm appearance. The lush linear leaves are glossy in appearance and have shadier green visible veins, adding to its appeal as a house or office plant. It is one of the best indoor plants for a lot of reasons. Besides the fact that it may bring good financial fortune, we like that it is low maintenance. This is a great benefit if you are giving it as a gift to someone with little gardening experience. Because it can thrive in low light, this gives you the flexibility to position it almost anywhere you want, including on your desk.
We used to think that plants belong in the garden, out in the sun, away from our homes and offices where we live and work. Well, this is not the case anymore today because having indoor plants is the simplest way to bring nature into your household. It does not matter if you work at the top of a skyscraper or you live in an apartment. If you have the enough space, then growing indoor plants will never be an issue.
The role of houseplants for healthy indoor climate is indisputable. Not only that it makes your living space more comfortable, breathable, and splendid, it also thus provides a lively atmosphere and can transform your home into a green oasis. This is a well-known fact. Consider the houseplants as an important part of your interior decoration. It will not only make your home more environmentally friendly looking but also gives it a more natural feel to it.
Crab Apples and their Characteristics
Crab apples or wild apples belong to the Malus genus of about 50 species of small apple shrubs or small deciduous apples. Crabapple trees can grow up to a height between 13 and 39 feet. It is a flowering tree that blooms followed by the fruits that start coming out. Cross-pollination usually occurs between trees carried by insects, particularly bees, because the flowers carry both nectar and pollen. Crab apples cannot self-pollinate.
Crab apples are more popular as ornamental trees than fruit bearing trees, providing colorful blossoms and fruits for gardens in homes in the Northern Hemisphere especially during the autumn and spring. In some commercial apple orchards, crab apple trees are planted together with other commercial apple trees to serve as rootstocks to give additional hardiness to the commercial apple tree.
Unlike their sweeter apple fruit counterparts, crab apples are smaller and sour tasting, the sourness due to the malic acid unique to this genus. In some countries in Southeast Asia, the crab apple is valued as a sour condiment or sometimes eaten with chili pepper and salt or shrimp paste. In popular culture, the tree is very much liked for making bonsai plants,
Varieties of Crab Apples
With more than 50 varieties of crab apple trees in the Malus genus alone, we will simply list down the common varieties that are planted as garden ornamental trees.
Malus ‘Molten Lava’. A highly rated variety with white flowers, yellow-orange fruits, and can grow up to 10 feet. It has a weeping-spreading form for much of the year and never looks mediocre. Fruits and yellowing fall foliage provide a fiery cascading image. After the fruits all fall off, the remaining pedicels provide an attractive feathery winter effect that complements the elegant branching spreading form and structure.
M. ‘Red Jade’. This variety has white flowers, red fruits, and grows up to 10 feet. It gives off an element of great strength and is attractive in its spreading habit, providing nice foliage to look at through the year, especially in winter. It has an impressive blossom and fruit display. Strap-like leaves and twisting of petioles are characteristic of this variety.
M. ‘Mary Potter’. This variety has white flowers, red fruit, and grows to a height of up to 10 to 15 feet. It is very attractive through the summer months due to the pleasing spreading growth form and foliage. Exfoliating trunk bark is an intriguing feature.
M. ‘White Cascade’. This one has white flowers, small yellow fruits, and grows up to 10 to 15 feet in height. Exquisite flower display with waterfalls of cascading blossom covered branches, this variety provides a gorgeous presentation from early to mid summer due to its attractive weeping form.
M. sargentii. This small spreading variety has white flowers, red fruits, and grows up to a height of 10 feet. Its attractive low-spreading growth habit is an excellent feature, especially as the plant ages. Fruits tend to shrivel early in fall, diminishing its winter impact. Its close cousin, M. sargentii ‘Rosea,’ differs from the species in having rose-pink buds.
M. ‘Red Jewel’. A variety with nice white flowers, cherry red fruit, and can grow up to a height of 10 to 15 feet. Attractive, persistent red fruits are outstanding, complementing its small, delicate growth form. The plant is most terrific to look at through the fall and winter months.
Large Rounded Foliage
M. ‘Donald Wyman’. This is a highly rated variety of crab apple with white flowers, bright red fruits, and grows up to 20 feet. Lustrous green foliage, good overall growth habit, and outstanding small glossy fruits make this tree exceptionally beautiful. Its alternate flowering pattern results in a sort of sparse or off-bloom, though this selection typically has outstanding blooms.
M. ‘Sugar Tyme’. This variety has white flowers, brilliant red fruits, and grows up to 15 to 18 feet. It contains marvelous fruit and flower displays. Foliage remains clean and is an excellent all-purpose tree due to its captivating fruit display which begins in mid-fall and goes on through the winter.
M. baccata ‘Jackii’. This variety has white flowers, maroon-red fruits, and can grow to a height of up to 40 feet. Its glossy, large, disease-free, deep green leaves are an exceptional ornamental feature. It has a handsome overall form and structure. However, its fruit is somewhat sparse, but shiny and in attractive clusters that become soft in November. Its large form is rendered mediocre throughout winter months.
M. ‘Bob White’. This variety has white flowers, yellow fruits, and can grow up to 20 feet. Its outstanding feature from November through February is persistent, small, firm yellow-gold fruits maturing by January into orange-gold color. Foliage is relatively clean and only mediocre during the spring and summer months.
M. ‘Sentinel’. This one has white with pink tinged flowers, red fruits, and will grow up to a height of 15 to 20 feet. It has a vase-shaped upright habit and pink buds opening to tinged white flowers that always look sensational. Persistent fruits through the winter are nice but can detract during spring and early summer until they fall off.
Unique Growth Form
M. ‘Strawberry Parfait’. This unique variety has pink flowers and fruits start yellow with increasing red blush. Its unusual erratic upright-spreading growth habit is one of best features and produces good firm fruits into the winter. Foliage is striking as it develops along the upright stems in the spring. However, its unusual shape may not be for every gardener and for every landscape.
Are Crab Apples Edible?
As mentioned before, because of its sour and pithy taste, crab apples aren’t eaten like you would standard apple fruits. They can be eaten in small quantities since eating too much will give you a sore stomach, which is why people who eat them in Southeast Asia neutralize the sourness using chili pepper, salt, or fish paste. You can use some slightly mellower larger crabapple varieties for jam making. Most varieties of crab apples can also be made into traditional crab apple jelly, spiced crab apple preserves, and pectin for jam. You don’t need to be added pectin when you make jams or jellies with crab apples because the fruit has plenty of natural pectin all on their own.
Take note that the seeds of crab apple trees contain a form of cyanide called cyanogenic glycosides. Cyanide is a toxic and potentially fatal poison. However, despite the presence of cyanide in the seeds, most people don’t eat the core anyway. Even when Apple seeds are ingested, they usually pass through the gut without being broken down. You would have to eat lots of crabapple seeds and grind or chew them up for the cyanide to take effect.
How to Care for Crab Apples
Flowering crab apples are adaptable but prefer thriving in rich loam type soil. This is a combination of clay, silt, and sand. But regardless of soil type, good drainage is a must for the tree’s health. Crab apples grow best in a moist, slightly acidic soil with a pH of 5.0 to 6.5. Excessively moist areas where the water stays stagnant should be avoided. On the other hand, relatively dry soil can be tolerated by crab apples if plant stresses are minimized during the first year after transplanting.
Plant stress is evidenced by unhealthy appearances such as leaf scorch and poor leaf color and is a response to unfavorable environmental conditions. For instance, drought stress can be due to a lack of water coming from rainfall or manual watering. Water is essential for the plant’s general functions, but, too much water or over-watering will cause a persistent saturation of the roots, can lead to root rot and eventual plant death. Other plant stresses include too much shade, insect infestation, infectious diseases, and physical damage from lawnmowers, weed-eaters, animals, and from children damaging the tree.
A full sun exposure of 8 to 12 hours to direct the sun is required for optimal development of fruits and flowers. Most flowering crab apples are hardy and can endure the colder temperature extremes of even the weather from the east coast.
Fertilizing. When crab apples are planted in a soil of average fertility and provided moderate amounts of organic matter, they need little additional fertilizer the first year. However, if annual growth is less than five to six inches or leaves are small or pale green, then fertilizer is needed. You can also use a little compost mixed into the soil and put a little mulch for soil protection when the tree is still small and growing.
Watering and Irrigation. If the crab apple tree is well established after the first year, little additional watering is needed unless drought conditions prevail. In a drought situation, it is necessary to water thoroughly and deeply every two or three weeks. Depending on the soil type and drought severity, two to six inches of water should be applied at each watering interval. In truth, if crab apples are not watered during periods of drought they will not collapse and die. However, the trees will use most of their carbohydrates to merely exist and survive. As a result, by the next year, the tree will not have a flower and fruit display due to the diminished nutrients and needs to replenish itself.
Pruning and Repotting Guide. Crab apples don’t take up much space even if they can be huge, sprawling trees or small garden trees depending on the rootstock chosen. When you are considering a crab apple for your small garden, look for one grafted into dwarf rootstock or start pruning from the top as soon as it reaches your desired height. Crab apples on dwarf rootstock don’t take up much space. Although these can still grow up to 12 feet tall, they can be easily managed in a small garden by doing judicious pruning.
But in general, crab apples require little pruning. Rapidly growing shoots from branches called water sprouts, rapidly growing shoots from roots or base of a tree called suckers, dead, diseased, damaged, and crossing branches should be removed. Occasional pruning is necessary to open the center of the plant to sunlight and air movement or to remove a wayward branch. When pruning is done it should be completed before early June. By the middle of June to early July, flower buds for the next season will begin to form in crab apples. Pruning after July will reduce floral display and fruit growth in the following year.
Propagation Guide. Tree health and vigor depends upon proper site selection and preparation. Before planting, have the soil tested to assure proper pH and nutrient levels. If necessary, make the necessary adjustments to the soil before planting.
Flowering crab apples may be planted almost any time of the year. Balled and burlap stock and containerized trees can be planted any time after spring frosts end through fall up until about three weeks before the ground starts to freeze. However, bare root trees should only be planted in the spring. Bare root trees will become too stressed if planting is delayed past early spring. Every effort should be made to keep roots or the root ball from drying out before planting. For bare root trees, the planting hole should be dug wide and deep enough to allow for the natural extension of the root system. None of the roots should be cramped or bent to fit into the hole. This can result in strangling the roots that will slowly kill the tree. Damaged roots must be pruned just above the break or damaged area prior to planting.
For containerized or balled and burlap trees, a saucer-shaped hole should be dug. The overall size should be at least two times wider than the root ball diameter. The center depth of the saucer should be the exact height of the root ball. This allows the burlap to be untied and placed down into the hole at planting. Make sure all strings holding the burlap at the base of the trunk are removed or these can damage or eventually kill the tree in a few years.
Containerized plants should be removed from the pots just prior to planting. Using a small, sharp knife, slice one inch deep into the compacted root mass, from top to bottom, in at least three different areas. This will help prevent the formation of girdling or strangling roots. Most flowering crab apples can be grafted to other apple tree root systems – rootstocks – and can be planted at the original depth they were in the nursery or slightly higher at around 1 to 2 inches deep. Long term root decline can happen if trees are transplanted too deep. When tree roots are buried deeper than originally grown, the tree can languish for years, resulting in lackluster appearance and health, and the tree may eventually die.
Backfill the planting holes with a 50-50 mixture of the original soil and organic matter such as leaf humus, compost, peat moss, or even a few mulches. Do not pack backfill around the root ball. Instead, use water to help settle the soil around the roots when the hole is three-quarters full. When the water has drained, backfill the hole completely and water again. Place a thin layer of mulch, no more than two inches deep, around the tree to help reduce water loss. Turfgrasses will compete with the young tree for water and nutrients so keep all types of turfgrasses away from the rooting area of the planted tree to provide optimal conditions for tree growth, development, and survival. The young tree will need about one inch of water, rain or manual watering, per week. During the first year, this weekly watering is subsequently crucial for tree development.
Common Problems (Pests and Diseases) and How to Cure Them
Many crab apples are disease resistant or tolerant even in their stages of growth or flowering. Disease resistance involves genetic resistance to infection by disease-causing organisms. Disease tolerance implies the plant may be affected by certain diseases but is not directly significant or dangerous to the plant.
Unfortunately, few crab apple varieties possess all desirable characteristics of exquisite flowers, fruit, foliage, growth habit, and disease resistance. This does not mean that other cultivars should not be used. Many crab apples are slightly susceptible to certain diseases and yet have great resistance, a seeming paradigm for this plant. By accepting and understanding their limitations, these plants are perfectly acceptable in most landscape situations regardless of the weather.
This fungal disease first affects emerging leaves in the spring during moist conditions, and then moves to infect the fruit. Scab causes dark, leathery spots with a corky appearance on the fruit. On leaves, scab infections first appear in May or early June as olive-green or oil-soaked spots. On more mature trees, the leaf infections appear as black, velvety spots that are slightly raised. As the disease develops, leaves turn yellow and drop prematurely. If the tree is heavily infected, defoliation can occur by early summer. Control can be achieved by one of two ways: Remove the trees that are highly susceptible and select other less susceptible disease-resistant crab apples. On the other hand, try applying fungicides as leaves begin to emerge, at two weeks and again four weeks after the first application.
Frog-Eye Leaf Spot
Symptoms of this fungal disease are typically small, dark brown spots that are dead leaf tissue that is outlined by a thick, dark purple circle. Frog-eye leaf spot is found commonly on many flowering crab apples and its effect is usually heavy defoliation, but still depending on the tree’s susceptibility to this fungus. The best course of action is to select crabapple varieties that are resistant or tolerant to this disease.
This disease is caused by a devastating bacterium called Erwinia amylovora. Symptoms are usually new terminal shoots that start to die off in late spring or early summer. These shoots appear to be scorched by fire. The leaves remain attached to the blighted shoot which develops a characteristic curvature at the tip, commonly called a “shepherd’s crook.” The disease often progresses down through the shoot and forms a canker in the older tissue. These cankers are typically sunken areas that are dark brown to purplish in color. An orange or amber gum may ooze from these infected parts. As the bark dies, the area becomes slightly depressed. To be able to control fireblight, first, select plants that are genetically resistant to fireblight. If that is not an option, then sanitation, removal, and disposing of blighted branches and shoots are the best alternatives.
Insects and Other Pests
Flowering crab apples are can be relatively undamaged by most insects. Although they are frequented by various types of caterpillars, leafhoppers, leafrollers, leaf-miners, and Japanese beetles, these pests rarely cause significant damage to the tree. Most nest forming caterpillars are easily pruned out or removed with a gloved hand. Japanese beetles and other pests are easily controlled with insecticides. Control may be warranted in young trees if one-third to one-half of the foliage is affected. Remember that when a tree is flowering, this attracts a lot of insects, and the same may be said when the tree is bearing fruit.
Things to Keep in Mind When Growing Crab Apples
Crab apples may present some danger for roving pets, especially dogs. A pet that consumes a few crab apples may show signs of discomfort. In serious cases, if an animal eats lots of crab apples, including stems, leaves, and seeds, they could show signs of cyanide poisoning. Dogs rarely eat enough plant matter to cause a real problem, but plant eaters like horses, sheep, cows, and goats may eat crab apples in large enough quantities to trigger some toxic effects.
To minimize the danger, you can simply stop growing the tree or prevent any animal to approach the tree. Or you can remove the core, stem, leaves and any seeds from the fruit before use. These are the only parts with the toxic cyanogenic glycosides. The tart flesh of crab apples does not contain the poisonous substance.