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Category Archives: Garden

Plant Allium Bulbs

The onion genus, Allium. has more than 600-750 species plus and still counting within its genera in the Alliaceae family. It is a perennial bulbous plant with members like onions, shallots, scallions, leeks, garlic, chives, etc. Although it is mostly regarded as a vegetable or a herb crop, there are a few species grown for large bright colored flowers, too. This article is about these species. Native to the Northern hemisphere, mainly in Asia, ornamental flowering Alliums can be grown in most suitable regions around the world.

It is very difficult to describe this species, as each varies in height (about 5 to 150 cm), growth habits, with foliage that can either be long and narrow or slightly curled up. The only thing common is the flower. However, the flowers on each species may vary in color and stalk density. They form an umbel at the top of a leafless flowering stem known as scapes mostly shooting from the base. It is amazing to watch an inflorescence umbel flower, with the outside flowers blooming first and progressing to the inside.

Although, all alliums bear flowers, it’s species and hybrids such as Allium pulchellum, Allium senescens, Allium oreophilum, Allium caeruleum, Allium cowanii, Allium nigrum, Allium karataviense, Allium unifolium, Allium siculum, Allium hollandicum, Allium Firmament, Allium Globe Master, Allium schubertii, Allium rosenbachianum, etc., are the ones that have a high ornamental value and can be easily found in most plant nursery stores.

Plantation

Sometimes called ‘flowering onions’, these can be propagated through bulbs as well as seeds, with the former being more preferable, as they take long to seed and have a higher failure rate. They look better when mass planted in flower beds, borders, and edgings than in pots. You should ideally plant the bulbs around late fall or early spring.

Prepare flower beds by digging deep in the soil. Apply bulb fertilizer or organic compost such as bone meal, peat moss, well rotted manure, etc. Make sure you choose a sunny spot or at least one that receives 4-6 hours of sunlight everyday. Plant the bulbs four inches deep in groups of 4-5 bulbs spaced about six inches apart, leaving the tip lightly covered in soil. Water adequately. Mulch heavily with dried barks if there is fear of extreme frost and snowfall. The tall varieties can be stalked as it gets heavy during a full bloom. Allium bulbs flower mid-summer through late summer and in certain conditions, even in early fall.

These bulbs do not need much feeding, a single application when the flower buds begin to appear should suffice. There aren’t many pests that attack onion, the pungent smell of onion bulb mostly keeps away troublemakers. However, a few diseases like damping off, botrytis, onion smut, or downy mildew can damage the plant. But they can all be taken care of with effective and timely pesticide applications. It is recommended that the bulbs be left undistributed in the ground, and divided every 3-4 years.

Way to Harvest and Germinate Clivia Seeds

The beautiful clivia flowers with bright sunlit colors can light up even the dullest corners. This bright orange-colored flower is a genus of monocot flowering plants from the family Amaryllidaceae, which is native to Southern Africa. Presently six species are available along with a few hybrids that offer most shades and hues from the orange palette as well as some deep red-orange to pale yellow ones. Clivia seeds are borne in seed pods and must be removed from it at the right time, so that they won’t germinate, or will germinate into week seedlings.

Harvesting

These seeds take longer than other flowering plant’s seeds to develop and seed. Once the flower has been pollinated, it falls off, exposing a swollen round berry-shaped ovary. The seeds are developed within this ovary also known as pods (one flower bears one pod). The pod changes its color from green to yellow, red, or orange, and takes approximately 9 to 10 months to mature into a plant. Each pod contains no more than 4 – 5 seeds. Hence, harvesting clivia seeds properly is crucial. Once the pod has changed its color (it usually turns soft), pick it very gently. Cut it open carefully. The seeds are all held together within a soft pulp, which is held by loose fitting membranes. Remove the pulp and separate the seeds from it. Wash the seeds under running water, preferably one that is mixed with a germicidal solution. Experts recommend storing these seeds in sealed plastic bags with a few drops of water added to retain its viability. Left at room temperature, the seeds will shrink or germinate dry, but eventually die. Never freeze them, and do not store for more than two months. It is best to sow them fresh.

Germinating

For seeds to germinate successfully, they must be washed well. A few conditions that should be maintained are optimum temperature between 73° F and 77° F, high humidity, and sterile conditions that determine the seed germination success rate. Take damp compost with some perlite or vermiculite added to it. Put in a sealed plastic bag along with a few seeds, pressed slightly. The seed should be placed upwards. Place the bag near a warm dark place. The moisture in the plastic will facilitate seed sprouting which will occur in a couple of weeks. Move the seeds to a seed tray. One can place seeds in a pot with drainage holes and cover it with a plastic sheet. Once the seeds sprout, remove the cover and move the pot to diffused lighted area. Once the seeds have sprouted, like its first real leaf, transplant the germinated clivia seedling into its intended location.

Once the seeds have been planted, it is just a matter of time they will sprout plenty of new leaves. The clivia plant will bear flowers only after 2 – 4 years after planting.

Tips to Start Own Garden

The following will reveal some simple flower gardening tips that will help make the process easier. The ideal time to start a garden is at the end of spring or just before summer kicks in. If you’re starting a garden without prior experience, you must begin with a small area before turning it into a large one. These are the points you’ll need to bear in mind while planning a garden:

Select a Location: The scorching heat during the peak hours of the afternoon sun, is not good for many flowering plants. At least six hours of light is a must, with a little shade for particular flower species. Therefore, the area chosen should be such that the right amount of sun and shade is available, by doing a little research on the type of flower you want to grow. Many people prefer a place close to a wall or fence, since it enhances the visual appearance of a garden. For adequate shade, you can plant the flowers around fenced spots, around trees, or in a similarly shady spot.

Prepare the Soil: The next thing to do, is to remove weeds that may be growing in your garden, by digging it up with a shovel. Then identify the type of soil that you have in your garden and prepare it accordingly. The best way to improve a soil’s condition for the purpose of gardening, is with the help of compost. This is because it consists of organic matter which is good for all types of plants. On sandy soil, compost and peat moss that allows adequate moisture to seep in, for proper growth of the plant. For clay soil gardens, add compost and sand in order to improve its drainage.

Selection of Plants: When you venture to a flower shop to buy flowering plants, read the tags attached to each of them. These tags contain all the relevant information related to climatic requirements and soil condition needs of the plants. You could buy only those flowering plants that are suitable for any kind of climate change, sunlight, and soil condition, to give yourself less of a hard time. There are two kinds of flowering plants: annuals and perennials. Annuals blossom only in a particular season whereas perennials bloom throughout the year. Select a good combination of annuals and perennials for your flower garden. This will ensure that your garden will have flowers all year round. You can buy seeds too to watch a flower take form, provided that you have the time and patience to care for them.

Planting the Flowers: Proper planting of the flowering plants is a must. Take the plant out from its plastic container along with the entire soil plug attached to it. If there are too many roots around the soil, loosen them up a bit so that they can get comfortably branch out in a flower bed. Then plant it in the ground, making sure the roots of the plant are not placed too deep in the soil. Otherwise, most of the water given to the plant will drain before it reaches the roots.

Watering the Plants: After planting, adequate watering is important as it will help the plant to develop a strong root system. Water should be given to the plants as per their requirements. The tags of the new plants contain valuable instructions on a plant’s needs. It is better to plant the same kinds of plants together, so that you know a certain amount of water is required in that one spot. In the first week, watering should be done every day. In the second week, it should be given after every two days. After that, once a week. If the plants are native to your area, then at a later stage you can water them just once in month.

Flower Plant Care: Mulching (using various elements directly to the soil, like wood chips, bark chips, leaves, straw mulch, woodchip mulch, peat moss, cardboard, plastic sheeting, and the like) helps stunt the rampant nature of weeds, preserves soil moisture, and improves the state of the soil. Remove dead blossoms and throw them away from the garden, since they can spread diseases to healthy neighboring plants.

Steps to Sow Heliotrope Seeds

Step #1: Pour the potting mix into the divided seedling tray for starting seeds. Use the spray bottle to moisten the potting mix. This will settle the mixture into the tray; so make sure you keep adding as much mix as you have to, while watering it, till it reaches all the way to the top of the tray.

Step #2: Now plant only 3 or 4 seeds in each section of the tray. The seeds will be very tiny, so make sure you scatter them at even distance. Once the seeds are placed, sprinkle a thin layer of potting mix as a cover.

Step #3: Place the seedling tray in an area where the temperature will be warm. However, do make sure it receives direct sunlight. If you want, you can use the fluorescent lights to provide the needed supplement. Along with avoiding direct sunlight, steer clear of heating vents, fireplace, air conditioner, and cold drafts from outside.

Step #4: Keep spraying the soil (always with the spray bottle) as much as it’s required to keep it moist consistently. But keep in mind, you want the soil moist and not soaking wet. If you make this error, the seedlings will start to rot and won’t grow properly.

Step #5: You will have to keep a watch for the seedlings to sprout. As they do, take a pair of scissors and cut the weakest seedlings off. You should only leave one seedling which is the strongest in each section of the tray. Try not to yank them out as it might destroy the root system of the seedlings.

Step #6: Transfer the seedlings into the individual planting containers you purchased once they are too big for the divided trays. If you wish, you can also use Styrofoam or paper cups with a hole underneath it to transfer the seedlings.

Step #7: Once there is no danger of frost, you can plant the heliotrope seedlings outside. Choose a spot which gets constant sunlight all day. Place a layer of protective covering made entirely of organic mulch and place it over the soil. The mulch will enrich it and improve the drainage system.

Step #8: Spoon the seedlings out of the containers very carefully so that you don’t damage its root system. Plant them in individual containers and spray some water over the soil to keep it moist.

Honeysuckle Plants

Honeysuckle plants belong to the genus Lonicera and family Caprifoliaceae. There are around 200 species of honeysuckles, that include both shrubs and vines. Though not true honeysuckles, three species in the genus Diervilla are also known as bush honeysuckles, as they share similar characteristics with the original plant. While vines are usually grown on trellises and fences, honeysuckle bush is perfect for hedges, as ornamental plants or as accent plants.

Honeysuckle – Features

Most of the honeysuckle species are native to China, and the remaining ones originated in some parts of Europe and North America. There are both deciduous and evergreen honeysuckles. Most of these plants have opposite leaves and trumpet-shaped flowers. The flowers have a sweet fragrance and are visually appealing. The color of the flowers varies with the species. They bear red, blue, or black berries, that are found to be poisonous in some species.

The most popular and commonly grown honeysuckles include Lonicera sempervirens (coral honeysuckle or trumpet honeysuckle), Lonicera periclymenum (European Honeysuckle or woodbine), Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle, white honeysuckle, or Chinese honeysuckle). The popular honeysuckle bush varieties are the fragrant honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima), amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii), and morrow honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii).

Honeysuckle Bush Care

As mentioned above, the bush honeysuckle is perfect for making hedges, screens and borders. They can also be used as accent plants or standalone ones in landscaping. Some people use this plant for preventing erosion of soil. The following are some guidelines for growing honeysuckle bush.

These plants can thrive in almost all types of soil, that are well-drained, and they prefer sunny locations. Usually, honeysuckles are planted during fall. Water is not a necessity for the honeysuckle bush, but occasional watering is advisable during dry weather. You can also use fertilizers once a month, during dry weather. However, these plants have a tendency to grow rapidly and spread over the place. This may affect the survival of other plants in the area, as it will be completely taken over by the honeysuckle. So, pruning is necessary for most of these plants, to check their uncontrolled growth.

How to Prune a Honeysuckle Bush? Pruning is usually done after the flowering season, that runs between April to June. Once the flowering is over, prune the plants by the end of June. The cuts should be made at 45 degree angles, and about ¼ inch above the buds. Make sure not to prune more than one-third of the plant’s height. You can go for severe pruning once in every two to three years. Such pruning can be done during the last part of summer. If you fail to prune the plant during summer, you may do a little bit of trimming during the early spring. Any sort of pruning or trimming during the flowering season is not recommended.

Way to Sow Angel’s Trumpet Seed

Step #1: The first step involves picking of the seeds. You have to collect dry seeds in early part of the year. Select those pods which have completely dried. You can identify this when you see that the outer shell of the pods have split because of dryness. If you do not find such pods, then take some pods that are almost matured and then dry them off the tree. Store these seeds in a refrigerator till the time for planting them arrives.

Step #2: Before you plant them, take out the flat and yellow-colored seeds from the pod and cut their surface with a knife. Soak them overnight in a bowl of water. Next day, drain the water and use them for planting.

Step #3: Take a large-sized pot or container for planting as the growth rate of this tree is rather fast. Fill it with a potting mix covering. Select a light potting mix for this purpose as it provides good drainage. Heavy potting soil should be avoided as it retains large amount of water which in turn can rot the seed much before germination. Mix some compost into the soil to improve its quality.

Step #4: Water the soil and sow the prepared seeds directly into the pot. For this, you have to make an indentation into the soil which should be about one-fourth inch deep. Place a seed into it and cover it up putting some soil over it. Do not press too much of soil over it. Then add some more water into the pot.

Step #5: These seeds require humid conditions with warm days and cool nights for germination. Keep the container in an area with partial sunlight. The soil should be watered in such a way that it remains moist but does not get flooded. If the weather is hot and dry, you need to water the soil everyday. Usually, germination of the seed begins within 2 – 3 weeks of planting.

Add some common fertilizers to the soil after a gap of 2 – 3 weeks. Keep the area surrounding the plants free from weeds by mulching regularly. Bear in mind that various parts of the angel trumpet are poisonous. Hence, you should not plant them in your flower garden if you have small children and pets at home.

Ideas to create a Flower Garden

Deciding the Layout of the Garden
Draw a top angle layout of the space you will be using for the garden, on the layout mark out the space for lawn, your residence, unmovable trees, and other objects. This way you will know how much area you need to work on. If you wish to be precise in your flower garden landscaping ideas, you can measure the free area in square feet and write it down on the layout.

Make few photocopies of this layout to try out different combinations. On different copies plan out the placement of different flower bushes, bushes for fencing, stand alone flower or trees, and hardscape elements like fencing, walkways, benches, etc. This way you can have a well-planned design for large or small flower garden. Show the copies to experienced gardeners to get a second opinion and then decide on a final copy.

Adding Fencing and Other Elements
Before you start with any softscape elements to your flower garden like flowering shrubs or bushes, plant the hardscape material. This includes structural material like fences, walls, pavings, walkways, benches, an outdoor sitting area, etc.

Stick to the above layout plan to install the hardscape elements. There are a variety of choices of the hardscape materials, like you can go for a brick, stone, or a concrete wall for a sidewalk, and metal wrought iron fencing or traditional white wooden fencing. You can also add some decorative hardscape materials like a water fountain or a garden pond.

Choosing the Flowering Plants
Always try to go for native flowering plants, as they have already adapted to the soil and weather conditions and are easier to grow. Avoid too many colors of plants, as this might spoil the look. Select flowering plants which look good and inviting and have flower colors which are not very vibrant. Choose plants which you can plant in sunny sites and plants which require shade or partial sun.

Select half the plants which bloom with flowers in summer and the rest that bloom with flowers during fall. This way you can enjoy having flowers in your flower garden year round. For ground cover, consider a lawn or plant small plants which grow evenly for a height of 1 foot. Consider the individual soil, watering, space, pruning, mulching, and fertilizer requirement of the plants well to plant and care for your flowering plants.

Way to Make a Flower Bed

Choose the Spot
As you may have easily guessed, the first step in making your flower bed is deciding where you want it to be. For this, you need to take a good look around the exterior of your house. There are some important things that you need to consider before you decide on a spot. For instance, how much sunlight the place gets. You may already have an idea of what kind of flowers you want in your flower bed. So, you need to keep their sun and shade requirements in mind while choosing a spot for your flower bed. Also, you may want to check how visible the spot is from inside the house as well as from the gate or driveway. There’s no point in having a lower bed in some obscure corner of your backyard, which can be viewed only if you step into the yard. You’re going to a lot of trouble to make the flower bed. Might as well have it clearly visible! Once you’ve picked out the area where you want it in, you can mark it out using either a stone border, sand or have a small fence fixed around it.

Get Digging
After you’ve decided your location for the flower bed and have bordered it, you have to dig the area up. First, make sure that you remove all the grass, dirt, garbage (if any) and weeds that are present in the area. Use a shovel to dig up every inch of the intended flower bed and make the soil loose and free. You’ll come across clumps and stones for sure. Throw away the stones, and break up the clumps. If the soil seems too hard, you may want to wet it a bit and get the work done a little faster and with less effort. Once all the soil is dug up and loosened, use a rake and smoothen it out completely.

Gauge the Soil
Now, after you’ve made the bed area ready, you need to take a look at the soil to gauge how favorable it will be for the kind of flowers you want to grow. Take a sample of your soil and get it tested for its pH level and the content of other nutrients. You can get this done by using a soil testing probe that may be available at your local nursery. It will tell you what kind of soil you have. Using these results and the soil requirement information of the flowers that you intend to plant, you can compare and make the necessary amendments in the soil to suit the flowers you want to plant. (Note that you may not always have to make changes to your soil.)

Plant ’em In: After you have given the necessary treatment to the soil in the bed, and it has been absorbed by the soil, your bed is ready to be planted! Get the saplings or seeds out and begin planting them. You should have an idea of what you want the final result to look like. This will help you in planning the design of the flower bed. Generally, tall plants are planted in the background and short ones in the foreground to give it more visual appeal. However, you can try out new things like having a circular bed with tall plants forming the center and the shorter ones surrounding the tall ones. Or, you can also incorporate vines on trellises surrounding the bed, to give it an enclosed appearance from above. Whatever your choice is, make sure all the plants and flowers are clearly visible once they bloom.

Take Care: After you’ve planted them, all you have to do is wait and watch your flower bed come to life with its vibrant colors! You need to pay attention to the watering requirements of the plants. Also, if they need partial sun and shade, you can have a retractable shed above the bed (or simply have a green garden net hanging over it when it’s sunny). Mulching helps plants grow faster and healthier. So, you may want to try that out too!

Flower Bed Border

Flower bed borders give flower beds the perfect polished look, that any gardener aims for. They add to a garden’s style and landscaping. Flower bed edging not only provides the flower beds with good visual appeal, but they also provide for easy maintenance and the cutting down of mowing time. Flower bed edging also keeps grass from occupying the flower garden soil. Flower bed edging ideas know no boundaries and can be as innovative and funky as your imagination lets them be. Yet, I present some popular landscaping ideas for your flower beds, in the paragraphs given below. These landscaping ideas are fairly simple and even an amateur gardener can successfully experiment with them.

The most obvious and also the most traditional way of edging your flower beds, is by using plants. These plants can be flowering plants, perennial herbs, shrubs or even small trees. Plant borders should be large enough to catch the eye, yet small enough to not require heavy maintenance. While wide plant borders look good with flower beds with tall flowering, layering and variations in their shapes give the garden a nice overall look. Plant flower bed borders with tall foliage, also provide for privacy and can be used near garden benches. Asters, geraniums, chrysanthemums, day lilies, tulips and other flowers make for bright flower bed edging material. Herbs like sage, keep the cats away from your flowers and give the perfect hedge-like flowerbed borders. While mixed herbs and shrubs look good as borders, climbing vegetation like clematis and ivy also give a good feel.

Mowing strips are the ultimate solutions for all those who have less time to spend on gardening. Mowing strips are flat surfaces surrounding the flower beds, that make mowing and maintaining the bed and lawn easier. Brick mowing strips can be made by almost fully burying the bricks, just outside the flower bed. Only one side of the bricks should be showing outside, and all the bricks should be aligned properly with no spaces in between. Brick paver edging strips can be used to hold all the bricks in shape.

If you do not wish to do any extra work and yet require an effective flower bed border, rock linings are your sure answers. Lining the flower beds with rocks and boulders, in natural shapes and sizes, can actually do the trick for you. It does not require any laying and just needs someone to arrange the rocks in the required stylized shapes. Rock linings look natural and classic when the flowers in the garden are bright and tall. There is a great opportunity for creativity when working with rocks, as one can easily mix and match the sizes and shapes to create patterns like waves, loops and scallops.

Are you eccentric enough to think differently? Try the recycled bottle edging. Collect bottles, of preferably the same sizes and shapes. Bury them either neck down or bottom down (as you like), consistently, throughout the flower bed perimeter. You’d be amazed at how beautiful this seemingly nonsensical idea looks, once the whole perimeter is completely lined. Similar things can be tried with large seashells. Try scallops or shells, the outcome is sure to be interesting and different. Don’t lay constraints on your imagination. Try out new eccentric ideas on a small patch, carry them on to your garden only when the testing result is appealing. Try colored pebbles, I am sure they’d look good too.

Cobblestones remind me of old castles. They remind me of horse hoofs making clocking sound on old cobbled roads. Nostalgia aside, cobblestones give a very rugged look to the flower bed edging. They look classy and are easier to keep clean as well. Flowerbed edgings with cobblestones, are very popular, as they require no extra gardening skills like the plant edgings do. The only drawback is that they are very difficult to lay down.

Terracotta tiles (that come in different colors) can be cut in different decorative shapes and sizes. These are then partially buried near the end of the flower bed to form your perfect flower bed landscaping idea. Terracotta tiles cut down on edging and trimming chores, provide an artistic opportunity and look extremely decorative in your flower garden. Let your imagination run loose and come up with new and innovative designs for using them. Then, even plain old terracotta will make your garden look surreal, right out of a fairy tale.

The raw material for this type of edging is mainly bricks. Even old mismatched bricks can be used to look really nice if arranged well, leaning in one direction, to give a domino effect. Though red bricks give a classic effect, even colored ones can be used to customize your flower bed edging. The best advantage of this type of edging is that it is very good to let off the excess water in the flower bed, and it is very easy to lay down as well.

Cast concrete edgings give a very neat and clean look to the flowerbed, and this can be seen in the photo given at the top of the article. Not only do they give the flower bed a more professional look, the raised concrete edging platforms provide for good water vents for raised flower beds. Concrete edgings are difficult and messy to construct, but the task can be made a whole lot easier if an expert is hired to make them. They can be made in various shapes and sizes, customized to suit your flower garden.

The space between the lawn and the flowerbed can be impeccably separated using a flagstone or bluestone stacking. Not only are they a secure form of edging, but they also provide an English country feel to your flower garden. Since the flagstone rocks are aligned loosely, they provide for water let outs as well. Flagstone linings make mowing easier.
There are many more flower bed edging ideas that you can try in order to adorn your garden as well as the exteriors of your house. Make your flower bed the most talked of gossip in your neighborhood. The above mentioned ideas, can materialize in some admirable flower bed borders that complement your flower bed design. Do try them, they do not require as much effort as you think. More importantly, just imagine how jealous your next door neighbor will be, when she actually spends twice as much time in her flower garden, yet yours is the more enviably talked about one.

Ways to use Silk Flowers

No one can stay away from admiring the beauty of flowers. And that is why we all love to add that floral touch everywhere, from our tabletops to our clothing and everything in between! But one sad truth about flowers is that they wilt. We can’t keep them forever fresh no matter how dedicatedly we try to preserve them or grow them. So, if you happen to love a particular arrangement or a single bud, the only way to keep it with you is in your memory or perhaps, captured in a photograph. With silk flowers, on the other hand, none of it happens!

Crafted to mimic the look and feel of real flowers, the ones in silk can be cleaned and kept for as long as you want. There is no need to water them, no need to protect them from pests and no worries about them fading away in just a few days. You can buy them at your favorite store or order silk flowers online for extra convenience. The way you use it can be exactly the way you would use natural flowers. For example:

1. Use them as accessories

Floral jewelry made of silk can be a statement piece for everyday wear or a more elaborate jewelry for special occasions. You can even get custom made floral lapel pins and men’s buttonholes for weddings and anniversaries. Another great way to use these silk flower accessories is to get them made into bouquets and bunches for brides and bridesmaids! Considering that they are firmly glued on to their base, you don’t even have to stress over the way they might fall off or be blown away by the wind.

2. Use them as decoration

Silk flower arrangements are an ideal alternative to real flowers that you place in vases only to throw them away once they lose their freshness. These flower arrangements can lift the very mood of an interior space or add a new charm to an event setup. Depending on your requirement, you can get them all customized into the right type and size, choosing the colors that go well with the rest of the decor. And once an event is over, you can either reuse the arrangements the way they are or repurpose them for crafts, accessories and other creative ideas that you have always wanted to try out for yourself. Looks like you wouldn’t be harming the environment either.