Monday, January 18, 2016

String of Pearls

String of pearls (Senecio rowlyanus) or rosary string of beads is an easily grown succulent and it's care is like most other succulents: don't overwater,let soil dry between waterings, and give plenty of bright light. These plants are wonderful in a hanging basket or crawling over the edge of pots. It blooms also, but the blooms are small ragged affairs that are not that striking to me. if the stems get too long, it can easily be propagated from the cut stems. Just lay them on the soil in a pot and they will root there.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

January Sunrise

                                                  If you can see one, there's nothing like it.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Confederate Rose in January

I moved  my confederate rose to a new place where it got more sun. It rewarded me by growing to 8-10 feet tall. ( Didn't measure, but is way above my head.) It bloomed beautifully this fall, and even now is January, it is still beautiful. These dried seed heads look beautiful in a dried arrangement, as well as left standing.
 Confederate rose  ( Hibiscus mutabilis) is a hardy hibiscus and is also called the giant rose mallow. It is a huge plant and is best used as a stand alone or accent plant, unless you have a large border where you can situate it in the back. The flowers open in late summer or fall and are white, fading to rose or dark pink as the day progresses. Each flower last only one day, but multiple flowers may be open at once. It grows in either full sun or light shade and likes, but does not require moist well drained soil. Who in central Alabama has that?
 Propagation is by either seed or cuttings, but cuttings produce a blooming plant faster.The conventional wisdom says to cut 12 inch pieces of stalk, making sure to keep the root end down. Place the cuttings in water and roots will speedily form. These can be potted or planted directly in the ground. I have lost a good many cutting of this plant and others when rooted in water. They sometimes have a hard time transitioning from water to soil. But if you have a lot of cuttings and only need one or two plants, this need not be a hinderance. Some say to hammer the cuttings into the ground where you want them to grow, but although I have only done 2 or 3 cuttings like this, none ever started new growth. I prefer to start the cuttings in community pots, letting them root there. Then when they leaf out I can remove them to either separate pots or the ground.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Lipstick Plant (Aeschynanthus)


I have several Aeschynanthus (lipstick plants) blooming in the greenhouse right now. Once they start, they bloom for a long time. Lipstick plant is a red flowering vine  that originated in Malaysia . It needs to be trimmed back to about six inches from the soil about once a year . This is not a plant that does much branching so the trimming keeps the plant from having extremely long unbranched pieces, which would look beautiful in front of a long window, but few of us have that kind of display background. So do what I say, not what I do, and trim after blooming.
The plant blooms from the tips and after bloom finishes, these tips can be easily rooted.
 Be careful not to overwater. This is a plant that lives on rocks and in tree crotches in its natural environment, and lipstick cannot stand standing water. Use well drained potting media, and a hanging basket best accommodates the growth habit of this plant.
 Aeschynanthus will draw "Ooo's" from all who see it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Mistletoe With Berries

This mistletoe with berries is growing on a Grancy Graybeard. There are three small mistletoe plants growing on this tree (bush) but only one has seed. The species of mistletoe most common in the Southeast is Phoradendron  flavescens (also called Phoradendron leucarpum).
Mistletoe is a hemiparasite and takes water and minerals from its host, but it has chlorophyll and produces all or most of it's own food. It generally does not become a heavy enough infestation to degrade the quality or quantity of a wood crop, however western species do damage and degrade the quality of the wood they infest. Mistletoe is spread by birds eating the berries. The seed may spread through the droppings of birds. Also the berries and seed are sticky. This helps the seed to stay on the branch till the hostorum can invade the limb and the plant can become "rooted" into the branch. Birds get the seed stuck on their bills and wipe them against the limbs to clean them off, thus placing the seed on a suitable growing substrate.
 Mistletoe is a historical Christmas and New Year's decoration, involving kissing the number of times there are berries on the plant. But mistletoe also is a larval host for several butterfly species, as well as a food source for birds. Winter is, of course the best time of year for spotting mistletoe as it is not camouflaged by the leaves. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Tropical Pitcher Plant

This is  a tropical pitcher plant that I have been growing for several years. They are difficult to root for me, but it can be done with limited success. The rooting media has to be moist, but well drained, as does the growing media. I never fertilize mine. In the summer when insect are more prevalent, the pitchers  fill with water and  collect and digest a collection of bugs. If you spill some of this liquid on yourself while moving the plant, you will need a bath as it smells so awful. Several times a bumblebee became trapped in a pitcher, but had the presence to chew a hole in the sidewall and get out.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Thunbergia grandiflora 'Blue Sky Vine'

These are pictures of the Thunbergia grandiflora that is growing in my greenhouse. It has rooted in the gravel and gone it's own way, covering a large part of the top of the back part of the greenhouse. The one outside was killed back by our first light frost, but in the greenhouse and out of the reach of frost, it blooms on. This is a sturdy vine with lots of  3 inch wide blooms. I'll eventually cut it back, but I just want to see how long it will bloom.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Oak In Winter

 I love the sight of bare trees outlined against an evening sky. The oaks in my yard seem positioned just right against a fading sky. This one is our favorite and we've named it Johnny Reb because of its apparent age and size. It has a lot of mistletoe, but luckily the mistletoe we have in the southeast does not strangle and kill like the western species.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Edgeworthia, Fall Thru Early Winter

During summer Edgeworthia chrysantha is a fairly unremarkable bush. It has large narrow oval medium green leaves and a pleasant enough rounded shape. But in fall, it starts it's show. Elsewhere on the net I've read that it has no fall color, but I think the above picture negates that statement. And the leaves hung on for a long time this year.

Before the leaves drop, the round flower buds start to develop and by the time the plant is bare, its reddish brown smooth stems are sporting buds from all the tips.

The best is yet to come though:the yellow flowers open a few at the time and spread a delightful fragrance all around. Edgeworthia (common name, Paperbush) hails from China and is used to make high quality paper there. It is related to daphane, which is another fragrant winter blooming shrub.
My plant is between 3 and 4 years old and as attained a nice size, although it started as a mere stick, which I paid $25 for, but I am well pleased with it.  You probably won't find this at Lowe's or WalMart, at least not yet and will need to search in regular nurseries or perhaps online.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Red Amaryllis

This was a Christmas present and all 4 blooms are open now. This one is shorter than some I have grown, and I like that better. the very tall stalks are easily broken and tend to bend toward the most light. In a house or even a greenhouse the stalks usually have to be staked to keep them from tipping.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Camellias in December and January in Alabama

Most of my Camellias are done now, at least on the smaller bushes. These had fallen to the ground, but still made a lovely picture.

This last one is 'Professor Sargent' and there are quite a few left to open on my 2 bushes. The bushes are quite large though. The thing I note here though, is the earliness of the bloom on all these Camellias. Usually it is February or March before the bloom is really in full gear. But the warmth and moisture of this fall seemed to push them along.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

3 Orchids for the New Year

                     These are all blooming  now. They sure brighten up the gray days
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