Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mother’s Day Flowers to say “I Love You Mom”

Many people are asking now “When is Mother’s Day 2010?” People all over the world ask this because this is a global thing. Mother’s day falls on May 9, 2010. It’s usually on a Sunday. Anyway, many are trying to get ideas on what to give their mother and they search for “Mother’s Day Gift Ideas” on the internet because they run out of ideas on what to give, or what to buy them. You can treat your mother to dinner, or buy them flowers. Anything that will make them feels special.

Mother’s Day is a special day to show your mother how much she is appreciated. It’s the one day in the year that she is publically recognized, and flowers are a big part of showing her your love. Flowers are always a classic; despite the ubiquity factor, flowers has a great deal for Mother’s Day, with bouquets Read the below Characterized Flowering houseplants and think what flower matches perfectly with your mothers,

For those hovering mothers, I suggest an anthurium. These Hawaiian natives range from 10 inches to 2 feet high. Their leaves and flowers, held aloft on long stems, are both appropriately heart-shaped. The flowers, technically called "spathes," are bright red or orange and are as shiny and sturdy as plastic plates.

If your mother encouraged you to be independent, she will love clivias. These beauties are related to that Christmas favorite, the amaryllis. Clivias have strap-like leaves that shoot from a central base. Every spring, they send up a stalk topped by as many as a dozen long-lasting, bell-shaped flowers in bright orange or yellow.

What about the mother in the middle? My mother adjusted her level of attention to each daughter's needs. (Thank you, Mom!) It's a potted "Mophead" hydrangea for her. Each Mophead stem ends in a dense, spherical bouquet of delicate flowers, which come in a range of colors from blue to white to pink, and even red.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Flowers Spreads the Smile

Flowers make people happy. And while that might seem obvious, there hasn't been much research to prove the point until now.

A trio of new studies by Rutgers University scientists supports the notion pretty strongly, and the experts go on to speculate that flowers have flourished on this planet, with their beauty evolving in recent millennia, partly because humans are so attached to them.

The first study involved 147 women. All those who got flowers smiled. Make a note: all of them. That's the kind of statistical significance scientist’s love. Among the women who got candles, 23 percent didn't smile. And 10 percent of those who got fruit didn't smile. In an elevator, 122 men and women were given a flower, a pen, or nothing. Those who got flowers smiled more, talked more, and here it gets interesting stood closer together.

Finally, in another test, bouquets were delivered by florists to 113 men and women in a retirement community. All 113 got flowers and a notebook, but some got them earlier and received a second bouquet when the others got theirs. By now you can guess the outcome. The more flowers, the more smiles. From there, it's a bit of a leap to the idea that flowers are prolific because we love them.

But the results got the scientists to thinking about how the flower industry of today has evolved into growing things that serve no other purpose than emotional satisfaction. Nature won't even pollinate many of the domesticated flowers. Just among roses, there are so many types conjured by humans that, clearly, flowers aren't what they used to be. But it's likely our collective hand has played a role longer than you might think.

Rutgers geneticist Terry McGuire suggests that nature's prettier flowers got to survive and thrive because people didn't destroy them when they cleared land for agriculture. Instead, they cultivated them and have been doing so for more than 5,000 years.

"Our hypothesis is that flowers are exploiting an emotional niche. They make us happy."

Monday, April 26, 2010

Hybridization of New Varieties of Lilies

Dutch hybridizers are gilding the lily, upgrading the cut flower favorite that also brings such long-lasting beauty to gardens. New varieties with deeper tints, stronger stems and softer fragrances are entering the market.

Breeders like lilies hybrids can be crossed and their progeny sold more quickly than other bulb flowers, like tulips, that may require a decade or better to develop. Gardeners like lilies because the bulbs are so easy to grow. They bloom for a long time.

As perennials, they're troupers, providing years and years of pleasure. They're colorful and often exquisitely fragrant. They have height (and) excel at blooming above other perennials. Shorter varieties are well suited to containers or patio pots.

In earl days lilies came only in four types: Asiatic, Oriental, Longiflorum and Trumpet. Dutch breeders have been actively crossing those types, producing an average 60 to 70 new varieties each year. Most are developed to boost quality and make shipping easier for the cut flower industry.

Names of the new types point to their parentage. "LO" hybrids, for example, are derived from Longiflorum-Oriental varieties and carry traits of both notably large blooms and heavy fragrance. That also goes for the "OA" or Oriental-Asiatics, with their bright colors, shiny foliage and softer scent.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Most Expensive Spicy Saffron Flower

The most expensive spice in the world is considered exotic, intriguing and seductive - so much so that legend has it Cleopatra used saffron in her baths so that lovemaking would be more pleasurable.

Meanwhile, Greek mythology says a handsome mortal named Crocos was turned into the beautiful purple crocus flower, from which saffron comes, when his advances to a lovely nymph named Smilax were spurned.

The vivid orange of saffron is considered the epitome of beauty and is the color of Buddhist robes. When it comes to food, this is one incredible ingredient, imparting a wonderful soft orange glow to dishes and tasting of honey hay-like notes and a unique penetrating spiciness. Saffron is the dried red stigma of the crocus, which flowers in April.

The stigma is hand-picked, ideally first thing in the morning before the flower opens. The three hair-like red stigmas are laid on a dehydrating tray to dry, losing about 80 per cent of their weight. It's a back-breaking, labor-intensive, time-consuming task and it can take up to 150,000 flowers to produce a kilo of the spice - hence its ranking as the world's most expensive.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Decorate Your Home with Flowers and Keep it Fresh

Roses, carnations, orchids, oriental lilies .If you love to decorate your home with flowers even in summer, go ahead. A little sugar here, some distilled water there should keep them from wilting any time soon.

Maintaining a beautiful interior with fresh flowers is a tedious job, especially in summer because fresh flowers have a short shelf life. The excessive heat and dryness decrease their life further, so one should take extra precautions to avoid their premature wilting. First and most important thing is to change the water of these fresh flowers every day.

Also when you change the water, cut half-an-inch of the stem diagonally as it leads to proper water flow in the flower. Use plain or lukewarm water for most cut flowers. Distilled water is best but tries to avoid tap water.

In order to increase the endurance of the stem, a bit of sugar should be added to the water. This will increase the life span of the flower by a few days. These simple tips can help a single stem of rose last for four days instead of its usual life span of one day.

Room temperature should be moderate, say, around 22 degrees Celsius. The flowers should not be exposed to harsh direct sunlight, nor kept directly under the AC. Also, one should keep these flowers away from direct sunlight and from appliances like television that give off heat, causing flowers to dehydrate.

In case you want a flower to bloom fast, Pathak suggests adding a tablet of Disprin. Adding a bit of sugar to the water will increase the life span of the flower by a few days.

If you are planning to gift flowers to your friends, opt for anthurium, birds of paradise, oriental lilies, orchids and carnations because they have a shelf life of around seven days compared to roses, which don't last for more than one or two days.

Experts also suggest that while selecting flowers look for ones with upright, firm petals and buds beginning to open. Avoid yellow, spotted or drooping leaves all signs of ageing.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hummingbirds Love with Flower Gardens

Hummingbirds are nectar feeders, and they appreciate a season-long succession of plants that provide that. In general, hummingbirds favor tubular flowers that are orange, red and pink.

Researchers discovered a behavior of the purple-throated caribs, a hummingbird on the island of Dominica in the eastern Caribbean, that has not previously been recorded in birds. Male caribs will defend a territory larger than they need, including a flowery area meant exclusively to lure females for mating. Female caribs have longer bills than the males, enabling them to eat nectar in lobster claw heliconia flowers. Despite the males’ inability to eat from the heliconia, males were seen aggressively defending an area that includes these flower spots.

Salvias are colorful, drought-tolerant little perennials that attract hordes of hummingbirds to the garden. But when you see how long this perennial flowers, as well as all the hummingbirds that flock to it, 'Blueberry Taffy' is dependably perennial. The best hummingbird, is a dark-blue-blooming tender perennial called ‘Black and Blue’ Salvia.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Snake's Head Shaped Enchanting Flower

Like a snake's head rising up, the bell-shaped flowers of Fritillaria meleagris make their entrance. Having just been enforced winter’s constraint, the scurrying about the garden every morning, blissfully happy at greeting each new bud or blossom. One of the more enchanting and one could possibly say addictive species is Fritillaria in their many forms and colors.

Fritillaria is a genus of approximately 100 species of bulbous plants, native to the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Most often, they have nodding, bell- or cup-shaped flowers, most of which are spring-flowering.

Of this group, one of the easiest to grow is Fritillaria meleagris, also known variously as snake’s head (its original English name), checkered lily (common American name), rattlesnake lily, Guinea-hen flower, frog-cup, leper lily, turkey hen, chequered lily, ginny flower, chequered daffodil, and whew just plain fritillary.

The pretty, pendant blossom has a square, checker-board-type pattern of reddish-brown, purple, white and gray coloration and a mix of these bulbs generally also sports white (cream) and pale yellow, though the latter coloration doesn’t show up very often. Inside, the stamens are shocking yellow.

In the slightest breeze, the large single to multiple blooms dance on delicately thin gray-green stems and from a distance, these intriguing blossoms appear as if suspended above the ground.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Delightful Allium Flowering Varieties

Alliums are always welcome as the flowers offer height and that distinctive allium shape in the early summer when the garden is not quite so colorful.

Alliums are generally plants of sunny and well drained soils and can be used in regimented eye catching rows or sweeps or else in a more cottage style, with isolated small groups to equally good effect. In days where we are all more careful to provide for the "wee beasties", the Alliums are good nectar bars for butterflies and other beneficial insects.

Allium angulosum (pyrenaicum)

Easily grown summer flowering plant with deeply keeled deep green leaves. The leaves persist through the flowering period. The flowers are pale lilac formed in a hemispherical umbel darkening as they mature tall at flowering. Very hardy and tolerant of acid soils, though does need moist conditions to thrive. The flowers are not very pungent and are very attractive to a great range of insects.

Allium caeruleum

Grown from really quite small bulbs producing three cornered leaves in the spring which have withered by flowering time? A small ball of mid blue flowers forms in July about 18" (45cm) from the ground, sometimes with bulbils forming in the flower head. Not widely seen in gardens though should be easy enough in a sunny dry spot.

Allium cernuum

The nodding Allium of western North America and Mexico. Pink flowers hang from the tip of the nodding stem and tumble down forming a chandelier. There may be successive flower stems, which do not carry the Allium odour and can be cut for the house. Each head may carry 20-30 flowers and in light soils they self sow Suited to sunny open conditions in lighter soils.

Allium cristophii (albo pilosum)

Found in the wild in Soviet Central Asia to Iran on rocky slopes and first described in 1884. In the garden growing best in free draining soils in the sun where the strap shaped leaves. The flower made up of 50-80 star shaped florets in a pale purple and metallic silvery violet color. The seed heads dry well, though get bleached of their color by the sun.

Allium Emir

A hybrid between A.rosenbachianum and A.sarawschanium (Afghanistan and Tadzhikistan) and highly commended by the Dutch equivalent of RHS in their trials of Alliums in 2005. Deep purple flowers in two distinct layers reminiscent of A.schubertii.

Allium Firmament
The flowers are deep purple with a metallic sheen, about 4-5" (10-12.5 cm) across, characteristically quite flat at the base. The foliage is disappearing at flowering time in June. The flowering height is 24-30" (60-75cm). A very good late flowering form with a deep color.

Allium hollandicum (aflatense)
Synonymed with A. aflatuenense the process of growing, selecting, hybridizing and multiplying bulbs in horticulture may well have led to considerable deviation from the original description in 1904 of this plant. Hardy throughout the UK, in higher rainfall areas they would be better planted in well drained situations, certainly sited to get the sun in the late spring and early summer. It is in the size of an orange in pale purple or deep lilac.

Allium hollandicum Purple Sensation
Produced as deep colored strain. Some of the production of this plant is from seed which results in some variation in the plant. The stock we offer is from clonal material and should be less variable. The growth, flowering time and other characteristics are just as A. aflatuenense, but the flower color is very much darker, an intense deep purple. It can be grown very effectively with blue or cream colored.

Allium karataviense
A low growing Allium, useful for its foliage as well as its flower as the leaves still look good at flowering time. Particularly so when they are quite closely planted in a sunny spot when the metallic characteristics of the plant come to the fore. The broad, lined leaves are grey-green with silvery bloom and a reddish edge line, the stem is short and sturdy with a pale pink flower.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Months of Blooming Flowers Gardening to Enjoy Summer

Summer means sitting in the orchard in the shade, while plants and flowers waft delicious scent towards the resting gardener. With a bit of forward planning this is possible any time after the end of May, when the only task for the rest of the summer ought to be a little light deadheading.

In the cool of the evening, the resting gardener will dunk the watering can in the water butt and then slowly pour the contents over thirsty vegetables or the odd dahlia, before sitting down to supper outside.

As the summer stars come out one by one, the smell of honeysuckle, or jasmine, or rose gets stronger and everything is so utterly lovely that you know it can't last. Of course it never turns out quite as perfect, but at this time of year we can still hope and plan for our long overdue summer.

Flowers that go on and on (but more subtly than bedding plants) are what is needed. The roses that I enjoy look gentler than hybrid teas, but only flower for three weeks from midsummer, with another burst in September.

Dahlias lack the scent of roses, but have more staying power. If you like pastel shades choose 'Porcelain' or lemon yellow 'Glorie van Heemstede'. The darker, richer shades of 'Arabian Night', or scarlet 'Grenadier', but there are masses to choose from. All dahlias need planting in sunny, rich soil once frost danger is past. Once planted they can come through even Cotswold winters with a little protection heaped over them.

They all need staking with stout canes and if there is a drought, an evening drink will be needed. Should they fail to grow well, a booster shot of Maxicrop seaweed fertiliser or Tomorite will give them a lift. Given all the above, dahlias should reward you with flowers from July to October.

The pale team will choose Fuchsia magellanica 'Alba Aureovariegata' or 'Hawkshead'; bold gardeners will want 'Enfant Prodigue', 'Mrs Popple' or 'Madame Cornélissen'. These shrubs are hardy, with mine surviving even the coldest winter for years.

Among herbaceous perennial plants there are a few stayers that will keep going as long as dahlias and fuchsias and add shape and interest. Thalictrum delavayi, with delicate leaves like a maidenhair fern and cloudy flowers, is lovely at any time. Knautia macedonica 'Mars Midget' will flower for months and so will the blue Aster x frikartii 'Mönch' or the scarlet Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Fire Dance'.

Add the sword leaves of the day lily Hemerocallis 'Hyperion' and the fragile stems of Stipa gigantea, the golden oat grass, and you have enough to enjoy all summer, with minimal work.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Top 10 Varieties of Blossoming Flowers for Your Garden in 2010

Looking for something new to plant in your garden then add active living composts from your garden. The following are 10 of the top selling flower varieties to make your garden colorful for 2010
  1. Sapphire Xtreme Impatiens Mix -- Sapphire Mix includes shades of lavender, violet, and pink. Vigorous 8- to 10-inch plants resist stretching and produce more blooms per plant than any other impatiens.
  2. Caribbean Cocktail Nasturtium -- This specially concocted brew mixes equal quantities of pinks, strawberries and cream types and raspberry shades for a colorful, yet amazingly soothing carpet of beautiful fragrant nasturtiums.
  3. Mixture Antigua Hybrid Marigold -- Mixture of day-length neutral marigolds in orange, gold and yellow.
  4. Flag Mix Easy Wave Hybrid Petunia -- A patriotic mix of red, white and blue. A more compact, mounding habit with a spread of 3 feet or less and height of 8 to 10 inches makes this petunia an excellent choice for containers and small-space gardens.
  5. Blue Wave Trailing Hybrid Petunia -- Growing only 6 inches tall the plants spread 4 feet or more and are continuously covered with masses of 3-inch bluish-purple flowers. Their exceptional weather tolerance makes them ideal for cascading over banks and for borders and hanging baskets.
  6. Starlight Rose Zahara Zinnia -- Disease resistant, drought tolerant, the most forgiving zinnia you can grow. A natural for borders, containers and mass plantings. Compact, bushy plants grow 12 to 18 inches tall and wide.
  7. Cherry Brandy Gloriosa Daisy -- Big 3- to 4-inch flowers are hues of deep cherry red with chocolate brown centers. Plants are 18 to 24 inches tall.
  8. Red Orbit Hybrid Geranium -- Amazing numbers of huge red blooms are produced on compact, 14-inch plants.
  9. Double Click Rose Bonbon Cosmos -- Blooms are fully double, rare for a cosmos, and are a bright shade of lavender-rose that adds brights splashes to the flower border. Strong-stemmed plants grow 24 to 36 inches tall.
  10. Versa Hybrid Coleus -- Low maintenance and high impact in sun or shade. They tolerate heat and humidity and come in a wide range of colors with heights varying from 20 to 32 inches. Spectacular colors include lime green, deep wine-red and combination's of rose, cherry, cream and gold.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

California State Flower & Garden Show

The winter storm had California State Flower & Garden Show visitors leaning against the wind and rain as they trudged in from the Cal Expo parking lot. Once inside the show they were warm and dry, wandering through 11 show gardens, shopping with more than 100 vendors, and watching presentations from an impressive series of speakers.

These traditional garden show activities were augmented by a judged flower show under the auspices of the show’s co-sponsor, the California Garden Clubs.

The first major flower and garden show in Sacramento ran four days, April 8 through 11. Visitors were pleased to have a local show that focused on gardening in the Central Valley and enjoyed the opportunity to buy specialty plants from both local and out-of-state sellers. Garden decor items were offered, from cutting-edge pieces at Artefact Design & Salvage of Sonoma to the most basic pots.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Spring Flower Show Conservatory at Druid Hill Park

The spring display of flowering bulbs inside the Howard Peter Rawlings Conservatory ended after a colorful weeks. The Howard Peter Rawlings Conservatory is located at 3100 Swann Drive in Druid Hill Park. The theme this year was The Wizard of Oz. Daffodils, hyacinths, Easter lilies and other plants and flowers created a magical spring flower show that enhanced this theme. While the show is now over, the conservatory still has plenty to interest visitors, including more spring flowers in garden beds next to the building. The building is open all through the year.

As visitors entered the show in the North Pavilion of the conservatory, they could see the little white house that fell on the Wicked Witch of the East. Her feet, still clad in ruby slippers, poked out from under the house and into yellow daffodils and white hyacinths. Above the house rose a cleverly constructed tornado made of Spanish moss and air plants. Munchkin figures and Glenda the Good Witch were among the flowers, which included more daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, azaleas, and Easter lilies.

The Mediterranean House, Tropical House, and Desert House all provided a perfect environment for Dorothy’s journey. Patches of yellow bricks led visitors through these areas, which have a wide variety of plants that visitors can see all year long. Mosquito plants, paperflower, and crimson bottlebrush are some of the plants in the Mediterranean House. In the Tropical house, colorful ceramic mushrooms provided by Plow and Hearth complimented the Red Passion vines and the Red Hot Cattail plants. Large cacti of all types are in the Desert house. Flying monkeys and traces of the Wicked Witch of the West carried the theme of the show through these rooms.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the show was at the end, in the South Pavilion. The Wizard of Oz’s throne was flanked by parrot tulips, double daffodils in a wide variety of colors, and lots of hyacinths. Dorothy, returning home in her balloon, floated above a bed of yellow tulips and pink hyacinths. There appeared to be more flowers in this room than in any other.

While the theme was not included in the Palm House display, it is always interesting. This is the oldest part of the conservatory and it was built in 1888. This is a good place to come in winter as the palms and other humidity loving plants create a lush, green atmosphere.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

How Do Plants Know its Spring?

The simple beauty of blossoms is made possible through a complex genetic process that tells plants to stop making leaves and start making flowers, according to research published in the issue of the journal Science.

Without calendars, plants don't know its April but they can sense weather, temperature and length of day.

All this information is routed through many pathways to protein AP1. While AP1 doesn't tell the plant it's time to flower, it flicks the switch that starts the process of blossoming. Plants have their own personal preferences for blooming time, perhaps because the genetic pathways that carry environmental information are organized or integrated slightly differently.

This process is critical. Almost everything we eat is a plant, or something that just ate a plant. Flowering time is one of the most important traits in breeding because it affects the yield of crops. Too early and you are killed by frost; too late and you are killed by heat.

Eventually, this information can be used for genetic tinkering to alter flowering times, predicted Dubcovsky. This is particularly important in a changing environment, with global climate change. Breeders will need to readjust flowering times and the knowledge of the genes that regulate flowering will allow them to engineer the desired times more precisely.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Why Organic Flowers Needed?

Really eating a flavorful, nutritious, locally and sustainably produced food is something else to fully ignite the spring fever.

This spring fever gives the sustainable production of those flowers that have lifted spirits. Many of us are now thinking more carefully about how our food choices impact not only our own health, but the health of our planet. Let's apply the same concerns to all agriculture, and not just our food. We should also be supporting more sustainable production of ornamental crops like flowers, trees and shrubs.

One of the fastest growing niche markets right now is organic flowers. Some people find that notion odd. Organic flowers? Not going to eat them, so why does it matter if they used chemicals or not? It matters because those synthetic agrichemicals still end up in the soil, the Bay, and the lungs of the workers in the field.

Organic agriculture is about building healthy soils, sustaining micro-flora and micro-fauna, eliminating water and air pollution and much more. It's about how crops are raised. Even the crops we don't necessarily eat.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Its Time for Viticella clematis Flower

It's a little too early to cut back penstemons and other slightly tender plants, but it is an ideal time to trim back winter jasmine to encourage fresh growth for next year's flowers, and reduce summer-flowering viticella clematis back to their lowest buds.

Viticella clematis is bred from a Spanish species and tolerates drier conditions so they never suffer from clematis wilt. Their flowers come in a range of blue, purple, red-pink and white. Some varieties have asymmetrical flowers streaked in green, like 'Alba Luxurians'. Others have flat, open flowers and the purple 'Etoile Violette' is always the first to flower.

Double pom-pom forms include the navy 'Mary Rose' (now known as 'Flore Pleno'), and the dusky plum 'Purpurea Plena Elegans'. There are also those with nodding bells, including the frilly, pink-veined lilac 'Betty Corning'. Plant them close to once-flowering roses, or allow them to scramble over shrubs, or climb a trellis.

But don't plant them next to spring-flowering alpina or macropetala clematis. These only need gentle tidying after flowering, and separating the inevitable tangle of mixed stems in order to prune the viticellas is impossible.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Allen’s Daisy New Subspecies Flower

Breaking news from the world of wildflowers: Bob Allen has found new type of daisy. And it really is his at least when it comes to scientific names. Allen, an Orange County botanist and professor, spends wildflower season prowling the back country, photographing rarities.

In 2003, he came across what looked like an odd specimen in Limestone Canyon. He’d seen it once before, in 1983 in Dana Point; while it struck him at the time as “different,” he took no further action. Another biologist had much the same reaction in 1908, when he found the flower at the El Toro train station, long-vanished. He collected a specimen but went no further.

In 2003, Allen FedExed a few specimens to an expert, David Keil at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In 2006, Keil published a paper declaring the flower a new subspecies, with an added bonus for Allen: his name is now attached to his flower for all time.

It’s known as Allen’s daisy. Allen’s daisy has so far been found only in Orange County. It’s rare, Allen says, and looks a lot like another flower, tidy tips, which have much broader leaves.

Scientific name: Pentachaeta aurea, ssp. allenii

Monday, April 5, 2010

Colorful Diascia and Osteospermum Flowers

Osteospermum or Diascia names like this sound like a foreign language lesson! These two actually are from another country South Africa to be exact but, surprisingly, are just the thing to plant here early in the season while temperatures are still cool.

“Osteos or African Sun Daisies as they’re commonly called, produce many astoundingly colorful daisy flowers. You have probably seen them white, pink, lavender, deep purple, reddish, and the very popular yellows or oranges. They often have a bluish center and make great combinations with lavender or purple verbenas in pots.

Diascias are members of the snapdragon family, but are more of a low-growing, mounding or cascading plant. With the common name “Twinspur,” they have two small petals in their flowers that project like spurs. Their flower colors include white, pastels, bright oranges and reds to lavender and purple, and are often so prolific that the plant itself can no longer be seen.

Osteos and Diascias both do best in sunny locations and excel in containers. While Osteos are upright, reaching 12-18” in height, Diascias are low (6-12”) and often trailing which makes them a great “spiller” to cascade over edges. Neither plant is bothered much by either insects or disease. Regular fertilizer helps keep plants looking their best, but if they become scraggly by late season, they will rebound beautifully if cut back.

Both of these plants produce a good show of flowers early in the season while temperatures are cool, and will continue to bloom into the fall after light frosts take out many of our other annuals. Plant them together in a pot, adding some vinca and maybe a spike. Voila! You have color and cold tolerance all at once!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Ghost Orchids Blooms in Florida

Suspended in what seems like mid-air, a rare ghost orchid in Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary outside of Naples, Florida is in bloom three months ahead of schedule. On March 26th, longtime volunteer Dick Brewer spotted the flower from the winding wooden boardwalk.

The leafless flower that is only pollinated by the giant sphinx moth usually flowers between June and August, so a bloom in March is highly unusual. Ghost orchids are listed as an endangered species in Florida and just 1,000 or so known plants remain, mostly in the remote recesses of public preserves, like Big Cypress National Preserve, Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, and the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Plant Easter Lily Flowers

Mention "Easter flowers," and lilies, with their ivory blooms and sweet fragrance, come to mind. They are grown by the millions each year, just in time to display their blooms for the Easter season.

Whether you plan to give Easter lilies as gifts, use them to decorate your home, or replant them as part of your garden, you'll want to pick only the healthiest of flowers. Here are some tips:

  • Select medium plants that are well balanced and not too tall or too short.
  • Look for plants with flowers in various stages of bloom. Your best selection will have one bloom open, with the remaining buds closed or preparing to bloom.
  • Check the foliage when selecting Easter flowers. Rich, green leaves mean the lily is in good health.
  • In the home, lilies prefer moderately cool temperatures. Their favorite daytime temperatures are 60 to 65 degrees. Avoid placing them near drafts or excess heat. Lilies love bright, natural daylight but do not do well in direct sunlight.
  • Keep the soil moist and well drained and take care not to over-water. It's best to remove the flower from any decorative foil coverings, and then water until the water begins to trickle out of the pot's drain holes. Remove the foil used in shipping to avoid waterlogged flowers and eventual root-rot.
As the mature flowers start to droop and wane, remove them leaving only the fresher, newly-opened blooms. Easter flowers are a great addition to any garden. Ready to transplant your lilies? Here's how in three easy steps:
  1. Fix a well-drained garden bed in a sunny location with rich, organic matter. Use a planting mix, or a mix of one part soil, one part peat moss and one part perlite. Easter lilies must have good drainage.
  2. Give the lilies a site with bright light but some shelter from extreme heat and wind. Easter lilies bloom naturally in the summer. If you plant Easter flowers outdoors in the spring, they may bloom again in summer or fall. Otherwise, plant them in the fall before the soil freezes.
  3. Plant Easter lily bulbs three inches below ground level and mound up an additional three inches of topsoil over the bulb. Set bulbs at least 12 to 18 inches apart and make the hole deep dough so that bulbs can be positioned with the roots spread out and angled down. Work the soil in and around the bulbs and the roots. Water well, right after planting.