The Chicago Flower and Garden Show

I went to the Chicago Flower and Garden Show yesterday, and bought three new amaryllises! Unfortunately, they’re just bulbs at the moment so I won’t have anything to show you until they bloom, but I will post pictures when they bloom. The show runs until Sunday. The tickets cost $20, and I paid $30 for parking, and $40 for the bulbs, so it was quite an expensive trip altogether. I bought the bulbs from Doornbosch Bros. They only sell wholesale to people who want to do fundraising for most of the year. The flower show is the only time that they sell directly to individuals. I really wish that they would sell to individuals more often. I really like their bulbs very much. I’ve been buying bulbs from them since 2015. It’s really hard for me to understand their business model. It seems to me that they could make much more money selling directly to individuals, but I guess not. I’m not really set up to be able to sell bulbs directly to people, so the whole wholesale thing doesn’t work for me at all. I have no use for buying bulbs wholesale at the moment. In any case, I think their bulbs are really great, so if you live anywhere near Chicago, you should definitely check out the show! It runs every year in March, so if you miss it this year, definitely check it out next year.

How to care for an Amaryllis

 

 

I really like Amaryllis because they are beautiful, and easy to grow, and they are one of the few houseplants that will produce beautiful blooms indoors! Also, they will bloom year after year if taking care of properly.

Choose the largest that you can find. They will produce more stocks and blooms than smaller bulbs. The larger the bulb, the more flowers it will produce. Bulbs should be firm and dry with no signs of mold, decay or injury. Very often you will see leaves, or buds growing from unplanted or planted bulbs. Select bulbs with bright green new growth and without visible damage. Some bulbs may have an offshoot growing from its base. This will eventually grow into a new bulb and can be removed and planted separately.

Amaryllis grow best in narrow containers. Containers may be made of plastic, metal, ceramic or terracotta.  Bulbs should be firm and dry with no signs of mold, decay or injury. Select a container that has one or more holes in the bottom and drains easily. Good drainage will minimize the chance of bulb or root rot (rotting from excess moisture).

The diameter of the pot should be about 1 inch wider than the widest part of the bulb and twice as tall as the bulb to allow space for good root development.

Fill the pot about half full with sterile, new potting soil high in organic matter such as peat moss. Set the bulb in the pot so the roots rest on the potting soil. The bulb should sit up above the edge of the container.  Add more soil, tapping it down around the bulb, until one-third to one-half of the bulb remains visible. Firm the potting medium around the bulb. Set the pot in a sink where it can drain freely and water until the potting soil is thoroughly moist. Allow to drain completely. Set the pot on a trade that will catch water, and find a sunny window for it.

Water the plant when the top 2 inches of soil feels dry, allowing the container to drain freely each time.

Do not let the plant to sit in water as wet soil can promote bulb and root rot and attract pests.

Fertilize amaryllis each time you water at half the recommended strength when new growth is visible (including on newly purchased bulbs). To promote blooming, use a houseplant fertilizer with a high phosphorus content. Fertilizer packaging always provides an analysis shown in three numbers such as 10-20-15. These numbers represent the percentage of each of three important macronutrients for plant growth: N (nitrogen) – P (phosphorous) – K (potassium). In this example, the fertilizer contains 10 percent nitrogen, 20 percent phosphorous, and 15 percent potassium.  Move the plant out of direct sunlight when the flower buds have begun to open.

The key to keeping Amaryllis alive for years is keeping the plant actively growing after they have finished blooming. After the flowers have died, cut them off to prevent seed formation. It will rob the plant of energy it needs to bloom the next year. Do not remove the flower stock until it has turned yellow. A green stem will continue to promote photosynthesis, which creates energy that is stored in the bulb for future leaf growth and flowers. If the bulb does not produce a flowering stalk in the next year, it is probable that the plant has not stored enough nutrients during the post-blooming period. Keeping the plant healthy and growing will promote blooming. After your plant has finished blooming, place it in a window that gets the most sun possible. It will continue to grow long, slender leaves. These leaves will aid the process of photosynthesis. Continue to water and fertilize the plant regularly with an all-purpose houseplant plant fertilizer. Most websites recommend placing the Amaryllis outdoors during summer, but I have no place toput it, and I have found that they will rebloom without being placed outside.

This information has been taken from the University of Minnesota Extension website. There is

more information on that website about repotting, and pests.

For more information, click the link below.

https://extension.umn.edu/house-plants/amaryllis

How to care for a Ti plant (Cordyline fruticosa)

My first ti plant

 

Early Polynesian settlers first brought the ti plant to Hawaii. The plant is native to tropical Southeast Asia and Pacific wetlands. The leaves are used in many different ways including roof thatching, food wrapping, clothing like skirts and sandals, cattle feed, dishes, medicine, liquor, even sleds for kids!

The ti plant is planted around homes in Hawaii for good luck, and the leaves are sometimes worn to frighten away evil spirits and attract good ones.  In Hawaiian mythology they are associated with the god Lono and the goddess Laka, the leaves are still used in sacred rites even to this day.​

The ti plant can be placed 3 to 5 feet away from the window. Make sure that it’s not near a vent or a drafty area so that it does not dry out. When it comes to watering, they like it to be moist, but not flooded. You can also spray it every day with water. As far as soil goes, a well-draining potting mix is going to be your best bet. You can add some peat moss, and Perlite to improve drainage. When it comes to fertilizer, you don’t need to do too much. You can just add the tiniest little bit of deluded fertilizer. Finally, when it comes to propagating, you can take cuttings and plant the canes in pots of sand combined with your choice of peat moss or Perlite. Another method involves putting the canes in 1 inch of water with a bit of fertilizer and if you do that method you’re going to want to change the water every once in a while in order to avoid root rot. Plant the cane in a container with well-draining potting soil before the roots become long enough to break easily.

Pictured above is my ti plant. I currently have a light on it. I hope that will help during the dark winter months, and it also brings out the beautiful red color in the leaves. I bought my plant at Lowe’s garden shop on sale for five dollars. I have found that there’s always a small stand at Lowe’s that has plants on sale at truly incredible prices.

I got the above information from the website Epic Gardening. Kevin who writes that website is really an expert. He knows much more than I do. I just looked on the Internet, and found his site, so I think you should know where I’m getting this information. I feel bad because I spent hours trying to paraphrase this, and it ended up sounding almost exactly like the original. Oh well, at least I’m telling you where I got the information from. At least I am citing my source, so I hope that sufficient to keep things aboveboard. Please click the link below, and get the information from a real expert!

Hawaiian Ti Plant: Growing Cordyline Fruticosa

Mass Cane or Corn Plant

 

Mass Cane also known as the corn plant is very popular for its low maintenance beauty. It is an easy to grow houseplant that requires very little maintenance, and can even tolerate some neglect. It is an excellent choice for beginners. It has stalky stems and long, green leaves with light-yellow/light-green stripes running through them. It is one of several popular varieties of Dracaena, including Dracaena lisa, Dracaena marginata, and Dracaena compacta. The plant is originally from Africa.

The corn plant grows from 4 to 6 feet tall. The ideal temperature is between 60 and 75°F indirect bright is best; no direct sunlight. It can tolerate low light.   Watering once a week should be enough. Let the soil be a little damp or slightly dry.

Chlorine in the tap water can make the leaf tips turn brown. If you use tap water, it is best to let the water sit out overnight to allow the chemicals in the water to evaporate before watering. I purchased three plants pictured above at Lowe’s garden shop. I have discovered that there is a on sale section at Lowe’s where you can purchase plants at very reasonable prices. I only paid a few dollars for these three plants. Here they are shown repotted.

Treating a Mealybug Infestation Using an Alcohol Solution

Make a 70% solution of alcohol and water. Soak a Q-tip in the rubbing alcohol, and then rub down the plant with the alcohol, making sure to treat the leaves, the stem, and all the crevices where the mealybugs may be hiding. The next thing to do, is to fill a spray bottle with the alcohol water solution, and spray the entire plant with the solution. If you have a plant that has a lot of crevices, like a cactus, you can dip a toothpick in the solution, and run the toothpick down all in the crevices to make sure that the solution gets everywhere.  Mealybugs come from the soil, so if an infestation is really bad, it is a good i to replace all the potting soil with fresh soil. It’s also good to keep in mind that if the infestation is really bad, you might need to get rid of your plant altogether because sometimes you need to sacrifice one plant in order to save all the rest of your plants. It’s better to get rid of one really infested one than to risk losing all of your other plants.

Mealybugs Almost Killed my Brazilian Raintree

Mealybugs are soft bodied insects that look like little cotton balls with legs. Recently, they almost killed one of my bonsai trees. It is starting to recover now, but it will be a long road back to health. They have killed many of my houseplants. They feed by sucking the water out of the leaves. They multiply very quickly, so if you don’t catch them right away, they can kill a plant in a matter of days. I have read that healthy plants can tolerate low populations of mealybugs, and still survive with some damage, but with my plants, they always seem to kill the plant very quickly, so maybe that means my plants are not that healthy, but they always seem to be before the mealybugs strike. It’s very important to check the underside of every leave of a plant because that is where they like to hide.

I have tried spraying them with a solution of water and alcohol, and then removing the mealybugs from the plant. That hasn’t worked very well for me. I also tried various insecticides, but they didn’t seem to work that well either. Then I read that Neem oil can be effective against mealybugs, so recently I purchased a bottle of neem oil from Lowe’s, and tried it. So far, it seems to be working very well. The leaves on my bonsai tree are starting to come back now. I will keep you posted on how things progress.

Think Twice Before Using Potting Soil that has Fertilizer in it

About three weeks ago, my Chinese perfume plant died. I purchased the plant from Logee’s Greenhouses. They sell tropical plants on the Internet, and through a catalog.   The plant was supposed to be easy to care for. When I called to complain about it, I was told that the problem was probably that I had used potting soil with fertilizer already in it, and the plant was getting fertilizer whenever it was being watered. In other words, the plant was over fertilized, so it died.

They gave me instructions to repot the plant 10 days after I received it, so that is what I did.  I was told not to buy potting soil with fertilizer already mixed in it. I realize now that this may be the reason why a lot of my plants are dying. I told the lady on the phone that they should have sent me instructions about what type of soil to use when I repot the plant, and she told me that it is the customer’s responsibility to ask questions like this, and they can’t give all the information for every plant. The moral of the story is, when you buy a new plant, you need to ask them specific questions about it. They’re not going to give you specific information about your plant unless you ask them, so from now on, whenever I buy a new plant, I’m going to call them on the telephone, and specifically ask them what I need to do in order to care for the plant. She said they would send another one free of charge, but it’s kind of aggravating because now it’s too cold for them to send it, so it probably won’t arrive until spring.

Always ask questions of the seller. Never feel like any question is too simple, or too stupid to ask about. They won’t tell you unless you ask, so you need to ask to get the information that you need. I definitely learned something from this incident. I never would’ve thought that the fertilizer in the soil could be killing my plant!

How to Make a Terrarium

This is the first terrarium.

my second terrarium

Making your own terrarium is fun, and easy, and it’s also very easy to maintain. The first thing that you will need is a container. I’ve been able to find very nice containers for my terrariums at the Salvation Army at very reasonable prices. You can find suitable containers there in the bric-a-brac section. I have found nice glass jars there. If you would like to have a closed terrarium, which is best because then you don’t need to water it as often, you might need to hunt around for a top for your jar, but usually you’ll be able to find one if it does not already come with a top.

Before you begin there are some things that you should keep in mind. Not all plants have the same environmental needs. If you choose to make a closed terrarium, you should only choose tropical plants that thrive in high levels of humidity. If on the other hand, you want to grow plants that like a lot of sun, an open container will work better. Be sure you have selected soil appropriate to your desired plants, and also be sure to choose slow-growing plants as to avoid overcrowding.

In order to make your terrarium, you will need the following items: potting soil,charcoal,small stones, moss,miniature tropical plants, and a piece of tree bark.You can usually get all these things at your local garden store, if they sell terrariums there, or you can buy them online. If you look on other websites, you will find other orders for the following steps, so you should check out other websites as well, and if you like their advice better, then do what they say, I’m just telling you what works for me.

First, put a layer of charcoal in the bottom of the container. On top of that, put a layer of small stones. On top of that, add your potting soil. After that, plant your small tropical plants ensuring that you leave enough space between each plant so that it will be able to spread out and grow adequately. The last thing to do is to plant the layer of green moss on the soil. Water your terrarium thoroughly, so that the water reaches down all the way to the layer of charcoal at the bottom.  If you want to include a piece of tree bark in your terrarium, I’ve done that, and it looks really cool. You can usually find a piece of tree bark in your yard, or outside somewhere, and if not, you might be able to buy it in a garden shop.  Put the id securely on the terrarium. It’s important that it’s on securely so that the water does not escape the terrarium. I have two terrariums that I have been watered in months, and they just keep growing and growing. Close terrariums have really great because they look good, and require very little maintenance. I found terrariums in stores that looked just like the ones that I’ve made that cost hundreds of dollars, and mine cost $30-$40 to make in just a few minutes!

The Catch Tray underneath Your Pot

I just had some thoughts about the catch tray underneath your pot. A couple of hours after watering your plant, it would be a good idea to check and see if the tray is still filled with water, or not. If the tray is still filled with water, it would be a good idea to empty it because if it’s filled with water, it’s equivalent to the plant’s roots sitting in water in a pot with no holes in it.

Also, it would be a good idea to put a pad, a placemat, or maybe even a towel underneath the catch tray. If the tray overflows, and there’s nothing beneath it to absorb the water, it’s going to stain your table. I’ve had that happen to a wood table, and also to a table made out of bronze that got so discolored from water stains that it was necessary to refinish the table top. In any case, it’s important to have something underneath the catch tray.

Using an Appropriate Pot Helps with Watering

A plant should be put in a pot that is appropriate for its size.  A plant in the container that is too small can become root bound meaning that there is no room left in the pot for the roots. On the other hand, if a plant is in a container that is too big, the soil may not hold water for very long, and can become dried out quickly. If when you check the plant, you see there are more roots than soil, that is a good indication that it’s time to repot the plant. You only want to move plants up one pot size at a time to ensure that it is not potted in a container that is too big. If the pot has ever tipped over because the leaves are too heavy, that is a good indication that it’s time to move it to a bigger pot.

Whenever you go out to buy a pot for your plant, always remember to also get a tray, or dish to go underneath it to catch the water that drains out of the holes in the bottom of the pot. You definitely want one of these so that the water does not spill onto the table, or onto the floor. You can buy plastic pans for this purpose, or you can improvise by using something that you can find at home. Once, I used a Frisbee as a catch pan for a pot.

This information was taken from the website below.

http://www.wikihow.com/Water-Indoor-Plants

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