22 Feb

Magical Air Plants

Air Plants – if you are a traditional gardener, growing plants in the air without soil and containers might be a completely new idea for you but it would definitely be a great experience. Air Plants refer to more than 500 species of Tillandsia that belong to Bromeliad family. These epiphytic plants are native to forests, mountains and deserts of Central and South America though some species of Air Plants are also found in certain regions of Mexico and North America. They are called Air Plants because they absorb moisture and nutrients from air. Some species do have basic root structure but they use their roots to cling to trees, plant or poles. Air Plants do not take nutrients from host plants; they rely on moisture and nutrients naturally found in the air.

tillandsia - the air plants

Image from apartmenttherapy.com

How to Grow Air Plants

Air Plants are easy to grow and do not require much maintenance provided that you provide them just ample amount of light and moisture. Most air plants do well in filtered light and do not like direct sunlight and fog. When growning outdoors, you can place your plants at locations where they get filtered sunlight and moderate temperature (95 F, maximum). If you are growing your plants indoors, make sure they get ample light away from the window. Direct exposure to strong light would take away essential moisture from the plant; poor lighting conditions would make your plants weak.

air plant flower

Image from Flickr © eutima

Keep your plants at places where air circulation is good. Spray your plants with water 2 – 3 times a week in moderate or humid conditions; moisten them regularly when weather is hot and dry. If a plant starts to curl, it is thirsty. Soak it in water overnight and it will be back to life. Add general purpose fertilizer (1/4 of the recommended strength) to spray in summer and fall.

Popular Varieties

Popular varieties include: Tillandsia Ionantha, Tillandsia Xerographica, Tillandsia Circinnata and Tillandsia Usneoides.

Air Plants for Your Garden

cluster of air plant

Image from plantarium.wordpress.com

Air Plants are very adaptable. They can be grown in apartments where it is difficult to keep regular containers because of lack of space. They can be used in floral arrangements, in rock gardens, in vertical wall gardens or just as companion plants in your garden. They can also be used as ornamental plants grown almost anywhere indoors (kitchen, bath rooms, living rooms etc.).

07 Feb

Virtual Tour of My Succulent Garden – Part I

Finally, my succulent garden is in good shape; it has undergone major redesign. Before I take you to a detailed virtual tour of my succulent garden, let me show a panoramic view of the rooftop where these succulents live.

Let’s start with a welcome note 🙂

welcome to my garden

Here is a full view of my succulent garden.

succulent garden on rooftop

These are some of larger specimens of Agave plants in my collection. You can see Agave Stricta and Agave Stritata in large terracotta containers as well as a couple of Agave Guiengola in small containers.

large agave plants

Again, some older Agaves including Agave Lophantha, Agave Potatorum and Agave Victoria.

agave plants

Some offshoots from my Agave plants.

agave offshoots

This section exhibits some cacti. The most prominent in this picture are Astrophytum Myrostigma and Astrophytum Ornatum. You can also see species of Copiapoa and Notocactus.

cacti on rooftop garden

This picture shows a smaller section dedicated to Hawothias, Aloes and other succulents.

haworthia dish gardens

I use both plastic and terracotta containers for them.

succulent plants in containers

There is yet another section for young seedlings. You can see 1.5 year old Melocactus and Astrophytum from my own seeds.

melocactus seedlings

astrophytum seedlings

29 Nov

Ariocarpus – The Living Rocks in my Garden

Though I am not a fan of grafted plants but I could not resist to the beauty of these grafted specimens of Ariocarpus. I have purchased and added three new Ariocarpus plants (also known as Living Rocks) to my collection:

Ariocarpus fissuratus

Ariocarpus fissuratus (Buy seeds online) is one of my favorites of all species of Ariocarpus. This grafted plant has succulent green leaves with multiple heads and is ready to flower. Usually, it would take at least a decade to mature and produce flowers. The fissures on leaves make this plant stand out from rest of the plants in its family.

ariocarpus fissuratus

Ariocarpus fissuratus

Ariocarpus retusus

Ariocarpus retusus (Buy seeds online) is the most popular species of Ariocarpus. Perhaps, it is also the most grafted and commercially grown species. It produces abundant woolly hair and flowers.

grafted plant of ariocarpus retusus

Ariocarpus retusus

Ariocarpus Trigonus

Ariocarpus Trigonus is perhaps the most common species of Ariocarpus. It germinates easily from seeds and grows well when grafted on a healthy stock.

grafting of ariocarpus trigonus plant

Ariocarpus trigonus

06 Jul

15 ideas for window gardens

Gardening is a lot more than sowing and harvesting; it is observing and seeking the joys of nature. Creative gardeners double the joy of gardening by innovative and creative ideas – from interesting landscaping to unique garden decor and from unusual planting ideas to classic waterfalls, ponds and topiaries.  Fortunately, you do not have to be an expert or invest a lot of money to jazz up your garden. There are hundreds of ideas to give your garden, terrace, patio or windows into a spectacular look. To begin with, you can experiment with garden planters or window containers. In my earlier post, I suggested some unique ideas for miniature gardens using unique garden planters. In this post, I am showing some beautiful containers for window gardens by ePlanters.

Related Articles:

Beginner’s Guide to Designing a Window Garden

05 Jul

Guide to Designing a Window Garden

Window gardens are easy to maintain and can instantly give an entirely new look to your home especially if you do not have a lawn or live in an apartment. A window garden usually requires low maintenance and can be set up with relatively lower cost.

window garden container

Photo © ePlanters.com

Before you begin with your first window garden, here are a few tips that would definitely help you with your window garden experiments.

Select a Location

Select a location for your window garden and observe its exposure to light, temperature, water, fog etc. Also make sure that the windows are easy to access as you would need to visit your window garden frequently for watering, fertilizing and weeding. Once you determine the type of climate, narrow down your choice of plants to the varieties that can be grown easily in your window garden.

Select Plants for Window Garden

Determine what type of plants you want to grow in your window garden. There are a lot of options ranging from flowering perennials to evergreen shrubs and from cacti and succulents to climbers or hanging plants.  As a general rule, select a mixture of trailers and compact upright plants that grow tall enough to be seen without blocking the window, filler plants, and bulbs.

For a better show, choose plants that contrast with the background, for example, select bright plants against light background and pale flowers against dark brick walls. For beginners, here is a list of recommended plants for window gardens.

Annuals

Sweet Alyssum

Alyssum, a fragrant trailer available in white, cream, pink, and purple colors, is easy to grow and fills in the space beautifully.

Caladiums

Caladiums add a lush, exotic look to a window garden. They are easy to grow and are available in a variety of colors and combinations. You can grow caladiums with flowering perennials to give a dramatic effect to your window garden.

Pansies

A perfect choice for window gardens, offers showy flowers in variety of colors and quickly fill gaps between permanent plants or other annuals.

Petunias

Excellent choice for a spectacular summer show, petunia offers wide, showy flowers in a range of bright colors.

Dianthus

With nice fragrant flowers, dianthus makes a good choice for any window garden.

Permanent

English Ivy
Another excellent choice for window gardens. English ivy is a hardy trailing plant and can tolerate a range of temperature.

Miniature Roses

Bred to stay small in size, miniature roses come in a variety of types and colors. Despite their small size, miniature roses are hardy and can be grown easily in a window garden.

Cacti & Succulents

There is a large variety of cacti and succulents that you can experiment with in your window garden. With a little creativity, you can mix verities of cacti and succulents to grow a unique, year-round miniature garden.

Select Containers for Window Garden

Select containers for your window garden. These days, garden containers come in a lot of colors, style and materials. You can buy plastic, terra cotta, wooden, metallic or concrete containers in almost any color or shape. However, you should select the container that matches your windows and all the requirements of the plants that you want to grow in your window garden.

Most important factors are size and the material that the container is composed of. Pay special attention to the size. The container should allow sufficient room for the plants to grow. Since you will not be replacing your window gardens very often, the container should be sufficient for the plants for at least a year or two. Also select the material that is suitable for the plant and the climate. Normally, garden containers made of plastic do not survive broad spectrum of temperature. Similarly, terra cotta containers have a limited life. Moreover, there are certain materials that you not good for certain plants. Consider all these factors before purchasing containers for your window garden.

Mount Containers and Pot Plants

Fix your containers firmly and provide protection from rains, storms, birds, sunlight according to the requirements of plants that you want to grow in your window garden. As a general rule, position your container slightly below the window (normally 6 inches below) especially if the window opens outwards. Always mount the box before planting.

There are a number of options for potting plants in your window gardens:

  1. You can put them directly in the container. This method is suitable if you are planting evergreen shrubs that do not need frequent re-potting.
  2. You can put potted plants in the container; this method if suitable when you plan to frequently change plants in your window garden, for example, flowering perennials.
  3. Alternatively, you can put plants in a plastic or metal liner that fits inside the container. With this method, you can easily change the liners or soil and add fresh plants.

Maintain Your Window Garden

Window gardens do not have any special maintenance requirements. You just have to make sure that the plants are provided with suitable conditions and are protected from insects, storms etc.

16 Jun

Unusual Plants and Forms of Agave Victoria Reginae

This is sequel to my previous post on my favorite agave plant, Agave Victoria Regina. The plant in undoubtedly one of the most beautiful among agave plants. In this post, I am showing some unusual varieties of Agave Victoria Reginae. All pictures are taken from the collection of Cok & Ine Grootscholte from Netherlands. They have a nice collection of unusual and collectible nursery plants including some rare species.

Agave Victoria Reginae variegated, Kizan

Agave Victoria Reginae variegated, Kizan

08 Jun

Victoria Regina, Agave for Container Gardening

One of my all-times-favorite agaves in Agave Victoria Regina – the globular form, the smooth white lines across its shiny, striking green leaves, and the contrast of rigid black terminal spines make it a perfect ornamental and container plant. This is one the earliest plants in my collection since I started liking and collecting agave plants. The plant that I am showing in this post is about 36 cm in diameter growing in a large container under partial sun.

agave-victoria-regina-plant

Photo © The Lovely Plants

Habits

Agave Victoria Regina is a very slow growing plant. Usually it forms a dense rosette of up to 45 cm and does not grow taller than 22 cm. The leaves are trigonous, green to dark-green in color, 15 to 20 cm long and up to 3 cm broad with white margins and smooth lines on the surface. There are a dozens of varieties of Agave Victoria Regina – most of the varieties are hybrids or sub-species and are named according to different patterns of leaves and white lines. Most common sub-species are King Ferdinand’s agave, Agave ferdinandi-regis and var. viridis.

agave-victoria-close-up

Photo © The Lovely Plants

Flowers

Agave Victoria Regina has a long reproductive cycle. It does not flower before it reaches maturity; this can take about 20 to 40 years. Most agaves are monocarpic so is Agave Victoria Regina. The plant blooms in summer and dies after an exhaustive flowering period. Like all agaves, flowers on Agave Victoria Regina grow on a stalk that can grow as tall as 4 meters containing immense foliage. The flowers often have shades of pale white, cream, red, and purple.

agave-victoria-regina-flower

Photo © The Lovely Plants

Watering

Agave Victoria Regina requires a well-drained soil and careful watering; allow the soil to dry between watering. If you are growing this agave outdoor, keep it under partial sun during summer and under bright light during winter; the plant can withstand low temperature but it is advised that you protect it from freezing temperatures to keep your plant healthy.

Growing Indoor as a Container Plant

Agave Victoria Regina can be grown indoors as a container plant where fresh air, and generous filtered sunlight is available; avoid overwatering.

Fertilizing

Agave Victoria Regina is not a hungry plant and does not require frequent fertilizer. Feeding once a year in spring or summer is sufficient. When grown in a container, make sure you provide sufficient space to grow its root as the root system of Agave Victoria Regina is quite vigorous. Also re-pot the plant in a slightly wider container after every one or two years.

Propagation

Agave Victoria Regina can be reproduced from seeds. Most species remain solitary and do not produce much off-shoot. Only selected species such as forma caespitosa would produce off-shoots in abundance.

Origin

Agave Victoria Regina is a native of the state of Coahuila and south of Nuevo Leon in north-eastern Mexico. It is an endangered species in wild but grown widely in cultivation.