Category Archives: Reference

11 Jul

How to grow moisture loving plants in dry summer

If you are living in a region where summer is long, hot and dry, growing moisture loving plants like ferns or air plants can be a bit tricky. However, there are several quick and easy ways to maintain appropriate level of humidity for your plants and keep them healthy and happy in hot and dry summer.

Summer in the region where I live is harsh and dry (reaching 104 – 116 ◦F) but I still manage to keep several moisture loving plants including Tillandsias that require higher level of moisture.

The following are some of the techniques that I use to retain humidity for my moisture loving plants:

Group moisture loving plants – Grouping plants with similar requirements tightly creates a micro climate for these plants. This micro climate can retain most of the moisture lost due to evaporation from soil and leaves of these plants. Most plants, when grouped together, would respond positively and grow healthier in their micro climate.

Mist them regularly – Plants that are sensitive to hot and dry climate benefit from regular misting. I use spray bottle to mist sensitive plants several times a day. Always avoid misting flowers while spraying your plants.

Use self-watering pots – This is quite easy and time-saving technique. If you are too busy to attend to your moisture loving plants, transfer them self-watering pots. These pots have attached water reservoirs, which helps creating a humid climate around the plant.

Moisture Loving Plants

Image by Hawkoffire (flickr)

Place them in bathroom – Bathroom is usually the most humid room in the house. During long spells of hot and dry summer, I place my air plants in bathroom where they benefit from higher level of moisture.

Use non-porous pots – Most of my plants are potted in terracotta pots, however, plants that require humidity and moist soil are grown in plastic pots. This is an easy way to slow down evaporation process and keep the soil moist.

Use moisture retaining shell – If it is not possible to move or group your container plants together, an effective way of retaining moisture is placing the container inside a bigger container and then filling the outer ‘shell’ with coco peat or peat moss. Now every time you water your plants, add some water in the outer shell. The peat would retain moisture and maintain good level of moisture for your moisture loving plants.

12 Jun

Father’s Day Gift Ideas for the Green Thumbs

1. Louvered Wooden Planters ($49.99 / – Wooden planters with a grow bag inside. Neat surface finish with option to paint to match garden theme.

2. Sue Patrick Garden Labels ($5 per label/ – Made from white stoneware clay and finished with a clear glaze, these lovely labels are a creative way to mark plants and garden beds.

Garden Labels

Garden Labels by Sue Patrick

3. Garden Rain Gauge ($12.95/ – Beautiful and practical garden rain gauge sculpture; crafted of metal and resin with a glass gauge.

4. Black & Decker PlantSmart ($50/ – Digital plant care sensor that analyzes soil conditions, temperature, moisture and sunlight to recommend suitable plants from a database of 6000 plants.

5. Moleskine Gardening Journal ($19.95/ – Practical gardening journal with 5 themed sections to fill in, 5 tabbed sections to personalize, plants and pots information, hardiness zones, garden log, design grids, plant care records and more.

Gardening Journal

Gardening Journal

6. Scrollwork Hose Hanger ($19.95/ an economical but very useful and stylish hanger to keep the hose neatly coiled and free of bends and cracks.

7. Plant Stand Trio ($170/ – Sturdy and elegant set of three tables (small, medium and large) for displaying a variety of plants. Good for gardens, patios, exhibits etc.

Plant Trio

Plants Trio

8. Revolver Spray Nozzle ($14.95/ – Heavy-duty spray nozzle with 9 different spray patterns; comfortable and ergonomic grip and quick-click selection.

9. Rolling Compost Tumbler ($139.99/ – Easy to assemble compost tumbler with 43 gallons capacity; light-weight, easy to movement, and rugged body.

10. Planters with Trellis and Water Reservoir ($129.95/ – Weather-resistant polyethylene planters with 2-gallon self-watering reservoir. Smooth-rolling wheels with locking casters let you move it and station it easily; Available in white and green colors.

11. Cordless Hedge Trimmer ($50/ – Powerful 4.0 amp motor for superior cutting performance. Full wrap-around front handle provides a comfortable gripping area in all cutting orientations.

08 Apr

50 Popular Plants and Their Common Names

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose – By any other name would smell as sweet.” (Shakespeare)

True! But sometimes names really help. Names usually tell a lot about a plant’s shape and growing habits, that is why, gardeners and horticulturists often remember plants by their common names. These names are either derived from historical facts, formation, color or sometimes shape of the plant. The following is a list of common names of 50 popular plants.

1. Red-hot cat’s tail or Chenille is common name of Acalypha hispida. The plants gets its name from drooping red spikes of red or purple color.

2. Century plant is common name of Agave americana. The plant is named so because it is believed to bloom after one hundred years; however, actually it takes about ten years to bloom.

3. Agave attenuata takes its common name, Foxtail plant, because of its tall and curved flowering stalks.

Agave attenuata, Foxtail Agave

Agave attenuate or Foxtail Agave, Image by Forest Starr and Kim Starr

4. Allium christophii  is popularly known as Stars of Persia because it produces starry lilac flowers.

5. Elephant’s ear is common name of Alocasia macrorhiza. The plan produces huge yellow-green leaves.

6. Love-lies-bleeding is popular name of Amaranthus caudatus; the name is given because of red spikes that it produces in summer.

7. Lace plant is common name of Ammi majus. The name is given because of delicate, feathery foliage of the plant.

8. Anigozanthos flavidus is popularly known as Kangaroo paw.

9. Aphelandra squarrosa is a nice foliage plant that produces striking ornamental leaves. The dark-green leaves of the plan have broad silver-white veins that give the plant is common name, Zebra plant.

10. Dutchman’s pipe is popular name of Aristolochia durior. It is a woody climber that produces brownish-purple flowers shapes like curved pipes.

11. Spiral Grass is common name of Moraea tortilis. The plant is named after its twisting and curly leaves.

Moraea tortilis, Spiral Grass

Moraea tortilis, Spiral Grass, Image from

12. Bishop’s cap is common name of Astrophytum myriostigma.

13. Orchid tree is common name of Bahuinia variegata.

14. Brachychiton acerifolium is a beautiful tree with bright-red, bell-shaped flowers that give the tree its common name, Flame tree.

15. Angel’s trumpet or Moonflower (Buy online) is a small tree that produces very fragrant flowers that hang on this tree and look like trumpets. Scientific name of the plant is Brugmansia.

Brugmansia, Angel's Trumpet

Brugmansia, Angel’s Trumpet – Image by Arria Belli

16. Like its popular name, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, Brunfelsia pauciflora is an interesting plant. The name is given because its produces violet-mauve flowers that fade into pale-mauve and then white on successive days.

17. Ladies purses is popular name of Calceolaria crenatiflora because it produces fleshy flower of the shape of a small purse.

18. The flowers of Bottlebrush actually resemble a bottle brush. Horticultural name is Callistemon.

19. Fishtail palm is common name of Caryota mitis.

20. Snow-in-Summer is common name of Cerastium tomentosum; it is a low growing plant usually grown as ground cover. The plan produces tiny white flowers in summer.

21.  Cordyline terminalis is known as Good luck plant or sometimes as Tree of kings.

22. Falling stars is common name of Corocosmia paniculata.

23. Dicentra spectabilis produces heart-shaped flowers that hang on long arching stems. Popular name of this plant is Bleeding hearts (Buy seeds online).

Dicentra Spectabilis

Dicentra Spectabilis – image from

24. Breath of heaven is popular name of Diosma ericoides because its flowers emit very delightful fragrance.

25. Dragon lily is common name of Dracunculus vulgaris; the plant produces really large and unusual flowers.

26. Pineapple flower is common name of Eucomis autumnalis; the name given to the plant because of its long spike of flowers resembling a pineapple.

27. Indian rubber or Rubber plant is common name of a popular foliage plan – Ficus elastica.

28. Morning glory is a common name given to plants in the family of Convolvulacease. These include many genera like Ipomoea, Rivea and Lepistemon.

29. Ghost plant is common name of Kalanchoewaldhrimii.

30. Kochia scoparia is popularly known as Summer cypress (Buy seeds online).

Kochia scoparia

31. Four o’ Clock is common name of Mirabilis jalapa because it opens its flower in afternoon.

32. Moss rose is popular name of Portulaca grandiflora (Buy seeds online).
9198 Portulaca Pot in June 2015 Flickr

33. Traveller’s tree is the name given to Ravenala because its stores rainwater in its leaf base which travellers in old times often found very useful.

34. The common name Royal palm is given to Roystonea regia.

35. Mother-in-law’s tongue is popular name of Sansevieria trifasciata (Buy online).
Abstract planting

36. Mother-of-thousands is common name of Saxifraga stolonifera.

37. Spanish broom is common name of Spartium junceum.

38. Rose apple is popular name of Syzygium malaccense.

39. Chocolate plant is the popular name given to Pseuderanthemum alatum.

40. Screw pine is popular name of Pandanus utilis; the name is given to the plant because of unusual shape and formation of its large leaves.

41. Golden swans is common name of Crocosmia masonorum.

42. Indian shots is popular name of Canna indica.

43. Sacred Fig or Bo tree is common name of Ficus religiosa.

44. Peltophorum africanum is also known as Weeping wattle.

45. Lamb’s tail is the name given to Sedum morganianum because of its trailing stems.

46. Parrot flower is popular name of Heliconia psittacorum.

47. Firecracker flower is popular name of Crossandra infundibuliformis.

48. Toadflax  (Buy seeds online) is common name of Linaria maroccana.

Linaria Vulgaris

Linaria Vulgaris, Image by J. Bakker (flickr)

49. Spanish dagger is common name of Yucca gloriosa.

50. The scientific name of Lipstick Palm Tree, is Cyrtostachys renda.

28 Feb

Resources for Air Plants Enthusiasts

Sequel to my last post about air plants and tips for their cultivation indoor and outdoor, here are a few resource for air plants enthusiasts.

Where to buy air plants

  • Just AirPlants – A family run nursery specialising in Tillandsia (Airplants) and other Bromeliads.
  • Tillandsia International – One of the largest grower of air plants in North America.
  • Russells Air Plants – Grower and exporter of air plants in Florida.
  • Rainforest Flora – One of the oldest air plants nurseries in North America. Rainforest Flora grows Tillandsia for wholesale and retail customer. Matti has covered Tillandsia collection of Rainforest Flora here.

Learning Resources

23 Dec

100 Gardening Terms Every Hobbyist Should Know

100 Gardening Terms

Air layering: A method of propagating plants that enables plants to grow roots on the stem

Alkaline: Having a pH of more than 7

Alpine: Plant suitable to mountainous growing conditions

Annuals: Plants that complete their whole lifecycle in one year

Apex: The top of the plant

Areoles: The soft, cushioned base of the spines on a cactus

Axils: The joint of two plant parts, such as tubercles or stem and leaf

Bedding plant: A plant that is mass-planted to provide a temporary display

Biennial: Plants that complete their whole life cycle in two years

Bolt: When a plant produces flowers prematurely

Bonsai: A method of producing dwarf trees or shrubs by special techniques

Bract: Specialized leaves that are brightly colored, often mistaken for petals

Bud: A shoot containing embryonic leaves or flowers

Bulb: A storage organ usually underground

Bulbil: A small bulb-like organ, often produced between stem and leaf

Capillary matting: Absorbent matting used under pots to keep plants evenly moistened

Carnivorous: Plants that catch insects and small animals for nutrients

Caudex: A swollen, tuberous root system above ground level

Caudiciform: A plant that forms a caudex

Chlorophyll: The green pigment in plant leaves and stems that absorbs energy from sunlight

Climber: Plants that climb using other plants or objects as support

Clustering/Clumping: A group of stems that grow together or form one mass

Coir: Growing medium derived from coconut fiber

Columnar: An upright, cylindrically-shaped stem

Compost: Carefully blended growing medium for seeds and pot plants

Conifer: A cone bearing plant

Continental climate: Characterized by the hot summers, cold winters and low rainfall typical of conditions in the interior of a continent away from the sea

Cordon: A trained plant usually with only one main stem

Creeper: A plant that grows close to the ground usually rooting as it goes

Crown: The upper part of the plant, usually above the main stem

Cultivar: An artificially produced plant, either bred or selected, which can be propagated while retaining its characteristics

Deciduous: A plant that produces fresh leaves annually (and sheds old leaves)

Dormancy: A period of low or absent plant growth

Espalier: Art of pruning and training trees or shrubs usually against a wall or trellis to form symmetrical and flat geometric shapes. Also see 10 amazing example of Espalier art

Epiphyte: A plant that has aerial roots, used to grip trees

Evergreen: Plants that retain their leaves at the end of the growing season

Exotic: Tropical or sub-tropical plant

F1 Hybrid: The first filial germination plants form a cross between two distinct plants

Fallow: Uncultivated land

Family: Grouping of different genera

Fertilizer: natural or artificial substance used to provide extra nutrients to plants

Filler: Material added to fertilizer to make it easier to spread

Frost Line: The lowest level of frost into the soil

Fungicide: Anti fungus chemical

Genus: Category of all living species with common features

Glaucous: A special powdery or waxy coating on the stems and foliage

Globular: Globe-like, spherical

Grafting: A method of propagation by which a rate, slow-growing or difficult to cultivate plant in removed from its roots and artificially attached to a more vigorous, rooted plant

Ground cover: Carpeting species that rapidly cover bare ground

Hedge: Plants growing in a continuous line to create a mass of foliage usually used as divider or as border line

Herbaceous: Plants that die at the end of growing season

Honeydew: Excrete of aphid, scale and other sucking pests

Hormone rooting powder: Powder containing fungicide and hormone to aid rooting

Humidity: The amount of moisture held in the air

Humus: Well-made garden compost or well-prepared farmyard manure

Hybrid: Offspring of at least two different species of varieties of plants

Hydroponics: Method of growing plants in a liquid culture

Inflorescence: A flowering shoot that carries more than one flower

Insecticide: An insect-killing chemical

Invasive: Plants that can quickly outgrow their space and overwhelm their neighbors

Latex: Milky sap exuded by some plants

Layering: Method of propagation during which roots form when a stem is pegged into compost while still attached to the parent plant

Loam: Fertile soil that retains moisture while remaining well-drained

Marginal plant: Plants that grow in shallow water or in permanently moist soul at a pond’s edge

Maritime climate: A climate affected by proximity of the sea which results in relatively small temperature difference between summer and winter and fairly high rainfall

Microclimate: A climate that is particular to a very small area and affected by local factors

Mid-stripe: A central band of contrasting color in a leaf or flower petal

Monotypic: A genus with only one species

Mulch: Organic matter placed over the soul to conserve moisture and keep frost from the roots and weed growth

Mutation: Abrupt change in plant’s habit

Neutral: Having a pH of 7

Offsetting: A plant that produces miniature replicas of itself, usually around its base

Organic: A substance produced by plants or animals via natural means

Panicle: A branched flower cluster

Peat: Sphagnum moss peat

Perennial: Plant that lives for at least three seasons

Perlite: Sterile granular form of aluminum silicate used in composts

pH: Scale by which acidity or alkalinity of soil is measured

Photosynthesis: Synthesis of organic compounds using light energy absorbed by chlorophyll

Pollination: The transfer f pollen to the female parts of the flower that results in the fertilization of the seeds

Predator: Creature used to control a pest

Pruning: Removal of unwanted parts of a plant

Rosette: Symmetrically arranged leaves

Rust: Reddish brown discoloration on plants

Seedling: Young plants (in early stage) grown from seeds

Shrub: Plant with woody stem, usually branched from or near the base

Sour soil: Soil that has become starved of nutrients

Species: A group of individual plants which breed together and have the same constant distinctive features

Subspecies: Members of a species which share common features

Succulent: Plant with thick fleshy leaves or stems that store water and nutrients

Sucker: Shoot that arises from the rootstock

Topiary : Trees or bushes that have been trained or clipped into artificial shapes. Also see 25 examples of amazing topiary art

Trailing: A plant with long stems that hand down

Tropical: Climatic zone of extreme heat

Tuber: A swollen root system

Variegation: Abnormal variation of colors in a plant

X: Denotes a hybrid plant derived from the crossing of two or more botanically distinct plants

Xerophytes: Plant adapted to living in an arid climate

Zone: Designated areas across North America with the same growing conditions

Zone of hardiness: The zone where a plant is most likely to grow successfully