September 30th, 2012 by waqas
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Ricinus communis, commonly known as castor oil plant, is an interesting foliage plant for warm climates where it grows as a small tree (up to 5 to 10 meters). Castor oil plant is usually grown as specimen plant in landscapes for its striking foliage. In the growing season, the plant can be seen covered with new foliage of purplish-red color in contrast with older deep green color. The flowers are insignificant but the seeds pods are quite showy and colorful.
Ricinus communis, the Castor Oil Plant/ Image by Katja Schulz
Ricinus communis originally belongs to warmer climates of Africa and the Indian sub-continent, however, it is grown is many tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. Though it makes a good plant for horticulture, Ricinus communis is an important medicinal plant as well. The seeds of Ricinus communis are source of castor oil which is widely used for many commercial purposes. It is used in preparation of fine quality lubricant for automobiles and other machinery. Castor oil extracted from the seeds of Ricinus communis is also used in manufacturing of paints, cosmetics and soap industry.
Ricinus communis is a fast growing plant for warmer climates. In horticulture, various cultivars are grown as ornamental plants. Some of the popular verities of castor oil plants include: Ricinus communis ‘Red spire’ (red stem and bronze foliage), ‘Impala’ (reddish foliage), and Ricinus communis ‘Gibsonii’ (reddish foliage and pinkish seed pods).
September 21st, 2012 by waqas
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Nyctanthes arbor-tristis has many popular names – Night Jasmine, Coral Jasmine, Sad Tree, Parijat and Lover’s Tree. The plant justifies all of these pretty names. Legend has it Parijataka who was a beautiful princess fell in love with the sun but the sun deserted her. The mournful princess committed suicide. From ashes of the sad princess sprung a beautiful tree. Unable to stand the sight of the lover who left her, the tree blooms only at night and sheds its flowers before the sun rises.
Nyctanthes arbor-tristis/ Image by Dinesh Valke
The plant growing in my garden is now 5 years old and these days it is blooming profusely. Every day, I see a carpet of white flowers under the ‘sad’ plant. Anyway, Nyctanthes arbor-tristis is a nice plant to grow in the garden. It is not fussy about soil or water. In fact, it is quite hardy and prefers a little neglect.
Nyctanthes arbor-tristis grows as a shrub and grows in to a small tree (up to 5 meters). The coarse leaves cover straggling branches and make it a good foliage plant for filling in empty spaces in the garden. Small flowers of white color with orange center appear in summer. These scented flowers are rather short lived – they bloom at night and drop before rising of the sun.
Nyctanthes arbor-tristis grows natively in tropical climate of Pakistan and spreads across tropical regions of India, Bengladesh, Nepal and Thailand.
Besides its ornamental value, Nyctanthes arbor-tristis has various medicinal uses. The leaves are antibacterial and are used for the treatment of fungal infection, cough, and snakebite. Flowers are source of a yellow dye which is used to color clothes. The lovely flowers of Nyctanthes arbor-tristis are also used in Hindu rituals and for preparing garlands that is why it is the plant is also known as Haar Singhar (beautification or make up).
September 19th, 2012 by waqas
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Mammillaria is a large genus of globular or cylindrical spiny plants from Mexico and south-western part of the USA. It is also one of the best representatives of the Cactus family because of its beautiful formation and flowering.
Mammillaria sheldonii/ Image by Manuel M. Ramos
Most species of Mammillaria have small bristles-like spines that cover the globular or cylindrical body of the plant. Flowers appear near top of the plant and form a beautiful crown of silky and sometimes fragrant flowers. Flowering is followed by formation of colorful seed capsules that can be plucked and dried to obtain tiny seeds. Mature plants produce many offsets that usually appear at the bottom of the plant.
Mammillaria geminispina/ Image J Brew (flickr)
Mammillaria are quite easy to maintain as they only require bright sunlight, well-drained soil and regular watering. Since it is the largest genus of the Cactus family, Mammillaria offers a wide range of ornamental plants for container gardening. Some Mammillarias remain solitary whereas some form large clumps. Some Mammillarias grow in cylindrical shape, and some attain globular shape. Some Mammillarias have long and hooked spines whereas some have tiny bristles.
Most species of Mammillaria grow easily from seeds or offsets. Like other plants in the Cactus family, Mammillarias are quite slow growers but easy to maintain and propagate. These drought-tolerant plants only require hibernation in winter and protection from frost and high level of humidity.
Mammillaria candida/ Image by Blossfeldiana (flickr)
September 19th, 2012 by waqas
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This guest post is written by owner of BetterGreenHouses.com.
Creating a greenhouse is not as difficult as it looks. If you are worried about budget and expenses and the cost of maintaining the structure of the greenhouse, you can be rest assured that even simple and small greenhouses, which require little upkeep and expense can be fully functional and serve your purpose easily. Juliana Mini Greenhouse is one such example of a really simple and small greenhouse which can be used to grow amazing vegetables and plants that generally flower in summer. You will be hard pressed to grow these crops in winter especially if winters are harsh where you live. Thus, the idea of a greenhouse, compact and easily operational, is capital.
There might be a lot of worries regarding the expenses needed to maintain a greenhouse. This is where the Juliana Mini Greenhouse steals the thunder. It is compact and easily accommodated in your garage, shed or backyard. It is about 5 foot in height and includes polycarbonate panels which are completely unbreakable. These are twin walled and are attached with aluminum walls. This also provides additional support and durability to the structure, making it long lasting, and thus, in the long run, cutting down on maintenance cost
What you can grow in the greenhouse is completely your choice. The range of plants that adapt to the artificial environment of a greenhouse is surprisingly wide. Care should be taken to factor in the additional parameters of a greenhouse environment. For example, if you wish to exclude artificial warming and lightening in the greenhouse during winter, the list of plants which can be grown in the greenhouse will automatically become shorter. However, with the Juliana Mini Greenhouse also, the range and choice of plants will not change. In fact it is ideal for people who have no choice but to build their greenhouses in constricted spaces.
The quality of food crops grown in a greenhouse is particularly good. This makes it ideal to grow your tomatoes or other veggies in the Juliana Mini Greenhouse. The artificial environment of a greenhouse is different from other artificial environments since the former is a controlled environment where plants receive additional care and attention. This leads to a proliferation of fruit and flower that is quite amazing and beautiful to look at. The quality is optimum as a result and the most aesthetically pleasing plant samples are also more often than not, greenhouse plants.
There are certain problems in a greenhouse environment as well. For example, diseases and pests are also part of the repertoire of problems which every gardener has to deal with. Despite being a controlled atmosphere, greenhouse plants are not exempt from these problems. However these problems can be neutralized to a great extent because the atmosphere is controlled. For example, even in a small-scale greenhouse like the Juliana Mini Greenhouse, the pest problem can be handled without the use of pesticides at all. Thus these are some of the benefits which makes the investment behind a greenhouse worth the time and effort.