Tag: plants

Arrowhead Plant – Syngonium podophyllum Nephthytis

imageI had these wicker plants hangers for years before that, not knowing what to put in them… I finally found these two Arrowhead plants from work about five years ago and thought they were a great fit! They love their south facing window, which gives them very little light in the summer and a full days worth during the winter. They really thrive and grow during the winter. They tend to take a pause from growing in the heat of the summer.
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These are relatives of the Philodendron, another easy plant to grow. They like moist soils, but don’t over-soak them. They like a light 10-10-10 fertilizer every 3 months.

Plants inside can get spider mites. These don’t get moved outside during the summer, so they’ve been insect free.

Pruning is a bit tricky. You don’t want to cut all the way down to the split or you will nip the tip of the new leaf off. As you look at the stem that branches off, you will notice there is a bulge in the stem, this is where the next leaf is curled up in it’s stem.

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A still rolled up leaf.

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The plant will start to shoot ‘runners’ (l o n g branches) after a few years. If you like them, keep them. I’ve got one that is about 15 feet long. I just want to see how long it will actually get! To keep the plant bushy, these should be pruned off. If you do this during the summer months, place the piece, now known as a ‘cutting’, into water and it should soon root, then plant it in a light mix.

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This is the start of a runner. See the thick ends of the leaf stem at the main branch? Don’t cut below this.

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After it grows out, the brown dried-up stem can be cut, do not peel it!

© The Naturarian

35 Water Saving Methods in the Garden

rain barrel

  1. More plants die from over-watering than from under-watering. Be sure only to water plants when the ground is dry.
  2. Use sprinklers that toss big drops of water close to the ground. Smaller drops of water and mist can drift onto non-target areas or evaporate before they hit the ground.
  3. Water lawns during the early morning when temperatures and wind speed are the lowest. This reduces evaporation and waste. Watering in the evening can leave leaves wet all night, promoting disease problems. Better yet. DON’T WATER THE LAWN AT ALL!!! It doesn’t die, it goes dormant.
  4. Hand-water with a hose where possible. Homeowners who water with a handheld hose can use one-third less water outdoors than those who use automatic sprinklers.
  5. Use mulch to retain moisture in the soil. Mulch also helps reduce soil compaction from raindrops and helps control weeds that compete with landscape plants for water.
  6. Purchase a rain barrel and install below your gutter downspout and you’ll capture a little more than half a gallon of water for every square foot of roof during a one-inch rainfall—that means a 90-square-foot roof would completely fill a 55-gallon barrel! You can use that bounty to water your ornamental garden. Don’t use on your veggies, too many contaminants!!
  7. Plant smart. Xeriscape landscaping is a great way to design, install and maintain both your plants and irrigation system. Plant native and/or drought-tolerant grasses, ground covers, shrubs and trees. Once established, they do not need water as frequently and usually will survive a dry period without watering. It will save time, money and water.
  8. Position sprinklers so they’re not watering driveways and walkways.
  9. Adjust your lawnmower to cut grass to a height of 3 inches or more. Taller grass encourages deeper roots and shades the soil to reduce moisture loss.
  10. Start a compost pile or scrape food into the trash instead of running your garbage disposal*, which requires a lot of water to work properly. Use the compost to improve the quality and water holding capacity of your soil. *Save yourself from having the plumber out also!!
  11. Use a timer on hose-end sprinklers to avoid over-watering. 15-20 minutes is generally enough time.
  12. When the kids want to cool off, use the sprinkler in an area where your lawn needs it the most.
  13. Only water your lawn when needed. You can tell this by simply walking across your lawn. If you leave footprints, it’s time to water.
  14. While fertilizers promote plant growth, they also increase water consumption. Apply the minimum amount of fertilizer needed.
  15. Aerate your lawn. Punch holes in your lawn about six inches apart so water will reach the roots rather than run off the surface.
  16. Never put water down the drain when there may be another use for it such as cleaning or watering a plant or garden. For example, collect the water you use for rinsing fruits and vegetables, then reuse it to water houseplants; or when cleaning out fish tanks, give the nutrient-rich water to your plants.
  17. Install sprinklers that are the most water-efficient for each use. Micro, drip irrigation and soaker hoses are examples of water-efficient methods of irrigation.
  18. Outfit your hose with a shut-off nozzle that can be adjusted so water flows only as needed. When finished, turn the water off at the faucet instead of at the nozzle to avoid leaks.
  19. Use hose washers on water hoses and attachments to eliminate leaks.
  20. Do not leave sprinklers or hoses unattended. Your garden hose can pour out 600 gallons of water or more in only a few hours, so don’t leave the sprinkler running all day. Use a kitchen timer to remind yourself to turn it off.
  21. Verify that your home is leak free. Homes can have hidden water leaks that may be noticeable indoors, but outside can go undetected. Read your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak.
  22. Avoid purchasing recreational water toys that require a constant stream of water.
  23. Go with splashes of color instead of mass plantings of annuals. Yes, they’re beautiful, but annuals (such as petunias and impatiens) typically require more water than most perennials.
  24. Rethink your lawn layout. If you live in a dry climate, you’ll need a lot of sprinkler activity to maintain a huge grassy swath. Consider replacing it with decorative gravel, which also reduces runoff.
  25. Collect shower/bath “warm-up” water in a bucket for use in watering plants
  26. Use water from dehumidifiers to water indoor and outdoor plants. You can also collect condensation water from air conditioning units to use for watering plants.
  27. Choose shrubs and groundcovers instead of turf for hard-to-water areas such as steep slopes and isolated strips.
  28. Plant in the fall when conditions are cooler and rainfall is more plentiful.
  29. If water runs off your lawn easily, split your watering time into shorter periods to allow for better absorption. A heavy layer of thatch can be hydrophobic, so de-thatching might help.
  30. Remember to check your sprinkler system valves periodically for leaks and keep the sprinkler heads in good shape. Check your timing devices regularly too to be sure they operate properly.
  31. Water your plants deeply but less frequently to encourage deep root growth and drought tolerance. I recommend 1′ of water per week.
  32. Learn how to shut off your automatic watering system in case it malfunctions or you get an unexpected rain.
  33. Remember to weed your lawn and garden regularly. Weeds compete with other plants for nutrients, light, and water.
  34. Wash your car and pets on the lawn, and you’ll water your lawn at the same time.
  35. Use porous materials for walkways and patios to keep water in your yard and prevent wasteful runoff.

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© The Naturarian

How Plants Get Their Names

Botanical nomenclature is the formal way of saying, ‘The scientific naming of plants’. Plant taxonomy is first used to group and classify all plants; then botanical nomenclature provides names for the results of this sorting process.

They say Latin is a dead, unspoken language, but I speak it every day at my job in horticulture. Plants have both a common name and a formal, scientific name. When you talk to your Southern cousin and she tells you she has bluebells in her yard, they could be a completely different plant than what we Midwesterners call a bluebell. Poor Arisaema triphyllum has many names: Jack-in-the-pulpit, bog onion, wild turnip, brown dragon, Indian turnip, death flower or American wake robin.

By using Latin nomenclature, I ensure that I order exactly which variety I want, especially if I’m matching existing plants. Scientists refer to this method as the binomial naming system, as all biological things have an order. Many times the Latin name reveals characteristics of the plant such as color, size, origin, and growth habit among other things.

The ‘white bleeding heart, lyre flower or lady-in-a-bath’ will be my example.

Dicentra spectabilis ‘Alba’ Synonym Lamprocapnos (shakes fist at botanists)

Dicentra is the first part of the name called the genus. This section groups plants that are closely related. The translation is; Di = two + centra = spurs, which describes the flower.

The next part of the name is called the specific epithet, which further describes the plant; spect = looking + abilis = able.

The last part of this name [in this case] is the variety. This describes qualities that differ from the species, and will grow true from seed. ‘alba’ =  white.

Names of cultivars are also after the specific epithat and in quotes. These do not grow true from seed and are capitalized as usually, they relate to the creator or something catchy for marketing such as, Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’ and Hosta ‘Big Daddy’.

Hybrids would be the last type of scientific name that combines the names of the two plants involved. Abelia x grandiflora or the glossy abelia, was developed by crossing Abelia chinensis and Abelia uniflora. These plants do not grow true from seed. Examples are: Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Forester‘ and Gaillardia x grandiflora ‘ Arazona Sun’.

Here’s some basic Latin to help ease you into it!

Alba = white

Aurea = golden foliage

Contorta = twisted

Elata = tall

Grandiflora = large flowers

Grandifolia = large leaves

Japonica = from Japan

Lutea = yellow

Nana = dwarf

Occidentalis = from the West

Orientalis = from the East

Pendula = weeping

Purpurea = purple

Repens = creeping

Sempervirens = evergreen

Syricta = upright

Tomentosa = downy

© The Naturarian