Showing posts from April, 2011
Growing Orchids Indoors

We live in a fantastic gardening area of the country here in Miami. We don't have the weather problems of  many other parts of the country ( especially in the last few months with tornadoes in 12 states) or bitter winters, or mudslides or earthquakes. We have the ability to grow thousands of species of plants for most of a year without a worry about damaging cold weather. In most cases, we have a virtually unlimited ability to grow what we want to, provided we have the land to do so. We can grow a vast array of orchids on trees outdoors, making some impressive natural-looking gardens in the process. 
But what about those millions of people who don't have any land ? I grew up in suburban Milwaukee but my family didn't have a greenhouse, so I started growing orchids in windowsills and under fluorescent lights. Many grand orchids grown in windowsills and under lights showed up every month at the Wisconsin Orchid Society meetings, some of which b…
Water Woes- The War for More Water


Centuries ago, and up to the present time, water has been a valuable commodity. Wars have been waged over it, states have suffered from the lack of it, and politics can revolve around it, almost anywhere in the country. Some foreign countries have "died" from the lack of it. We hear so much about water saving appliances, conserving water in the environment, rainbarrel workshops for gardeners, and a new push for water-thrifty plantings. Every step we can take to save water helps in the war against water hogs. These are large ideals. On a more personal, smaller scale, can residential-scale tactics really help in the larger picture?
These publicly promoted steps sound wonderfully effective, and to some extent they are, but in the real world, water is akin to electricity and oil as a precious commodity. We can conserve water or electricity in our homes, but does it really make a difference in the national or global scale of consumption ? T…
Organic versus Synthetic Pesticides- The Debate Continues  For most of a modern lifetime, the debate has raged over the use of synthetic pesticides as opposed to natural pesticides. There is so much emotion and confusion over the debate that I hope I can bring some clarity to the issues so you can make your own decisions. In many analyses, especially in commercial agriculture and horticulture, economics of pest control is the ultimate ruler of how things get done. A grower might choose organic pest control methods, but might lose his profitability in the process.   
First, let's clarify the precepts of "pest control". There are myriad organisms, including insects, fungi, bacteria, mollusks, and higher organisms that bother both people and plants. Pesticides are products to control pests, and pesticides are not toxic by definition;  ( water or soap can kill mites quite effectively). The word "pesticide" itself carries emotional connotations. The issue of pest con…
Brilliant Bougainvilleas

I like Bougainvilleas a lot.....preferably on someone else's property. The plants are the epitome of colorful and tropical plants. But, ( and there is always a BUT), the plants need some specialized care, and like roses, come with some intimidating thorns. In all candor, Bougainvilleas are really quite easy to grow, and most people over-cultivate them, resulting in huge plants with few blooms. Without a doubt, the most frequent question I get is "why won't my Bougainvillea bloom ? I have had it for years...."). The question is easy to answer and easy to correct. I'll address that question a bit later.



This group of plants is one of the easiest of all to grow, yet one of the most misunderstood. In the subtropical parts of the country, these plants grow with abandon, and should be treated with both respect and careful neglect. In short, Bougainvilleas need rather little input from you to bloom well. P…
Propagate Your Own Plants- Part 1- Cuttings
One of the fun parts of growing plants is propagating them yourself. There are hundreds of ways to propagate plants, and, of course, a society to boost the knowledge base of the science. The International Plant Propagators Society ( is a global organization promoting and disseminating knowledge of plant propagation. Many techniques can be modified to find you specific needs i.e. some techniques bridge the gap between disparate plant types. The Internet is full of great ideas on how to propagate plants, but in this blog I'll focus on cutting propagation. The primary points to remember are protection from drying out and continuous moisture without getting the rooting medium soggy.  

One of the most common ways to root cuttings is to cut a 3 or 4 node cutting ( in some cases this can be over a foot long), remove the leaves on the lowermost node, cut the remaining leaves in half, dip the cutting int…