Showing posts from February, 2012
Cattleya Orchids for Landscape Culture
One of the many advantagesto living in Miami is the ability to use orchids and other epiphytes as permanent landscaping. I've written about the myriad uses of such plants in previous blogs, but here I will focus on a certain group of orchids well suited for landscape usage. There are numerous Cattleya-alliance hybrids which are great candidates for landscape applications, including Broughtonia,, Brassavola, Laelia, Diacrium, and Schomburgkia hybrids. The range of flower colors and plant sizes is enormous, and the prices have dropped nicely so that plants can be purchased most reasonably. Our local orchid sales are well stocked with such vigorous hybrids, and most of the plants flower several times per year. Numerous inter-generic hybrids are available as well, in a huge range of plant sizes. There are hybrids using the petite Brassavola nodosa produce carpets of foliage with modest roots, 3 inch flower spikes, small, brilliant flowers, and a n…
Thoughts on Organic Fertilizers

We hear a great deal about "organic fertilizers" in just about every type of media outlet. There are lots of articles, magazines, books, videos, and societies about organic fertilizing. The idea of organic fertilizer is somewhat more of an integrated garden  lifestyle than a science, although there is plenty of science involved, just not the sort we're used to seeing on most fertilizer containers. Let me cast a bit of light on the ideas of organic versus synthetic fertilizers.

On most synthetic fertilizers, we'll see the ingredients listed as we would see on a food container: the primary ingredients are listed in order of their occurrence.There are guaranteed percentages of ingredients like urea, ammonium phosphate, potassium nitrate, and so on. There are secondary ingredients such as iron and manganese compounds, copper, boron, and so forth. The components are listed in precise percentages, and with many commercial products, you g…
Bromelius Retailicus   In recent years, bromeliads of several types have shown up at garden centers and big-box home improvement stores. The array of colors and sizes is impressive, ranging from small plants in 2 inch pots to yard-diameter monsters in 14 inch tubs. Most of the plants, however, are in 6 inch pots, and are soft-leaf types with colorful and long lasting flower spikes. These are, for lack of a better term, "retail bromeliads", and I have Latinized the farcical general name into the title above. 

What should you do after you buy one of these plants ? It is best to keep the plants away from strong sunlight, and in warm, humid conditions. A well-diffused bright and shadow-free light is ideal. Kitchens and bathrooms make ideal greenhouses in much of the USA in winter. The plants are usually grown in pure peat moss which holds a lot of water, but the plants don't need to be soaking wet to grow well. It is recommended to keep water in the center of the plants…
Sterilizing Cutting Tools

 One of the perennial problems in gardening is how to clean gardening tools after using them, especially cutting tools. Dirty cutting tools can spread diseases quickly, but how do you sterilize something that's full of dirt ? There are some time-tested ways to do the job, especially necessary with disease-prone orchids. In most instances, you don't really have to sterilize a shovel or an ax.  Many soft-tissue tropical plants, though, can contract a number of diseases spread by cutting tools. It is usually wise to sterilize cutting tools when cutting into orchids or members of the Aroid family. Some fairly recent ( and lethal on a large scale) diseases such as Texas Phoenix Palm Decline, Laurel Wilt and Sudden Oak Death can be readily transmitted by cutting tools.

 In the home garden, cleaning hand tools is easy. For decades, orchid growers have sterilized their pruners and knives with a range of products, but I prefer to use either heat from a…