Archive for October, 2011

by William Hageman,Tribune Newspapers

How many houseplantsdoes Larry Hodgson have? About 600, he says. But that’s just a guess. “My kid once tried to count them and gave up after 300,” says Hodgson, author of “Houseplants for Dummies.” “And that was only upstairs. I have lots and lots of plants downstairs and on another floor as well.”

As Hodgson points out, the benefits of houseplants are manifold. Aside from the aesthetics — a little greenery will brighten even the most squalid dump — they provide a person with physical activity and mental stimulation. They even promote a healthy environment. “Having houseplants in your home is like having your own little air filter,” he says. “In this day and age, outdoor air is generally far less polluted than indoor air because we have so many things in our homes that give off toxic products. Houseplants can clean it up for you.” Read More→

There is a traditional view that a few plants add much needed color to a room. It was pretty much the same view that people had of plants in the office, bringing a little taste of home to a place of work. However, office plants offer much more than just a homely feel or a little color, with research showing that there are distinct advantages to any business that chooses to invest in them.

The two most recognized benefits of indoor plants are: the improvements that they make to the environment in health terms, as well as the resulting positive psychological effects they have on occupants and the consequential drop in absenteeism. A third less recognized, but from a business standpoint perhaps the most important, is the positive impression that they can have on clients, helping to build a company image that is will lead to increased business and revenue. Just how these are accomplished is not very difficult to explain. Read More→

Hydrangeas are fascinating in that, unlike most other plants,the can change color. Many wonder how this can be, a hydrangea planted in early ed colors three times by October.Many think it is in the pH of the soil by itself but William B. Miller, a professor of horticulture at Cornell ‘t agree.Hydrangeas are fascinating in that, unlike other plants, the colors of their flowers can change dramatically. Many think that the color change is due to pH levels in the soil, but “It is not the soil pH by itself but the availability of aluminum,” said William B. Miller, a professor of horticulture at Cornell University.

Aluminum is very common in the earth’s crust, but is available to the plant only in low-pH, or acidic, soils, Dr. Miller said. The plant absorbs the aluminum through the roots.

When aluminum gets up into the sepals, the colored segments that surround the tiny hydrangea flowers, it joins two other things that make the blossom blue: a pigment called delphinidin 3-monoglucoside and a co-pigment called 3-caffeoylquinic acid.

“Both are present in both blue and pink cultivars,” Dr. Miller said. If aluminum is available, he said, the blossom is blue, and if not, it ends up pink.

“Pink cultivars can be blue, and blues can be pink,” Dr. Miller said, and some can go both ways. But white cultivars, like Sister Therese, cannot become pink or blue.

As for a multicolored plant, Dr. Miller suggested two explanations: In limey soil, a plant that started out blue may make a partial transition to pink; or near new construction, where fill soil has been brought in, some roots may be in acidic soil, while five feet away, others are exposed to aluminum ions.

Photo credit: Austin Home Improvement Blog

If you’re looking for plants to spice up your garden or home, consider the many fruiting varieties of tropical plants that can be germinated from seeds in fruits sold in your local supermarket.  The main advantage of germinating fruit seeds is that you may grow plants that eventually produce fruit of their own.  However, even if your plants don’t produce fruit, they will provide some variety to your home.

Many of these plants, being tropical, require a lot of heat to thrive.  If you don’t have a greenhouse, you may have to content yourself with a plant that only produces leaves and never flowers.  If you want to try your hand at serious tropical plant gardening, it’s wise to have a dedicated building to retain heat and humidity. Read More→

Oct
13

Growing Trees Indoors

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By Nara Schoenberg

My husband’s weeping fig tree (Ficus benjamina) left this world only last year, having lived 20 years with no fertilizer, ever, and far less water than it rightfully deserved. “I never watered it until I noticed it was sick,” my spouse cheerfully reported. And this isn’t simply a tale of survival. The 4-foot tree looked pretty good — and sometimes gorgeous, with a full crown of glistening leaves — for most of that time.

I was expecting a lecture and a guffaw when I ran this scenario by Barbara Pleasant, author of “The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual” (Storey, 2005), but instead I got a (restrained) pat on the back. Turns out that a select group of tall, treelike houseplants, including my husband’s unstoppable fig, can be true survivors, right up there with cockroaches, Coke Classic and Eliot Spitzer.

“Through your laissez-faire attitude, you’d given the tree exactly what it wants, which is stability,” Pleasant said. “Trees are built to stay in one place. Find a place where it’s happy and, except for rotating it for light, leave it where it is, see if it’s happy and leave it alone.” Read More→

By Beth Botts

When you bring in houseplants from outdoors, there’s going to be culture shock. They are moving to a world of less light, bone-dry air and no beneficial insects. That’s important: Outside, predator insects curb most problem insects on houseplants by eating them for lunch.But inside our houses, it’s up to us.

Carefully inspect any plants that have returned indoors for signs of insects or insect eggs. A spray of insecticidal soap — don’t miss the undersides of the leaves — can be an effective preventive measure for bugs you can’t see. Use a soap that’s made for plants, typically sold at garden and home centers, and not a homemade concoction that might damage the leaf surface. Read More→

Indoor house plants are not only decorations. It is serving our houses as cleaners of air pollutants. It is also mandatory for them to stay healthy to keep on doing their roles. It’s exceedingly important to keep your indoor house plants clean. The upward thrust of dust on the leaves of the indoor house plants blocks the pores and holds back your plants from receiving needed air and light.

First plan of action is to get shot of yellow or brown dead leaves both for plants and flowers. Check the pot and remove things that have fallen off into the soil. Second is by using a wet material to wipe giant leaves from base to tip. You may use a clean paintbrush or a soft powder brush for smaller leaves. Be especially careful when holding the leaves of your indoor house plants as it can simply crack. You may use your hand to support the base of the leaves. Read More→

We cannot deny that for major parts of our country the temperatures are starting to fall. In the next few months, it will actually be cold. Oh how we wish we could leave all the plants in our landscape out for the whole winter. Well, your wishes may be on their way to being fulfilled.

Botanists developed a spray that, when misted over a plant, will help it endure temperatures 2.2 to 9.4 degrees Fahrenheit colder than it would without the spray, depending upon the species. The spray, called Freeze-Pruf, reduces the freezing point of water inside the tissues of the plant by means of a mixture that combines five ingredients in a water-based spray formula. One spray works for four to six weeks, lowering the temperature at which damage first becomes noticeable as well as the temperature that would normally kill the plant. Read More→

Growing Expectations, Inc. PO Box 268 Princeton, NJ 08542 Telephone – (609) 924 – 9782 FAX (609) 737 – 2344