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Monday, August 29, 2011

Colourful Zinnia Flowers

 Zinnia flowers have been on my wish list but I did not have much success in growing many plants bought from the nursery. Either I would over water them or under water them and I lost many plants due to this trial ad error.
One important lesson learned is that you must plant the seeds and grow zinnia plants if you wish to get sturdy and tough palnts.
The stems of my zinnia plants are tough and strong and have been able to bear strong winds and rains. Zinnias grow well in flower beds or window sills and they bloom with the same care required for other flowering plants. Some small pebbles of fertilizers available at nursery shops suffice to bring forth the flowering spurt.
First Zinnia Flower
 With the red zinnia flower coming up first I did not expect all the zinnia plants to bloom together. It was a real treat to watch zinnia in bloom. Red, orange, dark yellow, maroon, magenta and pink, zinnia flowers are the most colourful and beautiful flowers available.
Close up of Red Zinnia Flower

Close up and Details of Zinnia Flower

Zinnia Flower

Bright Red Single Zinnia Flower

Magenta Coloured Zinnia Flower
 The stem of zinnnia flowers is firm and strong and I have allowed it to grow tall. The trick to get bigger zinnia flowers is to keep the stem smaller so that the flower can conserve all energy and put it on flowering.
Blooming of Zinnia Flower

Majestic Zinnia Flower
Cut Zinnia Flowers
After the beauty on the terrace as usual I was tempted to bring nature indoors. The blooms did shrivel a little with few days and hence the cut flowers do not look very fresh, but they are very colorful and deep colored flowers.Enjoyed the Zinnia flowers out for at least four days and then cut them and the treats went on till another week till the flowers began to fade, but the petals were still intact.
The flowers when started drying were leaving a bit of colors from the petals and turning brownish in colour. At last the cut flowers along with the water in the vase went as feedings for other plants.My little part for maintaining the ecology!

Gladiolus Flowers in Bloom

Red Gladiolus Flower Stem

 Unexpectedly since the past few days the rains have been very heavy. The gladiolus plant did decide to bloom now and it did! The red gladiolus plant bloomed in full and all the bulbs have been giving beautiful gladiolus flowers.
Fresh Red Gladiolus Flower

First Gladiolus Flower on Plant

Attractive Gladiolus Flowers
 The flowers have been aptly named according to their name and it is a treat to the eyes to see the proud stem of gladiolus flowers coming up. The stems are erect and firm and the happy flowers stand out from the crowd.
Detailed Close up of Gladiolus Flower
 I did feel the attraction to notice the detailed parts of the flowers and clicked a few pics of the same. The fine work of art created by God.
 Finally after enjoying the beauty of the gladiolus flowers outside I brought a part of nature to the inside by placing cut flowers in the house and they lasted much longer and full paisa vasool!
Close up of Red Gladiolus Flower
Cut Gladiolus flowers in Vase  

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Cactus Plant

Whenever we say cactus the first thing that comes to our mind is thorns. Well not all cactuses have thorns and I have one which is tall and does not have any thorns. I will have to search for a name as I have had this plant for long and it is growing well. First the stems were a bit lanky and it needed support. Then I have cut the tall shoots so that it can stay on its own.
This cactus plant is very easy to grow and propagated by its baby plants. The plant itself spreads from side of the original plant and we can see the baby plants that come up from side. Each baby cactus plant can be grown separately to get new plants.
This is a strange cactus plant as there are no visible thorns. It grows as a hardy stem and has smooth surface. With its dark green colour and tall stature it sure is a unique plant. Since this is a a variety of cactus I believe it stores water like other cactuses and hence does not require much water.
A very simple plant it also does not require much care and takes care of its self.
The stem on cutting one can see is hollow just like a wooden bamboo. Looks similar to bamboo and is also hard and strong like it.
In feng shui it is not advisable to keep thorny plants and even they have a no no for roses! but this cactus plant is very strong and tall and also does not need any support. Also this does not have any thorns and it also sturdy. So it is a welcome plant in the garden. It does take a special place in the garden as it looks and is unique. When we think of garden design and landscaping such plants work wonders to our garden design as they are different from the common leafy plants. And even I have selected this because of its uniqueness and of course it looks attractive, a green tall wooden bamboo like plant with shaded dark green ridges.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Wandering Jew

Our parakeet and Myna Bird
With our parakeet come different birds, usually for food. But she fights for attention! the daily procedure in early mornings that she has to drive them away from her territory!
Visiting friend the crow
 The wandering jew is truly named and I was wondering who might have penned the strange name. But the habit of this creeper or space cover is truly like a wanderer. On thinking about this lovely plant even I have to admit that I found a small piece of the plant lying on the premises of our building. God knows from where it had come but it was looking attractive and with my obsession of plants , it was all but predictable that  I would take it and give it a home. And since then there has been no looking back. This plant does not require much care and grows everywhere, just every where!
wandering jew purple plant
It is grown especially in hanging baskets or pots and looks very attractive with its silver colored leaves and dark purple outlines, almost royal! The plant will not require much soil or deep pot. It has roots coming from notches in the stem and they can connect to any plant, pot or soil from neighboring pot. It takes to the wall without any support and has a habit of growing very fast.
close up of leaves and roots of wandering jew
It is very delicate and can be removed by hand and I used to think that it will die in the heavy rains. But the opposite is true, it is flourishing in the dark environment as it cannot tolerate direct sunlight. My wandering jew plant is growing below bigger plants as it gets the required shelter from direct winds and  sunlight. The leaves glow like silver and the purple colour is lighter during sunny days and when the climate is best for the plant you can see the healthy colour of the leaves and its firm growth.
Tip for growing- Leave it a sit is. I tried to plant this deep but the plant does not require much care and grows better on the surface of any pot. It can survive without and deep root formation. I was surprised to remove it with hand lightly as the roots do not penetrate deep into the pot.
Use it as a space cover for any big pot or landscaping in the garden. The colour sure is a highlight for any garden, a must have to break the monotony of green!

Poem on Garden Care

This wonderful comment needed an applause and what better way to thank the person than to post it to remain forever! Appreciation for any gardener is in way of blooms and fruits of labor but some one taking time to write a poem specially for me, I am very lucky.
Poem written by Mary Lobo
Aunty as you take soo mch care of fowers... you hav decorated ur garden in such a beautiful way... i'd like to dedicate a poem for you-
a poem said by the garden itslf...

My Mother kept a garden,
a garden of the heart,
She planted all the good things
that gave my life it's start.

She turned me to the sunshine
and encouraged me to dream,
Fostering and nurturing
the seeds of self-esteem...

And when the winds and rain came,
she protected me enough--
But not too much because she knew
I'd need to stand up strong and tough.

I am my Mother's garden.
I am her legacy-
And I hope today she feels the love
reflected back from me...

People come and people go but you will always take a special place in my heart Mary and thank you very much for the wonderful poem. Such beautiful thoughts and meaningful too, and that too at such a young age, I am very much moved. Thanks. This post is especially dedicated to Mary Lobo. My God gifted daughter. You are a gem!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Rains and Garden care

I have been peeking in between the heavy rains dose we got for the past weeks and many small plants have not made it this time! This happens every year and I promise myself that I will not plant new ones but still the journey goes on. Enough is enough, and now I do have a good collection of tough plants that have survived the heavy rains. The fresh sunny days since yesterday has given me some time to take a survey of the garden.
The Jade plant has developed black leaves
 The jade plant did grow well when the rains began but heavy continuous down pour is a no no and the leaves have turned black and they drop off.
The Jhendu flower plant
 The jhendu plant couldn't make it, sob.. good when it had got the growth spurt I had planted all the cuttings  in different pots and they are fine and healthy. So the first time I am not so at a loss and I have the plant babies!
The Bettle leaf plant/ Paan with fungus
 The paan leaf climber did not really make it and was already in a weak state. It has developed white fungus which is very common for plants that have soggy soil or over waterings. Many plants cannot be taken indoors and so they have to be left to their fate. But from now there will not be many casualties Inshallah in the next rains. Tip - If you have a open garden select plants carefully and grow only those that can tolerate direct sunlight and direct downpour!
The Amryllais plant with spider web
 These spiders are every where in the garden and also some are very poisonous. Many times going near the plant will also give you a sever itch. trimming such plants is very difficult and lots of care has to be taken. In case of a bite one must clean the area immediately with an antiseptic soap and apply an antiseptic cream,  have had the experience many times!
Angel in the Garden
With rains have come different types of butterflies in the garden. Different colored butterflies are seen making the rounds of the garden as this is the time fr them to lay eggs.They look very angelic but now I do not like them so much. My rose bush has eaten leaves and full of the larvae! caterpillars will be everywhere feeding and feasting on my precious plants! Though I needed to post this one as this was a transparent heavenly one and of a large size. So now will begin the session of cleaning these otherwise the plants will soon become barren! They love the palm tree and caterpillars are always seen on this.
I love the rainy season as all the plants look fresh and green with clean and sparkling leaves. Except the flowers suffer a quick death with heavy down pour, so during rainy season my house will be seen with roses and other flowers from the garden, as cutting them is the only way I can make them stay longer.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Light Requirements for Indoor Plants

After trying to grow many plants like the red leaved one and the bamboo plant, the money plant and of course the jade I have learned that all plants require some light and also sufficient sunlight some time for their healthy growth. I have lost many jade plants by trying to grow them indoors. The money plant and the lucky bamboo do grow well but only when they get indirect sunlight from the window, do they look healthy.

I had tried hanging a light bulb over my plants for them to get the heat and energy to make food. But usually they grow in a toned down manner and only look fresh when they have a trip outdoors for some time of the week.
When you use artificial lighting much care has to be taken to keep the light bulb or lights at a safe distance from the plants. My poor money plant almost had burnt leaves due to over head heat from a high watt bulb!
I tried growing flowering plants indoor but was not successful as all plants require sunlight and fresh air for flowering.
Many people grow roses and the flowering plants on window sills and if your window gets direct sunlight for at least some time of the day, early morning or afternoon then the plants can manage to grow in a healthy manner. Still I personally feel roses grow best in direct sunlight except for the bush variety that requires partial sunlight. If you have a light source which can give direct heat to the plant then they can grow well as my lucky bamboo is growing with day light from the window and at night getting light from the indoor lighting in the room. 
The Chinese evergreen which is another plant that can grow well indoors but needs to get sunlight at least for some time of the day. Usually plants growing indoors will develop a dark green colour and as they get sunlight will show their true colours. Thick stems and plants that do not require much water are preferred as indoor plants as they are the ones that do not require much sun light. The snake plant or the mother in laws tongue , the peace lily and jade are some of the well known plants that can be grown indoors but if you wish they flower then take them for a trip outdoors.
Whenever we read about indoor plants we feel that they can be grown in any place and we keep the plants near our main door, our kitchen table or even our bedroom. But the important fact here is that no plants can grow without any light source, be it direct sunlight or measured indirect light from a light source. Why I mention measured because every plant has different light requirements and also at different times or stages of growth. A new plant may do away with indirect light till it grows bigger but a matured plant will definitely have more light requirements and especially if it is a flowering plant than they do require direct sunlight for flowering.
Tip for growing indoor plants well is to wipe the leaves regularly with a soft wet cloth sot hat they look fresh and can prepare their food easily. Dust and other chemicals from the air will block your indoor plants cells and they will look dull and have a stunted growth. Even if you have placed plants on a table or wall unit you can regularly keep them on the window sill for some time till you water them in early mornings and then place them back.
For indoor plants I have seen that the yellow light source works best since this light is similar to the outside sunlight. So if you wish to grow plants it is very simple to take care to select the correct plants , the ones that can tolerate low levels of sunlight and grow indoor. You can also ask your local nursery person though I have not got any correct guidance till now and they mention all plants grow in sunlight and all plants grow indoors as they have to make a deal and sell!

New Gladiolus Flowers in Rain

Green leaves of Galdiolus Flower Plant
The bulbs that had been planted in march this year have come up with beautiful stems with tiny flowers. this is a breathtaking sight, and I still do not understand why every flower bud gives me a surge of hope and happiness. It is like a new birth and new life coming , a creation of God, each plant is unique , each flower is unique, god has made this in so much detail, even the tiny ridges in the leaves are different!
The bulbs were planted in March and I did not know about any details of this plant except for the flowers, which I had seen in flower bouquets.
As the green shoots came up they looked almost like wild grass. Even the rains have been heavy but the plants have maintained their tall stature. Shoots of flowering stem looks like the tuberose stem that has again come up for a shower of flowers!except I can see tiny red specks here indicating that the flowers of gladiolus will be red. The other plants also have been blooming.

The Proud Shoot of Gladiolus

 The plant does have a great stature and hence aptly named as gladiolus, referring to gladiators in ancient times. The leaves look like swords and hence the name. Gladiolus plants are tough and do not require much care.
First Red Bud of Gladiolus
Opening of gladiolus Flower

New Shoots of gladiolus Flowers
 The other plants have also sent out proud shoots for flowering and I do not know which colour flowers will come up. Thats the mystery when you buy bulbs, the unknown future, the excitement of the beautiful colours of gladiolus!
and also the beauty of bulbs is that anyone can grow them easily and they also do not require much care!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Passion Fruit Climber

Passion Fruit Climber
Close Up Passion Fruit Climber Tendril
 The Passion fruit is one of the fastest growing climbers and can cover any area very fast. Why I planted this ? I have read that the passion flower is very beautiful and so is the passion fruit. Bought this plant from an plant exhibition. Upon inquiring about flowering and fruiting habits of this passion fruit plant I can to know that the fruits may come after 3 years.

The First Bud of Passion Flower
The first bud appeared after approximately 4 months of planting. It has taken to the wall and growing wildly during rains. Tendrils came along the main stem of the climber and cling to any straight support. This is a beauty created by God to see the fine work in the tendrils. The tendrils of the passion plant are very strong and tough and look similar to a copper wire rolled up.
This plant is very good for privacy and can cover any trellis within months. A tough plant this will trail over any area and in fact grows best under a big tree. The passion flowers are very beautiful and will post the pic when this bud blooms.
The leaves are dark green with new fresh lime green leaves coming up. The trailer grows from all sides and sends shoots from the main stem along with tendrils and its growth habit is some what unpredictable. I have seen climbers like the pea climber and the Christmas vine that grow only straight, however much you try to guide them side ways they will take a string and go up.

The passion fruit I have read is very unique flavor and many recipes are available on the net. i would like to try a few when I get fruits on my plant. Though tasted it in Ooty the passion fruit was not so appealing, my tastes are different. Maybe the fruit was not fresh, and it needs sugar to be added to eat it, and we ate it raw!
The growth of the passion fruit climber is going strong and I think the plant comes up with seeds though I have planted a sapling of the plant. The passion fruit has many black seeds along with fruit pulp inside the fruit. The fruit juice prepared is very healthy and good.

Rains are making havoc in the garden, lost some plants and have few casualties! the same with rains every year. I think from now I will select plants that can bear over watering and heavy winds!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

How to preserve Freshly Cut Rose Flowers

Freshly cut Rose Flowers
 Rose flower is one of the most beautiful and fragrant flowers. It requires sunlight and care to give healthy and happy blooms. Rose flower are available from rose plants or rose bushes.Personally I like the bushes variety since they give a bucket full of flowers! not literally but they are always laden with so many flowers , it is a wonderful sight. If you have rose bushes then there is no way you would not let nature into your living room!  I love to cut fresh flowers and display them in the living room or the kitchen. Immediately the rose flowers transform an boring environment to a lively one.
Purple Rose Flower
 There are certain rules to be followed to get best results from display of freshly cut flowers. Cut the flowers when they have bloomed fresh as they will last longer than if you allow the flower to remain in the sun.
Heavenly Pink Rose Flower
 Cut the rose flowers just a little below the stem with some leaves also. This will encourage healthy growth of new shoots from the cut portion later. If you decide to cut flowers take sharp scissors to avoid trauma to the plant.
Beautiful Red Rose
 You can take a wide mouthed vase or tall vase depending upon the area you have to display your roses. If you have  a metal urn then you may need to trim the stems further to have the rose flowers float. Some people also prefer to float the rose petals as a welcoming gesture during functions and weddings.
Close up of  Red Rose Flower
 If the flower has just bloomed you cut it during early morning and avoid its exposure to direct sunlight. Put it in a clean transparent vase for best effects. Select the colour of your vase according to the colour of rose flowers to get dramatic effects. Some times I put some salt and sugar crystals to provide healthy nutrients and salts to the flowers. I have also read that some people put Crocin tablets or paracetamol tablets in water to preserve freshly cut flowers in water for long.
Fresh Red Rose Flowers on Bush

Second Day Red Rose Flower
 This photograph is of the second day of blooming of the rose flower and you can see how the petals have become a bit loose. As days pass they will drop off petal, by petal and leave a barren seed center. So if you need to display roses remember to cut fresh flowers early in the mornings.
The Perfect Red Rose
Tip- Keep changing the water daily to maintain your freshly cut roses for long and they may last for about a week if cared for. Avoid direct exposure to heavy wind and air conditioning. Keep the flowers away from the fan, AC vent and window.
Once some portion of the flowers have dried you can trim the dried petals and again clean the vase and  keep the same flowers in fresh water. This will increase their life as the dried petals rot and will damage the remaining flower also. I use this slimy water to feed other plants as it is full of nutrients.
After you rose flowers have dried you need not throw this remains , use it to fertilize the other plants and put the flowers mulch into any pot and use this as a fertilizer.
Cut them and display them or buy that perfect bunch of rose and preserve them for long. Roses are a sure way to enliven your home environment and improve your mood. No wonder they are called the king of flowers!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The First Zinnia Flower

caterpillar, Pinto

Feasting Caterpillar

New Zinnia Plants
Seeds bought from ooty grew wonderfully and also in very less time. I had planted it in may though I would not recommend any other gardener to do so! Soon afetr we had heavy rains and most of the seeds did not get the sunlight to grow and due to cloudy atmosphere and heavy down pour even the one staht were sprouting are now sickly and limp!
Tip one- plant the zinnia or any flowering seeds in spring. Then they have plenty time to warm up, sprout and grow into healthy plants.
The Zinnia plants came up very soon and also as healthy and happy plants. I think it took hardly a week for the new shoots to come above the soil and I had these healthy tall plants in a fortnight. The flower came after two months as the stem matured.
The stem of zinnia plant is hairy and you can see tiny hair on the surface of the stem. Most liked by caterpillars and butterflies.
First Zinnia Flower
The beautiful zinnia flower was developing when I took this shot. The petals were just opening and it developed into a dark purple with maroon center, what a breath taking view of the first zinnia flower!
Beautiful Zinnia Flower

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