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Japanese Flower Arrangement: Ikebana

sample vase

 

Ikebana is the art of arranging flowers. In Japanese “ike” means to arrange and “bana” ori-gens from the word “hana” meaning flower.
In Ikebana the flowers and branches are arranged so that they appear in a beautiful, simpel, and natural way.

Apart from fresh flowers and branches, wood, metal, plastic and many other things can be used.

The shape and colour of the vase is also of great importance to the final arrangement.
Ikebana came to Japan with Buddhism from India via China, around year 6oo a.d. Like in many other religions, the alters in the Japanese temples were also decorated with flowers and fruits. These offerings were the origin of Ikebana.
Many people might feel that Ikebana does not fit into a Western-style home. But on the other hand an Ikebana arrangement matches very well with a light-coloured wall, or a brick wall or any other kind of home.

bell ikebana
Ikebana is not only about two branches and three flowers in a ball. The interaction between the vase and the branches and the flowers are together creating the final harmony.

While flower arrangement for many people in the West consists of symmetrically arranging flowering plants in a vase, Japanese Ikebana (literally ‘flowers kept alive‘) is a lot more complex.

Ikebana came to Japan with Buddhism from India via China, around year 6oo a.d. Like in many other religions, the alters in the Japanese temples were also decorated with flowers and fruits. These offerings were the origin of Ikebana.
Many people might feel that Ikebana does not fit into a Western-style home. But on the other hand an Ikebana arrangement matches very well with a light-coloured wall, or a brick wall or any other kind of home.

Ikebana is not only about two branches and three flowers in a ball. The interaction between the vase and the branches and the flowers are together creating the final harmony.
While flower arrangement for many people in the West consists of symmetrically arranging flowering plants in a vase, Japanese Ikebana (literally ‘flowers kept alive’) is a lot more complex.

In the late 17th century, the growing merchant class developed a simpler style, called seika or shoka. Shoka uses only three main branches, known as ten (heaven), chi (earth) and jin (man) and is designed to show the beauty of the plant itself. Another old form of ikebana is nageire, used in the tea ceremony.

meaning
The Ohara school generally uses moribana (piled-up flowers) in a shallow, flat container. The school was started at a time when Western culture was heavily influential in Japan and the moribana style made good use of Western plants. But it was still a formal style. Influence from the artistic movements of the early 20th century led to the development of jiyuka (free-style) arrangement. Despite all the changes, ikebana was still only for the upper class.

Ikebana can be roughly divided into two styles –

  • the moribana shallow vase style and
  • the nageire tall vase style.
  • The Sogetsu school uses a series of kakei (patterns) for each style so that ven the beginner can quickly create their own arrangements.

As an example, let’s look at the moribana Basic Upright style.

The shushi are the three main branches –

  • the shin (truth) branch,
  • the soe (supporting) branch and
  • the hikae (moderating) branch.

The arrangement of these branches and the kenzan or spiked metal holder are drawn in a simple diagram, called a kakeizu.

sketch and sample vase

The kakeizu shows a frontal and overhead view of the arrangement. After examining the kakeizu, suitable branches or flowers are chosen for the shushi and trimmed if necessary. The stems are cut to correct lengths according to set formulae.
The kenzan is placed in the vase and just covered with water. The sushi are fixed to the kenzan in order and according to the kakeizu. Jushi or short supplementary stems are added to support the shushi and give depth to the arrangement. Finally, the composition is examined and any finishing touches applied.
Source: Japan’s Ikebana

 

Tips on Growing Cacti

elongated image

Growing and propagating cacti is relatively easy to do and can be quite rewarding. For the most part there are three environmental variables to consider to ensure your experience with growing cacti is successful. These are:
• Soil
• Water
• Light
We’ll examine these three conditions in greater detail shortly, but first let’s note that there are at least two different groups of cacti. There are the desert cacti which is certainly the first type to come to mind whenever someone hears the word “cactus”. However, there are also jungle cacti which grow in rain forests and other environments that most would consider the least likely habitat for a cactus plant. I’ll address growing conditions for the two separately beginning with the jungle cacti.

Jungle samples

Jungle Cacti
Jungle cacti include those species in genera such as Acanthocereus, Disocactus, Epiphyllum, Hatiora, Hylocereus, Lepismium, Rhipsalis, Schlumbergera, Selenicereus, and perhaps a few others. Almost everyone has seen at least one representative from this group even if they were unaware that the plant was actually a cactus. These plants are all true cacti despite their lack of big spines and inability to withstand the harsh conditions of the desert. (Visit the Cacti or Not? page to learn more about what qualifies a plant as a cactus.) Now when we associate “cactus” with one of these, it does not seem unusual that they would require different care when growing than the stereotypical image that comes to mind when we think about the family cactaceae.

Soil
Most Jungle cacti are either epiphytic or lithophytic meaning they grow in trees or grow on rocks respectively. This type of plant gets its nutrients from the air or from dead leaves and other debris that may have collected in crotches, cracks, or crevasses. It is important to note that there are no parasitic cacti.

Those that grow in trees do so for support, but do not sap nutrients from their host. For best results we’ll want our soil to mimic these natural conditions.Some good ingredients for creating a suitable potting mixture for Jungle Cacti include: orchid bark, pearlite, potting soil, peat, coir, pumice, and oak leaf mold

Water
It is no accident that I’ve listed water as the second item on the list. This is because a well drained soil is critical for keeping the water from rotting the roots off the plant. With the proper soil, however, watering is really quite simple. I water my Jungle Cacti about once a week. This is a good rule of thumb, but there are exceptions. During extended hot, dry periods I may water twice in one week. Conversely, when it is cool and rainy I might switch to every other week.

Light
Jungle Cacti can survive in a wide range of light conditions. However, we’ll assume the goal is not to have plants simply surviving, but thriving. For the plants to thrive the amount and intensity of light are key ingredients. In my experience the ideal condition for Jungle Cacti is full morning sun and then shade for the afternoon. All the plants I have in this ideal condition exhibit robust and healthy growth.

There are three other lighting situations that are not as ideal, but often times necessary due to space constraints. These are morning shade/full afternoon sun, full shade, and full sun.

round cactus

Let’s explore these conditions further. It may seem that shade in the morning and full-sun in the afternoon should produce the same results as full morning sun/afternoon shade, but it doesn’t. This is because the temperature is cooler in the morning than the afternoon and for many plants the afternoon sun is a little too intense and plants will often take on a sickly-yellow appearance and may develop spots. In full-sun these symptoms will be even more apparent.

As with most things in nature there are exceptions and some plants actually prefer full-sun and thrive in it. In full shade the plants will don a dark-green healthy appearance, but the stems will be stretched out long and thin in an attempt to reach more light.

Not only is light essential for healthy stems, it also triggers blooming in many species. In ideal conditions a particular plant may exhibit fantastic growth with many show-quality stems, but they won’t bloom. In this situation exposing the plant to longer and more intense sunlight will trigger it to bloom.

Don’t forget that plants can get sunburn just like people do. If you have a plant that has been mostly shaded, don’t just stick it out in direct sunlight or you will certainly end up with a badly scared cactus. This is even true for desert cacti that occur naturally in extremely hot, intense sunlight.

Madagasca samples

Desert Cacti
Desert cacti hail from throughout the arid regions of the America’s and surrounding islands. There are no desert cacti native to the old world and only one jungle species that occurs in Madagascar. Despite this, many people envision cacti growing in pure Sahara Desert sands with practically no water.
This common mis-perception should not be in your mind when you are preparing an environment for your desert cacti. We’ll explore the requirements for growing healthy desert cacti shortly. First let’s summarize the different types of desert cacti you may encounter. There are small rounded, flat, or cylindrical plants; there are shrubby, segmented, and sprawling kind; and there are the large columnar and tree-like giants. Although even within each of these groups growing conditions vary from one plant to another.
Soil
Most cacti prefer a nutrient rich, rocky soil with good drainage. To create a suitable growing median for our desert cacti we’ll use some of the same ingredients that we used for jungle cacti as well as some new ones. These are pearlite, pumice, potting soil, rocks, sand, peat, coir, and gravel. After trial and error and advice from other growers, I have settled on an easy, well-draining mix. This mix consists of 60% pumice, 20% coir, 20% Supersoil (topsoil). The pumice can be replaced with pearlite or vermiculite and the coir replaced with peat.

occidentalis

Water
Their ability to survive in extremely hot, arid, harsh habitat is a truly fantastic attribute of cacti. However the notion that cacti do not need water or that they actually must avoid water in order to survive is unquestionably false. The reality is water is essential for all cacti to live. Their reputation comes from their ability to survive in areas where water is available in small amounts or is delivered infrequently. Most desert cacti can sustain long periods of drought. This is because the last time water was available to them, they stored as much as possible in their tissues.

Desert cacti are made to thrive in their native environment, which is most likely not anything like the environment where you’ll be growing them. Even so, when it comes to watering cacti, there is no reason to artificially create drought. Whether potted or in the ground, a good time to water desert cacti is whenever the soil is dry. In hot, dry areas watering once a week is acceptable.

Source: Growing cacti.com

Growing Vanda Orchids

Vanda 3s

The Vanda Orchid is not very different from the Ascocenda orchid and the Phalaenopsis orchid or the Moth Orchid as it is fondly thought of. All these orchid species are totally tropical. The Vanda orchids are no more difficult to grow than other orchids, but they do have special cultural needs if you want to bring out the best in this orchid species. The Vanda orchids originated from the warm islands of the South Pacific. Places like Malaysia, Thailand, Borneo and the Philippines are home, natural home, to these orchid species. These sympodial epiphytic orchids prefer full sun exposure and thus like bright light, warm temperatures, and lots of humidity. They have long, trailing roots that draw moisture and nutrients from the atmosphere.

waling
The Vanda orchid, or the Vandaceous orchid to give its proper name, has become so popular since they are an excellent orchid species that lends itself to hybridization with several other orchid species. It has been used in so many successful hybridizations. Any mention of the Vanda orchid is not complete without mentioning the Vanda sanderiana (also known as the Euanthe sanderiana).

This is a truly beautiful orchid that bears bright pink and maroon orchid flowers that have spectacularly long-lasting characteristics. Another spectacular example of the Vanda orchid hybridization is the Vanda Rothschildiana x Vanda Coerulea, which is possibly the bluest of all orchid flowers with heavy contrasts of white. The orchid flowers itself are saucer-sized, flat blooms with an extremely heavy substance and a crystalline texture that glistens in the light.

two vanda varieties
Cultivation
These days the Vanda orchid is grown widely around the world, in Durban (South Africa), in the Netherlands, and in Florida (USA) despite the fact that they are rather unwilling to flower in climates other than their natural habitat. The fact that there are many successful hybridization of this orchid species accounts for the widespread occurrence of this orchid species. The wide range of colors which includes some fairly good blues and browns has added greatly to their popularity.

The Vanda orchid comes in yellow, orange, scarlet, deep purple and bright fuchsia orchid flowers. There are many size variations and some of these orchid flowers sport exotic markings or can be covered with spots or stripes. Many Vanda orchids have a powerful fragrance. The inflorescences appear from the axis of the leaves. The orchid flowers are long lasting and appear in a cluster along the spike. I just need to add that these orchids have long lasting flowers on the plant and not when used as cut flowers.

vanda white

Temperature
Like most tropical orchids, the Vanda orchid prefers warm temperatures with plenty of air movement. These orchids will continue to grow anytime of the year if given warm temperatures, plenty of light and even full exposure to the sun. They require high temperatures in summer and winter. These orchids will perish if exposed to frost or cold for long periods if grown outside in your home orchid garden.

Even if you cultivate your orchid plants indoors, you need to ensure that your Vanda orchids are kept at the optimal temperature where they will thrive. In cooler areas the orchid plant will go into a dormant state during winter. This dormancy is not to the orchid plant’s detriment because it in most cases result in bigger and better flowers. The ideal temperature range for the Vanda orchid is a low of 15° Celsius (59° Fahrenheit) in winter and a summer high of 32° Celsius (98° Fahrenheit). The Vanda orchids are capable of tolerating higher and lower temperatures for short periods only.

Light
All Vanda orchids require light. Too little light will result in lanky and soft orchid plants. If you are cultivating these orchids at home be sure to make use of 20 to 30 percent shade cloth. The Vanda orchid is fast growing and therefore prefer high light levels. A covered roof is even better since you can then protect the Vanda orchid with its blooms from the harsh rain and winds.

vanda yellow

Water and humidity
The Vanda orchid or the Vandaceous orchid loves water. Watering the Vanda orchid should happen on a daily basis in slightly drier but warm climates. In true tropical warm weather fashion, the Vanda orchid requires water and high humidity.

You also need to keep in mind that the Vanda orchid also likes to be cooled by a constant breeze. This makes air movement vital to the successful cultivation of Vanda orchids. Stagnant air can result in fungal and bacterial rot.

Feeding
All Vandaceous orchids are heavy feeders. You should provide them with a high nitrogen orchid fertilizer such as 30:10:10 in spring to shake it up after its winter dormancy. During the summer you should follow the feeding schedule with a general fertilizer and a good bloom booster in autumn. There is no need to feed your Vanda orchid during the winter, but if you intend to keep your orchid plants warm during winter then you can continue to feed to orchid plant. In excessively cool weather winter feeding would be wasteful. (Tip: Always water before fertilizing.)

Pests and Diseases
The Vanda orchid is not particularly susceptible to pests or disease. In the event of scale insects being detected, as wiping the surface of the leaves with methylated spirits on a cotton bud and following up with a systemic spray should stop the problem. Always try to steer clear of chemical as it is the least recommended route of treatment for infected Vanda orchids. Only treat bad infestations with chemicals.

vanda orange

Potting mix and Repotting
It is known that the Vanda orchid may grow to be very large plants. They normally grow best suspended in wooden baskets and require warm growing conditions with plenty of bright light. Thus the potting of the Vanda orchid is referred to as Basket Culture. These orchid plants are air-loving plants and they do not require any media in which to be cultivated. A wooden slated basket is ideal. From seedling stage the orchid plant should be secured to the base of the wooden basket with wire so as to prevent them from moving around.

blue vanda

Before you know it the orchid plant will develop into a young plant that will attach itself to the basket and produce several roots. As time passes the Vanda orchids will grow and ‘repotting’ can be when you simply place the smaller basket into a bigger basket until the plants are too big to handle. Then you should consider cutting the orchid plant back and replant them in baskets of a more suitable, manageable size.

One major advantage of basket culture for the Vanda orchid is that they are less prone to pick up fungal and bacterial diseases.

General tips for Vanda Orchid care

If the Vanda orchid is grown as a houseplant, they appreciate spending the warmer months outside. They like bright light, but the leaves will burn if they go directly from indoor conditions to full sunlight. The Vanda orchid needs less water in the fall and winter but may be watered most mornings in the summer, especially when grown outside under trees.

Vanda orchids are very rewarding. The new hybrids are free blooming and usually flower several times a year. Vanda orchid flowers are long lasting on the plant but do not last well when cut.
Vanda orchids are often grown outdoors in hanging baskets during the summer months. The Vanda orchid is a heavy feeder and should be fed a balanced fertilizer often.

Source: Orchidkingdom

Orchid Growing Tips: How To Take Care Of Orchid Plants Indoors

types

Orchids are some of the most commonly grown houseplants. Provided they have proper growing conditions, it isn’t difficult to learn how to take care of orchid plants. Keep reading to get some indoor orchid care tips.
How Do I Take Care of an Orchid Flower?
Care of indoor orchid plants is easy once you learn how to grow them properly. These interesting flowers can be found in a range of colors and sizes depending on the variety. They make excellent accent plantings to nearly any home décor. Orchids require little care once all their basic needs are met such as light, temperature, and humidity.

two vanda varieties

Orchid Growing Tips
Most orchids require moist, well-draining conditions. There are several types of growing media that can be used with orchid plants—redwood or fir bark, sphagnum peat moss, rocks, cork, charcoal, sand, potting soil, etc. A basic mix for growing orchids consists of coarse perlite, fir bark, and sphagnum moss. You can also add charcoal but this is optional. Generally, the grade of bark is dependent on the type of orchid grown. For instance, phalaenopsis orchids are usually grown in coarse bark, cattleyas in medium bark, and young orchid plants are best grown in fine bark.

Orchids require shallow planting. Place orchids in an east to south-facing window or room. These plants prefer bright, indirect light. Insufficient light results in poor flowering. However, too much light can lead to leaf scorch.
Temperature is also important for indoor orchid care. While orchids tolerate cooler or warmer temperatures throughout their normal growing season, they need to be about 15 degrees cooler at night than during the day in order to bloom sufficiently.

indoor vase

Indoor Orchid Care Tips
Orchids need ample water but should be allowed to dry out some between watering. One way to check for watering is by poking your finger about an inch into the growing media. If it’s dry, give it some water; otherwise, let it be.

Indoor orchid plants also need adequate humidity, about fifty to seventy percent. There are various ways to increase the humidity in your home. Place a water-filled saucer or tray of pebbles beneath plants, mist plants daily, or use a humidifier.
Fertilize orchids weekly or bi-weekly while they are producing new growth and decrease to monthly or bi-monthly intervals once they mature. Discontinue altogether once the plants go dormant.
Additional orchid care tips include re-potting, which is normally done every other year. If your orchids suddenly stop blooming but have suitable light, temperature, and humidity, then re potting may be necessary.
Also keep an eye out for signs of pests or disease. Orchids are occasionally affected by mealybugs, scale, and aphids. These can usually be washed off or treated with insecticidal soap.

Source: Gardeningknowhow

Growing Bermuda Grass: Learn About it

bermuda frame

Information on Growing Bermuda Grass

The Spanish brought Bermuda grass to America in the 1500’s from Africa. This attractive, dense grass, also known as “South Grass,” is an adaptable warm-season turf that many people use for their lawns. It is also found in pastures, on athletic fields, golf courses, parks and more. Let’s learn more about how and when to plant Bermuda grass.

Bermuda grass is a cold tolerant, warm-season grass that will grow as far north as Virginia. In warmer tropical areas, Bermuda grass will remain green all year long. In other areas that drop below 60 degrees F., it will go dormant.
Ideal growing regions for Bermuda grass include the United States Department of Agriculture Zones 7 through 10. Growing Bermuda grass is easy as long as you have the right conditions.

Note – For those that have not planted Bermuda grass for turf or other practical uses, its presence can be that of a weed and is very hard to get rid of.

When to Plant Bermuda Grass
The best time to plant Bermuda grass is in the spring once temperatures are consistently warm; this is generally in April or March in warmer regions.

How to Grow Bermuda Grass
Bermuda is not overly picky about soil type and will even tolerate salt spray, making it a good option for coastal regions.

Bermuda grass does well in full sun, but it will tolerate some shade.
At one point in time, Bermuda was grown only from sod or sprigs but is now widely available in seed form. For best results, use 1 pound of hulled Bermuda grass per 1000 square feet. This grass sprouts quickly and is very hard to get rid of once it starts growing.

Start by raking the area to be seeded until it is as smooth as possible. Make a mixture of equal parts sand and seed. The seed can be broadcast using a spreader or by hand for smaller areas. To avoid skips in the lawn, distribute half the mixture lengthwise and half of the mixture crosswise.

Sod stocks

Bermuda Grass Sod
Bermuda grass sod also known as Bermuda Sod are created mainly out of hybrid grass or some times from improved common varieties. The hybrid Bermuda grasses do not produce seed and are propagated by vegetative method like Bermuda sod. The hybrids are very fine in texture and expensive than common varieties such as Sahara. Bermuda sod requires extensive care and maintenance for growth and development.

So why and when will you use Bermuda grass sod instead of seed?
Bermuda seeds take time (about 7 to 10 days) to germinate and then 60 to 90 days to get fully established. If you are planning to cover a large lawn or a turf, it may take a year to fully cover the area. Also, the grass grown out of the Bermuda seed may not be very dense and uniform as you would like in a golf green.

Bermuda sod, which are like cut outs of Bermuda grass beds, provides an instant coverage with green grass. The sod quickly takes root in your lawn to produce dense and lush green coverage. While Bermuda seed can be sowed only from mid-May to mid-August, Bermuda sod can be laid out throughout the year till the ground is not frozen. For best results, Bermuda sod should be laid out from mid-March to November.

bermuda_i00019d
Here are the recommended steps of how to lay Bermuda sod.

  • Step 1
    Ensure that you have cleaned up all the weeds by applying non-selective weed killer. This needs to be done at least two weeks before you start laying Bermuda Sod. Store sod stacked in a cool, dark place until ready to lay.
  • Step 2
    You would need to get a soil test done to know the recommended amount of fertilizer that needs to be applied into the soil. A fertilizer of grade 5-10-15 means that it has 5% Nitrogen, 10% Phosphate and 15% Potash as nutrients.
    So, if the recommended nutrient for your soil is 3 lb. of Nitrogen per 1000 square feet, you will need to do a simple math to calculate the fertilizer amount required. In the above case, divide 3 lb. by 5 (% of Nitrogen) and multiply by 100 to get the required amount of fertilizer per 1000 square feet, which is 60 lbs.
    Once you know the amount for the whole area, mix recommended amount of fertilizer, lime and organic matter thoroughly with the soil. You will need to till the soil up to 6 inches for this.
  • Step 3
    Rake the soil smooth for the whole area. Ensure that the soil is at least 1 inch below the level of sidewalks or sprinkler heads. Remove stones and grassy debris.
  • Step 4
    Roll the area with a water-filled roller. If you see low spots, fill them with soil.
  • Step 5
    Rake the soil smooth. Apply 1/4 to 1/2 inch of water the night before laying sod. The soil should be moist when you start laying it, but not muddy.
  • Step 6
    Start laying the sod pieces end-to-end starting along the longest straight edge of the area. Make sure that each Bermuda sod piece is tightly placed next to each other. Stagger the sod pieces in adjacent rows so that the seams do not line up. Cut uneven or irregular end pieces with a carpet knife. Use a small hatchet to trim pieces to fit around obstructions.
  • Step 7
    Roll the entire area once more to ensure good sod-to-soil contact. Water the grass thoroughly everyday for the first week. Keep the lawn well watered after the first week and follow a regular watering schedule. Water deeply each time for healthy root growth.

    tifway bermuda

  • Here is a recommended method for watering new Bermuda Sod:
    1. Apply one inch of water immediately after the sod is laid.
    2. Water the sod daily and ensure that the top one inch of soil is kept moist. This needs to continue until the sod is rooted to the soil
    3. After that, apply one-fourth inch of water every third day for nine days.
    4. Next apply one-half inch of water every fifth day for ten days.
    5. After the sod is established, apply one inch of water per week for the rest of the growing season.
    6. You should also consider rainfall before deciding how much of water to apply.

    Credit: bermuda-atractions.com

THE BASICS: HOW TO GROW A BONSAI TREE

Most people started growing bonsai after buying a tree in an (online) shop. Though this is without doubt a nice way to get started, it might be more interesting (and less expensive) to grow and style a tree yourself. Don’t let the fact that ‘bon-sai’ is an art studied and refined for many centuries scare you off, because you are perfectly capable to learn how to grow bonsai trees without green thumbs. Make sure to pick the right tree species for your environment and stick to the basic care guidelines.
In this article I’ll explain how to get started with growing Bonsai and introduce you into the three main parts of this section: Bonsai cultivation, styling and care. The movie just below will help you understand the basics, read on for more detailed information!

How to Bonsai; the techniques explained

Grow and cultivate trees
First step is to acquire a tree, which can be done by buying a prebonsai (rough material to be pruned and wired) or by using one of several possible cultivation techniques. Very important however is to select a tree species that fits your circumstances. Are you keen on keeping the tree indoors (which limits your options to (sub)tropical trees that can survive indoors) or would you like to put your Bonsai outside? In the latter case, most non-tropical trees will grow perfectly fine as long as they are protected from either intense sunlight or freezing temperatures. A safe bet is to select a indigenous tree species. With this short introduction you should be able to select a tree that fits your wishes, either an indoor bonsai or an outdoor Bonsai.

bonsai trees

Now that we have selected the kind of tree, let’s proceed with ways to actually get one! One way is to buy a ready-made Bonsai tree from an (online) bonsai store. These stores often have a wide variety of tree species as well as shapes and sizes, but this comes at a price. As mentioned above you could also buy a prebonsai, which is ‘rough material’ (with potential for bonsai) to be shaped by yourself, a great way for quick results. Similar to buying prebonsai is collecting trees from nature; but this can be tricky and should only be done with permission. You could also get a Bonsai starterkit, enabling you to create your own tree and learn the basics of Bonsai.
A less expensive, but slow method is to cultivate a tree yourself; using seeds or cuttings. It will normally take around 3-5 years before the tree can be trained, so you might want to do this as a side project (and buy a prebonsai to get started with training techniques already now).
Learn more about the cultivation techniques mentioned above, or continue reading about training and shaping Bonsai below.

Train and style techniques
Now that we have either bought or cultivated a tree, it’s time to get started with training, shaping and styling it. This is the creative part of growing Bonsai trees, as well as the difficult part. Although it took many decades to refine techniques like pruning and wiring to keep trees miniaturized, some basics can be learned quite easily. Right now we will look at the basics of pruning and wiring, but make sure to read the “train” section for more detailed information on these subjects.
Let’s begin with the single most important technique to Bonsai; pruning. Pruning is crucial in keeping trees miniaturized as well as to shape them. The goal is to create a Bonsai that resembles nature as close as possible. The spring and summer are the seasons to proceed with significant pruning; though this will depend on the type of tree you have. Make sure to buy a good concave cutter when pruning thick branches. The hollow wounds these cutters leave behind heal much better than normal cutters would. Though it is impossible to tell you which branches to prune to form your tree without actually seeing it, it helps to look at some example bonsai progressions, and start from there. Some examples of instances in which a branch should be removed include:
– If two branches occur at the same height of the tree, keep one of them and remove the other.
– Remove branches with unnatural twists and turns.
– Remove disproportionately thick branches from the top of the tree.
Another important technique to shape Bonsai trees is wiring. By wrapping anodized aluminum (or annealed copper) carefully around branches it is possible to bend and shape them, at least to a certain extent. Wiring can be applied all year, but make sure to remove the wire before it starts scarring branches that grow thicker. Make sure to read the wiring page in the training section for a detailed explanation.
Learn more about the training and styling techniques mentioned above, or continue reading about how to Bonsai; Bonsai care.

Care and maintenance
A crucial part of information about how to grow a Bonsai tree is its maintenance and care. Though each tree species has specific care guidelines (make sure to check these for your Bonsai!), in this part I will discuss some of the basics, starting with watering.
How often Bonsai trees need to be watered depends on a wide range of factors, including species of tree, pot-size, soil and climate. Over-watering can result in root-rot, one of the most common causes of death. However, as Bonsai are planted in such small pots they also tend to dry up very easily. Choosing the right soil mixture and re-potting regularly (on average every two years, to make sure the trees don’t become pot-bound, making it hard to soak up and store water) is crucial to keep your tree healthy. An important rule for watering is to check frequently on your tree (instead of simply watering it once per day), and when watering to do this thoroughly (to make sure the soil absorbs the water properly).
Besides watering and repotting, fertilization is another important thing to keep in mind. Since the trees are put in small pots, with few space and nutrients available, fertilizing regularly in the tree’s growth season is key to keep it healthy. Again, it depends on the tree species when, how much and how often it needs to be fertilized. The brand or type of fertilizer (fluid or solid) doesn’t matter all that much, as long as you make sure to apply smaller quantities than normal plants would require.
Finally, placing an outdoor tree inside (or vice versa) is a sure way to kill it. Before buying (or cultivating) a Bonsai, think where you like to place it! Sub-tropical trees generally need much light and relatively high temperatures and can only live outside if you live in a warm enough climate; these trees will do perfectly fine indoors though. In case you prefer an outdoor tree, a safe bet is to choose a tree that is indigenous to your environment. In case winters get very cold some additional protection from frost is required, since a Bonsai is put in a small pot

Credit: bonsaiempire.com

The Myth on the Undying Love of Sampaguita

sampaguita

A love that continues to the after-life—this is the gist of the myth on the undying Sampaguita love story.

Guita was a beautiful princess of a strict king who ruled his subjects ruthlessly. According to this myth, the king had high hopes for his only daughter and hoped that one day Guita would meet a fitting prince from a strong kingdom. The myth says she was educated in one of the best exclusive schools abroad designed for royalty.

However, according to the myth, Guita secretly befriended a slave named Sampague—or Sampa, as he was fondly called by friends—as she roamed her father’s kingdom. Guita eventually fell for Sampa. The myth says the cruel king learned of the affair, and became furious. He ordered Guita to stop seeing Sampa and cut the madness. The myth says, the king threatened his daughter about continuing the love affair.

According to the myth, to avoid the King’s wrath, Sampa and Guita eloped and went deep into the forest to hide, thinking that they could find refuge there and forever be out of harm’s way. But, the myth says, the king ordered an unrelenting search and destroy mission until Sampa and Guita. The soldiers left no stone unturned and vowed to fulfill their mission by any means.

The soldiers finally found Sampa and Guita in their forest hideaway and killed them right there and then. They buried the lovers on the spot where they were killed. The king was notified. But instead of triumph, he felt deep remorse and repented of his wickedness, though too late. The myth adds that the king wished that Sampa and Guita would live again so he could ask their forgiveness and give his approval to their love affair.

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The myth says that after several days, the king, terribly disheartened by the death of the couple, went to the tomb of the lovers in the forest. He was surprised to see a healthy shrub with white flowers that emitted a strong and unique fragrance. He felt relieved seeing and smelling the flowers, taking them to be Sampa and Guita being given life again, and the powerful fragrance as the sign of the couple’s pardon for his grave mistake. Since then the king called the flower Sampaguita.

True love is said to be strong and eternal, not even the grave can stop it. Not even a furious king and his kingdom, this myth shows readers.

The Myth about Dama de Noche

La reyna

The Philippine plant Dama de Noche is a shrub that bears flowers that give off a strong scent at night. How this came to be is what this myth imagines it to be.

The myth starts with the time when there once was a beautiful native princess who had a knack for feeling deep emotions since she was a kid. Even as a baby, the myth says her parents noticed she would laugh when somebody in the house was so happy, and cry when somebody in the house was so sad. And as a teener she was always able to empathize with people, identifying with how they felt. “Feel” in the dialect was “dama,” so she had been named Dama, the myth concludes.

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Dama, the myth says, was also very found of perfume. She and her maids would experiment on different flowers and plants in their vast garden to make perfume. According to the myth, she also always smelled fresh and fragrant especially in the night. The myth continues that her suitors, when they visited her at night, would enjoy the sweet and luring scent from her.

But one day, the myth says, she got very sick. So was so sick she couldn’t get up. Her conditioned deteriorated and, the myth says, no amount of medication could improve her condition. The myth says even quack doctors of the barangay were consulted, as rustic people were often prone to do when a sickness seemed hopeless. The quacks tried to do some treatments and rituals on her, to no avail. The myth says all her family, friends, the quacks, and the rest of the people could do was watch her beauty and smell her fragrance till the day she died.

dama de noche

The myth continues that the funeral was lavished with bouquets and garlands of flowers. Even her body was bathed in perfume before being laid in her coffin. Her suitors watched helplessly as the beauty they once admired so much was being lower to its final resting place. The myth says, she was buried in the vast garden of their house.

One night, the myth says, a unique shrub was seen growing out from where Dama was buried. When it bore flowers, they emitted a sweet fragrance at night. People remembered how Dama was and insisted that the plant, when in flower, was “Dama visiting us at night.” Later on, as time went by, the plant was called Dama of the night, or “Dama de Noche.

Source: Philippinesinsider.com

Are Your Indoor Plants Healthy? You Might Be Surprised

It can be pretty heartbreaking when your plants look less than stellar. Sometimes an easy remedy to restore plant health is adding more water or moving to a sunnier spot. If that doesn’t work and you’ve tried many options, it could be a sign of a larger problem. Your plant could have a disease.

To help you quickly diagnose and keep your plants looking fresh, we’ve compiled a handy guide below of most common plant diseases you can encounter. So the next time you see a weird substance forming on the soil or strange discoloration of leaves, you’ll be an expert.

 

 

What About Fungicide?
Fungicide can be a useful preventative measure for gardeners with plants that are especially prone to rot and disease. If you’re concerned about adding chemicals to your garden, depending on the condition and the disease, there are some natural alternatives:

  • Milk is known as an effective treatment for powdery mildew. Mix a 50:50 milk to water solution in a spray bottle and apply to leaves of plants.
  • Sulfur in dust form can keep disease at bay. Be sure to apply while wearing a mask so the dust doesn’t irritate your eyes and mouth.
  • The “Cornell Formula” is a well known natural fungicide, which includes mixing 1 tablespoon baking soda, 1 tablespoon horticultural oil and 1 to 2 drops dishwashing liquid.

How to Dispose of a Diseased Plant
Many plant diseases can quickly return if the dead plant matter isn’t properly disposed of. In fact, most fungal, bacterial and viral plant diseases are spread naturally by wind currents, rain, soil seeds, insects and other animals. Others can survive on nearby dead plants or infected gardening tools. When you think you’ve collected all of the dead plant, follow these disposal tips:

  • Compost: For less persistent diseases like powdery mildew, simply removing from live plants and allow to die off in compost. If you don’t have a compost at home, check with your local government for a nearby green waster center.
  • Burial: For leaves or fruits with rot, burying the decay in a 1 foot deep hole will work.
  • Bonfires: Dry, woody material like branches can be disposed of by setting a small bonfire. Be sure to handle on a non-windy day to reduce the risk of the fire spreading.
  • Household trash: Infected bulbs, small wooden pruning and collapsed seedling can be tossed into your home garbage can.

Credit: Doctors’ Hangout

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