Archive for March, 2009
Sunday, March 22nd, 2009
Because this small South African shrub cannot tolerate frost, it was cultivated as a container plant for some time. Currently, however, suppliers also offer it for sale both as a bedding and container plant because of its profusion of flowers in summer. Flowering plants are on sale from mid-April. For that purpose, cuttings are taken by specialist firms during the previous summer. The plant is supplied as a small shrub or as a cluster of branches on a stem, in which case cultivation will take much longer. Put the plant in a warm and sunny location in a border or in a large pot or other container. Leaving the potting compost to dry out completely will cause the buds and subsequently the leaves to wither. The plant may be kept throughout the winter in a light, frost-free, but cool position. Suppliers naturally hope that you will let it freeze to death and then buy a new one next spring!
Saturday, March 21st, 2009
Nearly all succulents are perennials. They store water in their thick, fleshy leaves to enable them to survive the dry seasons. The sun plant does the same, but this species from central South America is definitely an annual. Sow this cheerful groundcover indoors in March-April, or outdoors in loose soil in a really warm spot from mid-May onwards. Sow the seeds thinly and don’t cover them, as they need light in order to germinate. The plants may flower from June until far into September. They are also very useful in containers and hanging baskets.
Friday, March 20th, 2009
This wild plant’s common name “fireweed” is highly appropriate since its seeds germinate only in places where a fire has raged. The photograph was taken in one such place in Indonesia. Its leaves are narrower than those of the more familiar Celosia argentea, commonly known as “cockscomb” in The Netherlands. According to some, they both belong to the same species: argentea. Seed merchants, however, have recently been marketing cultivars of Celosia spicata, and these are far more restrained than the brightly colored cockscombs.
Thursday, March 19th, 2009
The winged stems of these everlasting flowers grow bolt upright and that is exactly as it should be, because they are grown specially for cutting purposes. This is done in July-August, as soon as the yellowy-white flowers are half open, because then they will last well as dried flowers. They are tied together in small bunches and hung upside down in an airy position to make them dry quickly and keep their attractive appearance.
Wednesday, March 18th, 2009
In just a few years, this perennial Mexican climber has become very popular among a small group of enthusiasts. They sow it every year to enable them to see it in flower from July until well into October. An aubergine-colored corolla resembling a gnome’s cap is suspended from a small inverted pink bowl, the calyx, which continues to adorn the plant long after the corolla has been dispersed. Inside the calyx, a spherical fruit full of small brown seeds is formed. Each one is covered by a membrane that is easily blown away by the wind. The seeds may be sown the following year, but after that will quickly lose their capacity to germinate. It takes about four months to grow flowering plants from seed.