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Monthly Archives: November 2016

How to Plant Allium Bulbs

The onion genus, Allium. has more than 600-750 species plus and still counting within its genera in the Alliaceae family. It is a perennial bulbous plant with members like onions, shallots, scallions, leeks, garlic, chives, etc. Although it is mostly regarded as a vegetable or a herb crop, there are a few species grown for large bright colored flowers, too. This article is about these species. Native to the Northern hemisphere, mainly in Asia, ornamental flowering Alliums can be grown in most suitable regions around the world.

It is very difficult to describe this species, as each varies in height (about 5 to 150 cm), growth habits, with foliage that can either be long and narrow or slightly curled up. The only thing common is the flower. However, the flowers on each species may vary in color and stalk density. They form an umbel at the top of a leafless flowering stem known as scapes mostly shooting from the base. It is amazing to watch an inflorescence umbel flower, with the outside flowers blooming first and progressing to the inside.

Although, all alliums bear flowers, it’s species and hybrids such as Allium pulchellum, Allium senescens, Allium oreophilum, Allium caeruleum, Allium cowanii, Allium nigrum, Allium karataviense, Allium unifolium, Allium siculum, Allium hollandicum, Allium Firmament, Allium Globe Master, Allium schubertii, Allium rosenbachianum, etc., are the ones that have a high ornamental value and can be easily found in most plant nursery stores.

Plantation

Sometimes called ‘flowering onions’, these can be propagated through bulbs as well as seeds, with the former being more preferable, as they take long to seed and have a higher failure rate. They look better when mass planted in flower beds, borders, and edgings than in pots. You should ideally plant the bulbs around late fall or early spring.

Prepare flower beds by digging deep in the soil. Apply bulb fertilizer or organic compost such as bone meal, peat moss, well rotted manure, etc. Make sure you choose a sunny spot or at least one that receives 4-6 hours of sunlight everyday. Plant the bulbs four inches deep in groups of 4-5 bulbs spaced about six inches apart, leaving the tip lightly covered in soil. Water adequately. Mulch heavily with dried barks if there is fear of extreme frost and snowfall. The tall varieties can be stalked as it gets heavy during a full bloom. Allium bulbs flower mid-summer through late summer and in certain conditions, even in early fall.

These bulbs do not need much feeding, a single application when the flower buds begin to appear should suffice. There aren’t many pests that attack onion, the pungent smell of onion bulb mostly keeps away troublemakers. However, a few diseases like damping off, botrytis, onion smut, or downy mildew can damage the plant. But they can all be taken care of with effective and timely pesticide applications. It is recommended that the bulbs be left undistributed in the ground, and divided every 3-4 years.

Good quality allium bulbs will grow into healthy plants and flowers. For using them as cut flowers, cut no more than ¾ flower stalk. Grow them and enjoy their company.

Planting Guide Daylilies

Planting: Choose an area in your garden that receives sunlight for at least 5 to 6 hours everyday. Next, remove the roots of unwanted plants that may be present in the soil earlier. Dig out a hole in the ground that is a little bigger and wider, so that the roots can easily sit in. Mix the fertilizers in the soil. Place your plant in the hole, gather the soil around it and then, water the plant.

Soil: Daylilies grow best in soil that is well drained with a pH between 6.5 to 7, but they are so adaptable that they can actually grow in soil containing any pH. They will also grow in sandy soil as well as heavy clay soil. If your garden has heavy clay soil, you can add manure, peat moss, good compost, gypsum, etc., to make it suitable for your flowers. Adding compost or another organic material to the soil increases its nutrition value. If there is a drainage problem, raising the beds is the easiest option available.

Water: These plants grow best in early spring. But if you buy them in other seasons, save them from drought. Watering will ensure big and bright blooms. Water sufficiently in spring, and also in summer, which will help boost their growth. These plants are capable of withstanding drought, but obviously less water is going to make them dry off and wither away. Pour water up to an inch every week so that the soil soaks it up at a greater depth.

Fertilizers: If you want to know what exact nutrients your soil needs, get a soil analysis done. The soil should be fertilized every two to three weeks after plantation. If you are using chemical fertilizers, doing this twice a year is sufficient. Chemical fertilizers should be added in early spring. Mulching is one of the best ways to make the soil more fertile.

Insects: Insects such as aphids, thrips, spider mites, snails, and slugs feed on the blooming flowers and buds. These can be killed by spraying some insecticide or by simply watering with force. These insects cause discoloration and holes in the leaves. Although the insects may do minor damage to these plants, it might be difficult to tell the exact cause of any disease. Hence, it is better to consult an agricultural agent, or a local nursery.

Controlling the growth of weeds: It is very important that the weeds growing around this plant should be removed, as these weeds absorb the nutrition that is given to them.

How to Care for Ranunculus Plants

If you are interested in larger blooms, then choose the Tecolote or Jumbo ranunculus bulbs. For cool climatic regions (zones 4-7), it is best to grow ranunculus indoors, about 3 months before the last frosting. Select healthy bulbs and plant in large pots (preferably 6 inches in diameter) about 1 inch below the soil, with the root tips pointing down. For growing it in warmer areas (zones 8 and above), ranunculus bulbs are planted directly in outdoor garden beds in spring, with a spacing of 4-6 inches between them.

  • Hoping that you have grown ranunculus plants in sunlit areas and soil with no drainage problems, they will grow luxuriantly. Indoor ranunculus care involves placing the potted plants in bright light, or in the windowsill.
  • If the indoor plants lack vigor or appear weak, perhaps it is because of insufficient light. For such a case, consider installing artificial lights to restore normal growth. Make sure they are placed near to the west or south facing windows.
  • Coming to the temperature part, it withstands 10-20°F, and not below this range. Accordingly, make the necessary arrangements to protect ranunculus plants from heavy frosting. For container plants, you can bring them indoors.
  • The most crucial part in ranunculus care is watering. Yes, keeping the soil moist but not wet is the trick to grow healthy ranunculus plants. Too less moisture and they will wither away, while overwatering increases root rotting.
  • Ranunculus cannot tolerate heavy fertilization. Of course, they do require fertile soil and nutrients for producing maximum flower buds. You can use correct doses of bulb fertilizer during the active growth season and just before the blooming period.
  • After bloom care for ranunculus plants is the same as before. Do not remove the leaves, instead retain them as they are. The foliage synthesizes food and prepares the plants for next year’s flower production. Continue watering to promote photosynthesis.
  • After the flowering season is completed, i.e., in summer, the leaves will become yellow. This indicates that the plants are entering dormancy period. At this phase, remove the drying leaves and keep the bulbs undisturbed. They will sprout during favorable weather conditions.
  • In case ranunculus is subjected to stressful conditions, it becomes weak, and disease and pest infestations are most likely to occur. The common ranunculus problems include infestations of powdery mildew, rust, aphids, spider mites and snails.

The fall planted ranunculus blooms in spring time, while those planted in spring produce copious blooms in June and July. You can collect the long stemmed ranunculus blooms for making flower bouquets, and also for beautifying home indoors and offices. The ranunculus flowering season lasts for 1½ months, and the plants look awesome during this period. Many people prefer removing the spent blooms to conserve moisture and nutrients for the developing flower buds.

Growing Dianthus Care

If you wish to grow this beautiful flowering plant in your garden, you need to consider several aspects such as the selection of the site, quality of the soil, mulching, watering and fertilizing. Scroll down to find dianthus care instructions. These will surely come in handy if you are planning to grow this flowering plant.

Selection of the Planting Site

This plant will grow well at a place where they receive ample sunshine. These should not be planted at a site where sunlight may be blocked by trees or any structure. These must receive at least 4-5 hours of sunshine. Damp environment can curb the growth of the plant and increase the risk of diseases, so make sure that the place is airy. Don’t place them very close to other plants, especially fast-growing plants.

Soil

If you want your plant to thrive and grow fast, make sure that the soil is fertile and well-drained. The soil should be slightly alkaline with a pH of 6.75. Though this flowering plant may grow well in well-drained sandy soil, it would be best to add rotted leaves, compost, pine needles or other materials that may help it retain moisture as well as nutrients. You can add a two inch layer of compost and manure on the surface of the soil. Use a shovel to mix it in the soil.

Planting

You could grow it by sowing seeds or transplanting. Some of the perennial flower varieties can be grown by tip cuttings, layering or division. Seeds can be sown in the spring season. You could also sow them in your garden in early summer. Sow the seeds about 1/8 inch deep in the soil. The soil should be well-drained and the planting site should receive a lot of sun. Cover the seed with soil and water the plant to moisten the soil.

Watering

Though these plants are hardy, these do not like excessive humidity. You may water it from time to time during dry summer. It would be best to water it in the morning. Do test the soil for moisture during the summer season. Water it if the surface looks dry. Insert a finger to see if the soil is moist. Don’t water if the compost seems to be moist. Excessive watering can cause root rot. It can also cause yellowing of the foliage. You will not need to water the plant very often during the winter season.

Fertilizing

Well-rotted manure must be used at the time of planting. A balanced fertilizer which has nitrogen, phosphate and potassium in equal ratios should be used to enrich the soil. You also need to replenish the soil with fertilizer during the bloom season. Use a fertilizer that is rich in potassium to encourage prolific flowering. This will strengthen the stems and the blooms will be brighter and prettier.

Disbudding and Pruning

When you see about eight or nine pairs of leaves in the plant, pinch off the growing tip. This will enable the growth of side shoots and new flowering stems. Pinching the shoots will certainly encourage prolific flowering. If you ignore this aspect, the number of blooms would be lesser. If you are keen on getting bigger blooms rather than getting many blooms, remove the surplus buds from the plant. Get rid of the thin side stalks frequently. This will allow just the crown bud to develop on each flowering stem. You should prune and cut foliage in every spring. Most of the spent or faded blooms should be removed, but you could leave a few spent flowers if you want them to produce the seed.