Category: Tropical Style

How to Identify the Agave Plant

Agave plants (Agave L.), using their iconic leaves and striking appearance, bring a dramatic existence and include a bold, geometrical nuance to landscape design at the American Southwest. Hardy at U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 11, agaves are ideal for the extremely arid conditions of the desert, having hard, spiny exteriors that protect their highly hunted moisture from natural predators. Although agaves share intrinsic attributes common to all succulents, like dense fleshiness and swollen leaves, several different features set them apart from other plants within their classification.

Examine the arrangement of the leaves close to the succulent’s foundation to get a rosette pattern. A rosette refers to a layered, circular arrangement of leaves or petals arising out of a stem to protect the plant. Rosettes on succulents like agaves result from short internodes, the part of the stem between two leaf nodes.

Search for thick, stiff symmetrical leaves ranging in shade from blue-gray to blue or gray to dark-blue with spiny margins that taper to a sharp point. The dark-red or black spines growing from the leaf margins are approximately 1/3-inch long and those growing from the tips grow to about 1/2-inch long.

Notice whether the form of the leaves fit the agave profile, which typically climb broad, long and slender or shaped like a spear.

Remove a leaf from the succulent, bisect it using lopping shears and examine its interior for moist, fibrous tissue running throughout. Just like succulents, the fibrous tissue helps the plant tolerate drought conditions by storing water.

Examine the plant to get inflorescence, a flowering construction with petals arising from a long stem, and also referred to as a mast. The agave’s mast grows a few feet from its own rosette, with a few varieties reaching a height of up to 30 feet.

Note the form and appearance of this succulent’s flowers growing from the inflorescence. Agaves grow spiked sections of yellow, cream or lime-green colored tubular flowers from their masts that develop so vigorously the plant often dies within a couple of days.

Examine the foundation of this succulent for several root suckers, called pups, growing nearby. The pups resemble little agave rosettes, and replace the plant after it dies on its own or with help from a spreading gardener.

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Why Do Ginkgo Tree Berries Stink?

Ginkgo biloba, known as maidenhair tree, is an intriguing ornamental, deciduous tree for U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9. The tree is most often included with conifers, but its own botanical features make it a shrub that fits in with both conifers and ferns. The trees consist of the male and female trees, and it is the fruit of the female tree that produces an offensive scent.

Why Ginkgo Fruit Stinks

The female trees produce fruit in late fall. These fruits stink only when left on the ground to rot. The rotting fruit emits an odor that smells like vomit. The odorous fruit discharges butyric acid, which likewise gives rancid butter its horrible odor. The seeds contained inside the fruit are edible and also do not emit the putrid odor, because the odor comes from the fleshy outer layer, known as the sarcotesta. Male trees produce their flowers prior to the trees lose their leaves. All these catkins release their feces and drop off. Gingko trees are wind-pollinated.

Fruit Identification

The ripe fruits of the female ginkgo trees resemble little yellow plums. The fruit is all about 1/2 to 3/4 inch in diameter and more long than wide. In the fruit is a big, creamy seed that’s harvested and used for food. These seeds are easy to germinate, in small pots or in a greenhouse. You can set out the little, youthful ginkgo trees until they become rootbound in the pots.

Ginkgo Trees

Ginkgo trees can grow 70 to 80 feet tall, but the vast majority of trees more often reach 35 to 50 feet. The tree width is usually one-half to two-thirds the tree height, and the tree has an umbrella form. The fan-shaped leaves resemble the leaf of maidenhair ferns, which is where the tree receives its name. The foliage turns a golden-yellow in fall and generally remains on the tree for a while before all falling at once, making a gold carpet on the ground.

Why Grow Ginkgos

Many people grow ginkgo trees for their ornamental value. The trees are also easy to grow, needing only a sunny place with well-drained dirt. The trees grow well in the the country and the city. Ginkgo tree are virtually pest- and also disease-free. They bear heat, air pollution, acidic soils and alkaline soils as well as being resistant to oak root fungus. When growing female trees, then you can help reduce the odor by cleaning up the fallen fruit before it starts to rot.

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How Big Do Persian Lime Trees Get?

The petite Persian lime (Citrus latifolia) created its U.S. debut in California between 1850 and 1880. While its origin is not certain, Persian lime trees might have been planted after the fruit was imported from Tahiti to San Francisco. Due to this, the deep green fruit is also occasionally called the Tahiti lime, even though the lime may have originated in Persia before traversing the Pacific Ocean.

Size

Persian lime trees reach a height of approximately 20 feet, and their rounded, dense branches spread out about 20 feet. Due to this, the tree ought to be planted 15 to 20 feet or more away from residences and other buildings, as well as other trees.

Persian Limes

Oval Persian lime grows to approximately 2 1/2 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. Each tart lime weighs approximately 2 ounces and has 10 to 12 segments. About one-half of this lime’s fat is juice.

Growing Persian Limes

Persian lime trees bear fruit year-round. Once the tree’s white flowers have bloomed, fruit will be ready for picking in 90 to 120 days. Several bacterial ailments can hamper hair creation. Citrus canker infects leaves, causing them to drop off the tree. Citrus greening, also known as yellow shoot disorder, is transmitted by a tiny insect called the citrus psyllid. It not only leads to the tree to generate fewer limes, but may result in the tree’s passing.

Harvesting

Persian limes may be picked when they grow to a diameter of approximately 1 3/4 inches. The fruit is going to be a dark green. Fruit that hasn’t fully ripened doesn’t have enough juice. Once the limes are harvested, they’ll remain fresh in the refrigerator for approximately 10 days.

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The Best Weed Killer for Saint Augustine Lawns

St. Augustine (Stenotaphrum secundatum) is a warm-season grass that grows in tropical, subtropical and Mediterranean-type climates, primarily U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 10, in which it makes a thick green lawn when its basic cultural conditions for sunlight, nutrients, moisture and warm temperatures are satisfied. A lush turf offers excellent weed control, but when necessary, the use of selective pre- and post-emergence herbicides and local application of nonselective herbicides can help to control unwanted weeds and grasses on your St. Augustine lawn.

Broadleaf Weeds

Opportunistic cool-season weeds such as chickweed, clover and henbit may take hold on your St. Augustine lawn during the winter dormancy period. A selective hormone-based herbicide that kills broadleaf weeds rids your St. Augustine lawn of the weeds when applied according to label directions in the spring after the lawn greens up. Avoid the use of products containing 2,4-D, dicambra and mecoprop on St. Augustine, as damage from these herbicides is very likely to happen on this particular grass. Merchandise formulas designed specifically for St. Augustinegrass can include atrazine, but follow cautions for use carefully to avoid the potential for personal injury and contamination of ground water.

Cool-Season Herbs

Pre-emergence Sensors containing dithiopyr control for cool-season grasses, such as fescue, crabgrass and bluegrass and small-seeded broadleaf weeds through interruption of the growth process when applied in accordance with directions. Do not use pre-emergence herbicides on lawns over-seeded with annual ryegrass.

Perennials

Manage difficult-to-control broadleaf weeds, such as dandelions, and perennial grasses with a post-emergence nonselective herbicide that kills any plant it touches. Removal of unwanted weeds and grasses with a nonselective herbicide requires special care to avoid damage to a St. Augustine lawn. Utilize a narrow stream of spray or apply with a paint brush to selected weeds or grasses to minimize damage to surrounding St. Augustinegrass. Nonselective herbicides for home and garden usage contain glyphosate, such as Roundup, that attack plants systemically, or natural food-grade petroleum compounds, such as Pharm Solutions Organic Weed Killer, designed to destroy all weeds and grasses on contact. Organic products sometimes need more than one application.

Prevention

A thick turf of St. Augustine grass crowds out weeds. Shade out cool-season grass and grass seeds by increasing the mowing height 1/2 inch in autumn, to avoid germination of the seeds during Augustinegrass dormancy. Overseed with annual ryegrass to offer cover during the winter. Irrigate your lawn during dry spells in winter, whether overseeded or not. Have a soil sample in spring to determine lime and fertilizer requirements, or apply 1/2 to 1 pound of nitrogen after the lawn greens up. To compute the amount of fertilizer to use for application of the desired quantity of nitrogen to 1,000 square feet of lawn, split the percentage of nitrogen, represented by the first number in the fertilizer analysis, in the amount required for the desired application. For instance, to apply 1/2 pound of nitrogen by means of a fertilizer mix with evaluation 4-1-2, split .5 by .04, which equals 12.5 lbs per 1,000 square feet. Irrigate to a depth of 6 inches when your grass shows signs of wilt during spring and summer. Apply 1/2 to 1 pound of nitrogen every 4 to 8 weeks June through August using a balanced fertilizer mix.

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Flowers for Planters That Get No Direct Sun

There are few pleasures greater than the usual house garden filled with flowers. When gardening in vandalism which will have no direct sunlight, you can enjoy a pretty display of easy-to-care-for perennial woodland plants which can grow happily in shade. Perennials provide displays which return every year.

Serpentine Columbine

Columbines are famous for their lovely, delicate foliage. The serpentine columbine (Aquilegia eximia) blossoms in the summer and spring, and its refined red flowers are attractive to hummingbirds. It’s well-suited to a Mediterranean climate and also likes some moisture but will tolerate brief periods of drought. Once established, the only other attention you want to give it’s in autumn, once you need to remove old flower stalks and leaf to make way for new growth in spring.

Lenten Rose

The Lenten rose (Helleborus x hybridus) is a staple of the shady garden, and also being a little plant, copes easily with growing in a planter. Its pink spring and winter flowers are reminiscent of wild roses and it has attractive, evergreen foliage. To take care of this plant, you need only remove spent flower stalks and water enough to keep the soil from drying out completely.

Ivy Leaf Cyclamen

The ivy leaf cyclamen (Cyclamen hederifolium) offers the benefit of appealing flowers and leaf. It’s scented white or rose-pink blossoms and appealing silver-marked leaves. It blooms in late summer and autumn until the leaf appears, grows well in a Mediterranean climate and also tolerates most soil types. You can grow this little plant successfully in planters, in tiny clumps dotted among larger perennials. It tolerates drought well and will return year after year with little attention.

Rosada Coral Bells

Rosada coral bells (Heuchera ‘Rosada’) offers airy pink spring flowers on stalks that stand prettily over its leaf. This is a great flowering, medium-sized perennial which grows well in shade planters. It needs little watering and is attractive to beneficial insects and hummingbirds. The only attention you’ll need give it would be to remove its spent stalks after flowering.

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What's a Bayberry Shrub?

Since Colonial times, wax surrounding the fruit of several shrubs from the Myrica genus has been boiled down to create fragrant bayberry candles. Though the deciduous bush generally referred to as bayberry (M. pensylvanica) rises around the East Coast just down to U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone 7, at least three other bayberry, or wax myrtle, shrubs flourish in warmer climates. They are all evergreen, feature aromatic leaf and prosper in USDA zones 7 to 9.

Pacific Wax Myrtle

In windy oceanfront sites, the Pacific wax myrtle (M. californica) looks like a flattened mass of divisions. But from the wind, it’s a vertical tree or tree, reaching 10 to 30 feet in height. Adaptable to either sun or shade, the wax myrtle’s new growth comes in mild green, contrasting with the ripe leaf of darker green and a waxier texture. Assets of the tree contain dense, attractive, serrated foliage and purplish, wax-coated nutlets that lure birds. The tree requires ample water to encourage its rapid growth design and is sensitive to frost.

Southern Wax Myrtle

Generally smaller than the Pacific variety, the Southern wax myrtle (M. cerifera) seldom exceeds 12 feet high. It tends to create multiple trunks, in addition to clusters of bluish-gray berries that last through the winter. A handsome plant with olive-green foliage, the tree has eye-catching bark that ranges from grey to almost white on some specimens. While getting established, it requires constant moisture, but also in subsequent years it will tolerate either drought or flood conditions. An unusually adaptable plant, it even withstands confinement within urban areas.

Swamp Bayberry

With bigger leaves and a denser look than the Southern wax myrtle, the swamp bayberry (M. heterophylla) earns its name by growing in poorer soils, which range from sand to clay, especially where water accumulates. The fast-growing tree, indigenous to the Southeast, typically reaches 8 to 12 feet. Foliage is dark green, with 5-inch leaves that are fragrant when crushed. After the waxy fruit appears, it’s small, round and contains a white to grey colour.

Landscape Uses

Taller varieties, like the Pacific wax myrtle, make excellent displays when implanted in multiples. All types can get effective hedges, whether ripped or casual. Because of the odor from the leaves, a bayberry hedge along a walkway could be a particular delight. The California native Pacific wax myrtle functions nicely as a part of woodland groups that include oaks and redwoods. With its multiple stems, the Southern wax myrtle may be dressed as a specimen plant close to your home. All three tolerate very wet locations, so they could adapt to seacoast places.

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Why Don't You Plant Wisteria Close to Your House?

The long, fragrant curtains of flowers that adorn wisteria (Wisteria spp.) Make it seem like a wonderful addition to your lawn. However, the super-fast development habit of many wisteria varieties produce the genus an unwelcome addition to land that is right by your house, or any other structure which you want to keep in 1 piece. Planting wisteria by your house isn’t something you want to do because the vines of wisteria are competitive growers that can cause substantial harm, even to homes.

Know Your Type

The wisteria genus has 10 species, with numerous cultivarsnonetheless, that the Ohio State University Extension notes which only two species are generally planted in gardens. Japanese wisteria (Wisteria floribunda), that grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 to 9, has drooping white, blue, violet, or lavender bloom clusters which can reach over 3 feet in length. Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis), hardy in USDA zones 5 to 8, has 1-foot-long flower clusters in blue, purple or white, with a mix of blue and white being quite common. There’s also American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens), growing in USDA zones 6 to 9, that has smaller clusters of purple or white blooms. Wisteria is generally considered a vine, though the Old Farmer’s Almanac calls it both a tree and a vine.

Steady Destruction

Wisteria is this kind of fast and strong grower that its vines can destroy the structures where the plant is growing. Tree trunks can sustain serious harm — and thinner trunks under 10 inches in diameter can really die — from the girdling consequences of wisteria growing around the back. Houses can be torn apart as wisteria vines creep through crevices and cracks. In an article for the U.K.’s Independent newspaper in 2007, writer Emma Townshend recounted how she had found that the wisteria she had planted against her house had grown under the roof shingles, displacing enough material to cause a roof leak. The Ohio State University Extension states wisteria vines can also clog gutters.

Invasive Status

Japanese and Chinese wisteria are both considered invasive in many regions of the country. They grow so fast that they immediately take over places, pushing out native plants. They’ll also use other plants as substitute trellises, eventually killing the plants. The Old Farmer’s Almanac warns that wisteria can grow as much as 10 feet in 1 year. Wisteria plants escape cultivation easily, and you need to keep a continuous eye on the vines’ growth. The middle for Aquatic and Invasive Plants in the University of Florida notes which pieces which you have cut the plant can take root and form new plants. Nice Gardening advises American wisteria doesn’t send out suckers, and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center says it is much less damaging toward buildings as Chinese and Japanese wisteria. But you should double-check with your area’s extension office to see if American wisteria is deemed invasive in your area.

Remote Locations

If wisteria isn’t considered invasive in your area, you can plant it away from constructions, but keep your eye on its growth. Inspect all structures which host wisteria regularly to make sure the vines have not tried to squeeze their way in between parts of the structure. If you find wisteria is choking out other plants, such as trees, then the Ohio State University Extension states to cut back the girdling vine back to the ground line and get rid of the parts of the vine that have wrapped themselves around the other plant.

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Tibouchina Species

The large, velvety leaves and vibrant purple, showy blooms have earned tibouchina (Tibouchina spp.) The name of glory blossom or glory bush. Native to South America, about 350 species of tibouchina exist, some with pink or white blossoms, but only a few species are under cultivation. Grow them outdoors in mild-winter, basically frost-free climates. In cold winter climates, grow tibouchina for a container plant that can go outdoors for the summer and inside for the winter, or as a greenhouse plant.

Tibouchina Urvilleana

The most frequently developed tibouchina, glory bush (Tibouchina urvilleana) includes 3-inch-wide flowers that are a glowing, violet-purple. Also called princess blossom, the bush contains non-woody stems to 15 feet tall and 10 to 12 feet wide, growing in a mound. Heavy flowering occurs all during the summertime, with irregular flowering at other times of the year. Hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 12, the plant is killed back to the ground in zones 8 throughout the winter, but usually recovers the next spring. The cultivar “Athens Blue” (Tibouchina urvilleana “Athens Blue,” USDA zones 10 through 11) contains deeper purple blossoms.

Tibouchina Grandiflora

A species with grayer, more velvety leaves, glory flower (Tibouchina grandiflora) is smaller compared to glory bush. It typically reaches 5 to 8 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide in USDA zones 9 through 11, although it can grow to 10 feet tall. Its smaller, royal purple blooms occur in spring, summer and fall in showy panicles, which can be loosely-branching clusters of blossoms, atop blossom stalks that rise above the leaf. Cut off the old flower stalks to showcase the dramatic leaf once the plant isn’t in bloom.

Other Species

Capable of being educated as a little tree and with the name glory bush, Tibouchina lepidota has regal purple blossoms that nearly fully cover the bush to get a few weeks throughout the summer. Hardy in USDA zones 10 through 11, in warm winter climates it blooms nearly annually. The taller-growing purple glory tree (Tibouchina granulosa, USDA zones 10b through 11) grows 10 to 15 feet tall and may reach 20 feet. For a tree, this is actually the tibouchina of selection. Panicles of all 2-inch-wide, purple flowers appear in spring, summer and fall. Grow it as a shrub or prune and shape it if it’s young to form a tree.

Plant Care

Reflecting their tropical origins, tibouchinas need moist but not soggy conditions and also an organic-rich, well-draining dirt. Grow glory bush in full sun except in regions with hot summers, where it conquers daytime shade. Prune the trees to keep them to shape and size after they’re done blooming; use pruning shears cleaned with a cloth soaked in rubbing alcohol to prevent disease spread. In spring, apply a controlled-release fertilizer to the soil around the base of the plant, evenly scattering it under the branches and out a little past the drip line. Mix it into the upper layer of dirt and water well. Use a product such as 15-9-12 at the rate of 1.3 lbs per 100 square foot of landscaping area. Tibouchina are almost pest- and disease-free. They are classified as invasive in Hawaii, in which they seed into native habitats. Remove seed pods so seedlings can’t volunteer should youn’t want tibouchina to propagate.

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Growth Stages of Fox Tail

Foxtails (Setaria spp.) Inhabit disturbed areas such as agricultural land, orchards, roadsides, ditches and gardens; yellow foxtails (Setaria pumila) will even spread to yards. These summer annual grasses are among the most severe of the summer annual weeds due to their abilities to successfully invade — and take over — many types of habitats.

Seedling Stage

Foxtail seedlings are tough to spot and even harder to identify since the distinctive seed head has not developed yet. They begin parallel to the bottom with their leaves developing in their thick stem. Seedlings can vary in appearance depending on species. The foxtail’s first true leaf reaches nearly 1 inch long and 1/8-inch wide. Once germinated, the plants can reach maturity and develop seed within 40 days.

Old Acids

Many foxtails grow in loosely gathered clumps; a few, however, may erect a single stem. At maturity, foxtails can reach over 4 feet tall. Leaves branch near the base of the plant; mature plants have thick, pointed leaves which spiral slightly. Leaves often have slightly hairy surfaces. Old foxtail plants might cover a large area, especially in disturbed areas where the soil is ideal for their growth.

Seed Heads

Mature foxtails possess a distinguishing, fuzzy-looking tree head which changes in colour depending on species. Green foxtail (Setaria viridis), for example, often has green seed heads, but deep, purplish-red isn’t uncommon. This species typically blooms May through November. Yellow foxtail has yellowish seed heads which reach 2 to 5 inches long. Yellow foxtail blooms June through December. Giant foxtail (Setaria faberi) blooms June through November with 3- to 7-inch seed heads. The seed heads often turn tawny or yellowish in fall.

Reproductive Cycle

The seeds blow in the wind, latch onto the fur of animals or are otherwise removed from the plant. Seeds can remain dormant for nearly three years. The seeds will germinate almost immediately if the conditions are appropriate — between 68 and 95 degrees F, beginning the life cycle over again for all these species that are competitive. Because of this, foxtails are especially harmful to spring-sown crops.

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Is a Chinese Elm Tree Softwood or Hardwood?

The Chinese elm (Ulmus parvifolia) rises in United States Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5b through 10a. It produces colorful autumn leaves at the northernmost portion of its growing variety but stays evergreen when implanted further south. It makes an superb landscape tree as it has little invasive potential, doesn’t create litter and doesn’t attract unwanted animal traffic. The Chinese elm is a tree.

Hard or Soft?

The names hardwood and softwood can be deceiving, and they don’t really refer to the consistency or strength of the timber. Even though the wood of the majority of softwood trees is less dense than hardwoods and often contains more air bubbles, whether a tree is a hardwood and softwood actually depends upon the way that trees reproduce. Softwood trees are known as gymnosperms and reproduce by producing cones that contain pollen. After the end spreads the pollen to other trees, a bare tree is produced and dropped onto the ground to generate a new tree. Pine trees and other evergreen conifers reproduce in this way, which is what classifies them as softwoods. Hardwoods, however, are known as angiosperms. These trees reproduce by producing seeds housed in nuts or fruits and usually spread their feces by flowering. Most deciduous trees reproduce in this way and are hardwoods.

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