Green Curtain

One can create a beautiful interior garden suspended for dressing a window. Using appropriate baskets, shelves  of different lengths, we obtain a harmonious arrangement that allows use of the space in a small apartment. To succeed this “green curtain“, some conditions have to be considered.

Firstly, warm air is lighter, it will rise and accumulate at the ceiling. It will therefore be frequently watered plants planters or choose to install drought tolerant species and heat (cacti, succulents, etc.)..

In addition, plants placed above, especially if they are large, will overshadow smaller and those placed below. We will also arrange the plants according to their needs and brightness.

Finally, it is preferable to use in the same pot plants that have the same maintenance requirements (watering, fertilizing, pinching, pruning, removal of dead leaves, checking the condition of the soil, and screening for parasites diseases).

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Houseplants Size

Your houseplant grows well. So well that it gets too big, brushing the ceiling, blocking the passage, or it has dead branches or languishing … Remember that it is easy to remedy these problems by performing a size.

Obviously, each plant has its own needs. A yucca or dieffenbachia may still be very beautiful with a single stem and the cap Side by side for years, no need of any size. Moreover, a hibiscus or a maple with a beautiful indoor dense and compact size to require two or three times a year. It’s up to you to judge the need to cut or not.

The size can theoretically be done in any season. However, in the fall or winter, it can stimulate new growth stunted because the light is low at this time. In the spring and summer it is recommended to prune. There is no special season for cons to remove a dead branch or small, it can be done at any time.

The technique

You need a sharp secateurs, sometimes even a small saw if the stem is very thick. Clean the instrument with rubbing alcohol before cutting between cuts to prevent disease transmission. Wear heavy gloves if the rod is provided with needles. Then you must decide where you will cut. Note that a branch cut again soon for new growth to a point just a little below the cutting point. So if you cut exactly to the desired final length, the plant will soon be too big again, its new shoots growing rapidly. Better to see the length that you feel is ideal … and cut one third lower!

We normally cut just above a small secondary branch (our example) or, in the case of a single stem plant, a dormant bud that recognizes a bulge on the stem. Thus there will be no unpleasant appearance of bare stump. Many prefer to cut at an angle of 45 ˚, but a straight cut will also give good results.

After pruning, it is not necessary to cover the wound with a painting or any product, even if he passes a little sap. Let Mother Nature do her work, quite simply, the flow will stop quickly. In general, a freshly cut plant requires no special treatment.

One last thing, we can cut that plants have the ability to make new branches. However, the palm trees do not branch: if you cut their head, the stem will die. For palm size is limited to removing dead fronds.

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Check The Condition Of Soil

With time and repeated watering, the soil tends to compact under the effect of water movement, and a hardened layer is formed on the surface. In addition, minerals can build up (eg. Presence of a whitish deposit on the surface, on the walls of the pot and even on the basal leaves and the stem base).

When irrigation water is not distributed uniformly in the substrate or it flows only along the walls of the pot, these are signs that the soil is depleted and compacted.

To improve drainage of water and facilitate aeration of the roots, can be performed from May to October small holes in the ground (gently push a knitting pin, a small screwdriver, pencil, etc..). After this procedure, you will see if the water is dispersed evenly and soak the soil well. One can also make a surfacing, which involves removing a surface layer of soil (a few centimeters at most) and then replace it with new.

Although the ideal time to repot indoor plants from mid-March to mid-September, we can still do so if the substrate is too compacted to a great depth, where a significant accumulation of minerals or if the plant is too cramped in its pot (eg. roots emerge from drainage holes, the plant pays and drops the pot).

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Check Roots When Repotting

Spring is the ideal time to repot houseplants that appear in need. Repotting is also an opportunity to visually inspect the condition of the roots.

Indeed, the enemies and plant problems are not always visible on the aerial parts and can remain hidden and discreet ground level for some time before the plant has the air of suffering.

Thus, when transferring your plants in another pot, carefully check to see if their roots are rotten, withered, or if their end is burnished or covered with necrotic spots (this may be caused by a deficiency).

Also detect the presence of larvae (eg., Grubs), and cottony white matter (eg., Mealybugs), nodules or galls (among others caused by nematodes – microscopic worms). If in doubt, please seek medical advice.

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Houseplants Treatment

Winter days are not only short, but often cloudy. Available light is insufficient to meet the needs of your plants. Even exposed to sunlight in January, they will tap into their reserves of photosynthetic energy. Some, such as philodendron, and the aglaonémas dracénas, live for months on these reserves, while others show signs of weakness quickly – growing pale, feeble and withered, falling leaves, etc.. – If they “do not recharge their batteries” daily. They may even die.

The most obvious solution is to relocate your protected space in a better light. Prefer large windows and areas near the window, ensuring that the leaves do not touch. A window facing south, too hot in summer, becomes a tropical paradise during the cold season. Parts pierced with windows on several sides offer optimum conditions, as solariums and skylights. But be careful with those facing north as well as recessed areas. If you look well lit, they rarely provide sufficient brightness.

Finally, it is worth noting that the walls and light colored furniture reflect light and enhance the brightness of a room. Conversely, the walls and dark mahogany furniture absorb light and are best avoided.

If these conditions you are unavailable, you may need to use artificial lighting. Fluorescent lamps, inexpensive and easy to install, emit a light spectrum in a proper interest in plants (mostly red and blue rays), without risk of burning leaves, unless they relate to the tubes. A simple lamp with two tubes of 120 cm and 32 watts each, installed at 15 or 30 cm above the foliage, provides adequate lighting for the growth of many plants.

The combination of a cool white tube and another in the same warm white lamp also gives excellent results. The most demanding plant, such as miniature roses, orchids and some most cacti, require a four-tube lamp. These lamps can be hidden in shelves, attic, under stairs or in a closet, and why not, in the chimney of an unused fireplace to light a small garden located in the hearth.

Connect any artificial lighting on a timer: 14 to 16 hours of light daily to ensure healthy growth and abundant flowering of most plants. The poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) and the Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera x buckleyi) are exceptions: their 10 hours of light will suffice.

Balanced diet
Once, were advised to fertilize plants during the fall and winter, because it caused stunted growth and wilted. Since the advent of artificial lighting, the rule is rather not to fertilize plants that receive too little light. Those subject to artificial lighting show steady growth should be supported by regular application of fertilizers according to the frequency suggested by the manufacturer. Many gardeners use an indoor all-purpose soluble fertilizer at a quarter of the recommended dose every watering, and this, throughout the winter. This method is suitable for both plants artificially lit as those growing under natural light.

The frequency and dosage of irrigation also vary depending on culture conditions. The popular belief is that plants grow more slowly in winter and therefore require less watering. This is often the case, but if the air is very dry, plants sweat so profusely that they require more water in summer, regardless of their growth rate. Generally, wait until the soil dries before watering deeply. Check the condition of the soil every three or four days. For potted plants of medium to large, dip your finger into the soil until the second joint (about 5 cm). For smaller, you can rely on the color of the soil surface: it is pale, it’s time to water. Give them to drink until the water starts flowing into the saucer.

Sleep therapy
In the fall, some plants, including lilies of Saint-Jacques (Sprekelia formosissima) or red garlic (Scadoxus multiflorus) fall completely dormant: they lose their leaves and are left for dead. Remove yellow leaves and place them in a place free of light, like a wardrobe or a corner of the basement, until they again show signs of life in mid-February. Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) also requires a short period of dormancy in the fall, which generally ends in December or January.

Other plants show no visible change but are still in a state of semi-dormant in winter. Thus, the clivia requires no watering from late November until the appearance of new buds in February or March.

Cacti from arid climates – small rounded (Mammillaria, Lobivia, Rebutia) as large candles (Cereus, Cleistocactus) – form a separate group, enjoying a cold winter and dry with temperatures between 4 and 7 ˚ C. If you can maintain this temperature in a room with little or no light, you will stay off until late March. They shrivel somewhat, but regain their turgor at the first water supply. If the ambient temperature is higher, at between 9 and 15 ˚ C, dormancy will be only partial: a monthly watering enough. Noted finally a cool, dry winter an exuberant flowering the following summer. If your cacti have never bloomed, you now know why.

10 air purifying plants
All plants absorb toxic substances released by paint, plastics and cleaning products and help stop harmful bacteria. NASA studies have identified 10 species that are most effective to purify the air in our homes:
• Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)
• Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)
• Dracena ‘Janet Craig’ (Dracaena deremensis ‘Janet Craig’)
• rubber (Ficus elastica)
• fig leaf saber (maclellandii Ficus ‘Alii’)
• English Ivy (Hedera helix)
• Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’)
• Dwarf Date Palm (Phoenix roebelinii)
• Rhapis (Rhapis excelsa)
• Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

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VIP Treatment For Houseplants

Like all of us, houseplants need to be pampered for the winter. How about offering them a true VIP treatment?

Winter is hard for houseplants …
From regions where it is always hot and humid, indoor plants are not adapted to conditions in our homes this time of year: short days, low sun, hot, dry air, etc.. Slightly changing your routine maintenance, it is possible to maintain favorable growing conditions and help them to cope better.

A good shower
First, remove dead leaves, yellowed or damaged trim and all parties to stunted growth. Then, showering your plants to remove dust and other accumulations on the surface of the leaves. And cleaned, they will capture and absorb more light, a valuable asset during the dark winter days. If the soil dries out faster than you can water it, repot your plants in containers slightly larger. Take the opportunity to remove the dead roots and taproots large coiled inside the container. These roots, which anchor the plant as it grows in the ground, are totally unnecessary in a pot. Deleting them, you will encourage the proliferation of rootlets more efficient to absorb water and minerals.

Hygiene night
Remember that most houseplants prefer cool nights, the night temperature down to 18 ˚ C is just as beneficial economically. As for plants less cautious, like gardenias, cyclamen and most cacti, if possible place them in a room whose temperature is always between 0 and 15 ˚ C, spare bedroom for example. Finally, avoid placing a plant of any kind, in a stream of cold air or to a radiator.

Steam bath
During the winter, relative humidity of the house drops to normal about 15%, drought conditions worse than those prevailing in the Sahara where the humidity is around 25%. In practice, this means that indoor plants release water through transpiration as fast if not more than they can absorb through their roots. This results in wilting or leaf rolling or browning of their tips, not to mention the flower buds that abort, which partly explains the lack of flowers at this season.

Two choices for you: grow plants adapted to hot, dry air, such as cacti and succulents, or increase the ambient humidity. To do this, get a portable humidifier or central to maintain a comfortable rate of 50% or more, equally beneficial to humans and furniture. Some plants, including those with very thin sheets, require an atmosphere charged with 60 or even 70% humidity, which can cause condensation and an unpleasant sensation of wetness.

In these cases, the solution is rather to create a microclimate extrahumide: all plants are grouped in a section of the piece by placing the center of the most demanding. Thus, they benefit from the humid atmosphere generated by the sweat of all. If this is not enough, make a humidifying tray: fill a plate sealed gravel, pour in water and place the pots there. Make sure the water does not touch the pot, which would rot the roots. Fill up with water frequently.

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Cactus Flowers

Many cacti have beautiful flowers. Many gardeners have in the past decade and more, and they have not produced any flowers. Why? How to make them bloom?

The cactus family is very large: over 2000 species, almost exclusively natives of the New World. Most have many thorns, but otherwise their shapes vary widely: they may be globular or erect, branched or columnar. They can wear long white hair … or no hair at all.

Purchase a reasoned

The first trick to making a cactus flower is … to buy a cactus in bloom! Seriously, he must first make sure that the cactus is old enough to bloom. But if flowers or fruit at the time of purchase, at least you know. Some cacti are 50 years or more before flowering, others bloom in their first year. Choose course of the second group of plants!

Also, make sure the flowers are real. Many vendors sell cactus on which was glued flowers immortal, often dyed in bright colors! If the flower is soft and silky, it’s a real cactus flower. If it has a papery texture, this is a wrong.

A benign neglect

Another mistake many gardeners make is to treat their cactus too. Okay, they love full sun and can never be too much, as a position in front of a window facing south or west is great, but do not water them and fertilize them like other plants. These plants live “roughing it” in nature: some water in a soil often execrable. Irrigate and fertilize heavily stimulates overgrowth, without making it bloom.

In spring and summer, water only when soil is dry to the touch. The fall and winter, let the soil dry out really: one month or more without water is beneficial. As for the fertilizer (and there are “fertilizer for cactus”), it is better to give them sparingly, at 1/10 of the recommended dose, and only in spring and summer.

Finally, one last thing. The majority of cacti that we sell come, not from the tropics, but places where the winter climate is cold. To stimulate flowering, therefore, place your cactus near a cold window in winter. Do not be discouraged if the treatment does not seem to give immediate results. Indeed, most cactus like a cold winter … but not flower until the spring or summer.

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Azalea

Among the most popular potted plants sold as a gift on the occasion, we can find  one that is extraordinary, indoor azalea.

This azalea, hybrid azalea sometimes called Belgian – because the first hybrid of this kind have been developed in Belgium in the mid nineteenth century – is of complex origin: one parent is a Chinese azalea, Rhododendron simsii. This is a medium-sized shrub (rarely over 60 cm high, often much less) which bears small elliptical evergreen.

The winter and spring, the shrub is covered with masses of flowers usually double, solid colors: red, pink, lavender, purple or white and sometimes bicolor. The effect is breathtaking! Be aware that azaleas sold as indoor plant is ephemeral: it is supposed to bloom a few weeks, then die. This is probably what the merchant wants … but there are ways to grow this plant for many years and even to bloom again! Here’s how.

First, once flowering is complete, try to find a cool place, away from direct sunlight, enjoying at least a few hours of sun per day. A window facing east is very interesting, as the morning sun is naturally cool. Continue to water as needed, when the soil is dry to the touch. This plant dries very quickly inside our homes: it may be necessary to water it more than once a week. Avoid conventional fertilizers because they contain minerals that may be toxic. There are known acidifying fertilizers that are specially adapted for azaleas and rhododendrons. Apply it according to the user manual.

In summer, place azalea outdoors in direct sunlight, but where it will rain. This plant loves the cool nights of the outdoors and as beneficial rain. The rain, which is naturally slightly acidic leach the soil carrying the accumulated toxic minerals and water from irrigation.

Here is the real key to success: Leave this plant outside in late fall, the only returning when that announcement of the freeze. In nature, this plant “overwinter in a cool,” almost freezing. The “cold treatment” fall fill that role. When frost threatens, finally, return it. You will notice that it will be full of buds.

Shortly after return, normally around Christmas, it should start to bloom. This bloom is not as dense as when you bought or received the plant, but it will last longer, because the buttons of an azalea grown at home tend to gradually open all winter, and sometimes until the spring rather than all at once. Repeat this treatment inside / outside and your azalea will give you many months of bloom every winter!

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Planning The Garden

The natural garden requires planning. Some gardeners, extremist and reckless, adopt the technique of “letting go,” where nature regains all her rights. Planning is important but here, more than any other type of development project, it should be flexible.

Will you opt for the integration of native specimens in existing flowerbeds or you devote yourself to the creation of an entire small natural ecosystem? Know that no one approach is preferable to another. However, it is important to determine in advance which option suits you best. A mixed approach is feasible. It is possible, for example, develop a plan where areas close to home are more horticultural and remote areas increasingly wild as and when one moves away from the house.

Regardless of the proposed approach, the first step is to observe nature and its ways. What plants grow well together? How are they arranged? Are found only does one, in small groups or in huge colonies? What kinds of rocks are on the premises? The soil is it fresh, heavy, compact or sandy?

Bluets (Houstonia caerulea)

Small, bluets compensates by producing ephemeral blooming flowers in abundance. In lawns, meadows or rock garden plant where it forms masses so densely flowered believe that patches of snow fierce. It tolerates mowing and, provided that we are not fond of the mower, adds color in spring.

Height: 10 to 15 cm
Width: 20 cm
Flowers: white and blue with a touch of yellow
Flowering Period: May
Exposure: sun
Soil: needs a cool soil, tolerates more or less rich soil
Hardiness: Zone 4
Habitat: pastures and lawns

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The Mimulus

The mimulus, also called mimules, are herbaceous plants that can be grown as annuals. In Quebec there are species that grow naturally (Mimulus ringens and M. moschatus). These low, bushy plants reach a height of 15-60 cm, depending on the species.

There are several advantages to cultivate mimulus, including their long flowering spreading throughout the summer. These plants have beautiful flowers showy yellow (M. moschatos), orange, red (M. cupreus) or lavender (M. ringens). The flowers of some species are yellow with brownish-red spots (M. luteus, M. gattatus).

The mimulus grow well in shady or sunny areas. They are therefore useful to add a touch of color in the dark corners of the garden.

In addition, these plants can be used in various ways, either at the edge of a pond or stream water in potted plants with other annual (thought, snapdragon, zinnia) or in the ground, provided the soil is maintained cool and wet as they do not tolerate dry soils.

They can also be repotted in the fall, then cast off their stems to grow them as houseplants.

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