Wednesday, January 30, 2013

How to Grow Bird of Paradise From Seed

Republished from my blog gardeningbytes.com.

Bird of Paradise gets its name from the striking flower heads produced on long stems. These tall plants can grow up 3 to 5 feet in height. I remember my father growing a bed of purple bearded iris and a Bird of Paradise plant. I finally decided to purchase seeds and try my hand at growing Bird of Paradise. From what I've read once Bird of Paradise starts growing from seed it can take 3 to 5 years before the plant blooms, but the beautiful flowers are worth the wait.

You can help the Bird of Paradise seeds sprout quicker by scraping the seeds with a metal nail file. Scrape a small section of the side of the seed, then soak the seeds for at least 4 hours or overnight. Plant in the ground directly or in a pot. Another method is to cool the Bird of Paradise seed before planting for a few weeks, then nick each seed (called scarification) to help the seeds germinate.

I'm not sure how well this plant will do with my coastal weather but I'm willing to give it a try. So far the seeds that were simply filed and soaked in water have not sprouted, while my sweet peas that received the same treatment are growing well. The next set of Bird of Paradise seeds are in the fridge being cooled and will be planted in the coming weeks. Since Bird of Paradise is a tropical plant perhaps a warmer weather area will help the seeds sprout and grow more readily.

Learn more about How to Plant Bird of Paradise Seeds.

You may also want to check here to learn more about How to Grow Bird of Paradise Plants.

And here to learn how to help Bird of Paradise plants bloom their best.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Protecting Plants In Cold Weather

Republished from my blog gardeningbytes.com.

Plants often need extra protection during colder months. As we head into fall and winter, rains, cold temperatures and frost can damage many tender garden plants. A good rule of thumb is to mulch heavily at the base of plants that have difficulty with cold weather and frost. Keep mulch away from stems of plants when applying. Water plants before frost arrives. If you are concerned about tender plants and have a greenhouse dig them up and pot them up then place in the greenhouse for the colder months. For delicate roses surround them with chicken wire cage and fill the cage with leaves as a natural mulch. You can use sheets covered with plastic tarp to surround your plant stems when frosts hit, clothespins work well to gather edges together. Do not use plastic only, plastic conducts the cold and can make it colder under the plastic for the plant. Cut a hole in gallon plastic containers and cover smaller plants, the plastic will help keep the plant stem warmed. Container plants can be brought into the greenhouse or garage until frosts have passed. Add gallon jugs of warm-to-hot water under sheets to help keep temps under the sheets warmer for your plants during frosts.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Gardening Article: Increase Your Crop Yield by Using Marigold in Permaculture

Permaculture is basically about how plants and animals are dependent on each other in their respective functions in nature. There is a general belief among gardeners that planting a combination of plants in a garden can prevent insect infestation.

Marigold is often recommended as a plant which can be used in gardens to prevent nematode and insect damage. However, there are doubts about marigold ability to repel insects. One particular pest that favors marigold is Spider mites, and since these pests are also attracted to other vegetables such as tomatoes it wouldn’t be beneficial to plant marigold with these crops. Spider mites can accumulate on marigold and then spread out to your vegetable plants.

Marigold Control Nematodes

Marigold can help to keep those dangerous nematodes under control. Nematodes are tiny microscopic worms that invade the roots of several vegetables and cause a decline in both the quality and yield. Nematodes favorite plants are tomatoes, but now-a-days the majority of tomato cultivars are bred to be nematode resistant. If your garden is under nematode attack, the adverse effect will be visible by the middle of summer.

Marigold produces a substance that deters nematodes. Research indicates that asparagus, castor beans, pangola grass and neem all produce substances which can kill one or more types of nematodes. Marigold is unlike these plants in that it acts like a trap crop. As the nematodes move onto the plants, they die because they are unable to generate any effective breeding site. Marigolds can control many kinds of nematodes but they are most effective on the root-knot and legions types.

When and How to Plant Marigold

Nematode control is dependent on how marigold is planted and the time it is planted. It doesn’t make sense to plant them beside crops that are prone to root-knot nematodes because this will not be effective, since the root-knot nematodes will amass on predisposed plants. The best thing to do is to plant marigold as cover crops. You should plant marigolds in the rows or the areas where you intend to lessen the problem of nematode build-up. The early crops for summer such as cucumbers, garlic, squash, snap beans, tomatoes, onions and strawberries are usually removed after they have completed their production. You can plant marigold in the same place where these uprooted plants were planted.

Since marigold will only be effective in controlling nematodes for just one crop, you should ensure that the necessary precautions are to be taken to prevent an increase in the nematode population.

Identifying Nematodes

Nematodes are present in all soil types. While these parasitic nematodes are there, they do not have to be present in such great numbers so as to create a problem in your plants. They only pose a problem when the population is large. Nematodes are microscopic in size; therefore if you suspect that they are present in your garden, it’s impossible to see them with your naked eye.

When you become suspicious of their presence call on your Agricultural Extension Office and ask for nematode assay kit. Soil samples that you collect and submit will be tested in the lab for evaluation. If the sample shows high levels of nematode, and is cause for concern, then marigold can be used as a cover crop for control.

Image courtesy of stockphotosforfree.com.

About the author: Lucas Barnes writes about gardening on his site Plantdex.

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Bulbs That Bloom In Spring

Republished from my blog gardeningbytes.com.

Spring is the time of year when flowers start to bloom again after the cold dark winter months. Spring bulbs are a great choice to fill out your garden and provide spring colors between established shrubs and plants. Many bulbs manage to naturalise once planted, multiplying your bulbs and color in your garden year after year. Here are some good choices for spring blooming:

Early Spring:
Chionodoxa (Glory of the Snow)
Eranthis (Winter Aconite)
Galanthus (Snowdrop)

Mid-Spring:
Anemone (Windflower)
Crocus (Crocus)
Hyacinthus (Hyacinth)
Muscari (Grape Hyacinth)
Narcissus (Daffodil)
Scilla (Bluebell)
Tulipa (Tulip)

Late Spring:
Allium (Allium)
Convallaria (Lily of the Valley)
Sparaxis (Harlequin Flower)
Trillium (Wood Lily)

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Fall And Winter Plants For Garden Structure

Republished from my blog gardeningbytes.com.

Set up your garden to look good in fall and winter. The use of structural plants will provide your garden shape and color during colder months when little is blooming. Plant trees with interesting branch shapes such as curly willow. Trees with interesting and colorful bark, like dogwood, japanese barberry, scots pine, and japanese kerria, provide interesting shapes and texture in the garden. Include shrubs with evergreen leaves that do not drop for green throughout the cold seasons. Plants with seed pods are also a decorative choice for the winter garden.

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