Welcome to the December issue of Garden Ramblings. This month there are again three articles by guest authors.
For most of us December is a time of the year when we spend more of our time indoors with the windows closed to keep out the cold. Plants act as natural air fresheners and this review of the Top 10 Natural, Eco-Friendly and Anti-Pollutant Houseplants by Neelima Reddy contains some surprises and may give you some new ideas.
The reason why gardening is such an engaging hobby is that each year is different. What is successful one year may not perform so well the next, so there is a constant interest trying new varieties. This story of one gardener's experiences with seven varieties of heirloom tomatoes may help you with planning your seed orders for next year.
In between I have included a short article by Gretchen Erle on that perennial problem of caring for poinsettias at this holiday season.
As usual there is a Special Offers section with all the bargains that I've managed to find this month.
Before you can kill your poinsettia you have to buy one, so this month's video shares a few tips on how to choose a healthy plant.
Top 10 Natural, Eco-Friendly and Anti-Pollutant Houseplants by Neelima Reddy
Get rid of indoor pollution in a natural way
You must have spent practically thousands of dollars to buy the latest vacuum cleaner and the latest floor cleaners that help you keep your house clean.
However, there comes a time when these machines fail to work leaving you to the unhealthy dust particles and other pollutants in your house. Rather than artificial machines, you must opt for natural pollution fighters that come in the form of plants. These plants are quiet unlike the noisy machines when you switch them off. Moreover, you do not have to throw hundreds of dollars to repair them. Re-growing the plants is very much simple.
Hence, to get rid of pollution in your house in a natural way, you must go through the top 10 houseplants that you can buy.
1. The Feston Rose plant
While looking for a houseplant, you generally prefer the one's that need the lowest maintenance. One such houseplant is Lantana camara or the feston rose plant. The most fantastic feature of this plant is that it bears innumerable flowers of variegated colors.
This houseplant brilliantly tolerates highly saline conditions, lack of water, scorching heat and billowing winds. The leaves of this houseplant bear a very strong and pleasant aroma. This houseplant not only purifies the air in your house but also leaves a beautiful aroma.
2. The Devil's ivy
Also known as the Golden Pothos and scientifically termed as Epipiremnum Aureum, the Devil's ivy is a beautiful vine plant with leaves that are marbled and golden in color as per the name.
Even if this plant is not taken care off, it thrives on and continues growing. This plant acts as an excellent natural anti-pollutant against common pollutants like benzene, formaldehyde and carbon monoxide. If kept on a top shelf, this plant climbs down as it matures. However, you should take care that this plant is not ingested in any way even by your own pet dog.
This houseplant proudly bears the loveliest white and pink hued flowers. It has very few fleshy leaves at its base. This houseplant possesses a rhizome that looks like a stem.
Since this houseplant cannot tolerant direct sunlight, you can place this beautiful houseplant in the artificial light in your house.
With its beautiful flowers, this plant will surely enhance the beauty of your home and also purify the air inside your house. The houseplant itself is very small but the flowers are relatively big and marvelous.
4. The English Ivy
An ideal houseplant for people who have pets. Scientifically termed as Hedera Helix, this plant is known to filter indoor pollutants like fecal particles, formaldehyde aerosols and much more and keep your house toxin free.
However, English ivy occupies a lot of place and hence care should be taken while you cultivate this plant. There are several different species of the English ivy that have different leaf shape, size and color.
Growing beautifully in the bright sun but not under direct sun light, English ivy grows preferably in soil that is well drained. Care should be taken while placing English ivy indoors because it is poisonous.
5. The Parlor ivy
Also known as the heartleaf Philodendron, the parlor ivy proves to be a beautiful house plant that is equally useful in cleaning up the air in your house. As the name suggests, this plant has small deep green colored heart shape leaves that simply mesmerize you and the onlookers and guests too.
Scientifically termed as Philodendron Scandens, this beautiful climbing plant is easier to grow and much easier to maintain. It successfully filters out unwanted and harmful chemicals in your household making the air fresh and healthy to breathe in.
6. The African Violets
One of the most beautiful houseplants, African Violets make your house appear prettier and also fresher. Scientifically termed as the Saintpaulia species, this houseplant has really pretty violet flowers that simply awe you.
The African violets are available in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. To propagate these plants, all you need is leaf cuttings. These plants grow beautifully in moderate light and temperature. However, you should take care that these beautiful plants are not infested with those pathetic mealybugs
7. The Christmas Cactus
Unlike its name, this plant is neither a Christmas tree nor a cactus. Moreover, this plant blooms beautiful during Christmas time and hence can prove to be a great Christmas gift.
The blooms are beautiful violet, pink, red, oranges, fuschia colored glossy flowers. The leaves of the Christmas cactus are pointed and lobed. The simple Y-shape cuttings of this plant can give you yet another beautiful Christmas cactus. This plant needs adequate amount of light and water.
8. The Yellow Goddess
So very much like its name, this plant seems to be blessed by the Goddess of the color yellow because of the lovely yellow flowers that this plant proudly possesses.
With a beautiful green color at the base, these trumpet shaped flowers simply take your breath away. This plant has several different hybrids bearing large flowers or miniature flowers.
You can see the beautiful bulb growth just after 6-7 weeks of potting this beautiful plant. This plant needs bright light but not directly from the sun. What makes this houseplant an excellent choice is its small size and comparatively big showy beautiful yellow flowers.
9. The Garlic vine
If you are truly a lover of garlic and onion, then this houseplant is just for you. This houseplant, as the name suggests, its leaves and flowers smell like garlic and little bit of onion when they are crushed thoroughly. This houseplant is scientifically termed as Mansoa alliacea.
Everyone very well knows the use of garlic as a placebo for innumerable health conditions. Even this plant can be used for the same. You can use the leaves, roots, flowers, etc., to treat cold, fever, sore throat and other breathing problems.
Many people suggest that this houseplant pushes out all the bad luck from your house. It bears beautiful lavender hued bell shaped flowers. Garlic vine serves a two in one purpose of air purification and treatments.
10. The Peace Lily
With a certainly befitting name, the Peace Lily bears beautiful white flowers, the color of truce and peace, calm and serenity. Scientifically termed as Spathiphyllum, this beautiful houseplant has flowers that surround the spadix and are oval in shape.
These flowers come right out of the plant's base increasing the beauty of the houseplant. The flowers have a soft leathery feel when touched. This beautiful flower bearing houseplant is very much easier to grow.
The blooms grow fantastically under moderate to low light intensity. This houseplant needs significantly moist soil to grow on. If you are an ardent nail polish user, then you must be aware of the effects caused by that smell.
The nail polishes, paints, other solvents and adhesives contain harmful pollutants like benzene, toluene and xylene. These pollutants are successfully filtered out in the ambience of your house by the beautiful Peace lily houseplant. To prevent sun burn, you must place the peace lilies away from the direct sunlight.
Buying any of the above top 10 houseplants would ensure that the ambience of your house remains pure and fresh.
About the Author Neelima Reddy, author of this article writes for TheNewEcologist.com know more about green living, green news, eco systems, green products, home & garden, alternative energy, design & architecture etc.. Visit The New Ecologist
I cannot even count how many poinsettias I've tossed in the trash, and if you're anything like me then you're probably guilty of poinsettia murder too. But did you know that if you follow a few tips you can enjoy the blooms next year? Coaxing them to come back is easier than you think-just keep the following guidelines in mind.
Keeping it alive
You'll have to make sure you keep your poinsettia alive this holiday season before you worry about getting it to come back next year. Just follow the advice below.
Poinsettias prefer indirect sunlight. You'll want to make sure your poinsettia receives 6 hours of indirect sunlight a day.
Abide by standard rules for watering houseplants and your poinsettias will be fine. After you get your new poinsettia home, be sure to give it a thorough watering. Make sure you never allow your poinsettia to sit in standing water, and only water it when the soil is dry to the touch since you don't want to overwater it. Never fertilize it when it is in bloom.
Poinsettias like temperatures similar to what you like. Don't place them near drafts or heat vents, and keep temperatures in the 65-75 temperature range. Never put your poinsettia outside in the cold.
After the bloom
The flowers will eventually start dying. Don't change up its watering schedule but you should start fertilizing it every 2-3 weeks. Use a good all-purpose fertilizer and never fertilize it when it is blooming.
Once spring arrives you can start cutting it back. Put your plant outside so it can soak up some warm sunlight but make sure there is no chance of frost. You may want to transplant your poinsettia once springtime comes to an end. Find a pot that is a few inches larger than its current pot and try to use a potting mix that has peat moss in it.
Time to sleep
In order for your poinsettia to bloom again, you will have to expose it to conditions similar to what it's used to. You will need to make sure it has total darkness for 14 hours a day. You can just stick a large box over the top of the poinsettia.
During the remaining of the time expose your poinsettia to bright sunlight. Maintain its watering and fertilizing schedule.
If you follow the steps above then you should be able to enjoy its beauty next season as well!
About the Author I am an avid gardener who loves plants, flowers and all things green! :-)
I have been growing Better Boy hybrid tomatoes for more than 30 years. They are dependable and always produce a good crop. Last year I decided to add some heirloom plants to my tomato patch. I already knew heirlooms don't have the disease resistance qualities that hybrids do, but in my search for a sweeter tomato, I decided to give them a try anyway. I ordered the seed from a company specializing in heirloom seeds and started the plants in my own greenhouse. After the plants were a good size, I transferred them to my garden.
I planted 7 Mr. Stripey, 7 Djena Lee's Golden Girl, 7 Striped German, 6 Delicious and 4 First Pick heirloom tomatoes. I also planted 10 Better Boy hybrids, for a total of 41 plants. I only grew indeterminate varieties which are supposed to keep producing until frost. This number of plants should have produced enough tomatoes for all the salsa and sauces I had planned on canning. It didn't even come close.
Although I didn't grow Rutgers and Marglobe tomatoes last year, I have grown them many times before. If you are interested in growing heirlooms, you may find their results useful as well. The only reason I didn't grow them last year was lack of garden space.
Mr. Stripey was something of a disappointment for me. I had read good things about this tomato variety, so I had high hopes. The medium sized fruits tasted very good, but the production was poor. Each plant grew a handful of tomatoes, but after the first picking, they set very few additional fruits.
Djena Lee's Golden Girl grew the best of all the heirlooms. The tomatoes were large, and the plants produced the most tomatoes. The taste was mild and sweet, as a yellow tomato should be. The walls were rather thick, so the seed cavity was smaller than average, which is a bonus. They also continued to set tomatoes longer than any of the other heirlooms. I will be growing Djena Lee's Gold Girls again.
Striped German plants turned out to be a flop for me. I am suspicious that I was sold seed that was not true to variety. It may have been cross-pollinated. The tomatoes were a medium sized yellow with no stripes whatsoever.
They tasted good, but produced very poorly. I was sorely disappointed. I have eaten delicious Striped German tomatoes grown by a friend in the past, but they were very large pinkish tomatoes with red stripes. Mine were nothing like them.
Delicious produced nice red medium sized tomatoes, but once again, they didn't continue to produce very well after the first flush. The tomatoes were perfectly round with a good flavor.
First Pick was a waste of garden space. The plants were small and spindly. I didn't expect then to produce a lot, since they are an early tomato variety, but I certainly expected more than I got. I may have picked a total of 8 tomatoes from all four plants combined. After the first picking, they set no more tomatoes at all.
Rutgers have always grown well and produced good crops for me. They are a round medium sized red tomato with good flavor. They have also produced fairly good crops right up until frost.
Marglobe has always done a fairly good job of producing good sized crops. They are red, flattish tomatoes with thicker than average walls, making them a pretty good substitute for pasta type varieties. They taste good, but aren't exactly a slicing tomato. They usually continue to produce until frost, although they have failed at doing this a time or two.
Thankfully I had the good sense to plant some Better Boy hybrids, or I wouldn't have had hardly any tomatoes last year. They are always dependable and produce right up until frost. I will continue my search for the perfect heirloom, but in the meantime, I'll stick with growing Better Boys for a sure crop. I will be growing Djena Lee's Golden Girl, Rutgers and Marglobe heirlooms again, but will only try a couple of new heirloom varieties next year. I may try growing Brandywines. I've heard good things about the Brandywine heirloom tomato.
The last few days leading up to the Christmas holiday season is not the time you expect to find lots of sale bargains, but there are a few as well as the usual free shipping and $$$ off when you spend $$$.
As you see from the banner there is a 15% reduction on orders of $25 or more from Gardener's Supply Company this month. While there's no sale as such it's worth taking a look at the Outlet section at the bottom of the menu where there are some quite good reductions.
Dutch Gardens are concentrating on new varieties for Spring 2010 so their only concession this month is free shipping on orders of $55 or more.
This month Nature Hills Nursery are giving a 25% discount on Trees, Bushes and Shrubs. There's also a 10% discount on all fruit trees, bulbs, accessories and seeds.
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