Monday, December 17, 2007

Gymnocalycium Cacti

Gymnocalycium cacti are native to the Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia and a few other South American countries where they grow in quite arid areas. These cactus have cylindrical stems which rarely get taller than around 8 inches with a diameter of 5 inches. All of the Gymnocalycium cactus have fairly large and showy flowers which are are white, yellow, orange and pink. The flowers are borne at the growing point of the cactus on short stems.


From September though May you will need to keep these desert cactus in a warm and sunny position avoiding only strong direct sunlight. From May onwards they benefit from being kept out of doors in a sheltered position where they will get full sun, some species will require light shade.

Pot Type

Gymnocalycium cactus are best grown in a terracotta type pot which should have at least one drainage hole in the base and it should be unglazed. This type of pot allows good drainage and allows the compost (therefor roots) to breath.


These plants should be kept moist at all times during the growing season which is April/May through September, water these plants every few days or every day in hot weather.


Grow Gymnocalycium cacti in full sun during the summer and winter, if kept too dark they may become overly lush and could be prone to rotting due to over watering, they will also be shy to produce flowers. Some of the species such as G. calochlorum, G. mihanovichii & G. oenanthemum will need some form of shading during the hottest hours of the summer.


If the compost is fresh then feeding may not be necessary at all, if the plant hasn't been repotted recently then half strength general purpose fertilizer can be used at watering time from May onwards once a month. Do not feed the plants from September onwards as this can cause lush growth which can be fatal during the darker cold months.


Repotting should be done every other year or every three years, annual potting is not necessary. Remove the plant from its put by wrapping newspaper around the stem if it is very spiny. Carefully tap it out of the pot and remove the old compost to examine the roots, if any are damaged or showing signs of rotting they should be removed as close to the plant as possible.Re plant the cactus using the same mix of compost as it was originally in (fresh) and use a pot just slightly wider then the width of the cactus. Do not be tempted to over pot as this will cause the unused compost to go stagnant and you may loose the plant.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Sun Burned Cacti

Sun light is one of the most important factors for Cactus to grow up. I have found the interesting article about the sun burned cacti. The author is Andy Cook. He lives in California and plants cacti as his hobby for many years. Wish you enjoy and get some advises from the article.

The problem many of us have is that we collect cacti that are genetically designed the live in these varied climates with a wide range of light, water, and temperature needs and expect them to live and thrive in locales that are not always ideal.

The ideal environment for a cactus is not of course solely dependant on its genetic predispositions. There are several factors that contribute to how well or not well a particular cactus will do under certain conditions. The first factor is how it was raised before you acquired it. Most of the cacti we purchase where probably grown in a greenhouse where conditions are more or less kept within a particular range of light, heat, moisture. Seedlings are kept cooler and in higher humidity conditions with a more limited amount of light than your standard commercial greenhouse. As the plants grow larger they will be moved into a greenhouse where they receive light through opaque plastic and depending on the location of the nursery probably a much hotter and drier climate.

So now you've bought your new little pride and joy from your local nursery, cactus farm, or for some of you mail order nursery. You take it home and immediately place it outside in the hot July sun; probably not a good idea. I have made this mistake a number of times now. On occasion I have traveled to Tucson and purchased cacti at any of the number of world class nurseries in the area. I brought them home to Southern California and put them out on my shelf or deck in direct sunlight. My thinking was originally that these plants were raised in the hot and dry desert of Tucson and should do just fine outside in a slightly cooler climate outside. How wrong I was on a number of occasions. The problem was that even though these plants had been living a greenhouse that in the middle of summer probably reached 115 degrees Fahrenheit they still did not receive any direct sunlight through the opaque plastic of the greenhouse walls. My newly found selections were burning up in the direct sun at home when it was only 90 degrees. Their skins where burning and turning white and soft. They were literally cooking in the direct sunlight. To the lack of shade their chlorophyll was breaking down under the intense sunlight. (Ex. 1, Ex. 2)

I have also had the same experience with cacti that were raised outdoors or in a greenhouse, but lived for a year or more indoors on a windowsill in an air conditioned room. In that year of climate controlled bliss they quickly lost their ability to deal with the stresses of heat and direct sunlight and they too seemed to become susceptible to sun burn when placed outside.

Some cacti have different ways to deal with strong sunlight and heat. For example I have noticed that the Ferocacti of the Southwestern Deserts of the United States develop much more abundant radial spines than the same types of cacti raised in a covered greenhouse. The also will usually have developed better protection and a general hardiness on the south facing side of the plant. Another example of protection from sun would be a cactus increasing the amount of fur it produces. (Ex. 3) Some cacti have fur and or an excess of spines in the area where sensitive new growth occurs which helps shield the tender new growth form the effects of the sun. (Ex. 4) Another style of sun and heat protection would be that of a cactus retreating into the ground to get away from the sun.

A classic example of this would be the Ariocarpus Fissuratus of the Big Bend area in Texas and Mexico whose appearance looks remarkably different in the wild than those grown in a greenhouse. Example 5 shows an Ariocarpus in habitat, example 6 is an Ariocarpus raised in much more favorable conditions. (Ex. 5*, Ex. 6*) Personally I have seen these changes in two particular cacti that I have in my collection. First one is a Mammillaria plumosa that looked fluffier and fuller when I brought it home. (Ex. 7) Then after being placed in the direct sun for several months it became much more withdrawn and the tubercles seems to tighten in on the body making it very hard to see any of the green of the body. (Ex. 8) The second example is a Mammillaria haageana that looked quite normal and vibrant when I bought it. (Ex. 9) After more than a year in the sun it shrank down in size and developed a much denser amount of spines. (Ex. 10)

So the problem is not that some cacti do not have defensive features for extreme heat and sunlight it is that the slow growing nature of cacti makes them susceptible to being placed suddenly in unfamiliar conditions. Your average house plant or tree is able to produce more shade leaves when there is an increase in sun intensity or in if placed in an area with a lack of sunlight shed excess leaves rather easily. A cactus on the other hand is just not able to produce more spines, fur, or toughen its epidermis fast enough to deal with a sudden changes in climate.

In conclusion my advice is to know and pay attention to the conditions your cacti have been in and are in. If you are bringing your cacti out from inside after the winter care should be taken to introduce them to the direct sun gradually. The easiest thing to do would be to use a shade cloth, though I feel in most climates this isn't necessary early on in the spring. It would be better to physically move your plants around alternating them in and out of sun from day to day. For some of us this may be easier than others. In my case I have most all of my cacti on a large shelving unit. (Ex. 11) Certain parts of the shelf receive more or less sun during particular times of day. So what I am able to do is alternately move them around on the shelves depending on what I feel their light requirements are. Also in the middle of summer when the sun is at its most intense I almost always at least in part cover my plants with shade cloth. Cacti aren't able to move or put on sun screen so they may need our help when dealing with the elements. So don't let the sun be an enemy of your cacti.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Greenhouse Maintainance

What to do

It's important to keep your greenhouse clean and tidy to prevent pests and diseases spreading rapidly in the humid and heated conditions. Below are some general maintenance tips.

  • Put canes around plants that need support; such as cordon tomatoes and melons, and tie in emerging shoots.
  • Prick out, pot on and pinch out plants as needed. Summer pruning and fruit thinning may be required with some plants, such as grape vines.
  • Water regularly, making sure that the composts and soils don't dry out.
  • Weed around plants and in the beds.
  • Make sure that plants are fed as required.
  • Put up shade nets in early summer to protect plants from scorching by direct overhead sunlight. Shading washes can also be sprayed onto the outside of the greenhouse and washed off in autumn.
  • Avoid watering plants in the middle of the day during summer as this can scorch the leaves.
  • Some plants prefer high humidity, so splash the floor with water (called 'damping down') each day in the summer or use a hand-held mist sprayer.
  • Look out for pests and diseases and treat appropriately. Common pests in warm, humid conditions include aphids, red spider mite and mealy bug. Diseases include mildew and botrytis.
Watering and humidity

Cold water straight from the tap can shock plant roots in summer. Therefore keep a watering can full of water inside the greenhouse during summer to ensure you have a supply of warmer water.

Another way of raising humidity is to place a tray of water on the floor which will slowly evaporate into the air. To lower humidity, keep vents and windows open in the summer. You may want to invest in automatic vents which open and close according to the temperature. Extractor fans are also useful.

The annual clean

A regular clean will help maintain the structure of your greenhouse, particularly if the frame is made from wood and therefore prone to rotting. Dirty windows affect sunlight levels - less light can lead to seedlings becoming straggly.

The ideal time for cleaning is just before spring sowing as this will remove over-wintering pests and diseases. Early autumn is another good time for a cleanout, just before tender plants are returned to the greenhouse. Avoid tackling your greenhouse during the winter months, as doors, windows and vents will be wide open and plants will need to be moved outside.

Rose - Symbolism and Color

Color is definitely a personal preference. And while the red rose may be the first to come to mind, a rainbow of colors exists. The chart below matches some of the most popular rose colors with the sentiments they express




Love, respect

Deep Pink

Gratitude, appreciation

Light Pink

Admiration, sympathy


Reverence, humility


Joy, gladness


Enthusiasm, desire

Red and Yellow

Gaiety, joviality


Sociability, friendship

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Peyote Lophophora diffusa var. koehresii

Family: Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ay)

Genus: Lophophora (lof-OH-for-uh)

Species: diffusa var. koehresii

Synonym:Lophophora williamsii var. koehresii, Lophophora diffusa subsp. koehresii

Category:Cactus and Succulents

Height:under 6 in. (15 cm)

Spacing:3-6 in. (7-15 cm)6-9 in. (15-22 cm)

Hardiness:USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Sun Exposure:Full SunSun to Partial ShadeLight Shade

Danger:Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:Pale PinkWhite/Near White

Bloom Time:Late Spring/Early SummerMid SummerLate Summer/Early Fall

Other details:Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscapingAverage Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater, suitable for growing in containers

Soil pH requirements:6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Propagation Methods:By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets) From woody stem cuttings. Allow cut surface to callous over before plantingFrom seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seedsUnblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seedsProperly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Lophophora is a genus of spineless, button-like cacti native to the southwestern United States (Texas and New Mexico) through Northeast Mexico and South to Querétaro.
Literally, Lophophora means "crest-bearing", referring to the tufts of trichomes that adorn each tubercle. The name is derived from the two Greek words λοφος (lophos, the crest of a hill or helmet) and φορεω (phoreo, to carry).

The species are extremely slow growing, sometimes taking up to thirty years to reach flowering age (at the size of about a golf ball, not including the root) in the wild. So the planter should be very patient. However, cultivated specimens grow considerably faster, usually taking between three to ten years to reach from seedling to mature flowering adult. Due to this slow growth and over-harvesting by collectors, the species are considered to be in danger of extinction in the wild.

Lophophora has been reported to be comprised of everything from one species, L. williamsii with varieties, to the four species L. diffusa, L. fricii, L. viridescens, and L. williamsii. Most modern authorities consider Lophophora to be a genus of two species, L. diffusa and L. williamsii. Recent DNA sequencing studies have shown that L. diffusa and L. williamsii indeed are distinct species. DNA evidence from the alleged species L. fricii and L. viridescens would allow for more accurate classification.

Lophophora suffer from mealy bugs and worse of all red spider mites. Red spider mite can disfigure a soft skinned plant like a Lophophora in a matter of days, it is then disfigured for a few years until you can grow out the marked skin. The red spider mites are tiny and almost invisible to the naked eye but you will see the fine webs across the surface of the plants.

There is no doubt that prevention is better than cure and our plants are sprayed routinely with Spider Mite Control and Buzz Off. These are organic products and are not absorbed into the plants epidermis. Another pesticide

Lophophora can take a lot of watering growing in this soil mix, rainwater is best but tap water is also fine. According to the experience of writer who lives in UK, his plants were out with no protection from April until October 2005 with the soil wet almost every day of the season. The result: healthy fat plants with a much better colouring than those grown in the glasshouses and with no pests.The plants were fed with a 12.5-25-25 fertilizer, every two - three weeks.

Source: wikipedia and

Monday, September 3, 2007

Tips to control pests in the organic ways

1. Learn about the plants and the weeds and bugs that affect them.

2. Choose the right plants. Plant native species whenever possible. Native plants are better protected by their own “immune systems” and their relationships with other plants and animals in the area. You may also look for plants that are pest-resistant.

3. Diversifying the garden with a variety of plants will help the plants protect each other from pests. For example, small flowered plants like daisies, mint, and rosemary attract many insects that eat the pests. Check with a local garden shop or nursery for recommendations.

4. Maintain healthy, fertile soil by rotating your plants, adding compost, and mulching.

4. Plant early to avoid the worst bug season.

5. Allow growth of the pests' natural predators. Ladybugs, ground beetles, and birds eat many pests, and fungi and moss can infect the pests naturally. Spraying chemicals often kills the beneficial bugs too.

6. Get out there and work with your hands! A hoe, spade, and your hands are the best tools to combat weeds. Getting close to your plants will help you identify problems and remove pests and damaged plants by hand. Pruning plants helps remove diseased parts, leaving the plant's nutrients for the healthy parts. Always prune back to a main branch or stem; leaving "stubs" opens a door for pests.

7. Keep a garden journal in which you record when you see pests, what they look like, what they have done to the plants, and the actions taken. In this way, you will learn what works and what doesn't while experimenting with new techniques.

8. What's That Smell? Grow herbaceous plants herb aceous plant whose stem is soft and green and shows little growth of wood. The term is used to distinguish such plants from woody plants. that naturally repel pests. One of another solution is to grow garlic around roses. Aphids hate the stuff, and it will go a long way in deterring them. Other insect deterrents that you might try are marigolds and citronellacitronella, a fragrant grass, the source of a volatile oil used in perfumes and insect repellents.

9. Create a Bird Sanctuarybird sanctuary: see wildlife refuge. Use feeders, baths, and nest boxes to attract birds into your yard. Not only will garden pests diminish, but you'll also have the pleasure of enjoying the beauty of these welcome visitors.

10. When all else fails, use barriers like chicken wire to protect your prize tomatoes— try drenching mine with hot pepper spray and the rabbits attacking them just laughed.

11. Know the rodents and other animals that might visit your garden; visit your local USDA extension for information.

Source : and

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Mammillaria haageana ssp conspicua

Body: Plants usually solitary.

Radial spine: 18 - 30, smooth, white, radiating, bristly, 3 - 6 mm (to 0.2 in) long.

Flower: Deep magenta pink to pale pink

Frost Tolerance: Hardy to at least 25°F (-4°C) for short periods

Minimum Avg. Temperature: 50°F (10°C)

Sun Exposure: Light shade

Origin: Mexico (Puebla, Oaxaca, Morelos) Altitude 600 - 2.600 m

Growth Habits: Solitary, up to 16 inches tall (40 cm), 4 inches wide (10 cm)

Watering Needs: Water sparingly, needs good drainage

Friday, August 17, 2007

Planting, Fertilizing and Watering Your Roses

Planting Roses

The art of planting roses doesn't have to be a complicated thing to do. When you have the right knowledge there is no limit to how beautiful a garden or rosebush that you can create.

With the extensive manual at hand, you will never have to buy another bouquet again. Now you will have all of the beauty and delicious fragrance that roses can give you with you all the time.

Here are some of the best ideas and tips for planting your roses:

1. Check with your local gardening center or florist for the best type of roses to grow in you climate. If you are a novice, you should look for disease resistant types of roses because they require a lot less maintenance.

2. When planting roses, you want to pick a spot that is well lit in the morning. You also want an area that is sunlit for at least 6 hours a day. Roses need a great deal of light if they are to grow properly.

3. Pick an area that has plenty of well drained soil. Great soil has a PH level where the amount of acid in the soil is at about 5.5-7.0. You can get a testing kit for your soil at any garden center.

4. Organic matter like manure or lime helps to nourish the roots of your roses. You should soak the roots in water or puddle clay for many minutes, and cut off the root's ends that are broken.

5. The first 3-4 weeks after planting your roses, you should water them often. Usually this is when the top 2 inches of soil is dry. Roses need a lot of hydration and food to remain healthy.

6. Four weeks after planting, you should start soaking the bed every 2 weeks or so. You should do this in the morning for the best results.

7. Begin fertilization approximately 3 months after planting. Use 3-6 inches of mulch to control the moisture, temperature, and to stops weeds from coming up. Mulch also helps to lock in the vital nutrients your roses need in order to remain healthy.

8. Planting in the Spring is the best.

9. You want to plant your roses in an area that is well circulated with air. Your roses will not grow in an enclosed or tight area.

10. Dig a hole that is two times bigger than the amount of space that your roses take up. It makes it easier to plant them and creates a spaced area for them to grow with freedom. Poor circulation for your roses can cause fungal diseases. Using a larger hole also makes it easier for you to pull them up later and pot them if you'd like.

Watering Your Roses

Watering your roses can be a tricky thing. It is one of the most important aspects of taking care of your roses. Roses need almost as much water to stay healthy as people do. Of course there are quite a few things that must be considered before you water your roses.

They are as follows:

  • Like people, roses need more water during the hotter weather than during the colder ones. Heat makes the soil dry faster and the roses get “thirstier”.
  • Keep in mind that even during the rainier times, roses still need to be watered with fresh water because rain alone cannot provide the right amount of moisture for your roses.
  • You want to water your roses in a manner that goes deep enough into the surrounding soil so that it reaches the roots. Try going approximately 45cm deep.
  • You do not want to water the petals directly or the canes because it can cause fungal disease in your roses.
  • To help you lower the risk of your roses getting diseases, mulch is a nice way to keep the soil moist, without allowing all of the fungal problems that too much moisture can cause.
  • Watering your roses in the morning also helps to dry the dew off of the leaves.

  • Once your roses are fully established, you should water them once a week. You should do it twice a week if its in the hotter months.

Fertilizing Your roses

It is really important to fertilize your roses. That is how your roses get their much needed nutrients. Roses are much like people in the things that they need in order to remain healthy. Just like people they need water and food (fertilizer).Most types of roses have to be fertilized frequently to keep them growing at a fast pace. You should fertilize with a fertilizer that is slow to release like fish emulsion or Osmocote at planting time. Be certain to follow the instructions properly from the label.Avoid over fertilizing during the winter because by trying to promote new growth in the winter will make your roses more available to freeze damage.Important Tip: You should never fertilize plants that are heat or water stressed. Water stressed plants that grow under a lot of heat will cause leaf and bud burn.You want a steady temperature of approximately 70-80 degrees because your plants will get the most nutrients that are available to the plants. During the growing season, you can give the plants a water soluble fertilizer every two weeks.

Give Your Roses a Springtime Boost

Every spring people get a boost of energy. It is like the very air in the spring time is rejuvenating in itself. Natural passions and new loves are often born in the spring, and old loves get a nice spark between them. Spring is definitely the best time of year.The same goes for roses. It is in the spring that people begin planting or replenishing their rose gardens. For those bushes that are already established, spring is the time to see new buds and blooms trying to be born.

If you are interested in helping your roses get an even bigger boost in the spring, you may want to try this special tonic that is used to give your roses a strong boost of all of the nutrients that your roses need in order for them to grow strong, healthy and produce a lot of buds.


Friday, August 10, 2007

How To Deal With Black Spot Leaf Disease

You may ever have trouble and don't know what to do when your plants have disease. Here is the video clip showing how to handle with black stot leaf disease.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Mammillaria parkinsonii

Body: Plants solitary at first, later branching dichotomously. Stems depressed globose to cylindrical, blue-green, to 15 cm (5.9 in) high, 10 - 15 cm (3.9 - 5.9 in) in diameter.

Radial spine: 30 or more, fine, white, slightly curved, 4 - 6 mm (0.2 in) long.

Central spine: 2 - 5, usually curved slightly downwards, stiff, whitish with dark tips, upper ones 6 - 8 mm (0.2 - 0.3 in) long, lower ones to 38 mm (1.5 in) long.

Flower: Pale yellow with red midveins, 12 - 15 mm (0.5 - 0.6 in) long and in diameter.

Seed: Brown.Flowering period in Cultivation (Europe):

Frost Tolerance: Hardy to at least 25°F (-4°C)

Minimum Avg. Temperature: 50°F (10°C)

Sun Exposure: Light shade

Origin: Queretaro, Mexico.

Comments: One of the species with the capability of forming very large clumps. In order to keep the clumps tightly formed, high light levels and steady growth are needed; otherwise there is the danger of having a number of elongated heads that are somewhat separated from one another. This species is especially variable in spine length.

Synonymes: M. auriareolis M. cadereytensis M. dietrichiae M. neocrucigera M. parkinsonii var dietrichiae M. rosensis

Monday, July 30, 2007

Growing Sunflower

Growing sunflower can be a fun activitiy for adult and kid. Moreover, you can cut flower as for your house decoration or harvest its seed.

It is very important to carefully consider the types of sunflowers you intend to grow and where and how you intend to grow them.

Carefully select your seeds reading all of the information on the seed packs. Pay attention to the height of the plants, and the time to bloom, and the type of flowers.

Consider whether you are planting for cut flowers, or planting to harvest and roast seeds for eating. Maybe you want to plant your sunflowers in pots or create a barrier of sunflowers between you and your neighbors. Seeds for every type of planting are readily available. You just need to have some idea about what you want from your garden.

Sunflower seeds, in a number of varieties, are available at most local garden nurseries. Or you can buyw with mail order catalogs.

Preparing the seeds
It's a good idea to prepare the seeds before planting. It can ensure that you will not waste all seeds.

Cover the seeds in the tissue or towel paper and damp the paper with paper. Leave the seeds in the wet towel paper for 4-5 days BUT you should check every day that the paper are damp. If not, you should spray water to the paper. If the seeds begin to sprout, it means that the seeds are ready to be put into the soil.

Soil Condition

Sunflower plants are like any other plant. The better the soil the more heartier and robust the plant but sunflower are tolerant of heat and drought. The sunflowers like a soil that drains well and contains a lot of mulch. About two weeks before planting, you should mix a bit of steer manure into the soil.


The minimum sunlight is 6hrs a day to grow healthy plants. However, full sun is suggested for the better part of the day to grow strong healthy sunflowers.

Monday, July 23, 2007

mammillaria nivosa

Woolly Nipple Cactus

Recommended Temperature Zone:USDA: 9b-11

Frost Tolerance: Avoid frost

Minimum Avg. Temperature: 50°F (10°C)

Sun Exposure: Light shade

Origin: West Indies, Cuba

Growth Habits: Clumping or solitary, heads up to 3 inches in diameter (7 cm)

Watering Needs: Water sparingly, needs good drainage

Propagation: Generally seeds

Be careful when you repot Mammillaria nivosa. Its spine is very sharp and hard. You should use gloves or wrap the cactus with thick newspaper. They may make you more convenient.

I have a mammillaria nivosa at my home. It's in left side of picture.

Its flower is usually red, white or yellow according to each species. My mammillaria nivosa has white flower. After flowering, it will give long, red fruit. Don't eat it (lol) That fruit contains seeds. You can plant these seeds to have small mammillaria nivosa in the next few months.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Mammillaria bocasana Poselger- Powder Puff Cactus

This Mammillaria is some of the first cactis that I grew. It looks cute and its spine is not sharp. Besides, it can flower easily if it is in proper temperature and you give enough light and fertilizer. So it's good to start to learn Mammillaria with Power Puff cactus

Scientific Name: Mammillaria bocasana Poselger

Frost Tolerance: Hardy to 10° F (-12°C), some reports give it hardy only to 28° F (-2°C)
Minimum Avg. Temperature: 50°F (10°C)

Sun Exposure: Light shade in summer in Phoenix, full sun elsewhere

Origin: Central Mexico (San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas, Queretaro states)

Growth Habits: Clumping, spherical, blue-green cactus with hairy spines, 2.5 inches in diameter (6 cm)

Watering Needs: Regular water in summer, but prone to rot if overwatered.

Propagation: Division, seeds


Sunday, July 8, 2007

Astrophytum (2)

Let us continue with Astrophytum.

Astrophytum myriostigma, (common names: Bishop's Cap Cactus, Bishop's Hat or Bishop's Miter Cactus), is a species of cactus native to the highlands of northeastern and central Mexico.
Synonyms include Echinocactus myriostigma, Astrophytum prismaticum, A. columnare, A. coahuilense, A. tulense, and A. nuda.

A. myriostigma is a spineless cactus defined by the presence of three to seven (usually five) pronounced vertical ribs which define the cactus' shape when young (the genus name "astrophytum", literally, "star plant", is derived from the resulting star-like shape). As the cactus ages, more ribs may be added and it becomes more cylindrical in shape, growing up to about 70-100 cm tall and 10-20 cm in diameter. The stem is often covered with whitish flecks.

The cactus flowers in the spring or summer with one or more waxy flowers 4-6 cm diameter near its apex; the numerous petals are yellow, sometimes with an orange or red base. Pollinated flowers develop into a hairy reddish fruit about 2-2.5 cm in diameter. Plants may take up to six years to flower. A. myriostigma is commonly grown as an ornamental plant in cactus collections.

Astrophytum ornatum needs moderate water in summer. Allow the soil to dry before watering again. Do not water in winter. The Astrophytum ornatum is the largest and one of the easiest to grow of the Astrophytums. It has 5 to 8 ribs (generally 8) and areoles have 5 to 11 brownish yellow spines, over 1 inch long (2.5 cm)

This Astrophytum is the easiest to grow and also the fastest. It responds well to half strength fertilizer in summer. To make sure that the fertilizer doesn't encourage growth instead of blossom, it might be better to wait until the flower buds start forming before using fertilizer.

The Astrophytum ornatum blooms in summer. The 2.5 inch wide flowers (6 cm) are pale yellow and scented. It needs to be 6 inches tall to bloom (15 cm). This might take six years or more depending on the length of its growing period in your local conditions.

Thursday, July 5, 2007


Astrophytum is a genus of four species of cacti. These species are sometimes referred to as living rocks, though the term is also used for other genera, particularly Lithops (Aizoaceae)

1 Astrophytum asterias
2 Astrophytum capricorne
3 Astrophytum myriostigma
4 Astrophytum ornatum

I will start with Astrophytum asterias and Astrophytum capricorne.

  • Astrophytum asterias is an attractive, spineless cactus also known as a Sand Dollar Cactus, a Sea Urchin Cactus, and also as Star Peyote. They are typically small, often 2-6 inches in diameter and usually 1-2 inches tall. In the wild, they flower throughout most of the summer season.

As with certain other slowly maturing cactus, the Astrophytum asterias has been listed as endangered, and its decline in the wild has been largely attributed to over-collection and poaching. Other contributing factors are thought to be urban development and herbicides. Fortunately, the cactus is readily propagated by seed, and its rarity in the wild ensures that most such plants encountered in nurseries are seed grown. The popularity of this species among collectors and enthusiasts has ensured that a number of cultivars are available. One such cultivar is the "Super Kabuto", a highly spotted white clone.

  • Astrophytum capricorne known as the Goat's horn cactus has more spines than most Astrophytum species. Astrophytum capricorne and its varieties are very variable in their habit even in small areas. Plants vary in the amount of flock on the surface, in the number, length, shape and colur of the twisted spines and in the size of the stems.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Strawberry Planting Guide

Growing Strawberries is fun, easy, and inexpensive. To help you get started, here are a few growing tips and variety descriptions.

Location: Strawberries do best in a spot with full sun, good air circulation, and good drainage. Avoid areas with known nematode and root weevil problems, as well as old strawberry beds and spots consistently planted with potatoes or tomatoes. These beds may be infected with verticillium wilt or a number of other fungi or viruses that can trouble your new crop.

Soil: Soil for strawberry beds should be rich and well draining. Most soil in this area improves by thoroughly working in a thick layer of compost and about 4 lbs. of bone meal or Territorial's Complete Fertilizer per 100 sq. ft.

Planting: The most popular ways to layout the growing area are the ''Hill System'' and the ''Matted Row.'' In the ''Hill System'' plants are set 12'' apart in raised beds usually with 2 rows each. Runners may grow into the planting row but not the aisles--or area between the beds. This method produces premium fruit. To use the ''Matted Row,'' plant every 2 ft. in rows that are 3 ft. apart. This spacing allows rows to fill with runners while keeping an aisle for picking. Whichever method you choose, plant the starts with care. Fan out the roots in the planting hole leaving topmost roots below soil. Don't bury the central leaf bud! Replace and pack the soil firmly around plants. Be sure they are kept moist.

Growing: Blossoms on June-bearing plants should be pinched off during the first year. Pinch off blossoms on Everbearers only during the first 2 months they bloom. Blossom-Pinching diverts energy to plant development, making a good strong plant with a large healthy yield. Pinch runners of both types of strawberries for as long as possible to establish stronger mother plants.

Cleanup: Fall cleanup and fertilizing are highly recommended. A thorough cleaning of the beds reduces the chance of fungus or disease problems and makes the area less suitable for insects that winter over in this area. Use a power mover on large plantings with the blade set on high. On small plantings simply use shears to clip off old foliage. Fertilize with a side dressing of Territorial's Complete Fertilizer or steer manure and bone meal.

Final Tips: As hard as it may be, you should destroy the patch after the fourth year. Beyond this point plants will usually lose vigor and become very susceptible to damage caused by fungus, virus, and root weevil. Plan ahead and plant a new crop the third year in a different location. This method provides you with a continuous harvest.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Ways to Keep Your Garden In Color All Season

Trying to manipulate a sequence of bloom in the garden is part art, part science and a good part luck. Weather, grazing animals, and flowers that don't follow the calender can create lulls where no plants seem to be in peak performance. There are a few tricks to keeping pockets of color going throughout the summer. They take a little effort, but that's the fun of gardening, right? Implementing any one of these tips will increase the blooms in your garden and spur you on to do more.

1. Deadheading
Deadheading, or removing spent blossoms, is the easiest way to keep plants blooming. Annuals especially will benefit from a periodic deadheading. Flowers are just there to produce seed. Once the plant sets seed, it has no more reason to produce flowers.
Many perennial flowers will also rebloom if deadheaded. Exceptions are perennials that bloom on a single tall flower stalk, like astilbe or iris and perennial flowers that need a chilling period to set their flower buds.
2. Shering
Plants that produce multiple flower buds on their flower stalks can be a nightmare to deadhead. Rather than trying to deadhead every flower, wait until the bulk of the buds have faded and shear the plants by about 1/3. This serves to rejuvenate the plant. It will send out new fresh foliage and lots of new flower buds.
Newer gardeners have a hard time with this drastic approach, but give it a try. The plants recover quickly. Early bloomers start to look bedraggled by mid-season anyway. In fact, if you have plants like geraniums and Brunnera, whose foliage fades after flowering, shear the whole plant back to the new grow at the base and watch how quickly and how well they recover.

3. Step Pruning
A clever way to prolong the perennial blooms is to prune the plants in steps. Visually divide a clump of 1 type of plant into 3 sections: front, center and back. Once the plants get about 6-8" tall, prune the front and center sections of plants by 1/3 to 1/2. Let the whole clump grow another 6-8 inches and then prune just the front section by 1/3 to 1/2.
This type of pruning will result in your clump of plants turning into 3 levels or steps that will bloom in succession. Instead of one flash of bloom, the rear section bloom firsts. As it fades, the center section starts to bloom and hides the fading plants in the rear. Last to bloom is the front section, which will grow taller and hide all the fading plants behind it.
4. Re-Seeding
Annuals are touted as a great way to keep your garden blooming all summer. Given the right care, annuals will work their hearts out for you. But some annuals, like the cleome and tall verbena shown here, don't respond to deadheading. They bloom and run out of time before they can set more buds. To prolong their bloom, re-seed quick growing annuals about 4 weeks after the initial seeding. If you started your garden with seedlings, you can direct seed at the same time you plant the seedlings. The plants started from seed will grow and peak after the plants started from seedlings begin to fade.

5. Feeding
Plants expend a lot of energy flowering. The more they flower, the more food they need. Even if you added a controlled release fertilizer at the beginning of the season, your flowering plants will need a boost every 3-5 weeks.
A balanced all-purpose fertilizer will suffice, but if you really want to kick things into gear, try a dose of super or triple phosphate. Phosphate is especially good for root development early in the season and for boosting bud set. Follow the label directions. More isn't better. And Phosphate isn't a substitute for a balanced fertilizer, it's a supplement.

6. Cheat a Bit and Mix in Colorful Foliage
Flowers come and go, but foliage just keeps getting bigger. It just keeps getting easier and easier to have a riot of color in the garden without a flower in sight. Shrubs like 'Black Beauty' Sambucus, chartreuse and bronze sweet potato vines, screaming orange cannas and the pale pinks and cream of Weigela 'My Monet' can either complement, augment or even replace the flowers in your garden. And we haven't even mentioned the rainbow available in coleus. Sprinkle your garden beds with a few hardy shrubs and sprinting annuals and you'll never be without a spot of color.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Greenhouse for Cacti

If you're a cacti & succulent lover and collect many collections of those plants, you may need to have a greenhouse because the plants always want to be kept in the warm temperature. Sometimes, it's really impossible in your country. Meanwhile, the greenhouse can keep your plants from rain, humidity and even snow.


A greenhouse positioned so that the ridge runs in an east-west direction will receive more winter light, which could be useful if it is to house mainly succulent plants that grow during the winter. In either case, it is best to avoid locating a greenhouse where it will be in shadow for a substantial part of the day, to near to trees or in areas subject to strong winds. Positioning the door away from the prevailing wind will help to reduce drafts. Areas of land subject to local flooding should also be avoided. If the greenhouse is sited too far away from the house it may be difficult or expensive to provide supplies of electricity or gas.

Greenhouses either have an integral base, or need to be erected on a purpose-built base. A solid floor provides a clean surface under foot and helps to keep out pests. It is an advantage if a solid base slopes slightly to encourage water to drain away. Drainage channels may be moulded in to the concrete to direct water out of the building. However, if you want to plant larger columnar cacti into the ground, then foundations should be constructed around the planting area. Construction of the greenhouse frame needs some thought. For example, should it be made of wood or metal? Both types have their proponents. Wood has a "natural" look and blends in to a garden landscape, but may be subject to attack by insects, tends to rot in humid climates and therefore has a limited life and needs substantial maintenance. However, hard-woods such as cedar mitigate these problems.

Aluminium frames tend to conduct away heat and are therefore harder to keep warm than wooden greenhouses. However, they are relatively low maintenance and should last well. Some modern aluminium frames incorporate thermal barriers.The greenhouse is traditionally glazed with horticultural glass, which contains less trace colourants (such as iron) and transmits more light than ordinary window glass.

Newer materials such as UV-stabilised acrylic plastic are also suitable and conduct away less warmth than glass. However, some plastics may exude phytotoxic vapours, so always use grades designated as suitable for horticulture. Various double-skinned products are available, but these may reduce the amount of light available to plants, which is always at a premium in countries such as the United Kingdom. This is also a problem with wire-reinforced glass, often used as a roofing material.
As with the greenhouse frame, staging can be made of wood or metal, with similar advantages and disadvantages of the materials. After watering, plants become very heavy in their pots. Clay pots are heavier than plastic ones and a peat-based compost is usually lighter than one based on loam. Solid staging, while sturdier makes it easier for mealy bugs and other pests to gain access to plants. Slatted staging lets the air circulate, but pests can still move over it fairly easily. Slatted staging is unsuitable for use with capilliary matting or gravel.

There are several methods for heating greenhouses and cold frames during the winter. Electric fan heaters work well, but are expensive. They produce dry heat, so plants require spraying during the winter on sunny days. Tubular electric heaters are available but the plants need air circulation to keep them at their best. If electrical heating is to be used it is worth investigating Economy 7 or similar tariffs. Gas heaters are very successful, but need pipes laid from the house (or heavy cylinders) and installation can be costly. Paraffin heaters work well and are cheap to run, but can produce a paraffin smell, and need to be used carefully to avoid a fire hazard or sooty plants. Under-tray electric heating can be an efficient way of applying a little warmth to your plants, and a variety of commercial heating pads can be obtained from horticultural suppliers for this purpose.

Under-tray electric heating is not a complete answer to cold conditions as the roots receive the most heat and may be damaged. As the plants are warmer, they may need a little water to prevent excessive dessication. However, if water is supplied directly to the pots or via capillary matting, the warmed stage promotes evaporation with condensation in colder parts of the green house. Experienced electricians may be able to make use of ex-equipment fans which are readily available from surplus stores. Check the intended operating voltage, and make sure that you know how to run them safely from your local mains voltage. A small fan strategically placed in the green house promotes air circulation and encourages healthy growth.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

How to Plant Tomato

Tomato is the most commonly grown plant in backyard vegetable gardens today. You need at least two tomato plants per family member. Start your tomato patch by purchasing healthy transplants at your local garden center or over the Internet.

Tomato is one of the best plants for container gardening and it thrives with raised bed gardening techniques. For container gardening, patio hybrid, cherry tomato, dwarf or bush varieties are best since they are compact, with hybrid patio variety being the most common. Those grow two-three feet tall. However, container gardening works for any tomato variety - just choose your container size to fit the mature plant's needs.
First, choose your location to plant and prepare your vegetable garden plot. I recommend composted manure worked into the soil to 6 - 8 inches. You may need to add limestone or sulfur to your soil as well - do a soil test to find out. Tomato plants need at least 6-8 hours of sun daily - full sun is best.

"Hardening off" means to expose plants to the elements in small increments to get them acclimated to new growing conditions. This transition period can be 1 week - 10 days, depending upon climate and weather conditions. Put the transplants in dappled shade, and bring them in at night. Gradually allow full exposure to outside elements. Plant seeds six to eight weeks prior to the last frost date. In hotter climates, plant when temperatures cool in autumn.
Dig a 10-16 inch deep hole.

Gardening Tips:
--Insert the transplant into your hole, and bury the tomato stem (not just the root) up to the second true set of leaves (snip off the others with scissors.) Fill your hole with compost-amended soil and firm down.
--Another method to establish vigorous roots is plant the tomato in a trench on its side. It grows straight up, and dozens of small roots shoot out from the stem's "hairs" into the soil.

Wire Cages
My favorite vine tomato support is the easiest: wire cages which you buy from any garden supply center. Simply position them over the plant, insert them into the ground and you're good to go. The tomato vines grow straight up, need no weaving and shade the ground to keep it moist.
Other supports include wood stakes and twine, trellises, teepees, or plant alongside an existing fence ...

Wood stakes and twine
Put stakes that are 6 feet, 1 or 2 inches wide, every 3-4 feet between your plants, at both ends of the rows, and down the center. After they grow 1 foot, tie twine to the end post 1 foot above the ground. Wrap the twine around each pole down the row. When you reach the end, come back up the other side. As plants grow, weave through the twine.

Gardening Tips :
• Water plants after transplanting. Water in the mornings daily unless it rains. Blossom-end rot results from under-watering. Keep soil moist but not soggy.
• Feed with 10-10-10 fertilizer (or choose your own brand.)
• Mulch to retain moisture.
• Hoe/cultivate shallowly to avoid disturbing roots.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

10 Tips to Enhance the Area Around Your Home (2)

6. Use rocks to support your home and family.

Having large rocks in the garden can be very attractive. In feng shui, they express the element earth. Because they will be somewhat permanent, it's a good idea to place them carefully, with the guidance of a feng shui expert. Rocks can be used to create the impression of a mountain. The general rule is to place such a feature behind your house, at the opposite direction from the front door, to provide added support for your home and family. If you want to place large rocks in garden areas on the sides of your house, the general rule favors the left side as you face out the front door.

7. Avoid "sharp arrows."

In feng shui, a sharp arrow is anything straight or angular that juts out or points strongly in a particular direction. Examples would be tree branches, sharp rocks, corners where two walls come together, or plants with pointed foliage. If you have any such sharp arrows pointed at your home -- especially your entrance -- remove them or place bushes or flowers in front of them to soften the sharpness. Sharpness creates a flow of negative energy, as if your home were being poked with a sword. Plants such as cactus, palms and yuccas should never be placed close to your entrance, and these are definitely not plants to have inside your home.

8. Flat gardens are not the best feng shui.

Having a garden or yard that is flat with only grass is as bad as sharp arrows -- the energy moves too fast over the flat field and is not harmonized. What you want to create is a surface that is meandering. If your landscape is naturally flat, make sure you include raised planting beds, tall trees and shrubbery to alter the feeling of flatness. If you can't do this, place a statue, a fountain or large pots of flowers around the yard.

9. Let clear borders define your property.

It is good to show the outside world what is your property by bordering it with an attractive fence or by simply reflecting a difference in the landscape between your yard or garden and your neighbors'. Let the world see that you like harmonious energy! If one person in a neighborhood develops a beautiful, harmonious garden, then other people follow. Beauty attracts beauty. Chaos attracts chaos. Set an example and the energy of the whole neighborhood can be lifted up.

10. Allow light to brighten your garden.
When you have dark spots in your garden, they disrupt the harmony and can attract clutter. Brighten these areas up with colored shade-loving flowers, a white statue or bench, little white rocks. Sometimes just thinning the bushes or trees will let enough light in to change the feeling of any shady spots and increase the flow of positive chi -- or energy -- throughout the entire garden.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

ID Preference and Photo of Cactus

Here is the link for photo album and preference of cactus identification such as Mammillaria, Echinocereus, Ariocarpus, Copiapoa, Ferocactus, Gymnocalycium, Astrophytum. Link

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

How To Plant Spring Flowering Bulbs

Spring time has begun and also I think it's time to enjoy gardening in sunshine with flower bulb. Spring flowering bulbs offer a reliable colorful display just when you need it most and they require very little effort. Choose bulbs suited to your area and many will improve year after year. The trick to growing large, healthy flowering bulbs is to prepare the soil well at planting. A rich, well draining soil with a balanced pH will feed the underground bulb and fuel the spring growth and flowers.

Here's How:
1. Choose healthy bulbs. Avoid bulbs that are dry and withered, spongy or moldy. In general, the larger the bulb for its type, the more flowers.
2. Choose an appropriate location. Most flowering bulbs prefer full sun, but that can be almost anywhere in the spring. So don’t overlook a spot that seems perfect, just because it’s a bit shady in the fall. Woodland bulbs (Anemone nemorosa (Woodland Anemone), Arisaema (Jack-in-the-Pulpit), Erythronium (Dog's Tooth Violets), Galanthus (Snowdrops) and Trillium) prefer a bit of cool shade.
A well-drained soil will prevent the bulbs from rotting in cool weather.

4. Plant with the pointed side up. The pointed end is the stem. You may even be able to see some shriveled roots on the flatter side. If you really can't tell, don't worry about it. The stem will find it's own way, sooner or later.
5. Plant bulbs to a depth of about 3 times their diameter. For Daffodils, that’s about 6 - 8 inches. Smaller bulbs can be planted to a depth of 3-4 inches and so on.
6. Mix some bone meal or superphosphate into the soil at the bottom of the hole at planting time, to encourage strong root growth. You could mix in some water soluble fertilizer as well, but it’s not necessary if you’ve already amended your soil.
7. If rodents tend to eat your bulbs, you can try sprinkling some red pepper in the planting hole. A more secure method is to plant your bulbs in a cage made of hardware cloth. The roots and stems grow through, but the rodents can’t get to the bulbs. Make it easy on yourself and make a cage large enough to plant at least a dozen bulbs.

8. Replace the soil on top of the bulbs. Water the bulbs after planting, to help them settle in and close any air pockets. Through the fall and winter, you only need to worry about watering your bulbs if you’re having a particularly dry season. Come spring, you should be well rewarded for all your efforts.


  • For A Natural Effect: Bulbs look best in clumps or drifts. To get a natural looking effect, either dig a large area and plant several bulbs at once or simply toss the bulbs into the air and dig holes and plant where ever they fall. You’ll be surprised how well this works.
  • Mark Your Plantings: To make sure you don't disturb your bulbs by trying to plant something in the same spot, mark where and what you have planted.
  • When your bulbs have finished flowering, cut back the flower stalks to ground level. It can get ugly, but let the foliage of your flowering bulbs dieback naturally. Resist the temptation to cut it back while still green, but floppy. The bulb needs this time to photosynthesize and make food reserves to produce next year’s flowers.
  • To Divide Bulbs: Many bulbs spread and increase, making the original planting over crowded. If your bulbs are flowering as well as they used to, this is probably the case. If you wish to move or divide your flowering bulbs, the safest time is when they enter their dormant period. This is usually just after the foliage completely dies back. Dormancy is brief, even though nothing is happening above ground, so don’t put this task off.

By Marie Iannotti

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Light and Lighting

Today we will learn about the light and lighting which is one of the most important factors for plants. They use light in the photosynthesis process which is the synthesis of glucose from sunlight, carbon dioxide and water, with oxygen as a waste product. Nearly all life depends on it. It may not look easy to understand but not too difficult to do it. (Actually, I'm not good about science but I've tried to remind the knowledge in science subject that I learnt in high school 555) When you understand the basic of light and lighting, it will help you to recognize how and where to put your plants to be in the right place for them and arrange the articiail light in the necessary case.

Light is composed of mass-less particles ( photons ) moving at a high speed (300 000 000 metres per second ). In one millionth of a second (1 microsecond) light travels 300 metres. The energy carried by the particles determines their colour (wavelength).
violet = high energy blue green yellow red = low energy

We see wavelengths between 400 and 700 nanometers, although the sensitivity of the eye is poor at these limits and more sensitive to the mid-range wavelengths. Most light sources produce a mixture of wavelengths, that we interpret as a particular colour. Different mixtures of wavelengths can produce a perception of identical colours. Light intensity is often mis-understood because of the adaptability of the human eye to a range of lighting conditions. A typical well-lit office environment has about 2000 lux at desk-top level. By contrast, direct sunlight provides at least 8000 lux, more in the tropics where many cacti and succulents originate.
Plants need both red and blue light for photosynthesis. Green light is not used or absorbed, which is why most foliage looks green in sunlight. Plants are frequently seen with leaves of a variety of other colours from shades of red, purple through to black. These colours are caused by other pigments. These pigments are incidental to photosynthesis, but may well only be produced in plants grown in the strongest light especially with a high blue and ultraviolet content.
Red light is very important to plant reproduction. Photochrome pigments absorb the red and far red portions of the light spectrum and regulate seed germination, root development, tuber and bulb formation, dormancy, flowering and fruit production. Therefore, red light is essential for stimulation of flowering and fruiting.
Blue light stimulates chlorophyll production more than any other colour, encouraging thick leaves, strong stems and compact vegetative growth. Carotenoids, the yellow-orange pigment in plants, absorb blue light and control leaf fall and fruit ripening.
Light Sources
  • Sunlight colour temperature of about 6000oK is probably the best type of light that you can give your plants for healthy growth, good leaf colour and flowering. Plants have evolved and adapted to the natural light found in their habitat. Natural sunlight has the great advantage of being free, and generates no greenhouse gases. However, the quantity, and to some extent quality, of sunlight on offer depends on the vagaries of climate, lattitude and time of year. Another negative aspect of sunlight is that a sudden burst of sunshine after the dark winter months can lead to scorch and scarring of plant bodies. This can largely be obviated by good ventilation and timely use of shading.
  • Tungsten filament lamps, the commonest domestic type of lamp, produce yellowish-white light with a colour temperature of 2750 - 2850°K and a lot of infra-red. The bulbs are cheap but a relatively inefficient method of lighting and unsuitable for high intensity lighting of large areas. Plant growth is "soft" and elongated.
  • Quartz halogen lamps produce a clean white light, at a colour temperature of about 3500°K. There is also considerable production of infra-red in the form of radiant heat which, at close range, may scorch foliage and other delicate materials. It is inadvisable to stare at unfiltered quartz halogen lamps as their high filament brightness, heat and ultraviolet emission may cause eye-damage. Quartz halogen lamps are relatively cheap and require no special starter circuits. However, although their higher filament temperature makes them more efficient than ordinary tungsten filament lamps, they are relatively expensive to run compared with the modern discharge lamps mentioned below.
  • Metal Halide (HID) lamps produce an intense bluish-white light, at a colour temperature of 5000-6500°K similar to sunlight, and are one of the most efficient ways of lighting large areas. The compact nature of the arc makes it easy to focus the light on a specific area. Plants grow well with compact growth under HID, but it lacks the red required for flowering. Special starter circuits are required. Check that lamps will operate in a horizonal position if this is required.
  • Sodium vapour lamps as often used for street lighting produce almost monochromatic yellow light at 589nm from a low pressure discharge in Sodium vapour. These lamps are efficient but lack of red and blue wavelengths make them less suitable for plant growth. Special starter circuits are required.
  • High pressure sodium lamps produce an intense pinkish-white light with a colour temperature of 2050°K from an arc discharge in high pressure sodium vapour and are an efficient way of lighting large areas. Plants grow well under this light, but the colour cast may reduce acceptability for decorative illumination. Versions producing more blue light are available to promote compact vegetative growth, but this is not needed if the lamps are used to augment natural daylight which provides sufficient blue light.
  • Fluorescent tubes rely on a low-pressure discharge in a mixture of argon and mercury vapour to produce a line spectrum. Ultraviolet light from the discharge excites the phosphor coating on the inside of the glass envelope. Tubes coated with phosphors designed to emit warm white 2700 - 3000°K, cool white 4100 - 4300°K or "daylight" 5000K to 6350°K light are available as well as specialised phosphors designed for optimal use with plants or fish tanks. Fluorescent tubes are moderately efficient to run and suitable for use in a small growing space. Special starter circuits are required but these are freely available in hardware stores.
  • Light Emitting Diodes (LED's) are efficient light emitters, available in a wide range of colours. White LED's are really blue LEDs coated in green and red-emitting phosphors which can be adjusted to produce a cool or warm white output. As the prices of these fall they will become more cost effective for illuminating growing spaces or for spotlighting individual plants. LED's produce very little heat so will not scorch foliage.Ultraviolet LEDs are becoming available and could conceivably be added to banks of white LEDs to simulate intense sunlight and develop the strikingly coloured foliage seen in plants from the tropics and high mountains.

(Get more information at:


Cactus Book

Organic Garden

Garden Book

Gardening Tool


Wednesday, April 25, 2007


I think person who likes cactus should not miss Pachypodium because it's a succulent plant and has a lovely and amazing form. Besides, its species are so various and the way to take care of them is not different from one of cacti or succulent. I falled in love with Pachypodium for a while but I don't have it much in my plant collection. I think I will keep it more and here is the brief information about Pachypodium and its sample picture of some species.

Pachypodium is a plant genus that belongs to the dogbane family, Apocynaceae. Pachypodium comes from Greek "pachy" (thick) and "podium" (foot), hence meaning thick-footed.

The pachycaule trunk is a morphologically enlarged trunk that stores water so as to survive seasonal drought or intemitent periods. Whereas there is great variation in the habit of the plant body, all Pachypodium exhibit pachycaul growth. Variation in habit can range from dwarf flattened plants to bottle shaped shrubs to dendroid-shaped trees.

The second general characteristic of Pachypodium is to have spines. The spines come clustered in either pairs or triplets with these clusters often arranged in rings or whorls around the trunk. Spines emerge with leaves, and like leaves grow for a short period before stopping growth and hardending. Spines do not regenerate so weathering and abrasion can wear away all but the youngest spines from older specimens - leaving smooth trunks and branches.

To some extent, branches are a characteristic of the genus. Some caution is warranted in over-generalizing this characteristic. Pachypodium namaquanum is often branchless. Pachypodium brevicaule has no clear branches, and indeed may have evolved an alternative to branching in the form of nodes from which leaves, spines, and inflorescences emerge. In general Pachypodium have few branches. Since the environmental stresses and factors that contribute to branching can vary widely even in small areas, individual plants of the same species exhibit wide variation in branching morphology.

Morpholigically, Pachypodium can be highly flexible in organization. Branching, if present at all, can be from the base either of the plant or at the crown. Freeform branching is a morphological adaptation to factors of the immediate microenvironment which, by their diversity, account for the wide range of habits:

• flattened dwarf species less than 8 cm tall but reaching 40cm in diameter
• bottle- or oval-shaped shrubs to 4 m tall
• both branching and unbranched cigar- and cactus-like trees to 5m tall.

Despite microenvironmental variation, Pachypodium are always succulent and always exhibit pachycaul trunks. Pachypodium are usually spinescent, but individual variation in spinescence as well as weathering/abrasion can result is plants with few if any spines.

Pachypodium trunks and branches are normally thickened with water-storing tissue. Plants must relie on the food and water stored in their thickened trunks during seasonal drought when leaves have been shed and no water is available from the substrate. In addition to the lower surface-to-volume ratio which aides in water retention, the thickened trunks and branches can also possess photosynthetic surface tissue to allow nutrient synthesis even when leaves are not present.

They should not be mistaken for roots, because the enlargement occurs above the point where the roots branch off the main axis of the trunk.
Pachypodium make use of spinescence as an adaptive mechanism responding to the landscape. Adaptively this spinescence is employed to different degree in various species to collect moisture from fogs and dews. The degree of spinescence demonstrates the degree to which species rely on spines as a means to collect moisture from microclimate conditions, such as localized dews or fogs within microenvironments, and drip to the soil immediately below the spine on a branch or branchlet.

In elevation, Pachypodium in both mainland Africa and Madagascar grow between an altitude of sea level, where some species grow in sand dunes, such as Pachypodium geayi, to 1600 m (5200 feet) for Pachypodium lealii in southern Africa and 1900 m (6200 feet) for Pachypodium brevicaule in Madagascar.

In continental southern Africa, the extreme temperatures range from -10 °C (14 °F) in some locations to as much as 45 °C (113 °F). Whereas in Madagascar, with not such a great temperature amplitude, the temperature ranges from -6 °C (21 °F) to 40 °C (104 °F).
A generalization about precipitation regimes for both southern Africa and Madagascar does not have much meaning because the habitats of Pachypodium vary so greatly with a moisture regime. A precipitation regime for a species of Pachypodium, therefore, depends upon a habitat's location relative to the influences of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans and the various mountain ranges of southern continental Africa and of Madagascar.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Watering for Cacti and Succulent

The last article relates to watering plant. It can give you an idea when and how often to give water to your plant and shrub, recently repotted one, grass and etc.

Today, it's time to learn watering to the lovely cactus and succulent. They needs the different ways to water them and that is one of the most important secret of these plant to grow up.

Normally, I water my cactus 3-4 days/time. It depends on the season and temperature. In summer, I may give them water more often than in winter because it is warm and the plants usually grow up in summer also they need more water.

Cacti, agaves, aloes, sedums and other succulents have special abilities when it comes to storing and utilizing water. To one degree or another, they all have thick, fleshy, water-storing leaves and, or stems. Surfaces exposed to the drying effects of sun and wind are small in proportion to their total mass. This is especially evident in plants like saguaro and barrel cacti. Thick waxy cuticle layers on outer surfaces help seal in moisture. And a smaller than normal number of pore openings in leaves and stems further restrict moisture loss.

When cactus are not getting enough water, their outer skin begins to wrinkle. This is caused by the shrinkage of water-storing tissues in the plant. In the case of segmented cacti, like prickly pear and cholla, the outer pads or segments may also begin falling off. Lack of sufficient moisture in leafy succulents will result in wilting. As water levels in plants such as agave and aloe drop, so does the internal water pressure holding the leaves straight. As a result, leaves begin to bend downward.

Cacti and succulents showing signs of moisture stress can be revived by providing them with a good soaking of water. Keep in mind that the roots of these plants are shallow and widespread, extending out a distance several times their height. Therefore, watering a large area out from the plant, but only a foot or so deep is best. A soaker hose works well for this purpose.
Watering cacti and succulents when they show signs of stress is the way to ensure their survival. However, if you want your cacti and other succulents to thrive, some regular watering will be necessary.

The easiest way to gauge whether or not it's time to water is to stick your finger in the top 1/2 inch of soil. If the soil is dry, go ahead and water. If it's not, wait! Don't let your Cactus go too long without water. If the stem segments are shriveled and the soil is dry, it is probably in need of water. Be careful! If the plant is over watered, the stems will also look shriveled, but the soil will be damp. If this is the case, do not give it more water. An over-watered plant will start to turn yellowish, then get more and more mushy and dark reddish-brown like a rotten apple. This is because the cells took in so much water they broke and are now dead and rotting. This usually happens from the ends first. This will continue even after you stop watering too much, but often you will have enough plant left to start over.

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