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.