Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hydrangeas Planting & Care

Hydrangeas are the fastcinating flower because their flower color is so wonderful. That can make your garden more gorogeous. Besides you can change if you know how to do it.

Hydrangeas have 5 common varieites:

1. Hydrangea arborescens 'Grandiflora' -- Hills-of-Snow Hydrangea

Prune hills-of-snow hydrangea to the ground line each winter or early spring because it flowers abundantly on new growth, and is frequently killed back during winter. If a larger shrub is desired (3+ feet) and/or it is not killed back over the winter, prune less severely.

2. Hydrangea paniculata 'Grandiflora' -- Pee Gee Hydrangea

This is the most commonly planted hydrangea. They gradually turn to pink and remain on the plant in a semi-dried condition long after the leaves have fallen.

Pruning involves the removal of dead flowers, if unattractive, and an annual corrective pruning of vigorous shoots. Thin and/or cut back the previous season's growth in late winter or early spring, since flower clusters occur on newly developing branches.

3. Hydrangea macrophylla -- Hortensia or Florist Hydrangea

This is a commonly grown hydrangea with large globe-shaped flowers. Once moved outdoors, however, color is dependent upon the pH of the soil in which it is grown: blue if acid; pink if alkaline. There are also several white-flowered cultivars. Prune as soon as the flowers have faded and strong shoots are developing from the lower parts of the stems and crown.

Remove at the base some of the weaker shoots that are both old and new. Always try to keep several stems of old productive wood, with a sufficient number of stout new stems that will flower the following season. Early spring pruning (March), although acceptable, will result in the sacrificing of bloom for that growing season.

Winter protection of the plant should be initiated in December to preserve buds for next year's flowering. Tie the shoots together and wrap with burlap. If left unprotected, delay any spring pruning until the buds swell in order to determine which wood needs to be removed, and then cut back to below the point of injury.

4. Hydrangea quercifolia --Oakleaf Hydrangea

This plant is grown primarily for its handsome oak leaf-shaped foliage, excellent fall color, attractive flowers and interesting winter bark. It is ideally suited to a lightly shaded or protected location. Prune back in early spring to remove dead wood. Cut back to below the point of injury and remove old wood to the base.

5. Hydrangea anomala petiolaris -- Climbing Hydrangea

Climbing hydrangea is a desirable mid-summer flowering woody vine that attaches itself by aerial roots to brick, masonry or wood. It requires little or no pruning. If certain shoots have grown out of bounds, reduce their length in summer.

Hydrangea color

The other big question with feeding hydrangeas is flower color. Acid soils give us blues and baser soils cause pink flowers. The key is aluminum ions in the soil, so aluminum sulfate is a good quick fix, but prolonged use year after year may cause a fatal build up in the soil. Iron sulfate is a safer fix, or try alternating. If pink is what you want, top dress with dolomite or drench with a quick lime solution.


Hydrangeas needs the full sun. The ideal place for Hydranges to bloom well is the place which the full sun in morning and the sun shade in afternoon.


Fertilize hydrangeas in early spring with a complete granular fertilizer at the rate of 2 pounds per one hundred square feet. Apply fertilizer as broadcast top dressing. During long periods of drought, water thoroughly each week.


Plant in well-drained soil! If soil is heavy, add roughage such as pine bark mulch (Make sure it's ground BARK not ground WOOD .


Water regularly; do not overwater. Hydrangeas requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Making organic compost from food scraps

If you think food scraps in your kitchen such as coffee grounds, tea bags, stale bread, grains are useless, you're wrong. You can make organic compost by yourself from those scraps easily.
Composting from food scraps not only help the earth to trap you can also provide additional nutrients to the soil without paying any penny.

Here is the list of food waste can compost

  • All your vegetable and fruit wastes, (including rinds and cores) even if they are moldy and ugly
  • Old bread, donuts, cookies, crackers, pizza crust, noodles: anything made out of flour!
  • Grains (cooked or uncooked): rice, barley, you name it
  • Coffee grounds, tea bags, filters
  • Fruit or vegetable pulp from juicing
  • Old spices
  • Outdated boxed foods from the pantry
  • Egg shells (crush well)
  • compost from food scraps
  • Corn cobs and husks (cobs breakdown very slowly)
Food waste cannot compost

  • Meat or meat waste, such as bones, fat, gristle, skin, etc.
  • Fish or fish waste
  • Dairy products, such as cheese, butter, cottage cheese, yogurt, cream cheese, sour cream, etc.
  • Grease and oils of any kind
  • Kitty litter or animal feces
  • Those will make the compost smell badly and attract maggot or rodent.

How to do compost from food scraps
1. Select a dry, shady spot near a water source for your compost pile or bin.
2. Before you add scraps, make sure larger pieces are chopped or shredded. The smaller pieces are, the sooner the compost will be ready.
3. Cover your composting area with a 6-inch layer of brown materials (dead leaves, branches, chip & twigs, shredded newspaper, saw dust)
4. Add a 3-inch layer of green materials (grass clippings, food scraps)and a little soil or finished compost.

5. Lightly mix the two layers above.
6. Top with a 3-inch layer of brown materials, adding water until moist.
7. Turn your compost pile every week or two with a pitchfork to distribute air and moisture. Move the dry materials from the edges into the middle of the pile. Continue this practice until the pile does not reheat much after turning.
8. Your compost will be ready in 30 dayss, but let the pile sit for two weeks before using.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Cochineal vs Cactus

When you look at the white spot covering on Opuntia, do you think it's from fungus or insect?  The answer is from an insect infestation. The white sticky mounds are the housing for cochineal bugs (also known as mealy bugs.  

 The white sticky mounds are the housing for cochineal bugs (also known as mealy bugs)  All of the host plants of cochineal colonies were Opuntia species. Cochineal feed on plant moisture and nutrients.

Like the aphid (a related insect) the female drives her tubular proboscis through the cactus skin, where she will remain affixed for the rest of her life, sucking out the juice.  Simultaneously, she produces a white, waxy, fungus-looking coating that will help protect her from predatory insects and birds and shade her from the desert sun.  However, she sometimes fall prey to a rare carnivorous caterpillar and more commonly, to our good friend, the ladybird beetle.  Over time, a heavy cochineal infestation can kill its resident plant. 

However, Cochineal has industrially important insects because Cochineal can produce scarlet, orange, and other red tints. The  colors are produced from carminic acid which is today primarily used as a natural dyeing for food, pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries .  And seriously, there are cochineal farms for export in some countries such as Peru, Australia, Mexico, Chile.

If you don't want cochineal on your healthy plants, it’s suggested to treat  the damaged areas by scrubbing them with insecticidal soap or unscented dish soap. In small areas you can scrub with a tooth brush but for larger areas it is best to use a long handled brush. Or you can just spray all of the surfaces of the prickly pear pads thoroughly using a power nozzle attached to your hose and then thoroughly spray with a solution of spectraside and insecticidal soap. Do not rinse after applying the spectraside and insecticidal soap.


Monday, January 2, 2012

Aphid at Cactus root

On New Year holidays, I had free time to notice that my poor astro. baby cactus became flatter and smaller.  When I removed them out of the pot, I got the answer: aphid stayed at the root.  This awful insect suck the juices of root for food.  I think it was because I rarely sprayed the chemical insecticide.  I usually use the organic one which may not be strong enough.
You can see the small white thing in the soil.  This is evil aphid.

After realizing the problem, I also washed and cleansed the cactus root in water.  I tried to remove all soil and dust from the root softly.  If do severely, the root might be damaged and the recovery will take longer time.
Here is the cactus after I scrubbed all soil.  It becomes bare root now.

I'll leave them like this for several days and plant in the pot later.  Hope you guys will have time to care your cactus, not ignoring them like I did.