It is the time of year when the weather changes at a rapid pace. Sometimes it easier to understand graphically rather than in words. It is especially helpful to view a graphic if you are traveling. This web site provides a graphic forecast for the next 12, 24, 36 and 48 hours. (more…)
The mother-in-law plant a.k.a. the snake plant, also known as the sword plant, is among the toughest houseplants you can grow. It’s Latin name is “sansevieria,” is named after the Italian Prince of Sansevieria, a horticulturist in the 18th century. They resemble swords and are related to agave. Sansevieria leaves are very fibrous and are used to make rope in some parts of the world. They also tolerate most any conditions in the home with ease. They rarely flower, but when they do they have a wonderful fragrance.
What are they and where do they come from?
TUMBLEWEEDS are native to Ural mountains of Russia. First noted in the late 1800s, they are now found all over the west. They were likely brought in with Russian farmers who settled that region. While tumbleweeds roll they can spread up to 250,000 seeds from one plant.
Are tumbleweeds good for anything? Some people spray paint them and stack them as desert snowman. During the dust bowl days of the Depression, immature tumbleweeds were used as an emergency food to feed both livestock and humans alike. They also inspired the rolling robots in Star Wars movies. Researchers have discovered that they can pull depleted uranium from contaminated soils of battlefields. Tumbleweeds also inspired the early NASA landing system for a Mars Rover that bounced and rolled as part of its landing. And everybody knows the song that goes “rolling along with the tumblin’ tumbleweeds.”
Researchers are working hard at finding natural controls for tumbleweeds through the release of beneficial insects and diseases that attack the plant in a young stage.
The biggest mistake people make in growing Christmas cacti is treating them like a desert cactus. Instead treat them like a houseplant, with regular waterings. After they bloom, treat water less frequently watering until summer, when you go back to treating it like a houseplant. Also they don’t like direct sun. Instead find a bright spot away from direct sun. Also this is one plant that is quite comfortable being pot-bound for years. Regular fertilization is also helpful but be mindful that they are slow growers.
If your Christmas cactus has trouble blooming, you can help trigger blooms by doing one of the following: 1) Try setting it in your coolest room or near a cool window. This cool treatment will often trigger blooms. 2) Set your Christmas cactus in a room where you never turn on the lights at night- perhaps a guest room? Uninterrupted periods of darkness this time of year will often encourage blooms.