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.
Do we swallow spiders in our sleep?
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We recently received this note from a supporter:
“Last year we bought an electric composter and it really works great. We put virtually everything in it and spread the compost in the garden this spring. Naturally, we had also put all of our cantaloupe and honeydew melon seeds in it too. (more…)
This year has been a banner year for tomatoes on the high plains and front range due much in part to the warm weather. If you are finding yourself with a surplus of tomatoes either from the garden, the store or farmers’ markets, you can consider a variety of methods for storing them. Among the options are canning, freezing and drying. By far the most simple is to dry your tomatoes. It is hard to believe that something so juicy can be dehydrated, but it can. (more…)
Because most of the commercial artichokes come from California, people assume that they won’t grow in our shorter season areas. Actually you can grow edible artichokes here. They are not heavy producers and take up a bit of space but they are still not hard to grow and a fresh artichoke is always tastier than store bought.
There is a vining honeysuckle (relative to the shrub) that is showy, hardy and blooms much of the summer. It needs a sunny spot, rich soil, regular water and a trellis or even a chain-link fence. It produces red, yellow or cream colored blooms. “Halls” is the hardiest variety.
Kintzley’s ghost vining honeysuckle isn’t much for flowers but it produces showy, large saucer-shaped silvery bracts that look like silver dollars. Avoid the fragrant Japanese honeysuckle at altitudes above 5,500′ as it is the least hardy.
If you are like many gardeners, you have some flowering plants on your porch, deck or entryway. These pots usually have colorful annual flowers that bloom every day. Unfortunately, when night comes, they too go dark. Light your pots up with a low-cost solar light. Solar lights can cost as little as $3.00 each, and all you have to do is simply place one in the center of your pot or hanging basket. Voila! Now you have easy, instant, cheap, colorful night lighting!