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Friday, December 22, 2006

Schlumbergera (Christmas Cactus)

Christmas Cactus is the most popular cactus of all and the one most commonly grown, in spite of the fact that many people do not consider it to be a true cactus at all. But it is a cactus, a jungle type, needign more warmth and moisture than the desert cacti.

The Christmas cactus, Schlumbergera bridgesii, is an epiphytic plant native to a small region in the Organ Mountains north of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in South America. Schlumbergera bridgesii grows at mountain altitudes in excess of 5000 feet in cool, dry wooded areas. Under natural conditions, Schlumbergera bridgesii will flower in December, thus the common name Christmas cactus.

The many segments, joined end to end, are true stems (there are no leaves) and the whole plant forms a dense branched bush.

Unscented flowers of an unusual shape and about 3cm across, are freely produced in winter at the end of segments; the typical colour is carmine but varieties exist with flowers of various shapes of red, pink or even white.

Use a rich potting mixture with added peat or leaf mould, and water the plant freely when in bud and flower, feeding every two weeks at this time. Reduce the water somewhat after flowering. Propagation from segments is easy.

Care should be taken when handling the plants as the buds drop easily if the plant is moved.

A related species, Schlumbergera truncata, from the same region blooms a month earlier and is commonly known as Thanksgiving cactus. Both plants grow vegetatively by producing flat, leaf-like stem segments connected at the mid-veins. The two species are similar except Schlumbergera truncata has 2-4 saw-toothed serrates along the leaf/stem margins, cylindrical ovaries, and yellow anthers while Schlumbergera bridgesii has dentate margins, 4-5 angled ovaries, and purple anthers.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Spurges (Euphorbia)

Common name: Crown Of Thorns

Spurges (genus Euphorbia) are a very large and diverse worldwide group of plants, belonging to the spurge family, or Euphorbiaceae.
The botanical name Euphorbia derives from the Greek Euphorbus, physician of king Juba II of Numidia (52-50 BC - 23 AD), in whose honour – or in allusion to his swollen belly – a certain plant he might have used, possibly Euphorbia resinifera, was named. In 1753 Carolus Linnaeus assigned the name to the entire genus.

This delightful little shrub, only slightly succulent, is very popular as a houseplant, and deservedly so, as it is more suited to a well-lit living-room window in winter than to the average colder green house, where it will certainly lose its long leaves, and probably its life also!

Like all members of the family Euphorbiaceae, all spurges have unisexual flowers. In Euphorbia these are greatly reduced and grouped into cyathia called pseudanthia. There are also (monoecious) species with male and female flowers on the same plant and those (dioecious) with male and female flowers occurring on different plants. It is not unusual for the central cyathia of a cyme to be purely male, and for lateral cyathia to carry both sexes. Sometimes young plants or those growing under unfavourable conditions are male only, and only produce female flowers in the cyathia with maturity or as growing conditions improve. The bracts are often leaf-like, sometimes brightly coloured and attractive, sometimes reduced to tiny scales. The fruits are three (rarely two) compartment capsules, sometimes fleshy but almost always ripening to a woody container that then splits open (explosively). The seeds are 4 angled, oval or spherical with or without a caruncle.

The plant's great attraction is its brilliant scarlet flower-like bracts, about 1.5cm across, produced freely in spring and summer. There is also a yellow version.

The latex (milky sap) of spurges acts as a deterrent for herbivores as well as a wound healer. Usually it is white, but in rare cases (e.g. E. abdelkuri ) yellow. As it is under pressure, it runs out from the slightest wound and congeals within a few minutes of contact with the air. Among the component parts are many di- or tri-terpen esters, which can vary in composition according to species and in some cases the variant may be typical of that species. These terpen ester determine from species to species if the latex is slightly or very caustic and irritating to the skin, and especially if in contact with mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth) can produce extremely painful inflammation. In experiments with animals it was found that terpen ester resiniferatoxin had an irritating effect 10,000 to 100,000 times stronger than capsaicin, the "hot" substance found in chillies. Terpen ester was also found to be carcinogenic. Therefore handling spurges needs to be done with caution. Latex coming in contact with the skin, should be washed off immediately and thoroughly. Partially or completely congealed latex is often no longer soluble in water, but can be removed with an emulsion (milk, hand-cream). With inflammation of a mucous membrane a doctor needs to be consulted. If cutting large succulent spurges in a greenhouse, it has been noticed that vapours from the latex spread and can cause severe irritation to the eyes and air passages several metres away. Caution is therefore required and for example ensure sufficient ventilation. Small children and domestic pets should never come into contact with spurges.

If the stems become too long, encourage more bushy growth by cutting them down to size; this also provides ample cuttings for spare plants. Keep any sap away from your eyes or mouth.

Let the pieces dry for a few days and pot up; they should root fairly easily in spring and summer. Grow this euphorbia in any good loam- or peat-based potting mixture, and water freely in spring and summer. Avoid cold draughts in winter.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Caring For Cacti & Succulents

Almost always teamed together, cacti and succulents have lots in common and several important distinctions. Cacti are part of the succulent family. All cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti. There are hundreds of different types of cacti. The word succulent simply means juicy and fleshy. All succulents have the ability to store water in their flesh. Cacti are succulents with spine cushions called areoles that can bear spines and/or flowers but the plants do not have branches or leaves. Succulents do not have areoles and can have branches and leaves.

To select a healthy cactus or succulent, look for a plant with good color. It should be in a pot large enough to provide the plant stability. Look for signs of recent growth and check to make sure it is firmly rooted.

Situation And Temperature
Almost all cacti and most other succulents can be overwintered at a temperature of 5 degree celsius if kept dry, and cacti grown for flowers usually need this cold winter rest; indoors the window of an unheated room is the best place.

Good light is essential for most succulents, and indoors the sunniest window should normally be used, remembering that the light is one-sided and the plants should be turned occasionally. In sunnier climes full sun in a greenhouse can cause scorching. The risk is reduced by good ventilation and few plants will scorch anywhere in the open air.

Potting mixtures and potting
Cacti and other succulent plants do not require an elaborate potting mixture; the mixture really only needs to be well-drained. Either peat or loam-based mixtures will do, but it is usually an advantage to mix in about one third of extra drainage material such as sharp sand or perlite, as the one thing all these plants dislike is any degree of water logging of the soil.

Potting on -- that is, transferring to a larger pot -- is necessary when the plant has formed a mass of roots; it may or may not be necessary every year, depending on the rate of growth of the particular plant.

Repotting can be carried out by shaking off as much of the old potting mixture as possible from the roots and replacing the plant in the same pot (thoroughly cleaned first) in fresh mixture. Spiny plants can be held in a fold of newspaper. The best time for this is early spring, at the beginning of the growing season; withhold watering for a few days afterwards to enable the roots to recover.

Watering and Feeding
Most succulents grow in spring and summer when water can be freely given each time the potting mixture appears almost dry. In winter, any surplus water can easily cause rotting and complete dryness is normally necessary with green house plants, but indoors an occasional watering may be needed to prevent undue shriveling.

Many succulents, notably the freely flowering ones, benefit from a dose of fertilizer every two weeks during the spring and summer. A high-potassium type, such as is designed for tomatoes, should be used. But plants in soilless, peat-based potting mixtures, which contain no natural food, will need this throughout the growing season.

Succulent plants can be raised from seed, which unless bought from a specialist nursery will probably be 'mixed'. Sow as for any greenhouse perennial at a temperature of 18-24 degree celsius. Be in no hurry to prick out; most seedlings can remain in the same pan for a year, unless very crowded. Keep them slightly moist and not too cold for their first winter. Plants that form offsets can be propagated by removing one or more, allowing them to dry for a few days to reduce the risk of rot before potting them.

The main pest of these plants is the mealy bug, often seen as white cotton-wool patches and sometimes mistaken for a fungus. The pest itself hides within this, but sometimes appears, looking like a miute white woodlouse. Treatment with a proprietary spray will usually control these bugs. But watch out for a more insidious relative, the root mealy bug, when you are repotting; minute white pateches on the roots indicate this. Dip teh infected roots in an insecticide before repotting and water occasionally with a similar substance.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Cacti And Succulent Plants

Picture of Cacti and Succulent Garden

Cacti are succulent to varying degrees and belong to one family, the Cactaceae, whereas succulents can belong to many different plant families. They all have in common the ability to store water in their tissues in order to survive periods of drought, and this makes them ideal plants for the busy or forgetful person; many can survive days or even weeks of dryness.

Picture of rhipsalis chloroptera

Cacti in particular can be divided into desert and jungle types; the latter live on trees as epiphytes, often in association with orchids, in tropical rain forests. Epiphytes use trees for support only; they are not parasites. Such cacti are represented by the epiphyllums, rhipsalis species (picture above), the Christmas cactus(picture below), and similar plants.

Picture of Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesi) - Christmas Cactus is a favorite holiday seasonhouse plant, but one which needs careful attention to details if it is to live and flower again the next year. It is closely related to Easter Cactus (Schlumbergera gaertneri) and Thanksgiving Cactus (Schlumbergera truncatus), all with fleshy, flattened, segmented joints and showy flowers ranging in color from white through pink, red and purple. These are cacti which in nature live in the crotches of jungle trees, and benefit from light, porous soil mixed with leafmold and sand.

Often any thick-leaved or spiny plant is called a cactus, sometimes incorrectly. A unique feature of cacti is the "areole", a small, pin- cushion-likek structure arranged in numbers over the stems, from which any spines or hairs grow. All cacti have areoles but they are not always easy to see. The cactus flower is also characteristic and is often large and beautiful.

Many cacti bloom annually; but a few can never become large enough in an average amateur collection to do so. Cacti are 'stem succulents', that is, water is stored in greatly thickened stems and, apart form the exception mentioned earlier (the pereskias, picture on the left) and a few other rarities, they have no real leaves.

Other succulent, coming as they do from many different families, have flowers as diverse as the families themselves. They have no areoles; any spines resemble rose thorns. Some African euphorbias are virtually leafless, and with their ribbed, thorny, succulent stems they closely resemble cacti.

Picture of euphorbia

Cacti come from the American continent and those found elsewhere in the world have been introduced at some time in the past. Many other succulents are native to Africa.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Peaceful Garden Dream

Close your eyes and think for a moment. What do you think is the greatest achievement in your life that can bring you peace and happiness? Everybody needs a home, a shelter over the head. Regardless of the location, the size, and the architecture, a home serves the most important function of accomodation. No matter how rich or poor you are you need a home.

To have a garden is what a lot of people hope to have. A peaceful garden brings you peaceful relaxation after a stressful day. A peaceful garden not only can allow you to stroll with your love ones, it also allows you to stroll or spend peaceful moment alone at time when you need to be alone. Close your eyes and think, what can be more peaceful than to indulge in your own garden, sitting among your favourite flowers and plants, inside a gazebo, listening to the birds (if any) and watching beautiful butterflies visiting your garden. Most important of all, you feel so much refreshing in the garden -- fresh air and the fragrance of the garden. Imagine everyday, you can have your breakfast and dinner in your own garden, isn't it marvellous? When you feel bored or sick of the stale air at home, you want to lie down and feel in touch of nature, don't you want to lie down on the grass, under a tree probably or just stay in the garden to read your favourite book. Which do you feel more peaceful -- lying down in your own garden or lying down in a public garden or park? Obviously the answer is the former. A public garden or park sometimes can bring danger to you instead of peace. You stand a chance of theft, sexual assault or har
assment, and there is no privacy too.

To have a home to live in is important. To add pleasure and bliss to your home require you to work hard for it. We know the importance of garden, and it is not everyone's capabilities to have a big garden. So close your eyes again, and think of your ideal home. Where should your ideal home be located? Residing in different countries can mean different types of weather and you have different types of garden, with differing range of plants and flowers that could be grown in that climate there. Then you have to think of what kind of properties you want to own. This depend on your financial circumstances of course. This would greatly determine your ideal dreams will come true a not.

Having a big home with big garden is what everyone dream to have. However, not all people can afford to have such luxury. With the population of the world and the land we have, it is also not feasible to have all landed properties too. With these in mind, a lot of properties now are now smaller and have more built-up area. They are more flats, apartments and condominiums as compared to terraces and bungalows. But these do not deter high-rise dwellers to stop having their garden dreams. Using their own creativities and knowledge, container gardens, box gardens, balcony gardens or window gardens are often seen in these buildings. There is much lesser restrictions from these gardens -- you cannot lie on grasses, you cannot put garden furnitures, you cannot put garden fences, you cannot stroll in a garden path! Though lesser restriction, the fulfillment of these garden can be equally good if you put your effort and creativity in your creation of one of these garden.

Do you yearn for a home like Winchester House, with a big garden and nice scenery? If you hope to have a cottage or a victorian home and a peaceful victorian garden, you should work at it. Remember, close your eyes, dream of your ideal home -- where it is situated, the kind of weather it has, how big your home is, when you open your house, what sort of sceneries you desire. Do you hope to walk in a trail of flowers path everyday when you go to work or do you want to be facing the 'walls' (corridors, taking lifts, walking staircase, especially for flat dwellers) everyday when you go to work? Or do you want your children to play safely in your own garden or let them play in the public park?

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Balcony Plants III

Easy To Grow Balcony Plants

9. Kalanchoe blossfeldiana (Flaming Katy)

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is a flowering rosette plant up to 35cm in height, with fleshy, dark green leaves and clusters of small red flowers borne on tall stems. Flowering is from late winter to early summer, though plants may be forced into early flowering for sale at Christmas time.

A bright position with some sun encourages a good show of flowers. Keep Kalanchoe in a moderate environment. The ideal positions would be a south-facing window in winter, east or west facing in spring and summer. Water it sparingly at all times and feed every two weeks while in flower. After flowering, trim back the growth and let the plant rest in partial shade, with the compost barely moist, for about one month. It is a short-day plant and will not bloom a second season if kept too light in between times. Repot in a soil mixture, in a larger pot only if this seems necessary.

10. Hypoestes (Polka Dot Plant)

The species sold as a houseplant is Hypoestes sanguinolenta, meaning 'blood-spotted', and Hypoestes is very popular for its decorative foliage, olive-green dappled with pink. Small lilac flowers may appear in summer, but these are usually insignificant. An older plant will become straggly and the maximum effective height is about 35cm, when stems may need some support. Pinching out of growing tips encourages bushy growth, but Hypoestes is generally regarded as a short-lived plant and discarded when leaf-growth becomes sparse.

The plant grows quickly and should be potted on as necessary in loam-based soil. Water moderately at all times and mist the leaves to maintain humidity. A warm temperature is required, as is good light to preserve the leaf markings. Take stem cuttings, keeping them warm and moist, to replace an aging plant.

11. Hedera ( Ivy )

There are many varieties of small leaved Ivies bred from Hedera helix, the common Ivy. They are vigorous plants that trail or climb, and may be variegated with cream, white or yetllow. Hedera canariensis, Canary Island Ivy, is a popular species with larger leaves that are heavily marked with cream and grow on red stems. Varieties of Hedera helix cling naturally, but Hedera canariensis must be tied to or interwoven with its support.

Variegated Ivies need some bright light, filtered or indirect as the sun's hottest rays can cause scorching. They tolerate a broad range of temperatures and should be given a more humid atmosphere in an environment over 18 degree celsius. Water moderately at all times and reduce watering in winter months to allow a brief rest. Pot on if roots emerge through the drainage holes of the pot. Prune the growth as necessary and use the pruned stems as cuttings. These root in water or moist, loam-based compost.

12. Guzmania (Orange Star)

In common with other bromeliads, Guzmania has a rosette of leaves forming a natural cup at the center; unlike other popular types, the leaves are soft and ribbon-like rather than tough and fleshy. They are a glossy, rich green marked with fine red lines. In winter a flower spike grows from the cup; it consists of red or orange bracts that last a few months; short-lived flowers, white or yellow, arise from the bracts. The plant grows about 38cm tall; the leaves arch gracefully outwards.

Bright light, a warm environment and continuous moisture are the requirements of this plant. Keep compost moist and also pour water into the cup and over the foliage from time to time, adding a liquid feed every two weeks except during flowering . The plant is shallow-rooting and may not need potting on. Offsets growing at the base can be detached and potted up in spring.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Balcony Plants II

Easy To Grow Balcony Plants

5. Philodendron scandens

Philodendrons are erect or climbing plants with tough, glossy leaves. The most popular is Philodendrons scandens, with heart-shaped, dark green leaves, each about 10cm long. Philodendrons hastatum has more elongated, almost triangular leaves. Both grow up to 1.8m and need the support of canes or a sturdy pole. Philodendrons bipinnatifidum has erect stems and spreading, deeply cut leaves; it will grow to about the same total height as the climbers.

Philodendron will live in a bright but not sunny position, or in a lightly shaded spot. The absolute minimum temperature should be 13 degree celsius, but above this it tolerates a wide range. High humidity encourages strong growth. Water the compost moderately, allowing a winer rest period of near-dryness. Provide a weak feed with each watering while the plant is actively growing. Pot on when roots fill the containers, in a mixture of peat and loam.

6. Peperomia magnoliifolia

Peperomia magnoliifolia is a compact plant about 30cm high, with oval, glossy, dark green leaves; there is a variegated form with yellow leaf-markings. Peperomia obtusifolia is similar in its erect, bushy habit, but has purple stems and purplish leaf-margins. Peperomia caperata is a more spreading plant with heart-shaped, heavily textured leaves and tall white flower spikes in summer.

Peperomias thrive in bright light with some mild sunshine. From a winter minimum of 13 degree celsius they tolerate the range of normal room temperatures, but need high humidity if kept warm. Use tepid water to moisten the compost, which should be allowed to dry out partially between waterings. From spring to autumn add a half-strength liquid feed every two weeks. Pot in a peaty, soil-less compost but keep the plants confined. They rarely need repoting and will live happily in a maximum 12.5cm pot.

7. Swiss Cheese Plant ( Monstera Deliciosa )

Always among the ten most popular houseplants, the swiss cheese plant is so called for its huge glossy leaves, deeply cut or perforated from edge to centre. It lasts many years and will grow to a height of 3m, but can even double that size in time. It also has a very broad spread, with mature leaves up to 60cm across, and will need the support of canes or a sturdy pole.

From spring to autumn give the plant indirect light or partial shade and moist conditions. Water and feed it well, keeping the compost moist but not wet. In winter it needs less water and can tolerate full light. Keep leaves dust-free by sponging them gently. Repot the plant every two years in loam compost coarsened with grit or leaf-mould. Top-dress a plant already in a large pot. Aerial roots develop from the plant's main stem; tie them to the stem and train them down into the compost.

8. Maranta (Prayer Plant)

There are several different cultivars of Maranta sold as houseplants. The popular name of Prayer Plant refers to their common habit of folding up their leaves at night. Other names, such as Herringbone Plant or Rabbit's Tracks, indicate the type of leaf markings to be seen. The broad oval leaves, up to 12.5cm long, grow on stalks from a sheathed stem and spread outwards rather than upwards.

Marantas must have warm, moist conditions; maintain a minimum temperature of 18 degree celsius if possible, though 10 degree celsius is just tolerated in winter. Low light is preferred. This is because sunshine fades the leaves. Water generously from spring to autumn, sparingly in winter and supply weak liquid feeds during active growth. Spray or sponge leaves, but do not apply leaf chemicals. Pot on each spring, if necessary, in loam-based compost. The plants have shallow-rooting. Divide large clumps during repotting.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Balcony Plants I

Plants in containers need no special care throughout the year. However, they welcome occasional loosening of the soil with a wooden peg, removal of weeds and in dry weather, sufficient watering accompanied by regular feeding in the growing period. Below are a list of easy to grow plants for your balconies.

Easy To Grow Balcony Plants
1. Peace Lily

Common varieties: Spathiphyllum wallisii, Spathiphyllum clevelandii, Spathiphyllum floribunda

S. wallisii
grows about 30cm high; the cultivar 'Mauna Loa' attains about twice that size. Both have lance-shaped, glossy leaves borne on separate stalks growing directly from a rhizome. The flower is a broad white spathe surrounding a long white or creamy spadix. It lasts about tow months, gradually turning green.

In summer the plant should be placed in bright filtered or indirect light, but it can stand mild sun in winter. An even temperature of 18 degree celsius all year round is ideal; the plant rests if it is too cold or too warm. Keep up high humidity and spray leaves frequently in the warmer months. Aways allow the top layer of compost to dry out between waterings and feed the plant occasionally throughout the year. Pot on annually, in loam or peat mixture, up to a 20cm pot size. To propagate, divide the rhizome base, taking sections with two or three leaves attached.

2. Miniature Rose

Indoor roses are varieties or hybrids of the dwarf rose rosa chinensis. They make attractive, upright bushes, about 30cm high. The slender stems rarely carry thorns. Flowers may be single or double-petalled, in white, pink, yellow, red or coral.

Miniature roses must have as much alight as possible. Place them in a bright window and if possible, stand them close to a fluorescent light in the evening. They do well in a temperature range from 10 degree celsius to 21 degree celsius and like a fresh, airy atmosphere. They overwinter in cold conditions and can be placed outside. Move them from warm, bright summer light to cool winter shade by stages, for the best future growth. Water moderately during active growth and feed fortnightly. Keep the compost, a soil-based mixture barely moist in winter. Prune back the stems and freshen the compost annually, just before new growth begins.

3. Pilea

There are various forms of pilea, which may be creeping or upright plants. The popular Aluminium plant is pilea cadieri; it grows to about 25cm in height and each leaf is marked with silvery patches between the veins, giving a quilted effect. pilea mollis is more heavily textured and has rich bronze colouring around the leaf veins. Pilea involucrata, also known as the Friendship plant because it is easily propagated, has warm, coppery colouring.

Pileas must never be exposed to direct sun and will adapt to indirect light or partial shade. They prefer to be kept warm and humid, tolerating a 10 degree celsius minimum, but they are badly affected by droughts. Keep the compost moist, with a fortnightly feed from spring to autumn, and less damp in winter. Repot only if necessary -- the plants are shallow-rooting, up to 12.5cm pot. Stem cuttings in spring will root in a peat and sand mixture.

4. Geranium

These fast-growing, bushy plants make a marvellous summer display with their bright flower heads, and many have attractively marked leaves. The rounded, bright green leaves of Zonal Pelargoniums are marked with a dark red band; flowers may be single or double, in light sprays or heavy clusters, white, pink, coral, red or mauve. The Regal Pelargonium flowers earlier and has a shorter season; it has showy, frilled flowers and clustered leaves. Smaller ivy-leaved Geraniums are excellent for tubs or hanging baskets.

Bright light and plenty of sunshine are essential. Provide a moderate environment, dry and airy; do not spray leaves or flowers. Keep compost moist in the active period and feed fortnightly. The plants thrive most vigorously if slightly pot-bound. Stem cuttings root readily in summer and can replace older plants. Prune growth severely in autumn, and allow the plant a cool winter rest.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Balcony Gardens

A balcony can become the most pleasant spot in your home if only it is made use of properly and any plantings are designed as an integral part of the flat. Nowadays, b
alconies have been transformed into the "backyards" for thousands of apartment, condominium, and townhouse dwellers across the country. Anyone can transform their balconies into a peaceful garden at home.

When choosing subjects for planting, it is always necessary to have an appropriately-sized container for each plant species or cultivar. Tiny, low-growing plants should never be planted in large boxes, bowls or troughs, as their fragile beauty is completely suppressed there. Similarly, too robust plants look incongrous if planted in small containers and will quickly exhaust the soil, and themselves.

The rigid outlines of modern facades usually call for some optical 'softening', which can be best achieved by placing on the balconies and window-sills containers filled with suitable plants.

The furnishings of a balcony can be quite inexpensive and simple. Where there is a shortage of space, a collapsible table and a few wicker or canvas chairs will do. A small sunshade provides necessary shade in summer, and creates privacy.

The most beautiful decoration for balconies is flowers. However, always bear in mind the colour of the building's facade; the flowers used should be in either pleasantly contrasting or complementary colours. As for containers, these can be of various materials, shapes and sizes.

Balcony boxes are usually suspended from the railings on solid iron hooks, either on the inner or outerside of the balcony. If possible, it is always better to think of this while the house is being built, as the construction of a supportive device may cause some difficulties later on. In taller buildings, however, it is advisable to place the boxes inside the balcony because this is safer and the plants will not suffer so much from being buffeted by wind.

Containers planted with flowers can also be placed on the floor of a balcony, along its walls. But as a considerable weight is involved, do check first that th ebalcony is able to bear such a load. The walls can be equipped with variously-shaped wooden trellis or frames, with a wire or nylon fibre stretched to form a support for perennial or annual climbing plants. Many of these produce an extraordinary abundance of beautiful flowers or fruits and most are relatively fast growers. A choice of annual non-climbing plants can be planted beside them.

Where balconies are equipped with iron bars for the purpose of safety, the containers can be suspended on the inner side of these railings. With a suitable choice of plant species, you can soon create a nice green 'curtain' to cover the bars and form a pleasant, shaded retreat.

For a larger balconies, a construction of bamboo sticks, laths or light-metal tubes can be made. Hooks or holders fastened at irregular intervals will bear pots or boxes, preferably lightweight plastic ones, planted with a variety of flowers.

Container gardening is great for your balcony because you can use a number of containers that you may already have at home. By using your creativity, you can create a unique garden out of various containers, including window boxes, hanging baskets and some other pots that you might have at home. Best of all, container gardens are easily maintained by even the most novice of gardeners. Everytime when you want to change the layout of your garden design, moving the containers around is easy too. Strong candidates for container gardens include annuals like pansies and sweet peas as well as such perennials as daylilies and oxalis.

Regardless of what kinds of real estate you own, if you don't have a backyard, nevermind! As long as you have a balcony, you can have a balcony garden of your own. Depending on your creativity, your balcony garden can be a gorgeous garden!

Realtor in Sebastopol, Prudential California Realty (Sonoma County, Healdsburg, Sebastopol,
Guerneville, Santa Rosa) Specializing in West Sonoma County , contact (707) 869-9011