Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Succession of Spring Blooms in the Neighborhood

A climbing tea rose
a purple pansy 'Viola'
I could not help but stop, smell and take photos of the glorious display of flowers in my Fairfield neighbourhood in Victoria. I used my Blackberry to capture these beauties. Just gorgeous!
yellow poppy along the curb.
another of the kind of the Papaveraceae family
a gorgeous unknown flower
orange variety of a daisy from family Asteraceae
Antirrhinum 'Snapdragons'
a trio of pansy, daisy, and geranium

purple phlox hybrid
purple Irises
blue and purple Columbines from the genus Aquilegia

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Different Ways to Propagate Plants Part 1: Stem Cuttings

In this new post, I was planning to write about topics related to Botany--I thought I could share some helpful tips on what I finished in college. But I really don't know where to start...Plant nomenclature perhaps? Pollination? Just then I thought of how many people are interested on how to multiply their well-loved plant treasures but just do not have an ounce of idea on how to do it. This made me write about the ways plants can be reproduced through using various propagation techniques.

In this first part, I will teach you on propagating plants through stem cuttings. Some of you may already know this common way of propagating flowers but for those who don't know, this will help you.

Stem cuttings:

It is what it says- severing a part of the stem and planting it in the pot or garden. You may choose to cut either soft terminal cuttings or partially hard cuttings.

1. Make sure you make a clean cut (jagged cut attracts infection). Use a sharp pruning shears. Cut at around 60degrees angle--this will provide a wider surface area for water to get in. Cut precisely as you would cut a stem from a rose for a cutflower display.

2. Dip the cut end in a rooting hormone. Speaking from experience, when I did stem cuttings of Bougainvillea sp. in my Asian hometown, I did not have rooting hormone. What I did was I made a precise cut (60degrees angle) and chose a potting mix rich in humus and is well-drained. I placed the cuttings to establish  in a shady area. After I noticed significant shoot growth, I then move it to a brighter area so that it will be exposed more to the sun. Bougainvilleas and Ixora chinensis love the sun as well as hibiscus. But in the temperate zones like Canada, these plants must be grown indoors.

Cutting stems from bougainvilleas are done by cutting the soft stems in summer and semi-hard stems in winter (getting soft stems in summer promotes growth from the main plant and getting hard stems in winter will help prune the mother plant to be ready for a new growth in spring).

3. Choose a potting medium well suited for the cuttings. Put the cuttings in an area that does not get direct sunlight to give it chance to make new growth. Take note that some plants--like bougainvillea--some of its leaves will die back. Do not worry, just water the plant enough to make the topsoil moist. Water sparingly after then so as to keep it evenly moist but not soggy. Once significant growth is noticed, transfer the plant to an area where it receives more hours in the sun--or in the shade (like begonias) as per light requirements.

Plants Propagated by Stem Cuttings

Gardenia jasminoides (gardenia)

Ixora chinensis
Camellia sinensis

Crossandra infundibuliformis (firecracker flower) 

Bougainvillea glabra and other varieties

Rosa (rose family)

Jasminum grandiflorum (jasmine)
Portulaca grandiflora 

Hibiscus rosa-chinensis (hibiscus flower)

Some of the plants shown here are tropical plants, however they can be grown indoors like in a greenhouse where temperature is controlled.


I only own one of these photos. I used these as graphic examples of the flowers I talk about.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Plants Suitable for a Rock/Crevice Garden

Achillea oxyloba 
A type of a rock garden plant that has a carpet-growing/creeping habit. Grows best in humus-rich soil but will tolerate poor, gravely soil. Best grown under bright-filtered light/semi-shade conditions. Can be propagated by dividing the offsets.

photos courtesy of
Anemone x lesseri Wehrh.

Tuft-like in growth habit, the plant thrives in full sun, slightly rich, well-drained soil. It seeds in  winter and  grows  after 3 to 6 months.
Antirrhinum sempervirens

Known widely by the common name of 'snapdragons,' this decumbent-growing shrub is popular in crevice and rock gardens. Grown in full sun or light shade, it will grow best in well-drained soil but will adapt to poor soil. There are various species of the shrubs with different colored-blooms (pink, white, fuchsia).
Arnica cordifolia

The plant follows a tuft-like growing habit where it grows from a single base. The plant likes to grow in shady spots in the garden.  It thrives best in moist, humus-rich soil.
Aster souliei

A flowering, tuft plant, asters are very common in rock and crevice gardens. They grow abundantly in the alps, mostly in slightly humus-rich ground. Grown best in full sun. Flowers in the early summer to early fall.
Campanula bellidifolia

The plant thrives in the higher altitudes in the mountains in temperate zones. It blooms in late spring till summer.  Grows in dry, rocky terrain in full sun.
Coreopsis lanceolata

Grows in sunlit areas in very well-drained soil. Shows off golden-yellow blooms in  summertime. Leaves resemble spears (that explains the Latin suffix 'lanceolata').
Cistanthe tweedyi

This gorgeous plant grows from a rosette base (resembling a rose petal).  Flowers are pink and yellow observed at springtime. Thrives in sunny areas on crevices and rock gardens.
Dianthus haematocalyx

With purple-red flowers observed during summer, this cushion plant is excellent for covering up bare spaces in the garden but becomes a highlight in rock gardens. Propagated by seeds or through stem cuttings.

Alyssum daghestanicum

Alyssum is one of the favorites when it comes to the rock garden landscape. It is a very hardy plant and survives when grown in poor, rocky conditions just like its natural habitat up in the alpine mountains. It pops out from dry cracks in the rocks and blooms in spring. Stem cuttings are used to propagate this plant.

These are just a few of my favorites when it comes to rock garden plant ideas. Check with your local garden shops on what suitable plants to use in your particular hardiness zone.