Category Archives: Plants and Trees

Great Tree Design for Your Backyard Landscape

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Trees are often associated with shade and protection but it is not always included in the collection of flowers and gardening aesthetics. In this blog, I will talk about the significance of trees as part of a landscaping venture and how it can make a difference in the overall appeal of your backyard.

Trees give stature, dimension and texture to one’s place if properly arranged and planted. They are truly incredible in making the entire place lovely all year round.

When finally decided to incorporate trees in your garden or backyard landscape, there are some things to consider since trees can’t be easily removed or replanted to another spot as you would usually do to other foliage on your garden. Trees can stay in your garden for decades so it is very essential to choose the best ones which can give you the most benefit over time.

Right Location

First thing that you need to consider when choosing trees is the location on where they thrive best. You have to determine the available spot where you are planning to plant the trees. For sunny areas, large varieties of trees are available. You can choose among:

  • Cottonwood – this variety grows up to 90 feet. Also, it grows fast and has the ability to stay strong despite of long days without water.
  • Maple Tree – this is another variety that grows as big and wide as 50 feet. Though they are mostly seen in the backyard, you still need to check if your space can accommodate such big tree.
  • Pine Trees – one good thing about pine tree is its good lovely foliage that never goes out all year round, it gives great shade and has an amazing height that will surely tower your garden or landscape.
  • White Birch – add this variety on your backyard and you’ll surely love its unique white bark that gradually peels through the years.
  • Oak Tree – this classic tree gives good shade while spreading its wide branches that could reach up to 50 feet. Some varieties grow fast like pin and red oaks while others may take time – it depends on you which one you’ll choose which you feel would add character to your place.

If your place is quite shady then choose varieties that grow in this type of condition. Among those trees are:

  • Balsam Fir – this variety is shade tolerant which typically grows up to 20 meters. This can add texture on your backyard as its young barks turn to rough and scaly when turns old.
  • American Holly – this variety is native of eastern America. It has greenish white flowers which can add beauty to your garden.
  • Southern Magnolia – this tree can grow up to 90 feet if the location fits the variety. It has large, white-scented flowers which makes it a great addition to your garden.
  • Pepperidge Tree – this species is great for wet soils or area prone to flood. Though this may not be common, this distinct specie is ideal for artistic owners who love carving.
  • American Hophornbeam – this brown-bark tree can grow up to 18 meters. It has lovely flowers which are quite interesting. During spring season, new foliage starts to appear.

Enough Space

This is another consideration that you need to mull over. Trees need wide areas to grow well depending on their species but most of them thrive well in spacious backyards. Their roots run deep in the ground and can affect nearby plants so as much as possible, they need to have their own spot in your garden. This will also allow the trees to grow into its full-size which will maximize its beauty and fascinating character.

The Shape

Gardeners tend to have their own choice of favorite trees, apart from its flowers and lush leaves; tree-shape is a big factor. The shape of the tree in your backyard can actually make a huge difference – at afar it can create either a mystique or fierce look which can truly reflect your personality.

  • Cone – this has a common round base becoming narrower while going up. Most conifers have this regular shape like species of blue spruce and magnolia.
  • Round – this is the most common shape like those of round balls. This is ideal for a formal landscape. Species include maple trees and bur oak.
  •  Irregular – this shape have strange and random branches going in all directions. They can create drama into your backyard or garden, some species in this shape are smoke trees and silver maple.
  • Columnar – this shape of tree has uniformed length, usually slim and tall. This is also good to be planted in long straight driveways. Species include cherry and sugar maples.
  • Weeping – these trees vary in size but their leaves seem to be looking down to the ground. This is perfect if you want a good shade in your backyard, varieties will be weeping willows and katsura.
  • Vase – this is mostly used in driveways and streets as they don’t have many branches to block a good view. Its branches usually grow in upward angle with somehow a rectangular-like shape.
  • Horizontal – this variety of tree needs wide space as its branches grow outward in horizontal position. It spreads its branches like birds that are about to fly, varieties include hornbeam and red oak.
  • Fastigiate – they are perfect as windbreaks as they grow in narrow and elongated form. They serve as great hedges or screens to set boundaries. Examples include European Beech.

Trees have distinguishing character that makes them a good influence in whatever backyard setting. Some have great flowers and vibrant fruits which add appeal if you know how to maximize their true value and strength. In addition, they don’t need enough time for maintenance but still continue to grow in good shape the whole year. Their superior presence in your garden or backyard can provide you another opportunity to create better view, you can add some benches or table sets under them. As much as possible, try to have at least one tree in your backyard or garden and sooner or later you will realize their great value.

Winter Plants to Color Your Plain Cool-Season Days

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Winter season is most likely not associated with flowers however real gardeners find ways to use them. During these cold days, it is good to see blooming flowers instead of the plain piles of snow outside. It might need some patience and experience to be able to grow flowers on winter but it’s worth all the effort.

Creating texture and color to your winter is possible through these winter plants. They will not just survive beautifully in the cold days but can showcase their beauty when usual plants are taking their yearly nap. Bring excitement and interest to your home by taking advantage of these winter flowers.

Plants for Your Chilly Landscape

Nature has its way to bring magnificence to your garden despite the freezing temperature. These winter plants know exactly when to flash their bright flowers when everything turns white.

  • Camellias – This plant can thrive during winter as long as the soil is well mulch. Its pink pale flowers can add beauty and height to your garden all throughout the year. It comes in 280 varieties but the most common are Frost Prince, Elain Lee and Snow Flurry.
  • Snowdrops – These bell-shaped nodding-like flowers can be grown in containers ideal for your deck or patios. They may look fragile but in contrast they are strong and tough because the flowers last longer when the weather is colder than usual.
  • Bergenia – This perennial grows well with enough water. It produces large vivid colored flowers usually in shades of white to dark purple. It can withstand slight abuse as long as it is well-watered.
  • Hardenbergia – This is one of the favorite climbing plants during cold days. It looks great when it is twisted in arbors, fences and other shrubby plants. It is a lively wanderer twirling with its purple pea-shaped flowers.
  • Hellebores – This plant is a European import that can survive even if its beds are spotted with snow. Its lovely flowers come in the shades of white to pink and maroon. Hellebores can withstand cold days and don’t require much attention to grow healthy.
  • Fairy Primrose – this plant bear lacy clustered flowers come in white, lavender, pink and magenta shades. They grow well during winter so they are perfect to liven up your space when all other plants can’t. However, be cautious as this is also called poison primrose as it can produce toxic reaction when touched or eaten.

Best Practices to Grow Winter Plants

These varieties of winter foliage are quite sensitive compared to plants that grow well in summer. They give life to your garden when grasses begin to wither and as snow starts to cover the earth.

  • Determine Your Growing Zone – your zone will determine what kinds of plants will survive in your area during winter. It is usually numbered; the lowest number is the coldest zone while the highest represents the hottest zone.
  • Choose the Right Time to Plant – winter plants vary, so determine if the foliage that you are going to plant is either blooming early or late in the winter. This will give you the chance to display their flowers at the right time during winter season.
  • Take Advantage of Raised Beds – instead of growing them directly on flat surface level to your pavements, consider on planting them in raised beds. These beds will somehow lengthen the toughness of their roots from frost damage.

No matter what season of the year it is, gardeners can find ways to add appeal to their home and garden. Winter plants might need extra care that’s why others find it hard to believe that you can possibly maintain a garden during colder days.

Yes, it needs extra effort but who doesn’t want to see vibrant colors amidst the white snow? To top it all, cold-resistant plants are worth all the time, energy and effort. It makes you look forward to another blooming and lively garden in the next winter season.

Best Choices for Houseplants

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Snake plant

Snake plant

Indoor gardening is easy and exciting just like planting outside – the only difference is you are in a controlled and limited space. You will enjoy plants more because you get to see them almost all the time. Indoor gardening doesn’t have to be costly, it depends on how you manage and design them so you won’t end up spending too much.

In growing plants inside your home, there are lots of things to consider for them to grow well. Since you are going to come up with an artificial environment for them, you need to make sure that you give them extra attention.

Best Choices for Houseplants

In making an indoor garden, choosing the right houseplants to grow is crucial.

  • Dracaena – this plant resembles a corn stalk without ears. It has green-yellow-striped leaves that grow upright. You will love its decorative feature that is perfect for home corners.

  • Snake Plant – this can thrive well indoors because it can tolerate neglect very much. So if it happens that you feel unlucky growing houseplants, try this one.

  • Spider Plant – this is a classic plant. Its popularity started decades ago but until now, it never goes out of trend.

  • Boston Fern – though this plant usually thrives outdoors, it can perfectly add beauty to your home as hanging plants. If you keep it moist, you can grow it for a long time.

  • Croton – this shrub looks fantastic with its glossy colorful marked foliage. This is ideal to add vibrance to your place.

What to Consider

Just like any other plants that grow in your garden, though they are well trained to grow indoors, they still have needs that you should give.

  • Humidity – there are species that need a little moist every day. So learn which plants need this and mist them with hand-held spray.

  • Pruning – some indoor plants need to be pruned as often as you can because they grow easily. For them to produce nice little flowers, eliminate dry and damaged leaves.

  • Cleaning – like crotons that easily collect dust and need maintenance to remain its shiny leaves, always check their foliage as they are inside to add appeal on your home.

  • Sunlight – it is normal for plants to look for sunlight so as much as possible, keep them in areas near windows or put them outside for a few hours.

  • Watering – though these indoor plants are usually neglect and water tolerant, they still need it to grow healthy. Just give them enough water to drink that will last for a few days.

  • Nutrients – yes, plants need fertilizers to be healthy but it doesn’t solve everything. These houseplants just need enough of it, don’t put too much or else you’ll end up killing it. Proper water, light and soil are still essential for its overall growth.

  • Keep them away from Pests – though there are no weeds to worry, there are potential pests that will attack your plants. Also, if you have pets in the house, make sure to keep them away because it’s either that your plants will die or your pet will (as some plants are poisonous). So, keep your eyes on them.

Advantages of Growing Houseplants

Spider plant

Spider plant

  • Air Purifier – it removes toxins in the air and releases oxygen.

  • Improving Health – according to studies patients recover fast with plants near them. It also decreases chances of catching a cold, headache and suffering from fatigue.

  • Cooler Environment – plants are releasing moisture in the air which increases humidity.

  • Adds Beauty – these houseplants are the best ornaments inside your home. It gives colors to a bare wall and life to a dull corner.

Growing these houseplants is not hard as long as you know what you’re doing. They offer lots of benefits and need little maintenance. If you are not yet successful in growing them, then maybe after reading this article you will learn something new and apply it to your new venture. This can also be an experiment for you before creating your dream garden outside.

Cymbidium Orchids

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cymorchidCymbidium Orchids are a group of evergreen orchids numbering over fifty different species and are likely the most popular Orchid and one of the easiest to grow.

So easy in fact that you can take it from inside the house to outside from May to September (depending on the region you live in) and enjoy its beauty outdoors!

The Cymbidium Orchid will bring profuse blooms year after year with very little care and maintenance.

Cymbidium Orchid History

Cymbidium Orchids are generally found naturally growing in tropical and subtropical regions such as Asia and parts of Australia.

Cymbidium Orchids, also called Boat Orchids, are a common houseplant in many homes throughout the world and are often moved outdoors during the summer months once the risk of frost has passed. Cymbidium Orchids, along with many other orchid species, are used in many floral arrangements and displays including bridal bouquets and boutonnieres.

In addition to their floral uses, Cymbidium Orchids are also used by many chefs for their culinary value in various dishes including curries.

Growing Cymbidium Orchids

Growing Cymbidium Orchids as a houseplant has gained popularity over the past number of years.

Cymbidium Orchids tend to be more cold tolerant then some of the other Orchid species (the Cymbidium Orchid actually requires a period of cold in order to bloom!) and tolerates variations in temperatures from freezing nights (not to be confused with frost, frost WILL KILL a Cymbidium Orchid!) to the heat of summer, and therefore are more appealing to many houseplant enthusiasts.

Cymbidium Orchids come in a wide variety of colors as well as a variety of sizes. The spikes of waxy blooms are long lasting and big in number.  A number of miniature varieties have been recently introduced that are quite popular as they are smaller and easier to maintain than the larger species.

These particular Orchids, as previously mentioned, require a period of cooler temperatures in order to start the blooming process. As such, Cymbidium Orchids will generally bloom during the winter months producing sprays of blooms that rise above the leaves each season.

Cymbidium Orchids prefer a location with dappled light, and should never be placed in a location that receives full sun. Try an easterly facing window for best results.

You will know you have the right mix of sunlight when your leaves are a nice bright green, dark green leaves are symbolic of an orchid needing more sunlight.

Cymbidium Orchids like to be well watered, especially during the growing months. It is important to ensure that the water does not contain high levels of salt(s) however as this will contribute to “leaf tip dieback” (i.e. those with water conditioners or in areas with high levels of salt in the water should consider allowing the water to flush thoroughly before watering or using bottled water).

When the Orchid is in bloom, less water is required however the plant should never be allowed to dry out completely and the soil should always be damp. Fertilizer should be applied bimonthly using a formulation that is not overly high in nitrogen as this will cause the foliage to grow rather than the blooms to form.


Tips for Keeping Cymbidium Orchids Outdoors

If you are growing your Cymbidium Orchid outdoors, then you will want to ensure that you take the following into consideration:

a)      In a region that has temperatures that are within the 18F to 110F range

b)      That you plant your orchids under the shade of a tree, this will prevent sun scorching

c)       The soil is well drained. Raised beds work particularly well for Cymbidium Orchids when planted outdoors

d)      Adding rock or gravel under your orchids when planting can help with drainage as well as help to keep the roots cool in the winter months. This technique is used by many orchid growers

e)      Consider potting your orchids in the winter – thus making it easier to transfer them indoors if the threat of frost or a freeze arises

More Information

Two excellent resources for further information and study are: North of England Orchid Society as well as Plantdex – Cymbidium Orchid

Image(s) courtesy of: Henryr10, OutdoorPDK