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Propagating Indigo through Plant Cuttings

Written by Mindy on March 30th, 2019

Indigo belongs to a large genus (Indigofera) by which is also shared with the pea. While this plant is better known for its dye making ability, it also is a wonderful landscape plant due to its colorful flowers that butterflies love. Depending on the species, this plant can be a shrub to a small tree in size. Since this plant is a tropical one, its USDA Plant Hardiness Zones are limited to mostly 6b to 8b but there are species that can have a broad range of 4b to 8b. Keep in mind though that in some warmer climates this plant has become invasive so prior to planting make sure to check with your state’s extension agent.

propagate.indigoPropagating indigo through cuttings is not difficult and begins with finding that friend with an indigo plant. Once you have your indigo source and the permission, the next step is the prep. First, you will need to clean and sterilize your knife by soaking it in a pan of water with a bit of bleach added. After it has soaked for awhile, scrub to clean it and rinse in clear water. The next item on the to-do list prior to cutting is to decide if you are going to water root or plant in soil. Both techniques will be covered.

The simplest way to root your indigo cutting is through water rooting. What is required is a three to four inch cutting that has been removed from the mother plant at an angle. Remove all the lower leaves except the top one or two leaf pairs. Now, simply place your cutting in a glass or jar of water. When doing this though make sure that no leave touch the water. Change the water every other day and in about a week you should see roots. At this point the cutting is ready to be planted in a container.

If you prefer to plant your cutting in a potting medium, the process is the same but requires a few extra steps. First, clean and sterilize a shallow container. This is easily done like you sterilized your knife. Once the pot has been sterilized and is dry, fill with soil that has been moistened. Next, make a hole in the moist soil with a pencil and place one-third of your cutting in the hole. Move the soil around the cutting and repeat. As described above for the water rooting, remove the lower leaves.

After all the cuttings have been processed, mist the soil surface and place the pot on a sunny windowsill. In about a week your cutting(s) will show signs of new growth. This is an indication that roots have formed. Once this happens, plant the rooted cutting(s) in individual containers. Prior to moving to the garden, make sure to harden off the new plants.


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How to Care for Pavonia Brazilian Candles

Written by Mindy on March 20th, 2019

For many of us, this is a plant that you have never heard of but once you have one you will wonder how you lived without it. But before we move one to how to care for this plant, you need to understand two things. First, as the name hints at, this plant is from the tropics. The second thing that you need to understand is that for most of us, this means this plant is a houseplant, at least for part of the year. Now that we understand this, let’s move on to how to care for this tropical plant.

pavonia.brazilian.candlesWhen it comes to this plant, you will need to keep it in a warm room that is kept between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If this plant gets in a pickle though, such as if your power goes out, it can survive a brief period between 30 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Once you have the proper room selected, you will need to address the sunlight requirement. Pavonia Brazilian Candles can survive with any amount of sunlight except full shade but keep in mind, the more sunlight the better the plant will bloom. While this plant in the wild will bloom only in the spring and fall this tropical plant in the right indoor environment can be encouraged to bloom other times.

Beyond the room temperature and sunlight requirement, this plant also requires a good amount of humidity. During the warm months when this plant can be placed outside the humidity level is not a problem. On the other hand, during the winter keeping the proper amount of moisture in the air can be a challenge. To help with this place your houseplant on a humidity tray which consists of a saucer filled with stones and water. Once this is made, simply place your potted plant on top. Make sure there is always water in the saucer to keep the humidity level up.

At this point, you may be wondering in what form you can find this plant. This tropical beauty can be found at garden nurseries and florists as a potted plant. If you have a friend that has one of these plants, ask them if you can take softwood cutting in the spring and/or harvest seeds.

Prior to returning your plant to the indoor environment, make sure to transplant it into a larger pot that has been sterilized and filled with a soil that is loamy in nature. Keep the soil evenly moist year round. When it comes to feeding your tropical friend, make sure to use a fertilizer formulation that is higher in phosphorus than any of the other plant nutrients. Do not know which number indicates this, do not worry just make sure that the middle number is always the highest. While your plant should only be fed once a month, it should only be fed at half strength and you should follow it with an additional watering to prevent root burn. Yes, you will lose some of your fertilizer but it is better to follow this step verses killing your plant.


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Growing Eugenia Plants Indoors

Written by Mindy on March 10th, 2019

Believe it or not there are over 1,000 different species of Eugenia found in the tropics. One that has made its home in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 9b through 11 is the Brazilian Cherry tree. While this specimen can tolerate no weather below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, there is one in this genus that can survive temperatures down to 25 degrees Fahrenheit. What is this plant? It is the Australian Brush Cherry. While it does fine in the ground as a hedge, it also works as a houseplant in areas where the winter may be a bit too cold. Before we jump into this, keep in mind that it will take more work to grow this plant as a houseplant compared to a landscape specimen.


When it comes to successfully growing this plant indoors, there are few things one must plan for. First, this plant likes a moist soil but not wet. A too damp soil will cause the roots to rot. Second, since this plant grows large you will need to commit to pruning it several times a year. Third, since it is a large plant you will also need to commit to using a large pot, which you may or may not have the space for. Lastly, this plant can tolerate partial shade but does much better in full sun. This can be a challenge when it comes to finding the space in your home where your plant can receive full sun.

Once you have decided to grow the Australian Brush Cherry, you will need to select a container. While a plastic one will work, I am more of a fan of the terra cotta. The reason for this is the fact that the plastic will hold moisture in the soil and it is light. Since this plant grows so fast, it is better to use a container with weight, such as one made from pottery or terra cotta.

After you have your container, sterilize the pot by placing it in a basin of water with a capful of bleach. Scrub to remove any debris. Once that is done, rinse in clear water. Next, place drainage material such as pieces of broken pots in the bottom of the container and mix your soil. Yes, an all-purpose potting soil will work but to increase drainage add a couple of handfuls of sand, mix well and add to the container. At this point, you are ready to plant your Australian Brush Cherry.

To help support your young plant, gently tie it to a stake with garden twine. This should only remain until the plant’s roots take hold.  Now, you can prune your plant so that it looks like a “tree” by pruning away all the branches except a central leader or you can allow it to grow bushy. Keep in mind though that throughout the growing season, you will need to harshly prune the plant back to control growth.

Beyond this care, keep your plant indoors during the times that the temperatures hovering around 32 degrees Fahrenheit. In the summer, place your plant outside but to aid in moving the planted container, consider placing the pot on a plant stand that has wheels. This will make moving the plant inside and out easier.


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Forcing Iris Bulbs for Winter Enjoyment

Written by Mindy on March 1st, 2019

Nothing beats having a hint of spring in your home during the dreary winter months. While many people force tulips, paperwhites, daffodils, hyacinths, and the famous amaryllis, did you know that you can also force iris bulbs. Well, you can and it is easier than what you think.


To begin this process, you will need to pull out your calendar. Why? Well, the iris bulb requires 13 to 15 weeks of chill time before it can be forced to bloom. Once you have the date by which you want to begin the blooming process, you will need to count back and prepare to chill your bulbs. At this point, you have two choices in how this is done. One way is to plant the bulbs and then chill them. While this works wonderfully, I have found that this can be somewhat troublesome because planted containers take up a lot of room. A different approach is to simply chill the bulbs and plant them after the chilling process is done. This is the technique that I choose to force my bulbs.

Another factor to consider is where you store your bulbs during the chilling process. Any bulb storage needs to be located in a cool environment away from any organic material that may ripen or decompose. When you talk about placing your bulbs in the fridge, you are talking about having no fresh fruits or vegetables in the fridge during this process. For me, this is not possible so I have a small refrigerator by which I chill my bulbs. If you do not have a separate fridge for this purpose, chill your bulbs in the basement or unheated garage.

Once the chilling process is complete, select your container. Unless you are planting dwarf irises, you will need a deep pot that can hold the height of this bulb. You will also need one that has a drainage hole in the bottom to keep the bulb from getting too wet. Next, add drainage material and top this layer with an all-purpose potting soil mix. Place your iris bulbs on top of this planting medium and continue to fill with soil until you reach the neck of the bulb. After all the bulbs have been planted, water the bulbs in until you see moisture trickle out the bottom of the pot.

Place your planted container in a warm room but gradually expose the bulbs to sunlight until the leaves break ground. After this happens, display your forced bulbs in a location that receives full sun. Continue to water as needed and in two to three weeks your iris bulbs will greet you with colorful blooms.


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Product Review: Stanley Folding Saw

Written by Mindy on February 20th, 2019

Ok, I have to admit there are times that I am just lazy as a gardener and yes, there are times that I use the wrong tool for the task just because I do not want to have to walk up to the garden shed for the correct tool but…….with a little planning and the right product, you will not have to. This is where the Stanley Folding Saw comes into play.


To begin with, this saw is so compact that it easily fits into my garden bucket that I carry around with me as I walk in my garden space. While I have placed a saw in my garden carryall, I always seem to brush my arm against the teeth of the saw and in doing so at least scraping my arm and at worst, cutting myself. The fact that the blade folds up makes it a wonderful and safe addition to my transportable gardening tool box.

The other point I like to bring to light is the hole in the handle by which I can run a rope or other attachment through for securing it to a number of things. This includes my gardening tool belt, belt loop or even the handle to my gardening bucket. This saves me time and energy when it comes to finding the tool when I need it. Also, it allows me to simply go out on my property with a few tools on my person and hands-free to continue with my gardening to-do list.

All in all, I give this tool two green thumbs up but….what makes it a wonderful garden tool also creates a problem. What is this? Well, it is the fact that it is foldable. When cutting plant material, there will come a time by which you need to remove diseased parts of a plant. In the best situation, you would wipe down the saw after every use to prevent contaminating the next cut but… a hurry to get the garden chores done; many people will forget to do this step. Once the saw is closed, the disease and/or pest will be in the folded part of the handle and will continue to spread every time you open and close the saw. While there is no sure way of preventing this due to the design of this product, just always remember to wipe down the cut surface after every cut regardless if you view it disease or not. If in doubt, soak the entire saw in a bucket of water that has had a capful of bleach added. This should be enough to kill any plant diseases and/or pests that may remain after use.