Archive for July, 2015

LIVING ART IS ALIVE AND KICKING

July 28, 2015

IMG_20150623_161502421 (3)You have probably seen them and not knowing what you were looking at thought it was really cool art… or something. A green wall is a wall partially or completely covered with vegetation that includes a growing medium, such as soil. Most green walls also feature an integrated water delivery system. Green walls are also known as living walls, biowalls, ecowalls, or vertical gardens.

Such walls may be indoors or outside, freestanding or attached to an existing wall, and come in a great variety of sizes. As of 2012, the largest green wall covers 2,700 square meters (29,063 square feet or more than half an acre) and is located at the Los Cabos International Convention Center.IMG_20150122_125158534 (3)

Green walls have seen a recent surge in popularity. Many iconic green walls have been constructed by institutions and in public places such as airports and are now becoming common, to improve the aesthetics. For example: Edmonton International Airport(Canada),and Changi International Airport (Singapore).  If you are looking for that modern edge or just want something different for your space, this is an ideal way to go. www.insideplants.net  

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The Perfect House Plants for Neglectful or Forgetful Gardeners

July 22, 2015

DSCF0582Not everybody has a green thumb. But having a brown or even black thumb doesn’t mean you have to give up on having plants. It simply means you have to find the right plants.

Aspidistra
The aspidistra is also known as the “cast iron” plant because of its ability to survive in less than ideal conditions. It has shiny, dark green leaves that grow to 24 inches long and will occasionally produces brownish-purple flowers near its base.

This plant will tolerate pretty much any condition from dust, heat, cold, over-watering, under-watering and lack of light. It is also highly resistant to pests. Its soil should be kept evenly moist, but not constantly wet. Make sure to fertilize it every couple of months if it is kept in dimly lit areas.

Bromeliads
Bromeliads are also known as air plants or air pines and come in over 2,000 varieties. The pineapple is one example of a bromeliad. Bromeliads have thick, fleshy leaves that usually tightly-overlap to form tubular vases.

In the home, plant diseases are rarely a problem for this plant and their leaves are too tough to be bothered by insects. Its foliage will be more vibrant in brighter lights, but they can survive without any direct light and even in artificial light. Keep the center of the plant filled with water and the potting mix just barely moist. The plant should be kept dryer in the winter and have been known to survive for weeks without water.

Dracaena
This is a tall, durable plant with long, leathery, spear-like leaves that point downwards. Foliage comes in a variety of colors such as spotted with yellow or cream, striped white, edged with burgundy, and plain green. It can easily survive indoors even when the conditions are far from ideal.

Dracaenas need plenty of light, filtered through a curtain if indoors. Some varieties do well in fluorescent light while others prefer a sunny window. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy. If soil is allowed to get severely dry, the leaves will yellow or turn brown and die. These plants also prefer humid conditions. You might consider placing the planter on a tray of pebbles that you keep moist to increase the humidity around the plant. They are also resistant to most diseases and are poisonous to pets.

Sansevieria
Commonly known as Snake Plant or Mother-In-Law’s Tongue, this is one of the hardiest houseplants around. The sansevieria has long, spiky, variegated foliage. Mature plants will produce sprays of fragrant pink-white or yellowish flowers, but the flowering is erratic and unpredictable.

Although the sansevieria prefers bright sunlight, it will tolerate a wide range of light levels including darker areas. During the spring, summer and fall, you should only water this plant once every ten days. In the winter, you should only water it once every 1-2 months. Over-watering is virtually the only way this plant can be killed. This plant is poisonous to pets and children.

Zamioculcas Zamiifolia
The zamioculcas zamiifolia is also known as the Aroid Palm or the ZZ Plant. It has thick, fleshy, glossy leaves. It is very tough under indoor conditions and will handle neglect well. It is also very resistant to disease and insects.

The plant does well in lower light levels, but prefers brighter light as long as it is kept out of direct, afternoon sun. Zamioculcas zamiifolia should remain on the dry side and it soil should be allowed to dry out between waterings. If its leaves begin to yellow, it is probably being watered too much.  www.insideplants.net

It’s Getting HOT out There

July 21, 2015

Picture1Its hot out there! And getting hotter! Its hard trying to remind ourselves to stay hydrated and wear sunscreen but its harder to know how to care for your plants. Here is our info on taking care of your leafy green friends during this time of year.

Houseplant tip #1: Warmth
Since most houseplants are tropical, temperatures are important. Most of our homes are warm enough (although cooling it off by a few degrees at night would actually help our little green friends). Most common houseplants dislike hot and dry conditions. They prefer a cooler, more moist condition than is typical in our homes. If you have a thermostat that allows you to adjust the settings, drop the temperature about 10 degrees at night and you will find some plants will reward you for it. For example, Phalaenopsis Orchids tend to bloom with short days and cooler nights!

Houseplant tip #2: Light
Plants need light, but different plants have different requirements. Try to match indoor plants to the environmental condition of your home. There are 3 key aspects of light to keep in mind: Intensity, Duration and Quality.
Intensity is the strength of the light. Duration is the length of time the light is available. Compare an east window with a south window. Quality – there are many artificial light sources, but nothing beats the natural light of the sun!
Another often overlooked secret is to clean the leaves. Dirty leaves block sunlight, glorious sunlight. Wipe the leaves with a damp sponge, or if your plant is easy to move, simply put it in the shower for awhile. Keep the temperature of the water tepid, not warm or cold. Another benefit of showering your plants is that insect populations might be reduced as they might go down the drain with the dust. If you do notice bugs left after you have given your plant a shower a great way to help kill them without harming your plants is to use an insecticidal soap.

Houseplant tip #3: Water
Plants need water. Plants tend to need less water during the winter than when they are actively growing; however, different plants have different water needs. During their active growing season, most tropical plants need moist, but not soggy soil.

Houseplant tip #4: Humidity
During the summer most homes (without air conditioning) have humidity levels in the 40-60% range. This is perfect for indoor plants. It is dry enough to inhibit fungus, but moist enough to keep them comfortable. Desert air has 10-30% humidity…much too dry for all but the cactus and succulents. Rooms, such as the bathroom or kitchen, which tend to have a little higher humidity, are a little more plant friendly. If you want to keep your plants in drier areas, there are some things you can do; adding a humidifier to a room will definitely help, but there are easier ways.

In addition begin fertilizing houseplants now that they are actively growing again. If you want to take your houseplants outdoors, keep them out of full-sun locations until they are fully acclimated to outdoor conditions. Monitor houseplants that are outside for insect problems. Hose them down regularly if you notice spider mite feeding. Houseplants can be combined with flowering annuals in container plantings.
Monitor houseplants kept indoors for mealy bug, spider mites, aphids, whitefly and scale. If spider mites are a problem consider spraying with a labeled horticultural oil or soap. If the plants are large do your spraying outdoors.  www.insideplants.net

Pet Safe Plants

July 17, 2015

Buster_N_Rosie2Having plants in the house is a very easy way to spruce up a room, and they can benefit our indoor air quality as well as our mood. The tricky part can be finding plants that are aesthetically pleasing to us and our particular tastes and safe for our pets.
Cats and dogs sometimes chew on plants, and if the plant contains toxins it can cause intestinal problems and – in bad cases – death. Some plants can be kept high on a shelf or hanging from a hook which can deter a cat or dog from getting to them. But sometimes that isn’t possible.

Here are 8 indoor plants that are safe for pets:

  • Bamboo has a lot of symbolism in different cultures. It is seen as a sign of longevity in Chinese culture and friendship in India. In Vietnamese culture, it symbolizes the spirit of hard and soft, and that the Vietnam nation and values will persist with each new generation.
  • African Violet, a perennial flowering plant that is commonly indoors but may also be planted outdoors. Flowers are usually purple but can be pale blue or white.
  • Lady slipper is a type of orchid that can grow up to 2 feet tall. The flowers range from pink to purple to yellow. It is believed that the plant has tannin oils but there’s been no known effects on pets who may have had contact or chewed on it.
  • Spider Plant, a very common houseplant that is known to reduce indoor air pollution. It can be a hanging plant so that its stems and plantlets can be displayed, or a smaller variation that is ideal for a shelf or end table.
  • Money Tree, Need a little luck? Money trees are thought to bring good fortune to those who place it in their home. As the money tree grows, it will sprout new leaves which unfold into five leaf stems.
  • The cast-iron plant is great for those of us who have black thumbs. It’s a hearty plant that can withstand irregular watering, low humidity, temperature changes, and low-light. This doesn’t mean you can totally forget about this plant, but it is a good option for those of us who lack talent in the gardening area, like me.
  • The ponytail plant is another “set it and forget it” type of plant and can be grown in a shallow pot. It’s a slow-growing plant and can be watered every 1 to 2 weeks. Keep them in bright light.
  • Catnip is a fly and mosquito repellant and can be used as an herbal ailment. Most commonly it is given to cats. Which reminds me, your cat might chew on this one so you may want to keep it somewhere where your cat can’t freely chew on it. You can cut a few leaves off and let your cat roll around and chew on them, as too much might bring out an aggressive response.

Romance With Bromiliads Part 2

July 7, 2015

BromeliadThe general rule is to water bromeliads, and when the soil around them is nearly dry, water them again.  Bromeliads’ leaves grow to form a natural reservoir around the base of the plant. If water collects in the reservoir and sits over time, the roots will rot. Remove water standing in the reservoir to keep the plant free of disease. These plants prefer moist air, so if relative humidity drops below 50 percent, mist the plant to keep it moist.

Bromeliads generally do not have problems with pests. If a dark mold from scale develops on the leaves, remove the mold with soapy water. Mosquitoes may become a problem if the water at the base of the plant is not drained regularly.

Under effective conditions, bromeliads will blossom with showy flowers. You can force mature plants to flower by placing the plant in a clear plastic bag with a ripe apple. Gases released by the apple will prompt the bromeliad to blossom. Remove the bag from the plant, and water it as usual. You can expect the plant to flower in six to 14 weeks.

As always, call us with questions and we’ll be happy to design an idea around your favorite room or favorite plant!  www.insideplants.net

Facts about Fourth of July Traditions

July 6, 2015

july-4thOur country’s birthday was once again upon us, so it’s a good time to check out some of the facts about our favorite Fourth of July traditions.

Picnics are always on the agenda, and what seems to be the “official meat product” of the Fourth are hot dogs. It’s said that roughly 155 million dogs are consumed on Independence Day alone. But before the invention of the hot dog, what did the founders feast on? On that very first day of independence in 1776, the meal for John Adams and wife Abigail included turtle soup, poached salmon, peas and boiled potatoes (which, strangely enough, happens to be among the ingredients in some hot dogs). For dessert, the couple had a treat called apple pandowdy, similar to apple cobbler. No reports of a scoop of ice cream on top of that pandowdy.

One of the fun tunes sung on the Fourth is “Yankee Doodle” — a song actually crooned by British officers to make fun of those “backwoods” defenders of the colonies. When you think of the lyrics, satirical use of the song makes sense. Although the words have been tweaked over the centuries, the most popular version goes like this:
Yankee Doodle went to town
A-riding on a pony
Stuck a feather in his cap
And called it macaroni
To truly appreciate the sarcasm of the lyrics, it’s important to note that “doodle” is most likely a derivative of the German slang word “dudel,” meaning a fool or dunce, and “macaroni” refers to a clownish, oversized wig worn as a part of a foppish masquerade costume.

You may have heard that instead of having the bald eagle represent the new country, Benjamin Franklin suggested the mighty turkey. He said the eagle just sits around on a tree, watching other birds catch their prey then snatches it from them. Franklin concluded that the eagle was a bird of “bad moral character.” On the other hand, the turkey was a “true original native of America,” and “though a little vain and silly” it is a “bird of courage,” suggesting it would even attack the Red Coats if they invaded its territory.

If you’re waiting to hear the Liberty Bell ringing out loud and clear on the Fourth, you better be ready to strain your ears. Because of that big crack, the Liberty Bell is only tapped 13 times on Independence Day — 13, of course, for the number of original colonies.

The 13 stars representing the first colonies were formed in a circle on a field of blue on one of the early versions of the American flag. The circle signified unity and represented the fact that no one state was more important than the other in the newly formed nation.

John Hancock’s signature is not only the biggest of the 56 inked at the bottom of the Declaration of Independence, but it’s said that Hancock was the only member to sign on July 4, 1776. All other signers added their own “John Hancock” on August 2 or later. Technically, it should be noted that Hancock’s “famous” signature was added after the Fourth as well. But Hancock, in his role as president of the Continental Congress, signed his name on the original document before it was sent to the printer on July 4. During the duplication process, however, it’s believed the original document was destroyed. The founders, including Hancock, signed one of the copies on or after August 2, 1776.  www.insideplants.net


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