If you travel through the Pacific Islands or northern Queensland a plant you’ll find hard to miss in the gardens, parks and streetscapes, is the brilliantly leaved Acalypha, also known as Fijian Fire Plant, Beefsteak Plant or Salt Bush. These plants have large, medium or small leaves with flashes of red, yellow, pink and bronze. The leaves may be margined or striped with colour, and they may be rounded, narrow, triangular, rectangular, heavily toothed or quite lacy in shape. Plants also vary in size, from tall shrubs, some 3 to 4 metres (10-14 feet) high and wide to compact bushes less than 1 metre (3 feet) high and wide.
The name Acalypha comes from the Greek akalephes – a nettle. The genus includes some 450 to 460 species. Wilkesiana commemorates Rear Admiral Charles Wilkes, an American Naval Officer who explored the South Pacific during the late 1830s and early 1840s.
Despite their great diversity, the plants we grow are not hybrids, but are cultivars of one species,Acalypha wilkesiana. What’s more, recent research suggests they may represent mutations of a single or limited number of clones. Cultivated acalyphas, like many other popular foliage plants from the Pacific region, seem to be quite unstable and prone to throwing up branches of differing colour or shape. Occasionally they revert back to the parent plant, giving us an idea of their origins, but more rarely they throw up something entirely new. So keep your eyes open, as you might have something very special in your own garden.
Fragrant, fast-growing, and one of the most used culinary herbs– Mint can be grown indoors. Growing mint indoors is easy and doesn’t require many efforts!
Herbs can be grown indoors and mint is one of them. However, mint (or any other herb) growing indoors can’t grow as vigorously as outdoors. Still, you can enjoy those freshly picked leaves year-round, even in winters!
People enjoy plants both inside and outside of their homes. Container gardening, which is a planting method in which flowers and other plants are grown in pots and other containers, is quite popular because of design versatility. Containers can be moved from location to location if plants are not thriving in a particular spot. They also make gardening possible when there isn’t any available land space, which might be the case for apartment-dwellers.
Flower pots enable plant enthusiasts to enjoy foliage inside of the home as well. Houseplants can add beauty to interior spaces and help filter indoor air. House plants have been shown to purify indoor air.
Several plants are particularly good at filtering out common volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Having plants around can create inviting spaces and improve healthy conditions inside and out.
Part of caring for plants in containers involves knowing when a potted plant might need a little tender loving care. As plants grow larger, they may outgrow their containers and require more roomy quarters. Without ample space, plants may not be able to adequately draw up water and nutrients to support top growth. Repotting may seem like it is easy, but it actually takes a little finesse so not to damage the plants.
Gardening experts like those from Fine Gardening, HGTV and Today’s Homeowner suggest these repotting tips:
Observations showed that hoverflies, skippers, and parasitic wasps (such as the sphecid wasp shown here on Coreopsis ‘Cosmic Eye’) were frequent visitors to butterfly and conservation gardens. – Credit: Bethany A. Harris
Ornamental plants for conserving bees, beneficial insects
October 13, 2016
American Society for Horticultural Science
Insects play a vital role in ecosystem health, helping to aerate soil, keeping the natural system in balance, and preventing detrimental pests from taking over essential natural resources. Additionally, insects provide critical biological services such as pollination and biological controls. The authors of a study say that flowering ornamental plants have the potential to support beneficial insect communities, such as pollinating bees, wasps, and predatory plant bugs.
Bethany A. Harris, S. Kristine Braman, and Svoboda V. Pennisi from the University of Georgia conducted visual observations and sampled via sweep nets to assess the potential of flowering ornamentals to act as a conservation resource for pollinators. “By monitoring pollinator and beneficial insect occurrence within habitat management sites, ornamental plant species can be evaluated for their arthropod attractiveness and the provision of arthropod mediated ecosystem services,” said Bethany Harris, lead author of the study.
The research included visual observations and sweep-net sampling in four research plots at the University of Georgia’s Griffin Campus. The plots, called the “Butterfly” and “Conservation” Gardens, included 74 commercially available annual and perennial herbaceous and shrub ornamentals, including exotic and native plant species.
“The gardens attracted a diverse population comprised of pollinators (30+ species and 16+ families) and beneficial insects (20+ species and 9+ families),” Harris noted. Hoverflies, skippers, predatory plant bugs, and parasitic wasps were frequent visitors to Butterfly and Conservation Gardens. “In addition, species of native bees were identified in the gardens, suggesting that pollinator habitats could be created in southeastern landscapes using these taxa.”
Celosia, Gaura, Lantana, and Nepeta xfaasseniiwere some of the most-visited plants by both pollinators and beneficial insects. “This could be due to the vibrant colors, rich nectar and pollen supply, and the variety of floral inflorescences these plants possess,” Harris said. Agastache and Celosiawere the most frequently visited by pollinators among 74 plant taxa.
It’s hard to resist those tropical beauties in the garden center each spring. We’ve all succumbed to the imposing leaves of elephant ear (Colocasia) and the striking colors of cannas. Trumpet-flowered Mandevilla grows nicely in a container and can cover a fence in never ending color, at least until frost. Then there are banana trees, which will probably never produce bananas for us, but make quite the statement in the garden none the less.
And who isn’t charmed by Brugmansia, or Angel’s Trumpet, with its foot-long trumpet horn flowers that obligingly hang upside down, so we can fully take in their heady scent.
These tropical plants add a touch of the exotic to our gardens, providing a taste of warmer climates for however long our summers may last. But they don’t come cheap and to grow a really impressive specimen takes years. Growing them as annual plants seems a waste of not just all the resources you put into buying and caring for the plants, but also the plants themselves. However if you want to enjoy your tropical plants for years to come, you will need to find somewhere safe to store them for the winter.
That can vary from plant to plant. Some plants will happily go dormant, grateful to have the winter off and a little downtime to regain their stamina. Others make excellent indoor plants, if you have a spot with enough sun and you can control the heat and humidity.
Get a garden program growing at your school with these tips
(BPT) – As a parent, you probably spend a lot of time trying to keep your kids clean and healthy, but sometimes a little dirt is just what the doctor ordered.
Research shows a direct link between children’s current and future health and their participation in gardening. In fact, kids who garden are more likely to stick with the hobby as adults, have a higher likelihood of excelling in group work and are typically more inclined to eat healthful fruits and vegetables when given the option, according to a compilation of research summarized by the Children and Nature Network.
School garden programs
While some children develop a green thumb at home, research by a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation program indicates a growing number of kids are learning about gardening in school — a tactic that’s proving to be a popular, effective way of teaching children important life and nutritional skills.
A survey by Tractor Supply Company, which sponsors the “Dig It” school garden program, found 75 percent of polled adults believe hands-on learning is more effective than memorization and 97 percent believe hands-on activities help kids develop a more positive outlook on learning.
Starting a program
If you’re a parent or teacher whose elementary school doesn’t yet have a gardening program, Tractor Supply offers some tips on how to get one started:
On Sept. 20, 2016, FAO’s Director-General José Graziano da Silva addressed the United Nations General Assembly celebrating the United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition. and said:
“The 10 years running until 2025 will be a critical time for action to build healthy and sustainable food systems and end malnutrition in all its forms. The purpose of the Decade of Action on Nutrition is to continue to draw the world`s attention to the importance of combatting malnutrition”.
Knowing that CONTAINER GARDENING is one of the most effective tools for combatting malnutrition at home and in schools, the 71.000 members of this group are wondering if container gardening is really a part of the work plan of WHO and FAO, focusing their efforts on two main objectives: “One is assisting governments in building national policies and programs that advance nutrition. The other is to align the efforts of existing global initiatives and social movements towards common goals. To support concrete action on nutrition programs, both agencies will further organize special meetings to strengthen countries’ technical capacities to tackle new nutrition challenges”.
Am I blind or have I missed container gardening somewhere ?
It remains good to know that more and people on all continents are growing fresh food for daily consumption in a panoply of containers. It is a recognisable signal for governments and international aid organizations that this is the most direct road to solving the malnutrition problem, particularly for children.