New Houseplants and Other Plant Advice
Where to Buy New Houseplants
Garden centres are among the best places to buy houseplants. Many have large, purpose-built areas with plenty of light and a constant temperature, where trained staff maintain the plants and are on hand to offer advice. You may be lucky enough to have a specialist indoor plant nursery nearby. If so, these are the best places to buy from. You will be able to see how the plants have been grown and to talk directly to the grower about the best plant for you.
Avoid buying houseplants from market stalls or from the outside of florists. Even if it is a warm day, it is likely that these plants have had to sit outside in far cooler conditions and will have suffered from the cold. They are unlikely to thrive after such a shock to the system. Some supermarkets have occasional deals on houseplants. However, supermarkets have far from ideal conditions for houseplants. The plants are likely to have been kept away from natural light, sometimes in draughty conditions and looked after by untrained staff, so they are best avoided, even if the price is tempting.
Tips for Training, Pruning and Repotting
Training a young standard, is very straightforward. The plant is moved into progressively larger pots until a 6-in. size is used. Staking is important at all times. A larger cane should be provided as necessary, and the main stem must be tied in with raffia or garden twine at regular intervals. When the desired height is reached, the growing tip is pinched out to produce a bushy head.
Pruning a standard fuchsia involves cutting back all the sideshoots to within two or three joints, during spring time. The result may look rather severe, but this is essential if a tangled mass of growth is to be avoided.
Repotting a mature standard fuchsia is sometimes necessary when the plant begins to look somewhat straggly after becoming potbound. A pointed stick is used to tease out some of the old from amongst the roots, taking care not to damage them. The plant should then be to a clean pot of the same size. Fresh should then be trickled in around the sides of the pot, and firmed with the aid of a rammer.
, and Bulbs: Faithful Companions
Annuals,and bulbs have one thing in common: they are the plants, temporary or permanent, that come to the rescue when needed, filling a garden with life, colour and scent and marking the changing seasons with their regular appearance.
Annuals cram a life-time into a single season, literally flowering themselves to death, while biennials take two years to complete their cycle. Bulbs, on the other hand, continue to come up faithfully year after year, to astonish afresh with their exquisite flowers, be they tiny snowbells or flamboyant.
Annuals and biennials can fill gaps and corners of bedding schemes with almost instant colour and spill cheerfully from tubs and window-boxes, while bulbs, with their straight stems, have an altogether more severe image. All are indispensable, however, for they fill the garden canvas with all the colours of the rainbow, with minimal help from the gardener.
Cultivation of Fast Growing Plants
If the cultivation of fast-growing plants is managed carefully, cellulose can be produced time and time again from the same piece of land. In other words, unlike oil it is a renewable resource. Energy derived from plants – from burning wood, charcoal, plant residues or animal dung (a by-product of plants) is known as biomass energy or bio-energy. It is not a new idea; after all, we have been burning wood for thousands of years. Our fuel of the future may even be derived from bacteria breaking down cellulose products to produce biogas, a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide. In fact, production of biogas is already a commercial operation in several parts of the world. Animal dung is used to fuel biogas plants in China (from pigs) and in India (from cattle), producing compost for farmers and biogas to power electricity generators.
The discovery that the water hyacinth, Eichhornia crassipes, which can be seen floating on pools in the Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew Gardens, is a potential biogas producer, makes it doubly attractive. Although this tropical aquatic plant is a pest in many countries, because it grows so rapidly and soon chokes waterways, it is effective in removing nitrates from the water. It can be costly to remove plants from waterways and dump them on land, but if they are fermented and used for biogas production, the operation could well prove to be profitable.