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Roses & Tropical Houseplants

Roses

Many gardeners give up on their roses in the summer, believing they produce quality flowers only in the spring. Rose blossoms do tend to be smaller in the summer and the colors not quite as vivid because the summer heat forces the blooms to open before blossom size and color pigment have completely developed. But given the proper care, combined with a few simple pruning techniques, roses will re-bloom every six weeks until the first frost.
There are two ways to prune roses during the growing season, and both will encourage new blooms to set. Most roses have leaflets (with three to seven leaves) every couple of inches along the stems. In order to produce blooms you need to prune at least to the second five-leafed leaflet. (Pruning just above will eliminate nasty dead stems called coat hangers.)

If you also want to prune for size control, you can go as far down as two leaflets above the previous cut. Pruning beyond the previous cut tells the rose you don’t want it to bloom. Remember that hybrid tea and grandiflora rose stems tend to grow at least 18 inches after each pruning before blooming, so if you prune only the minimum amount you will have a very tall (and possibly leggy) rose by the end of summer.

Because roses are constantly growing, they are in constant need of food. It’s important to feed roses every 6-8 weeks with a quality rose food. Continue feeding through September, and you will have quality rose blooms into fall. So don’t give up on your roses. With a little help, they will provide loads of blooms for you all season long.

Tropical Houseplants

There are many people who really love to have live plants in containers in their homes or on their patios. A subset of these plant lovers simply can’t grow houseplants. So, no matter how hard they try, how many plants they buy, all plants in their hands will die. How sad. Garden centers, if they knew the plight of that special orchid or palm tree, would hesitate to let the plant go to such a plant lover/plant killer’s home!

Well, there is a bright solution for these people, lovers of plants but born with a talent for killing them. There are plants that will take the abuse without a second thought!

Here is a nice short list. These plants are very attractive – and they don’t ask for much in the way of care. They will grace your home without your having to switch to silk substitutes!

Aspidistra (Cast Iron Plant)
This plant gained its name for an excellent reason. It can take just about any growing condition. From a bright window to a corner with no light at all, it will be happy. The plant is a single stem with a long (~2′) narrow, dark green leaf. There is also a variety with some variegated white stripes. It grows in clusters and can be divided if it becomes too full.

Beaucarnea (Ponytail Palm)
This one is an interesting-looking plant that has a bulbous, rounded base or ‘trunk’. The foliage is long, narrow, and strappy, arching out from a central stem – resembling a ponytail. It needs minimal watering – it likes to be watered well, but then prefers to dry out (sound familiar?).

Dracaena Sanderiana (Lucky Bamboo)
In spite of its name, this is really not a bamboo. But it is an easy plant to grow. Usually, you will see it in garden centers or gift shops in nice vases with the roots immersed in water. So, all that you will need to remember to do is occasionally add water. This plant also would be happy having the roots planted into soil, but for those of you who have trouble with watering, growing this in water would be more “lucky” for you!

Dracaena Sanderiana
Dracaena Deremensis Compacta
This dracaena, a cousin of the larger trees, is a beautiful compact form. The foliage is dark green, glossy, lance-like leaves. It tolerates any light levels and lack of water. If you have forgotten to water your plant, deep soak the plant by submerging into a bucket of water for an hour or so. It will forgive you instantly and continue to grow happily wherever you choose to put it.

Peperomia
Wonderful heart-shaped leaves and a number of varieties; you could have a peperomia with white and green foliage, or deeply grooved green heart shaped foliage. The leaves are thick and hold water. Lucky for those of you who forget to water, they will hold water for a long period. This does not mean “no water”, but it’s definitely more drought tolerant that most other household plants. Some varieties are great for indoor hanging baskets. They will grow in full sun, part sun or under fluorescent lights.

Sansevieria (Mother-in-Law Tongue)
Hardy, hardy, hardy. That is not the origin of this plant’s name, however. The thick, elongated, pointed leaf must have borne some resemblance to someone’s mother-in-law, once upon a time. This plant is drought tolerant, and flexible in its sun/shade needs. It could also have the name “cast iron plant” for the amount of neglect that it can take. It is a wonderful plant to have in your collection. There are many, many varieties, sizes, and shapes. Have fun collecting this plant!

Sansevieria
We guarantee that you will love one or all of the plants described. You will love them for their beauty but also for the practice of grace and forgiveness that the plant will teach you! That’s right. They will survive wrong lighting, draftiness, stale air, and even suffer through lack of watering (though even these hardy ones need water from time to time).

For your new plants, find an attractive pot made from clay, ceramic, glazed pottery, metal – or even a hanging basket – in which to display them. And above all, have fun plant shopping!

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