Dec 16, 2015

Dec 22, 2014

Pretty Poinsettias

I am frequently asked for preferred plants to add to indoor décor. Poinsettia is definitely growing to be one of my favored ones. Though it is not one of the ‘hardy’ plants that beginner gardeners should look for, amateur ones should give it a try.

Ponsettias definitely add color and drama to the indoor décor – they are light weight, small plants which are easy to alternate between drawing room and balcony… Lately, newer colors are becoming available in the market, which are good for creating variety in the garden.

Tip for décor
A lone Ponsettia doesn’t create much of an impact, its best to line it up in a group of 3-4.

Buying a poinsettia
Look for dark green leaves and a healthy shine.
Look for multiple shoots to yield heavy flowering
Stoopy leaves and bracts must be avoided  

Care for your ponsettias
  • Soil:- The usual well-drained moist soil works well. Do not let the container dry out completely
  • Moving around:- Be careful with the stem as it is rather brittle and difficult to grow back easily.
  • Flowering:- Poinsettias required some bit of effort to flower. Post monsoon (around late September till mid-November), give the plants at least 12 hours of complete darkness – and 12 hours of bright sun.
  • Propagation:- They are difficult to propagate, and in my experience, stem cuttings don’t really work. Best way would be to buy them directly from nurseries and maintain them well.
  • Avoid:- Ponsettias generally don’t do well in strong sun and frost. So, a shady balcony during summers and a sunny location during winters is a good bet.
  • Others:- Pointing multiple poinsettia in the same pot is not a good idea. Also, if you are looking for perennial plants but do not want to care for it, poinsettias are not the ones for you.

Feb 20, 2014

A rose is a rose...

There are flowers, there are exotic flowers, there are giant flowers, there are bunch-blooming flowers... but then a rose is a rose J

Look at my beauties this year... 

Classical Stem Roses...

Giant bunch roses                                Pink Stem beauty


and more...

and some more... :)

Feb 19, 2014

Vasant Ritu... Time to prune your rose plants

Well, we are past the days of extreme cold, icy fog, and the long awaited Vasant Ritu is finally here...! This is one of the best times of the year for a Delhi gardener... The sun is nice & bright and temperatures pleasant – that is what most of the flowering plants need, don’t they! No wonder the famed Mughal Gardens (at Rashtrapati Bhawan) are open to public at this time of the year. I have been there once (two years back I think) and was disappointed, but I think now Mr. Mukherjee being the resident, I must make another trip.

January/ February is also one of the best season for roses. The onset of spring is also the time when you would need to prune your rose plants. And how would you know that the ‘spring’ has really set in? While you can rely on the Hindu calendar month and ‘Basant Panchmi’ – your roses are the best tellers themselves!

It is that time when you would see new shoots developing from the stems as well as new leaves at the top of existing shoots. If the sun has been (and is expected to, check weather forecast) be a daily visitor for the next couple of days , then, YES, this is the time...! 

The idea behind pruning is to encourage new growth and better blooms. So, here we start.

Take a hard look at your rose plants:
  1. Remove any dead (black/ brown) wood.
  2. The stronger stems should be trimmed back a bit (2/3rd is a good thumb rule)
  3.  The weak stems should be removed.
  4. Dead flowers should be removed (you should not wait for spring for this. This should be a regular maintenance part)
  5. Remove sucker growth:

o   This is very important in the home gardening context, as most of the roses that we buy are grafted ones.
o   The word ‘sucker’ is actually incorrect, because the ‘target’ plant is grafted on an inferior plant. So, in a way we are calling the ‘original’ plant the ‘sucker’ :p
o   The ‘inferior’ plant will not produce any blooms. Poor baby L, however, it doesn’t know this very well and will try to produce its own shoots, especially during the spring time!
o   For clearing the suckers, it is important to carefully look for the ‘grafted joint’.... any growth below this (whether from the root or on the stem) is a ‘sucker’. refer the picture below.
o   You need to remove these ‘sucker’ stems because this will stunt the growth of the rose plant (‘target’).
o   If it is a sucker growing on the stem, carefully cut it from as close to the stem as possible...
o   If it is a sucker growing from the root, try to extract it from the roots, as shown below.

o   Again, you should not wait for spring for this. Removal of suckers should be a regular maintenance part, however, you would notice a considerable jump in sucker growths during spring and monsoons.

Once you are done pruning... Don't forget to put in some extra rose food to assist blooming... This should preferably be done 1-2 days after pruning. If you are a weekend gardener, just put it at the same time, lest your forget it altogether!

Time to say happy pruning gardeners!

Jan 8, 2014

Hanging garden

Space is one of the most common constraints an urban gardener faces… Solutions are easy to prescribe but a tad difficult to implement. However, one of the simplest solutions is baskets.

While you can not completely do away with pots, hanging baskets do have their own pros:
  • Ease of display: They are better visible from outside a balcony
  • Doesn’t occupy the precious square foot of an apartment balcony
  • Lighter to lift and rearrange
  • Planting and replanting are easier: You just need to dig out few palm-fulls rather than a 16” pot.
  • Better suited to plants with smaller roots:

Few snapshots from my basket show for this winter:

And yours??

Chrysanthemums (Guldoudi) update

Remember our little chat regarding planting guldoudis....

As the guldoudis' season recedes in Delhi, here is a quick look on how my grownups looked around November/ December.

My wild picks from neighbourhood park resulted in two containers of soft pinks blooms: I love :D

Planting early meant I had a good show for at least two good months. Not bad, I say!!

Dec 16, 2013

Winters are here!! ... Happy Dahlias to you

There are winter flowers and then there is Dahlia J

Gigantic flowers in attention-seeking shades. Symmetrical flowers... a photographers delight....!

The initial method of caring for a dahlia sapling is more or less similar to Chrysanthemums (see earlier post). They can be started using tubers (you can use last years’ produce), but from my experience, fresh plants procured from nursery or raised from seeds are a much better bet.

Caring for the full grown plant becomes much more important in Dahlia. Dahlia flower is a heavy flower and hence the plant must be supported using wooden stakes (or something similar).
The second significant thing is pruning – though we would love Dahlias to bloom like a Chrysanthemum plant, but it would not! And hence a good gardener must be less greedy and prune her Dahlias to let only a couple of healthy buds to survive. This is essential for heavier, healthier flowers.  
Thirdly, a good sun is essential for blooming however, too much of heat can burn out the flowers which otherwise can survive for weeks together in Delhi winters.

Happy Dahlias to you... This years’ beauties...