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Archive for June, 2010

Hoya Carnosa

I’m not crazy about hoya, but I do have a few of them.

A family friend gave us a hoya cutting many, many years ago. She assured us that the plant was easy to care for. “… and the flowers look like pearls,” she said.

She was right; the hoya is an easy plant.

The cutting survived all these years, taking rough handling and neglect in its stride. It didn’t grow much, but at least it didn’t die. And it definitely never bloomed.

A few years ago, I decided to speed things up a little and bought myself a pot of hoya carnosa.

The twining plant was covered with luxuriant leaves and had umbels of waxy blooms.

And then I bought a couple more, including a hoya pachyclada.

Perhaps now the first hoya might have a growth spurt. Who knows, it may play catch-up and even decide to bloom as well!

buds

buds opening

Care and propagation:  Filtered sun or bright light, light porous media such as a mixture of peat, husk, soil and perlite; water moderately. Propagate using stem cuttings

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The heart-shaped plant looked like a thornless succulent or cactus. Intriguing.

But I was taken aback by the gaudy etchings on the perfectly symmetrical heart. It was as bad as discovering graffiti mutilating the beautiful trunk of a tree.

It was much later that I realized the heart shaped plant was actually the leaf of a hoya. I saw my first hoya kerrii plant in a private garden in Singapore and it quickly flew to one of the top spots on my wishlist.

So when a visiting gardening friend gave me a couple, I was overjoyed. Imagine, not just one, but two hoyas planted in shells! And each with three perfect variegated hearts on them.

The hoyas were inactive for months. Each held on to their three hearts but were not keen on producing any new ones.

I sought the advice of a hoya expert. “It likes a regular feeding of sheep droppings. Make sure you get those from NZ,” he said.

And so I did. I fertilized them lightly and let them be. I knew there was no point expecting a growth spurt in the hoya as it’s just about one of the slowest growers there are in the garden. There was no point counting the days or weeks either. All I can say is, they do have more leaves now.    😛

The next question is probably when the hoya kerrii will bloom. One thing’s for sure – I’d better not hold my breath.

Care and propagation:  Filtered sun or bright light, light porous media such as a mixture of peat, husk, soil and perlite; water moderately. Propagate using stem cuttings

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The golden rod is lovely enough but its name puzzles me. It seems almost metaphysical; but the odd thing is, what do the words ‘rod’ or ‘solid’ refer to?

The plume-like sprays of the solidago are actually soft – both in appearance and touch.

The flowers may look delicate but they are long-lasting cut flowers, making them a favorite for floral arrangements. Solidago is great as a filler in arrangements, and a vase full of the golden blooms is hard to beat.

We’ve had solidago in the garden for years.

It dates back to the days when I was a teenager  🙂 . My aunt had given me a couple of plants and we’ve not looked back since.

These plants can really proliferate and need to be thinned out periodically.

Just yesterday, mum announced gleefully that she had pulled many solidago plants from the flower bed. “But please don’t clear them all,” I said.

I wasn’t really worried though. These invasive plants always spring back with a vengence.

The solidago shares a bed with angelonia, balsamina, otacanthus caeruleus, mirabilis jalapa and plumbago. They may seem to be rather strange bedfellows, but actually look charming together creating a cottage garden effect – or so I hope.

The thing about solidago is to make sure the soil isn’t too wet for too long as it is prone to fungal attack. When that happens, the plant doesn’t have much of a chance, but sometimes a good dose of nicotine tea does the trick.

Care and propagation: well drained soil, full sun, water moderately; propagate using root cuttings

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I never knew the Bush Pentas or Rondeletia Leucophylla existed until someone posted a photo of it in a gardening forum and asked for it to be identified.

A quick look around the garden centres came to nought. When I finally found some bush pentas plants, I was in a small town Down Under, so carting it back home was out of the question.

Then finally last week, I found it within 30 minutes from home! 😀 After all that, I thought it prudent to get an extra plant as insurance.

I quickly planted the bush pentas amongst the regular pentas lanceolate and melampodium plants but I should have done my homework first. I found out later that the bush pentas can grow up to 5 feet tall!

So the next day, I moved the plants to a more suitable location. Let’s hope they grow as promised.

Imagine tall handsome shrubs covered with clusters of fragrant sweet pink flowers. Someone had likened its fragrance to that of green tea. I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty good to me!

Care and propagation: well-drained soil, full sun, water regularly; propagate using softwood or semi-hardwood cuttings

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