A Post National Poinsettia Day Celebration

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When we realized we were a day late for National Poinsettia Day, we decided what better way to commemorate this beautiful plant than to share its story!

The Poinsettia, a native to Central America, flourished in Southern Mexico where the Aztecs used the plant for decorative and practical purposes. They extracted the dye from the plant’s bracts and used it in textiles and cosmetics. They also made the milky white sap, known as latex, into a preparation to treat fevers.

It was not until the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett (1779-1851), that the Poinsettia came to America. As a lover of botany, Poinsett was immediately drawn to the brilliant red plant and sent some home to South Carolina where he propagated them in 1828. He sent them to friends who also began to grow them, and so on and so on. Among Poinsett’s friends who received these plants was Robert Buist who is believed to be the first person to have sold the plant under its botanical name, Euphorbia pulcherrima. It is also believed that the plant acquired the name Poinsettia (to recognize the man who brought it to the United States) in 1836.

Poinsett was honored by Congress as they declared December 12th to be National Poinsettia Day to commemorate his death in 1851. This day was meant not only to honor Poinsett, but to encourage people to enjoy the beauty of this popular holiday plant.

In Mexican culture, the Poinsettia has a very powerful meaning. As legend goes, a poor little girl had no gift to offer to Jesus on Christmas Eve. She was comforted by an angel who told her that any gift, given with love, is enough for Jesus. So she gathered weeds from the roadside and placed them at the altar. Then, before her eyes, the weeds burst into the crimson blossoms of a Poinsettia. It was a Christmas Miracle!

So here’s to the Poinsettia– bringing the Christmas spirit to all who see them!

Orchid Care Instructions

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Orchids are beautiful flowering plants that bloom for fairly long periods of time. They come in a vast variety of shapes and sizes. And with a little love and care, they can last for years! Three common types of Orchids are Dendrobium, Phalaenopsis, and Cattleya.

Dendrobium Orchids are among the most common form of the plant and must be considered for 2nd, if not 1st, choice. They are very common and readily available in most areas. They are very easy to care for and are available in a wide variety of colors.

Phalaenopsis Orchids’ timeless elegance reflects the finest of taste when given as a gift. While no two are alike, it is truly a statement of opulence when displayed. They are stunningly beautiful and can be located in most areas. They do not release any fragrance and bloom for 3 to 6 months.

Cattleya Orchids are very exotic in nature and, therefore, are more difficult to locate. Some produce a pleasing hint of fragrance similar to that of a Hyacinth.

The Perfect Plant for Fall!

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Chrysanthemums are the perfect flower for fall because they love to show off their vibrant and plentiful blooms for weeks at a time during this season.

If you are planting mums during the fall season, be aware that these plants probably will not last the winter season as they have not had time to establish their roots. That being said, you can treat mums planted in the fall as annuals and just re-plant year to year. The location of the plant is the key. Mums must be planted in fertile soil with adequate drainage, as they do not like their “feet” wet. Make sure the area or container has plenty of space for the formed root ball. And be sure to choose a location that exposes the plant to AT LEAST 6 hours of sunlight per day. Water well and continue to water every other day and adjust accordingly.

If you are planting mums as perennials, it is best to plant during the spring season in order to have fully established roots for the upcoming seasons. Follow the same rules as annuals as far as location, soil, and watering are concerned. To make sure your mums last through the winter season, protect them with several inches of mulch. When spring comes, cut back stems and fertilize. If your plant blooms during the spring, pinch them back before the end of summer to encourage fall blooms.

Chrysanthemums are a great addition to any flowerbed and are fairly easy to care for.

Purchase your fall Chrysanthemums through our website here:

http://www.billyheromans.com/product.cfm/iteID/2214

Bougainvillea Care Instructions

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Bougainvilleas are plants that thrive in tropical areas/temperatures with high heat and little rainfall. They are full sun plants meaning they need AT LEAST five hours of direct sunlight a day. In winter, Bougainvillea CAN survive only if brought indoors.

The most important part of Bougainvillea care is the use of a fertilizer specifically made for the Bougainvillea (such as “Bougainvillea & Flowering Vine Food” by Ferti-lome), as it’s root system is very delicate. Feed the plant about every two weeks until blooming begins, then, once a month after that.

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A good rule of thumb for the Bougainvillea is to let the soil be visually dry before watering. But once it is time to water, make sure the whole root system is included. Wilting flowers are another warning that your plant needs watering. Take care not to allow the plant to get too dry, while making sure it does not sit in water for too long– balance is the key. If planted, plant on higher ground and if in a pot, make sure to keep all holes used for drainage clear.

If you want to prune your plant, it is best to do it after it is finished blooming– as Bougainvilleas bloom in cycles.

Bougainvillea Care

Bougainvilleas are perhaps the most popular and one of the most widely grown tropical vines.

A native to the coast of Brazil. In the 1760′s the French botanist Philibert Commerson discovered the colorful vining plant and named it bouganvillea after his friend and captain, Louis A. de Bougainville, a noted lawyer, mathematician, and explorer from Canada.

The Bougainvillea often has spiny, cascading stems which end with colorful bracts of red, orange, purple and other shades to shield small white, inconspicuous flowers.

Bougainvillea can be used in a multitude of ways:

Cultural Requirements

Water and Soil

Bougainvillea will thrive in almost any soil as long as it is well-drained and fertile. Soils that work for other plants you grow will be fine for your bougainvillea.

Growers use a soil media that drains well but make sure you don’t let the plants dry out between waterings. If you want to be successful with bougainvillea keep containers moist but also they need to be well drained. No sitting plants in standing water!

DO NOT USE SAUCERS under your bougainvillea pots.

A healthy bougainvillea in a container will drink a lot of water during the warm times of the year. In cooler periods or when you bring your bougainvillea indoors for the winter, the water requirement will be much less.

SO how much water does a Bougainviilea need for proper plant care and blooming. As always it depends on:

  • Soil type
  • Root system
  • Size of the plant
  • Air temperature

Don’t water just to water your plants. Inspect your plants regularly, and learn when they are close to wilting. Then give the plant a good, thorough soaking just before it reaches the wilt stage.

Remember during the summer heat plants will use up water quickly, so inspect often.

Light

For the best results put your bougainvilleas in full sun. If you want good blooming give them at least 5 hours a day of full sunlight as a minimum. More hours of direct sun is better. Less than 5 hours and the plant may not bloom very well. Your plants will thrive in shade or partial shade, but only have nice growth with little or no blooms.

Don’t expect your bougainvillea to flower indoors. If possible, keep your plant outdoors and give it the maximum sun exposure. Any flowering you may receive indoors is a bonus.

Temperature

Bougainvilleas are hardy throughout the South but young growth will be damaged by frost. Optimum growing temperatures are warm days (70-85of) and cool nights(60-70of).

A light frost will not kill the plant, but you can soon expect all the leaves and bracts to fall off. In this case, the plant will regrow if not subjected to more frosts for longer duration.

Fertilizer

Bougainvillea can be heavy feeders. Here is some quick fertilizer tips.

  • High phosphorus with micronutrients, as well as additional iron and magnesium
  • Slow or timed release fertilizers are acceptable. Make sure you follow the fertilizer label
  • Plants grow best with small amounts of nutrients constantly available
  • Do not apply fertilizers to dry soil – Do not overfertilize – in this case less is better than more

Pests

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Caterpillars, mites, aphids; Leaf spot if foliage and/or soil stays too wet, especially in cool weather. Contact your local nursery or garden center for treating the pest. Make sure you READ AND FOLLOW the label.

Where and How to use Bougainvillea

  • Hanging baskets
  • 1 to 3 gallon pots either sheared as bush, staked, or trellised.
  • Trained as a tree – standard
  • Summer annual up North.
  • In the South grown as groundcover, hedge, trellis, standard, or cascading planter plant.

What to Expect From Bougainvillea when it arrives at the Garden Center

Bougainvilleas aren’t fond of changes. Any shipping over 2 days and you may experience some leaf drop and possible total defoliation. Don’t worry, give the plants a good drink and they’ll come right back out in about 3 to 4 weeks and usually full of flowers.

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Care for Your More Common Plants

Green and blooming plants are popular gifts for many special occasions. They bring life and sunshine into any home or office. Below are a few helpful tips to care for some of the more popular plants.

African Violets are lovely small plants, which may bloom at anytime. They prefer bright indirect sunlight and grow well under fluorescent light. Cut off the flowers after they die and provide good ventilation. Keep the soil evenly moist at all times and feed monthly spring through fall with a nitrogen-free fertilizer.
Areca Palms grow well indoors, in bright indirect sunlight and may be placed outdoors for the summer in an area of filtered light. Ensure that the plant has good drainage and keep it away from drafts. Never let the plant sit in water. Mist the fronds occasionally with warm water and feed monthly.
Azalea plants produce beautiful blooms February through May. They require specific care, such as good rich potting soil and full sunlight. Azaleas should be fed every two weeks during the growing season. Remove all dead flowers and keep the soil on the wet side.
The Boston Fern is the ideal hanging basket plant. It requires a little extra care in that it likes good, rich potting soil and should be misted frequently with warm water. Boston ferns grow well in bright indirect sunlight. Keep the soil barely moist and feed weekly.
Bromeliads are beautiful, exotic plants requiring some extra care and attention. Bromeliads grow best indoors in bright indirect sunlight. Use good rich potting soil, keep the soil evenly moist and feed about every eight months. Bromeliads bloom April through June.
Croton plants require full sunlight and should be pinched back occasionally for good shape. Croton plants are poisonous and should not be kept around children. Keep the soil barely moist and feed every two weeks when young. Fertilize weekly after maturity.
Cyclamen have beautiful dark green foliage with unique “upside down” blooms that flower December through May. Cyclamen are dormant for the summer and should be repotted in late summer and kept cool. Stop watering in late spring and resume watering in late summer. Feed every two weeks while in growth. Bright indirect sunlight and evenly moist soil is best. Cyclamen are poisonous and should not be kept around children.
Diffenbachias are easy care plants with large leaves, making it an effective remover of indoor air pollutants. Diffenbachias are poisonous if ingested. Do not keep around children. Place this plant in bright indirect sunlight and let its soil become moderately dry between waterings.
Dracaena plants are easy to grow indoors in bright indirect sunlight. Good general purpose potting soil is fine and should be kept evenly moist. Leaf tips may turn brown if the plant is under-watered. Feed every two weeks.
Gardenias are wonderfully fragrant blooming plants, but generally require a little extra care and attention. Gardenias grow best inside the house with bright indirect sunlight. The plant requires good rich potting soil, kept evenly moist at all times. Mist the plant frequently with warm water, feed every two weeks and prune in early spring. Gardenias flower June through August.
Gerbera plants produce beautiful blooms July through September and are very easy to grow. They prefer full sunlight. Be careful the crown of the plant is above the soil and provide good drainage. Allow the soil to become moderately dry between waterings and feed every two weeks during growth periods.
Hydrangeas are gorgeous blooming shrubs with showy color June through December. They require full sunlight and good, rich potting soil kept evenly moist. Prune the plant way back in early spring and feed every two weeks during growth with fertilizer suitable for acid loving plants.
Ivy plants are easy care leafy green plants perfect for hanging baskets. Ivy grows well in bright indirect sunlight. Keep the soil evenly moist, mist occasionally with warm water and feed every two weeks during growth periods.
Kalanchoe are succulents and bloom January through July. Kalanchoe grow best indoors in full sunlight. Use good general purpose potting soil with a little added sand. Avoid getting water on the leaves, be careful not to over-water and feed only twice a year, once in April and once in July.
Norfolk Island Pines require a little extra care and attention. Bright indirect sunlight is best and over-watering must be avoided. Turn the plant occasionally to keep it symmetrical. If possible put the pine outside during the summer in bright light. Feed every two weeks and do not fertilize in the winter.
Orchids are exquisite blooming plants, requiring just a little extra care. Orchids grow well in bright indirect sunlight and may produce flowers at anytime. Avoid cold drafts. Most orchids have sphagnum moss potting mix and should be kept evenly moist. Be careful not to over-water. Feed every two weeks during the spring and summer with orchid fertilizer.
Peace Lilies are beautiful large-leafed plants, which produce white blooms April through October. They require full sunlight and should be placed away from drafts. When watering, drench the soil and allow it to become moderately dry between waterings. Feed every two weeks during the summer months only.
Philodendrons are easy care plants, which grow best indoors in bright indirect sunlight. This plant is a climber if given proper support. Philodendrons are poisonous if ingested. Do not keep around children. Keep this plant’s soil barely moist and feed it every two weeks when in growth.
Pothos are easy care climbing green plants. Pothos do well indoors in bright indirect sunlight, but will grow in rooms with less light as well. Keep this plant’s soil evenly moist and supply good drainage. Pothos is a good climber, if given proper support. Otherwise, pinch back to maintain its shape. Fertilize every two weeks.
Schefflera are beautiful, easy care leafy green plants. They grow well indoors in full sunlight. When watering, drench the soil and allow it to become moderately dry between waterings. Feed monthly spring through summer.

Flowers and Seniors

www.Aboutflowers.com 

Rutgers: Flowers Boost Seniors’

Well Being

Flowers & SeniorsEveryday, America’s aging population – 40 million and rising – faces the challenges of growing older, including depression, memory loss and social withdrawal. As a concerned nation, we are continually exploring new means to ease daily-life anxieties. Recently, researchers at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, released the results of a six-month behavioral study on the health effects of flowers on senior citizens. The study demonstrates that flowers ease depression, inspire social networking and refresh memory as we age.

“The results are significant because as our nation grows older and life becomes more stressful, we look for easy and natural ways to enhance our lives – and the lives of our aging parents,” said Dr. Jeannette Haviland-Jones, professor of psychology and director of the Human Development Lab at Rutgers. “Now, one simple answer is right under our noses.”

This research follows a study conducted in 2000, which links flowers to greater happiness and life satisfaction in women. In 2001, Rutgers set out to explore the effects flowers would have on senior citizens, who experience different living situations and greater life changes.

Prevention in a Bud, Not a Bottle

More than 100 seniors participated in the Rutgers research study, in which some received flowers and others did not. The results shed new light on how nature’s support systems help seniors cope with the challenges of aging. The results are as follows:

  1. Flowers Decrease Depression. Study participants showed a significant increase in happiness and positive moods when flowers were present.
  2. Flowers Refresh Recent Memory. Seniors performed higher on everyday memory tasks and experienced enriched personal memories in the presence of flowers.
  3. Flowers Encourage Companionship. Seniors who received flowers re-engaged with members of their communities and enlarged their social contacts to include more neighbors, religious support and even medical personnel.

“Instinct tells us that flowers lift our spirits, but, their effects on seniors are especially profound, if not surprising,” said Haviland-Jones.

New Evidence Sprouts Up

Specifically, 81 percent of seniors who participated in the study reported a reduction in depression following the receipt of flowers. Forty percent of seniors reported broadening their social contacts beyond their normal social circle of family and close friends. And, 72 percent of the seniors who received flowers scored very high on memory tests in comparison with seniors who did not receive flowers.

“Happier people live longer, healthier lives and are more open to change,” said Haviland-Jones. “Our research shows that a small dose of nature, like flowers, can do a world of wonder for our well-being as we age.”

Studies are showing more and more that flowers do have an emotional impact on human’s.  Flowers do more than look pretty.  Visit www.aboutflowers.com to learn more.

Easter Lily

THE EASTER LILY HOLIDAY TRADITION

Each holiday is marked by cherished traditions that bring joy, comfort, and warmth, and provide continuity from one generation to the next. Easter has its share of traditions: egg decorations and hunts; gift baskets and chocolate bunnies, sunrise church services, parades, and, of course, the Easter Lily. For many, the beautiful trumpet-shaped white flowers symbolize purity, virtue, innocence, hope and life – the spiritual essence of Easter.

History, mythology, literature, poetry and the world of art are rife with stories and images that speak of the beauty and majesty of the elegant white flowers. Dating back to Biblical lore, the lily is mentioned numerous times in the Bible. One of the most famous Biblical references is in the Sermon on the Mount, when Christ told his listeners: “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin; and yet….. Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

Often called the “white-robed apostles of hope,” lilies were found growing in the Garden of Gethsemane after Christ’s agony. Tradition has it that the beautiful white lilies sprung up where drops of Christ’s sweat fell to the ground in his final hours of sorrow and deep distress. Churches continue this tradition at Easter time by banking their alters and surrounding their crosses with masses of Easter Lilies, to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and hope of life everlasting.

Since the beginning of time, lilies have played significant roles in allegorical tales concerning the sacrament of motherhood. Ancient fables tell us the lily sprang from the milk of Hera, the mythological Queen of Heaven.

The pure white lily has long been closely associated with the Virgin Mary. In early paintings, the Angel Gabriel is pictured extending to the Virgin Mary a branch of pure white lilies, announcing that she is to be the mother of the Christ Child. In other paintings, saints are pictured bringing vases full of white lilies to Mary and the infant Jesus.

The legend is told that when the Virgin Mary’s tomb was visited three days after her burial, it was found empty save for bunches of majestic white lilies. Early writers and artists made the lily the emblem of the Annunciation, the Resurrection of the Virgin: the pure white petals signifying her spotless body and the golden anthers her soul glowing with heavenly light.

It seems the thirteenth-century Barthololmeus Anglicus had this in mind when he wrote: ‘The Lily is an herbe with a white flower; and though the leaves of the floure be white, yet within shineth the likeness of gold.” So goes the saying, ‘To gild a lily is to attempt, foolishly, to improve on perfection.” To many artists and poets it seemed that, if any flower could have one, the lily had a soul.

In yet another expression of womanhood, lilies had a significant presence in the paradise of Adam and Eve. Tradition has it that when Eve left the Garden of Eden she shed real tears of repentance, and from those remorseful tears sprung up lilies. The spiritual principle held here is that true repentance is the beginning of beauty.

A mark of purity and grace throughout the ages, the regal white lily is a fitting symbol of the greater meaning of Easter. Gracing millions of homes and churches, the flowers embody joy, hope and life. Whether given as a gift or enjoyed in your own home, the Easter Lily serves as a beautiful reminder that Easter is a time for rejoicing and celebrating.

The following poem by Louise Lewin Matthews captures the spiritual essence of the Easter Lily:

Easter morn with lilies fair
Fills the church with perfumes rare,
As their clouds of incense rise,
Sweetest offerings to the skies.
Stately lilies pure and white
Flooding darkness with their light,
Bloom and sorrow drifts away,
On this holy hallow’d day.
Easter Lilies bending low
in the golden afterglow,
Bear a message from the sod
To the heavenly towers of God.

-Louise Lewin Matthews

Written and posted by http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/plantanswers/publications/lily/lily.html

What are your New Years Resolutions?

A New Year’s resolution is a commitment that an individual makes to a project or the reforming of a habit, often a lifestyle change that is generally interpreted as advantageous. The name comes from the fact that these commitments normally go into effect on New Year’s Day and remain until fulfilled or abandoned. More socio-centric examples include resolutions to donate to the poor more often, to become more assertive, or to become more economically or environmentally responsible. People may act similarly during the Christian fasting period of Lent, though the motive behind this holiday is more of sacrifice than of responsibility. The new year resolution is one example of the rolling forecast-method of planning. According to this method, plans are established at regular short or medium-term time intervals, when only a rough long-term plan exists. There are religious parallels to this secular tradition. For example, during Judaism’s New Year, Rosh Hashanah, through the High Holidays and culminating in the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur, one is to reflect upon one’s wrongdoings over the year and both seek and offer forgiveness. The concept, regardless of creed, is to reflect upon self-improvement annually.

Wikipedia…