Category Archives: Plants and Life

The Farmer and The { Florist } Interview: Sue Prutting of White Magnolia Designs

I’m sooooo incredibly excited to introduce you to my dear friend and phenomenal floral designer, Sue Prutting of White Magnolia Floral Designs. Sue truly is one of the kindest, most giving women I’ve had the pleasure of meeting on this wild and wonderful flower journey. From the moment we first met at the Ariella Chezar Workshop in 2013, we bonded almost instantly. Soon after, we were inseparable. Sue and I started as “flower friends,” and have become “real-life” friends as well. Sue was right there beside me, lending a patient, supportive and encouraging hand at last year’s wildly popular Seasonal Bouquet Project workshops and again at all of our on-farm workshop this year. She and I are going to team up again on a road trip this fall to do the floral designs for a fellow farmer florist’s wedding in North Carolina. It is going to be epic! Sue is a fantastic floral designer and every time we’re together I learn so much. Sue’s beautiful, abundant designs have brought graceful elegance to weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, book signings and big events in the Washington D.C.-area and in select venues across the country.

Erin: Sue, can you share a little bit more about your business and your design style?

Sue: Sure! I guess I would describe my design style as garden inspired. It has a formality…or maybe an elegance to it because of the product I love to use, but also has a bit of a natural and wind blown look. Layers and layers of texture, branches, berries and vines, are some of my favorite elements. I primarily design weddings and events and my proximity to Capitol Hill has lead to some pretty cool assignments: really meaningful fundraisers, photo shoots, events for dignitaries etc.

Sue: One of the things I love about owning a business is that I have been free to morph my business model and reinvent myself as my responsibilities at home have shifted. As my kids have grown, I’ve been able to travel more and help other designers behind the scenes at their workshops. Teaching is a real passion of mine – sharing what I have learned and helping others grow is the best! Also, getting to hang out with some ridiculously talented people and continuing to learn from them, isn’t too shabby either. Working with you on the Farmer Florist and the Floral Intensive Workshops, meeting all of the attendees and getting to see them spread their wings has been a real highlight for me. Plus, I never laugh as hard as when I am with you Sister!

Erin: Garden and yard space is at a premium in D.C. With limited space, what flowers and foliage get prime real estate in your cutting garden?

Sue: It is really hard to get the foliage and flowering branches I love to use, so lately I’ve been focused on planting all sorts of bushes and even a few trees. I have about an acre to play on and have planted crab apples, viburnum, two types of nine bark, way too much spriea (if there is such a thing), mock orange, winterberry…all sorts of goodies. Developers in my neighborhood have been great about letting me dig up plants before they raise a house and clear the lot. I have lots of peony, hydrangea, grasses and some mixed perennial beds. Also, living in the DC area means you must have cherry trees and azaleas in your garden. The first week of May is an absolute color explosion in this area, and both do surprisingly well in arrangements. Next up on the planting wish list…garden roses.

Erin: I know that no floral designer likes being asked their favorite flower, because we all have at least 40 favorites. (Plus, our favorites change depending on the season–or the day, for that matter!) So, instead, tell me about a few of flowers and foliage that you’re smitten with this summer.

Sue: This summer, I have gotten a ton of use out of my ornamental plum tree. It has been great to cut the sweetness of the blushes and pinks that have been so popular. Some other favorites are beach tree foliage, thornless blackberry and this crazy wild rose that grows in my area. After an unfortunate poison ivy incident, I now look like a hazmat worker when foraging it. Finally, I’d say that my little shade garden has been a real workhorse for me this year. I’ve been loving Solomon’s Seal and especially Epimedium. It’s foliage lasts forever when cut and those little heart shaped leaves are soooo good in bouquets.

Erin: Like so many great floral designers, you switched careers to pursue this “creative operation,” as you describe it. I would imagine your background as a Clinical Social Worker helps in working with (shall we say) “discerning” bridal clients. How has this training influenced your business?

Sue: I think more than anything, I have empathy for the brides and the amount of work it is to plan a wedding. If things get a little crazy, I try to hear them through that filter and help them manage their stress. I think one of the most frustrating things you can ask a bride is “What is the vision you have for your wedding?” It really helps to break that question down into smaller bites – “How do you want your guests to feel when the enter the reception; like they are coming home? Blown away? Pumped up? Peaceful and serene?” It is my job to translate, and put to words what they are picturing in their mind. I think my training has also helped me to separate other peoples stress from my own and most importantly, I can keep a straight face no matter what someone says to me. 😉

Erin: You’ve traveled all over the country as a freelance designer. Can you share a favorite memory (or two)?

Sue: I worked on a wedding in Tennessee with Kate Holt of Flowerwild this summer. Climbing through the woods foraging with Kate and her team (which included Kim Sanders and Janelle Wylie) was a hoot! One night we went out to catch fireflies because they don’t have them in California. It was pretty magical. Noticing the beauty and the gifts that are right there in front of us each day is key.

Sue: A few years ago, I started traveling to train and work with other designers after I had what felt like a huge setback. I started to doubt what I saw as beautiful and needed to see my work through a different lens. Learning from designers I admire and trust, and then working with them has allowed me to do that. It has been so empowering. I think the climate in our industry has changed dramatically in the last few years. Professionals like you, Erin and Ariella Chezar, Sara Rhyanan and Nicolette Owen, Kate Holt, Françoise Weeks, Jennie Love and Holly Chapple, to name a few, have been so generous with their experience and information. That willingness to share what they know, be transparent and to connect growers and designers around the world through their workshops and social media has changed the face of what we do, and how we do it. This is a tough job and can be a little isolating, but now thanks to these women and others, it doesn’t have to be.

Erin: This column has become the place to confess floral foraging “adventures.” Any you’d care to confess?

Sue: Ok, here goes. My mom swears that I have been picking “roadsideia” since I could first walk, and she is probably right. I was forever coming home with a little bunch of wild violets, or black eyed Susan’s. Walking home late one night in college, I stopped to admire some bearded iris and made the mistake of picking one. I swear a woman must have been hiding in the bushes two feet from me, because as soon as I made that cut, I heard “Do you always take what you want” in a old craggy southern drawl. She seriously scared the crud out of me. I ran so hard and fast that I crushed the poor iris. Serves me right. I avoided that part of campus for the rest of my time at school.

Erin: I am counting down the days until we get to meet up in D.C. and then make the drive down to North Carolina to Sassafras Fork Farm, foraging along the way. We are going to create the biggest, baddest bouquets ever for Stephanie Hall’s wedding. I can’t wait! While we don’t want to spoil tooo many of the surprises we have in store for sweet Stephanie, would you like to share perhaps a little preview of what we’ll be doing down there?

Sue: It is going to be epic! Stephanie is building the most beautiful reclaimed wood, post and beam barn on her family farm. It will be an amazing venue for events in the future, and we get to decorate the heck out of it for her wedding. She is a sweet and trusting soul, because she has given us carte blanche to “do what we do best”. With 350 guests expected, dinner will be served family style on long vintage farm tables. Lots of platters and bowls on the tables means not a lot of real estate for flowers, so we are going vertical! We will be using all American grown flowers – from our own gardens, from Stephanie’s farm and from a number of flower farmers we will pass on our drive down to North Carolina. Plus, we will get to use tons of foliage from her farm, and maybe even a little roadsideia. I’ll be sure to pack you a hazmat suit.

Erin: I seriously cannot wait! It’s going to be absolutely amazing! Sue, from the bottom of my heart: thank you. Thank you for your kindness, generosity and for all that you do. I so treasure your friendship.

Sue: Right back at you Erin. I just love getting to live this life with you!


Why roses are the most famous flower?

President Barack Obama took the unusual step of holding a formal event in the White House Rose Garden this week to announce three nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. Roses are by far the most culturally significant flower in the West. Shakespeare wrote about the sweet smell of roses; we dream of sleeping in beds of roses; and we stop to smell the roses. Why are roses so much more famous than other flowers?

Because of their symbolic versatility. Roses have been so celebrated for so long — the Minoans grew and painted roses in the Bronze Age — that it’s difficult to pinpoint the source of their popularity. One possible explanation is that roses represent all things to all people. They represent virginity, and particularly the Virgin Mary. Medieval brides and grooms wore crowns of roses to represent their purity. In England, roses were laid on the graves of virgins. But roses also represent passion and romance: Lovers exchange roses as a prelude to intimacy. Roses symbolize suffering: Christian iconography uses the red rose as a symbol of Jesus Christ’s bodily suffering, as well as the blood of other saints such as Alban. Yet roses also symbolize the peace that awaits people in the next world. Old Christian texts describe paradise as strewn with roses.

Our ability to attribute so many meanings to a simple flower may come down to simple aesthetics. Writers from Sappho to Michael Pollan have waxed lyrical over the delicate blossoms. English writer Sarah Coles, commenting on the rose in a Renaissance painting, noted, “The symmetry of the rose’s circular pattern, enclosed yet expanding from the central boss through the ray of stamens to overlapping petals which reach outwards in waves which could embrace infinity, is a microcosm of the universe.”

Roses do not feature in the Bible, even though wild roses did grow in the ancient Near East. The few mentions of roses in the King James Bible, such as “the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose,” are probably mistranslations. (Some newer translations replace “rose” with the less poetic but more accurate “crocus.”) Early Christians did not favor the use of flowers, incense and statues in rituals. It wasn’t until half a century after Christ’s death that flowers came back into Western religious practice. At that time, there were competitors to the rose. In early medieval writings, lilies are mentioned almost as often as roses. It’s not clear why the popularity of the lily took a backseat to the surging rose.

Some cultures have myths explaining exactly how the rose earned its place at the top. According to a Persian poem, the lotus was the original queen of flowers, but it made the mistake of sleeping during the night. When the other flowers complained to Allah, he named the white rose queen. A Hindu legend has it that Vishnu had to convince Brahma of the rose’s superiority to the lotus. As a reward for changing his mind, Brahma created a bride for Vishnu out of hundreds of rose petals.

The rose’s rise to prominence at the White House isn’t quite so symbolically rich. During the 19th century, the building had a glass conservatory in which gardeners grew many different kinds of flowers, as well as fruit. (On the morning of his assassination, Abraham Lincoln picked lemons from the conservatory to give to visitors, but he confessed to having little interest in flowers.) When the conservatory was removed in 1902, Edith Roosevelt had a garden constructed. Amateur landscape architect Ellen Axson Wilson, wife of Woodrow Wilson, had the colonial garden converted to a dedicated rose garden in 1913.

Spider Plants Can Be Grown From Scratch Or Even Propagated With Cuttings

Spider PlantsHouseplants make a great addition and actually improve the look of the interiors. There are many species of indoor plants that can be grown in pots and kept in any corner of the room. Some of the ornamental plants are such that they can thrive indoors as well as outdoors. The spider plant, whose botanical name is Chlorophytum comosum is a popular indoor as well as outdoor plant and is so named because of its many leaves that spread in different directions. This plant is grown indoors since it is believed to reduce the amount of indoor air pollution. You can also display this as hanging plants in the portico. The characteristic feature of this plant is the yellowish-white bands which can be seen in the middle of each leaf. Hardy in nature, spider plants can be grown quite easily and are low maintenance. You don’t have to be a person with green fingers to grow spider plants, a novice can do as well as an expert. In the following paragraphs we will take a look at the ways to grow a spider plant properly.

How to Grow a Spider Plant from Cuttings

Spider plant propagation can be done from saplings and even from cuttings. The fully mature plants produce spiderettes which are baby plants growing from flowers. In whatever way you grow the plants, make sure that you provide them with good potting soil and fertilizer so that they flourish without any problems. Here are some of the guidelines for growing spider plants, from shoots as well as from grafts.

  • Always remember that roots are an important component for growing spider plants. If you are planning to grow a spider plant from its grafts, then you have to see that it has proper and well-developed roots, so that the end result is a healthy plant.
  • For the formation of roots, place the plant cutting in a jar of water. Make sure that the stalk is submerged in water, leaving the top of the plant above water. For this purpose you can use a narrow necked glass jar, where only the stalk is submerged.
  • Allow the plant to stay in the jar for a few weeks till you notice tiny, white colored hairlike outgrowths at the end of the stalk. These are the roots of the spider plant. Let the jar stand for a couple of days till the roots develop completely.
  • Now remove the developed plants from the jar and allow water to drain from the roots. Meanwhile prepare a pot with well drained soil, compost and place the sapling in it. Cover the roots with soil and mist with water. Make sure that you do not make the soil soggy, lest it leads to the rotting of the roots and plant, as a whole.
  • Place the pot in an area where it will receive bright, yet, indirect light. The temperature of the room should also be cooler, near about 50 to 60 degrees for the plant to have healthy growth. Water them only when you notice the soil is dry. Liquid houseplant fertilizer can be added to the soil once in a month, especially during summers.
  • Once the plant begins to take root, you will notice the stems growing stronger. Transfer the pot to the window sill, so that the plant receives ample amounts of indirect sunlight. Pruning the plant on a routine basis will ensure the proper growth and development of the plant. Discard the old leaves from the plant for fresh new plantlets.

With proper spider plant care techniques, you can have a healthy plant in every room of your house, if you wish. And if you are planting it outdoors, you can have an entire corner of your garden dedicated to this exquisite plant.

Elephant Ear Plant Helps In Enhancing The Look Of The Place Around

Elephant Ear PlantAs the name suggests, elephant ear plants are characterized by large leaves with the shape of the elephant ear. Most people are not aware of the fact that those plants which are commonly known as elephant ear plants, actually belong to the different species of the most diverse family of tropical plants called Araceae. This large family consists of almost 107 genera and over 3700 species, which are otherwise known as aroids. Some plants that belong to the different genera of Araceae family possess large leaves which resemble an elephant ear shape. Such plants are commonly known as elephant ear plants and belong to the genera of Alocasia, Xanthosoma, Philodendron, Anthurium, Caladium, Monstera and Colocasia.

While most of the plants belonging to these genera possess elephant shaped leaves, they differ in size and color. Some species of Anthurium as well as Alocasia have leaves with a length of around 12 feet, and some plants of Philodendron and Xanthosoma possess a length of about 6 feet. But when grown as garden plants, you cannot expect such large-sized leaves as seen in the wild varieties. The genus Caladium has plants with moderately large leaves, but there are plants with small leaves too. So if you are searching for an elephant ear plant of your choice, it is always better to have a basic idea about these plants and the genus which they belong to. This will help you to easily identify the plant of your choice.

Elephant Ear Plants Classified as per the Genus

Below listed are the various genera under which elephant ear plants are classified into. These are not single species, but different species belonging to different genera of the same family Araceae.

As mentioned above, Alocasia is a genus of the family Araceae, and consists of more than 70 species which are natives of Asia, Oceania and South America. These plants are rhizomatous or bulbous perennials with large heart-shaped or arrow-headed leaves, which grow on long petioles. In most species, the leaves have large and prominent veins which may differ in color. Such plants with large leaves are also known as elephant ear plants. The Anthurium-like flowers of these plants are inconspicuous and consist of a spadix (floral column), which is often covered by a hood-like spathe (pale green or white in color). These flowers have short stalks and are often found hidden in the large foliage. Most of the plants of the genus Alocasia are good for frost-free areas and can be grown in containers or greenhouses.

These plants with beautiful large leaves impart a tropical feeling to the surroundings and should be planted in locations with part shade to full shade with organic and well-drained soil. Most of the plants of this genus can tolerate wet conditions and deep shade, while some of them can even withstand full sun, but they are sensitive to frost and winds. As these tropical plants can spread fast, you must take care to thin them regularly. Even though some parts of these plants like the stems are considered as edible, some of them can even be poisonous. If you are not aware of the proper method of cleaning and cooking, then refrain from the task to avoid health hazards. The most popular Alocasia plants are Alocasia macrorrhiza or giant taro, Alocasia plumbeahas with purple leaves, and Alocasia X amazonica with dark green leaves and thick light green veins.

The various species of the genus Colocasia are widely grown all over the world, especially in the tropical regions, and are known by several names like taro, black magic, wild taro, black taro, dalo, dasheen, calaloo, eddy and potato of the tropics. They are popular as ornamental plants as well as a food source. These tropical plants are considered as among the earliest cultivated plants, as the corms (short, vertical, swollen underground plant stem that serves as a storage organ used by some plants) and leaves are cooked and used as food. As in the case of Alocasia, Colocasia should not be consumed if you don’t know the correct way of cooking them. These plants are also popular as elephant ear plants as the leaves of some of the species are very large and resemble the ears of elephants.Elephant Ear Plant

Colocasia is a very small genus with seven species, and Colocasia esculenta are the most popular and widely grown plants which are otherwise known as taro or elephant ear plants. There are over 200 cultivars of Colocasia esculenta, which is a highly variable species with various leaf forms and sizes. There are species with very large leaves, while some plants have very small or comparatively smaller leaves. The color of the leaves can vary from green, black, purple or bluish black. The leaves can be arrow-headed or oval. In most plants, there is a split at the base of the leaves where the petioles get attached. The flowers are more or less like Alocasia flowers. It is easy to grow Colocasia in tropical and semi-tropical areas, but can also be grown in cold regions, though they may become dormant during the winters. These tropical plants need good watering and slightly acidic soil for an ideal growth.

Xanthosoma genus of the family Araceae consists of around 50 species of tropical plants, which are natives to the tropical America. Most plants in this genus are grown for the tubers used as food by the local people, and are known as malanga, new cocoyam, tannia, tannier, yautía, macabo, taioba, etc. The most common among them is Xanthosoma sagittifolium, which is variable in nature and has many plants with various leaf sizes. Apart from the agricultural purposes, some plants of this genus are also grown as ornamental plants and are popular as elephant ear plants for their large leaves. Though plants of Xanthosoma species resemble those belonging to the genus Colocasia, there are some basic differences between the two. The leaves of the latter are peltate – the petiole joins with the leaf at a place which is away from the edge. In case of Xanthosoma, the petioles join the leaves at their notched edges. The length of the leaves of these plants may range between one foot to six feet. The tubers are formed at the base of the plant as a corm with smaller cormels. Though mostly used for agricultural purposes, some species with large foliage are used for landscaping too. If you want to grow them as outdoor plants, you have to store the corms indoors during winters and plant them in spring.

Elephant ear plants which belong to the genus philodendron are very popular as houseplants and also for landscaping. This genus which belongs to the South American and West Indian tropics, consists of around 900 species and is considered as the second largest genus of the family Araceae. The word Philodendron means tree-loving, and most of the species are found attached to trees either in epiphytic forms or rooted in soil and attached to trees for support. The leaves are typically heart-shaped and smaller in size during their emergence. But the mature leaves are very large in size and lobed with holes or divisions. These alternate leaves emerge from sheath-like structures called cataphylls. Most of the plants of Philodendron genus develop aerial roots which are used for clinging to the attachment or hang from the plant.

There are many popular varieties of philodendron which include hybrids too. Among them are the heart leaf philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum), which is a tender evergreen vine from Brazil with shiny green leaves and slender stems. Another popular species is the cut leaf philodendron (Philodendron bipinnatifidum), which is a tree-like evergreen shrub with large elephant-ear like leaves. The plants belonging to the genus Philodendron are very sensitive and should be planted outside in places with very warm climate. They need bright filtered light or full shade and moist and well-drained soil. They should be watered well, but don’t make the soil soggy. If you want to grow these elephant ear plants in containers, make sure that the potting soil offers good drainage and the plant is getting bright, but indirect sunlight. You have to prune the plant regularly to control the unwanted growth.

Anthurium is one of the largest genus of the family Araceae, with more than 1000 species, and still many more are being discovered every year. Most of these plants are natives to south and central America. These plants are seen in various forms, but most of them are evergreen, bushy or climbing epiphytes, with roots hanging to the ground. These plants have single leaves which can be oval-shaped, heart-shaped or spatula-shaped. While some species have very thick leaves, others have thin ones and the leaves have a matte or glossy look, as per the species. One of the interesting characters of the Anthurium leaves is that they can move to track the Sun. Some of these plants with large leaves are also referred to as elephant ear plants.

Unlike the plants in the other genera of the family Araceae, Anthurium species sport colorful spathe which are popular as the flowers of these plants. Actually, this petal-like colorful part is the spathe that cover the actual inflorescence. The spathe is large and leathery, and comes in various colors in different species. There are many popular varieties of Anthurium, like Anthurium andraeanum, Anthurium crystallinum, Anthurium scherzerianum, etc. These plants require bright and indirect light, moist and well-drained soil, high humidity, etc., for good growth and flowering. Watering and fertilization is a must during the growing season. Outdoor plants should be protected from direct hot sunlight.

This genus of the family Araceae consists of around seven species, which are very popular for the large, showy and colorful leaves. They are otherwise known as elephant ear plants, heart of Jesus or angel wings. The plants that belong to this genus are natives to Brazil and its surrounding regions. In case of wild plants, they can grow up to a height of around three feet, and the leaves have a length of around two feet. These statistics cannot be expected from those grown as houseplants. These plants are widely grown for ornamental purposes, and the arrowhead-shaped leaves come in a wide range of sizes and colors like white, red, pink, green, rose, silver, bronze, etc.

For good growth, these plants need fertile and moist soil, which is well-drained and should be grown in part sun and part shade. Most of these plants do not tolerate full sun. In tropical climates, these plants can be grown in the ground. In other parts, it is better to dig out the tubers during the fall when the leaves die, and store the tubers indoors to be planted in the winters.

The genus Monstera has around 22 species of plants which are characterized by very large leaves with holes. This genus got its name from the Latin name, which means monstrous, after the huge leaves. They are natives to the tropical America, and are evergreen vines which can grow to a height of around 65 feet, attaching to trees with the help of aerial roots. The alternate leaves are often dark green in color and their length can range between 0.5 to 2.5 feet, with some species sporting leaves with around 4 feet in length. Most of these plants have leaves with holes, and the inflorescence produce fruits which are edible in some species, especially Monstera deliciosa. The ripe fruits of Monstera deliciosa are edible and taste like a mix of banana and pineapple. Plants belonging to the genus Monstera are also known as elephant ear plants after the big leaves, and are popular as houseplants. These elephant ear plants require a temperature that ranges between 20 to 30° C with high humidity and shade for good growth. It cannot tolerate frost and may die in such conditions. The growth will stop as the temperature dips below 10° C. It has to be planted outdoors for flowering, which happens after three years of planting, and the fruits will take around one year to ripen.

In short, elephant ear plants are not a single plant species, but several plants belonging to various species of the family Araceae. Though the basics of elephant ear plant care are common to most of these plants, it may vary with the specific species. However, elephant ear house plants are very popular for the large and colorful leaves with different designs, and some of them can be used for indoor gardening too, which helps in enhancing the look of the place around.

Interested To Know What Are The Plants Found In The Sonoran Desert?

Barrel CactusLocated in the south-western parts of North America, the Sonoran desert includes parts of Arizona and California in the U.S., and Sonora in Mexico. A unique feature of the Sonoran desert is that it experiences more rainfall than most deserts. During the hot, dry weather, sand storms alter the face of the desert by shifting the sand dunes. Flowers can be found in this desert if there is enough rain during the summer months. The snow-covered peaks of the Mount Catalina are a beautiful sight in winter.

The Sonoran desert has unique species of plants and animals, owing to its distinct climate. Some of the species of plants found in this desert, include tumble weed, fairy duster, devils claw and ghost flower. Curious to know more about the Sonoran desert plants? Here you’ll find information about the singular plant species found in this desert, some startling facts about them and more. Let us read about a few of the species of Sonoran desert plants.

Plants Found in the Sonoran Desert

Barrel Cactus
One of the tallest cacti on the planet, the barrel-shaped cacti is different from other cacti because of its average height of 8 feet. It has straight parallel ridges running along its sides and these ridges are covered with sharp, pointed spines. The Native Americans boiled the pulp of the barrel cactus for food and used the hook like spines for fishing. This is a beautiful cacti with red or yellow flowers.

Brittle Bush
It is a small plant which grows to a height of 2 to 5 feet. The branches of this plant are brittle and the leaves are broad at the base and narrow at the tip. The thick mat of hair on the leaves, prevents excessive loss of water and protects the plant from heat and cold. This plant belongs to the sunflower family and has small yellow flowers that appear during the summer months. The secretions from the stem of this plant, is used as adhesive and has analgesic properties. This plant grows abundantly in many parts of the Sonoran desert.

Desert Ironwood
This species is found growing on lower altitudes, mostly below 2500 foot above sea level. Belonging to the pea family, this plant is one of the tallest in the Sonoran desert, growing up to a height of 20 to 25 feet. The dense green canopy of the desert ironwood serves as a suitable habitat for a variety of bird and insect species. Not only this, many animals of the Sonoran desert survive on the leaves of this plant. The desert ironwood flowers during the summer months, when clusters of small flowers appear on the branches. The wood of the desert ironwood is used for making charcoal.

Chain Fruit Cholla
The chain fruit cholla is a cactus with segmented branches that appear like chains. The branches are covered with a thick growth of spines, which protect the plant from the heat. This plant is also called the “jumping cholla” because the segments get detached from the plant easily and attach themselves to the passing animals. This is the main method of propagation of the plant, which is adapted to grow in the most hostile desert conditions.Brittle Bush

Velvet Mesquite
Similar to the desert ironwood, the velvet mesquite also has a canopy that shelters insects and many species of bird life. It predominantly grows around streams and water bodies in the desert. The largest of the mesquite species, it has thorny branches that spread out in all directions. The dark green leaves grow alternately on the branches and are covered with fine hair. Many small animals feed on the velvet mesquite, which used to be the staple food of the Native Americans. Today, it is used as firewood and for making charcoal.

Hedgehog Cactus
The hedgehog cactus grows in clusters, having a cylindrical stem that has spines instead of leaves. It has attractive, bright red cup-shaped flowers that appear during the summer months. The fruits are edible and are red in color. Found only in parts of America, the pulp of this plant was used by the natives to prepare sweet cakes.

Saguaro Cactus
The Saguaro cactus is a species of cacti found in the Sonoran desert. It bears white flowers during summer, which remain closed during the day and open when the temperature drops at night. The fleshy stem of the Saguaro cactus helps retain water absorbed during the rains, which is then used by the plant to survive the long dry spells. Many animals, including mice and bats, feed on the stem of the Saguaro cactus. To protect this species of cacti, which is the state flower of Arizona, there is a national park named Saguaro National Park.

Soaptree Yucca
It is one of the most strikingly unusual trees dotting the landscape of the Sonoran desert. Growing to an average height of 15 feet, the soaptree yucca is called so because the trunk and roots contain a substance that was used as a soap by the natives. The leaves of this ornamental plant are triangular in shape and resemble those of a palm tree. The plant fibers are used for weaving baskets and other items.

Teddybear Cholla
At first glance, the short fuzzy branches growing from the tip of this plant make it appear like a cute teddy bear with protruding arms. However, just have a closer look and you’ll know what it really is! The teddybear cholla is completely covered with a mat of spines which get attached to you if you happen to brush against them. The plant bears yellow flowers during summer, which yield spiny fruits. The teddybear cholla is one of the many plants that have adapted to a life in the deserts. The thick growth of spines protects the plant from the extreme temperatures and the green stems contain chlorophyll necessary for photosynthesis. These plants can be found all over the Sonoran desert up to a height of 2000 feet.

You can see that the Sonoran desert has some of the most exotic plant species on planet earth. Do you love the thrill of exploring fascinating places? There you go! So now you know where to head to, on your next adventure trip.

Tips On How To Grow And Maintain An Aloe Vera Plant

Aloe Vera PlantAloe vera is a stemless, succulent plant, mostly adapted in arid and semi-arid areas. The plant may reach to a height of about 90 cm. It usually flowers during the summer season. Aloe vera is commonly grown as an ornamental plant, either indoors or outdoors. As the Aloe plant can tolerate extreme drought conditions, it is one of the favorite medicinal plants for growing in rock gardens and other areas that receive less rainfall. It is also resistant to almost all pests, except few scale insects and bugs, hence maintaining the plant is comparatively easier than other ornamental plants. Let’s take a look at the growing tips for Aloe vera plant.

One of the most important points to be considered while growing Aloe vera plant is that it cannot tolerate heavy frosts and snow. It is due to the fact that more than 90 percent of the plant consists of water. Hence, if you are planning to grow this wonderful medicinal plant, make sure to plant it after frost or make necessary arrangements to protect the plant from frost and snow.

Prepare a moderately fertile potting soil. You can purchase ready-made soil or prepare it on your own by using sandy and well-drained soil, supplemented with dry leaves and humus. Garden soil is not recommended, as it is heavy and not preferable for keeping indoors. Add the potting soil to about two-third of the pot, place the plant at the center and then refill the remaining soil. Then, tamp the soil surrounding the plant.

Speaking about watering the Aloe vera plant, make sure not to over water it. Over irrigation can increase the risk of certain potential diseases and pests. In fact, the amount of water required by the plant varies depending upon the season. For example, during the winter, Aloe plant is nearly dormant and hence, requires a very little moisture. In case of summer season, watering should be done to such an extent that the top soil remains moist.Aloe Vera Plant

It is advisable to place the Aloe vera plant in the indirect sunlight to protect it from scorching heat. In winter months, place the plant outdoors; whereas, in summer months, you can keep it in the windowsill. As Aloe vera has spreading roots, you can repot the plant every year for better growth. Another indication is the development of new shoots around the main plant. Remove the new shoots after they attain a height of about 4 inches and plant them on different pots. While repotting the mother plant, always opt for larger pots, rather than using a deeper one. You can trim off the excess roots and replant it in another pot.

For first aid treatments like burns, cuts, wounds and insect bites, you can harvest Aloe vera leaves by cutting them with sharp knives. Then trim the sides of the leaf and slice lengthwise from the center. Take out the transparent leaf sap and apply to the affected area. Due to its multipurpose uses in herbal medicine, Aloe vera is also referred to as Medicinal Aloe.

Commercially, there are two products of Aloe vera, namely, gel and latex. Aloe gel is extracted from the clear leaf pulp, whereas aloe latex or aloe juice is a yellow exudate, extracted from below the leaf epidermis. These two aloe products are used for cosmetic and therapeutic purposes. Though there are several claims regarding health benefits of Aloe vera, there are a very few scientific proofs that support these claims.

A Healthy Gardenia Plant Has Creamy White Blossoms And Dark Green Leaves


A healthy Gardenia plant has creamy white blossoms and dark green leaves. Their sweet fragrance, similar to that of jasmine is simply intoxicating. Gardenia plant care, unfortunately, is not, however, that simple. Proper plant care for the gardenia is essential to keeping them a healthy and thriving plant. I’ve received Gardenia plants as special gifts through the years and have developed some know how, (through trial and error) on how to properly care for the Gardenia plant. I can now enjoy my Gardenia plants even during the cold winter months. I’d be happy to share with you, through my love of gardenias, some gardening tips on how to properly care for your gardenias and ways to incorporate gardenias into your life. You can get the ultimate enjoyment from a gardenia’s fragrant flowers all year long with proper gardenia plant care, read on to learn more about this special shrub. Gardenias, Gardenia Topiary, or Gardenia Floor Plant are ideal gifts for moms, grandmothers, co-workers, friends and are perfect flowers for a special occasion.

In addition, known as Common Gardenia, Gardenia Augusta, Gardenia Florida, and Cape jasmine, Gardenia Jasminoides are extremely fragrant, white or ivory colored, waxy textured and make good cut flowers. These can be planted in pots as well. Possibly, they have originated from China. The leaves are glossy and of dark green color. The name Gardenia is named in honor of the American naturalist Alexander Garden. Famous for sweet, edible and charming, sweet fragrance, Honeysuckles spread freshness in the air. This strongly scented flower is distributed in various parts of the globe in distinct varieties. Honeysuckles have medicinal uses, especially in homeopathy. The European Honeysuckles that are creamy whitish in color dominate mainly in Europe. They bear red fruits. Continued in Romancing The Flowers Part Four.

All of us would like to have the feelings of love nurtured in our home. You need not be dating to wish for the presence of love and happiness in your environment. It will be great to still experience the romantic feelings with the person you have been living with for the past 20 years. Aromatherapy is a wonderful way for you to achieve this with the scents that you love. Jasmine, Gardenia, Rose, and Geranium are all associated with romance and love. If you would like to encourage the presence of love, think about using these oils in your Aromatherapy practices. Consider burning some rose candles in your home. Choose aromatherapy candles that are made out of Soy wax. These candles are all-naturaland will leave no soot behind or have any pollution type materials in them. If you are taking a bubble bath, or just feeling romantic, the scent of roses in bloom makes you feel as if you are in beautiful garden. Gardenia is another exotic and romantic scent. The flower is known for its incredibly fragrant aroma. Gardenia oil may be diluted for use on skin or in your bath.