Aloe Leaf Propagation

April 27, 2016

Aloe destructionHaving a puppy has its challenges, and Lassie has challenged my garden quite a bit over the last few months.  Today’s victim was a pretty aloe that spanned this pot.  The yellow arrow is pointing at what’s left of this pretty aloe.  There are a couple of pups that were hiding under the plant before Lassie chewed it up so that was a nice surprise.

2016-04-24 10.12.01I found a few leaves that Lassie hadn’t destroyed yet, so I’m going to give aloe leaf propagation a try.  I like this particular aloe a lot because of the pink edges and dots.  I would love to make more of these beauties.  I cut them as close to the base as I could, leaving a clean, straight cut that I let heal over for a day.

I use a porous potting mix.   In my reading, it was suggested that the cut end be dipped in a rooting compound before being placed in potting soil.   I stuck three pieces in soil without using Rootone.

Aloe Leaf Propagation Aloe Leaf Propagation

I dipped the last two leaves in Rootone and planted them the opposite direction so I remember what I did!   I won’t water this for  a few weeks.   It will be placed in an area with good light, but I don’t want the sun hitting full blast because I think it will fry these leaves. I guess it will take about 4 to six weeks for roots to develop for repotting.

Aloe Leaf Propagation Aloe Leaf Propagation

Now we wait…..   If they actually do set off pups, I’m interested to see how much difference the Rootone makes.  I’ll report back on this eventually.



My Fig Trees

April 24, 2016

I’m growing two figs in pots on my roof deck.  One is a Violette de Bordeaux and the other is a Janice Seedless Kadota Fig.  I chose these two varieties because they grow well in containers, and also for my coastal climate.

My Fig Trees

This is a Violette de Bordeaux fig. This little tree is suffering the effects of not enough water. I found it wilting a few days ago, probably from a combination of the hot weather we’ve been having, and I have deep-watered for a couple of weeks. Sorry little tree!!!

My Fig Trees

This is a Janice Seedless Kadota Fig. It’s growing much faster than my other little tree. It’s growing in the same kind of pot as my other tree but didn’t suffer from the lack of water.  Weird since they always  get watered at the same time. Ah, the mysteries of gardening….

My Fig Trees

This ‘Honey Delight’ fig was my tree until we sold our big house and I had to relocate a lot of my potted plants. My ‘now’ neighbor planted this in her front yard and it has grown three times the size since it was in my yard.  I can see it from my roof deck, so I don’t have to miss it too much! And I get figs! 

So, here’s a little info on the care of fig trees:

Irrigation: Young fig trees should be watered regularly until fully established. In dry western climates, water mature trees deeply at least every one or two weeks.  Mulch the soil around the trees to conserve moisture. If a tree is not getting enough water, the leaves will turn yellow and drop. Also, drought-stressed trees will not produce fruit and are more susceptible to nematode damage. Recently planted trees are particularly susceptible to water deficits, often runt out, and die.

Pruning: Fig trees are productive with or without heavy pruning. It is essential only during the initial years. Trees should be trained according to use of fruit, such as a low crown for fresh-market figs. Since the crop is borne on terminals of previous year’s wood, once the tree form is established, avoid heavy winter pruning, which causes loss of the following year’s crop. It is better to prune immediately after the main crop is harvested, or with late-ripening cultivars, summer prune half the branches and prune the remainder the following summer. If radical pruning is done, whitewash the entire tree.

Fertilization: Regular fertilizing of figs is usually necessary only for potted trees or when they are grown on sands. Excess nitrogen encourages growth at the expense of fruit production, and the fruit that is produced often ripens improperly, if at all. As a general rule, fertilize fig trees if the branches grew less than a foot the previous year. I feed my figs in pots with diluted fish emulsion.  By diluted, I mean more water than suggested when mixing.

By June, we should be getting a good harvest off my neighbor’s tree.  Time will tell if I’m going to get any fruit from my little trees this year.   I’m assuming not from the little tree that was under watered, but miracles do happen occasionally!   We’ll see!


Propagating with Honey

April 23, 2016

I have never tried propagating with honey, but it makes sense since honey has enzymes that contain a natural antiseptic and antifungal properties.

Pure or raw honey is better to use than generic honey you would buy in a store which typically are processed or pasteurized which would remove the beneficial properties. One method is to mix 1 tbsp honey to 2 cups boiling water and let it cool.  You can put the stems of your cuttings in that and let roots form.

Another method uses undiluted honey for dipping, then place the cuttings directly into potting medium.

This video gives some good guidance on propagating with honey.


Take two aspirin……

April 3, 2016

I’m always so hopeful when I plant my new tomatoes, but dread seeing first signs of leaf fungus on the bottom leaves.  I’ve been blasting the plants with my hose in the morning so they can dry during the day, but I’m going to try an aspirin treatment this year.

Aspirin for tomatoes; hmmm, interesting thought, and it makes a lot of sense. Salicylic acid in aspirin is said to produce more blooms so fruit production is up. Another reason to treat with aspirin is to boost your plant’s immune system. Couldn’t hurt, so what the heck!

There are two ways to administer the aspirin to your plants.

1) When you are getting ready to plant, toss an aspirin into the bottom of the hole and cover with a little dirt so your plant roots don’t have direct contact with the aspirin, preventing burn. I might even go so far as to say it would be optimal if you crush the aspirin before you throw it into the hole.

2) If you’ve already planted, all is not lost. You can also administer the aspirin as a foliar spray by adding one aspirin to a gallon of lukewarm water and spraying on your tomato plants. It doesn’t have to be a heavy soaking, just spray it on.

Use uncoated, inexpensive aspirin for this garden job. Lukewarm water is better than cold so you don’t shock your plants when you spray.  Morning would be the best time to administer so the leaves dry off promptly.

I’m going to try it. Maybe tomorrow….

Here’s some more tomato planting and growing info that I found interesting, so you might, too:  How to Plant a Tomato



Botanical Nomenclature

April 2, 2016

BOTANICAL NOMENCLATURE IN A STANDARD FLOWER SHOW – If you are going to enter plants into Flower Shows or other competitions, it is important to understand the botanical nomenclature so your plants are labeled correctly.  Here’s a basic example:

Genus: Sedum

Species: rupestre

Variety/Cultivar: ‘Lemon Coral’

(Variety occurs in nature

Cultivar is cultivated by someone)

2016-04-02 09.22.16 Botanical Nomenclature

Here is a good, and very detailed guideline that I’ve reprinted from the National Garden Clubs Handbook for Flower Shows.  Don’t be overwhelmed by this, it will sink in slowly!

A. Correct scientific names are encouraged for all horticulture specimens exhibited in a Standard Flower Show and are required for exhibits to win a Top Exhibitor Award in Horticulture. Common names may be added, but not substituted for a scientific name.

B. All families of plants are divided into genera which in turn are divided into species.

  • 1.The genus plus the species is called the binomial name.
  • 2. A variety name added to a binomial is a further subdivision and describes a naturally occurring trait or variation, e.g., alba (white), rubrum (red), grandiflora (large flowered).
  • 3. A cultivar name describes a variation derived through horticultural means, e.g., Tagetes patula ‘Lemon Drop’ (marigold).
  • 4. A series name refers to a group of cultivars that differ only in color. For some hybrid plants of undetermined species, the genus and cultivar orseries is sufficient naming, e.g., Rosa ‘English Garden’ (cultivar), Saintpaulia ‘Optimara Haiti’ (series).

C. Writing a scientific/botanical name.

  • 1. The first letter of a genus is capitalized and the entire genus underlined or italicized as in the examples in B, 3 and 4 above.
  • 2. The species (second name of the binomial) is not capitalized but, like the genus, is underlined or italicized.
  • 3. The variety is written in lower case letters and underlined or italicized with or without the abbreviation var. preceding it, e.g. Pinus glauca var. albertiana.
  • 4. The cultivar is enclosed in single quotes with the first letter of the namecapitalized or with cv. placed before it and the single quotes omitted. See B, 3 and 4 above. The cultivar in B, 3 may also be written Tagetes patula cv. Lemon Drop.
  • 5. When handwritten, genus, species, and variety names are underlined; when mechanically printed, they are italicized. The examples given in B use italics to indicate schedule writing and in C use  non-italics with underlining to indicate handwriting for the botanical names.

D. While the full scientific name as described in B is encouraged for all horticulture exhibits, any part of the exhibit’s scientific name printed in the schedule need not be repeated on the entry card.

  • 1. A section/class of exhibits requiring a genus and cultivar name.
    • a. If the schedule provides the genus name, e.g. Saintpaulia, and possibly the common name (African Violet) the exhibitor need write only the cultivar name, e.g., ‘Gorgeous One’.
    • b. If the schedule provides only the common name, e.g. African Violet, then the exhibitor must write the genus and cultivar on the entry card, Saintpaulia ‘Gorgeous One’.
  • 2. If the genus and species are provided in the schedule, the exhibitor need add only the cultivar name on the entry card.
    • a. If the schedule includes a class that reads Tagetes patula (French Marigold), the exhibitor need write only the cultivar name, i.e., ‘Lemon Drop’ on the entry card.
    • b. If the schedule reads either “Marigold,” or “French Marigold,” with no binomial, the exhibitor must write out the full scientific name on the entry card, i.e., Tagetes patula ‘Lemon Drop’.
  • 3. Nomenclature information stated in the schedule’s section/class, though not required, if repeated on the entry card, may be abbreviated. Examples: S. ‘Optimara Clementine’ (when Saintpaulia appears in the schedule) and T_p_. ‘Lemon Drop’ (when Tagetes patula appears in the schedule). Notice that abbreviations for genus and species are italicized or underlined.
  • 4. It is important for the schedule to contain as much of the plant’s scientific name as possible to educate the public and exhibitors alike and simplify the entry card process.


With all the discussion about “Sustainable Gardening”, “Going Green”, and “Organic Gardening”, it can be overwhelming for the gardener. I say, let’s stop all this fancy talk and get back to basics. Which is really what the fancy talk is all about.

First, let’s read the gardeners definition of “Sustainable Gardening”: Capable of being continued with minimal long-term effect on the environment. Basically, good gardening practices.

Next up, “Going Green”: Reducing your overall impact on the environment by reducing your energy usage, recycling, using public transportation, buying local products, etc. Easy enough, and I think us gardeners tend to follow this philosophy in our daily lives.

Lastly, “Organic Gardening”: this definition is a moving target, but for the most part, the practice rejects using any synthetic pesticides or fertilizers; instead, using the materials nature provides us, such as compost, mulch, and natural predators to nurture plants and control pests and diseases, hoping to minimally affect your environment.

If you are recycling in your household, composting, mulching, planting to invite beneficial insects, or using drip irrigation, then you are on the right path. Use all the fancy words you want, it’s simply a philosophy to pay more attention be less wasteful and more thoughtful, in your garden and life in general.

See, that wasn’t so scary, was it?


April in the Garden 2016

April 1, 2016

April is National Gardening Month. There are lots of flower shows and garden tours this month to inspire you and get those creative juices flowing.  In our gardens, this month’s focus should be fertilizing and weeding.  We’ve had a decent amount of rain so the weeds are thriving.  Stay ahead of that job or you’ll be sorry later!


April in the Garden 2016

I hope the Monarch caterpillars find my milkweed!


Fertilizing Your Plants

March 29, 2016

As promised in yesterday’s post, here is a primer on Fertilizer.  Not really complicated, but it can seem that way when you are faced with a wall of choices at your local nursery.  Take a deep breath and let’s get through this! A Guide to Fertilizing Plant fertilizer comes in liquid and powdered forms. Liquid […]

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Fertilizer and soil amendments

March 28, 2016

Now that we’re starting to spend more time in our gardens, it would be good to review the difference between fertilizer and soil amendments! Fertilizer improves plant growth directly by providing one or more necessary plant nutrients. Soil amendments are a material that improves the chemical and/or physical condition of the soil. Organic amendments and […]

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Fungus Among Us Friday

March 25, 2016

Fungus Among Us Friday!  My succulent shutters apparently are getting too much water because I’ve got fungus issues!  This is a tricky spot in my garden because in the winter this wall doesn’t get nearly as much sun as it will see in the next couple of months.  These succulent shutters are on a drip […]

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Making Lemonade!

March 24, 2016

There are two clues that Lassie, the puppy, has been here.  Can you see them?   Besides the obvious tennis ball, the other clue would be chewed and dug up succulents.  Lassie is not helping in the garden, but I’m learning to roll with the digging and chewing and getting better at puppy proofing! So, I […]

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