Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Manhattan Terrace Vines

I'm a first-time gardener. I need an advice on perennial (flowering) vines for the terrace. Privacy is a priority, but beauty and fragrance are almost as important. I love morning glory but was told it's annual. Any advice will be much appreciated.
Also, what's the prevailing opinion for the jasmine on the terrace?

Let me ask you a few questions so that I can best help you.
What direction does your terrace face and how is the sunlight throughout the day? Do you have strong winds or salt spray exposure?

To begin, morning glories are annuals, and even though they can fill in a small fence or railing quickly in one season they are not expected to come back. As far as jasmines, they too are mostly annuals, at least the climbing species that you are most likely referring to. I once wrote a quick document of some of the most popular vines here in the city, and they are the following:

Clematis sp. - clematis - climbing vine to 10’
Sun to part shade; moist organic soil; vine does best with sunny stems and protected, cool roots; known for vast color variation to cultivars; Clematis montana grows tall with small white flowers mid-summer; Clematis x jackmanii popular for large violet flowers; Clematis tangutica has yellow flowers and fluffy seed heads; plant clematis on a North, East or West exposure on a narrow-spaced trellis system

Hydrangea anomala var. petiolaris - climbing hydrangea - climbing vine to 50’
Full sun to part shade; dry soil; good on north or east exposure; wind and salt spray tolerant; white flower clusters mid-summer; woody cinnamon bark when mature; grows by aerial roots, best planted up cable system off separate from building exterior

Lonicera sempervirens - scarlet honeysuckle - twining vine to 12’
Sun to part shade; moist organic soil; plant on a South, East, or West exposure; must be trained at first then climbs well on its own; scarlet flowers followed by small red berries; gray-green leaves; exfoliating bark at maturity; North American native

Akebia quinata - chocolate vine - climbing vine to 30’
Sun to shade; dry organic soil; spicy vanilla scented pinkish-purple flowers in spring; nice rounded leaf is palmately compound;

Parthenocissus quinquefolia - Virginia creeper - climbing vine to 50’+
Part shade to shade; moist soil; excellent red fall color; very aggressive grower, requires maintenance; grows by adhesive sucker, train up trellis system; North, South, or East exposure

Parthenocissus tricuspidata - Boston ivy - spreading vine to 70’
Part shade; moist organic soil; glossy foliage; good fall color when planted in some sun; very aggressive grower, best trained up a trellis system; will perform well on a North, South, or East exposure

Schizophragma hydrangeoides - Japanese hydrangea vine - climbing vine to 40’
Sun to part shade; dry organic soil; fragrant midsummer flowers

Pyracantha sp. - firethorn - woody vine to 15’
Tolerant of most soils and exposures; clusters of white summer flowers followed by fruit-set in fall; P. atalantioides has red fruit; P. coccinea has orange fruit

Lastly there is Campsis radicans, or trumpet creeper, and I discussed that in a blog spot from last summer that you can revisit here.

Please note that vines such as Virginia creeper and Boston ivy I listed as aggressive growers which need to be trained up some sort of system that stands off of the building exterior. These vines have such adhesive suckers that they really should not be planted right up against a building because they will cause serious damage to the fa├žade over extended periods of time.
Also, you should be aware of the HSNY Library here on West 37th Street. Open to the public and well over 10,000 volumes we have plenty of information to share with you when you feel like educating yourself further. You can find more information about the HSNY Library by clicking here.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Reminder: Upcoming HSNY Events

Green Roof Planting Demonstration: A Hands-on Workshop with Marni Horwitz
Tuesday, March 25, 2008, 6:00 – 7:30pm
$10 for members, $30 for nonmembers, limit 25 people
Marni Horwitz owns and operates Alive Structures, a green roof and green wall installation company here in NYC. Join Marni for an informative and hands-on demonstration class where you can help plant an extensive green roof panel. The green roof you will help to create will become a permanent display at HSNY for all our visitors to admire and learn from.

(A few spaces are still available - RSVP to fluhrmann@hsny.org or call (212) 757-0915 x100.)

Planning Your City Garden: A Lecture by Linda Yang
Thursday, March 27, 2008, 6:00 – 7:30pm
Free for members, $10 for nonmembers

Linda Yang is an avid city gardener, former New York Times garden columnist, and author of The City Gardener's Handbook. She will discuss important steps for understanding your space - rooftop, terrace or yard - and the plants and design elements to make it glorious. The current edition of her book, with a Foreword by HSNY Librarian, Katherine Powis, will be available.
(RSVP to fluhrmann@hsny.org or call (212) 757-0915 x100.)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Upcoming Event at HSNY

Image: Ricci Albenda, Garden (detail), 2007, acrylic and charcoal on paper, 55 x 98 inches, courtesy of private collection, New York and Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York

The Horticultural Society of New York presents:

March 21 - May 23, 2008

Opening reception at HSNY
Friday, March 21, 6 to 8:30pm

The artist will open his backyard garden to the public:
Sunday afternoons, March 30, April 13, May 4 + 11, 2008, from 12 to 4pm
26 Devoe
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Curated by Jodie Vicenta Jacobson

The Horticultural Society of New York
148 West 37th Street
13th Floor
New York, NY 10018

Gallery hours:
Monday - Friday, 11am - 6pm + by appointment

T: 212 757 0915 x113
F: 212 246 1207
E: jjacobson@hsny.org

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Question Regarding Orchid Fertilizers

(A full year after I bought it, thanks to the right light conditions and regular fertilizing, this Laliocattleya 'Gold Rush' is in full bloom and knocking my socks off! Photo: Alex Feleppa)

While looking for orchid fertilizer retailers I cam across your blog. I hope you can help me with my problem. I wanted to know the names of stores that i could pick up the orchid fertilizers from in the Manhattan area. Could you also tell me the names of good fertilizers specifically for orchids?

To answer your fertilizer question, my default destination for fertilizer and other supplies in Manhattan is Jamali Gardens at 149 West 28th Street. It is a small business but inside it is absolutely packed with every imaginable supply expect plants themselves. They always shift the fertilizers around so you might have to ask where they are, but the staff is usually very friendly and helpful.

As far as what fertilizer to use for your orchids, I typically use Schultz “Orchid Food”. It’s readily available and I’ve been using it for a number of years with good results. The N-P-K is 19-31-17 so you will be providing a good balance of nitrogen and potash with a little extra boost of phosphorous to help the orchid re-bloom. If you are not familiar with the N-P-K reading on a bottle of fertilizer a blog post from May 11, 2007, will help you understand that better. For this fertilizer all the nutrients are in water-soluble forms which becomes quickly available to the plant, so it is different from other kinds of fertilizers that might be more “slow-release”. As a result, and typical for orchids, I like to fertilize with a slightly diluted solution compared to what the bottle recommends and I fertilize every week. The catchy phrase I learned in horticulture school is “weakly weekly” when it comes to fertilizing orchids, and does keep the plants looking, growing, and blooming well. Come to think of it this product does give weekly and monthly dosage recommendations so they make it really easy on you.

As a final thought, some people love a product called Super Thrive. Super Thrive comes in very concentrated form and you have to follow the instructions carefully. The one thing I find that most people are not aware of is that Super Thrive is not a regular fertilizer. This product resembles a certain kind of plant hormone, or “plant growth regulator” as botanists would say, and it helps give plants a boost if they are struggling. Many people use Super Thrive as a fertilizer but I have been educated that Super Thrive can be used in addition to fertilizer, but should not be used in place of.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Reminder: Intro to Green Roof Lecture this evening

An Introduction to Green Roofs with Alex Feleppa
Tuesday, March 18, 2008, 6:00 – 7:30pm
Free for members, $10 for nonmembers
Provide an aesthetic and environmental improvement to your home and your city with green roof technology. Expand your vocabulary and understanding by joining HSNY’s Director of Horticulture for an introduction to intensive and extensive green roofs systems. This is a perfect primer for Marni Horwitz’s demonstration class on March 25th.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Please Note: Linda Yang Lecture Rescheduled

Dear HSNY members, supporters, and friends,

For those of you that have received the HSNY program mailing for March and April, I must inform you of a last minute date change. Due to a terrible cold we have had to reschedule Linda Yang's slide show and lecture, "Planning Your City Garden". Linda's lecture was originally set for this Wednesday, March 5th, 2008, and has been rescheduled for Thursday, March 27th, 2008, from 6:00 - 7:30pm.

We hope very much to see you on the 27th for Linda's slide show and lecture. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.

If you are interested in learning more about The Horticultural Society of New York as a horticultural resource and provider of unique and specialized community outreach, please click here. If you are interested in becoming an HSNY member to help support our efforts city- and nation-wide, please click here. Thank you.

Repotting a Jade


I found your blog on line and enjoyed reading all the Q & A’s. My question is regarding my jade plant. I bought it at the local Target store about three years ago. We have moved, and the last year, it has been loving its new home, in front of an east facing window. I try to remember to turn it, due to the branches “growing towards the sun”. It is getting a little leggy and I would like to know how to prune it to stimulate additional growth on the stalks. I have pinched of the ends before, but nothing major.

I believe it is root bound, how do you know when to repot? What type of potting medium do you suggest?

When I do get the nerve to do major pruning, if needed, what is the best way to propagate the cuttings? I have read so many different things on line: …use a leaf, …use a cutting, ….put it in water right away, …do not water for weeks, . . .let cutting air dry. . . so confused.

Thanks for writing and including the photos. Your jade (Crassula argentea) does look very happy, and yes, I would definitely say it needs to be re-potted. If you find roots coming out of the bottom of the container or if the plant looks very restricted in its present pot, then it is pretty safe to say that re-potting would be a good idea. Some houseplants can enjoy being slightly pot-bound, but I wouldn’t say that jade necessarily fit into this category. As far as the re-potting, search for a container that is only 2” or 3” larger in diameter than the yellow pot it is presently in. Make sure it has proper drainage and since the plant has done so well in the yellow pot you might choose to use another glazed pot that will help retain some more moisture than terra cotta alone. As for the soil, I would use a mix that is free draining and not too moisture retentive. I think it’s Miracle-Gro that makes a Cactus & Succulent mix that I have used many times over for various plants, including jades, both here in the office and at home. It is a potting mix that has a little grit to it and is not too weighed down with organics which is good because you always want to avoid the potential for root rot. Best time to repot is late winter or early spring as the days get longer and the plants become more active, so now is the perfect time.

As for the propagating, you can try either leaf cuttings for stem cuttings. When you repot you will most likely lose a few leaves so you might as well pot them up separately or in the periphery of the new container. If you take stem cuttings, make sure you use a very sharp and sterile knife. Cut healthy looking shoots so that you have pieces that are 4” or 5” inches tall. Try to make the cut right under a node (the junction where a leaf or stem might have emerged from the stem you are cutting). Pull off any extra leaves so that you are only left with 3 leaves remaining on your cuttings. Let the cuttings sit and callus for a few days. Then, after a few days of callusing, pot the cuttings up in the free draining soil you bought for the re-potting. If you want, you can get a rooting hormone (such as Root-tone) and apply a very light dusting of it to the bottom of the cuttings before potting them up. When potting the cuttings, remember that you will want to use your finger to prepare the hole for the cutting so that the rooting hormone you have applied doesn’t get wiped right off the base of the cuttings once inserted in the soil. Make sure the soil you pot the cutting in is moist, but definitely not sopping wet. Pack the soil in around the cutting so it is held in place, and if you have to bury the cutting an inch or two down, so be it. In order for either of the cuttings to root most efficiently, you want to keep the soil slightly moist at all times and warm, about 74 or 75 degrees. It looks like that little shelf that gets hit with a lot of sun might be a perfect spot to situate your cuttings. Give them time, check every month or so to check on root development, and hopefully they will take and in time become plants of their own.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Please Note: Change of Event Date

Hello friends and supporters, I have an important announcement to share with you.

If you have received the March/April HSNY Mailer and/or email that went out last week highlighting the various events and offerings of The Horticultural Society of New York, I must let you know that there has been a date change. You will see on your HSNY events calendar that the opening for Ricci Albenda's art exhibit in the HSNY Gallery is listed for March 20th, 2008. Please note: this date is incorrect!

The opening for Ricci Albenda's art exhibit, 26 DEVOE, will take place at The Horticultural Society of New York's Gallery at 148 West 37th Street, 13th Floor, on Friday, March 21st, 2008, from 6:00 - 8:30pm.

If you are an HSNY member you will soon receive an invitation in the mail with all of the correct information. We apologize for the inconvenience, and we hope very much to see you on the evening of the 21st. If you are not an HSNY member but want to learn more about who we are as a horticultural resource and provider of community outreach, click here. To become a member of HSNY to help support our efforts and offerings both city and nation-wide, click here. Thank you.

Pictures of Bamboo Flowers?

Good morning. I am looking for a photograph of the bamboo flower? Can you direct me on where I might find one?

Sorry to answer your question with a question, but is an internet image acceptable or do you need it in print?

The flowers of many bamboo species (botanically known as Bambusa) are not very ornamental. Often they might look more like a grain than a large flower with colorful petals, but perhaps you already know that. I did a simple internet search and was able to find a few images. It might help to perform a search using the botanical name, Bambusa, as common names can often give you too many erroneous pictures.

Of course, if you need to find bamboo flowers in print, then come to the HSNY Library on West 37th Street. I asked Katherine Powis, HSNY Libarian, if she had any good pictures to share and she found these plates in a book entitled The Gardener's Guide to Growing Temperate Bamboos by Michael Bell (Timber Press, 2000):
(click on the images to see the scans full size)