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Archive for February, 2015

 Jade plants are one of the most popular house plants to grow. They’re also one of the stealthiest, because many people don’t realize that cute little cutting is going to grow into large proportions. Cheerfully described as “assuming a tree-like shape as they mature,” they can live for a long time and grow into small trees or shrubs up to five feet tall.

Jades (Crassula ovata) are easy to grow and nearly fool-proof, which is why we gardeners like to use them as gateway plants, to lure innocent friends into growing things. A succulent, they have fleshy, paddle-shaped, shiny leaves. They’re grown as foliage plants but do flower; the blooms are fairly small and occur on Jades 10 years and older.

Several cultivars are available, including dwarf types that are ideal for bonsai. Once you’ve gotten yours, place it where it gets bright sunlight for at least four hours daily. They need day-time temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and night-time temperatures between 50 and 55 degrees. During the winter months, protect plants from getting a cold nip from a chilly window by moving them a short distance back from the glass.

Keep the soil moist, allowing the soil to dry slightly between watering. Jades are sensitive to having chronically wet soil and it often ends in root rot. But don’t let the soil dry too much, or your jade will complain about it by shedding its leaves or developing brown spots on them. If your plant requires watering more than once a day to stay moist, transplant it to a larger pot.

Fertilize jade plants once every three to four months, but if the plant is recently repotted, wait four months before its first application of fertilizer. Liquid fertilizer is easiest to apply, never apply fertilizer to dry soil, because it will result in root injury.

When repotting – this is best done on mature plants every two to three years – cut the jade back to help it re-established more quickly. Jade plants grow best in cactus mix soil with some added organic matter, or you can your own potting media by mixing one part sterilized organic soil, one part sphagnum peat moss, and three parts coarse sand. When you plant it into a larger pot, put some soil in the bottom of the pot and firm the soil around the old root ball. Water the soil thoroughly at first, and don’t water again until the soil dries out on top.

Jade propagation is simple: take stem tip cuttings in spring and let them sit for five days to develop a callus over the cut end. Then root the cuttings and leaves in a moist sand/peat medium. This gives plenty of air for root development and a better chance of survival when transplanting. Roots that develop in water don’t take as well to being moved to potting soil as those that are rooted in sand or a sand/peat combination.

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In Victorian times messages of love were sent with flowers, each type and color having its own meaning. Should someone send you a bouquet of red roses, they were speaking of love. Should the roses be yellow, they were saying they’re jealous.

Modern relationships are carried out differently – nowadRosesays, love is celebrated by sending flowers, candies, and text messages. “I lv U” has replaced floral displays, but sending flowers is still a great way to express passion for that special person in your life. With all of the new varieties of flowers, what would Victorian florists send in today’s world of modern love?

Roses are great if you’re already in a relationship. But what about the person who has a crush on the girl in the next office cubicle, and isn’t sure if she is interested in return? Try sending mixed wildflowers – they’re non-committal, casual, and not intense. Frightening people is a real risk in today’s romance scene, and wildflowers have less of a reputation for commitment.

Wildflowers can be grown in the garden for just such casual occasions. However, this does not mean picking weeds to give; save those for when asking for a divorce.

Unsure whether it’s time to take the relationship to the next level, or keep it casual? Send Gerbera daisies, tulips, and freesias. Together these make a unique mix with big flowers, bold color and soft fragrance. This step above standard bouquets sets the stage for better things, while leaving an “it’s just casual” safety net should the receiver become alarmed at the idea of closer involvement.

Occasionally people come together for brief romantic interludes.   In some cases those involved want to remain friends without continued entanglement, and carnations are an ideal choice to send. Inexpensive and commonly found in many retail stores, they soften the words without encouraging further involvement. Carnations say “Yes, I’m sending a flower to thank you, but I don’t really want anything more”.

Unless, of course, it was the interlude of a lifetime, one never to be repeated yet sizzling and memorable. The absolute must-send bouquet for this is made up of yellow daylilies for the fleetness of love, blue forget-me-nots for remembrance, and red Crocosmia “Lucifer” for the devil that made you do it.

Relationships may encounter a few bumpy times, and lovers have ways of communicating this, such as blasting Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” over the stereo. When this happens, hustling quickly over to the florists to choose unique flowers for one-of-a-kind bouquets is best. Hand-pick tropical flowers and orchids to show an effort went into the apology, a good thing to demonstrate to an irritated spouse.

Flowers can encompass the wide range of love found in our world. Close friends can be celebrated with unusual arrangements, such as floral displays placed in items that evoke unique interests or shared moments. Think outside the box when choosing both flowers and the vase to hold them. Often personal items, such as a bike helmet, can convey deep appreciation for friends and the connection you have together. 

For those who have no clue where they are in a relationship, the safest way to go is with traditional roses. They’re formal, standard, and are the best fall-back when you don’t want to risk not doing enough. But don’t underestimate them: due to their reputation as beacons of love they may help the receiver to feel more strongly about the sender. Especially if the roses are made from chocolate.

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