Thursday, July 22, 2010

Easy Maintenance Gardening - EMG

One of the questions I have from a lot of my friends is that
"I started off but it was really difficult to maintain the plants."
"It takes too much time off my weekends to take care of the plants".
"I bought these plants with so many buds but within a month they stopped flowering"
"All these garden bloggers make gardening look like a full time job. I mean think about it, NPK, fertilizer, compost, peat, moss, cocopeat, medium, neem, the trendy organic stuff, drainage, soil and last but never the least a recent addition to my list, Panchagavya"
Initially I too felt the same way. I bought and lost many plants. But as I developed a greater interest in tending to my rooted friends, I realized that container plants require more care than we think they do. On further discussions with my friends I realized that they were mostly buying roses, hibiscus or maybe even in some extreme cases orchids. Obviously, these are beautiful plants to have in the house and you are tempted to buy them from your nursery where are displayed in full bloom. But you should realize that this is like a demo of some software which works amazing, looks amazing, but when you buy the full version #$*&!!@.
Dont let these things scare you away from getting these wonderful friends into your balcony.
For those who are interested in starting off without much effort but need a colorful garden, do not worry solutions are not far away. You can spend minimal time on maintaining the plants also impress your better half with your 'beautification of the house' skills at very less cost.
With the number of apartments on rise in Bangalore, I really would like to see many more balconies with pots and plants. I am starting a series on creating an easy to maintain garden. Balcony or not.
Am calling this series EMG series. 
So let us get started with one of my favorite EMG plants in my garden.

The Pentas or Star Cluster is a beautiful plant that blooms in clusters of about 20 flowers. Each flower has five petals.  For those who are familiar with Ixora(Tamil: Vrikshi) and the small problems of growing it in your balcony, this is a great replacement. 
All you need to do it get these into your balcony from the nursery in various color combinations and you are going to see the clusters of flowers almost throughout the year. These are very hardy plants and require moderate watering and care. You can prune them down once in a while and they will go dormant for sometime to grow some foilage and then start flowering again.  The clusters usually remain fresh for a week and then start drying slowly. Just cut the branch just below the flowers to keep the plant looking good. These flowers are apparently very attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds. Since I have a balcony garden in a concrete jungle, I do not have the opportunity to see either of them. But if you are terrace gardening have some space on the lower floors, I am sure you can attract the butterflies. These colorful plants will definitely be a great addition to any garden.

I did notice that a lot of leaves dry out. Not a cause for concern(unless there are too many dry leaves), but you can maybe increase the watering a little bit. Remove the dry leaves carefully and the plants look healthy again. 
For those who are looking at decorating a window sill or a small area with some sunlight, a dwarf variety of these plants are available. These grow to less than a foot in height and you can control how big you want the foilage to be.
If you have some time.
You can buy Bio-Farm Organic Compost from any supermarket and add a couple of spoonfuls every fortnight. Just apply it on the top of the soil, and dont let the water flow out from the top of the pot. This will help keep the plant healthy in the longer term.

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