Friday, February 25, 2011

Pruning Roses

The cold season is over in Bangalore. My roses slowed down their blooming sometime in December except for the yellow master performer. It had a strong basal cane and was producing flowers pretty well. But aphids attacked it and its vigor went down.  A strong spray of water helped in getting rid of the aphids but the plant was looking like a mess. All my other roses were also collecting pests. Here is one of the rose plants covered by a web made by who know what. So I decided to start pruning them all. I noticed that some of the other plants that I pruned recently had started showing buds(Jasmine, Bougainvillea etc) and that made me more confident about pruning the rose plants. Most of them are reduced to a couple of small branches now.
In this post I am going to focus on the pruning and after effects on the yellow rose which is the best and my favorite rose plant in the balcony.

I cut of most of the basal cane and left a basal stem that was about ¾ ft long, and I pruned several other branches. Last year I did the same thing to this plant though there were no basal canes at that time. It seemed to take it pretty well and also grew well in 2010. Here is a snapshot of how the plant looks after pruning. This was around the first week of February. 

Within a couple of days I saw new branches sprouting out and vigorous growth in the plant. In about 10 days, this was how the rose plant looked.

About 3 weeks from pruning the plant looks like this.

Now that there is sufficient foliage, I added  a good dose of compost(handful) and commercially available organic rose mix(a few spoonfuls). In a week I am going to apply some banana peel shake(ues you read it right) to see if that is going to help the flowering. I had written about Pachagavya earlier and how it was helping the roses. I have not used it for more than a quarter and can see significant difference in the growth and vigor of the plants. The panchagavya was definitely helping. Right now I have no stock so I am living with what I have.
This is probably the best time to prune the roses in Bangalore/Chennai as the weather is not too hot to dry or damage the young leaves. Infact I should have pruned them in the middle of January. Anyway these are roses and they will definitely grow back. I also kept an eye on any suckers that arise during the growth process as they will “suck out” the energy of the productive part of the plant. They typically look like this(Rose experts, correct me if I am wrong).
This was one of the few rose plants from the garden that was not grafted when we got it from the nursery. I think it was rooted from a cutting(if that works well for roses) or propagated by some other means but definitely not grafting. The basal cane comes right from the bottom of the plant(almost under the soil) and that is why I am assuming that it was not grafted.  Also as a sapling it did not have any signs of tape on it.
The remaining rose plants which are grafted are also doing well after pruning but this guy just races ahead like a rocket in comparison. Don’t know if that determines anything about the way the roses perform.
Hopefully I start seeing flowers in a couple of weeks time. I will keep updating 
I will update pictures of flowers which I hope should show up in the next week or so.
Roses are definitely not EMG in comparison to the other plants I have written about. Coming to the topic of EMG, now that we have about 6 posts on that topic it is time for those of you who are still looking at building your garden to put a plan together and create your own space. Next post will start working on that.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

EMG: Geraniums

P.S. I was looking up the Wikipedia article on Geraniums and there seems to be some confusion. These are generally called Geraniums here but in the US these plants are called Pelargoniums. If you go to a nursery here and ask for Pelargoniums they will not send you back empty handed. But asking for Geraniums will get you these plants.  You can read the corresponding Wikipedia articles here and here

Geraniums are an amazing plants for a home with atleast a couple of hours of sunlight. These plants do very well in containers and come in various colors. They can be overwatered or even ignored for a couple of days and still do pretty well. They grow very well in containers and do not invade your garden space by spreading out horizontally or vertically. No pruning, no bugs and not much care. What else can we ask for in a EMG plant.

The entire blooming process itself is very beautiful. The stem grows out longer and pearl like structures show up. They bloom one by one and last for a few days. Geraniums also make great border plants. They can be fed a handful of compost once a month and like moist soil. These can also be used as border plants in large spaces by planting the various colored varieties in sequence.

Some pictures of the ones at home.

A close up of the flowers

The hanging variety of the Geranium.

The pearl like structures from which the flowers bloom

Opening ceremony

All bloomed

And a picture of my Geranium collection. The pink and white ones are a few months old in the garden, the red one in the foreground is more than a year old and is still only about a foot high. Blooms throughout the year. The hanging pot is not in the pic. In the left background you can see the heavily pruned Jasmine plant.

Geraniums as border plants.

Scented geraniums are also available but I do not have them at home nor have I found them at local nurseries. Need to check if Lalbagh has any

Geraniums Summary

Light: Sunlight definitely required for atleast a couple of hours a day.
Watering: Very tolerant for overwatering. Either water lightly on a daily basis or thoroughly every couple of days. In summer you may have to water it more than once depending on how much sun it is getting.
Plant does not need any kind of pruning at all. It maintains a certain size and does not grow more than a foot tall in your pot. Larger the pot, larger the plant.
Add a handful of compost to the soil every month to improve the texture of the soil and also help the plant.

This should do well in any sunny area and should be possible to grow all around India. Its non-invasive growth makes it a wonderful plant to have in the balcony.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Pigeon Chronicles - II

So last week I was observing Mr & Mrs Pigeon and the egg. Mr. Pigeon is usually not around. To my surprise the egg had become the eggs. So here is the updated nest.

I read on the internet that it takes around 18 days for the eggs to hatch. That should happen sometime between Mar 01-10th. I will be traveling for a week during that time and may not be around to enjoy the new chicks. But my wife will definitely capture the pics and I will post them once I am back.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Pigeon Chronicles

I am a regular reader of "Trees Plants & More". Recent posts have been about "The pigeon saga" where she has been posting about a pigeon's nest in her balcony. It was really exciting to get updates regularly and to see how the pigeons were doing. In an amazing coincidence I noticed some twigs lying in our large windowsill early last week. While at home, I also noticed a pigeon adding twigs to the stack over there. I was really excited and realized what I could see soon. As expected an egg came and soon a pigeon was sitting on it. All at home are waiting in anticipation to see the young one.

Quality of photos is a little bad as I am taking it from behind a glass. Do not want to disturb the pigeons by opening the window. Will try to get better pictures once the young ones are seen and the parent pigeons are not around.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Some publicity for blog

The blog was first featured on TIP homes, an extremely popular interior design blog in India. The variety and frequency of posts on the website is just amazing. Ofcourse it is a very dangerous website to show to your wives as you might have to make a quick trip to the furniture/home decor stores :)
 Here's the link
This feature was mentioned in Dec 2010 just before the New Year and I never got to mention it here.

The next mention was an interesting one. Getting a mention in the National newspaper is a pretty big deal. I would like to thank Anusha(from The Hindu) for getting in touch to mention my name in the article. The blog is what got her attention and she got in touch with me through it. Obviously there are very many expert gardeners out there but then very flew bloggers. So I guess I was lucky. Though there is no mention of the blog there, the name figures. I also was able to sneak in one photo with yours truly in there. The remaining pictures are those of another enthusiastic balcony gardener.

Here's the link to the article,
Here's the link to the photo

and here's the full article

Life & Style » Homes & Gardens

Published: January 23, 2011 00:05 IST | Updated: February 8, 2011 17:18 IST

Blooming balconies

Anusha Parthasarathy
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A cozy balcony with seating. Photo: Ishrath Humairah
The Hindu A cozy balcony with seating. Photo: Ishrath Humairah

Living in an apartment? Love growing plants? Don’t’ be disheartened, balcony gardens can help you get close to Nature, writes Anusha Parthasarathy
Fairy lights twinkling from a branch highlighting gradient strokes of green, billowy leaves of potted plants, dabs of bright colours on blooming buds and the swaying shadows of passive life; you could throw in a chair or two to bask in its shady haven even if you are in an apartment couple of floors above the ground.
Balcony gardens are fast becoming a way not just to pursue a hobby but also to bring patches of green into an apartment. A few simple decorative items and a good choice of plants can make a world of difference.
Ishrath Humairah, a healthcare professional and co-founder of Tree Souls, makes sure she has her dose of green everywhere. “It is not about the size of the balcony but what you do with it that matters. People with big balcony can have a sprawling garden while those who have space constraints can go for vertical garden walls,” she says.
Natrajan Sridharan, who has converted the 10ft by 5 ft balcony in his home into a green zone, says, maintaining a balcony garden is simple. “The exciting aspect is that there are many types of designs, plants, pots, garden accessories available. You just need a good idea.”
Perhaps, the most important part is to know what kind of plants would suit a constrained space and variable temperature. Says M.M. Hussain , ex-general secretary of Indian Nurserymen Association and Indian Rose Federation, “Choosing plants depends on where your balcony is. It is not advisable to have fixed planters. Go for pots that are 10 inches, to 15 inches wide. It makes shifting and water-proofing easy. Also the soil should be very porous so that it retains moisture and the plants get more water. Well-decomposed manure is a must too.
Hussain explains how the amount of sunlight varies according to geographical directions. “A north-facing balcony gets no sunlight so it makes sense to grow foliage there. Shade loving plants and creepers/climbers are another option. A balcony facing the East gets mild sun up to 11 a.m. So there can be both foliage and flowering plants. Hibiscus could be a good plant to grow on such a balcony. South and West facing balconies get abundant sun. They are a haven for flowering plants. But in summer, you’ll need to take them inside for sometime.”
Chandramouli S has transformed a small section of his apartment into a private garden. “I’ve always wanted to grow plants and it almost seemed impossible in an apartment. But after visiting a few blogs on gardening, I was inspired and arranged about 40 plants on a portion of the terrace. My garden has been slowly growing in size. Adds Ishrath, ”Invest in plants that can thrive in your city conditions. It is ridiculous to buy seeds from Ooty gardens and plant them in homes here. But at the same time you should keep experimenting, for Nature always springs surprises.”
Natrajan points towards the hype about ‘going green’. He says gardens are not eco-friendly unless organic pesticides such as neem oil, compost from kitchen wastes and proper watering methods are used. I would love to help set-up gardens and also help maintain them.” Ishrath also suggests other ways to go ‘green’ — “Invest in solar powers lights, use mud and terracotta pots instead of plastic and put-up khus or bamboo curtains to keep the place cool. Recycle your kitchen or bath water for your balcony garden.”
And once the plants are in place, decorate the space with some garden accessories. Ishrath suggests bamboo furniture, futons, wicker stools, swings, hammocks, wind chimes and accent pots. “You can also embellish with paintings, murals, terracotta tree art, wrought iron furniture or wall hangings, mirrors, tree trunks, dried flower arrangements, and more. Keep a few flowering plants to attract birds and bees for cross-pollination. Add a bird feeder/ bath. Let your creativity run riot and watch your garden bloom.
Planting an idea
North-facing: Dieffenbachias, Aglaonimas, Philodendrons (bushy and climbing), Syngonium, Scindapsus and Marantas (suitable for humid climate)
East-facing: Impatiens, Spathiphyllum, Anthuriums, Saintpaulia (African Violets), Hibiscus and foliage plants such as Chlorophytum, Ophiopogonis, Eranthumum, graphatophyllums and Aralias
South-and West-facing: Pachystachys, Plumbago, Lantanas, Bougainvilleas, Ixoras inclusive of potted roses, Button roses, Taberna Montanas, Hamelias, Gulphimia, Petunias and Clematis

And the zoomed in version of my pic... :)