Friday, January 12, 2007


Echeverias are succulent plants in the Crassulacea family. These wonderful little plants are native from Mexico all the way down to northwestern South America.

The compact growth and lower water needs along with the interesting growth forms make Echeverias popular plants with gardeners in dry areas and with indoor gardeners.

Echeverias can be propagated from the offsets they produce but you can also hack and Echeveria so that it gives you plants from a single leaf. Hacking it this way will expand your succulent collection. You can use your extras to trade with other gardeners or to make a back up in the event something happens to your original plant. If you have a nicer variety you can do things like propagate these plants and sell on places like ebay or sell them as fund raisers for your favorite charity.

Since Echeverias often lose their lower leaves as they grow it's a good idea to remove these leaves when they're still healthy and propagate your succulent. Simply grab the leaf near the base where it is attached to the plant and twist and pull it off in one swift motion. Now set your leaf somewhere that's bright (no direct sun) and dry. Allow it to sit for a couple of days so that the cut callouses over-after a few days simply insert your leaf (like in the image above) at an angle and mist then with a water bottle.

Keep your newly potted up plants away from direct sun light so that they don't dry up. Mist regularly until you see the first signs of growth like in the image above. That's basically all there is to it. Some plants over time will lose the compact shape and growth that makes them so appealing so this a good way of reinvigorating your collection of succulents.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Adenium Obesum- Hack

Adenium Obesum is a genus of flowering in family of Apocynaceae. It's also commonly referred to as Desert Rose. It can reach 5 feet in height and some parts of the plant are toxic so care should be taken around children and pets and growing it.

You can hack (propagate) A. Obesum using two methods. You can stake cuttings and allow them to dry out for a couple of days and then plant or you can grow it from seeds. Growing A. Obesum from seed will give you the caudex (fat trunk) that makes these plants so popular. Growing it from a cuttings will give you a great plant but it won't produce the same caudex.

I accquired some Adenium Obesum seeds through a trade on Gardenweb from an experience Cacti & Succulent grower. He couldn't give me much info on them so I had to turn to Google.

When searching for info on germinating Adenium Obesum I was only able to find one website that dealt with them. The info there was sparse, but I was able to gather that the seeds should be soaked for a couple of hours in warm water and sown on the surface of the soil. The images on this site showed them just placing the seeds on the surface of the soil under a misting system.

I did basically just as I saw on the site. With the exception of using misting system, I don't own one so I just covered the pot with a plastic sandwich bag. Within a few days the seeds had germinated but I noticed that the seeds that had been partially covered in soil germinated before the seeds that were resting on the surface of the soil.

Because they were covered with a plastic bag and were sitting under a light a fungus or mold began to develop along the surface of the soil. I sprinkled cinnamon ontop of the fungus or mold that was developing and it was eradicated by the next day. In the photo attached to this entry the red stuff on the soil is the cinnamon I sprinkled.

My other blog.

Greenhouse Hack

Gardening can be an expensive hobby and if you look often times the gardens we admire the most are lush and full of plants that are maintained by people other than the actual owner. The average gardener may not have the time or resources to achieve the same look. And for the person wanting to start a garden a visit to costly garden centers can often be disappointing when the realization of how much money is involved in gardening. The alternative is to visit big box stores where prices are cheaper but selection and plant size that is driven by volume, again leaves the would-be gardener feeling uninspired.

So how do you achieve the same look without the bourgeois greenhouse or environmentally draining set-up of grow lights? You start your own plants from seeds using various things you may already have around your house. Here's what you need: an empty 2 liter plastic bottle, potting soil, a handful of seeds and a tool for making holes. I find that Miracle- Gro potting soil works fine for me, other people don't like it for starting seeds. Use your favorite brand but whatever you do don't skimp on the soil. If you use those 99 cent bags you find in Walmart, Walgreens or similar stores it may harden and you'll end up with a brick. That's fine if you want to build a patio or raised bed, but not so good for seed starting.

Take your 2 liter bottle that you've cut in half and make several drainage holes in the bottom of the bottle.

Fill the bottom with about 4-5 inches of soil. Read the seed preparation directions on your packet of seeds and sow them and water them in. You can water from the top or set the "pot" you just made in a saucer of water and allow it to absorb water. Take the top half of the bottle and replace it. What you have now is a seed starting greenhouse like the kind of available in stores. But it didn't cost you between 12-20 dollars. It should look something like this

I use this method to start seeds that require Stratification (cold treatment) I prepare all of my Ghetto Greenhouses and sow the seeds and set them outside for the winter and allow them to be exposed to the elements. When the weather starts to warm up and the snow melts I keep an eye on the containers and water when necessary. The clear bottles make this easy and when the seedlings emerge I just plant them out either into the ground or into pots. I can fit five of these into a plastic milk crate that I stack in a corner of my back yard. Here's what it looks like inside in the spring.

You can use this method to start all kinds of seeds. When the weather outside warms up you can start your tender plants, like annuals and tropicals. You can also adapt this method and make your Ghetto Greenhouse out of things you may have around your house. As a kid my grandfather used coffee cans, in school we used empty milk boxes and larger orange juice boxes. You can use take out containers, the salad containers you get nowadays in fast food restaurants. If you have empty pots you can cover them with plastic wrap or used sandwich bags. You can sow your seeds in Styrofoam/plastic cups and set them inside a plastic tote. Just make sure you have drainage holes and some opening(s) for ventilation, a few holes in the top of your container will still trap enough humidity. If you don't have a yard, try your deck or a bright windowsill.

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