Monthly Archives: September 2014

  • 6 Incredible Flowers that Look Like Animals

    Although most of us think of orchids as exotic and rare, the orchid family is one of the largest families of flowers, with between 21,000 and 26,000 species. When you think of orchids, chances are good that you think of the elegant moth orchids or cattleya orchids sold in grocery stores; however, these are only two species out of thousands. It is time to expand your horizons and learn about some of the more unusual orchids. I have compiled photos and information on six fascinating orchids that look like animals-believe it or not, they are real!

    Bee Orchid, Ophrys apifera

    Bee Orchid Bee Orchid

    [Photo by Bj?rn S... (Flickr)]

    I probably don't need to explain to you how this flower got its name, but I will anyway. The bee orchid resembles a female Eucera bee looking for nectar on a pink flower. The flower had a purpose for this mimicry: Males are attracted to this decoy female, and in the process of trying to mate with it, they are covered in pollen, which they then carry to the next orchid, thereby pollinating it. The plant also produces a scent that attracts the bees. The bee orchid is native to Europe and even North Africa and the Middle East.

    Monkey Face Orchid, Dracula simian

    Monkey Face Orchid Monkey Face Orchid

    [Photo by Dick Culbert (Flickr)]

    When I saw this orchid, I wasn't sure whether I should pick it or pet it! This cute and rare little flower is native to the cloud forests of Ecuador and Peru, and not many people are lucky enough to ever see it growing in its native habitat. As if it weren't enough that the flowers look like adorable monkey faces, the flowers also smell like oranges. Unfortunately, growing this flower at home is difficult unless you have a cool greenhouse that mimics the conditions of cloud forests.

    Dove Orchid, Peristeria elata

    Dove Orchid Dove Orchid

    [Photo by Malcolm Manners (Flickr)]

    If you look closely at the center of the dove orchid, you will see where it gets its name; a dove, complete with yellow beak and wings, seems to be hidden within the flower. This fragrant flower is an epiphyte native to Central America, and it is the national flower of Panama. The dove orchid is endangered in the wild, but it has been successfully grown in nurseries, and you can even buy one, although it does need more care than your average houseplant.

    Flying Duck Orchid, Caleana major

    Flying Duck Orchid Flying Duck Orchid

    [Photo by Doug (Flickr)]

    I love this little flower just because it is so unique! The small maroon flower honestly looks like a duck in flight with its wings stretched out behind it. The flying duck orchid is native to eastern and southern Australia. What looks like a flying duck to us actually looks like a female sawfly to male sawflies. They try to mate with the flower, but alas, it is a ruse! The beak portion of the orchid is actually a trap that is triggered when the insect lands on it. The sawfly can't get out without pollinating the flower and picking up more pollen. The flying duck orchid has a symbiotic relationship with a type of fungus that helps it to survive; unfortunately, this means that it can't be successfully grown in the home.

    White Egret Orchid, Habenaria radiata

    Heron Orchid Heron Orchid

    [Photo by VanLap Hog (Flickr)]

    This flower resembles a white egret showing off its fantastic plumage, as you can plainly see. The white egret orchid grows wild in Japan, Korea, and parts of China, but it is in danger of extinction, mostly due to habitat destruction. I found it interesting to learn that in Japan, both real white egrets and white egret orchids live in the same wetland habitat! These orchids can be bought and grown in similar conditions to a bog orchid or pitcher plant.

    Fly Orchid, Ophrys insectifera

    Fly Orchid Fly Orchid

    [Photo by: Bj?rn S... (Flickr)]

    Like the bee orchid, the fly orchid is native to Europe and also Russia, though its numbers are declining. The fuzzy brown flowers may not be the prettiest orchids to our human eyes, but to the male wasp of the Argogorytes genus, nothing is more beautiful, as the flower looks and smells like a female of its species. As the wasp attempts to mate with the decoy female, it is covered in pollen, which it will carry to the next fly orchid it visits. This orchid is another one that lives in a symbiotic relationship with fungi.

  • How to Grow Apple Trees At Home by Kremp Florist

    Apple

    Photo by Elise (Flickr)

    Have you always wanted to grow your own apples, but weren't sure where to begin? Even if you don't have the greenest thumb, it's easier than you think! Whether you want to start from apple seeds, or plant a full grown one in your yard, here are a few things you need to know before you get started.

    If you are going the replanting route, then going to your local nursery should be your first step. Learning which apple trees grow best in your area is important because not all will flourish in every climate, so it's good to know which ones work best in your neck of the woods. It is also important to realize that apple trees do best when they are planted in the early spring, so deciding when you want to start planting is a key factor in how well your trees will do.

    Most apple trees must cross-pollinate in order to bear fruit, so grabbing more than one type of apple tree at your nursery will be necessary in most cases. While bees and other plants can help to pollinate your apple tree, its best to have two types to be sure your tree will bear fruit. When deciding what size or age apple tree to buy, remember that replanting a younger tree such as a dwarf or semi dwarf will be easier and will have fruit quicker than a normal size tree. Keep in mind the amount of space in your yard and the amount of light they will get; most apple trees need to get 6-8 hours of sunlight per day.

    Once you have gotten your trees, you will need to prep your soil by getting rid of weeds and other plants that may interfere with your trees growing. You don't want to plant too close to forests or wooded areas, because animals will more likely get to your apple trees and cause damage. In most cases, digging a 2 foot deep hole and making the hole about two times the size of the tree's root ball (or container it was previously in) should be sufficient. Also remember that in order for your trees to cross-pollinate, they must not be more than 100 feet apart when you plant them. Keeping all this in mind will give you a better shot at having a healthy, fruit-bearing tree. After planting, be sure to add mulch to your newly planted apple tree. Be sure to never fertilize your young fruit tree. Fertilizing too soon can burn and damage the roots of your young plant. By adding mulch to the surrounding area of your plant base, your tree will retain water and moisture better. Watering your newly planted tree will be vital during the first and second growing season. Making sure to water your trees twice a week, without drowning them and just making the soil moist is important. If you see your leaves wilting or looking dry, watering more often might be necessary.

    The last thing you need to remember is maintaining your trees once you've planted them in the ground. Although there isn't a laundry list of care instructions, there are still a few things you need to do to keep those apple trees kicking! Adding a trellis, or putting a post alongside your trees in the dirt, can be helpful as they grow to give them stability. After a few years it might be unnecessary, but in the beginning, having some extra support can be helpful. Until your tree has matured, doing minor maintenance will be your best bet. Getting rid of dead branches or fruit is fine, but don't begin cutting branches or doing any intense pruning until your trees have been growing for a few years.

    If you are looking for an easier, kid-friendly project, then planting apple seeds at home is a fun activity for the family! All you'll need are a few apples, paper towels, a sandwich bag, and potting soil with pots. First, cut the apples down the center and get as many of the seeds as possible, leaving any that have been broken. Then, place the seeds on a plate or somewhere for a few days so they can dry out. Next, wet a few paper towels and stick the seeds inside them. You'll want to place them in a sandwich bag and put them in the refrigerator to allow the seeds to germinate. This part will probably take a few weeks, so keep an eye on them. Once the seeds have begun to sprout, the fun part begins! You can finally plant your baby seeds in pots. Be sure to water them daily and place them in a sunny area of your home. Once your seeds have grown to be about a foot in height, you can transplant them to your garden or yard and admire what you grew!

    Choosing a Tree

    Preparation

    Planting your Tree

    Apple Tree Maintenance

    Growing an Apple Tree from a Seed

  • Flowers that Smell Better at Night

    If you work at a typical 9-to-5 job, you may feel that you are cheated out of garden time. But with a night garden, you don't ever have to feel this way again. There are a wide variety of flowers that dazzle in a night garden, and some of the best ones are the scented night-blooming flowers. I think one of the greatest pleasures in life is relaxing in a moonlit garden with a jasmine-scented summer breeze cooling me off. Many scented night-bloomers tend to be hidden from common knowledge, so I have provided a list of some of the best ones here.

    Night-Blooming Jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum)

    Night Blooming Jasmine Night Blooming Jasmine

    [Photo by Incredible India! (Flickr)]

    Night-blooming jasmine, also known as night-scented jessamine and queen of the night, is more famous for its scent than its flowers. The small, tubular, star-shaped white or green flowers appear in clusters among evergreen foliage. Night-blooming jasmine is a tropical shrub that can reach up to 8 feet tall, and it is actually not a true jasmine at all. It thrives in a warm climate and does best in full sun; if you live above USDA zone 8, you will need to bring the shrub inside to overwinter. Night-blooming jasmine is widely used in India and Asia for perfume-making and religious ceremonies. Although this shrub is sweetly scented, it is toxic and produces berries that could be tempting to children. I would describe the scent as sweet and powerful; some say the scent can be overpowering, so if you are sensitive to fragrance, you may not want to plant this close to your window.

    Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana alata)

    Flowering Tobacco Flowering Tobacco

    [Photo by Carl Lewis (Flickr)]

    Flowering tobacco smells similar to jasmine and is more fragrant at night than during the day. The leaves are fuzzy and sticky like petunia leaves, while the trumpet-shaped flowers open to a five-petaled star and come in most shades except blue. The flowers attract hummingbirds and night pollinators like moths. Although flowering tobacco can reach up to 5 feet tall, the plants range in size depending on the variety; even dwarf varieties are available, but some varieties are more strongly scented than others. Plants flower more in full sun but will tolerate some shade, and they need regular watering.

    Moonflower (Ipomoea alba)

    Moonflower is in the same genus as morning glories, and they, too, are a vine with saucer-shaped flowers. Moonflower grows vigorously and produces large 5-to-6-inch fluted white flowers with an alluring perfume. The flowers bloom at dusk and last until morning, living only one night; however, the plant produces masses of flowers to make up for their short lives. I love planting moonflower near my windows so that I can open my windows and smell them in the evening. It is a tropical perennial in the south but is grown as an annual in colder regions. If starting from seed, be sure to nick the seed coat and soak before planting; also, the soil must be warm for the seeds to germinate. Plant the flowers in full sun to part shade, and be sure to provide supports for the plant to climb on. There are multiple plants called moonflower, so be sure you are buying Ipomoea alba; some other moonflowers are extremely poisonous.

    Night-Blooming Water Lily, (Nymphaea species)

    Night-Blooming Water Lily Night-Blooming Water Lily

    [Photo by Ben Yanis (Flickr)]

    You may be surprised to learn that there are water lilies that bloom at night - I know I was when I first found out. Imagine gazing upon your pond in the evening and seeing these beauties in full bloom! They are definitely attention-getters in the night garden, particularly the white ones. They open at dusk, releasing a light fragrance, and close at mid-morning. There are several varieties of night-blooming water lilies, and they are all tropical, requiring water temperatures of 70 degrees or more to live and thrive. Nymphaea "Dentata Superba" is a nice white variety to try for the night garden.

    Evening Primrose (Oenothera species)

    Evening Primrose Evening Primrose

    [Photo by free photos & art (Flickr)]

    This plant is famous for treating multiple health conditions - is there anyone who hasn't heard of evening primrose oil or capsules? However, evening primrose is equally useful in the scented night garden. Evening primrose is a hardy perennial with cup-shaped pink, white, yellow, or purple flowers that smell like honey or lemons. Be sure to choose a species that blooms at night for a night garden - Oenorthera caespitosa, or tufted evening primrose, bears white, fragrant, night-blooming flowers and only reaches 6 inches tall. This primrose would be perfect for rock gardens or the very front of a border. Evening primrose is native to the United States and is considered to be a weed by some.

3 Item(s)

Flowers to get you out of the doghouse

Dried Flower Wreaths

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