Saturday, October 5, 2013

Bird's Nest Ferns -- Growing Asplenium Nidus Ferns

Bird's nest ferns are actually one of two asplenium species found in cultivation. The other, often called the spleenwort or mother fern (A. bulbiferum) is much harder to grow and looks nothing like its cousin. These ferns are naturally epiphytic, and in their rainforest homes, can be found growing high in the crooks of trees. They grow in a series of erect, spoon-shaped and apple-colored fronds that rise from a central rosette. Healthy plants can have fronds up to three feet, but this is rare in most indoor situations. These are beautiful plants, but will require a bit of babying to reach their fullest potential.

Light: Filtered light to light shade. Don't expose to direct sun, other than very early morning sun.

Water: These are true jungle plants—keep their compost moist and provide the highest humidity possible.

Temperature: They will begin to suffer below about 55ºF for prolonged periods. Best kept between 70ºF and 80ºF, with high humidity. A warming pad will often help dormant plants.

Soil: Loose, rich organic compost.

Fertilizer: During growing season, fertilizer weekly or biweekly with weak liquid fertilizer. Don't put fertilizer pellets in the central cup.


These are not easy to propagate and cannot be divided, as with some other fern species. They are usually raised from spore or tissue culture, meaning propagation is usually beyond the reach of most home growers.


Bird's nest ferns prefer to be slightly underpotted. As naturally epiphytic plants, they are used to growing in a minimum of organic material, and mature plants will elongate above the soil level as the fern grows and sheds lower leaves. The problem, of course, is that large ferns will easily tip over their smaller pots. When repotting every other year, use the next pot size up and refresh the compost.


The basic bird's nest fern is Asplenium nidus. Another Asplenium species (A. bulbiferum) is sometimes available, but this is a much more difficult fern to grow indoors. Some varietals of A. nidus have been developed, usually with crinkled or frilly leaf margins.

Grower's Tips:

Bird's nest ferns are beautiful, and many conservatories and greenhouses boast impressively large specimens. They are a natural with orchids, bromeliads and other rainforest plants. The key to a healthy bird's nest fern is providing enough warmth and moisture. Given these two conditions, the ferns can withstand higher light levels. A shower ledge by a window is a good place for a healthy bird's nest fern.


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Growing Almond Trees

– Information On The Care Of Almond Trees


Cultivated as early as 4,000 B.C., almonds are native to central and southwest Asia and were introduced to California in the 1840’s. Almonds (Prunus dolcis) are prized for use in candies, baked goods, and confections and for the oil processed from the nut. These stone fruits from growing almond trees are also reputed to aid in a number of physical ills and are used in folk remedies for everything from cancer treatment to corns to ulcers.


How to Grow an Almond Tree


When growing almond trees, it is helpful to know that the trees do not tolerate wet soil and are extremely susceptible to spring frost. They thrive in mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers in full sun. If your region does not fall within these parameters, it is unlikely an almond tree will set fruit for you.

Additionally, very few varieties of almond tree are self fertile and, therefore, need cross pollination for fruit production. So, you will need to plant at least two trees. If space is at a premium, you can even plant two in the same hole, wherein the trees will grow together and intertwine, allowing the flowers to cross pollinate.



Almond trees are deep rooted and should be planted in deep, fertile and well draining sandy loam. Almond trees should be planted 19-26 feet apart and irrigated despite the fact that the trees are drought tolerant. An application of nitrogen and organic fertilizer will aid in growth. These trees have high nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) requirements.

To plant the almond tree, dig a hole wider than deep and make sure the roots fit easily into the depth of the hole, then water in deeply. You may need to stake the little tree if you live in a windy area, but remove the stakes after a year or so to allow the tree proper growth.


Care of Almond Trees


Almond tree care varies according to the season. In the winter or dormant season, the growing almond trees should be pruned (December/January) to promote growth, allow light, and remove any dead or diseased limbs or suckers. Clean the area of debris around the tree to eliminate overwintering navel orange worms and spray with dormant oil to kill peach twig borer, San Jose scale and mite eggs.

During the spring bloom season, care of almond trees should include fertilization of mature trees with urea or manure, watered in or small doses of nitrogen for young trees. Drip irrigation should be initiated daily with the trees needing 2-3 inches of water. If the tree is planted in shallow or sandy soil, it will need more water.

During the summer, continue to irrigate and fertilize at the same rate as the spring application up until harvest.


Harvesting Almond Tree Fruit


The harvesting of almond tree fruit occurs after the hulls split and the shell becomes dry and brown in color. Almonds need 180-240 days for nuts to mature wherein the nut (embryo and shell) has dried to minimum moisture content.

To harvest the almonds, shake the tree, then separate the hulls from the nut. Freeze your almond nuts for 1-2 weeks to kill any residual worms and then store in plastic bags.


Cabbage Palm

What Are Cabbage Palms

Also called Sabal palms, cabbage tree palms are a native American tree that ideal for warm, coastal areas. When planted as street trees or in groups, they give the entire area a tropical atmosphere. Showy white flowers on long, branching stalks bloom in early summer, followed by dark, edible berries in fall. The fruit is edible, but more appealing to wildlife than humans.

What are Cabbage Palms?

Cabbage palms are capable of reaching heights of 90 feet or more in the wild, but in cultivation they usually grow only 40 to 60 feet tall. The tree’s 18- to 24-inch wide trunk is topped by a rounded canopy of long fronds. It isn’t usually considered a good shade tree, but clusters of cabbage palms can provide moderate shade.


The lower fronds sometimes drop from the tree leaving their base, called a boot, attached to the trunk. These boots create the cross-hatched pattern on the trunk of the tree. As the tree matures, the older boots fall off leaving the lower part of the trunk smooth.

Cabbage Palm Growing Region

The cabbage palm growing region includes U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8b through 11. Temperatures below 11 degrees Fahrenheit can kill the plant. Cabbage palms are particularly well-adapted to the Southeast, and they are the state tree of both South Carolina and Florida. Nearly hurricane-proof, the tree remains standing against the wind long after pine trees snap in two and oaks are uprooted.

Choose a sunny or partly shaded site in any well-drained soil. The hardest part about growing a cabbage palm tree is getting it planted just right. Take care with the roots when transplanting the tree. Cabbage palms are drought-tolerant, but only after all the roots that were damaged during transplanting regrow from the base of the tree. Until then, you’ll have to water deeply and often to make sure the tree gets the moisture it needs.

Cabbage palm care is easy once the tree is established. In fact, it will do just fine if left to its own devices. One thing you may want to do is remove the little seedlings that come up where the fruit falls to the ground because they can become weedy