Art of Ikebana
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
The shapes & Colors of Flowers
Don’t wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden & decorate your own soul. - Mario Quintana
Stocking up your Toolbox
Intution is the number one tool in the toolbox.
Think of the tools in a tool-box: there is a floral adhesive, pin frog, floral tape, floral knife, floral wire, cellophane tape, floral snips, skewers & all. - The function of words are as diverse as the functions of these objects.
We recommend stocking a floral toolbox with all your supplies so that that they are ready when you arrive homw with your bounty. Most of the supply can be purchased at your local craft store or floral shop as well as from online.
Flowers can’t solve all problems but they are a great START.
The flower in the vase smiles, but no longer laughs. - Malcolm De Chazal
Cacti & Succulent Story
Life is like a cactus, full of pricks, but also very beautiful.
The word 'cactus' is actually come from the Greek word, 'kaktos, which means a species of a spiny thistle belonging to the daisy family (Asteraceae).
Cactus leaves have been reduced to spines in order to reduce hte rate of transpiration during photosynthesis. The spines have 2 functions. Fristly, they protect the plant from thirsty animals since the plant is full of sap. Secondly, the spines help to reflect the light rays of the glaring got sun to prevent burns.
Cacti have swellon stems to store water in order to survuve in deserts with very little rainfall.
Cacti have areoles which are characteristic of cacti as it is from these where spines, flowers or offset will grow.
Cacti have one of the most beautiful flowers among flowering plants. Some are so vividly coloured that they are inflorescent in order to attract insects for pollinatiion under the glaring hot sun in a desert.
Cacti with ribs
Ribs help to shade the catus from the hot desert sun at any part of the day. Flowers usually rise from the areoles near the apex depending on the cactus genera.
Cacti with tubercles
tubercles help to shade the cactus from the hot desert sun at any part of the day. Flowers of this class (Mammillaria genus), arise between the tubercles & not from the areoles.
Cacti with pads
Like the ribs & the tubercles, pads also shade the cactus from the hot desert sun. Cactus belongs to the genus opuntia have an upward growth habit. Once the pad has matured, it will stop growing. New growth will appear from the areoles of this matured pad & the process starts all over again.
Some of the genera have glochids which are actually a collection if very fine spines which cause raashes to people with sensitive skin.
The word 'Succos' in Latin means juice or sap. Thus, a succulent is a plant with water storage organs thereby enabling the plant to survive over a period of drought. Water can be stored in their leaves, stems & roots. They do not have spines.
Some succulents exude a milky sap when damaged. It should be noted that a cactus is a succulent but a succulent may not be a cactus. Cacti are stem succulents since water is stored in their stems. They do not have leaves & their roots are not fleshy too.
General culture of Cactus & Succulents
Light is the main problem in many high rise apartment gardeners as not every one of us is blessed with a sunny balcony or a common corridor.
Most cacti & succulents require at ;least 6 hours of direct sun or very bright light in order to be compact. Lack of light will cause to etiolate which make them vulnerable to pest & diseases later.
Most of their flowers require good light in order to open fully.
Soil has to be free draining in order to grow them successfully as any pockets of stagnant water in the soil medium will cause roots to rots. In high rise apartment gardening, it is crucial for the soil to be dry up by the third day after watering. Commercial mixes contain too much peat which is bad for cacti & succulents. Peat is too wet when watered & too dry when dry. Besides, it is very difficult to wet peat after it has dried up.
Cactus & succelents dislike root disturbances & thus, it is not wise to undergo this operation annually. It is better to use loam-based potting mixtures as they are general free from peat.
Mix of own soil:
Sifted burnt earth or any commercial cactus mix 50% & diatomite 50%. (soilless medium for drainage enhancement like aquarium gravel, perlite, coarse sand, charcoal chips etc in varying proportions.)
It is very common to hear advice from nurseries that cacti & succulents require little water & can survive wks without water. Cacti & succulents contain 75% water & sometimes I just wonder how the poor plant can grow when there is no water in the first place. They need water just like houseplants.
Water them generously when they are in active growth & sparingly when they are dormant or resting.
How to know my cactus is growing?
The spines at the apex, which is the growing tip of the cactus, will suddenly start to turn to a very red or yellow depending on the cactus genera. Then a cluster of spines will apper at the apex & it is time to water your cactus.
Protect from the rain
Always protect cacti & succulents from the rain as too much rain will cause our beloved plants to rot especially when they are resting.
When to water?
Always water your cacti & succulents when the top inch layer of the soil has dried up a little. You should water in the morning to prevent any possible fungi or viral infection.
How to water?
Water your cacti with a container containing a long nozzle, taking care not to wet the stem. Never hose down your cacti & succulents like your houseplants. Aim the nozzleat the side of the pot to allow the soil to absorb the moisture. Dry soil absorb water very fast.
Clay pots are proven to be better than plastics. Always pot the cactus no bigger than half an inch between the cactus body & the edge of the pot. Stagnant soil provides breeding grounds for root mealy bugs.
What happen if I dont have a small a small pot?
Grow the cactus in very well drained mix with a thick layer of aquarium gravel, perlite or sand at the bottom of the pot under a very bright location in any place.
You may be surprised that desert soil is very fertile. You should feed them generously at half strength of the recommended dosage stated by the manufacturer wekkly for best results. Soluble fertilisers is prefer as organic ones may burn the roots when the cactus is resting. Use a low nitrogen fertiliser if possible.
Pests & Diseases
Root Mealy Bugs
Other than overwatering, root mealy bugs is the number one killer of our cacti & succulents. root mealy bugs like to attack cacti & succulents & it is very difficult to eradicate them. Prevention is better than cure. Always water your cacti & succulents witj a solution of malathion weekly to prevent any possible attack from them.
It is unlikely that your cacti & succulents will be infeced with scales if they are growth in good air & sun. White summer oil is very effective in removing them as the flim of oil depletes the pest with oxygen intake therby killing them instantly. The traditional white summer oil is harmless to the delicate tissues of the plants. Make sure your cacti & succulents are well watered before you spray them with a solution of white summer oil & water. Spray them in the morning or late evening when the sun is not so hot.