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Hypertufa Rocks????

posted by: kaka3 on 06.16.2007 at 11:25 pm in Hypertufa Forum

I have never made the hypertufa but a friend of mine and I were discussing making some medium sized rocks to place around our flower beds. Tell me if this would work. Make a rock shape out of maybe chicken wire, stuff the chicken wire shape with newspaper and put the hypertufa on the chicken wire, (kind of like frosting a cake with your hands). Wouldn't matter if the newspaper stayed inside. Would this work and where can I find the recipe for hypertufa? Thank ya'all!


clipped on: 04.06.2009 at 03:48 pm    last updated on: 04.06.2009 at 03:48 pm

Ficus benjamina (& most other commonly grown tropical Ficus)

posted by: tapla on 08.03.2005 at 10:42 pm in House Plants Forum

I conducted a bonsai workshop for a club last year or the year before using Ficus benjamina "Too Little" as the material. I wrote this as a hand-out to the participants. There are soo many here that grow this species (and other Ficus), that I thought I'd post this:

From the family: Moracea (relative of mulberry)

Native: India, other tropical - subtropical regions

Ficus benjamina is one of the species of Ficus commonly referred to as a strangler fig. It often begins its life in the crotch of a tree, or on a branch as a seed deposited in the droppings of an animal. After germination and as it grows, it does not actually parasitize the host plant, but uses it as support while it produces thin aerial roots that dangle or attach themselves to the host trunk, gaining nutrients and moisture from the air, leaf litter, and the bark of the host. This relationship is termed epiphytic, or the tree an epiphyte. Those familiar with the culture of orchids and bromeliads will recognize this term. When the aerial roots reach the ground, the tree begins a tremendous growth spurt, sending out more and more roots and a canopy that eventually shades out the host at the same time the roots compete for nutrients in the soil and compress the trunk and branches of the host to the point of stopping sap flow. Eventually all that is left where the host tree once stood, is a hollow cavity in the dangling roots that have now become the trunk of the Ficus. It is easy to see how many of the trees in the genus have come by the name strangler figs. The roots of some species are so powerful they can destroy concrete buildings or buckle roads and can be measured in miles, as they extend in search of water.

The Ficus genus, with more than 800 known species, is undoubtedly the number one choice as a subject for indoor tree culture. It tolerates the "dryer than desert" conditions actually found in many or most centrally heated homes reasonably well. Benjaminas fairly thick and leathery leaves, with a waxy cuticle, help to limit moisture loss, although it much prefers humidity levels well above 50%. Its preferred temperature range is from 60 degrees f. to near 100 degrees. It should be noted; however, that extended exposure above temperatures in the mid 90s will slow or stop growth, and below the recommended limit, the tree will decline slowly, with the damage and loss of vitality being very subtle and probably not apparent until later, when the cause may well be forgotten.

The number one cause of Ficus decline and subsequent death is without question over-watering. When we consider the young tree and its ability to obtain sufficient moisture from the air and bark surface of the host, we can extract the very important lesson: My Ficus will not tolerate wet roots!; or wet roots = rotted roots. Ficus b. will tolerate very dry soil, well. Allowing the soil to completely dry; however, will result in leaf loss and undue stress. I have grown various cultivars of Ficus b. for many years and usually check my trees twice daily when they are putting on new growth. I have found that waiting until emerging or new leaves lose turgidity and just begin to wilt, is the best time to water. If you feel the new leaves often, you will soon be able to tell when wilting is about to start and can water accordingly. (This might be a little too risky for the casual grower, especially in the summer heat/sun) I never water my Ficus with cold water. I allow tap water to set overnight to help dissipate the chlorine and come to room temperature before using. In summer I do the same or use water from the hose that has been warmed by the sun.

The roots of Ficus are very vigorous and the tree will concentrate much of its growth potential on root development. A quick review of the growth nature, particularly how the tree is programmed to develop the all important first aerial roots, serves to reinforce this assertion. When in pot culture, development of trunk and branches will lag root development substantially until the container has been well-colonized by the roots. Ficus b. does not mind being pot-bound and can thrive with a root to soil ratio approaching 90 /10. In bonsai culture such ratios are not realistic and can create watering problems, not to mention aesthetic considerations. I am not advocating you maintain this ratio, but this knowledge can be a useful tool in deciding when a repot is in order or in answering the question: "Why are my trees trunk and branches developing so slowly?".

Ficus roots need air. Again, returning to the epiphytic nature of the tree, we see the roots of the young tree thrive in just air. For this reason, we should always use a soil mix with large particles, still in relation to the size of the tree, but perhaps larger than you might normally use. Soil particle size must be balanced with the amount of time you can spend on the trees needs. Large soil particle size = healthier tree, but there is a qualifier: you must be prepared to water more frequently as particle size increases. I have not tried this method, (no need, as I always row in a highly aerated soil mix) but I have read that you may aerate the soil of potted Ficus by inserting chopsticks and rotating to create air pockets. It makes good sense, and because of the vigorous nature of the roots, I believe the practice would present little danger if some slight wounding of roots should occur.

The ideal time to repot a Ficus, in our area, is from July 4th to the first week of August, but I have repotted them at all times of the year in emergencies with ill effect limited to the tree sulking for extended periods. Repot during the hottest months to minimize recovery time. Bottom heat, such as a propagation mat, along with high light levels will fractionalize recovery time after a root prune and repot.

The light requirements of Ficus in general varies little by species, but a good generalization might be; that although most Ficus begin life as an understory tree and are generally fairly shade tolerant, they actually spend their life striving to reach the canopy where they find full sun. For this reason we should give Ficus all the sun they will tolerate. I grow all varieties of Ficus in full sun, although I am as yet unsure of how much sun Ficus b. "Midnight" will tolerate. (Since writing this, I have grown two plantings of "midnight" in full sun for two summer growing seasons.) I have often read that Ficus defoliates at the slightest change in light level or temperature. I have found this to be only partly true. Any trees I have moved from a location with a lower light level to a brighter location have not suffered leaf drop (abscission). If the change is reversed (from bright to dim) leaf loss is probable. It might be interesting to note that trees that are being grown out, or allowed to grow wild (unpruned)are most likely to suffer loss of interior leaves when light levels are reduced. Trees in bonsai culture, where thinning has occurred to allow more light to the trees interior are less affected. Indoor supplemental lighting is a broad subject, but if you have the ability to provide it, your trees will definitely show their appreciation. Brighter light = smaller leaf size, shorter internodes. and superior ramification, not to mention a marked increase in overall mass. Concerning leaf loss due to temperature fluctuations: It should be noted even fairly short exposure to cold drafts will cause leaves to fall. The cool temperatures trigger an increase in abscissic acid, a growth regulator (hormone) that plays a major role in leaf loss. It follows then that it is prudent to select a location free from cold breezes.

Most Ficus b. have a fairly large leaf, but respond well to the bonsai leaf reduction techniques of properly limiting water and nutrients. Complete defoliation is a useful tool in reducing leaf size and improving ramification and is superior to the practice of removing only apical meristems, but does cause more stress to the tree and slows development. It should be considered only after the tree has reached good development and only then on trees in good health, growing vigorously and in need of leaf reduction. Branch pruning should be undertaken after 5 or 6 leaves have formed . You can then cut back to 2 leaves.

Ficus b. is suitable for most bonsai styles, although I cannot imagine it as a literati. Since they air layer so easily, a very nice bonsai can be started by buying a standard type tree at a nursery or discount store, then air layering the top. Ive seen plants with larger than 2 inch trunks for around $20. Air layered trees will exhibit more basal flare and more even roots than those grown from cuttings. Pot selection can be important. Shallow pots will also encourage basal flare. Always select pots that will drain well.

Fertilizer recommendations vary depending on the trees state of development. Since I am able to maintain high light levels in my indoor growing area, I am able to use a hi-nitrogen fertilizer all year. A more balanced blend of soluble 20-20-20 might be a choice for good light conditions indoors, but only when the tree is actively putting on growth. A torpid tree, or one that is weak, should not be fertilized. Wait instead, until the tree shows signs of new growth. In most winter indoor settings without supplemental lighting in zones 7 & below, Nitrogen would best be eliminated or greatly reduced in winter. N applications under low light conditions consistently produces weak growth with long internodes. Use something like a soluble 0-10-10 instead.

Ficus trees can suffer from some pests. Most common are scale, followed closely by mites, then mealies. I have always had good luck with neem oil as both a preventative and fixative. Scale and mealies can be picked by hand, and a 50/50 rubbing alcohol/water spritz with a few drops of dishsoap will kill them in the crawler stage as well. Malathion and Isotox should not be used on any Ficus (severe damage or death), and if root mealies are the problem, a systemic insecticide is in order. (follow your personal feelings)I have not had to combat soil insects, but neem oil, used as a soil drench, should be effective here as well.

Ficus leaves can tell you much about the condition of your tree. I will close with a little chart of how leaves often respond to some common problems:

stunted, black, or deformed buds..................................................................need more light

limp leaves...........................................................................................................need water

buds fall off................................................................................too much water or too cold

leaves turn pale green, then yellow...................................................severely under-watered

yellow leaves..............................................................................dry roots, needs more light

falling green leaves..........................................................too much water, insufficient light

pale leaves.....................................................................................................needs fertilizer

yellow leaves with green veins......................................................................iron deficiency

brown or transparent spots...........fertilizer burns (flush soil, allow to dry before watering)

mottled yellow color.....................................................................................pest infestation

Al Fassezke


clipped on: 08.09.2007 at 10:17 am    last updated on: 08.09.2007 at 10:17 am

RE: Ideas for inexpensive plant labels that LAST? (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: deweymn on 05.24.2007 at 02:37 am in Frugal Gardening Forum

I just saw that about the rocks on tv this week. They looked good. A clean rock, good paint or a paint pen and an added touch would be to spray the rock with clear varnish or a clear finish. It should brightent the rock too.

For the garden I found the wider (2") heavy plastic window blind slats and cut them 12" long. I have stapled the seed packet to the top and wrote the name and info I wanted below that. Then I made a slit with my trowel and set them in the ground at the ends of a row. So far works ok. This winter I plan on using actual paint and a stencil of sorts for the common veggie and do them as I start my trays. (I hope)


clipped on: 07.03.2007 at 03:26 pm    last updated on: 07.03.2007 at 03:26 pm

RE: omg the alfalfa tea!!! (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: tapatio on 06.05.2007 at 10:12 pm in Roses Forum

The Mix:

* Choose a garbage bin or barrel with no leaks and a tight fitting lid. Position it in an out of the way place - you don't want to have to move it once it's full.
* For a full size garbage bin (20 gallons) add 16 cups of alfalfa pellets or alfalfa meal (4 cups to every 5 gallons or 22 liters of water)
* Add 1 - 2 cups of Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate crystals) (or one quarter to half a cup to 5 gallons) Optionally, add two tablespoons of Iron Chelate
* Fill with water, put on a tight lid to prevent mosquitos from breeding in your "swamp"
* Let stand for one week until it bubbles with fermentation. Your nose will tell you that it's ready.

Using it:

Apply alfalfa tea once per month in the spring and summer, especially after the first flush of flowers, to encourage repeat blooming. You can reduce or eliminate the Epsom salts in later batches.

Stop applying it in the fall, when you want the plants to start hardening off for the winter, and don't want to encourage soft new growth.

* Put on some old clothes - you're going to get splashed, and you don't want to be socializing with anyone while wearing the alfalfa tea!
* Scoop off the liquid with a bucket and apply.
* Pour a gallon of tea per rose around the base of the plant; more for large climbers, less for potted roses and minis.
* Soak small potted roses in a bucket of tea for 15 minutes each.
* When you have scooped off most of the liquid, you will be left with a thick goop of alfalfa in the garbage bin. There are two ways to treat this:
o Method A: You can add another quarter-cup of epsom salts, fill the garbage can one third of the way up again, and stir the mix briskly so that the alfalfa is suspended in the water. This slurry can be applied to your roses immediately. Choose the roses in the back of your beds for this tea, where the greenish brown puddle of alfalfa slurry won't be too visible.
o Method B: Add the full dose of Epsom salts, refill to the top with water and let sit for another week. Use the liquid, and then bury the alfalfa dregs into your compost pile (by this time they will be pretty smelly).


clipped on: 06.06.2007 at 08:11 am    last updated on: 06.06.2007 at 08:11 am

my webpage on rooting roses

posted by: michelle_co on 01.20.2007 at 10:39 am in Rose Propagation Forum


I put together a little webpage on how I rooted my roses. Keep in mind, this was my first year effort so I do not claim to be an expert at it. I just did some research and had good luck. :-)

Thanks to Maureen for reviewing this for me in advance.


Here is a link that might be useful: Rooting Roses


Fill them with sand. Sand is important for rooting roses, so they don't rot. Use cuttings about 7 inches long and pinch off the soft top growth. Then sink about 6 inches into the sand, because they root at the leaf nodes. Two or more leaf nodes in the sand means roots from each, and gives the tiny things a good start.
clipped on: 04.17.2007 at 08:34 am    last updated on: 04.17.2007 at 08:38 am

RE: I have roots on the florist rose (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: mgleason56 on 01.31.2007 at 02:23 pm in Rose Propagation Forum

Hi Markiz37!

My method is basically just a hybridized version of what George Mander does. I tried his method first, then played around to see if I could get better results. I'll try to civer it here again, but please feel free to ask questions if you do not understand. I actually emailed George about 5 times to get clarification of what he was doing before I started playing with different methods.

First and most important - get some coconut coir. This is the major difference between mine and Georges' method. I find coir to be the best rooting medium available. Once you have that, the rest is easy. You'll need the following;

Rubbermaid dishpan. Mine measures about 11"x 14"x 5". You'll place containers in here. Next, find some small containers. I use 2 3/4 inch by 6 inch deep containers. That would be 7 cent X 15.25 cent for the Alberta crowd. Next, go to a fabric store a get 1 meter of elastic, like you would get for clothing. It is usually white in color. Next, go to a hardware or paint store and grab a roll of 2 mil thick clear plastic. You'll also need a CHEAP florescent light fixture and bulbs while you are there. The fixtures are about $10 for a 4 foot type. They take two bulbs for each fixture. Again, cheap is good here. Last, you'll need rooting hormone. You might want to start out with what your local gardening center sells. I use Rhizopon AA#3 powder, but that can be expensive if you are just starting out.

Now you can make your cuttings. I like to really would the cuttings and then stick in hormone. There have been studies done showing that cuttings that are wounded root more easily than those that were just cut at 45 degree angle. After dipping in hormone, place in pot. When you are finished, place all containers in dishpan and spray leaves with water. Then cover with the 2 mil plastic. Use the elastic to keep plastic in place. A staple gun works well for this. Now place dishpan directly under the lights. I place as close to the lights as I can without actually touching the fixture. You can also use bottom heat, but keep the temp below 75 degrees (24 c). Leave alone for a few weeks, and then lift plastic and spray leaves. I usually start to see roots also now. Cover and check weekly.

Here is the link to the George mader site.

Here is a link that might be useful: George Mander Roses of Excellence


Use TP tubes packed with potting soil in a covered aquarium in filtered sun.
clipped on: 04.17.2007 at 08:17 am    last updated on: 04.17.2007 at 08:22 am