Bamboo Plant Glass Vase

Bamboo-shoots-in-Glass-jar_edited-450x450Bamboo appeals to crafters, gardeners, and environmentalists alike, so if you are any one or all of them, you are definitely in luck. Being stronger than steel, bamboo is a wonderful building material for decks, ladders, tree houses, birdhouses, and anything else you can imagine, so let your imagination go wild.

Bamboo grows in warm, mild climates, so those of you in zones 7 and 8 see your nursery for the kinds of bamboo that grow best in your neighborhood. Let the nursery people know whether you want your bamboo for crafts or merely for ornamentation, because that will influence the size and appearance of the variety you choose.

Bamboo likes to grow in the sun in well-drained soil. Keep the soil moist but do not allow the roots to stand in puddles of water. Harvest bamboo during the summer when it is driest. I strongly recommend a powered hand saw, unless you have a very sharp saw and very good muscles. Otherwise you could be there a long time.

Once your bamboo is harvested it will need to be cured to keep it from cracking. The curing process removes resins and dries out the wood. One way is to use a propane torch or charcoal fire to heat your culms until the resin comes out of them, then wipe it off and store the culms in a cool, dry place for a few weeks. Or you can soak the bamboo poles in water for 90 days, then remove them and allow them to dry away from the sun. The easiest way is to stand your cut bamboo vertically until it turns light brown, then store in a cool, dry place indoors.

Once your bamboo is cured it is time for the fun part. What to make? Bamboo makes a pleasant, hollow sound when two pieces are hit together, so they make a great musical
toy. Your local kindergarten or high school band might appreciate a pair for its rhythm section Drinking cups are another simple thing to make. Simply place your bamboo onto a hard surface and cut out a section Cut to the right of the closest node on your right and just to the left of the closest node on your left. Stand up your cup and you are ready to go. You can make vases using the same technique, although if you make them too tall they are likely to be unstable.. Cut the bottom of the vase carefully to make it even with the surface where it will stand. If it still has a tendency to fall over, make a stand using a split bamboo culm. Cut out a length of bamboo and split it evenly lengthwise down the middle. Place it with the concave side downward and cut out a hole into the center just large enough for your vase to fit into it. Place your vase into the hole and secure with glue. Ikebana floral arrangements especially lend themselves to bamboo containers.

Split lengths of bamboo are also good for making horizontal containers if you leave nodes at both ends. Stabilize with “legs” made from more split bamboo lengths, attached so that their convex surfaces are facing upward. Use your containers to store office or crafts supplies, or put them out at a party with candies or nuts.

Hang bamboo poles horizontally under your roof’s overhang and hang containers of plants from them for a green look. Another lovely outdoor look is a bamboo fountain. The number of poles you will need will be determined by how large a fountain you would like to make. Choose one large diameter and one diameter pole. Cu a length off the smaller diameter pole with a slanted cut. Cut hole into your larger poles for the smaller pole to fit in, at a slightly downward angle. Insert your smaller pole into your larger one and stand the larger pole next to a pond or pool, with the spout facing the water. Install a pump to recirculate water from the pond to the fountain. Plant bamboo around your pond for a natural look. Japanese maple overhanging your pond also goes with an Asian theme, although having any kind of tree overhanging a swimming pool would make it difficult to keep clean.

There are two basic ways of making a bamboo birdhouse. You can bolt several lengths of bamboo together side by side and use the resulting boards just as you would plywood. Or you can use a large-diameter birdhouse (how large depends upon the kind of bird you want to attract) for the main body of the house.Cut your large diameter pole just above one node for your ceiling and just below another node for your floor. Cut out a round hole (again the size depends upon the species of bird you want to nest) for the entrance. Make some scratches inside your birdhouse just under the entrance, to provide a toe hold for fledglings just leaving the nest and fluttering up toward the light. Split some smaller poles and glue with their concave sides down over the top of your birdhouse for a roof. You can either slant them all in the same direction for a “shed” style roof, or slant them in opposite directions for an “A” style. Loop a piece of fishing line between your roof and your upper node and tie it together firmly about an inch above the roof. This will serve to hang your birdhouse from a tree branch. Choose a place where predators will have difficulty finding and reaching it. Place some split bamboo containers around and fill them with bird seeds.

Building a bamboo tree house, ladder, or deck is beyond the scope of this article. It obviously takes a great deal of expertise to make your structure safe , so don’t try it at home before you know what you are doing. Courses in building things are often available from large hardware chains and community colleges.

Once your project is built you might want to paint or stain it to change its color or protect it. Lightly sand your structure to remove the natural wax from the bamboo. Choose the glossiest spray paint you can find or use a wood stain or varnish. When painting a birdhouse choose a light color to keep it from getting too hot inside . Choose a natural color such as green or brown to blend into the background and keep the residents safe from cats.

I hope you have picked up a few interesting ideas. What will you make?

Aloe Vera Plants Make Great Ornament Plants


Aloe vera plants are succulents, meaning that they have thick leaves and roots that hold in water. Their long, pointed light green leaves grow in concentric circles. Long vertical branches give rise to tubular reddish-orange flower, with several flowers growing outward horizontally from their central stem.

Aloe vera plants grow only in cultivated conditions, although relatives of aloe vera grow in the wild in Africa. The plant has been cultivated at least as early as ancient Egypt, where is was put into the tombs of the pharaohs. Aloe vera is often grown as an ornamental plant in gardens in the southwestern United States, where water conservation is a consideration .Aloe vera plants can be grown outdoors in a mild climate. Due to their succulent nature aloe vera plants do not tolerate frost or temperatures of 32 degrees or cooler. The water in their leaves and roots can freeze and destroy the plant’s cells. If it freezes where you live you can grow aloe vera in pots near a sunny window and take them outside in the summer.

To grow aloe vera plants outside you will need moderately rich, well-drained soil in a sunny location. Although aloe vera is drought-resistant, it will do best if watered during the summer when it is growing. Allow the soil to dry completely before rewatering. Aloe vera roots grow near the surface, so small, frequent waterings are better than deep watering. Aloe vera plants can be found in most nurseries, as can a wide variety of other succulents.

Esthetically aloe vera plants work well with other succulents and cacti. For variety plant aloe vera near escheveria rosettes, ice plant, jade plant or barrel cactus to make an interesting succulent garden. Sand or gravel and pretty rocks will give your garden a Southwestern theme. You can find interesting rocks at a rock show or garden center, but it is more fun to visit the desert and go rock hounding. There you can pick and choose just what you want to personalize your succulent garden.

Aloe vera

To raise the plants indoors provide wide pots where the roots can spread horizontally. Terra cotta pots are good because they are porous, allowing excess water to escape. Terra cotta pots also usually have a hole in their bottoms where excess water can run out, and fit in well with the desert theme. Standard potting mixes are available from the same nurseries that sell the plants. Aloe vera plants will thrive near a window where they can get plenty of sunlight. If you don’t have a window with enough sun exposure, a fluorescent lamp will do. Again, water during the summer months and allow the soil to dry between waterings. Arrange several pots of different sizes near your window, and plant aloe vera in one or two, along with some other species of succulents and cacti . Plant the tallest plants into the tallest containers and place the tallest containers nearst the window and the shortest in front so that all plants can be seen. Be sure not to allow the tall plants to overshadow the shorter ones entirely. Remember, they all need some sunlight. Terra cotta pots can be painted, but do not cover the entire container with paint. Leave the majority of the surface bare so that it will stay porous. Paint small shapes or droodles of color that will contrast nicely with your brown pots. Simple paintings of the sun or clouds go well with your desert scene. Southwestern colors such as sand, light green, or peach will look nice, or pick your favorite colors according to your individual taste or room decor. Abstract shapes in bright colors are easy to paint and go well with a modern theme. If you want to be really creative try standing an old Western boot or hat alongside your succulent display.

Aloe vera plants produce plantlets, offspring that grow from the sides of the mother plant. Remove the babies from the mother with a knife and replant them into their own pots or corners of your garden.

Aloe vera gel is thought by many to have medicinal value, although the research is scant and sometimes contradictory. It has been studied for use in helping to heal wounds and combat dental plaque because of its antimicrobial properties. It is used in hand creams and cosmetics as a soothing emollient and has shown some promise for local treatment of psoriasis, genital warts, frostbite and acne. A study from Ohio State University, reported in March of this year in Veterinary Ophthalmology, found that aloe vera might help to hasten eye wound healing in dogs. Last year the journal Nutrition reported a study on aloe vera and diabetes. Researchers there found a possible use for aloe vera for weight and fat loss in prediabetic individuals and patients newly diagnosed with diabetes. In June of 2013 the journal Metabolic Syndromes and Related Disorders published an article on the subject from Baylor College of Medicine in Texas. Researchers there discovered that aloe vera preparations could possibly prove useful for lowering blood sugar levels in prediabetes some day.

Some gardeners swear by aloe vera as a treatment to soothe burns and insect bites. For external use cut the leaf at the bottom and collect the gel. Apply to the affected skin.

Aloe vera is used in making certain commercial desserts when a gel is needed. It is used to make pectin, used in jams and preserves instead of gelatin. There are also recipes for preparing aloe vera at home. Some cooks put diced aloe vera leaves into smoothies along with their favorite fruits and vegetables. Vegetarian Times suggests making a pineapple-aloe cocktail with ½ cup pineapple juice, ¼ to ½ cup aloe vera juice, 2 tablespoons unsweetened cranberry juice, 1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey, and a lime wedge for garnish. The drink contains 114 calories per serving.

Aloe vera plants can make an attractive and easy-to-grow addition to your garden or indoor plant collection. There is some possibility that the plants could have health benefits as well, and should be used with caution upon the advice of a physician. Enjoy.

Tillandsia From the Bromeliad Family Are Great for Small Room Decors


Tillandsia, or air plants, are members of the bromeliad family.  Over 500 different species of tillandsia have their own unique appearance, so the idea of decorating a small space with a flowering plant offers lots of options.

Tillandsias are native to Latin America and the southern United States, and many of them have a tropical appearance. So-called Spanish moss is actually tillandsia, and can give a wonderfully Caribbean or Spanish Main look to your patio.

Tillandsia flowers are also good for color accents. Tillandsia aeranthos flowers are composed of blue petals and red petals. Tillandsia intermedia blooms in a deep pinkish purple shade. Various varieties of Tillandsia ionanthas  bloom red,orange, white, or peach. The leaves of the red-blooming varieties “blush” or turn red before the flowers bloom, similar to other  kinds of bromeliads. The Mexican variety of ionanthus has central blue flowers surrounded by blushing leaves. Tillandsia incarnata has red spikes with pink petals. Tillandsia fasciculata has long orange flowers fading into yellow and chartreuse.

Some tillandsias are grown for their fragrance as well as their visual beauty.  One of the easiest to grow is Tillandsia Mallemontii, a native of the Brazilian rain forest. It usually produces fragrant blue to purple blooms, although one rare variety has white flowers.  Tillandsia ixioides is another easy to grow species. It produces bright yellow, highly fragrant blossoms.Tillandsia crocata and Tillandsia caliginosa are also known for their fragrant yellow blooms. The king of fragrant tillandsias is probably Tillandsia duratii, with purple flowers whose fragrance will fill a lare room. Their scent has been compared to grape-flavored soft drinks or lollipops.

Nor are the blooms the only attractive thing about tillandsia. Their foliage, although usually a light green, can sometimes have unusual white stripes, as in some varieties of Tillandsia ionantha. Leaves are typically pointy, but show variations in their growth patterns. Some species have straight spikes growing out from  the  plants’ centers, while others can take on a mysterious flowing appearance, almost like something you would expect to see under the ocean. Still others grow in conical or spiral shapes.  Sizes vary as well, giving the creative gardener an opportunity to plant tiny tillandsias alongside plants several inches tall for variation and texture.

Tillandsia plants and seeds can be obtained from specialty florists, nurseries, and bromeliad societies. Californians can buy tillandsias at Bird Rock International in Carlsbad, Marilynn’s Gardens in Santa Ana, Rare Exotics in Los Angeles, Rainforest Flora in Torrance, and Dutch Vandervort Exotic Plants in Ventura. Florida has a wealth of exotic nurseries to choose from: Color Zone Tropicals, Inc. in Winter Garden, Michael’s Bromeliads in Venice, Tropiflora and Level 21 in Sarasota,  Russel’s Bromeliads and Blossom World Bromeliads in Sanford, Bullis Bromeliads in Princeton, Country Garden Nursery and Lee Moore in Miami, Twin Creeks Tropical Gardens in Malabar, Bromeliad Express in Lutz, Bromeliad Specialties Inc. in Homestead, Sunshine Ranches in Fort Lauderdale, McCrory’s Sunny Hill Nursery in Eustis, Air Plant City in Cape Canaveral, and Deroose Plants, Inc., in Apopka. Hawaiians can buy their tillandsias at Bromeliads Hawaii, LLC in Hilo, Hanalei Nursery in Makawao, or Dina’ Garden in Wahiawa. Arthur Boe Distributor is available in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Cactus Plantation in Edwards and D & M Enterprises in Bogue Chitto sell tillandsias in Mississippi. To find tillandsias in Oregon see Treeborne Gardens in Brookings or Oscar E. Allen in Salem. In Texas see Teas Nursery Company Inc. in Bellaire or Magic Mushroom in Dallas. If you live in Washington State, the place to go is for tillandsias is Quail Creek Pottery and Plants in Olympia.

Australians have a wide variety of options when it comes to buying tillandsias. Cradle Nurseries in New South Wales sells their plants by post.The Bromeliad Man, Bromeliad Garden Nursery, Pine Grove Bromeliads, and Bromeliad Garden Nursery in New South Wales sell the plants in person. Other Australian sources include: Brisbane Bromeliad Center, Bromania, Bromagic Bromeliad Nursery, Bromeliad Garden, Dragonwood Gardens Symdoc Pty Ltd, and Wildfire Garden Bromeliad Nursery, in Queensland, and Raemaur Plant Farm in Victoria.

Bromeliads Online Ltd. is available in New Zealand. Or buy tillandsias in person at Anwyl Bromeliads in Wellington.

Epiphytophile is the place for tillandsias as well as other exotic plants in Singapore.

In Thailand see Karina Airplants or SSairplants Garden in Khon Kaen.

In the United Kingdom, Croston Cactus in Lancashire sells bromeliads as well.

The Netherlands has two nurseries for tillandsia lovers, Corn Bak. B.V. in Assendelft and Bunnik Veresea’s in Kudelstaart.

South Africa’s Glenn Brealey, Valhalla Bromeliads is available in Capetown.

Bromeliad societies, including tillandsia enthusiasts, abound throughout the world and are good places to learn about and enjoy these fascinating plants. The  Bromeliad Society International has member organizations in Australia, Germany, New Zealand, California, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Michigan, and Hawaii.

The Hawaiian Bromeliad Society meets once a month on the last Saturday either at the Lyon Arboretum or on a field trip.  Speakers or topics of discussion are usually scheduled.

If you are lucky to live in the Houston area, you might want to attend the June picnic of the Houston Bromeliad  Society, which will feature a garden tour and ABC’s of growing the family.

The Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies’ Quarterly Meeting will be held on the 12th, of July this year, hosted by the Florida East Coast Bromeliad Society. On the 26th and 27th of July this year the Sacramento Bromeliad and Carnivorous Plant Society in California will hold its 44th Annual Show and Sale.The event will be held at the Shepard Garden and Arts Center from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

In August from the 16th to the 17th, the Seminole Bromeliad and Tropical Plant Society Sale will take place  at the Garden Club of Sanford, Florida. On 11 October of this year  the Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies will be having another quarterly meeting, hosted by the Florida West Coast Bromeliad Society. The Southeast Michigan Bromeliad Society holds monthly meetings for enthusiasts to exchange information, plants, and seeds. Meetings are held in homes, nurseries, and the Mattaei Botanical Gardens.

For information on how to grow tillandsia, please see the article entitled Airplants. Good luck and happy growing.

Bonsai Trees As Floral Home Decor

bonzai tree in glass vase

Legend has it that ascetic Japanese scholars used to keep bonsai trees in their little rooms to be able to take breaks from their studies gazing at the tiny trees. Perhaps they imagined themselves hiking in the mountains breathing fresh air and inhaling the odor of fresh pine for a few moments away from their manuscripts. Have you ever considered a bonsai tree on your desk to help you steal a few moments for a miniature vacation out in the country? Or perhaps a little tree would just make a lovely ornament on your coffee table. Either way, it would be a unique addition to the room. Unlike plastic ornaments, no two natural products are ever identical (even twins).

Unlike your typical houseplant, bonsai trees are carefully tended to give the appearance of mature, but tiny trees. When you take on a bonsai tree you take on a whole new hobby, because the art of bonsai extends much further than merely watering the plant at regular intervals.

The original material for your tree can be taken from a full grown tree that already has the woody look of maturity. Small trees suitable for bonsai can sometimes be found in nature, although they are rare. For a beginner the simplest way to obtain your new bonsai tree is probably from a commercial outlet, which can easily be found online. The variety of species available is too wide for the scope of this article, but some of the most beautiful and aromatic include pine, cedar, yew, cypress, and juniper.

The best soil type to use, amount of optimal sunlight, and watering schedule will depend upon your species of bonsai tree. A good retailer will be able to advise you on basic care.

The art of bonsai includes not only miniaturization but shaping the tree into interesting configurations.There are basic traditional bonsai shapes, which need not hinder your artistic spirit unless you intend to enter your bonsai tree into a formal show, and are only listed here as general suggestions. The upright bonsai tree resembles a symmetrical umbrella, pointed at the top and evenly swelling downward. Pines lend themselves nicely to this shape. A variant of the upright is the informal upright, in which the trunk is allowed to take a detour and curve on the way up. The slanted style produces a beautiful windswept look. Junipers and cypress are especially beautiful in this shape.The cascade style is similar to the slanted, but the top of the tree is allowed to exceed the edges of the container, much as a tree might grow over a waterfall or mountain precipice. Most species are good for this style, with the exception of pines. Look at your own tree and imagine its unique possibilities and how you would like it to appear in its new home.

A bewildering array of tools exists for the master bonsai artist, but for the beginner, start out with a pair of shears, some aluminum or copper wire, and of course a pair of wire cutters. The container that holds a bonsai tree is a tray called a bon, which is usually black to avoid distracting the eye from the tree. During the life of the tree you will need to transplant it to larger bons as it slowly grows.

Pruning is important to creating and maintaining bonsai trees, because tree growth naturally takes place mostly at the top and branches, where you don’t want it. Examine your tree at its own level and decide which branches to remove. If you are going for the windswept or cascade look, decide which direction the tree should lean and remove branches from the opposite side. If you prefer the umbrella look, shape symmetrically. For a balanced look, remove large branches from the top. Use your shears to cut deciduous plants such as flowering fruit trees or azaleas. For conifers use your fingers to pinch branches, because shears will cause brown areas to develop. The best times for cutting are usually in the late fall or early spring before the growing season, but consult a more detailed manual for the best time for your bonsai tree’s species. After cutting large branches you can apply wound paste, available from your dealer, to help prevent infection and speed healing.Up to a third of the branches can be removed for styling when the tree is not growing. Minor pruning can be done to keep your bonsai tree’s basic shape and size throughout the summer growing season. Removing leaves of deciduous plants during the summer will force the plant to grow smaller leaves, helping to miniaturize its appearance.

Once you have only the limbs you want for your basic shape, the next step is to use weight to train limbs to grow more nearly horizontal. This is usually accomplished by wrapping aluminum or copper wires around them. Bonsai supply stores sell both kinds in the diameter and weight you will need. Gently wrap the wire around any branch you would like to see grow outward rather than upward. This can be applied to the trunk or the limbs, but be careful not to snap it or any of the limbs off. One esthetic technique is to choose two limbs close to each other, on slightly different levels, on either side of the trunk. Begin wrapping your wires around the outer edge of one limb, and continue wrapping around the trunk just in the area between the two limbs.Continue wrapping around the second limb. This will train the tree to grow in a more or less even horizontal line from one limb to the other, through the trunk. If something does accidentally snap off, do not despair. Step back and redesign another interesting shape.

The art of bonsai trees requires even more patience than most gardening, but in the end the results can be quite beautiful. To learn more, find material at your library or attend a bonsai show. The artists there are usually more than happy to find someone interested in their work. And if bonsai turns out not to be the craft for you, all is not lost. Your little tree can grace your yard as a big tree.

About a year after a major pruning job, it will be time to prune your bonsai tree’s roots. This will serve to keep the tree small and help keep it from becoming root bound. Water your tree the night before you prune. Lift your little tree gently and shear away the lowest third of the main root. Cut the side roots to give the root ball a round, compact shape. Do not cut off the fine hairs on the roots. They are important for absorbing water and nutrients.

How to Create an Apothecary Jar Terrarium

apothecary jars

Below are the steps on how to create an apothecary jar terrarium:

1. First, you will need an apothecary jar. The size and shape that you use are entirely your discretion. You can also opt to use any glass containers that you have lying around at home, or you can purchase new ones at the store. Apart from apothecary jars and glass food containers, you can also use vases, mason jars, and lidded containers.

2. The next step is to create a solid foundation or base consisting of small stones. You can also experiment with sea glass if you prefer your apothecary jar terrarium to have a unique look or feature. Both sea glass and small stones can be collected in their natural environment or purchased at a store such as Walmart or Target. Layer the bottom of the apothecary jar with at least one inch of small stones or sea glass.

apothecary jar terrarium stnes

3. Since the apothecary jar is lidded, you will need activated carbon or activated charcoal to keep the formation of mildew at bay. Another tip to keep in mind to prevent mildew growth is to keep the leaves inside from touching the glass of the apothecary jar. Activated carbon can be purchased at pet stores. Distribute the charcoal across or between the small stones/sea glass.

apothecary jar terrarium soil

4. Next, put in a mix of grasses , plants and mosses along with healthy soil. Some additional items that you can put into the apothecary jar terrarium for decorative or aesthetic purposes are: petrified wood, shells, small glass bottles, figurines, and any other item that suits your taste that won’t interfere with the development of the plants, grasses, and soil.

Now is the time to hone those creative juices and have fun while you are at it. Don’t forget to water/spray your terrarium each day!