Hi gardeners, Happy New Year to one and all! I know that we are all hoping for a much happier and healthier 2022. Let’s look at Nature - sometimes it has the answer to our problems!
With the cold and flu season approaching I thought I would look at good old Vitamin C, found in citrus fruit such as oranges, lemons, grapefruit, mandarins and limes. Large doses of this Vitamin can decrease the severity and symptoms of a cold. Nothing compares to a fresh juicy orange picked straight from your own tree. I love their glossy foliage and sweet-scented blossoms. Easy to grow so why not plant your favourite citrus tree now and have your own supply of Vitamin C in your garden.
Pick your citrus ripe from the tree, as they will not ripen anymore after picking. When the fruit is heavy you are guaranteed plenty of juice. Pick your lemons with a short piece of stem attached and they will keep longer.
There are other plants you can grow besides Citrus that have flu busting powers. Garlic has antiviral and antibacterial properties useful in fighting illness. Basil relieves headaches associated with colds. Cloves and Ginger are an expectorant. Borage and Comfrey soothe catarrh. Camomile flowers help a head cold and stuffiness. Chillies can bring on a sweat and clear the head.
I had these plants in store last year and they walked out the door – Nepenthes – Climbing Pitcher Plants. I have had great feedback on these vines and thought I would give you some information on this fascinating plant. They form unusual and attractive pitchers on tendrils at the end of the leaf tips which attract, trap and digest insects. Nectar is secreted from glands located mainly under the lid which also has a pigmentation that attracts its prey. Once inside the inner waxy surface of the pitcher, the insects lose their footing and fall into the fluid below. They can’t climb out and drown, and are then digested by enzymes from the glands on the pitchers’ walls. Very similar to how we humans digest our food.
The lid on the pitcher is there to attract insects and to stop the pitcher filling up with water when it is raining heavily.
They produce upper and lower pitchers. The lower pitchers have tendrils attached at the front. The plant then climbs and produces upper pitchers where the tendrils are attached to the rear of the pitcher and forms loops with which it clings to its surroundings for support.
The pitchers are not flowers but an adaption of the leaf. Insignificant flowers are produced in Spring.
The most important requirement is water. They should never be allowed to dry out and never left standing in water. Water daily. If the potting mix is drying out quickly this is usually an indication that the plant needs repotting.
When repotting use a Cymbidium Orchid mix. You can also make up your own by using two parts composted pine bark to one-part coarse river sand.
Pitcher Plants can be grown in greenhouses, under pergolas or verandah’s so long as there is bright, filtered light. If no pitchers grow it is usually a sign that there is not enough light or the humidity is too low. They prefer a high humidity similar to the conditions that ferns and orchids enjoy.
When fertilizing you can use a slow-release indoor fertilizer or a liquid fertilizer with a high nitrogen content at a quarter strength e.g. Thrive.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you – the gardener – the customer – for the wonderful feedback I have received from you. I really enjoy passing onto you the knowledge I have gained over the years as a horticulturalist, and if there is a particular item you would like me to write about, please feel free to contact me and I will try to make it happen.