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Book Reviews and Suggestions / Re: simply put book suggestions
« Last post by nirvana on April 26, 2011, 09:26:52 PM »
Healing Plants: Medicine of the Florida Seminole Indians by Alice Micco Snow.   While the cures sometimes border on the superstitious, it's a neat glimpse into Seminole Indian medicinal plants and ritual use, past and present.

Sacred Plant Medicine: the Wisdom in Native American Herbalism By Stephen Harrod Buhner, Brook Medicine Eagle.   I found this book to be too new agey for my tastes (which is saying alot) but there are some pearls of wisdom in there if you're persistent.

Visionary Plant Consciousness: The Shamanic Teachings of the Plant World, various contributors including Dennis and Terence McKenna, Andrew Weil, Wade Davis, etc.   I really enjoyed reading this book.  The topics are as diverse as the opinions expressed about them.  A must for every ethnobotanists literary arsenal, or even just to read on the john.

I've been on a kick lately so I'll add more titles as I read em.
Specific Plant Cultivation / Cultivation of Nymphaea sp. (Water Lily)
« Last post by Planter on March 22, 2011, 06:24:22 PM »
Tropical water lilies are rather uncommon plants due to their environmental requirements, but those who are lucky enough to have a sufficient sized body of water that is maintained at proper temperatures are able to grow these beautiful plants.
One of my favorites is the standard blue water lily, Nymphaea caerulea. These plants are not terribly cold tolerant (zone 10b, they cannot freeze) and require warm water and high nutrients to thrive; once established water lilies can grow at incredible rates. They require 1-6ft of water usually. While the plants can get quite larger, the seeds are quite small and can be difficult to deal with at first.
The first thing you want to do is start to set up your germination container and prepare your seeds. You can prepare the tiny seeds by soaking them for a day while your germination container settles out. The seeds usually have a dried layer of mucilage on them that is remnant from the flower, and allows them to float off to germinate elsewhere. This layer can be easily removed after the seeds have been soaked for a while, simply get the seed between your fingers and rub it gently, if they then sink they are good to go.

You want to find a sufficient sized container that is clear to germinate your seeds in. It should be able to hold about 3-4" of soil, and 4-6" of water. The mouth should be wide, and the diameter should be at least 6". The first time I germinated seeds I used the top of a 100cd stack thingy. This time I have a slightly different container. You want to block the light from reaching the soil, so I tape around the bottom of the container, and fill it up with some regular field soil or go find a local body of water and dig up some mud. i prefer to start with dry, mostly sterile and sifter field soil.

I also use reverse osmosis water, and I add a touch of copper sulfate algicide to prevent algal growth in the container.

I use a spray bottle at first to begin to wet down the soil, by spraying the sides of the container. I fill it up a bit and allow the soil in the bottom to absorb water, and i usually poke it around a little to help it settle out and allow any material in the soil to float up to be filtered out.

Then slowly add more water, trying not to kick up too much dirt into the water, or else it will take a while to settle out.

Then put the container on a heat mat or someplace warm under good light.

Once the soil all settles out and the water is clear, you can plant the seeds. First strain off the floating particles and then carefully pluck the seeds out of the water dish they were in and drop them into the container. They should sink straight to the bottom, so spread out the seeds evenly around the container. Once the seeds have sunk and are laying on top of the soil layer, carefully add a thin layer of sand on top to help keep the seeds in place. The sand may have some dust or small particles in it if it is not washed, if the water clouds after adding the sand let it settle out again. Then add an air stone from a pump. With a small container an air pump on full will cause too much water movement and turbulence, so I use an adjuster or tie a knot in the air tube to limit the air that's pumped.

The seeds will take 1-3 months to germinate. If they are very fresh they may germinate more easily. Keeping the temps up helps to increase their germination rate. Once they germinate you will see a single cotyledon which is oblong or subulate. The plant will then start growin a rosette and put out alternate and round leaves, the petiole will not elongate much.

Once they get to be suffucient size they can be transplanted to a new container. Watch out for Koi! Crayfish also enjoy eating water lilies.
General Cultivation / Guide to Growing Media and Potted Plants
« Last post by Planter on March 15, 2011, 05:31:09 PM »
There's more than one way to skin a cat and there's more than one way to grow a plant. This is a general guide to the common types of growing media you may encounter, their properties, contents, and techniques accompanied with their use. I would also like to cover general aspects of growing plants in pots, which in some ways is largely different from growing plants in the ground. The idea is to instill good techniques and understanding of the materials we use when cultivating plants. When you understand how the plants work and how the media and soil environment works, you can make better judgments and be more creative in your techniques to cultivate plants.

Probably the most common potting mix is the peat-based blends. Peat based mixes are primarily peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, wetting agents, pH buffers and sometimes nutrients. Composted barks and rice hulls are other ingredients used to increase the porosity of the mix. They may also contain leaf compost or other compost sources for extra carbon and nutrients, primarily nitrogen. Peat moss grows in a naturally acidic environment and the dried and harvested peat moss is natrually mildly acidic. Sometimes this is good, if we have acid loving plants, but most plants are not acid loving and will do better in a neutral mix, and therefore common amendments you will find or need when preparing your own mixes are alkaline ingredients (such as dolomitic limestone). When peat is dry it also has a hard time absorbing water quickly, therefore wetting agents are common as well which help the water penetrate the peat by reducing the cohesiveness of the water. It is generally a good idea to moisten your mix if it is not moist before working with it.
This is Sun Gro Sunshine Mix LC8

From Sun Gro:
Formulated with Canadian Sphagnum peat moss, coarse perlite & vermiculite, starter nutrient charge (with Gypsum) and dolomitic limestone.

Use Sunshine Mix #8 for bedding plants, potted plants, flower and foliage crops, bulbs, perennials and vegetable plants.

This is Sun Gro Sunshine Natural and Organic #1

Formulated with Canadian Sphagnum peat moss, coarse perlite, organic starter nutrient charge, Gypsum and dolomitic limestone.

Highly recommended for cutting propagation, bedding and vegetable plants, hanging baskets, pot crops and seed germination.

This is Sun Gro MetroMix950. This is a high porosity mix with bark and very coarse vermiculite. While barks and vermiculite can retain fair amounts of water, the large particle size increases the porosity enough that the soil will retain water well enough while remaining airy and preventing compaction. This makes it ideal for larger pots and planters, anything over 3 gallons I definitely use plenty of this stuff in the mix.

Formulated with Pine bark, Canadian Sphagnum peat moss, vermiculite, coarse perlite, starter nutrient charge (with Gypsum) and slow release nitrogen and dolomitic limestone.

Highly recommended for hanging baskets, interior-scapes, patio & nursery, perennials and poinsettias.

This is Sun Gro MetroMix with rice hulls. This was a custom blend that my work had made, I forget which original blend was used but its very similar in composition to the above MM950 except that the perlite has been replaced with rice hulls.

Formulated with bark, Canadian Sphagnum peat moss, parboiled rice hulls, wetting agent and dolomitic limestone.

This is Berger Germination Mix. I don't particularly care for this blend myself. The particles are too fine, and theres too much vermiculite and peat. It tends to separate very easily, and I actually usually germinate seeds in the rice hull/LC8/natural and organic mixes. Sometimes though when I have seeds that I know need to stay pretty moist, I will add some of this mix to the others, but I tend to stay away from heavy vermiculite and small particle size stuff which will be easy to keep too wet and doesn't aerate well enough for a lot of stuff.

Berger BM2 Germination Mix This mix is perfectly formulated for seed germination, either in plugs, trays, or a floating system. Composed of specifically designed particle size peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite, the BM2 mix promotes uniform germination and rapid root development. Components include 70% fine peat moss, 15% fine perlite, and 15% fine vermiculite.

This is Cowsmo Compost Potting Soil.

Field soil

Worm castings


Perlite, fine

Perlite, coarse


Peat moss

Coconut Coir, Coco Coir, fine

Coconut Coir, Coco Coir, coarse

General Cultivation / Cutting back plants
« Last post by Planter on March 15, 2011, 03:42:52 PM »
Sometimes we run out of room indoors for all our plants, and sometimes our plants have outgrown their homes in their pots. Sometimes we get some awkward growth on our plants and we need to re-shape them up.
Here I have a Salvia guaranitica 'Omaha' plant that lost most of its lower leaves and is growing kind of awkwardly, and so I am going to cut it back and re-pot it and let it grow out again in time for the spring.

I am going to propagate it at the same time, following my general Herb Cuttings Guide.

I cut the top off, and proceeded to cut it up into 5 rootable sections.
Now I will trim the root ball. If the plant is root bound, the first thing I usually do with the root ball is slice off the bottom half inch to inch of the root ball. The majority of the roots will have built up at the bottom of the pot, and they just need to be cut out. Now this particular plant wasn't root bound in this pot, so I just had to trim it back normally. I start out and cut the edges off the root ball, with square pots at least, and then i just sort of spin it around and loosely take soil off it and trim the roots back to get an even rootball. You don't want to damage it too much, but now that this plant is just a stem, it doesn't need hardly any roots so i will take this opportunity to cut it back a lot to replace as much of the media around the root ball as I can. I also cut a few more nodes back on the stem.

Then it goes into its new home, a smaller pot. One mistake many people make is putting plants in too large or pots. You want to find one that is just large enough for the rootball, but that still gives it some extra space to grow into the new media you will be repotting it with. You will want to keep it moist, but at this point since its just a stem, and with no leaf, the plant will hardly be transpiring and will be easy to overwater, so you have to pay careful attention to the soil moisture content

I will put it pretty much under normal light at this point, and it should begin to grow out real well.
Specific Plant Cultivation / Propagation of rosette succulents (Agave, Aloe)
« Last post by Planter on March 15, 2011, 03:23:25 PM »
Agaves and Aloes, while in different families (Agavaceae and Asphodelaceae respectively) are in the same order (Aspargales) and have similar growth habits and their propagation is about the same.
Agave leaves are generally not as succulent as Aloe though, and do not produce as much of the gel/mucilage that Aloe vera is known for. They are also more sharp and can have a nasty point on the tip of the leaves. While it may not be terribly obvious upon first glance of some of these species, they indeed do have stems, and in order to get them to root out successfully the stem must be exposed.
Here are a few Agave americana cuttings, these were shoots from the bases of larger specimens.

This one has some dead stem and dead roots on it. You can also see some damage to the base of a few of the lower leaves. When the leaf connects tightly around the stem it is known as a sheath, this serves to protect the stem and the nodes which are very tightly tucked away inbeween the leaves.

The dead stem has to be removed. I cut until I see some fresh good stem. Then the bottom most leaves are carefully peeled away. The entire sheath should be removed to expose the stem. be careful not to damage the stem too much, but if you leave much of the sheath on it can rot and may end up infecting the cutting, it will also help roots grow more easily since they will not have to penetrate any extra layers of tissue.

Here is another cutting with kind of an awkward stem. I am cutting it to where it has already began to root itself

You can see that it has already began to root and you can see the roots penetrating the leaf sheath. This plant wants to grow!

Once the cuttings are prepared, they are planted about 1-1 1/2" deep, about to the level where the rosette is soil level. The mix I use is about the same for Kanna cutting and general succulent growth. I usually use about 2 parts rice hull mix or high porosity metromix950 and 1 part turface.
Plant the cuttings and I mist them down gently to moisten the soil. They should be watered in gently.

Since some of these cuttings have already started to root, they will go quickly. Generally these plants are naturally prone to rooting out well, so there is generally no need for hormone treatments. some people will like to treat the fresh cuts with sulfur dust to prevent infections. And now similar to Kanna cuttings, you want to allow the media in the pots to dry out in between mistings/waterings. This will help to induce the plants to throw out a lot of roots in search of water. Depending on the size of the pot and the cutting, they can be rooted out well in 2-4 weeks. Keep them in low light.
General Cultivation / Re: Propagating Herbs from Cuttings
« Last post by Planter on March 15, 2011, 02:48:01 PM »
It has been about 2 weeks since the above cuttings were taken and some of the Rosemary has started to root out well. Since the humidity around the cuttings is high, roots are able to grow above the soil level, and the fuzzy appearance of the roots is the root hairs which are collecting moisture from the air.

I will probably leave these cuttings for another week or so to insure they are well rooted, as I didn't see roots coming out the bottom of the plugs yet.

Here are two Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) cuttings which were taken about a month ago.

They took a little longer to root out than normal but they rooted, this is about how well you want the root balls to be when you transplant them. It also helps to make sure the root ball is moist, but not too wet. if it is dry though the root ball may fall apart more easily and the plant might not transplant as well.

If you wait too long, after the cuttings have rooted well they will begin to try growing again. If they grow out much in the humidity chamber the new growth is often very sensitive to changes in humidity and will dry out quickly when removed from the chamber; the plant will survive in most cases, but some of the new growth can end up drying up.
I transplant from the 1" plugs usually to 2" square pots.

I like to plant the root balls 90deg offset, because this makes it easier to pack in dirt around the root ball, and prevents disturbing the rootball as much
Fill the pot up the rest of the way with media and water the plant in lightly, I usually like to give a light dose of fertilizer as well. The new media the plant is in also has some Sustane 4-6-4 slow release in it.

Heres 4 Salvia guaranitica 'Omaha' that have rooted out well enough to be repotted. Salvia's generally produce large roots quickly.

Specific Plant Cultivation / Propagation of Sceletium tortuosum (Kanna)
« Last post by Planter on March 07, 2011, 04:25:03 PM »
Sceletium tortuosum is rather easy to propagate from cuttings. The biggest factor I've found affecting the length of time it takes for them to root out is the freshness of the cuttings. In order for quick rooting the cuttings must be fresh. They can be kept for at least 48hrs in a bag with the end of the stems wrapped with moist paper towel. They could prob be kept longer, but they will begin to etiolate in the bag and rot and mold will set in eventually. The first cuttings I ever received were mailed unrooted and not terribly well packaged. I managed to get 2/3 to root, but it took me about 3 months to get them to finally produce roots and start growing.
This pot here had 5-6 smaller cuttings(all from the same plant) rooted out in it a few weeks ago and has been under full light for a week or two and has some nice new growth on it that will be used for these new cuttings.

Find a few nice tips, 3-4 nodes long, 3-5" in length, and cut them off.

Carefully pluck off the leaves at the base, being careful not to damage the stem itself, just get the leaves off. You may also need to recut the base depending on how much stem is before the first node at the bottom, you want to be able to get the bottom node into the rooting mix. If there are shoots you can leave them, they will eventually grow up through the mix if they are small and if the shoots have stem that will help produce more roots.

Then, as with pretty much every cutting, they get a rooting hormone treatment, and soak in IBA solution for 5 mins or so. Make sure the bottom node where the leaves were removed is submerged.

The rotting mix here is pretty much the same that I use to grow Catha edulis, and is my general succulent mix (about 2/3 rice hull mix, 1/3 turface, a but of extra coarse perlite and bark). Fill up the tray or pots that you are rotting the cuttings in with moisted mix and poke holes for the cuttings.

You want to get the bottom node all the way into the mix, press the mix in around them gently and then water the cuttings in with the IBA solution and mist them down gently. Then these go into the humidity chamber on a heat mat.

The trick now is to allow the moist media to dry out before you mist them down again. This wetting and then drying process helps to spread up the rate at which they root. In the humidity chamber they will be fine if the media dries out, but dont leave it dry for too long, but unlike with rooting of most herbaceous material the mix should not remain moist constantly. In about 3-5 weeks they should be rooted enough in 1" plugs to be transplanted.
Specific Plant Cultivation / Re: Propagation of Catha edulis
« Last post by Planter on March 07, 2011, 03:04:14 PM »
6 weeks later....
The cuttings took a little longer than usual, probably because they were stressed and damaged prior to planting, and one croaked (3/4 aint bad).
You can see the new growth, and the one that became infected and wasnt able to root (the stem started to shrivel, theres no hope for it at this point really, you can see it is wilted, as the plants were allowed to sit outside the humidity chamber for a few hours to see if they were ready, if they arent they wilt)

The mix I am am repotting them into isnt quite as turface heavy as the rootin mix but it is still a very porus media. its about 2/3 rice hull blend, 1/3 turface with some extra large chunk perlite and a touch of extra bark for increased porosity, and some sustane 4-6-4 slow release fertilizer.

When the cuttings are ready you will see either the new shoots forming (if the cutting isnt a tip) or growth will begin to resume slowly and then it will increase in speed (small leaves will grow first, and then they will get big) and roots should be visible coming out of the bottom of the plugs, and the cutting will be rather firmly in place (gently feel the stem and see how secure it is in the soil). This one doesnt have too many roots but its enough, it helps to allow more roots to grow as they help keep the root ball intact during the transplant. If the root ball falls apart, continue with the replanting but just put it in the humidity chamber for a day or two or in very low light (if it doesnt wilt in low light, if it does, humidity chamber) and let the root hairs regrow and it will be able to support itself again.

Line the new pots with the appropriate amount of soil. When repotting smaller cuttings like these that aren't rooted terribly deep, I like to plant the new root balls so that there is 1/4-1/2" of new media on top of the old root ball. The stem will produce new roots here where the stem is touching the soil, and will also help later in the plants life with the development of suckers. Then I water them in gently with a spray bottle on a mist setting so as not to mix up the media in the pot and disturbed the newly transplanted roots too much.

They will sit in low light for a bit, I keep an eye on them to make sure they transplanted fine. if they wilt they go back into the humidity chamber for another day or two, but if you can see roots like in 3rd pic above it should be fine given there isnt too much leaf. That is another option, to prune a few leaves or cut some in half to reduce the leaf surface area and amount of transpiration. Once I know they are good to go, I start to give them more light, and in a couple days they will be fine under full light.

Site Suggestions and Bug Reports. / To do list
« Last post by Planter on March 02, 2011, 11:08:05 PM »
- Fix the 'suggest an entheogen' page so that all boxes and options are listed

- Set the forum to display posted pictures to a max size of 800x600 (go to admin panel, go to configuration and then layout options)

- Make links from the pages about the plants to the specific cultivation threads that are being created

- Recent Post area on the home page

- fix 'Edit your description' for uploaded pictures (doesn't go to any editing page)

- "edit this plants entry" goes to the edit page which lacks the section "pest(s)", which should be renamed to "common pests and pathogens" also

- make it so that I and other editors can delete plant entries totally Ill do the deletin', pm any plants that need deleted

- add image categories (seed, seedling, plant, flower, fruit, foilage/herbage, ...)

- fix/remove vendor links from plant pages
Specific Plant Cultivation / Cultivation of Papaver somniferum
« Last post by Planter on March 02, 2011, 10:30:27 PM »
Papaver somniferum a.k.a. breadseed poppy and opium poppy is a widely cultivated plant in flower gardens as an ornamental and for its seeds which are edible among other things. It is widely naturalized across the globe, wiling and able to grow in a wide variety of environments, and in poor soils.
One of the biggest mistakes the novice poppy grower will make is over seeding the flower bed. Seeding a bed with the proper amount of seeds will take some practice, but one way to help is to mix the seeds 50/50 or more with sand and throw that mixture down. This will help to spread out the seeds more, and save time later on when you won't have to thin your patch out. The seeds come in a variety of colors and maintain viability for many many years, store in a cool dry place. They will range in color from near white/gray to almost black or brown.

Preparing the bed:
While poppies can be grown in pots, they do best when sown directly on the ground and allowed to grow in the ground. They require disturbed soils, so the bed must be turned or tilled. The poppy can grow in poor soils, but addition of fertilizers will help greatly (sustane 4-6-4 is a favorite), especially if the bed is grown year after year. They do best in loamy soils but will also do ok in sandy and clay soils will the right amount of preparation of the bed (turn it as best as you can, and fertilize it as best as you can). The poppy can grow a large tap root, over 1ft deep on large mature plants. Prepare the soil as soon as it is workable

Germinating seeds:

Sow the seeds directly on the soil surface. The seeds will germinate in temps from 35-60F, the optimal range being 40-60F as the seedlings have a tendency to die out when its too hot (80F+), even though they will germinate. Sow as soon as the ground is workable and the snow is almost melted (if you live where it snows). The seeds will require at least 3 days of moisture to germinate sucessfully. In Minnesota I sow poppies in mid-April, as the ground thaws and snow melts, and I try to get lucky and sow seeds before some April showers. 1 day of rain and 2 additional days of cloud cover is all you need to get them germinated. If you don't get lucky with the weather, simply water your bed 1-2x a day to help the seeds to germinate

General Cultivation:
The seeds will begin to grow and the plants will form rosettes and will grow vegetatively under the short days for about a month and a half. After the rosette matures, they will begin to bolt and produce the flower bud and subsequent flower and seed pod. They bloom during the long days (June-August). Thinning out of the seedlings must occur during the first month of growth, as if the plants grow too dense and start to crowd each other they will become stunted very easily. The plants have a tendency to tip over occasionally though (the larger vars like giganteum and Tasmanian do at least) and those vars like to grow in clumps of 2-3 plants right next to each other as they use each other for support. More bushy varieties like Lauren's Grape do better when each plant is given more room, as they can produce up to 20 flowers/pods (although on the small side, they bloom for a long time as they keep producing flowers). Optimum densities vary from 1-4plants per sq ft for best growth to 4-8. They require full sun, but will tolerate part shade. The mature plants like the heat and are drought tolerant usually, but will also be fine if watered regularly but watch for rot on the rosettes, but once the flowers bolt the plants should be ok even if they have had some rot damage.
The flowers will last for 1-3 days. Bees are the most active pollinator, along with flies (esp the mimic flies). the stamens are found attached to the base of the receptacle above the petals, and the stigma is located on the top of the immature seed pod, and has a fuzzy texture when the flower opens and is receptive of pollen. The plants are self fertile.

Transplanting poppies

One of the most difficult aspects to the cultivation of the poppies is attempting to transplant the seedlings. While it is not impossible, far from it, it is not very easy and requires some skill and plenty of luck. to transplant them successfully, the root ball must not be disturbed at all. If you are transplanting from seeds started in pots to the ground, the root ball cannot fall apart at all, and the roots cannot be damaged at all. The soil must come out of the pot perfectly and be planted quickly and gently. If you are transplanting seedlings that have germinated in the ground to another spot in the ground, it is easier, but still not easy. The soil should be moist but not wet, as this will help it maintain its cohesiveness and then the dirt chunks you dig up wont fall apart on you. find a clump you want to transplant and the spot you want to move them too. Dig out the hole they are to be transplanted in, and then carefully dig up all the dirt around the germinating seedlings and the entire root. The clump of dirt must remain in one piece or at least a few of the seedlings must not have their roots disturbed. Then plant it in its new home.
Transplanting must also occur on a cloudy, cool day. it helps greatly to use a high percentage shade cloth if the weather doesnt cooperate, as the sun will fry freshly transplanted seedlings easily. it is also a good idea to very very gently water the transplanted seedlings with the mister nozzle from the hose or a very light shower, but moisten the soil around the plants to water them in. Expect high mortality rates at first, but the main things to keep in mind are the environment (cloudy, cool, moist) and dont disturb the root at all, any seedlings that are disturbed at the root will have a 99% chance of dying.

Too many seeds:
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