HOW TO GROW TRACHELOSPERMUM JASMINOIDES

How to grow Trachelospermum jasminoides

Commonly known as the Star Jasmine or Confederate Jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides is a relative new-comer to the English gardener although a popular choice across the Mediterranean and Southeastern United States. Native to eastern and southeastern Asia it is a surprisingly frost-hardy, evergreen climber despite its subtropical and tropical origins. It is noted for its clusters of highly fragrant blooms and deep-green foliage which can take on a bronze flush during colder winters.

Trachelospermum jasminoides
Under favorable conditions it can be expected to reach an approximate height of 9 metres with a width of 3-4 metres. The leaves are leathery and ovate-lanceolate. The small, jasmine scented, pure-white flowers appear on new growth across the entire plant from June to August.

In northern European climates Trachelospermum jasminoides will perform best grown against a warm, sunny wall. It will even grow in partial shade to full shade in warmer climates although flowering will not be as impressive. Be aware that it will struggle in regions prone to extended periods of freezing wet conditions. Under these circumstances Trachelospermum jasminoides will be best cultivated as a greenhouse or conservatory specimen.

Trachelospermum jasminoides flowers
Plant in a moist, humus-rich, deep but well-drained soil. Avoid soils prone to waterlogging as the roots can succumb to fungal infection. Trachelospermum jasminoides will prefers neutral to alkaline soil conditions, but will grow in slightly acid soils. That being said the foliage can often show signs of nutrient deficiency similar in effect to chlorosis. This can be mitigated by a weekly application of a liquid soluble fertilizer formulated for ericaceous plants. Container specimens are best grown planted into John Innes No 3 potting compost.

Trachelospermum jasminoides can be prone to scale or woolly aphid, especially when grown against the protection of a wall. Voles and rabbits can be a problem in rural areas as they like the young stems.

Pruning is not required, unless you wish to limit its growth by remove vigorous shoots. This can be carried out in March.

For related articles click onto the following links:
HOW TO GROW TRACHELOSPERMUM JASMINOIDES
HOW TO GROW WINTER JASMINE
HOW TO TAKE CUTTINGS FROM TRACHELOSPERMUM JASMINOIDES
JASMINUM BEESIANUM
JASMINUM NUDIFLORUM

HOW TO GROW CLEMATIS ‘Bill Mackenzie’

How to grow Clematis 'Bill Mackenzie' - http://www.gardenvines.com/


Clematis 'Bill Mackenzie' is an attractive deciduous climber with showy flowers and finely-cut foliage. Even though it is of uncertain parentage, it is often sold as either Clematis orientalis 'Bill MacKenzie' or Clematis tangutica 'Bill MacKenzie'.

Clematis 'Bill Mackenzie' 
It was raised by Lady Valerie Scott (Ne. Finnis) at the Waterperry Horticultural School near Oxford, in 1966. It is generally believed to be a seedling of the Ludlow and Sherriff ‘Orange Peel’ clematis, however it is more like to be a cross between Clematis tangutica and its var. obtusiuscula. The true clone grows in the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.

Clematis 'Bill Mackenzie' is a vigorous specimen, which under favourable conditions can reach a height of between 4-8 metres with an approximate width of 2.5-4 metres. The dark-green three-lobed support the plant by twisting around suitable structures. The blooms appear from June to November. Each flower is 6-7cm in width with four thick, widely opening, bright lemon-yellow sepals which surround dark stamens. After the first set of flowers finish, ornamental silky seed heads start to form beside newly opened blossoms

Clematis 'Bill Mackenzie' seed head
Plant Clematis 'Bill Mackenzie' in a moisture-retentive, well-drained alkaline to neutral soil. Avoid heavy soils or those prone to waterlogging. It will perform best in a sunny position, but will also cope in a partial shade.

As with all clematis species and cultivars the roots and base of the plant will need to be kept cool and shaded.  Either position another plant in front to act as shade cover or apply a layer of pebbles at the base. Plant the root ball 5-8cm deep to help encourage new shoots to grow from below ground level.

No pruning is necessary, but unruly specimen can be cut back hard from the end of March to the beginning of April, between 10-30 cm from the ground.

For related articles click onto the following links:
CLEMATIS MONTANA - The Anemone Clematis
HOW TO GROW CLEMATIS ARMANDII
HOW TO GROW CLEMATIS ‘Bill Mackenzie’
HOW TO GROW CLEMATIS FLORIDA 'SIEBOLDII'
HOW TO GROW CLEMATIS TANGUTICA
HOW TO PROPAGATE CLEMATIS BY LAYERING
HOW TO TREAT FOR CLEMATIS WILT?
CLEMATIS 'NELLY MOSER'
THE EVERGREEN CLEMATIS - Clematis armandii
THE ORANGE PEEL CLEMATIS - Clematis tangutica

HOW TO GROW SOLANUM JASMINOIDES 'ALBUM'

How to grow Solanum jasminoides 'Album' - https://pocketcameraphotoblogger.files.wordpress.com/

Commonly known as the 'Potato Vine' or 'Jasmine Nightshade', Solanum jasminoides 'Album' (now correctly classified as Solanum laxum 'Album') is a slender, fast-growing, evergreen climber with twining stems and fragrant blooms. Native to southeastern Brazil, it was first introduced to European science in 1838. Since that time it has become a popular choice in many temperate and subtropical zones. However it has often escaped the garden environment and naturalized in the surrounding countryside. In Brisbane and Sydney in Australia it is now regarded as a pest species.

Solanum jasminoides 'Album' flowers
You can grow Solanum jasminoides 'Album' outside in the milder, southern regions of England and Ireland, but it will struggle to survive the wet and freezing and winter conditions as you go further north.

Solanum jasminoides 'Album' can be grown in any ordinary, well-drained garden soil. It isn't considered as hardy as some of the other popular species and cultivars of Solanum climbers, and so will need to be grown against the sheltered protection of a south or west-facing wall. Plant container grown plants in April or May and gently secure the stems to the supporting structure. Once in place the stems will naturally twine but may occasionally need tying in.

Overwinter, apply a protective covering or horticultural fleece once overnight temperatures begin to drop down to below 7 degrees Celsius.

In cooler northern European climates, you may need to grow Solanum jasminoides 'Album' as a greenhouse or conservatory specimen. Plant up into 8-10 inch pots containing a good quality compost such as John Innes 'No 2', greenhouse specimens can be planted directly into the borders. Maintain a minimum winter temperature of 5-7 degrees Celsius, keeping the soil around the roots just moist.
Water copiously during the growing season and ventilate freely.

Prune in March or April, thinning out and weak growths. Specimens overwintered outside can have any cold damaged shoots cut back to the main stems.

For related articles click onto the following links:
HOW TO GROW SOLANUM JASMINOIDES 'ALBUM'
HOW TO GROW TRACHELOSPERMUM JASMINOIDES
HOW TO GROW WINTER JASMINE
HOW TO TAKE CUTTINGS FROM TRACHELOSPERMUM JASMINOIDES
JASMINUM BEESIANUM
JASMINUM NUDIFLORUM

HOW TO GROW ACER GRISEUM FROM SEED

How to grow Acer griseum from seeds


Acer griseum, commonly known as the paperbark maple, is a sought after small ornamental, deciduous tree. Native to the Chinese provinces of Gansu, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Shaanxi, Shanxi and Sichuan, it is valued for its spectacular autumn foliage and smooth, shiny orange-red, which characteristically peels away in thin, papery layers.

Acer griseum seeds
Unlike Japanese which are readily propagated by grafting, Acer griseum is usually propagated from seed due to a lack of suitable and available rootstocks. Unfortunately the majority of Acer griseum seeds are sterile or hollow, giving is a germination rate usually of less than 10%! However, if you do want to propagate Acer griseum seeds production is still the best way forward.

Collect mature seeds in the autumn and sow them in stations of 3 on (not in) in a well-drained seed bed. Cover with a thin layer of horticultural grade lime-free grit and wait for 2-3 years.

Alternatively (and for quicker germination) collect seed in early September, and then cold stratify the seed for 90 days. Best practice is to place them in a polythene bag filled with damp moss and place in the salad box of the fridge. Pierce the bag a number of times to allow airflow.

Acer griseum seedlings
After the 90 days, carefully split the seed coats and extracted the embryos without damaging them. Plant the seed in a medium of vermiculite only. Once the seedlings emerge provide excellent ventilation as damping off is an issue with Acer griseum seedlings. If ventilation is an issue then improve airflow using low energy fans.

When large enough to handle carefully remove the seedlings, disturbing the roots as little as possible, and pot on into 1 litre pots containing a good quality soil-based compost such as John Innes 'Seed and Cutting'.

Move the potted seedlings to a sunny, protected but unheated environment under 50% shade cloth. Allow to grow on for the next few years potting on as necessary in John Innes 'No 2' then 'No 3' before planting out into their final position.

For related articles click onto the following links:
HOW TO GROW ACER GRISEUM FROM SEED
HOW TO GROW ACER PSEUDOPLATANUS 'ESK SUNSET'
HOW TO GROW THE FRANGIPANI TREE- Plumeria rubra var. acutifolia
HOW TO GROW FRANGIPANI TREE FROM SEED
THE CANNONBALL TREE -  Couroupita guianensis
THE DEVIL'S HAND TREE - Chiranthodendron pentadactylon
THE MIMOSA TREE - Acacia dealbata
THE SILVER BIRCH - Betula pendula

CAN ZEBRAS BREED WITH HORSES?

Can zebras bred with horses?
WANT TO BUY HARDY EXOTIC PLANT SEEDS? THEN CLICK HERE FOR THE 'SEEDS OF EADEN' SEED SHOP

Zebras may look like a sturdy, stripy horse, but if they were inclined to do so could they breed with a regular horse? Well modern horses are believed to have originated around south-eastern Europe, while zebras are clearly from Africa. Yet despite their separate evolutionary lines zebras are related closely enough that they can successfully breed with horses, donkeys, wild asses etc. to produce a foal known as a zebroid.


Zebra horse hybrid - Zorse
A zebroid is the generic name for all zebra hybrids. The different hybrids are generally named using the portmanteau convention of sire's name plus the dam's name.

There is generally no distinction made as to which zebra species is used. It has been found that when zebras are cross-bred, they often develop some form of dwarfism. Breeding of different branches of the equine family, which does not occur in the wild, generally results in infertile offspring. The combination of sire and dam will also affects the offspring.

A zorse is the offspring of a male zebra and a female horse. This cross is also called a zebrula, zebrule, zebra mule or golden zebra. The rarer reverse pairing is sometimes called a horbra, hebra, zebrinny or zebret. Like most other animal hybrids, the zorse is sterile.

Zebra donkey hybrid - Zeedonk
A zony is the offspring of a zebra stallion and a pony mare. Medium-sized pony mares are preferred to produce riding zonies, but zebras have been crossed with smaller pony breeds such as the Shetland, resulting in so-called "Zetlands".

A zonkey is a cross between a zebra and a donkey, although 'zonkey' is not the technically correct name for such a cross. The most commonly accepted terms are zebonkey (or zebronkey), zebrinny, zebrula, zebrass, and zedonk (or zeedonk). Donkeys are closely related to zebras and both animals belong to the horse family. Zonkeys are very rare. In South Africa, they occur where zebras and donkeys are found in proximity to each other. Like mules, however, they are generally genetically unable to breed, due to an odd number of chromosomes disrupting meiosis.

For related articles click onto the following links:
ARE ZEBRAS BLACK WITH WHITE STRIPES OR WHITE WITH BLACK STRIPES?
CAN ZEBRAS BREED WITH HORSES?
UGLY ANIMALS
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A FROG AND A TOAD?
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MILLIPEDE AND A CENTIPEDE?
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PLANT CELL AND AN ANIMAL CELL?
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A RAT AND A MOUSE?
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A TORTOISE AND A TURTLE?
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A ZEBRA AND A HORSE?
ZEBRA

WHY IS MY CLEMATIS NOT FLOWERING?

Why is my clematis not flowering?

There is little that can compete with a clematis at the height of its flowering season, however there is certainly no guarantee of success. Some years even established specimens can be little hit and miss, and newly planted specimens can often appear to be holding back the 'fruits' of your labour. Deliberately some might say!

Why is my clematis not flowering?
Luckily, when it comes to growing clematis there is an old mantra that is often wheeled out,

'...keep the roots in the shade, keep the head in full sun...'

And there is a lot of sense to this. Many clematis species are woodland plants, and so they would begin the first 2-3 years of their life under woodland shade until they have grown tall enough to reach past the tree canopy. Once exposed to direct sunlight they accelerate foliage growth and produce enough energy via photosynthesis to bloom and subsequently produce seed.

Reasons why your clematis is refusing to flower

Why is my clematis not flowering?
1. The most common reason for a clematis not to flower is unsuitable growing conditions. As you would expect from their native environmental conditions, Clematis need a moisture retentive, but well-drained, soil with their roots kept in cool shade. If the soil above the roots is exposed to full sun then place stones or pebbles around the base of the plant, or grow another plant directly between it and the sun so that the roots are kept in shadow during the hottest part of the day.

Be aware that keeping the top growth in shade will impair both growth and flowering.

What can be done to encourage flowering?

If you have done everything correctly, as in the roots are in the shade and the foliage is in full sun, then consider an application of sulphate of potash. This is best applied in late winter or early spring.
Also as a general rule, clematis will perform best in a slightly acidic soil. Too acidic or alkaline soils can also discourage growth and flowering.

Why is my clematis not flowering?
2. If growing conditions are good and you have been feeding your clematis regularly since its introduction to the garden then the issue may be the application of too much nitrogen. Yes this will do wonders for the plants foliage but there is a tendency (particularly in young clematis plants) to produce foliage over flower production when over fed.

What can be done to encourage flowering?

Choose a fertilizer with a low nitrogen number relative to the phosphorus number, such as 5-10-10, so that your plant will develop blossoms and roots, rather than lots of foliage. Common to all general fertiliser, they have phosphorus to develop root systems and form fruit, and potassium to promote flowers and develop resistance to disease. So, change to a low nitrogen and high phosphorus and apply once in the spring and once in June.

3. Some species clematis will need to three to five years to become a fully mature plant, and can refuse to bloom during this stage of their lifecycle. That being said it is not uncommon for a few blooms to be produced while young.

What can be done to encourage flowering?

Only to allow time to pass, and avoid overfeeding with high nitrogen fertilisers

Why is my clematis not flowering?
4. Early flowering species which bloom on the previous year's growth (such as Clematis alpina, Clematis macropetala, and early large flowered hybrid types) will not flower if they have been subjected to autumn or winter or spring pruning.

What can be done to encourage flowering?

Check which pruning group your clematis is in and prune accordingly.

For related articles click onto the following links:
CLEMATIS MONTANA - The Anemone Clematis
HOW TO GROW CLEMATIS ARMANDII
HOW TO GROW CLEMATIS ‘Bill Mackenzie’
HOW TO GROW CLEMATIS FLORIDA 'SIEBOLDII'
HOW TO GROW CLEMATIS TANGUTICA
HOW TO PROPAGATE CLEMATIS BY LAYERING
HOW TO TREAT FOR CLEMATIS WILT?
THE EVERGREEN CLEMATIS - Clematis armandii
THE ORANGE PEEL CLEMATIS - Clematis tangutica
WHY IS MY CLEMATIS NOT FLOWERING?

HOW TO GROW CAMPSIS X TAGLIABUANA 'Madame Galen'

How to grow Campsis x tagliabuana 'Madame Galen'

Species and cultivars from the Campsis genus are a little hit and miss when it comes to planting in the cooler climates of northern Europe. However the vigour of the hybrid Campsis x tagliabuana 'Madame Galen', is such that it can be considered hardy, especially in the milder regions of southern England and Ireland. Unfortunately in warmer mediterranean and subtropical climates it can grow profusely with underground suckers, and as such can be considered a bit of a garden thug!

Campsis x tagliabuana 'Madam Galen' flowers
The gorgeous, exotic, trumpet-shaped blooms will bring a touch of the exotic to British gardens, and to get the best out of them plant Campsis x tagliabuana 'Madame Galen' in a sheltered position which receives full sun. The protection of a south facing wall will prove to be best although any solid structure will suffice.

It is a woody, climbing vine with mid-green, glossy pinnate leaves and attaches itself to structures by aerial rootlets. It can prove to be quite vigorous so be aware that under favourable conditions Campsis 'Madame Galen' can grow to approximately 8-12 meters tall, with a width of around 2.5-4 metres.

Plant between November and March in a moist, well-drained soil, previously enriched with well-rotted farm manure or garden compost. In warmer climates, Campsis 'Madame Galen' will perform better in poorer soils.

Once Campsis x tagliabuana 'Madame Galen' has established its root system, it will prove to be surprisingly drought resistant. However watering may still be required during periods of extended drought. After planting, cut the stems of new specimens to 15 cm from the ground, as this will stimulate new growth. Train the strongest new shoots, and remove weaker shoots. After 2 or 3 years, a framework will be established, and you should prune back side-shoots to within 2 or 3 shoots of the main stems.

Unruly mature specimens can be cut back in late winter as the new blooms emerge on new growth.

For related articles click onto the following links:
CLIMBING PLANTS FOR AUTUMN COLOUR
CLIMBING PLANTS FOR FOLIAGE COLOUR EFFECT
HOW TO GROW CAMPSIS X TAGLIABUANA 'Madame Galen'

HOW TO GROW ACTINIDIA CHINENSIS

How to grow Actinidia chinensis - http://www.florum.fr/

Commonly known as the 'Chinese gooseberry' or 'Kiwi Fruit', Actinidia chinensis a woody vine grown for its hairy, edible fruits. It was first discovered for western science by English botanist Charles Maries (1851-1902), who was collecting for Veitch nurseries. However it was Scottish botanist and plant hunter Robert Fortune (1812–1880), who brought Actinidia chinensis to the attention of western science when he sent Herbarium specimens (pressed and mounted) to the Royal Horticultural Society. That being said, it wasn't until E.H. Wilson sent viable seeds collected in Hupeh to Veitch nurseries in 1900 that the Chinese gooseberry finally made it into cultivation.

Actinidia chinensis illustration
It was named by French Jules Émile Planchon (1823–1888), who published its description in the London journal of botany in 1847.

Native to the northern Yangtze river valley, Actinidia chinensis is a vigorous species which under favourable conditions can grow upto 9 metres in height. The large, heart-shaped leaves are 15-23 cm long and up to 20 cm wide while the shoots are covered in a short, dense, red-coloured hair. Be aware that these young shoots are extremely vulnerable to frost damage may require protection in place from early spring.

The blooms are creamy-white in colour turning to buff-yellow as they age. Each flower is approximately 4 cm across, fragrant and produced in axillary clusters in late summer. The edible fruits emerge green, turning to brown as they mature. When ripe, each fruit is approximately 4-5 cm long and resembles a large gooseberry and with a similar flavour - hence the common name. Actinidia chinensis is a dioecious species, meaning that male and female reproductive structures appear on separate plants.

Actinidia chinensis flowers
Actinidia chinensis will require a sheltered sunny position, preferably against a south or west-facing wall. In milder, more mediterranean climates they can be grown out in the open. They will grow best in a fertile, well-drained slightly acid soil, which has been previously enriched with organic matter. Plant Actinidia chinensis 3-4.5 metres apart, but remember that both sexes will be required to produce fruit. Only one male plant is need for several females so long as they are in close proximity. They will start to produce fruit three to four years after planting.

Water well during the growing season and apply a mulch or well-rotted farm manure or garden compost in the spring. Avoid touching the base of the stem with the mulch.

Actinidia chinensis received the Award of Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1907.

For related articles click onto the following links:
HOW TO GROW ACTINIDIA CHINENSIS
HOW TO GROW SHARON FRUIT - Diospyros kaki

HOW TO GROW DICENTRA SPECTABILIS

How to grow Dicentra spectabilis - http://ccplants.co.uk/

Commonly known as the 'Bleeding Heart', 'Lady in the Bath' or 'Lyre Flower', Dicentra spectabilis is a gorgeous, hardy perennial plant with arching sprays of pendulous flowers. Native to Siberia, northern China, Korea and Japan, it is rather surprisingly related to the poppy family.

Dicentra spectabilis - http://www.jparkers.co.uk/
Note that Dicentra spectabilis has since been reclassified and is now correctly known as Lamprocapnos spectabilis. It is now the only species within the genus, but that being said, they are a number of excellent cultivated varieties available.

Under favorable conditions the type species will reach a height and spread of approximately 50-75 cm. It has grey-green leaves and red-heart-shaped blooms which are borne on arching racemes in May and June. Each flower is approximately 2.5 cm long with a glistening, white protruding inner petals.

Plant Dicentra spectabilis between October and March in any well-drained garden soil which has been previously enriched with moss-peat, or a humus-rich compost such as leaf-mold. Neutral or slightly alkaline soil conditions are preferable. The tender, emerging growth is susceptible to damage from freezing temperatures and cold winds, so when planting choose a sheltered position that offers protection from spring frosts.

In cooler, wetter climates they will be happy planted in a sunny position, but will perform better shaded from the mid-day sun in warmer and drier climates

When group planting provide a distance of 50 cm between plants.

Be aware that Dicentra spectabilis has brittle roots which are easily damaged when disturbed, and that the succulent growth can be a target for snails, slugs and aphids.

For related articles click onto the following links:
HOW TO GROW DICENTRA SPECTABILIS
HOW TO GROW MONKSHOOD - Aconitum napellus
THE LADY IN THE BATH FLOWER

WHAT IS JAPANESE KNOTWEED

What is Japanese Knotweed? - http://www.wwcs-group.co.uk/

Japanese Knotweed, is a strong growing, hardy, clump-forming herbaceous perennial native to the volcanic landscape of Japan. It has stout, deeply-penetrating rhizomes and considered notorious due to its rapid, suppressive growth, and being extremely difficult to eradicate. The invasive root system grows so aggressively that it can damage concrete foundations, buildings, flood defences, roads, paving, retaining walls and architectural sites. It can even turn up in your home by growing through the floor!

Fallopia japonica - Japanese knotweed
Once established, and depending upon conditions, Japanese Knotweed can grow to a height of between 2-4 metres. The purple-speckled, green hollow stems are reminiscent of bamboo even down to the distinctive raised nodes. The lush, green leaves significantly differ by being broadly heart-shaped with a flattened base. Small white or cream-colored blooms appear in late summer and early autumn. produced in erect racemes.

It is one of many pioneer plant species found across the globe which are the first species to colonize previously disrupted or damaged ecosystems. As they establish, this enables a chain of ecological succession to occur which ultimately leads to a more biodiverse and stable environment.

Damaged caused by Japanese Knotweed
While Japanese Knotweed is listed by the World Conservation Union as one of the world's worst invasive species, it is not a problem in Japan as it is naturally kept in check the climate, natural pests and regular deposits of ash which keep the knotweed plants small. However they still survive this onslaught due to energy stores in its deep root system. They are particularly affected by the Mycosphaerella leaf spot fungus which can devastates knotweed stands and the Japanese psyllid insect, Aphalara itadori.

In the United Kingdom, such is the concern of finding Japanese Knotweed in your garden, that banks and other mortgage companies will apply very restrictive lending policies should it occur. In fact there are reports that several lenders have not only refused mortgage applications on the basis of the plant being discovered in the garden but even the neighbours garden! If you think that is bad then in Australia, it is illegal to have this species growing on one's property. Food for thought, which surprisingly Japanese Knotweed is a it is foraged as a wild edible vegetable in its native homeland.

For relate articles click onto the following links:
JAPANESE KNOTWEED REMOVAL IN LITTLEHAMPTON
WHAT DOES JAPANESE KNOTWEED LOOK LIKE?
WHAT IS JAPANESE KNOTWEED

WHAT DOES JAPANESE KNOTWEED LOOK LIKE?

What does Japanese Knotweed look like? - http://www.wwcs-group.co.uk/

Despite its fearsome reputation, Japanese Knotweed - Fallopia japonica, is a surprisingly attractive ornamental herbaceous plant. It was first introduced to Europe by German botanist Philipp von Siebold (1796–1866) who obtained a specimen from a Japanese volcano and brought it to Holland.

Young Japanese Knotweed growth - http://www.wiseknotweed.com/
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew obtained a specimen in 1850, and once brought under cultivation became a gardener's favourite. Why? Because it looked like bamboo and grew in almost all soil types in both sun or shade. However it is the robust adaptability of Japanese Knotweed which has caused it to fall out of favour. It is now listed by the World Conservation Union as one of the world's worst invasive species!

Once mature, which is usually when they start to draw attention, Japanese Knotweed will achieve a height of approximately 2-4 m tall depending on conditions, and form dense stands. The hollow, bamboo-like stems are green, speckled purple, with distinct raised nodes.

Japanese Knotweed leaf and flower - http://warehouse1.indicia.org.uk/
The lush, green, broadly oval leaves are 7–14 cm long and 5–12 cm wide, and flattened at the base. They are borne alternately on characteristic zig-zag stems. The small blooms appear in late summer and early autumn. The flowers are cream or white and produced in erect racemes 6–15 cm long. While popular with pollinators, the seeds are rarely fertile.

Japanese Knotweed will naturally die back in early winter leaving the canes to turn brown. These canes will remain standing throughout the winter and while surprisingly brittle can be in place amongst the following spring and summer's new growth. New reddish-purple shoots appear in the spring from the ground which can grow up to an impressive, yet also worrying, 2cms a day.

For related articles click onto the following links:
JAPANESE KNOTWEED REMOVAL IN LITTLEHAMPTON
WHAT DOES JAPANESE KNOTWEED LOOK LIKE?
WHAT IS JAPANESE KNOTWEED

WHAT DO KOALAS EAT?

What do koalas eat? - https://bioweb.uwlax.edu/

Native to coastal areas of Australia's eastern and southern regions, the koala is an arboreal herbivorous marsupial, recognised by its stout, tailless body and large head with round, fluffy ears and large, spoon-shaped nose. They typically inhabit open eucalypt woodlands, and sleep up to 20 hours a day

Sleeping koala - http://animalstime.com/
When not asleep, a koala feeds on eucalyptus leaves, especially at night. Koalas do not drink much water as they get most of their moisture from these leaves. Each animal eats a tremendous amount for its size, about two and a half pounds (one kilogram) of leaves each day. This is because their eucalypt diet has limited nutritional and caloric content, hence their sedentary lifestyle.

A special digestive systema (an unusually long gut) allows koalas to break down the tough eucalyptus leaves and enables them to avoid being harmed by their poison. Koalas eat so many of these leaves that they take on a distinctive odor from their oil, reminiscent of cough drops.

During the course of its evolution, the koala has developed functional cheek pouches for storing food and a digestive system able to cope with a diet based entirely on eucalyptus leaves.

Baby koala - http://darkroom.baltimoresun.com/
Out of over 100 or more species of eucalyptus tree which grow in Australia, the koala feeds on only 12, and then only on leaves that are at a particular stage in their development!

Koalas eat so much food that they can easily exhaust their food supply. Sometimes special measures have to be taken to move koalas into areas where food is more plentiful.

Incidentally, while baby koalas are brought up on a diet of milk for approximately 6 months, during the last month, the mother will begin to feed it with half digested food passed through her rectum. That's right, during weaning koala babies eats poop!

For related articles click onto the following links:
HOW TO GROW EUCALYPTUS FROM SEED
HOW TO GROW EUCALYPTUS GUNNII
HOW TO GROW EUCALYPTUS PAUCIFLORA subsp. NIPHOPHILA
HOW TO GROW THE RAINBOW EUCALYPTUS - Eucalyptus deglupta
HOW TO GROW THE TASMANIAN SNOW GUM - Eucalyptus coccifera
WHAT DO KOALAS EAT?

HOW TO GROW THE SPANISH FLAG FROM SEED - Ipomoea lobata


The Spanish Flag - Ipomoea lobata

The Spanish Flag - Ipomoea lobata is an ornamental twining plant grown for its warm combination of flame-crimson, cream and yellow blooms. Native to Brazil, the common name related to the colours of the old Spanish colonial flag. An unusual association as Brazil is in fact a former Portuguese colony.
When growing from seed, soak them overnight in cold water or file a tiny notch in the seed coat before sowing.

Sow just one seed per 3 inch pot 1/4 inch deep in a good quality compost such as John Innes 'Seed and Cutting'.

This should be done in early spring at a temperature of around 21-24 degrees Celsius.

Place the pots into a propagator or seal inside a polythene bag and leave in a warm bright room, but out of direct sunlight. Germination will usually take between 10-16 days.

Once the seedlings have emerged you can remove the pots from the propagator or polythene bag and grow on in cooler conditions. Once they are big enough they can then be transplanted into 5 inch pots but do not disturb the root system as you do so.

Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10-15 days before planting out but only after all risk of frost has gone and the weather has warmed up. Plant each specimen 12 inches apart in their final position outside

Mina lobata will require a sunny sheltered and warm site in rich, moist soil. It will need support to tie itself into and given the chance will grow up to around 6 to 8 feet tall.

Its Mexican origins mean that it will not survive outside in a northern European garden without a protective environment. With this in mind, if you wish to keep the same plant year after year consider growing it is a large container as Mina lobata does not like having its roots disturbed by lifting and re-potting.

In these circumstances the plant will need to be moved to a greenhouse once the temperature starts to drop below 10 degrees Celsius. Over the winter, feeding can be stopped and watering will need to be reduced, however the compost around the roots must be constantly moist. It can be taken back outside once it has been hardened off in the spring.

For related articles click onto the following link:
How to Grow Mina lobata - the Spanish Flag
HOW TO GROW THE MORNING GLORY FROM SEED
HOW TO GROW THE SPANISH FLAG FROM SEED - Ipomoea lobata
MINA LOBATA - The Spanish Flag
The Maypop - Passiflora incarnata

HOW TO GROW ARBUTUS UNEDO

How to grow Arbutus unedo

The genus Arbutus contains some of the most ornamental and prized of all small, evergreen trees. Native to the Mediterranean region and western Europe, it was first described and named by Carl Linnaeus 'Father of modern taxonomy' in Volume One of his landmark 1753 work Species Plantarum. Its common name of 'Killarney strawberry tree', is due to its presence in southwest and northwest Ireland.

Arbutus unedo
Arbutus unedo is a small tree of bushy habit, often with a gnarled appearance once mature, with a characteristic dark-brown, shredding bark. Under favourable conditions you can expect it to achieve a height and spread of between 5–10 m tall, though occasionally taller, with a trunk diameter of up to 80 cm. The glossy, dark-green leaves are 5–10 cm long and 2–3 cm broad, with a serrated margin.

Attractive white, bell-shaped, 4–6 mm diameter, appear in the autumn and are produced panicles of 10–30. Pale pink blooms are sometimes produced. The ornamental red fruits also appear in the autumn at the same time as the blooms, although these would have first emerged green after the previous year's blooms.

Arbutus unedo also grows well in the cool, wet summers of western Ireland and England, and temperate regions of Europe and Asia. However, be aware that young plants are more frost-tender than mature plants and in cooler, more northern regions will require winter protection. It is best planted in October or from March to May in a sunny position protected from cold north or east winds. Plant in a humus-rich, moist but well-drained soil, and although classified within the ericaceous family, Arbutus unedo is surprisingly lime tolerant. Provide a mulch of well-rotted farm manure or garden compost in the spring (avoid touching the trunk) and water during periods of extended drought.

When grown for their attractive bark, consider training as a standard tree by choosing the strongest branch as a trunk and gradually removing all other side shoots up to approximately 2 metres. At this point the the head can be allowed to form

For related articles click onto the following links:
HOW AND WHEN DO YOU CUT AN ARBUTUS HEDGE?
HOW TO GROW ARBUTUS UNEDO
HOW TO GROW THE FRANGIPANI TREE- Plumeria rubra var. acutifolia
HOW TO GROW FRANGIPANI TREE FROM SEED
HOW TO GROW THE STRAWBERRY TREE - Arbutus unedo
HOW TO TAKE CUTTINGS FROM THE STRAWBERRY TREE - Arbutus unedo
THE AFRICAN TULIP TREE - Spathodea campanulata
THE CANNONBALL TREE -  Couroupita guianensis
THE DEVIL'S HAND TREE - Chiranthodendron pentadactylon
THE MIMOSA TREE - Acacia dealbata
THE PIG FACE FRUIT - Solanum mammosum
THE SILVER BIRCH - Betula pendula

HOW AND WHEN DO YOU CUT AN ARBUTUS HEDGE?

How and when do you cut an Arbutus hedge?

Commonly known as the Strawberry tree or Killarney strawberry tree, Arbutus unedo is best known as an ornamental, evergreen shrub or small tree. However, it can also be used to great effect as a formal or informal hedge. The leaves are a glossy, dark green, and white, bell-shaped flowers appear in the autumn. Arbutus unedo is most noted for its strawberry-like red fruits, which ripen from the previous years flowers. Just be aware that if regularly clipped to maintain a formal effect you will prevent it from coming into bloom, which will subsequently result in a lack of fruit.

How and when do you cut an arbutus hedge?
The best time for pruning an arbutus hedge is from late winter or early spring. You can expect a flush of new growth at the end of May followed by a seasonal drop of some of the older leaves. Newly planted hedges should be cut down in their first spring by 1/3 rd of their height to help promote basel growth, and for the first two years after planting.

Informal hedges will require little pruning. Just remove and diseased, damaged, congested or crossing shoots as they appear late winter or early spring. After pruning, mulch with well-rotted farm manure or garden compost.

Formal hedges can be clipped to shape using hand shears or an electric or petrol powered hedge trimmer. If they are regularly trimmed, there will be no need for the width of to exceed 60cm . Formal hedges should be slightly tapered on both sides so that the base is wider than the top and light can reach the bottom of the hedge.

How and when do you cut an arbutus hedge?
While April to May is an ideal time to prune back an arbutus hedge, be aware that in the United Kingdom cutting hedges and trees should be avoided between March and August as this is the main breeding season for nesting birds.

It is an offence under Section 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 to intentionally take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built. So it would be considered an intentional act, for example, if you or your neighbour know there is an active nest in your arbutus hedge and still cut the hedge, damaging or destroying the nest in the process.

Once cut, red buds will start to appear on the exposed wood after about a month or so.

For related articles click onto the following links:
HOW AND WHEN DO YOU CUT AN ARBUTUS HEDGE?
HOW TO GROW ARBUTUS UNEDO
HOW TO GROW THE STRAWBERRY TREE - Arbutus unedo
HOW TO GROW THE STRAWBERRY TREE FROM SEED
WHEN AND HOW TO PRUNE BACK CHOISYA TERNATA
WHEN AND HOW DO YOU PRUNE BACK WEIGELA