Mid Summer 2015


Tiny Butterfly

Common Grass Blue Butterfly – Zizinia labradus. Wing span around 1.5 cm. The other side of the wings has shade of blue colour

For us around Melbourne area, this summer so far has been quite friendly with only few days of temperatures above 35 deg. C. Some of the pesky leaf-hoppers are still remained but they are much less in numbers compared to before around early December. The most obvious damage can be seen in pear leaves which many are spotty, dry and eventually drop. Some of the plum leaves are also blotchy and yellow, but as leaf-eaters, the horrible little insects leave the fruits alone.

Suger Plums - just about to ripe

Sugar Plums

Sugar Plums

This summer, the pink Justicia carnea (formerly Jacobinia carnea) is blooming much better than the previous years. The reasonably cool summer temperatures so far help the flowers to show off their beauty. Justicia carnea is also commonly known as Brazilian Plume Flower. As a tropical plant it oddly dislikes high heat above 35 deg. C. The delicate petals are prone to wilt under strong hot sun, so it is better to be grown in a semi shade area away from hot afternoon sun.

Pink Justicia carnea.- flower bud jpg

Pink Justicia carnea - Brazilian Plume Flower

Pink Justicia carnea

Justicia carnea - Brazilian Plume Flower

Justicia carnea – Brazilian Plume Flower

Tiny Mushrooms – Coprinus/Coprinellus disseminatus. I found these tiny-tiny mushrooms growing on the orchid media, very small in size, about not more than 1.5 cm high with the cap as big as a cotton bud tip. These mushrooms are also called ‘fairies bonnets’, commonly grow in large numbers on rotted wood. These two mushrooms in the photos grew from the Phalaenopsis orchid media that is indoor, if they grow outside, perhaps they will grow bigger.

Tiny White Mushroom

Tiny White Mushrooms - Coprinus disseminatus

Tiny White Mushrooms – Coprinus disseminatus

One single Phalaenopsis bloom …. but hopefully there will be more flowers growing on the long stem later on.

Another Phalaenopsis orchid

Another Phalaenopsis orchid

Pruning Lavender


First lavender flowers

First lavender (Lavandin) flowers

Our Hemizygia ‘Candy Kisses’ plant died during the scorching summer last year and I replaced it with  lavender. The plant grew very fast and had started to flower, but it was very untidy with long sprawling branches. So early this morning I decided to prune it to make it rounded and compact. Lavender bush will flower better if it regularly pruned and it will grow into a nice rounded mound.

There are only few stems of flowers, but there is a big bundle of cut leaves. The aromatic flowers and foliage can be used as air freshener or can be used to make aromatic candles, soap and perfume. The flowers of true lavender flowers (commonly English Lavender) in a small quantity can be used for cooking and can also be used to make aromatic tea that is relaxing. Lavender has medicinal properties, especially the flowers, can be used  as a relaxant, sensory stimulant and nerve tonic, and herbalists use it to treat exhaustion, digestion, headaches and arthritis.

Lavender Tea:

  • 3 table spoons of fresh lavender flowers or 1 1/2 tbs. of the dry one (preferably English lavender _L.angustifolia)
  • 2 cups of boiling water
  • Steep the brew for about 5 minutes and then strain.
  • The tea can be served with honey and lemon.

Growing lavender:

  • Lavender plants will do the best with a soil pH of between 6 – 8.
  • Lavender likes an alkaline soil that is well drained and in a sunny position
    (8 hrs of sunshine a day is recommended).
  • If you have heavier soils then making a raised bed would be an option.
  • As lavender will grow better in poor soil, it hardly needs any fertilizer. Very little amount of fertilizer is needed for plants grown in pots. Manure will burn the plant.
  • Most lavender plants can survive a light frost.
  • Plants should be spaced approx. 40 – 80cm apart, depending on what variety of lavender is being planted.
  • Regular watering is needed for seedling and young plants, after the plant is established will only need occasional watering during hot and dry summer.

LAVANDIN – Lavender Hybrid – Lavandula x Intermedia:

Note about our Lavender plant: When I bought the plant in the market, there was no label and the seller said it was Lavender.  It is a bit confusing to find out what kind of lavender it is. After reading many articles on line and matching the photos, I have a feeling that it is Lavender hybrid which is also known as Lavandin and it has higher content of camphor compared to other true lavenders. As the camphor content is high, for cooking or making tea, it is recommended to use only ‘true lavender’ flower such as English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia).

Lavandin is also called Dutch Lavender, and it is  a natural hybrid between Lavandula angustifolia and L. Latifolia. The seeds are sterile and propagation is by cuttings.

Further reading: http://www.mountainvalleygrowers.com/lavendercareandtips.htm

Untidy Lavender Plant

Untidy Lavender/Lavandin Plant

Lavender after Pruning

…. after Pruning

Lavender - Cut Leaves

Lavender hybrid – Cut Leaves, good to dry and used as freshener for wardrobes.

Lavender 2


Fragrant White Flowers



Lilium longiflorum – Christmas Lily

This year the Christmas lily flowers are short and there aren’t as many flowers as they used to be. However, the flowers themselves are still pretty and fragrant as ever. I cut few stems to put in a vase to decorate the living room. At night, the scent lingers…. sweet and spicy :)

Lilium longiforum 2

Lilium longiforum

Christmas Lily - Lilium longiflorum

Christmas Lily – Lilium longiflorum


The Gardenia augusta bushes are bearing heavy blooms. Though the plants are infested by tiny leafhoppers, the pesky little insects don’t really cause damage. The leaves are still shiny and the flowers are extra large, the best ever in a long time. When the evening comes, the perfume is just heaven.

Gardenia ausgusta

Gardenia augusta – December 2014

Large Flower - Gardinia augusta

Large Flower – Gardenia augusta

Gardenia augusta

Gardenia augusta

Gardenia ausgusta bushes

Gardenia ausgusta bushes

Peace Lily – Spathiphyllum

Spathiphyllum or Peace Lily is commonly grown as indoor plant. The white flowers are not really fragrant, but the plant itself is said to have air cleaning properties. Sometimes our peace lily has deformed flower with no petal at all. I don’t know what happens. So far it only has one perfect bloom.

Deformed Flower ?

Deformed Flower ?

Peace Lily - Spathiphyllum

Peace Lily – Spathiphyllum

Whitefly (or Leafhoppers ?) Infestation – Early Summer 2014


Young Whiteflies on Damage Rose Leaves

Whiteflies (or Potato Leaf hoppers?) on Damage Rose Leaves

I am not the only one….. so in  a way I feel a little bit better :( The whitefly (or is it potato leafhopper?) problem happens all over Melbourne area. But the infestation  this time is absolutely terrible. If you walk on lawn, if you shake plants…. there they are, all flying off. You can feel them as they are trying to frantically get away. Try not to open your mouth and try to hold your breath if you don’t want to taste them and you don’t want them inside your nostril. So, what to do? I prefer to do nothing as by using insecticide, it will not only kill the pesky whiteflies, but will kill other beneficial bugs as well. And the main reason of garden bugs infestation is the imbalance caused by too much use of insecticide. Without the present of good insects that eat pests, the pests will flourish out control. The only hope is the summer heat. When temperature is getting hot, those pesky bugs will suddenly reduced in numbers significantly and then disappear.

These tiny bugs lay eggs underneath foliage and suck the saps which cause yellow spots on leaves. It seems that some plants suffer less than the others. I noticed that Hibiscus plants seemed to be avoided by those pesky bugs. From far away the gardens still look normal and blooming.

Note 11.05 PM: I read that the tiny bugs are not really whiteflies at all, they said that they are actually potato leafhoppers. When I looked at the photo I had already thought that they look kind of difference without white body and wings.

Photos from around the garden:

Dietes grandiflora – Fairy Iris: Beautiful flowers and always look good in photos.

Dietes grandiflora - Fairy Iris

Dietes grandiflora – Fairy Iris

Fairy Iris - Dietes grandiflora

Fairy Iris – Dietes grandiflora

Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) has started to bloom and I noticed few tiny beetles roaming around inside the flowers. It seems that they don’t do any damage so I leave them be.

Rose of Sharon - Hibiscus syriacus beetles

Rose of Sharon – Hibiscus syriacus beetles

Rose of Sharon - Hibiscus syriacus

Rose of Sharon – Hibiscus syriacus

Hibiscus D.J. O’Brien has double ruffled orange flowers, but early flowers look more like single, I don’t know why.

Hibiscus D.J. O'Brien

Hibiscus D.J. O’Brien

Single Pink Hibiscus

Roses: The ‘Double Delight’ rose was transplanted from original spot near the letter box to make room for The Yucca filamentosa cuttings. Few remaining roses in bloom:

Double Delight Rose

Double Delight Rose

'Double Delight' Rose

‘Double Delight’ Rose

Rose 'Remember Me'

Rose ‘Remember Me’

Dwarf lantana

Dwarf lantana

I took a couple of Yucca filamentosa offsets to grow near the letter box, but they haven’t had flowers yet. This one is from the mother plant.

White Yucca filamentosa flowers

Yucca filamentosa

Yucca filamentosa

Sugar Plums - Purple skin yellow flesh when they are ripe.

Sugar Plums – Purple skin yellow flesh when they are ripe.

This year the sugar plum tree is having many fruits, they are growing very quickly and will be dusty purple in colour when ripe and the sweet flesh is yellow.

More About Bonsai


Japanese Maple – Acer palmatum: Sunburn Leaves.

Not enough water and sunburnt leaves

Not enough water and sunburnt leaves

Bonsai trees are grown in shallow pots, and because they do not contained a lot amount of soil, they will be easy to get dry especially in hot sunny days. I just repotted all my bonsai early spring this year and all of them were doing well. In the last few weeks, the temperature went up and down and few days reach above 25 deg. C. There were quite a bit of rainfalls that soaked the ground. Because of these rainfalls and only few hot days, I assumed that the bonsai trees would be alright without watering for several days. This assumption had proven to be wrong. It has damaged three Japanese Maple bonsai trees. I should have checked them to see that the soil was not too dry and I should have moved them in shady place.

Before and After the Damage

Before and After the Damage

Well, the damage is done. I stripped most of the dry leaves with the hope that new leaves will eventually grow. They have been moved to shady place with a lot of water to wet the soil. The branches are still green, so the chance of recovery will be high. The sign that maple leaves have sun burn damage is the dry edges of the leaves, especially the exposed outer parts of the foliage.

Ficus Bonsai – Drastic Pruning.

New Leafs on Shorter Branches

New Leafs on Shorter Branches

The largest and the oldest Ficus bonsai (Chinese fig) used to have long and lanky branches with only leaves on the tip/end. These long and bare branches make the bonsai looks less attractive. Early spring this year I dared myself to do a drastic pruning by shorten all the long branches. For some time it was almost completely leafless, but now it has started to grow new leaves all along the branches. The leaves are still small, imagine when they have grown bigger, the once scraggly looking tree will transform into a bushy one. I am quite pleased with the result.

Ficus Bonsai Before & After

Ficus Bonsai Before & After

New Look

New Look


End of Spring 2014


One Part of Front Garden November 2014

One Part of Front Garden November 2014

This seasonal garden note will consist of some plants that I haven’t written for awhile to see what have been happening  to them right now.

Phalaenopsis Orchid:

Growing Phalaenopsis is not very easy here in Melbourne. One thing is that they have to be kept indoor and another thing is that they are fussy and prone to rotting roots. From all the eight plants that I had, now it is only five left. Three of them are flowering (one still in buds), one is sulking and don’t do anything while the other one has purple and limp leaves. Yesterday, I took the limp one out of the pot and most of the roots are rotting. So I got rid of all the bad roots and regrow it in fresh media. I just cannot understand why, I treat all of them the same way, why some are happy and others either dead or having problems. One species of orchid that I will never buy again :(

The ones that are having open blooms are the small pink and yellow with red streaks. The good thing about this orchid is that the flowers last the longest compared to other orchids, even after finish flowering by keeping the flower stem, you can rebloom it again for the second time around.

Yellow Phalaenopsis Orchid

Yellow Phalaenopsis Orchid

Small Pink Phalaenopsis Orchid

Small Pink Phalaenopsis Orchid

Leaves are kind of purplish and limp - root problems

Leaves are kind of purplish and limp – root problems

Acorus – Japanese Sweet Flag Grass:

I have three pots of variegated Acorus gramineus or commonly known as Japanese sweet flag grass to divide and repot. These aquatic plants have grown much too big for our water tubs. Every time doing it, I always take few and arrange them in a small pot to create a little bonsai. It always looks pretty to decorate a small table in the veranda. It is so easy to grow without soil, just by using small pebbles and water.

Pretty Acorus Bonsai

Pretty Acorus Bonsai

Variegated Acorus needs to be cleaned, reduced and repot.

Variegated Acorus needs to be cleaned, reduced and repot.

Acorus gramineus variegatus - Japanese Sweet Flag

Acorus gramineus variegatus – Japanese Sweet Flag


We have grown this small Feijoa tree for several years now, but it only had fruits once. Every year it bears many flowers, all but once have failed to develop into fruits. The main reason is the hot and dry weather. Now the rounded tree has grown bigger and it had many flowers in the beginning of spring this year. The flowers have dropped the red petals but most of the stems remain and these stems will grow into fruits. I have applied blood and bone with occasional drink of seaweed fertiliser to keep the tree strong. With enough rain so far, hopefully the fruits will continue to grow. I just hope that summer this year will not be too hot.

Acca selowiana - Feijoa flowers

Acca selowiana – Feijoa flowers

Feijoa - Budding Fruits

Feijoa – Budding Fruits

Tillandsia the Air Plant:

Flowering Tillandsias and After

Flowering Tillandsias and After

When I bought them in January this year, the three of them are all flowering. They are Tillandsia stricta, T. brachycaulos and T. melanocrater ‘Tricolour’. I found out later that the pink colour of Tillandsia brachycaulos will turn green after flowering. So the pretty pink colour only happens during flowering season. The reason I bought it was actually for the colour. Now about 9 months later, the grey T. stricta has grown few offsets and the T. melanocrater ‘Tricolour’ has grown a small pup, but there is no sign of new growth on the brachycaulos.

Tillandsia melanocrater 'Tricolour' Pup

Tillandsia melanocrater ‘Tricolour’ Pup

a Clump of Tillandsia stricta

a Clump of Tillandsia stricta

Membelah Tanaman Anggrek Cymbidium


Tahun ini hanya ada satu tanaman anggrek Cymbidium yang sudah memenuhi pot dan harus dibelah. Jenis anggrek Cymbidium kecil: Paradisian Surprise – Devon Parish ‘Devon Falls’ x Sarah Jean ‘Peach’. Bunganya berwarna kuning lembut kelopaknya dengan bibir keunguan. Tahun ini berbunga 15 batang.

Waktu yang tepat untuk membelah dan mengganti media tanaman anggrek Cymbidium adalah disaat selesai berbunga.

Tanaman Anggrek Cymbidium waktu berbunga

Tanaman Anggrek Cymbidium waktu berbunga

  • Keluarkan tanaman dari pot, dan periksa sebaiknya dibagian mana yang harus dibelah. Kalau tanaman besar bisa dibelah jadi 3 atau 4 dengan setiap potongan harus memiliki paling sedikit 3 umbi (bulb) berdaun. Semakin  lebih banyak jumlahnya, semakin mudah berbunga dan banyak bunganya.  Harus diperhatikan setiap bagian potongan sebaiknya memiliki satu atau dua ‘back bulb’ (umbi lama yang sudah tidak berdaun) karena memiliki cadangan makanan.
Tanaman Cymbidium yang sudah memenuhi pot.

Tanaman Cymbidium yang sudah memenuhi pot. Sistim akar terlihat sehat sekali dan banyak tumbuhan baru.

  • Setelah memastikan dimana potongan akan dilakukan, ambil pisau besar dan poles/semprot dengan alkohol atau spiritus (strelisasi). Lakukan pembelahan dengan hati-hati supaya tidak ada tanaman yang terpotong. Taroh pisau diatas diantara umbi/bulb dan potong sampai tanaman terpisah tapi jangan sampai memotong akar. Setelah itu tarik lepas potongannya dan akarnya akan dengan mudah terpisah. Kalau akarnya menggumpal padat, lepaskan dulu dengan membuang media tanamnya. Setelah terpisah, bersihkan media tanam yang menempel diakar, kalau ada akar yang membusuk buang dengan jalan dipotong. Hati-hati waktu membersihkan supaya tak ada akar sehat yang terpotong. Setelah akar bersih, potong bekas batang bunga dan daun-daun kering. Gunting pemotong harus di-steril-kan dengan alkohol atau spiritus.
Tanaman Anggrek Cymbidium dibelah 2

Tanaman Anggrek Cymbidium dibelah 2

  • Sesudah bersih, siap untuk ditanam kembali dengan memakai media tanam khusus untuk bunga anggrek yang biasanya terdiri dari kepingan kayu kering atau kepingan sabut kelapa yang bisa dicampur dengan sedikit kepingan arang atau perlite. Tanam didalam pot yang ukurannya cukup saja besarnya, jangan kebesaran karena kebanyakan media tanam didalam pot bisa menyebabkan pembusukan akar dan juga tidak akan berbunga. Posisikan belahan tanaman anggrek Cymbidium dengan bagian yang ada tumbuhan baru kearah tengah dan bagian yang dipotong lebih kepinggiran pot. Isi pot dengan sedikit media tanam, letakkan tanaman diatasnya dan isi kembali dengan media tanam sampai hampir penuh. Umbi harus diatas media tanam. Beberapa kali ketok-kan pot diatas meja supaya media tanam turun.
Media Tanam untuk Anggrek

Media Tanam untuk Anggrek

Dua bagian setelah ditanam kembali

Dua bagian setelah ditanam kembali

  • Setelah selesai, siram tanaman dengan air yang dicampur dengan pupuk ganggang laut (seaweed extract) untuk mengurangi stress selama proses pembelahan. Kira kira seminggu kemudian bisa diberi pupuk tinggi nitrogen untuk membantu tumbuhkan daun dan tunas baru.

Cymbidium Paradisian Surprise – Devon Parish’Devon Falls x Sarah Jean ‘Peach’ ini akarnya sehat sekali tak ada yang busuk dan banyak tumbuhan baru, tak heran kalau tahun ini bisa berbunga 15 batang.

Older Entries Newer Entries


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 75 other followers