Garden Talk

with Rebecca Jordi


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Q: What can you tell me about the bamboo plant Moso?

Moso bamboo

Moso bamboo

 A:   Moso bamboo is a close relative of golden bamboo.  Moso is the largest temperate bamboo, reaching heights of over 75 feet and with 5 inch diameter shoots. Two scientific names ‐ Phyllostachys pubescens and Phyllostachys edulis ‐ are currently used as scientific names for moso bamboo. Bamboo shoots emerge from horizontal underground stems called rhizomes.  These rhizomes generally grow within the first 12 inches of soil. The real problem with this type of rhizome is it can spread or run outward 20 to 30 feet before sprouting. In addition, the rhizomes can run in all directions from the original shoot.  This can become a weedy problem by growing in areas far from the original site – namely neighbor’s yards.  We always recommend using clumping bamboo rather than running bamboo for that very reason.


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Q: Can we grow mulberries here in Northeast Florida?

Mulberry

Mulberry

A:  Indeed, we can grow mulberries here.  Mulberry (Moras spp.) is a fruit producing tree that can provide gardeners tasty fruits. Native red mulberry trees have been enjoyed by people in North America for centuries. On expedition in the mid-1500s De Soto observed Muskogee Indians eating dried mulberry fruits. Over winter the Iroquois mashed, dried, and stored the fruit to later add to water, making warm sauces that were occasionally mixed into cornbread. Cherokees made sweet dumplings by mixing cornbread and sugar with mulberries. The Timucua people of northeast Florida used the fruit, along with the tree’s leaves and twigs, to make dyes, and the Seminoles used the branches to make bows.
When choosing a location, keep in mind fallen fruits stain the hard surfaces, so it’s best to avoid planting over driveways, sidewalks and patios. Selecting a light-fruited cultivar can also cut down on the mess factor; look for ‘Tehama’ or ‘King White Pakistan’.
Mulberry trees require very little maintenance; they rarely require irrigation after establishment and generally do not require fertilization. As far as pruning goes, you can perform light pruning when trees are young to help create a strong framework of branches. With a mature tree, you should only prune to remove dead or damaged wood or crossing limbs, since the wounds caused when removing a major branches are slow to callous. Be careful when pruning your tree, mulberry trees have milky sap which can causes skin rashes in some people.


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Q: I have this strange growth on the flower stem of my orchid. What is it?

Keiki

Keiki

A:   Lucky you. This type of growth is a bit unusual but it is a good thing.  The growth is actually a new plantlet or offshoot which is called a keiki which is pronounced “kay-kee.”  Keiki comes from the Hawaiian word for “baby.”  Ultimately it can grow into a new flower spike. At first, it is small, like yours but it should soon develop roots and leaves. Once the keiki has several leaves and about the same number of roots then it will be time to repot it. The leaves should be at least 2-3 inches long before you should consider removing it. Taking it off too early will cause the keiki to die as it will not have enough food energy to be successful.  Not all orchids have the ability to produce these adventitious growths on vegetative parts of the plant. Phalaenopsis, Vanda, Dendrobium and Catasetum are a few of the better-known orchids producing easy to propagate keiki.  To remove the keiki take a sharp sterile knife and cut the plantlet just below the root tissue.  Be careful not to remove any of the roots.  It is critical to use a sterile utensil to minimize the potential for introducing disease. Consider painting the wounds on the mother plant and the keiki with a gentle fungicide to kill any potential disease pathogens. You can either repot the keiki in its own 4″ container or repot it with the mother plant.  Keep the newly potted plant away from direct sunlight while it is getting established. A newly planted Keiki will take up to three years before it produces flowers so be patient.  One other important note:  the presence of keiki can indicate the mother plant is under stress.  However, if the mother plant appears healthy to you, then do not worry just keep a watchful eye on it.  For more complete information on growing orchids check out the UF/IFAS website:  http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/ornamentals/orchids.html