Garden Talk

with Rebecca Jordi


Leave a comment

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


Leave a comment

Q: The leaves on my lucky bamboo are turning yellow. What could be wrong?

Lucky Bamboo

Lucky Bamboo

A:   When the leaves of a plant start to yellow it is often the first indication the plant is under some form of stress.  With landscape plants it can often mean the soil pH is too high or there is a nutrient deficiency.  Regarding your lucky bamboo, it is possible, if you are using city water, the pH is too high making the water alkaline. Even the bottled water we drink may be too alkaline for lucky bamboo. There is also a possibility your city water may have too much chlorine or fluorine in it. The best advice is to consider use filtered water instead.  If filtered water is not possible, then use the tap water but allow it to sit uncovered for at least one to two days.  This will allow much of the chlorine and/or fluorine to dissipate into the air.  Another possibility is the plant may be receiving too much sunlight.  Be sure the room is bright but not in direct sunlight – never in a window. 

 


Leave a comment

Q:   My poinsettia has grown almost to the top of my roof which is about 12 feet tall.  I have never seen them grow this large, is it unusual?  

PoinsettiaA:   Most people want their poinsettias in pots to place around the house or their Christmas tree.  Most people do not want poinsettias to get big which is why you seldom see them tall.  However, if you plant them in the ground outside they may have a chance to reach heights up to 15 feet. 


Leave a comment

Q: What can you tell me about the chenille plant? I am thinking about putting it in my yard.

Chenille Plant

Chenille Plant

 A:  There is a standard variety of Chenille plant, Acalypha hispida, and a dwarf plant, Acalypha pendula.  I am going to assume it is the dwarf variety as it is commonly sold in our local garden centers but usually in a hanging basket.  Both types of chenille plants will grow only in South Florida year round.  What makes this plant so attractive is the long, drooping red colored flowers which are shaped like a tail. It almost looks like red fur. These flowers bloom during the warm weather. The dwarf plant grows to about 6 inches whereas the standard variety can reach heights up to 6 feet.  It prefers partial sun to part shade and can tolerate most any type of soil.  Keep the soil moist but well-drained. It is slow growing and I believe in Northeast Florida, it would be better suited for a hanging basket rather than putting it in the ground.  Most likely it will die back in the winter and probably not return so you need to treat it like an annual.  However, you might get lucky and get a season or two out of it but do not be surprised if it does not survive our winters.  It really has no serious disease issues but scale, aphids and mites can be potential problems.  https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fp005