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General Cultural Suggestions

Light - All flowering plants require some direct sunlight, particularly during winter. Some plants need more sun than others, passion vines and brugmansias for example, while begonias and most gesneriads prefer only a few hours of direct sunlight, or just bright, filtered light, especially during summer. Insufficient light is the primary cause of poor growth and lack of bloom.

Humidity - The second greatest reason for lack of success is insufficient humidity, particularly when accompanied by temperatures consistently above 75º F. Try to maintain a minimum relative humidity of at least 50%. Place plants on trays of moist pebbles and spray the leaves often with tepid or room temperature water. A collection of plants grown together will usually provide their own humidity. In extreme cases a humidifier may be required.

Temperature - Choose a cool location to grow your plants. The ideal temperature range for most begonias and subtropicals is 55º F. at night and 75º during the day. Most gesneriads and tropicals however, prefer a minimum temperature of 65º at night.

Watering - Let plants become fairly dry before watering; then water thoroughly until it runs through the bottom of the pot. Always water from the top and never let a plant stand in water. Use tepid or room temperature water. Check plant grown outdoors in containers frequently; they may need watering at least once a day.

Feeding - Indoor plants require surprisingly little fertilizer. Frequent light feeding is far more beneficial than infrequent, heavy fertilizer applications. Use only a fractional amount of the plant food manufacturer's recommended dosage approximately once a week. Container grown outdoor plants will need more fertilizer. Consider a general purpose slow release plant food.

Fluorescent Light - A very satisfactory substitute for natural light for many plants, provided that certain rules are observed. Many flowering plants respond well when placed 4" to 12" below the tubes. Plants with greater light requirements, Sinningia speciosa for example, are placed much closer to the lamps than african violets or rex begonias, which have lower light requirements. As a general rule, 12 to 14 hours of fluorescent light per day should be sufficient. It has been observed that the amount of light houseplants receive is probably more important than the type of fluorescent lamp used. Short-day plants, those that naturally bloom during the winter, may be induced to flower under fluorescent light by burning the lamps only 8 to 10 hours a day for about a month.

Soil - Most plants, particularly begonias and gesneriads, grow best in a light, porous medium, such as the mix described below. It provides excellent drainage essential for plants in plastic or glazed pots.

Potting Soil Mix

Recommended for most plants listed in this catalog.

4 quarts sphagnum peatmoss
4 quarts medium or coarse perlite
1 quart vermiculite, horticultural grade (optional)
1 tablespoon ground dolomite limestone
1 quart water

Remove lumps and twigs from the peatmoss by sifting it through half-inch mesh hardware cloth. Moisten the perlite with the water and the thoroughly mix all the ingredients together. The amount of perlite can be varied to make a heavier or lighter mix. Fine or medium orchid bark can be added for an even lighter mix for epiphytic plants. In areas of alkaline water it is suggested that less ground limestone be used. 1/4 teaspoon of a high analysis soluble fertilizer can be dissolved in the water to give new transplants a boost. (A 5" pot holds about a quart.)

Keyed Cultural Guide

The following symbols are used in this catalog to indicate special cultural requirements of each plant.

(B)  BASKET - Hanging basket
(D)  DWARF - Usually under 12"
(F)  FLUORESCENT LIGHTS - Suitable for artificial light culture
(H)  HUMID - Greenhouse or terrarium conditions recommended
(M)  MINIATURE - Usually under 6'
(T)  TERRARIUM - Terrarium, tropical plant
(W)  WINTER - Mostly winter and spring flowering

The USDA Hardiness Zones are sometimes listed in the plant descriptions. Click here: Key to USDA Hardiness Zones for information and map.

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