Friday, January 23, 2009

Bamboo, Plant Identification, and More

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had several readers ask questions so I’m going to take today to answer them. First, Cindy asked where to get lucky bamboo, and Kim asked about training these plants into fun shapes. I know I’ve seen Lucky Bamboo at Walmart, along with several other of the big box stores that carry plants. You may find it at Home Depot or Lowes, it might be available at your local nursery, even, though that is less likely since they generally focus most on outdoor plants.


When it comes to training the bamboo, I understand it takes quite a while to accomplish. Once the stalk is grown, the shape is permanent, so you can only train shapes into new growth. Shaping the bamboo is caused by directional lighting. In China, it is often laid on its side so it’ll grow up toward the sun. At home the easiest way is to use a three sided box. This ensures that the light comes from only one direction, then you rotate the pot or dish the bamboo is in over time so it can develop curls or bends. You may have something decorative to place the bamboo in front of that will cut off the light from the back and two sides, or perhaps you have a set of dark shelving you can place the pot into, thus the bamboo will grow toward the light in the front.


Cheri asked about how to find out what kind of plant she has. My best suggestion for that is to go to Gardenweb.com. They had scads of information about every possible type of plant or landscaping technique. If you think your plant is in the pineapple family, there is a forum called Tropicals. Get a username and password--it's all free and I've never gotten emails from there, so you don't need to worry about spam--and post your picture in the forum asking what kind of plant you have. Danyelle could also try this out, though I really think she probably has a ficus, now I’ve seen the pictures. Take a full shot of the plant, then a close up of any leaves or blooms and see what others say. I have a plant I need to ask about as well.


When I was plotting out my landscaping the winter we moved into this house, I spent hundreds of hours on Gardenweb.com, since they had great discussions on nearly every possible subject, every plant ever grown, and the people there are so friendly and helpful. There are forums for different types of gardening whether fruit, vegetables, flowers, and other types. There are techniques for propagating, composting, accessible gardening for those with disabilities, and much more. I also got great ideas for making my own garden decorations (I promise, I’m going to post on those in the not-too-distant future).


Another great site where you can ask questions is Davesgarden.com. Unfortunately, they charge a small fee to become a member, and membership is required to post or ask questions, but if you want to know about a certain type of plant, their plantfiles can be searched by anyone and usually provide great information about a species preferred habititats, size and watering preferences.


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