Saturday, January 3, 2009

Plants for 2009

They say 2009 is going to be worse than 1929 - The Great Depression. But do not despair, folks! Although most of us will be living frugally that doesn't mean that you can't have the garden of your dreams. Yeah, maybe you should forget about engaging the services of those expensive landscape designers. But no, don't trade those flowers for cow-grass - or worst, cement - YET! Here are some easy-to-grow, value-for-money flowers, which will brighten your homes and may just bring out the gardener in you (if you're the hopeless type :D).

Zinnia Angustifolia @ creeping zinnia (3 for RM 10.00*)

My favourite flower. Comes in a variety of cultivar and colour such as off-white, pale yellow, orange and pink. It's a hit with ladybugs, bees and butterflies (what is a garden without insects?:D). When the blooms aged, and become dry and brown, pluck and scatter them on the soil as seeds. Seedlings will grow in 1-2 weeks and will last for 3 months or more. You can also keep the seeds to be sowed at a later time. (more of this, later). The Zinnia's enemies are those white grubs (don't know their scientific name, yet) and grasshoppers.

Torenia Fournieri @ Wishbone flower @ Bluewigs (3 for RM 10.00*)

Comes in blue, purple and pink. The lifespan of the plant is short - about a month. However, new plants will germinate from the dried blooms which fall on the soil. You will have a steady supply of the flower all year round. Its enemy are also those tiny white grubs. When you see a bunch of them clinging on to the stem, just cut the affected area. Sometimes you might have to throw the whole plant! Don't worry, new plants will sprout in no time.

Cuphea Hyssopifolia (4 for RM 10.00*)

Comes in white, blue and purple. It breeds easily - I'm not quite sure how, but in time you will see 'baby plants' (am a dummy when it comes to horticulture terms :D) sprouting. So, you can just dig out the anak pokok (sapling?) and plant it elsewhere. The plant makes great borders. However it has to be trimmed in order for it to thrive. The plant is a hit with butterflies. Yeah, nice to see the butterflies roaming your garden for a while, but not so nice when the plant becomes their love nest. The plant will be swarmed with those tiny,furry caterpillars. Kalau nasib tak baik boleh togel cuphea ni jadinya ... argh! That's the time I'll turn into a nasty Edward Scissorhands - cut! cut! cut!

Well, there you have 'em, 3 plants for the frugal gardener. In your frugality though, don't forget to water the plants at least once a day. If it rains, then it's your lucky day. Fertilize only once a month (I don't religiously practise this, though). Normally it's just a teaspoon of fertilizer scattered on the soil, far from the stem. (More on the fertilizers, later).

So, to all you hopeless gardeners out there (been there ... he! he!), try planting these flowers. Who knows, they might just be the magic plants that will turn your fingers green!

* the price quoted might have gone up in 2009. The plants are cheaper in the nurseries near the Sg. Buloh hospital.

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