Saturday, April 28, 2012

Love in a mist, dwarf morning glory, double daylily

It is early summer here in lahore but weather is still not hot because of recent rains. This is the reason most of spring annuals are lingering into the summer. Here are some of the flowers blooming in my small soil bed these days.
First is Dwarf morning glory, convolvulus tricolor is finally in bloom. I tried several times to grow it last year but could not succeed. This plant i sowed in November and it flowered after 5 months of sowing. Seed germinated very quickly. Plants are low growing and leggy. Must pinch them to have more shoots and more flowers. Flower is smaller as compared to tall morning glory but maybe because i let it flower too soon instead of establishing it a little further. Flower lasts a day only. Better grow it in masses.Cultivar is Royal ensign blue.

dwarf morning glory convolvulus tricolor

This is Nigella damascena, love in a mist. A close relative of Nigella sative a common herb with local name Kalwanji. Plant is leggy and needs support. It was a sow and forget plant. Just scattered the seeds on soil and that is it.
Nigella damascena love in a mist

Double daylily is not a common sight in lahore. They are expensive and not easy to find. Only private collectors buy from abroad. This is a named one but not sure which one it is.
double daylily

Last but not least, This pink aquilegia is blooming under the neem tree. It is obvious from the picture that plant is not in very good health. But what else can you grow under a neem tree? Some mildew or fungus affecting it. Very pretty macro though.
pink aquilegia columbine granny bonnet

This post is included in macro monday. Do visit Lisa's Chaos for more macro shots.
Also visit for i heart macro.
My first time entry in weekly top shots, Do visit  Weekly Top Shot

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Butterflies of Murree - Common four ring butterfly

Continuing the Butterflies of Pakistan series, the next few posts will be covering the butterflies of Murree hills including Nathia gali, Bhurban and pipeline track near donga gali. The first one to start with is Common four ring butterfly with botanic name Ypthima huebneri. It is found in  mostly Asia, including Burma, Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Singapore.
This photo i took in Nathiagali main road near the bazar.

Ypthima huebneri
This butterfly is easy to capture and i also found it on the pipeline track near donga gali. Most of the times it is not found on flowers but just enjoying the full sun, gathering heat from the sun rays with its opened wings.
common four ring butterfly

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Seed germination tips

Growing from seed is an addiction. Only those who are into it know the joy of successful seed germination. Here are some tips for successful seed germination. I hope other members will also contribute. Note that these are general tips, some seeds need special treatment.

1- Large seeds germinate easily and quickly as compared to small seeds. Large seeds can be soaked in water to let the moisture penetrate into the seed for germination.
2- Examples of large seeds are morning glory, sweet peas, bauhinia etc. Examples of small seeds include poppy, petunia, buddleja etc.
3- After seed is germinated, seedling will lean towards sun so keep changing the direction of container so that it remains even.

Sowing depth
Larger the seed, deeper it will be sown. Smaller the seed, closer it will be to the soil. Very small seeds which can not be handled through fingers are mostly surface sown. Surface sown means just place the seeds on the soil surface and do not cover. Very light sprinkling of coco-peat or peat moss is beneficial in most cases.

Sowing time
For spring blooming annuals, seed is sown in september-November
For summer blooming annuals, seed is sown in February-April
For perennials, seed can be sown either in September-october or in Spring (March). The optimum temperature for germination of most seeds is around 20C. Extreme heat and extreme cold both are not good for sowing seeds.

Sowing Medium
Whether it is soil based medium or soil-less medium, it must be well drained. If water stands, seeds will rot. This is the reason most seed germination mixes include sand as sand improves drainage. For precious seeds, vermiculite can be used. Following mixes are successful in my experience:
- 30% sand, 30% garden soil, 30% peat moss
- 50% peat moss, 30% leaf mold, 20% sand

Somewhere i read 50% sand and 50% leaf mold but not tried yet. IF using vermiculite you can use top few inches of vermiculite while bottom can be filled with good soil mix having some light fertilizer. It is not only cost effective but also logical. Vermiculite will help in germination of seeds and when roots will develop and reach bottom they will get fertilizer.

Note that seeds do not need any fertilizer for germination, strong fertilizer will burn the seedling or seeds might not germinate. Best bet is add very little leaf mold. Another option is whenever you water your seedlings, add 1/6 strength liquid fertilizer in every watering.

Before sowing the seed, water the container or soil bed thoroughly. After hour an hour, sow the seeds. After that keep the soil moist but not damp. Always use spray gun to water, the one which hair dressers use. To keep it moist and not damp, there are few options. First, use moisture meter to check the moisture, most PH meters come with moisture meter. Second, check soil color, it will tell you whether you need to water or not. third, you can check the container weight but it is more successful in clay pots as plastic pots are already light.

Try bottom watering the seeds and seedlings. There are few ways to achieve it. First, sow in peat pots and place them in 1 inch of water, the water will automatically flow up. Second option is, sow in plastic seeds trays with bottom holes. Place the seed tray in water so that the water is half an inch over the tray from bottom. Soil medium must be light to achieve that. Check bottom watering on internet as well. There are self watering trays as well and they are best for this purpose

Prevent Damping off
In hot and humid weather mostly in monsoon and some times in march april, seedlings suffer from damping off. In this disease, seedlings fall flat. Try sprinkling cinnamon powder on the surface before sowing seeds and improve air circulation. There are some commercial anti-fungicide as well.

Which container to use
Remember clay pots need frequent watering as they dry out quickly. plastic pots retain moisture so less watering is required. I prefer plastic pots as i lost lots of seeds due to dry out problems. In spring sowing plastic containers help less watering. In fall sowing, clay ones are also OK as weather is not harsh. I never had the problem of air circulation in case of plastic pots.

Top 2 techniques for germinating difficult seeds
There are 2 techniques which i use:
1- Soon after sowing the seeds, pack the container in a polyethene bag which must be transparent so that light goes in. When you see the seed germinated, gradually acclimatize the seedling with outside temperature. Open it daily for few hours then increase it and then after few days remove it. This one i use mostly for very small seeds.

2- This method is applicable only for those seeds which are large and can be handled individually. Does not apply to very small seeds. place the seeds between moist sheets of cotton (which is used in wounds) and place them somewhere bright. just when you notice the cotton is starting to dry, water it through sprayer. This is a variation of famous Zip-Lock baggie technique for germinating seeds.

In my opinion, October is the best time to sow all perennial seeds, as the plants get established before the intense summer heat. If you sow in spring then seedling will have to go through strong summer heat. However some seeds including bignonia family seeds, passifloras, hardenbergia etc. needs temperatures into 30's to germinate.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Winter lilac, Buddleja Asiatica in my garden

Winter lilac, Buddleja Asiatica is a very fragrant buddleja suitable for growing in hot climates. It flowers in spring here in lahore and possibly other warm climates. Another species of buddleja, Davidii does not like very high temperatures, thus, do not grow as good as asiatica. Although Davidii has advantage of flowering in summer off and on where as Asiatica flower only once in an year strictly once. I have this asiatica specimen in a large container garden on my terrace and honey aroma fills the air. Enjoy the pics.

buddleja asiatica

winter lilac

You must prune it soon after flowering for good flowering next year and a neat growth habit. Unlike davidii, It flowers on an old wood. It is normally propagated from cuttings.

This post is included in Today's Flowers, do visit there to see other flowers blooming all around the world.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Kitchen gardening - Punjab government project

This is another good initiative by Government of Punjab for the promotion of kitchen gardening in Punjab. The chief minister deserves appreciation for that. Although the free vegetable seeds distributed by Punjab Government were not of very high quality (at least which i sowed) but they are going to right direction.

I am sure many of the gardeners from Punjab will go ahead and start planting the vegetables. Note that Government is not only providing free training to interested persons but also sharing 50% of cost in case of a plastic tunnel for vegetable farming on home scale. Keep it up!!!!

kitchen gardening punjab free seeds

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Kitchen gardening - which vegetables to grow in summer

Here are some of the vegetables which are grown in summer in lahore, karachi, peshawar and other similar climates. The best time to plant these vegetables is from February 15 to March 31. But you can plant/sow them any time between March and May depending upon the type of vegetable.

For seeds, mix old manure or leaf compost & soil in 1:4 and for seedling transplant or mature plants in 2:5.Prepare a soil mix which is loose, doesn't compact and drains well for example if you water them in large volume it should drain completely in 1 minute.. if the water is standing then add small quantity of sand in it. Mix well with well rotted manure which has no smell..
  • Okra (ladyfinger) - Bhindi بھنڈی  Suitable for pots as well. Sown in February for April crop and then again in June/July for September crop. For successfully growing okra (bhindi) check this link
  • Bitter gourd (karela)    کریلہ
  • Mint (pudina) پودینہ Suitable for pots as well.
  • Aubergine/ Egg plant (brinjal) Baingan بینگن. Suitable for pots as well.Does well with well manured soil, but be careful not to over-water or over-feed. 
  • Bottle gourd (lauki) کدو, ridge gourd (tori) توری and green gourd (tinda) ٹینڈا Sown in March and April for End May crop. Then again in June/July for September crop
  •  Tomato ٹماٹر Suitable for pots as well . For successful tomato growing, check this link
  • Spinach پالک
  • Capsicum Suitable for pots as well
  • Cucumber کھیرا That includes hari mirch and shimla mirch. They love heat. Sown in February and March for crop in April
  • Sweet Peppers شملہ مرچ Suitable for pots as well
  • Radish مولی
  • Cabbage بند گوبھی

Monday, April 2, 2012

Rose Show 2012 Lahore

Rose show 2012 was held at Royal palm golf club Lahore, Pakistan. It started on 30th March and ended on April 01, 2012. There were many beautiful English roses displayed over there. Not much gardeners over there but roses itself were so pretty. Some roses were hybridized by local expert gardeners. Floribunda, tea roses, ramblers, creepers almost every type was there. But not much miniatures were there. It was not a pure rose garden, just few beds having lots and lots of English named roses. Many were David Austin roses. Pink iceberg was a winner in terms of flowers. Double delight was exotic. Here are some of the roses from the show.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Spring flower show 2012 Lahore

Annual Spring flower show 2012 will held at Race course park Jelani park Lahore from March 29 till April 05, 2012.

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