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Urban Gardener No_14

Urban Gardener No_14

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Published by norbyb
The Urban Gardener is an electronic pulblication of the Plant Biotech Lab, R&D Center, Rizal Technological University, Philippines. This 14th issue features on Bird of Paradise, Mussaenda, Coegyne, Onicidum, Renanthera, and pictures on Halloween pumpkins / goards.
The Urban Gardener is an electronic pulblication of the Plant Biotech Lab, R&D Center, Rizal Technological University, Philippines. This 14th issue features on Bird of Paradise, Mussaenda, Coegyne, Onicidum, Renanthera, and pictures on Halloween pumpkins / goards.

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Published by: norbyb on Nov 11, 2009
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14th Issue Vol. 2 No. 11 ISSN 2094-1765 November 2009
The Beauty of the True Bird of Paradise
By Norberto R. Bautista
The true Bird of Paradise, or scientifically known as
Strelitzia reginae
is abeautiful tropical dwarf banana-like plantindigenous to South Africa.Its common name is oftenassociated with theHeliconias, which is also arelative of this unique plant,including the travelers’palm. It is also popularlyknown as Crane Flower,due to its unusual form andcolor. This, together with itslong post-harvest life makesthis an very important cut-flower. Its scientific namecommemorates Charlotte Sophia of the Mecklenburg-Strelitz family, queen of King George III of England. She is a patron of botany. The Bird of Paradise is commercially produced in countrieslike Hawaii, California, Florida, The Netherlands, France, Israel, and South Africa.Because of its tropical beauty, it is the official flower of the city of Los Angeles, California, in theUnited States of America.This herbaceous plant grows to about 2 meters (6½ ft) tall, with large, heavy, strong leaves 25-70cm (10-28 in) long and 10-30 cm (4-12 in) wide, produced on petioles up to 1 m (about 40 in)long. The leaves are evergreen and arranged in two ranks, making a fan-shaped crown. Theplant forms large clumps with many shoots arising from a dichotomously branched rhizomesystem. The flowers stand above the foliage at the tips of long stalks. The hard, beak-like sheathfrom which the flower emerges is termed the spathe. This is positioned perpendicular to the stem,which gives it the appearance of a bird's head and beak, thus given its common name. It makesa durable perch for holding the sunbirds which pollinate the flowers. The flowers, which emergeone at a time from the spathe, consist of three brilliant orange sepals and three purplish-bluepetals. Two of the blue petals are joined together to form an arrow-like nectary. When thesunbirds sit to drink the nectar, the petals open to cover their feet in pollen.
Cultural Requirements.Light.
 
Strelitzia reginae
can be grown in full sun or semi-shaded, similar to bananas andheliconias. The more the plant is exposed to light, the more floriferous it is. However, checkappropriateness of lighting, as too much exposure to too much sunlight, especially summer mayscorch leaves.
Temperature.
Bird of paradise flowers well in semi cool temperature range of 17-20 degreesCelsius; while at temperature higher than this, about 20-25 degrees Celsius tend to promote leaf 
 
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production and inhibit flowering. It is ideal in semi cool areas in the Philippines like Tagaytay,Tanay, Baguio and Davao.
Watering
. In their natural habitat,
Strelitzia
thrive near rivers, indicating their need for abundantsupply of water, although they can withstand some drought. Regular watering is a key incontinuous flower production. On the other hand, sufficient drainage is required to prevent thesoil from being too wet or water logged which may cause root rotting. The plant may also suffer from flooding for long periods.
Soil.
The plants grows well inwell drained, fertile, humus rich,slightly acidic, loamy soil,though may also thrive isvarious soil types. For healthygrowth, use a potting mix of 1:1:1 ratio of garden soil,compost and sand.For container gardening,establish plants in 6-8 inch pots.Use a humus or compost richpotting mix for healthy growthand water regularly.
Fertilization.
A completefertilizer high in phosphorus isneeded by the plant for healthygrowth. Fertilizers (example is 10-30-10 NPK) are applied at about 1 tsp per plant every 4months. Fertilizers should be applied monthly during the flowering season.
Control of Pest and Diseases.
Strelitzia are susceptible to mealy bugs, scale insects, and rootrot. Regularly inspect plants for these insects. For repellant purposes, apply dilute solution of soapy water into the plants to discourage insects. For severe insect infestations, applyrecommended dosage rate of Parathion or Malathion insecticide.Root rot is usually caused by a fungus,
Thielaviopsis basicola
and
Rhizoctonia
. To prevent this,provide ample drainage in soil or in pot and do not over-water. Apply a dilute fungicide drenchusing Dithane or Captan.
Propagation
. In its native habitat, the plant is reproduced through seeds through pollination bysunbirds. However, since there birds are not present here in the Philippines, growers maypollinated them artificially to produce seeds through division of rhizomes or separation of singlerooted shoots to yield true to type plants.If pollination is successful, 60-80 orange fuss covered seeds are produced, contained in a seedpod. Seeds has very hard seed coat and thus needs special treatment to overcome seeddormancy. Soaking seeds in concentrated sulfuric acid for 5 minutes or hot water treatment for 30 minutes tend to treat this problem, though there are other techniques like prolonged soaking of seeds in a basin of water, wherein water is replaced everyday is also applicable.For rhizome divisions and single rooted shoots, use sterilized cutting or pruning instruments toprevent transfer of viral, fungal and bacterial diseases. Wash cutting tools in soap and water, andwipe with 70% isopropyl or ethyl alcohol. For rhizomes, each cut section should contain onelateral bud or “eye”. Cutting is usually done after flowering. It is recommended to remove first thesoil around the base of the plant, cut the crown into several divisions, dust the cut-surface withfungicide and let the would air-dry for a day in a shaded area. Then they are planted in soil or in
 
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a pot. A plant tissue culture technique has already been made to micro-propagate Strelitzia inlarge quantities.
Special Uses.
Bird of Paradise flowers is used as a cut-flower for tropical flower arrangements,in ikebana flower arrangements and also mass-propagated for landscaping purposes.
Landscaping with Mussaenda Hybrids
The Mussaendas are attractiveadditions to open space landscapingspecially along roadsides, parks andparking spaces. With their colorfulmodified leaves of bright reds, pinksand whites, they provide accents andlife to dull monotonous greens in thegarden. What’s nice with them is thatthey bloom almost all-year round,except from January to March whenthey are less floriferous.Mussaendas are tropical shrubs or sub-shrub (usually found growingbesides very large trees), and havean average height of about 10 feettall, though they can be trained as asingle specimen of 5 feet on ground or less than 3 feet in containers. Each flower is composed of an inconspicuous small tubular five-petalled corolla in orangy-yellow and five greatly enlargedsepals (bracts). It is really these showy corymbs of white, off-white, pink or bright red enlargedleaf-like sepals that contrast beautifully against their dark green elliptic to ovate leaves.Collectively known as Doñas, as they werenamed after the First Ladies of former Philippine presidents, Mussaendas arecultivated throughout the country. Themussaenda hybrids are considered acentennial breakthrough in PhilippineHorticulture, as one of the parent plants areindigenously Filipino. They are also very muchsought after in other tropical countries.The plant is also known in other names likeTropical Dogwood, Virgin Tree and KahoyDalaga. It belongs to the plant familyRubiaceae, which also includes the commonSantan.The development of the mussaenda hybridsgained momentum when a white mutant of thespecies
Mussaenda. philippica
was discoveredin Mt. Makiling, UP Los Baños in 1915. Thisspecies was named ‘Doña Aurora’ in 1938 inhonor of the wife of the late President ManuelL. Quezon. The late Dr. Dioscoro L. Umali,

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Egber Claudio added this note
Helpful information, everybody who is involved with orchid must appreciate it. Thanks!!! From Bolivia in South America.
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