20th Issue Vol. 3 No.


ISSN 2094-1765 by Norberto R. Bautista

May 2010

Growing the Colorful Cosmos Plant
One of the most popular and easy to grow annual flowering plant is the Cosmos, a plant genus of about 20–26 species of herbaceous annual and perennial plants in the family Asteraceae. Sunflowers, Daisies and Asters also belong to this large plant family. The Cosmos is native to grasslands and meadow areas of Mexico, where the bulk of the species occur. It is also native in the southern United States (Arizona, Florida), Central America and northern South America, south to Paraguay. The common hybrids belong to the group of Cosmos sulphureus. They are herbaceous perennial plants growing about 0.3-2 meters tall. The leaves are simple, pinnate, or bipinnate, and arranged in opposite pairs. The flowers are produced in a capitulum with a ring of broad ray florets and a center of disc florets; flower color is very variable between the different species. The genus includes several ornamental plants popular in gardens. These plants are popularly grown as a potted flowering plant, sold in most garden shows and garden centers, and also as a insect repellant in organic vegetable farms. Cosmos flowers are produced in a capitulum. The capitulum is surrounded by a ring of


broad ray florets and a center of disc florets. There is a lot of color variation in between the species. Cosmos flowers are 2-4 inches in diameter. Cosmos flowers come in brightly colored single or double flowers which include white, pink, orange, yellow, and scarlet colors. The word Cosmos is derived from a Greek word, which means “a balanced universe”, maybe a description of its well-balanced flowers. Cosmos flowers blooms heavily, but dies as the plant grows old. New Cosmos plants grow and flower next season when seeds fall on the soil. Cultural Requirements. Light. Cosmos prefer a sunny location. Choose a full sun location so that the plant will provide you a weekly supply of flowers. Watering. Water juvenile plants regularly for them to grow fast. Water less when they started to flower. Cosmos flower plants are drought tolerant but water Cosmos plants during long dry spells. Moderately water once the seedlings grow into mature plants as too much watering prevents flowering.


Fertilization. Fertilize plants lightly once every month using ordinary complete fertilizers like 14-14-14, controlled release fertilizer or garden compost. Do not over-fertilize. Over-fertilizing and over-watering may reduce flower production. Soil. The plant prefers a fertile, well drained loamy soil, preferably without an abundance of clay. A soil rich in organic matter is also ideal. For plants to be sown on pots, use 5inch pots, use the recommended soil mix and plant the seeds. Water the potting mixture enough to make the soil moist but not water logged or too wet as it may cause rotting of the seeds. Pest and Diseases. Cosmos plants are usually not too much affected by insect pests as they have a natural chemical in them which repels insects. Propagation. Cosmos plants can be propagated through seeds. Pollinated flowers produce dry seeds, similar to miniature pine needles. The seeds can be air-dried and stored in paper envelopes or planted immediately in the soil. They are easy to germinate (about 7-10 days after sowing) and quickly grow into seedlings. They can be directly planted into the soil where they will grow into mature plants or in pots. Space plants 12 inches apart. Cosmos plants normally grow to 4-5 feet in a season. Seedlings may crowd each other and still thrive with carefree, sprawling growth over the late summer and after the end of the rainy season. Plants will flower within 8 to 10 weeks of seeding. Other cultural practices. Protection plants from too much wind by providing bamboo stakes. This will prevent delicate stems from bending or breaking, especially for varieties that grow up to 3 feet tall or taller. Deadhead or removed spent flowers regularly, as it keeps cosmos in bloom for many weeks. Cut back dead foliage to prevent incidence of diseases to make plant look clean. After their growth season, remove or uproot dead plants and pile them aside as compost, as they also help in fertilizing the soil. Sow new seeds or transplant new seedlings for the next batch of plants. Cosmos plants are one of the most easily sold annual plants in garden centers as they are economical, they are easy to grow, and they can be used as accents or decorations in the garden, inside the home or in the office.

Dry Cosmos seeds ready for the picking


Growing the Ti Plant for the Cut-foliage Trade:
By Norberto R. Bautista One of the popular cut-foliage plant with dark green and bright red foliage, usually found in the Laguna and Quezon area is the Ti Plant. Ti is a popular ornamental plant, a tropical evergreen, with numerous cultivars available, many of them selected for green or reddish or purple foliage. The Ti Plant, or scientifically known as Cordyline fruticosa is an evergreen flowering plant in the Liliaceae family. It is also known in names like Cabbage Palm, Good Luck Plant, Palm Lily, Ki (Hawaiian), Ti Pore (Maori), and Si (Tongan). Botanically, it also has different synonyms (different scientific name but referring to the same plant) like : Convallaria fruticosa L.; Asparagus terminalis L.; Cordyline terminalis Kunth; Dracaena terminalis Lam.; and Terminalis fruticosa (L.) Kuntze[1] It is a woody plant which can grow up to 13 feet high, consisting of a single woody stalk from which long glossy leaves sprout. Its stark architectural shape, scented flowers and colorful berries make it a popular plant for most garden enthusiasts. Its leaves are about 30–60 cm (12–24 in) long and 5–10 cm wide at the top of a woody stem. It produces 40–60centimetre long panicles of small scented yellowish to red flowers that mature into red berries.

Pollinated flowers of Ti-Plants produces bright red berries. 4

It is native to tropical southeastern Asia, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia, northeastern Australia, the Indian Ocean, and parts of Polynesia. It is introduced to Hawaii and New Zealand by Polynesian settlers. Uses: In Polynesian islands, the inhabitants eat or use as medicine Its starchy rhizomes, which are very sweet when the plant is mature, and the leaves are used to thatch the roofs of houses, and to wrap and store food. The plant or its roots are referred to in most Polynesian languages as ti. Leaves were also used to make items of clothing including skirts worn in dance performances. In ancient Hawaii the plant was thought to have great spiritual power; only kahuna (high priests) and alii (chiefs) were able to wear leaves around their necks during certain ritual activities. Ki leaves were also used to make lei, and to outline borders between properties (for which its alternative name: Terminalis fruticosa). To this day some Hawaiians plant ki near their houses to bring good luck. The leaves are also used for lava sledding. A number of leaves are lashed together and people ride down hills on them. The roots of the ki plant were used as a glossy covering on surfboards in Hawaii in the early 1900s. In Hawaii, ki rhizomes are fermented and distilled to make okolehao, a liquor. Its bright red foliage makes it an ideal cut-foliage part of flower arrangements. Cultural Requirements Light. The plant prefers full sun or moderately partial shade, though it will produce more intense red colored foliage in full sun coupled with cool temperature like in high-altitude locations. Watering. Water mature plants moderately, usually once everyday for optimum growth. Plants planted directly on soil need less care, but make sure they do not dry completely. Potting Medium. Ti plants grow favorably in fertile loamy soil. If planted on pots, use a gallon-sized plastic or clay pot. For those planted directly on soil, use top soil rich in organic matter. Fertilization. Fertilize the plants using compost or synthetic complete 14-14-14 fertilizer once every month for optimum growth. Cultivate top part of the soil if it potting medium becomes compact. Report to a bigger pot once every year. Pest and Diseases. Typically, Ti plants are not commonly affected by pest and diseases, however, they can be affected by defoliators like caterpillars, sucking insects (aphids, scales, white flies and mites). For hobbyists, spraying plants with a dilute solution of soapy water or detergent will deter most insects, but for extreme cases of insect infestation, use synthetic insecticides. For problems on fungal infections, especially soil-borne fungus, drench root area with a dilute solution of Dithane or Captan to control fungal diseases.


Propagation. The Ti plant is a relatively hardy plant and it easy to maintain. It is also easy to propagate, transplant and grow from cuttings or seeds. For commercial propagation, stem cuttings are preferred than seeds. For stem cuttings, use pruning shears or hand saw to separate 3-4 inch long segments of stems from the top of mature Ti-plants. For best results, cut from a Ti plant that is at least 3 feet tall and has a trunk diameter of 1 inch or more. Break off the leaves and leaf buds on the Ti cutting. Plant the cutting in the pot. Plant vertically if you want a single Ti plant. Sink the cutting into the soil vertically with the cut end in the ground at least 2 inches deep. Plant horizontally if you want several Ti plants. Bury the entire cutting horizontally an inch below the surface and cover with soil. Keep the pot's soil moist at all times. Place the transplants in a cool, shaded area that is out of direct sunlight. The cutting will begin to take root within a week. At that time, new leaf buds forming at the top of the cutting will appear. Typically, a cutting will grow two to four new buds. If the entire stalk was buried, it will begin sprouting buds along the length of its body. The buds typically break the potting soil's surface within two to three weeks. Transplant the Ti plant once its leaves are an inch long. Transplant into a 10-gallon pot if you plan to keep it permanently in a pot or you may plant directly in the ground. For best results, red Ti plants should be planted in direct sunlight and green Ti plants should be planted in the shade. This results in the most vibrant colors.

The Season of the Fiery Flame Tree
Delonix regia is a species of flowering plant from the Fabaceae family, noted for its fern-like leaves and flamboyant display of flowers. Its common name Flame tree was due to its fiery display of flowers during summer season. . The species was previously placed in a genus Poinciana, named for Phillippe de Longvilliers de Poincy who is credited with introducing the plant to the Americas. The tree's vivid red/vermilion/orange/yellow flowers and bright green foliage make it an exceptionally striking sight. The Royal Poinciana is endemic to Madagascar, where it is found in the Madagascar dry deciduous forests. In the wild it is endangered, but it is widely cultivated elsewhere. In addition to its ornamental


value, it is also a useful shade tree in tropical conditions, because it usually grows to a modest height but spreads widely, and its dense foliage provides full shade. In areas with a marked dry season, it sheds its leaves during the drought, but in other areas it is virtually evergreen.

The R o y a l Poinciana requires a tropical or near-tropical climate, but can tolerate drought and salty conditions. It is very widely grown in the Caribbean, Africa, Hong Kong, the Canary Islands, Thailand, Taiwan and southern China, and is also the city tree of Tainan, Taiwan and Xiamen, Fujian Province, and People's Republic of China. National Cheng


Kung University, a university located in Tainan, put Royal Poinciana on its emblem. It also grows throughout southern Brazil, with ornamental trees in Rio Grande do Sul (Canoas and Porto Alegre) The Royal Poinciana is regarded as naturalised in many of the locations where it is grown, and is seen by some as an invasive species in some parts of Australia, partly because its dense shade and root system prevent the growth of other species under it. In Vietnam, this tree is called "Phượng vỹ", or phoenix's tail, and is a popular urban tree in much of Vietnam. Its flowering season is April - May, which coincides with the end of the school year in Vietnam. Because of this timing, the flower of Poinciana is sometimes called the "flower of pupil", and often generates strong emotions among graduating high school pupils, as the Poinciana bloom when they are about to leave their school and their childhood behind.The seed pods of the Royal Poincianas are used in the Caribbean as a percussion instrument known as the shak-shak or maraca.

Growing Ctenanthe Plants
Ctenanthes, which belongs to the Marantaceae plant family, are grown primarily for their unusual colored foliage. Colors in their foliage are produced only in the presence of bright light. If Ctenanthes doesn't receive enough light, their leaves will just be green in color. These plant group is closely related taxonomically to the prayer plant or Calatheas and prefers high humidity and warm temperatures. They would enjoy frequent misting with warm water and wouldn't tolerate very cold temperatures. Another way of increasing humidity for the plant is to place the pot on a tray with pebbles and water in it. The soil is usually composed of ordinary garden show with a little bit of leaves mold. CULTURAL REQUIREMENTS Light. Ctenanthe prefer medium light, about 1000-2000 foot-candles, usually in a treeshaded window, or a partially shaded garden. The plants needs moderate but sufficient light for the colors of the leaves to come out. Too much light, specially hot noontime light will bleach or burn the leaves. On the other hand, lower light levels can cause pale leaves with indistinct markings. Temperature. This plant prefers tropical conditions and will thrive almost anywhere in the Philippines, though high humidity is required. Foliage needs to be mist-sprayed daily with water. Rainwater is excellent forthis, since it leaves no unsightly white lime deposits.


Watering. Water plants plentifully, especially during active growth, as often as necessary to keep the potting mixture thoroughly moist. During rest periods, water moderately, just enough to keep the top half inch of the potting mixture moist. As much as possible, use soft or lime-free water. Fertilization. Ctenanthe to be given generous amount of liquid or solid artificial fertilizers. For foliar fertilizers, use about 1 teaspoon complete orchid foliar fertilizers with trace elements mixed in one gallon of water, and drench about 1 cup of this for each pot once every two weeks. An alternative is to use about 6 granules of controlled release fertilizer per pot and apply every 2 months. Mix. Ctenanthe loves organic rich soils. Use a mixture of equal parts of garden soil, compost and sand. Healthy plants needs to be moved into pots one size larger every year, usually during summer. For seedlings, use 3-inch clay or plastic pots, while 610 inch pots for larger plants. Controlling Pests and Diseases. Since Ctenanthe are foliage plants, care must be made not to damage the foliage and to keep them in good condition. Prayer plants are susceptible to fungal and bacterial diseases, especially leaf spots, rotting and wilting. As much as possible, practice good sanitation in the garden. Isolate diseased or rotting plants. Allow ventilation for the foliage to dry once every day. For prophylactic purposes, spray Captan or Dithane fungicide once a month once diseases occur, especially during the rainy season. To prevent viral diseases, sterilized pruning shears when dividing plants. To control insects like caterpillars, mealybugs, mites and scales, use appropriate insecticides. To control snails and slugs, which usually damage foliage and young buds, apply molluscicides or snail baits, which are all available in garden centers. Propagation. Ctenanthe are propagated by division of overcrowded clumps of plants or tip cuttings, with nodes to form the roots. Mist and reduced light are important during the early Potting



stages of propagation. For effective survival of transplants, enclose newly potted plants in clear plastic bags to retain humidity, and keep them in medium light. Remove the bags when new roots have formed. Some plants produce root nodules which later develop into plants.

Growing the Colorful Maranta, Another relative of the Ctenanthe
The genus Maranta, a member of the family Marantaceae, consists of approximately 14 to 20 species, depending upon the publication consulted. These clump-forming herbs are indigenous to tropical Americas, primarily South America. In 1975, Maranta, commonly called prayer plant, is closely related to the Calathea and Ctenanthe. Marantas are versatile plants indoors because they can be used as small specimen plants, hanging plants which cascade, ground covers in interiorscapes and in dish gardens and other combination planters. Maranta plants have similar cultural requirements as Ctenanthe. (above)
The Urban Gardener is an official electronic publication (in PDF Format) of the Plant Biotechnology Project, Research & Development Center, Rizal Technological University, Boni Avenue, Mandaluyong City, Philippines. It is published monthly. For more information, please inquire thru email:


plantbiotech_rtu@yahoo.com and landline


(+632) 534-8267 Local 135 or Fax (+632) 534-9710. Edited by N.R. Bautista © May 2010

The Plant Biotechnology Project Committee is composed of: Alexander B. Quilang, Norberto R. Bautista, Jovita A. Anit & Carnette C. Pulma.


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