Plants newsletter #6.

What's new with Plants app


Plant images


Already the very first version of Plants app supported multiple library and user defined images. Version 1.1 will add full access to the camera and the photo library. It will allow full-sized image viewing in portrait and landscape mode.

Every library image bundled with the new version of Plants app will include also accessibility description of the image in order to help visually impaired users.


Plants app on Twitter and Facebook

During the past months we collected a lot of data about different plants for different horticultural interest groups. This is time and labour intensive work that needs to be done by plant specialists. We are entering the phase of preparing plants data for Plants app. Version 1.1 of the app will group plants data in four distinct categories: compatibility with Plants version 1.0, selected easy to grow or popular plants for beginners, and selections of indoor and balcony plants.

Every time we prepare a plant for the Plants app collection, we will tweet this plant together with one or more photos. We will also share this information on Plants app Facebook page. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to see the growing collection of plants. We will appreciate your feedback as well as your suggestions for your beloved green friends or exotic catalogue suggestions.

On Twitter we are @PlantsApp


Plants app beta testers are now welcome

In the coming weeks we will start beta-testing version 1.1 of Plants app. This will give also a wider group of people the chance to provide us with valuable early feedback. If you'd like to participate in the beta-testing, please subscribe to the special Plants tester mailing list.


Plant of the month - Lewisia - Bitterroot

Every garden has its "difficult" spots, where gravel, stone, sun, and drought are making the life of the ambitious gardener miserable. Here comes the Bitterroot to the rescue. They are found in nature in pine forests, rocky mesas and gravel hillsides of the western American mountains. They are perfectly suited for alpine gardens, or to cover sandy and dry patches between stony structures or paths separating flowering beds.

There are 19 species of Lewisia. The most popular species have large, very showy rosette-shaped flowers that may be one of a range of different colours. An interesting bit of Lewisia plant info includes its status as the Montana state flower.


How to grow

Bitterroot plants produce offsets, which are the easiest way to propagate these interesting colourful succulents. Simply divide them from the parent plant and pot them in a small container. They could be also propagated from seeds sown in pots and placed into a cold frame in autumn. Once the plants are placed in the garden, provide them with moderate water, excellent drainage and a minimum of nutrients. The primary thing to remember is to avoid excessively fertile soil and compacted or clay-rich soil. Bitteroot species are hardy. Lewisia plants are prone to aphids under glass (as young plants) and to slugs and snails outdoors.


Use in medicine and in the kitchen

All species of Lewisia are edible. Their taproots are used as a food by the Flathead Indians. The root is peeled before boiling. Cooking of the root reduces its bitterness. Chewing the roots of Lewisia rediviva was used to relieve a sore throat. It has also been used to promote milk flow during lactation.

Links: Lewisia in Wikipedia
          Lewisia brachycalyx in RHS
          Lewisia cotyledon in Fine Gardening


Seasonal task - hanging basket

Hanging baskets are becoming an essential gardening element for urban centres and private gardens by providing an extra splash of colour to city's lighting poles, balconies, and pergolas. Although their maintenance might look simple, it is important to plant them properly in order for them to survive the hot summer days.

For this month's simple hanging basket we will need:

Basket wired base and chains. Coco fiber container. Slow releasing general fertiliser.
General purpose potting compost. Slow releasing moisture granulate. Flowers suited for hanging baskets. Our collection contains a variety of Petunia, Diascia, Bidens, Lantana, Lobelia, and Anthirinum species.
Fill about 1/3 of the coco fiber container with potting ground and add some fertiliser and hydro-granulate. After initial watering the granulate will increase its volume multiple times, will suck water, and then will slowly release it when the basket is exposed to drier conditions. Cover the fertiliser and the granulate with some additional compost.
Plant the larger architectural plants in the middle of the basket. When taking plants from the plastic containers, tousle the roots and clean up dead material.

Surround the central plant with lower plant species or climbers. Fill the air-pockets and gaps with compost. You may also cover the exposed surface with horticultural gravel.

Attach carefully the chain to the wireframe and make sure it will not dislocate in case of stronger winds. Put the basket under the water-tap and water the basket for several minutes with a very weak stream of water. This is needed for the granulate to accumulate water. Repeat the watering after several hours.  Hang the basket at its final location.
For more information visit Plants App website

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