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21st Issue Vol. 3 No.

06 ISSN 2094-1765 June 2010


by Norberto R. Bautista

Puentespina Orchids and Tropical Plants has just recently launched about 20 new
Gladiolus varieties, giving florists more color to choose from for their flower arrangements. To
showcase some of the possible decorative options, Puentespina Orchids invited floral designers
from the Institute of Philippine Floral Techniques. With the guidance of Creative Director Ms.
Evelyn Aldaba of the American Institute of Floral Designers, eleven designers treated the guests
to a rainbow display of creativity.

Amsterdam Cantate Cha-cha

It is a popular flower, especially during the month of November. Using Gladiolus flowers
as ornaments started more than 2000 years ago, when Greeks and Romans used them to
brighten up important events. At present, Gladiolus continue to be popular in the Mediterranean
region as well as here in the Philippines. In fact, it is hailed as the most important cut flower.

Gladiolus is also known as the Sword Lily, due to its sword shaped leaves. Its ancient
name was xiphium, from the Greek word xiphos, also meaning sword. The Gladiolus flower
represented the Roman Gladiators, before the African Gladioli became popular in the West.

The genus Gladiolus, belonging to the Iridaceae family, comprises about 260 species,
250 of which are native to sub-Saharan Africa, mostly around the Mediterranean, and South and
Central Africa. About 10 species are native to Eurasia. Through hybridization and selection, the

old wild species have been replaced by a new assortment which is an improvement with regards
to form of flower, color, flowering time, and resistance to disease.

Chemistry Chinon Copper Queen

Puentespina Orchids and Tropical Plants grows its own line of Gladiolas in the foothills of
Mt. Talomo in Davao City, another project that helps the local farmers. Twenty different varieties
in white, yellow, orange, red, peach, pink, purple and green is now available until the end of the
year. The attractive colors combined with an eye catching height that averages between 90 and
110 centimeters make Gladiolas perfect as an accent to any interior decoration. The vase life
extends up to 7 days.

Dawson Deepest Red Essential

The Gladiolus flower signifies remembrance, expresses infatuation, and also symbolizes
for strength of character, faithfulness and honor.

Fado Flevo Ibadan

Given its arresting beauty, the Gladiolus can stand on its own and need not be combined
with other cut flowers and plants. The range of colors available is an advantage and can be mixed
and matched in every floral arrangement.

Green Star Jester Gola La Jola

For those who would want to grow this plant, here are some cultural tips:

Light. Gladiolus is known for its high light requirement, however, it may also suffers from
very high light intensity, which causes the decrease of length of the spikes and the quality of the

Zorro Burgandy Purple Precious

Watering. Provide enough water during the plant’s growth up to flowering. Avoid too
much water in order to prevent diseases. During flowering stage, lack of soil moisture reduces
flowering, causes temporary wilting, and plants may produce crooked spikes.

Temperature. The plant can tolerate high temperature (up to 50°C) provided there is
optimum air humidity and soil moisture.

Potting Mix. Gladiolus grows best in fertile loamy or sandy soil with pH of 7.0 to 7.5

Fertilization. Gladiolus requires a higher nitrogen requirement during its growing stage,
and will decrease as it approaches its flowering stage. For field planted gladiolus, provide about
90 to 135 kg of nitrogen per hectare (ha), 90 to 180 kg of phosphorus per ha, and 110 to 180 kg
of potassium per ha. The fertilizer mixture may be applied four times: before planting, during 3 to
3 leaf stage (side-dressing), when inflorescence emerges from the leaves (side-dressing) and
about two weeks after flowering (side-dressing).

A florist arranging a Gladiolus artistic creation

Pest and diseases. Some pest that attack gladiolus are aphids, trips, mites, bugs
earworm and borers. These pests can be controlled by applying synthetic or organic pesticides.
Diseases afflicting gladiolus are scab, leaf and flower spots and Fusarium disease. As much as
possible, do not over-water to prevent occurrence of diseases. Apply fungicides as a propylactic
during rainy season to lessen occurrence of diseases.

Propagation.. Gladiolus may be propagated by seeds, corms, cormels and by plant

tissue culture. As much as possible, use only disease-free corms and cormels. To prevent
diseases from developing, treat cormels with hot water (about 53 to 55°C) for 30 minutes.
Chemicals like Captan, Thiram or Thiobendezole can be added to the water. Before treating the
cormels, soak them in a warm water (32°C) to soften the husk and remove all those that float. Put
clean cormels in sacks or net bags then, immerse them in hot water with the chemical for 30
minutes. After the treatment, immerse the sacks containing cormels in a container with running
water for 10 minutes. After air-drying, store cormels under low temperature (20 to 5o°C) for at
least three months to break their dormancy. When the root buds swell, they are no longer
dormant. To get uniform germination, soak cormels in water two days before planting them. Use
large corms for cut flower production. Use a planting density of 13 to 17 corms per meter row
distanced at about 20 cm apart or wider for sandy soils.

Disseminating Information on Urban Agriculture
at the Barangay Level
The Urban Agriculture Project – Research & Development Center of Rizal Technological
University, in coordination with the RTU Extension Office, the Graduate School, and the local
Barangay Office, extended the technology on urban vegetable gardening in one of its adopted
barangay – Barangay Highway Hills, last February 2010, and after which, gave away starter
vegetable seeds..

Mr. Norberto Bautista of the Urban Agriculture Project of RTU brought the technology of
Urban Vegetable Gardening in the Barangay Level – at residents of Barangay Highway
Hills, Mandaluyong City.

A Bonsai & Suiseki Show to be staged at the Quezon City Memorial Circle

Growing Cacti and Succulents

Some are very cautious in growing cacti in their home as their thorns and spines are
safety hazards for children, plus the superstitious belief that since cacti live in deserts
and arid places, it brings unhappiness like a desert in the house and family. However, in
the contrary, these plants are a source of inspiration as they grow in the harshest
conditions, and still smiles with flowers, fights hard life all alone, and in the home, it can
survive for a month without water. Furthermore , not all have thorns or spines, they are
certainly great additions for garden decorations, as they resemble different sizes, shapes
and textures, they grow for lesser space, less soil, less care and less water. A lot of
them are curiosities and weird looking, which makes them more worthy of collecting.

The local plant commercial sector have a wide variety of cacti and succulents the
ordinary gardener and plant enthusiasts can choose from, and quite surprising some of
these species or cultivars are quite cheap and very easy to grow. They are perfect
plants for a beginner as cacti and succulents are hardy, and tough plants. Though
cactus plants are definitely not some of the more beautiful plants of the floral kingdom

but they certainly
continue to steal the
hearts of many people
and are in fact one of the
most collected plant
species around.

The Cactus family

includes some of the
strangest plants the
world has ever seen.
They have no leaves,
instead have a succulent
but photosynthetic stem
protected by spines or
thorns. Buds or eyes in
the stem can bring forth surprisingly colorful and showy flowers. Their shapes and
manner of growth are also weird or strange. Some species maybe minute, mimicking
stones or boulders, while some may grow up to 20 feet tall. Not all cacti are round in
shape, as some mature ones may develop like a tall column, tree or with bush-like
shapes, or may create entire clumps or cushions in the ground. There are also some
species which are epiphytic and climb trees or walls like vines!

Cacti and succulents are easy to grow. They usually prefer a sunny or brightly lighted
location, and prefers a soil type that is loose and sandy (a combination of garden soil,
sand and a little gravel) and the pot should have excellent drainage. The plant needs a
pot just small enough to accommodate its roots, with its body mostly just above the soil
line. The plant is usually watered sparingly, about only once per week. For optimum
growth, fertilize the plant with a general purpose fertilizer, like that of the complete 14-
14-14 once every 3 months.

With the local garden club like the Cactus and Succulent Society of the Philippines, it is
continuing its objectives of inspiring garden enthusiasts and plant collectors to grow and
propagate these very unique plants, to propagate them for business, and to be a firm
pillar in the botanical study of these group of plants.

Cultivation of the Bird’s Nest Fern

The Bird’s Nest Fern, or scientifically
known as Asplenium nidus, is a species of
fern in the family Aspleniaceae, native to
tropical southeastern Asia, northern
Queensland in Australia, Hawaii,
Polynesia, Christmas Island, India, and
eastern Africa. It is one of several closely
related species known by the common
name Bird's Nest Fern. It forms large
simple fronds visually similar to Banana
leaves, with the fronds growing to 50-150
cm long and 10-20 cm broad. They are

light green, often crinkled, with a black midrib, and exhibit circinate vernation. Spores
develop in sori on the underside of the fronds. These sori form long rows extending out
from the midrib on the back of the outer part of the lamina (frond). The fronds roll back
as they brown and create a massive leaf nest in the branches and trunks of trees. There
are now a lot of leaf form variations, which interests collectors.

The habit of this fern can be epiphytal or terrestrial, but it typically grows on organic
matter. This fern often lives in trees like a bromeliad, where it collects water and humus
in its leaf-rosette. It thrives in warm, humid areas in partial to full shade. The plants are
commonly sold as house plants, or landscape plants.

Cultivation Notes

Light. The plant prefers medium light all year round. The should never be exposed to
neither bright and direct sunlight nor dense shade.

Temperature. The plant group thrive in normal room temperatures, and could not
withstand temperatures below 60 oF

Watering. Water plants regularly as often as possible during their active growth, and
make sure their potting mixtures is thoroughly moist.

Fertilization. Fertilize plants using a dilute solution of orchid fertilizers once a month
during their active growth.

Potting Mixture. Use a mixture moist and chopped coconut husk and charcoal in
potting Asplenium nidus.. Repotting is needed only when the root ball becomes so
dense and crowded, and one may necessarily break the pot in order for the plant to be
repotted. This is due to the fact that its roots cling firmly to the pots.

Pest and Diseases. Asplenium nidus is often severely attacked by nematodes, which
are often deposited into the leaves of the plant from infected bird droppings. These
nematodes infect the parallel veins of the leaves, causing longitudinal brown streaks in
the leaves. These pest can be controlled by spraying the plant with Furadan insecticide.
Be careful during application of these insecticide since this is a toxic chemical. During
rainy season, spray fungicides like Captan or Dithane as a propylactic in order to prevent
fungal and bacterial diseases in the ferns’ fronds.

Propagation. Asplenium nidus can The Urban Gardener is an official electronic publication (in PDF
be propagated only by spores. Format) of the Plant Biotechnology Project, Research &
Under its fronds, numerous dustlike Development Center, Rizal Technological University, Boni
spores can be collected and Avenue, Mandaluyong City, Philippines. It is published monthly.
For more information, please inquire thru email:
sprinkled on moist soil or on pre- rdc_rtu@yahoo.com or plantbiotech_rtu@yahoo.com and
boiled and cut asplenium fern roots landline (+632) 534-8267 Local 135 or Fax (+632) 534-9710.
(paslak) lined-up (about an inch
Edited by N.R. Bautista © June 2010
thick) in a bottom in a clear plastic
container. The fern spores will The Plant Biotechnology Project Committee is composed
germinate into prothallus within 4-6 of: Alexander B. Quilang, Norberto R. Bautista, & Jovita A.
months, and grow into miniature fern
plants within a year. It is very

important to keep the moisture and humidity inside the plastic container in order to
prevent drying of the plants and place the container in an area with diffused light.

Growing the Snake Plant or Sansevieria

By Norberto R. Bautista

These plants are commonly called

with such names as snake plant,
mother-in-law’s tongue, devil’s
tongue, good luck plant, lucky plant,
and bowstring hemp. Sansevierias
are popular plants and are easy to
grow. They grow comparatively slow
but these plants last for years, with
minimal care. There are various
varieties of two main types: the tall-
growing plants with stiff, erect, lance-
shaped leaves and the dwarf-
growing rosette forms. The tall-
growing types are decorative in
groupings, where they can be used
to provide compact vertical contrast
with different kinds of lower-growing
bushy or rosette plants.

Most Sansevierias have an attractive

marbled pattern on the foliage. The
leaves arise directly from a thick
rhizome that runs just below the
surface of the potting medium. Every
leaf is tipped with a narrow awl-
shaped point, and care should be
taken not to damage it. A leaf with a broken tip stops growing. Flowers, which appear only
erratically, are whitish or yellowish, narrow petaled, in clusters on an erect spike, and often

There are many

Sansevieria species
available in the market.
S. cylindrical is a rare, tall
growing species, with
cylindrical leaves about 1
inch thick and upt to 3
feet long, fanning out
from the narrow base.
Plants are rigid, ribbed
lengthwise, and dark
green cross-banded with
gray-green when young.

S. liberica has thick, stiff

leaves up to 3 feet long,
striped lengthwise, with
white bands of almost
pure white.

S. trifasciata, or mother-in-law’s tongue, has 12 to 18 inch tall dark green marbled and slightly
spiraled foliage. The species itself is not a popular indoor plant, however, it is among its various
forms and variants that the sansevierias became popular.
<site the various forms>

S. zeylanica has gray-green leaves, with dark green cross-bands. They are 24-30 inches long,
channeled with a V-section and arranged in a rather loose spreading rosette.

How to grow this plant.

This plant is relatively easy to grow and reproduce, and could tolerate neglect. It is ideal for
amateur gardeners.

Light. Sansevierias like bright natural light, and prefers outdoor full-sun conditions. They can
also tolerate a certain amount of shade, like for example in a indoor location near a window or in
a shaded portion of the garden, without detrimental effect on their growth. However, the plant will
stop growing if they are forced to live in poor light for a length of time. Plants that has been living
in a shady location should not be moved to a sunny location without gradual acclimatization or
else it will result to leaf burn.

Watering. Water plants sufficiently, about once every 3 days. They will prefer a semi-arid
condition, similar to how you treat your cacti. Over-watered plants tend to rot and cause the
leaves of tall-growing types to topple over at the point where they join the rhizome. To prevent
rotting to rosette types, do not let water settle in the center of plants.

Temperature. These plants are native of the tropics, thus it will thrive in normal warm Philippine
lowland setting. Take care not to subject them to very low temperature, below 55 oF.

Potting Technique. Use a quick draining potting medium, one recommendation is a mixture of
equal parts of course sand, garden soil, and coconut coir dust. Ordinary soil mixed with sand will
also do, and place plenty of broken clay-pot fragments at the bottom of the pot for easy drainage.

Sansevierias do not mind having cramped root conditions, and so can be left undisturbed
in its pots for several years. Fleshy, usually cream colored roots will often appear on the surface
of the potting medium, but these plants do not need to be repotted unless they crack their pots.
Ideally, they should be repotted before they reach that stage. For upright growing plants,
repotting is advisable if the leaves occupy most of the pot surface. Use clay pots to upright
growing plants since they tend to be top-heavy.

Fertilization. Apply only half strength of fertilizer to your sansevierias, maybe about 4 granules of
complete 14-14-14 or controlled release fertilizer per pot per month, or incorporation of organic
fertilizers like compost. Do not over fertilize.

Pest and Disease Management. Plants may occasionally be attacked by caterpillars or weevils
which gnaws the sides of the foliage. Hand-pick them or spray organic or synthetic insecticides
to control infestations. Do not over-water to prevent rotting of plants.

Propagation. These plants can be propagated through leaf cuttings or dividing overcrowded
clumps of leaves. For leaf cuttings, which is a slow method, whole leaves are cut using a sharp
knife, and then leaves are chopped into 2-inch long segments, remembering which point is up
and which point is down. Plant several of these pieces together in a small pot. In time, young
shoots shoots will appear. One disadvantage of these method is that yellow bordered varieties
will not pass their characteristic leaf coloration to their offspring when reproduced through leaf
cuttings. Another way is to detach offsets from the rhizomatous rootstock and pot them in a
separate pot.