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Air Plants

In recent years, air plants have grown in popularity. Open any home d�cor catalogue and you'll see them displayed brilliantly in a variety of ways, such as in terrariums or centered in hanging glass bulbs. The pages of these glossy magazines grab your attention and now, you too, want air plants in your home d�cor but are they as easy to care for as it seems?


There are hundreds of Tillandsia and the genus is the largest in the bromeliad family. They are native to the warmer climates in the United States and can be found in a wide range of habitats including jungles, mountain tops, coastal areas and even arid deserts.


The one thing they all have in common is the need for water and actually get all their water and nutrients through their specialized leaves that have small scales called trichomes. It is the trichomes that give the plant its silver or gray appearance and you will notice that after watering, the plant actually brightens in color. The roots that you see on the plants are used in nature to attach themselves to tree branches, rocks and other shaded outdoor areas.


Air plants need one really good drink of water each week and then, depending on the humidity level, need to be sprayed one to three times per week. To soak the air plants, fill a small basin or bucket with water and allow the plant to remain in the water for approximately ten minutes. Remove from the water, shake off excess water and allow to dry on a paper towel before returning to its container or display location. If your location is humid, water less frequently and the drier your home is, increase watering to two or three times per week and spray daily.


In addition to water, Tillandsia need good air circulation which helps dry the plant between waterings and prevent any type of disease from potential overwatering. They also need light, but not bright direct sunlight and prefer temperatures warmer than 45 degrees Fahrenheit. In this regard they make great companions to orchids that have similar growing requirements.


Tillandsia blooms are diverse and beautiful and can last from a few days to close to a year, depending on the rate of growth in the plant. A wide variety of plants bloom naturally in late winter through summer and colors can range the spectrum of hues in bright yellow, red, orange pink, blue, purple and white.


There are lots of creative and interesting ways to display your air plants. You can place in seashells, mount on driftwood, tie onto a wreath or create a terrarium with adorable fairy garden pieces. The options are endless.


One important fact to note, if you want your air plant to stand up or you need to hide the manner with which you mounted the air plant, do not use soil or any matter, such as moss, that holds moisture. This will cause the air plant to rot.

Dads Pink
Growing Memories
Thank you, DaddyBill

While I am not sure of the statistics, I have to believe that the love of growing and gardening must skip a generation. Looking back, I realized that I missed a huge opportunity to learn great things from my grandfather. As a young child, the last thing I wanted to do was take a bucket and pick string beans down a never ending row in the dusty, hot afternoon sun. Nor did I want to snap and string those beans in the evening after dinner. As an adult, now that I have had some success at growing things, mostly flowers, because that is what makes me happy, I realize that I missed the chance to gather the knowledge from his lifetime. Beans were not the only thing he grew in abundance, corn was also a bumper crop. I 'fondly' remember sitting in the back of a full sized pick up truck, full of corn, under the trees in my yard knowing that as soon as we finished shucking the corn, we would then have to blanch it, put it in bags or cut it off of the cob.


The fond memories come when I remember the beautiful camellias that were planted under those trees where the truck was parked. The blooms at that time were still a few months away. The home I grew up in had an abundance of fabulous camellia bushes. The bushes came with the house, of course, being that the ability to grow things skips a generation and my mother never planted a thing.  They were virtually maintenance free and had so many blooms that we cut them by the grocery bags full (that would be the paper kind - the only ones available then) and gave them away. We had several different varieties, their names I could not share as I knew nothing about genus and species back then. But I did know that the flowers were beautiful, great for cutting and bringing inside, and the bushes were attractive even when they were not flowering.


Camellias are still one of my favorites. What is not to like? The bushes are beautiful, with their dark glossy leaves and beautiful mature shape, and the flowers, oh the flowers. I will have to say, now that I know something about them, the japonicas would be my favorites. Blooming in the winter before everything else wakes up, with so many different colors and flower varieties.   It is so hard to choose a favorite. Do I choose the 'Ella Ward Parsons' with what appears to be hundreds of perfect small petals to form a compact light pink perfect bloom or do I choose one of the variegated varieties, like 'Dad's Pink' that blooms pink with a red stripe, or wait, what about 'Koto No Kaori' full of vivid pink flowers with the fabulous yellow stamens? To make them even more desirable, they prefer the shade, I can have a beautiful spot of color in the winter in the darkest spot of my yard - instant smile!

Koto No Kaori


Looking back, maybe I did learn something from my grandfather. I have grown a vegetable or two, but if it comes down to it, I will have to learn to eat flowers. Speaking of eating flowers, did you know that the Charleston Tea Plantation is right in our own back yard and while they don't use the camellia flower for tea, they do use the leaves of certain camellia plants. And my mother, bless her heart! I am glad that gardening gene found me. I cannot even imagine where I would be able to find so much joy and satisfaction if not for my plants and flowers.



Stop! Don't Chop Those Crapes!
Just because your neighbors butcher their crape myrtles doesn't mean you should too.

The objectives of pruning a crape myrtle are to maintain its natural sculptural form, produce strong branches that hold flowers upright, and open up its center to reveal the smooth, multi-toned bark that forms on mature trunks and branches.  With this in mind, below are a few tips for successful pruning this season:


*  Late January or early February is an ideal time to prune.  Pruning before the tree leafs out gives you a good view of what needs to be trimmed.

*  Remove all suckers at the base of the tree, cutting close to the soil line.  Aesthetically, you want to have 3-5 main trunks. 

*  Remove all crossing or rubbing branches, and branches growing inward toward the center of the tree, this is easily done while the tree has no leaves. Make your cuts to a side branch or close to the trunk.

*  As the tree matures, remove lower, lateral branches one-third to halfway up the height of the tree. 

*  You can also remove seed pods and trim off the ends of branches that are less than pencil sized in diameter. While these practices will help the tree look neater and may increase the size of flower clusters, they are not necessary to keep the tree healthy.


There are many different varieties of crepe myrtles and along with the different bloom color you can get different tree sizes and shapes.  Certain varieties can grow up to 25 feet tall while others will top out at about 12 feet.  Keep this in mind if you are considering planting, choose a variety that will fit your landscape space. 




Hidden Ponds Nursery
4863 Highway 17 N (next to SeeWee Outpost)
Awendaw, SC
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February 7 begins the camellia walk at Middleton Place which goes through March 21st. 


Magnolia Plantation boasts over 1,000 cultivars of  Camellia Japonica, more than any garden in America.  They offer a camellia walk from November to March.


The Charleston Tea Plantation  also offers tours.