some low-care plants head for higher Learning
Do you know a student heading back to campus? Send along one of these plants, which are virtually indestructible, to make that residence-hall room feel a little more like home.
• Lucky bamboo. Grows best in bright light, but will tolerate low light. Root it in water, then transfer it to soil.
• Christmas cactus: Does best when ignored. In bright light, produces red blossoms in early winter.
• Cast iron plant: Grows under the worst of conditions.
• Pothos: Virtually unkillable. Tolerates all light levels. Let it dry out between waterings. Prune the trailing vines to make it bushy.
• Mother-in-law's tongue: Long, sharp, pointed leaves. Tolerates low light; needs watering about twice all winter long.
Flowers that keep insects in balance
Plant marigolds, chrysanthemums, dahlias or clematis vines in and around your garden. "These aromatic flowers are natural bug repellents because they have strong scents, called olfactory inhibitors, which may confuse or repel insect pests looking for crops to feed on," iVillage.com says. These flowers also entice pests away from crops. They attract certain kinds of beneficial insects (such as lacewings, hoverflies, ladybugs and pirate bugs), which help control insect pests that feed on vegetables.
Going for the green at Beijing Olympics
As you watch the Olympics this week, look for views of newly planted flower beds outside the sports center in Beijing. The giant green plastic leaves stuck among the blossoms (chrysanthemums and China roses among them) are designed to raise the awareness of a "green Olympics," a worthy goal considering the poor air quality. Beijing is hot and humid this time of year; let's see how the flowers survive.
Veggie gardening workshop full
A problem they're happy to have: Two hundred people — room capacity! — signed up for today's workshop on vegetable gardening at the Pinellas County Extension Service. (If you're not already registered, don't go: They'll have to turn you away.) The huge turnout tells us there's great interest in growing your own food so you know what's in it or on it, and to avoid high prices at the grocery store. Sign of the times!
Compiled by Times Homes and Garden editor Judy Stark
Beautify kitchen by adding blooms
We all spend a lot of time in the kitchen — cooking, eating, cleaning up, hanging out — yet we seldom think of the kitchen as a place for flowers. Rethink that, the Society of American Florists suggests. A bouquet in a teapot, water pitcher or wine carafe makes a work space a lot more pleasant.