Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Little Bit of Green

A little bit of green is a good thing in most areas. But I've got to admit that green is not my favourite colour.
The only place I truly love green is in the garden.. There is nothing like natures green. So many shades that artists have tried for years to capture something that nature seems to do so well.
Animals love it, insects usually thrive in it, and somehow it seems to make people 'happier'.
Let's face it, if the lawn is green, the place looks better.
(Recently I saw a new business that had just started up and the sole purpose of the business was to paint your lawn green.)
Houses sell better when the lawn is green. Put in a good garden in a yard and watch the value of the property escalate.
But here I am again.. Raving on..
What I really want to talk about is Staghorns.... And especially saving old ones, or ones that have to be moved..Nothing crafty just good old gardening tips for those of us that like a bit of green in our more tropical gardens. 
Now I know this is more brown than green and that's my whole point.. These enormous Staghorns were passed onto me by some 'tree loppers'. Instead of putting them through the 'chipper' they know I will do just about anything to bring my beloved rainforest to Brisbane. So these poor dead looking mounds get dumped on my front verandah from time to time. (These ones are actually doing very well and in 12 months or so, will be spectacular.)

Every photo here is a different plant so please look closely so you can see the difference.
Staghorns are a plant that can grow on another plant, but these ones differ to a lot of other types of plants that do this. These plants don't actually take any nutrients from their hosts. Thus you will find them on rocks, timber, plastic, wire mesh and basically anywhere they can cling or be tied to. So they can grow anywhere that the conditions give them light, but not extra strong heat, nutrition from fallen litter or introduced by hand and water.

Mine are all tied to a wire mesh as I was doing these on my own and mesh is good as it's easy to tie the plants to. The other advantage is you can water an 'injured' one from the back, through the wire, to keep it moist as it recovers..
We also place a layer of some 'Sphagnum moss' on the wire first as the moss really holds the water and moisture.
I don't like to cut the 'matted root' section from the back of them as this also helps hold the moisture. (And my water bill is big enough) The plant doesn't need the 'root mass' to stay alive other than for moisture and nutrition so as you can see with the first picture, you can cut a fair bit off to make them flat if you need to. But remember if you do that, you have to watch the moisture etc.
With each plant you will notice there is a centre eye where all the leaves form from. This is known as the 'Meristem'. (Thanks to my son Mike for that bit of technical info) Providing this centre is in some way green, if only by a little bit, you have hope!
The Meristem has the root behind it so this part is the bit you need to protect. Don't cover it, don't cut it, and avoid damaging it in any way. (You can see how the string goes around the centre not across it)

As the plant recovers you will notice that 
there will be flat leaves that cover the 'root ball' (and will eventually hide all that brown dead leaves) and others are like horns and will grown out the centre and flop down. 
The 'spore' or seed grows like a very fine brown dust on the back of the horns. Don't breath this in. It's not good for you and whilst I don't think it's poisonous it isn't good, especially for your lungs. If you own a moist green house and spread the spore around like dust you will find little ones will start to grow. Spreading some on a moist section of moss is good fun to watch the tiny ones grow.
I feed my plants with an organic slow release fertiliser. ( I hear banana skins were good but I don't like the possums, ant, rats and numerous other creatures that like bananas)
Once you get them going, and they get stronger, you can then move them into a little bit more sun, until they get more hardy and can cope.
The Staghorn that is pictured at the start was strapped to a hard bark tree about 12 months ago. Brown and dead looking with my family wondering why I was hanging 'dead plants' in the trees. Now it's just Devine. And it's growing like a steam train..

Just a note.. Always save them from gardens if you see the trees being knocked down. But please don't ever ever take them out of the rainforests and national parks.
They may look like they will die if you don't, but that is natures way of giving nutrition to those that remain. We need to preserve our rainforests and we do that by leaving them to their own natural devices...
Happy Gardening
NB If you have any questions please just ask as my son Mike is studying Plant Science at University and is most happy to answer anything that is more technical.

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