Author: Tshering

Top 10 low-maintenance plants

Top 10 low-maintenance plants

No more watering cans and garden hoses. These are the ten drought-resistant plants that you rarely ever need to water. Those who prefer to relax in summer instead of working in the garden are faced with a big problem. Especially in the hot summer months…

Top 10 climbing plants for fences & walls

Top 10 climbing plants for fences & walls

Are you looking for plants that will transform your fences or walls into lush green vertical gardens? These ten climbers are just the right choice. If you want to enjoy your garden in peace without being disturbed by curious glances, a wall or a fence…

Hanging plants: 10 hard to kill indoor plants

Hanging plants: 10 hard to kill indoor plants

Just hanging out? No problem for these plants. We’ll show you the ten most beautiful hanging plants, which are easy to care for.

Casual, stylish or elegant: plants with hanging shoots cut a fine figure in every room. With their long shoots, which drape like a luscious curtain from the edge of the pot, they are often the main attraction in the room. At the same time, the green roommates improve the air indoors and can be incorporated into the interior in many ways. Whether in a pot on the top of a shelf or hanging from the ceiling in a basket, hanging plants are a guarantee of a good choice. In the following list, you can find out which hanging plants are not only a stunning addition to any interior but are also very robust, so that they survive without any problems even if their owners do not have a green thumb.

Hanging plants for the room: the 10 most beautiful species

Hanging plants are a great, stylish alternative to the classic indoor plant and the below mentioned species should not be missed.

10. Philodendron scandens

Philodendron scandens is that plant you see growing upright around a moss pole. However, this plant can be easily cultivated as a hanging plant, for example in a hanging basket. With its firm, heart-shaped leaves, which can later grow up to 30 cm long, it is perfect as a lush green decoration. What is more, the philodendron is not only a stunner of the plant kingdom, it is also very hardy. It is rarely ever affected by a disease and apart from fertilising and watering, the only care required is the occasional removal of dust from the leaves.

9. Sword fern

The leaves of the sword fern (Nephrolepsis exaltata) are up to one-metre-long, look like a bunch of gorgeous green feathers. The conspicuous leaves can hardly be overlooked and depending on the species they can grow either upright or overhang. Especially beautiful are the varieties with twisted or wavy fronds. But it is not only its beautiful leaves that make the sword fern a great hanging houseplant: it is also very easy to care for. It only needs a little water and some fertiliser every now and then. But do not spoil the plant with too much of a good thing: the sword fern reacts sensitively to waterlogging, which can occur with excessive watering.

8. Common ivy

The common ivy (Hedera helix) is well known to most people as a climbing plant on house facades or trees. The robust climber makes a wonderful houseplant, too. As a hanging plant, the ivy impresses not just with its great leaves but also with its extremely resilient nature. Thus, apart from regular watering and (if necessary) fertilising, the ivy does not require any further care measures. In fact, the ivy can grow perfectly well even in rooms that are dark and where countless other plants would struggle. The ivy has a disadvantage, though. Unfortunately, the plant is poisonous and can cause skin irritations with some people and is therefore less suitable for households with small children or animals.

7. Asparagus fern

What most of us probably associate with the term ‘asparagus’ is the type of asparagus (Asparagus offincinalis) that is a favourite culinary ingredient used for tasty dishes. Not many are familiar with its little brother, the asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus), which can be grown as a gorgeous hanging plant. This plant is very easy to manage and has stunning decorative foliage. The asparagus fern looks very similar to the classic asparagus and is a sight for sore eyes with its finely fanned leaves, which is why it is often used as a binding green element in bouquets. If the asparagus fern flowers (which happens very irregularly and only with good care), it is adorned with small white flowers that develop into extremely decorative red berries. Unfortunately, they are poisonous and therefore not suitable for consumption.

6. Basket plant

‘Robust’ and ‘enduring’ are the two words that best describe the basket plant (Callisia fragrans). This wonderful hanging plant has only few requirements concerning its preferred environment and care. It favours a room temperature between 18 and 22 °C and only needs to be watered sparingly. Direct sunlight should be avoided. With its rose tinted leaves, which can sometimes border on red, the basket plant is a stunning interior addition. However, if the basket plant is well cared for, it will develop an overhanging inflorescence. In Russia, the basket plant is not only a popular houseplant because of its beauty, but is also used as a “living pharmacy” – because the plant can allegedly help with various ailments.

5. Spider plant

Whether inside or outside: as long as the temperatures are above 10 °C, the spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) can grow almost everywhere. The plant prefers bright locations, but does not need much care. To ensure that it thrives well, water it abundantly. Other than that, it only requires a little fertiliser from time to time. In addition to its vibrant and dense head of leaves, the spider plant allegedly helps clear the air indoors. In fact, the spider plant is one of the best air-purifying plants. It efficiently cleans the polluted air and thus improves the living conditions indoors.

4. Lipstick plant

The lipstick plant (Aeschynanthus) was named this way for its’ flowers which are shaped like the beauty product. With its hanging, tubular clusters of flowers and fleshy leaves is probably one of the most beautiful hanging plants. Mainly the flowers, which shine in red, orange or yellow during the summer months, make the lipstick plant a real eye-catcher. At temperatures between 20 and 25 °C it rarely needs water and can be fertilised a little every two to three weeks. In winter the plant can be kept almost dry for four to five weeks. This dry season stimulates the flowering of the lipstick plant and you can look forward to a particularly large number of flowers next year.

3. String-of-pearls

Anyone who comes across the string-of-pearls (Senecio herreanus), also called string-of-beads, understands right away why the plant bears its name. One could almost think that someone has painstakingly pulled thousands of green beads onto cords – but these are in fact the small, round leaves of the plant and they drape down to the ground on long tendrils. The small leaves not only make the string-of-pearls extravagant looking but they also store water for dry periods. It is no wonder, that the string-of-pearls is extremely easy to clean: by lightly pouring or spritzing water on top of the plant (when the substrate is completely dry), the dust can be washed away.

string of beads
String of pearls is truly a one of a kind plant which ticks off all the boxes – it is easy to maintain and gorgeous [Shutterstock.com/ Jessica Ruscello]

2. Devil’s ivy

The devil’s ivy (Epipremnum aureum) is well known as a climbing plant, but the evergreen plant also looks great hanging. The devil’s ivy weaves a dense leaf curtain if placed in hanging baskets, which can also be used as a decorative room divider. Last but not least, its frugal and persistent nature makes it extremely popular as a houseplant. It can forgive dry periods or long watering intervals and does not require a fertiliser. In addition to this, its leaves are simply stunning and are often patterned in white, cream or yellow. Furthermore, the devil’s ivy is known for its alleged air-improving effect – exhaust fumes, cigarette smoke and formaldehyde are reported to be absorbed by the plant and thus the air quality in the rooms is said to improve.

1. Mistletoe cactus

Although many would not have guessed it, this plant is indeed a cactus. The mistletoe cactus (Rhipsalis cassutha) is impressive mainly because of it’s bushy, long overhanging shoots and looks great both as a pot plant and in the hanging basket. Unlike its appearance, however, its character corresponds to the typical cactus cliché – the coral cactus is extremely easy to care for. Especially its robust nature, with which it forgives even larger maintenance errors, makes it a perfect beginner plant. In a warm, semi-shade location at home, for example, it only needs water once a week and fertiliser about once a month to thrive optimally. Repotting is usually very rarely necessary.

10 tips for raised garden beds

10 tips for raised garden beds

Farewell to back pain! These are our ten ways to improve you raised garden bed. Raised beds are probably one of the biggest garden trends at the moment. And there is no surprise why: they are an effective way to make your garden look neat…

Mealybugs: how to detect, prevent & get rid of them

Mealybugs: how to detect, prevent & get rid of them

Indoor plants such as orchids and cacti are often the prey of mealybugs. In this article, we explain what is the best way to combat these bugs. No one is ever happy to make the discovery of these little insects living on their beloved plants.…

June bugs: detection, treatment & prevention

June bugs: detection, treatment & prevention

June bugs are annoying and their larvae can cause massive damage to the roots of plants. Find out how to treat these pests effectively here.

The June beetle, also referred to as the summer chafer (Amphimallon solstitiale), is closely related to the cockchafer (or May beetle). June beetles have been increasing in their numbers in the recent years. In some areas of Europe, the larvae of this beetle cause immense damage to the lawn each summer. In the following, you can learn how to recognise, prevent and treat June beetles and their grubs.

What does the June beetle and its larvae look like?

The grubs (the larvae of the beetle) feed on the roots of grasses which can wreak havoc on lawns. Due to the damaged roots, the lawn can dry out completely. To find evidence of the grubs’ presence, the dried turf can be removed in the affected areas. If the lawn removes easy, it further hints at grub infestation. In order to find direct proof, though, look through the soil directly underneath the damaged area. If you find thick white larvae in the soil with the typical curved body, they are likely the young grubs of June beetles. They have six striking sternum pairs and a brown head as shown in the picture below. The up to 3 cm large larvae can be easily confused with the grubs of the garden chafer and the cockchafer. In principle, however, this is not a problem since the larvae of all three chafer beetles are pests and should be controlled if their population increases. What is more, the grubs can also damage roots of other plants, but the most striking damage usually happens to lawns.

The brown June beetle reaches the size of 14 – 18 mm. This makes it considerably smaller than the cockchafer, which can reach a length of up to 30 mm. In addition, the June beetle can be recognised by its yellow-brown hair and the tripartite antennae on the head. The beetles fly mainly close to fruit and other deciduous trees and cause damage to the leaves. As a rule, however, adult beetles are not a problem. Due to their limited lifespan, infested plants can also recover quickly.

June beetles: a profile

June beetles can usually be found from late June to mid-July.. When dusk falls, male beetles fly up and look for the females remaining on the ground to mate. The annoying beetles can occur in large numbers which can be really irritating during summer nights. However, this does not last long because they usually fly intensively for only around an hour or so. The fertilised females lay their eggs in small groups in the ground. In total, female beetles lay about 40 eggs in the course of their lives. The first grubs hatch from the eggs after three weeks. But, it takes some time until they develop into the full-grown, thick and white larvae. In fact, grubs can take up to three years to grow fully. If the temperatures are warmer, grubs need only two years to pupate. In the cooler northern climates, on the other hand, larva development takes three years. During this period, these pests feed on plant roots and can cause the plant life to die, which makes garden owners crazy.

Female June beetles usually lay their eggs in light and sandy soils, because the larvae prefer these drier types of soils. Therefore, humid and wet locations are avoided by the June beetle.

Before we delve into the prevention and treatment of June beetle grubs, we would like to point out that these beetles are in no way dangerous for humans. They can be really annoying, especially because they like to use people as landing places, but they can neither sting nor bite. So unless your lawn or other plants have been severely damaged, there is really no need to get rid of June beetles.

Preventing June beetles

There are several ways to prevent a June beetle infestation. The adult beetles do not cause any long-term harm in the gardens, so the prevention should focus on the grubs of the beetles. The young beetles breed on lawns, therefore, if the right measures are taken, it is possible to make the lawn undesirable as a breeding ground for the beetles. By making your lawn unappealing to the beetles, the females will not lay their eggs on your property, and the lawn roots will remain protected from the voracious larvae. How is this achieved? The answer is simple: maintain your lawn. Mow and fertilise your lawn regularly. By doing this, the lawn will grow densely, which hinders the female beetles from depositing eggs. In addition, the lawn should be kept longer. Shorter lawns make it easier for the beetles to reach the ground, penetrate the soil and lay their eggs.

In particularly severely affected areas, gardeners started installing the lawn protection fabrics in the soil. Although this is of course costly, it completely prevents the June beetles from getting into the soil. In this way, lawns remain grub-free and, additionally, molehills become a thing of the past.

Getting rid of June beetles

In addition to preventive measures, direct control is also possible. However, it makes no sense to use traps in a case of grub infestation. This only reduces the number of male beetles and there will still be enough males left for mating. There are also special garden chafer beetle traps available in stores and you might be tempted to try those out. Yet these are also not recommended and are, as a matter of fact, not suitable for catching June beetles whatsoever. To treat an infestation effectively, it is vital to focus on the control of the larvae.

beetle larvae
The larvae of June beetle (and other similar species of beetles) are usually harmless; treatment is only necessary in extreme cases [Shutterstock.com/ Dirk Wegman]

We urge you to not use any pesticides when treating grubs. Generally speaking, the use of pesticides in the soil is very problematic, as the microorganisms react very sensitively to even the smallest amounts of harsh chemicals contained in pesticides. An effective yet nature-friendly method of control is the use of beneficial organisms. To get rid of June beetle grubs, predatory nematodes have helped thousands of desperate gardeners before. What makes this method work are the bacteria, that are secreted by the nematodes, which parasitize on the grubs and kill them. This way, the grubs are pre-digested by the bacteria so that the nematodes can feed on them. The beneficial organism is called Heterorhabditis bacteriophora (HM nematodes) and is completely harmless to humans and pets. It is very important that exactly this species is used for control, as it also combats the cockchafer and garden chafer grubs.

Using nematodes to treat June beetle grubs:

  • The soil must be at least 12 °C warm
  • Keep the ground moist (not wet!) for the duration of use
  • Only apply nematodes in the morning or evening, as they are very sensitive to light
  • If the larvae of the June beetle are already very well developed, the treatment with the nematodes must be repeated several times

Alternatively, the soil can be milled (working depth 10 cm) with a milling machine. This eliminates the grubs and further control of the larvae may not be necessary. This control strategy should of course only be used in an absolute emergency. Apart from the destroyed plants on the soil, the soil quality suffers considerably because of the milling. The soil structure is damaged in the long term and recovers very slowly.

When is the best time to treat the box tree moth?

When is the best time to treat the box tree moth?

In order to successfully treat the box tree moth, it is essential to choose the right time. Find out here when to use which methods. Even the best method to protect the widely beloved box trees (Buxus) can be useless if the timing is not…

Planting strawberries: when & where

Planting strawberries: when & where

The sweet strawberries simply taste best from your own garden. We’ll tell you how best to plant strawberries. Growing strawberries (Fragaria) in your own garden or on the balcony is actually not difficult. With the right soil in the right location, correct maintenance, fertilisation and watering,…

Types of cucumbers: new & heirloom cucumber varieties

Types of cucumbers: new & heirloom cucumber varieties

New, old and resistant cucumber varieties in an overview. Seeds of the varieties are available online or in your local garden centre.

Some might be surprised to learn that there is actually a great diversity among cucumber varieties. The elongated vegetables differ in colour, shape, size and weight. In terms of colour, there are not only green cucumbers, but also white, yellow and brown varieties. The shapes range from cylindrical and spherical to serpentine. The weight differences begin with the small, crunchy mini cucumbers (that weigh less than 70 g), followed by the popular pickling gherkins (80-150 g), the typical fresh salad cucumber (200-400 g) and the classic peeling cucumbers, which in turn can reach up to 4 kg.

You can easily buy seeds of your preference online. In addition to the distinguishing features mentioned above, it is also important to choose the right variety depending if you want to plant the cucumbers outdoors, in the greenhouse, on the balcony or on the terrace.

Here is the summary of the best cucumber varieties:

Salad cucumbers

  • Adrian (F1): frequently cultivated commercially; extremely resistant to diseases; fruits about 15 cm long; excellent in taste.
  • Bella (F1): does not contain bitter substances; excellent and abundant yields; well suited for greenhouse cultivation.
  • Burpless Tasty Green (F1): a compact new variety with 25-30 cm long fruits; best grown outdoors or in a pot on the balcony; well-balanced flavour.
  • Carosello Tondo di Manduria: an heirloom Italian variety with round to oval cucumbers; robust and with outstanding growing abilities; excellent aroma.
  • Chinese Slangen: outdoor cultivation is recommended; small core and plenty of flesh.
  • Delikatess: an heirloom variety (10-15 cm); suitable to pickle and fresh consumption.
  • Dominica (F1): a new cucumber variety with purely female flowers; rich harvests of fruit of good quality; the cucumbers do not develop any bitter substances; good resistance to powdery mildew.
  • Eiffel (F1): a resistant variety with 30-35cm long fruits; ideal for growing in greenhouses; good taste.
  • Fatum: an heirloom cucumber variety with luscious fruits (40-50 cm long; 8-12 cm thick); tough skinned, better to peel before eating.
  • Flamingo (F1): a newly developed variety; resistant to many diseases; bears cucumbers 25-30 cm long; excellent taste.
  • Futura (F1): exclusively female flowers; new variety with very abundant yields; without bitter substances, fine taste; reasonably robust against diseases.
  • Iznik (F1): a variety with small fruits (8-12 cm); extremely compact growth; good for cultivating in a pot (can be grown on a balcony or terrace); only female flowers develop into tasty cucumbers.
  • Johanna: an heirloom cucumber with very thick flesh; grows up to 35 cm long; outstanding in taste and very productive.
  • Konsa (F1): a new variety for outdoor cultivation; no bitter substances; bears heavy crops.
  • Lothar (F1): a modern variety with good resistance to powdery mildew and downy mildew; very compact in growth and good for growing in a flower pot on the balcony; abundant yields; about 20 cm long cucumbers with an aromatic taste.
  • Midios (F1): a new cucumber variety with medium long fruits; heavy crops.
  • Moneta: a robust variety for outdoor sowing; cucumbers up to 30 cm tall.
  • Paska (F1): a new variety bearing 20-25 cm long cucumbers; forms only female flowers; ample yields and very robust against various diseases.
  • Picolino (F1): bears small cucumber fruits (8-12 cm); excellent taste (free from bitter substances); can be grown in greenhouses or outdoors.
  • Sakamari (F1): a fast growing variety with an aromatic flavour.
  • Saladin (F1): a newly developed variety with large cucumbers; resistant to bacterial leaf scorch and cucumber dross.
  • Silor (F1): extremely robust type with medium cucumber size (about 15-18 cm); good, aromatic taste.
  • Lemon: an heirloom cucumber variety with yellow cucumber fruits; round in shape; bears delicious fruits.

Pickling cucumbers and gherkins

  • Bidretta (F1): characteristic for its excellent growing abilities; a robust variety with abundant yields suitable for outdoor cultivation; resistant to cucumber dross.
  • Carine (F1): a new variety with heavy yields and good resistance to mildew; precocious fruits; extremely aromatic.
  • Charlotte (F1): a newly cultivated and extremely robust pickling cucumber type; excellent fruit characteristics; no bitter substances and seedless; exceptional aroma.
  • Conny (F1): a new generation of the variety Bimbostar; ample yield and early ripening; resistance against many diseases such as mildew, mosaic virus or cucumber dross; long period of harvest; suitable for outdoor cultivation.
  • Corentine (F1): forms exclusively female flowers; very productive; outstanding aroma without bitter substances; good resistance to mildew, mosaic virus and cucumber dross.
  • Crişan: a precocious variety from Turkey; distinctively ribbed cucumber fruits; bountiful yields; excellent taste.
  • Eva: an heirloom cucumber variety; recommended for outdoor cultivation mainly; fine in taste.
  • Excelsior (F1): a newly bred F1 hybrid; extremely productive; slight ribbing on the cucumber fruits; deliciously crunchy with excellent taste; high quality variety.
  • Geroy (F1): a pickling cucumber variety with petite fruits; good taste; abundant yields; highly recommended for cultivation in greenhouses.
  • Libelle (F1): early pickling cucumbers with robust growth; resistant to cucumber dross and the cucumber mosaic virus; can be sown in beds or flower pots (cultivation on the balcony is excellent).
  • Piccolo Di Parigi: an heirloom variety from Italy with firm flesh; ample yields; excellent variety for pickling and salads.
  • Restina (F1): a precocious variety; extremely robust and good resistance to mildew, grey mould and mosaic virus.
  • Tornado (F1): a modern cucumber variety; extremely resistant to disease with abundant harvests.
  • Vorgebirgstrauben: a very robust and rapidly growing pickled cucumber variety; characteristic for its enormous harvests and aromatic taste.
  • Zircon (F1): abundantly yielding; only female flowers; resistant and robust against both powdery and downy mildew; excellent to cultivate in the garden.

Powdery mildew on grapes

Powdery mildew on grapes

Get rid of powdery mildew on wine and grapes! Find out here which household remedies or natural sprays work well against the fungal disease. Grapes are becoming increasingly common to grow in gardens at home. Regardless if the grapes are later processed into juice or…