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Wednesday, 24 May 2017

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Thursday, 11 May 2017

10 Easy Houseplants To Grow

Houseplants add warmth and life to your home!

Have you ever tried to grow houseplants and ended up a frustrated plant parent? Or are you looking for more houseplants, but never know which to buy?

Even if you are already enjoying a healthy houseplant collection, this lens can help you select a new addition! I love houseplants and plants in general. I enjoy growing a variety of plants from perennials to vegetables to (of course) my houseplants. I am a houseplant addict. I find it very difficult NOT to buy houseplants when I see them for sale (I have the same problem with chocolate). My favorites are cacti and succulents. They like to soak up what little sun is available in Western New York...just like me! :P

Why grow houseplants? There's nothing like a living plant to add beauty and warmth to any room of your home. Plants can also add much-needed serenity to your office or dorm room. Want to garden, but live in an apartment/don't have room? Houseplants are the perf ect solution! Houseplants can also help purify the air you breathe.

The following is a list of what I consider to be the 10 easiest houseplants to grow, based on my own personal triumphs and adversities in addition to recommendations from books and other gardeners. I have tried to include the origin for most of the plants on my list --- this will give you an idea about the Sprinkler Installation conditions a plant group may prefer. For instance: plants from the tropics like a warm environment with plenty of water and humidity while plants from an arid environment like it hot and dry.

Intro photo: by me.

Click-able table of contents:

Water & light

If you have had problems with houseplants in the past it was likely due to either improper light and/or watering (don't worry, we've all been there). The good news is that these problems are easy to fix! Plants are like people --- each (species) is a little different and has its own quirks. The key is to figure out what makes a plant happy.

Watering: over-watering is the number one killer of houseplants. The majority of plants on my list like to be thoroughly watered (some water starts to seep out of pot) and then left alone until the top inch or two of soil is dry before watering again (check this by sticking a finger in). Resist the urge to over-water if your plant looks sick!! It's always better to under-water as soggy plants can rot, and rot is a death sentence.

Lighting: over the years I have noticed that many houseplant tags are very unhelpful. They carry ambiguous lighting requirements like "provide bright light" or "half-shaded standing place" (huh?).

Here is a list of definitions for the lighting terms I will use:

Full Sun = directly in front of a window which receives plenty of sun (such as southern or western facing). Also applies to plants placed outdoors in a sunny spot.Brightly lit = near a sunny window, but not in direct sunlight for extended periods (like an eastern window). Plants which prefer this light often do splendidly behind sheer curtains.Moderate light = 5-8 feet from a window, plant never receives direct sunlight.

And we're off!

Peace lilySpathiphyllum spp.

These plants were originally from tropical Columbia. Today, they are widely available in a variety of sizes ranging from twelve to forty+ inches high. Peace lilies are characterized by bright green glossy leaves and white flowers with large spathes. So easy to grow! I have four peace lilies, I like how tropical they look and the deep green leaves add a soothing ambiance to any room. They are fast growers!

Light: brightly lit to moderate light. This genus is well-known for its low-light tolerance, but it usually will not flower under those conditions. In my experience it does best in bright light. Leaves will scorch if given too much sun.Water: keep soil moist, but not s aturated; leaves tend to wilt easily if allowed to dry out.

Note: peace lilies are often available in a variety of sizes, from less than 12" to well over 2 feet high. They grow quickly so feel free to purchase a smaller size. Click here for more peace lily tips from plant owners.

Image: Flickr Creative Commons via Charlie Brenner

Parlor palmChamaedorea elegans

This low maintenance palm is originally from the mountains of Mexico and Guatemala and is one of the easiest for growing indoors. It is a slow grower, but can eventually reach heights of up to four feet (120 cm). I like these palms because they are so elegant in appearance, they are a great choice for any room! Another plus is that they are often sold in a wide variety of sizes...larger plants are perfect for framing a large window or brightly lit entryway.

Light: moderate light or a semi-shaded position near a window will suit this palm.Water: Water two or three times a week --- likes to be kept moist, but be sure to let the top inch or two of soil dry out before watering again.

Spider plantChlorophytum comosum "Variegatum"

A very common and popular houseplant which is widely known, spider plants are graceful and rewarding to grow. They are fast growers and can tolerate occasional neglect. First introduced in the mid-nineteenth century --- originally from subtropical South Africa. You often cannot tell from photographs, but spider plants have glossy leaves. I like how elegant these plants look in person, despite their messy appearance in photos! Also, these plants will eventually produce little runners that can be potted up.

Light: Brightly-lit, but can tolerate a little direct sunlight.Water: 2-3 times per week during summer. During winter, water about once a week, allowing soil to almost dry out between watering.

Christmas cactusSchlumbergera bridgesii

These are beautiful plants that are very easy to grow and stunning while in flo wer. It's very common to see these plants for sale during the holiday season, when you do, be sure to stock up! Flowers are available in shades of pink, red, white, yellow, orange, and purple. Tip: you can easily propagate these plants by snipping off a branch segment. Cool fact: this plant can live for over 50 years and has been known to live for over 200 years. A versatile plant -- you can keep yours neat by pruning or let its branches hang gracefully over the pot. Also a beautiful plant for a hanging pot!

Getting your Christmas cactus to bloom is EASY: during the warmer months in your area, place your cactus outside in a protected shady spot. Keep your cactus outside until the end of summer, then bring indoors and limit artificial light exposure. These plants take cues from the amount of daylight vs. darkness they receive. Do not move your cactus after it sets buds as this can cause buds to drop off.

Light: brightly lit location. Some direct sun all year is fine.Wat er: keep the soil moist, but not wet. Allow the soil to dry out between watering. As with all cacti, rainwater is best when available. Be sure to use well-draining media.

Note: there are also closely related Thanksgiving cacti and Easter cacti, which bloom at Thanksgiving time and Easter time, respectively. Care requirements are the same for all.

JadeCrassula argentea (syn. ovuta)

Originally from South Africa, jades are beautiful plants that can live for years and become very large. Well-known and widely available, jade plants are also easy to care for and rewarding to grow. There are also mini forms available called "baby jades." They need sunlight to thrive however, if your jade becomes elongated or leggy it needs more light. Make sure potting soil is fast-draining. I have three jade plants, all of which are still quite small, but are growing fast! I hope they can one day become large tree-like pla nts.

Light: full sun. As previously mentioned, give as much sun as possible. During the summer, all my succulents and cacti go outside to an area that is protected from harsh afternoon sun and strong wind. In the wintertime, I place my jades on a sunny-as-it-gets-in-winter windowsill.Water: during the growing period (spring and summer) water 2-3 times a week, but decrease water to only once or twice a month during the winter. Remember, your jade needs a winter rest and if you water too much in the winter, the growth will not be strong and vigorous because there is not enough sun of you live in a temperate area.

Umbrella treeSchefflera spp.

This plant has its origins in the subtropical areas of Asia and Australia, where it can grow into a large tree. Almost impossible to kill, it can last for years and years with good conditions. If you want a bushier plant, pinch out apical shoots. There are many different varieties available, including some with larger leaves a nd variegated forms. Very attractive with its star-shaped palmate leaves, it is also a rapid grower. I have seen these plants used for bonsai.

Light: brightly lit --- and can benefit from a spell outside during the summer in a shady protected spot.Water: keep the soil moist at all times --- allow the soil to dry out between watering in the winter. Note: if the leaves begin dropping, the plant is getting too much water. Brown leaves indicate that the plant is too dry.

Note: tends to be a leaner, so be sure to rotate on a regular basis. :)

Sna ke plant (mother-in-law's tongue)Sansevieria spp.

One of the most resilient plants I have ever grown. The leaves are very thick and succulent-like. Snake plants are well known and widely available at all times of the year. My local discount store always has snake plants for sale. There are many varieties available, the most common are upright or form tight leaf rosettes. Most have variegated, striped, or mottled deep green leaves.

Light: does best in bright light, but can tolerate low-light or moderate light positions, can also tolerate some direct sunlight, very versatile. Water: requires moderate watering, allow the soil to dry out between watering. Do not allow water to sit in the rosette or the plant will rot!

Moth orchidPhalaenopsis

An orchid that is easy to grow? Sure! This genus is relatively easy to care for --- maybe not as neglect-tolerant as the plants on my list so far, but worth the extra work for its beautiful blossoms. Available in a varie ty of sizes and colors, the moth orchid has a flowering period of up to a year. I have been seeing many varieties of these orchids for sale, even an adorable mini version. My local Lowe's store always seems to have a good selection.

Light: as much indirect light as you can manage, but NO sunlight.Water: weekly during flowering.

Tip: the secret is providing your orchid with warm days and cooler nights, humid conditions are essential, so stand the pot over a tray of damp pebbles.

More on moth orchid care from the American Orchid Society.

Dumb caneDieffenbachia

A beautiful plant with variegated leaves, brings a tropical and exotic look to any room of your home! Dieffenbachia originated in the tropical rain forests Sprinkler System Installation Mckinney of Costa Rica and Venezuela. Variegated plants need more light because each leaf has less chlorophyll. I have noticed that placing this plant in brighter light results in larger white patches on the leaves. Please note: this plant has a poisonous sap.

Light: brightly lit with plenty of indirect light.Water: plenty in the summer, keep the soil moist, but not soggy.

Tip: this is another plant that will benefit from being placed outside in a protected, shady spot for the summer.

Rubber treeFicus elastica robusta (older variety: Ficus decora)

You may remember your grandmother owning one of these bold plants! An old favorite, and for good reason, the rubber tree is originally from the moist tropical regions of India and Malaysia. It has distinctive, deep green glossy leaves. In its natural habitat this "tree" can reach heights of 90 ft. (30 m)! Modern cultivars can grow up to 30 ft. (10 m) indoors and can adapt to a wide-range of conditions. However, it is essential that you keep your rubber tree out of dark spots and away from drafts.

Light: brightly lit area with some direct sun every day.Wat er: be careful not to over-water as the rubber tree is susceptible to root rot. Water thoroughly, but allow soil to dry out between watering, water no more than once a week in winter.

Tip: the cooler its environment, the less water this plant should receive. Never allow the pot to sit in water for more than an hour. There are many plants available from the genus Fiscus --- most of which are fuss-free! :)

Purple Star

This lens was awarded with a purple star on 20 April 2011. I am honored. THANK YOU readers and Squidoo!

Let me know what you think or share a story! :) I love hearing from people who have visited my lens.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Blog | Orlando Sprinklers and Irrigation

flooded lawn

Welcome to the Hessenauer Sprinkler Repair and Irrigation blog and website. We like to offer our online readers some tips concerning sprinkler irrigation. Today we would like to give some advice about how to troubleshoot pipe leaks involved with your irrigation system by finding the leak and resolving the problem.

Pressure loss, geysers, dry spots and overly saturated areas are but a few of the problems associated with broken sprinkler lines. So cast off the yoke of overpriced landscapers, gather together courage and shovel, and fix it yourself. Your wallet will be glad you did.

If your sprinkler heads have stopped functioning and you notice new, soggy patches of grass or soil along your sprinkler lines, you most likely have a leak. Generally, we suggest calling a professional to handle these situations but sometimes, certain issues can be handled by the homeowner.

A broken sprinkler pipe can be a major headache, and many irrigation companies can't be bothered to service a system that they didn't install. The repair bill can run hundreds of dollars or more, and in the meantime, your irrigation system is offline and your lawn is turning brown. The truth is that fixing a sprinkler pipe is simple, once you've located the leak.

The first item of business is to figure out where your pipe is leaking. You might be able to tell simply by seeing where soggy patches have been appearing on your lawn. If some of your sprinkler heads seem to have low pressure but you can't tell where the problem is, place caps on all your heads to restrict water flow and turn on all sprinkler zones. Then, wait to see where water emerges through the soil.

It can take many hours to find a leak in your irrigation system, which is why repairs can be so expensive. If you know you have a leak, you should know which sprinkler zone is the problem. Turn that zone on manually at the control box. If you see a reduction in water pressure between two sprinkler heads in the leaky zone, the leak is somewhere between them. If some of the sprinkler heads don't come on at all, note the sprinkler that is farthest from the valve box, and i dentify the sprinkler head closest to it that isn't coming on. The leak is between these two. Now leave the zone running. Over time, the ground over the broken pipe will start to seep water.

Once you find the location above the leak, dig down to the leak, being careful not to cause any more damage to the pipes. Before you dig, shut off the sprinkler controller so no water can flow through the pipe while you are working. If you are growing lawn over the area, cut large square patches with a shovel and remove them with several inches of dirt clinging to ro ots so you can replace the sod later. Dig carefully down around the sprinkler, using a trowel if necessary, to avoid breaking the line further. Clean off the pipe and use clean tools when repairing.

Once you find the site of the leak at the pipe, you can either cut the line or unscrew it. If it is a shorter piece in the line, you can unscrew it and remove it from the line. If it is a longer length of pipe, which is more likely, you'll need to use a hacksaw to cut out the broken part. Remove the section of pipe around the site of the leak without allowing dirt or debris into the line to avoid clogging. Insert a new length of pipe into the break and attach them with PVC primer and pipe cement.

For the final step, fill the hole in an d replace the sod. Take care to fill in the area underneath the repaired pipe before you shovel in the rest of the dirt. If you leave any gap underneath the pipe, over time the dirt on top bends or compresses the PVC, and you end up having to dig it all up again.

Remember, the safest option is always consulting with a professional over sprinkler irrigation issues. When there is an emergency, it may be necessary for the homeowner to take matters into their own hands. Contact us in the Central Florida and Orlando areas for sprinkler irrigation issues or projects we may be able to install. Contact us today at 407-302-2227 to schedule an appointment for an estimate.