How To Make Tropical Potpourri

Use tropical plants and flowers to create homemade potpourri for you to use or give as a gift.

If you like to grow tropical plants, then why not use the flowers and leaves to make a potpourri? It not only will preserve the great smell of fresh blooming tropical plants, but will also make a great gift for someone else. You could also add this dried blend to a cloth bag and tie it up with a pretty ribbon and sell it at craft fairs.

Tropical Blend

1/4 cup orange blossoms

1/4 cup orange peel

1/4 cup lemon verbena

1/4 cup calendula

1/4 cup chamomile

1/4 cup broken cinnamon

1 tablespoon whole cloves

2 tablespoons orris root

3 drops each gardenia, orange and hyacinth oils
*

Mix the dried contents together before adding the oils. I prefer to add the oils once the mixture has been put into a plastic bag. Then I usually seal the bag and allow it to sit until the scent is strong enough to suit me.

That’s all there is to it!

*Recipe taken from http://www.windowbox.com/cgi-bin/experts/DisplayArticle.asp?TopicID=17&ArticleID;=184

Amorphallus

If you can get past the unmistakable stench of this unique plant, it is definitely one to try growing. It is so unusual that a bloom from one of this plants has literally drawn thousands of people to see it!

If you can get past the unmistakable stench of this unique plant, it is definitely one to try growing. Although the average height of the inflorescences of this plant is six and a half feet, although the tallest one on record was a whooping 10.75 foot. Once the tuber has matured underground, it will begin to produce a huge aroid bloom that generally is taller than most humans. The spandex grows rapidly once it begins, although in the beginning the spadix will be completely enclosed by the spath and bracts. The Amorphophallus is considered to be the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world.

Although the Amorphallus Titanum was once rumored to eat its grower, we all know today that that’s just an old wives tale. However, it is difficult to propagate because the tubers are prone to rot, it does not reliably increase its size nor does it produce seeds or offsets as easily as other species of Amorphophallus. Now, if the idea of a man-eating plant isn’t enough of a shock to you. try the idea of elephants pollinating the monstrous inflorescences! The truth of the matter is that large carrion beetles are lured the horrendous odor of decaying flesh, or as one person puts it rotten liver! Indonesian people commonly call it bunga bankai, which means corpse flower!

The true reason why Amorphophallus have a hard time reproducing is because the female flowers are the first to open and before the male florets begin to produce their pollen, the female flowers are no longer receptive. In rare occasions in the wild, pollination will occur only because of the fact that Amorphophallus can set bloom any time of the year, and their is a slight chance that one may be in it’s female cycle while another has entered into its male cycle.

If you decide to try growing Amorphophallus species, be aware that spider mites will attack emerging seedlings, and that aphids are also moderately fond of this plant. You should also note that low humidity or low light might cause the leaflets to partially desiccate. Although a plus of low light will be a dark green leaf with contrasting pink margins, thus a gradual move of this plant into bright light will produce bright green leaves with pinkish margins that are less noticeable.

Another surprise about the Amorphophallus is the fact that the Amorphophallus Rivieri ‘Konjac’ also known as the Japanese Konjaku, and the Amorphophallus Campanulatus also known as the Asian Elephant Yam both has edible roots and that is their prime purpose of being grown.

The dormant tubers of the Amorphophallus species should be planted in late winter or early spring in the ground where weather conditions are favorable for it to grow outdoors year round, otherwise, plant it in a pot and keep it indoors. The tubers should be planted four inches deep, and grown in warm, barely moist conditions with frequent watering and a balanced liquid fertilizer applied monthly during the rapid growing season. The larger the size of the tuber, the greater the chance that it will bloom.

If you are the really adventurous type, you can always try your hand at sowing Amorphophallus seed in autumn or spring once the temperatures are ranging in the sixty-six to seventy-seven degree fairenheight range. Another method of propagation is to separate the offsets when the plant is dormant.

If you can get past the horrendous smell of these plants, they are definitely one of the weirdest plants you will grow in your garden and they will certainly attract a crowd once they bloom which could be a slow process.

Growing Cinnamon

Have you ever thought about growing your own spices? One spice that you can grow is cinnamon. Learn more about this great smelling spice.

Few of us ever think about where cinnamon comes from, but can you imagine walking down a street lined with Cinnamon Trees? That’s everyday life for those who live in the Islands of Malaya. Native to India, Malaya, Ceylon, China, Japan and Taiwan, depending on the exact species, are as common to them as some of our native trees are to us.

The Cinnamomum Zeylanicum, is the source of the cinnamon we commonly buy. This tree grows up to thirty feet tall bearing ovate-lanceolate leaves that are four to seven inches long. However, the panicles of yellowish flowers are often longer than the leaves, and bear pointed black fruits from which oil is extracted. The cinnamon sticks we commonly buy are made from the bark of the tree, and are rolled naturally by being sun-dried.

Cinnamomums prefer deep, well-drained, moist soil in order to perform their best. They hate root disturbance and should be grown in one container until they are put in their permanent place. I have tried to propagate Cinnamomum Zeylanicum myself which I acquired from B & T World Seeds. The attempt was unsuccessful, although that is the most common form of propagation. Another more difficult method of propagation is by rooting cuttings. My understanding of this process is that they must be under mist, and in a propagation bed in a greenhouse. I also have been told that the success rate is very low with this method, but giving my previous experience with seeds, I’d try the cuttings! If you are looking for a source of Cinnamomum Zeylanicum, Glasshouse Works tells me they carry them occasionally, but they sell out quickly and they will not put anyone on a waiting list due to the difficulty of propagation. This is the only source I have been able to locate. If you know of one, please share it with our readers in the forum below or e-mail me with it so I can pass it on.

I would love to hear from anyone who has grown this plant. Even if you can’t grow your own cinnamon, you can use store bought cinnamon in recipes and potpourris. For potpourri, I would strongly recommend the stick cinnamon. It is prettier and far less messy. A cinnamon essential oil is another way to add a cinnamon scent to your home.

I have a recipe for a “Spiced Apple Cake” that I would like to share with you. It is from “Scented Treasures, Aromatic Gifts From The Kitchen & Garden” by Stephanie Donaldson.

1 cup applesauce
½ cup unsalted butter
1 cup demerata sugar
2 eggs
2 ½ cups flour (half whole wheat/half white)
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ cup raisins
¾ cup sultanas
1 cup walnuts (chopped)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg

Bake in an 8 inch ring pan.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy, add the eggs, one at a time. Sift together the flour, spices and baking powder. Toss the fruit and nuts in 1 tablespoon of flour. Gradually add the flour mixture and applesauce alternately to the sugar/butter/egg mix. Fold in the dried fruit and nuts.

Pour into a greased baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until you can insert a pick and it comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan.*

I hope you will try this recipe at home and enjoy it. It sure does sound delicious!

* recipe taken from “Scented Treasures, Aromatic Gifts From The Kitchen & Garden” by Stephanie Donaldson.

Edible Landscapes?

You know what edible means, and landscaping. So how do you combine the two? Why? We will give you some great ideas…come see…don’t forget to incorporate your tropical edibles too!

While many gardeners would like to grow their own fresh produce, not all have time or space for a separate food garden. I personally do not like or believe in large plot gardens. I feel they waste space and water.

If you plant “Edible Landscapes”, you will find that they do double duty. They produce food and make our yards attractive at the same time. An edible landscape is also convenient. On a rainy wet day, you don’t go out to a muddy garden, you pick your herbs right there at the kitchen door. While you are there pick a ripe tomato for your salad, after all, who says you can’t have a bush tomato in a container. How about some fragrant herbs just under your window, you can use them in so many things.

The concept of edible landscaping is not new. In Ancient Egyptian gardens, you would find fish ponds, flowers, grape arbors, fruit trees, and places to sit and enjoy the serenity. By the Renaissance, gardeners began to exclude edible plants from their gardens. They planted separate herb gardens, vegetable gardens, and orchards.

Edible landscaping had a new resurgence in popularity in the 1980s. Gardeners recognized that many edible plants are also beautiful, and they reintroduced them to the general landscape. Many using pots on patios, or small space gardening, which will be included in this series.

Let’s start right there. You may use any large container as long as it has (or you can make) a good drainage system in the bottom. I put a layer of broken clay pot pieces around the hole as an added measure to prevent it clogging. If you do not yet have a compost pile made, of wonderful soil you may buy organic soil in most nurseries or chain stores. This is soil that has not been chemically processed to remove living organisms. Which remember, work hand in hand with the organic gardener.

Place your plant or seeds into soil as directed, and make sure you don’t kill it…either by too much or not enough water and direct light. Soon you will have a fragrant, handy little herb, vegetable garden outside you door. They also bloom beautifully and the seeds can be stored for next year. Don’t forget to write that down in your Notebook.

Jill’s writing experience spans over 30 years. She has many Honorable Mentions, and awards for both her writing and photography, in her books published on Health, and Environment, to her work in periodicals and newspapers. Just a few of the online sites you can find her work would are: Gardenofgood.com GardenOfGoodThingsEzine ReallyFreeFreebies Newsletter EdibleLandscape.com HolisticHealthCorner.com NaturalHealthyLiving.com HealthyAlternatives/Lifetips.com Each site above has a newsletter you may subscribe to. Learn all you can about living healthier in an unhealthy world. Other sites to find her work include: TheToyBox.com, Epinions.com, Themestream.com, Suite101.com, BrightIdea.com, FitnessHeaven.com, RaineyDayCorner.com, WriteForCash.com, Instantagora.com, BriefMe.com, VinesNetwork.com, ShopOxy.com, WrittenByMe.com, HotRate.com , and many more. She is proud of her three children ages 6, 9, and 27. They’re environmentally conscious, healthy and happy. They all seem to be following in her footsteps too. Her children write about current issues, reviews, and life for kids. Their website is ChildrenWhoWrite.com She is a volunteer @ Magnolia Convalescent Manor and donates all unwanted and used items to churches, or other less privileged than herself.