Plumeria Flowers In Chicago

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Plant Nutrients – Part 2 – Benefits of Nitrogen, Blood Meal and Potassium for Plumeria Plants and Plants in General

Nitrogen is an essential component of Chlorophyll, the green pigment in plant cells, which next to nitrogen also contains magnesium, carbon, oxygen and hydrogen. Chlorophyll is a vital catalyst in the production of carbohydrates by using the sun's energy in the process called Photosynthesis.

During Photosynthesis hydrogen is combined with carbon dioxide to form sugars and oxygen. The basic formula for Photosynthesis combines 6 molecules of carbon dioxide (CO2) and 6 molecules of water (H2O), interacts with each other in the presence of chlorophyll and sunlight, and converts them into 1 molecule of glucose (C6H12O6) and 6 molecules of oxygen (O2). A catalyst is defined as any substance which speeds up the rate of a chemical reaction without being chemically changed itself.

Nitrogen is also responsible for vegetative leafy growth and is taken up by plants either as nitrate or ammonium. Some plants, especially legumes, are able to absorb nitrogen from the atmosphere and transfer it to the soil.

Croton showing beautiful colors

Nitrogen deficiency manifests itself in stunt growth and pale green or yellow leaves. Older leaves, lower leaves, turn pale green or yellow first as the plant transports nitrogen from the older leaves to the younger ones.

Blood meal, an excellent source of nitrogen, can be added directly to the soil or diluted in water and applied as a liquid fertilizer. It may also be spread in granular form in garden areas to deter rabbits. Blood meal added to compost piles acts as a composting activator.

Red Caladium

Blood meal, or any fertilizer high in nitrogen, is not recommended to be used on established plumeria plants as it may cause a growth pattern characterized by increased leaf production and thin branches. When growing plumeria plants one wants flowers to develop. As discussed in Part One of Plant Nutrients, it was bone meal added to the soil that aided in the production of flowers. This is mentioned here because both, blood meal and bone meal, are approved as soil additives in certified organic production.

Fish emulsion, widely used as an organic fertilizer, is another good source of nitrogen. It is usually composed of 5% Nitrogen, 1% Phosphorus and 1% Potassium. In addition to these three macronutrients, fish emulsion also contains micronutrients and trace Minerals. Fish emulsion also makes a fast acting foliar fertilizer.

Tropical plants with large leaves, including Alocasia, Caladium, Calathea, Canna, Colocasia, Ginger, Heliconia and others, benefit from periodic applications of additional nitrogen using fish emulsion or blood meal.

Heliconia psittacorum 'Lady Di' grows well in pots as shown in this picture growing in Chicago, plant hardiness zone 5.

Leavy vegetables, such as arugula, lettuce and spinach and herbs, such as basil and parsley, also respond well to extra feedings of nitrogen.

Potassium, chemical symbol K (from the German word Kalium), is an important nutrient that assists the plant in regulating its cold and heat tolerance, insect and disease problems and drought tolerance.

Potassium also plays an important role in the water use of plants, called Osmoregulation. One of several functions of Osmoregulation includes the opening and closing of the Stomata, which affects the uptake of carbon dioxide and the temperature control through transpiration for the Photosynthesis process. Stomata are the minute pore openings underneath plant leaves that can open and close according to the metabolic needs of plants. 

Plumeria 'Kimo' flowering indoors in Chicago, plant hardiness zone 5.
Plumeria 'Kimo'
In addition, potassium regulates plant enzymes. It increases root growth and lowers respiration limiting the plant’s energy loss.

Potassium uptake is faster when the plant’s root system is in warm, moist and well aerated soil with a slightly acidic to neutral soil ph.

Potassium deficiency manifests itself in deformed, stunted or yellow leaves, weak stems and premature bud or fruit drop.

Plumeria Plants and plants in general need an adequate amount of potassium in order to flourish and develop their full growth and flower potential.

Plumeria cutting growing in Chicago, plant hardiness zone 5, with developing bud showing color.
Plumeria developing buds

When providing plants, including tropical and plumeria plants, with the three macronutrients nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, it is important to provide plants with the correct ratio according to the plant’s individual needs.

These are the important contributions that nitrogen, blood meal and potassium make in creating a beautiful and lush garden that every gardener can be proud to showcase privately and publicly.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Plant Nutrients – Part 1 – The Benefits of Bone Meal and Phosphorus for Plumeria Plants and Plants in General

Bone meal consists of ground up bones and is used as an organic fertilizer. Bone meal is an excellent source of slow release Phosphorus which is one of the three macronutrients. The other two are Nitrogen and Potassium. These plant nutrients are called macronutrients as plants need a higher percentage of them compared to other nutrients for their development and growth process.

Bone meal doesn't move well through the soil. Therefore it is best to add it at planting time by sprinkling it over and around the roots so that the plant nutrients will interact with the root
system immediately and be most beneficial to plant's overall development.

The ratio of the three macronutrients in bone meal is usually 4-14-0 meaning 4% Nitrogen, 14% Phosphorus and 0% Potassium. In addition, bone meal is also a good source of Calcium.

Phosphorus is essential for plants as it aids in root development, photosynthesis, energy transfer, cell division, flower production, transportation of plant nutrients and more. It combines with oxygen to form Phosphates.

The terms Phosphorus and Phosphate are used interchangeably.

Plumeria Plants supplemented with bone meal have been known to have an increased flower production per plant. More flowers enhance the plumeria plant's overall appearance and aesthetic quality. Some plumeria growers believe that fertilizers influence the color intensity and scent of some plumeria flowers. 
Plumeria 'Samoan Fluff'

One word of caution to gardeners who have dogs or other wildlife, such as raccoons, visit their gardens. Since bone meal is made from bones these animals are attracted to its scent. Gardeners need to be aware of this and watch for digging and other signs of destruction in their pots and in their gardens. Proper protective measures may be needed to save plumeria plants from these nosey critters.

Plant nutrients protect plants from a number of symptoms that negatively affect the healthy growth patterns of plants, including plumeria plants.

Phosphorus deficiency, for example, expresses itself in reduction of flower production, and in fruiting plants it results in less fruits.

Other signs of Phosphorus deficiency include older leaves showing a bluish coloration mixed with green, purple veins on the leaves or the entire leaf changes into a purple-like color, stunted growth and new stalks growing thin.

Calcium, another ingredient in bone meal, is called a secondary nutrient. Other secondary nutrients include Magnesium and Sulfur.

Calcium plays an important role in developing strong plants and strengthening cell walls.

Calcium deficiency manifests itself in local tissue necrosis, death of tissue, which eventually leads to stunted growth. Other signs of Calcium deficiency include necrotic leaf margins, curled leaves, demise of terminal buds and tips of the roots.

By applying bone meal to your plants, including plumeria plants, you ensure a steady release of Phosphorus over an extended period of time resulting in floriferous and thriving plants.

Colorful Plumeria 'Thai Rainbow'
Plumeria 'Thai Rainbow' © Bob Fisher

Part Two of Plant Nutrients focuses on the benefits of Nitrogen and Potassium for plants, including sensuously perfumed plumeria plants.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Plumeria Cuttings And Plumeria Plants - Choosing The Right Size Container

Today's topic is how to choose the right pot size for plumeria cuttings and plumeria plants both for aesthetic appearance as well as healthy growth.

    It is important to choose the right size of pot, container, when planting plumeria cuttings and plumeria plants. 

    It's best to center-focus on the cutting or plant itself to keep the aesthetic value.

    If a small plumeria cutting or plant is planted in too large a pot, it gets lost. If a large plumeria plant is placed in a small pot, the visual imbalance becomes the focal point. The combination appears out of balance to the eye.

    The budding and rooting plumeria cutting in the following picture is 12 inches tall and has been planted in one 6 inch pot. The cutting is in balance with the size of the pot.

    Developing buds on plumeria plant showing color.

    Small plumeria cuttings and plants which are planted in large containers seem to be lost and it can be potentially harmful to the root development of the cuttings or plants.

    This is a more important issue than the aesthetic value. Planting plumeria cuttings and plants in larger than needed containers may result in their demise due to stem rot as too much moisture is available over a prolonged period of time.

    The right proportional size pot or container per plumeria size allows for proper drying out of the planting medium compared to the moisture retention of extra planting medium of an oversized pot.

    Plumeria gardeners looking for advice on this issue need to understand that there are regional differences that need to be taken into consideration.

    For example, plumeria gardeners living in the tropics may suggest to plant plumeria cuttings and plants in large containers to allow for adequate root development. 

    This may be good advice in tropical climates, but it's not recommended that plumeria gardeners in temperate climates follow this advice. Temperate climates don't experience the same intensity of the sun, even temperatures and high humidity.

    When choosing the right size container for your plumeria cuttings and plumeria plants make sure it is in balance with the size of the cuttings or plants.

    Happy Growing,

    Bob Walsh