Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Yellow Wood Sorrel

Yellow wood sorrel is a native North American plant (also found in Eurasia) which may grow either as an annual or as a perennial. This delicate seeming plant forms colonies which arise from slender but tough underground stems (rhizomes). The smooth, palmately compound leaves are divided into three heart-shaped leaflets, each leaflet having a center crease, from which the leaflets fold upward in half. The leaves are most often green, but may also be purplish or brownish red. Wood sorrel folds its leaves up at night and opens them again in the morning. It also folds its leaves when under stress, such as when growing in direct sun, or during storms. The mature plant may reach 6-15" in height.

How to grow
Wood sorrel prefers moist soil, and partial shade, but is also commonly found growing through the cracks in sidewalks.

Wood sorrel also contains rather high amounts of potassium oxalate and oxalic acid and should therefore be used in moderation, and avoided by people with kidney disease, kidney stones, rheumatoid arthritis, or gout. Medicinally, in moderate dosages, wood sorrel is cooling (refrigerant, febrifuge), diuretic, stomachic (soothing to the stomach, relieves indigestion), astringent, and catalytic. It's also attributed with blood cleansing properties and is sometimes taken by cancer patie

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Wishbone flower (Torenia fournieri)

Wishbone flower is a bushy annual that typically grows 6-12” tall and is noted for its ability to bloom well in shady conditions. Species plants feature two-lipped, tubular, trumpet-shaped, bicolor flowers with broadly 5-winged calyxes. Species flowers are pale violet with dark blue-purple lower lips and a yellow throat blotch. Cultivars expand the range of flower colors to include shades of burgundy, pink, rose, lavender and white. A pair of stamens unites at the anthers in a shape resembling the wishbone of a chicken, hence the common name. Toothed, oval, light green leaves (to 3” long). Genus honors Olof Toren, an 18th century Sweedish chaplain.

How to grow
Annual best grown in consistently moist, organically rich, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Although sometimes classified as a warm weather annual, this species of Torenia is not terribly fond of hot and humid summer weather. Given this they will bloom constantly from early summer until frost if deadheaded. Young plants may be pinched to promote compact, bushier growth. Container plants may be brought indoors for winter bloom. Hardiness is USDA Zones 6 - 9. Wishbone flower thrives in warm, humid climates. It is a tender annual that needs temperatures above 40°F (5°C). It does not tolerate frost. For the best effect, plant them close together, about 6 in (15 cm) apart. Sow the seed the soil, do not cover them. Germination in 7-10 days with temperature above 70°F.

When to grow
Start seed indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost date or sow seed directly in the garden just before last frost date. It is annual plant in tropic weather.

They make great plants in masses in borders and flower beds. It is also for window boxes, pots and hanging baskets as long as you don't allow them to dry out between waterings.