By Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
Gardeners who don't know about the lotus vine flower are in for a pleasant surprise. Also known as parrot's beak, this lovely little plant is an excellent summer container filler and adaptive as a trailing or border plant. Read this article to learn more.
How to Graft Plants
The garden of any given house is often it’s crowning glory because it makes all the difference to its outward appearance. An untidy garden can make a home look sloppy and old, whereas a tidy and blooming garden can give your home a little life and beauty.
However, plants, shrubs, trees, and flowers can cost a lot of money today because they tend to be expensive. Even seeds are relatively expensive these days, and then there are the tools you need as well. There is a cheaper way of making your garden bloom though, and it comes from using what you already have by grafting plants.
Grafting a plant is literally joining two plant parts together. The plants fuse together and grow as one. It may sound simple but it is a rather tricky procedure to carry out and it does usually require some practice before you become good at it. However, before you actually try to do it, you should understand just why we graft plants in the first place.
1. Wait until early spring to collect the sections ready for grafting. The scion should always include at least three dormant leaf buds. It should also be of last year’s shoots, meaning that it came well last year. This will ensure that the process stands a chance. Place the scion in water until the rootstock has been readied for the process to begin.
2. Prepare a sterile and sharp knife in order to make the cut.
3. Cut the rootstock about 6” above the ground and make sure that the cut is clean. It should be cut upwards, meaning that there is a diagonal slope on the top of it, which will fit the scion perfectly.
4. Take the scion out of the water and place the two edges together until they fit perfectly. When they do, use rubber grafting tape to bind the two sections together and use grafting wax to seal the tape.
5. Check on the graft regularly to make sure that t is not diseased in any way. After a few weeks, the graft should begin to take, which you will be able to see from the level of fusion in the join. After six months, it should be fully fused and sprouting.
The grafting of the scion of the plant (complete with a dormant bud) with the rootstock is a common practice amongst experienced gardeners for a number of reasons, most of which are related to the effect that it has on the plant itself. All of the following are valid reasons:
• You can graft plants to either increase the growth of the existing plant or reduce the growth. It is actually an effective means of dwarfing a plant.
• It can enable you to propagate plants that you have but cannot find in seed form. You can encourage the growth of the plant by grafting year after year, whereas it may otherwise fail with no hope of coming back again.
• It can help prevent against disease in that t can help to build up a level of resistance against pest and existing disease that other plants may be subject to.
• It can also help to prevent the effects of the environment from damaging the plant because it does make the plants hardier.
There are also a variety of other reasons why grafting can be a good thing, including an increase of the incidence of pollination and to increase the variety of plants you have.
Like clockwork, with each new gardening season come to the latest plant introductions and the trendiest new cultivars. A few of these new varieties will become instant classics, while others will end up as no more than a distant memory by next July.
This year more than ever, fruit and vegetables seem to be front and center, with an increasing number of homeowners surrendering more space to food production, while apartment balconies that once dripped with morning glories are now covered in cucumber vines.
Although I do most of my plant buying at local or specialty nurseries, ever since Loblaw started its Garden Centre Recycled Pot Program in 2008 (it’s still the only national pot and flat recycling program in North America) I’ve made a point of supporting them. Loblaw shops the world for exciting new plants and products, and this year they may have hit the foodie jackpot. In addition to edibles like Haskap berries (Lonicera caerulea CVS.) and Pinot Meunier grapes, they’ve also introduced hardy figs and grafted tomatoes to Canadian gardeners for the first time.
Most of us are familiar with woody plants that have been grafted onto compatible rootstocks (roses, for instance), but vegetables can also be grafted in much the same way. As early as the 1920s, watermelons were grafted onto squash rootstock in Korea and Japan to combat soil-borne diseases. Since then, grafting vegetables—particularly those from the Solanaceae family (tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant)—has become common practice in the Far East, and more recently in Italy, Spain, and France.
The rootstock Loblaw used for its tomatoes is called SuperNatural and is derived from species tomatoes with the variety (or scion) tube-grafted on top. Why go to all that bother? Tomato cultivars grafted onto “wild” rootstock results in stronger plants that grow up to 1.8 meters tall and look more like dwarf fruit trees than tomato vines. Yields are significantly higher than with nongrafted plants and the harvest period is longer. The rootstock is resistant to nematodes and many soil-borne diseases, resulting in healthier vines. Grafted tomatoes stand up well to extremes of temperature, drought and saline soils, while nutrient and water uptake are enhanced, resulting in larger fruit. Advantages like these amount to nothing short of an agricultural breakthrough.
The grafted tomatoes I’ve planted this year include:
Diamond Frost® euphorbia. Photo by Proven Winners.
DIAMOND SERIES EUPHORBIA(Euphorbia hybrid)
Add a froth of starry white flowers to your bolder flowers and foliage to create an eye-catching combination this summer. Although annual euphorbia may look delicate, this hard-working plant is in fact drought tolerant, heat tolerant and deer resistant. It is also easy-care and blooms all season long without the need for deadheading or trimming. Smaller varieties are ideal for containers and baskets, while larger varieties make a handsome display in the landscape.
12 to 36 inches tall and wide
‘Mrs. Pollock’ pelargonium. Photo by Daryl Finn / Shutterstock.
There is a geranium to suit every color scheme and design, from classic “zonal" forms with an upright habit, to trailing “ivy" varieties multi-colored leaves or plain green striped flowers or solid colors. It’s no wonder then that geraniums are as popular today as they were decades ago. Whether you prefer to use them in containers, window boxes, hanging baskets, or in the garden border, all they ask is that you water and fertilize them occasionally and remove the spent blooms.
6 to 36 inches tall and 12 to 24 inches wide
‘Mrs. Pollock’ (variegated foliage, pictured), Americana Salmon, Blizzard® White (ivy geranium)
Luscious® Berry Blend™ lantana. Photo by Proven Winners.
Popular for placing at the edges of containers where they can mound gently over the sides, lantana are hard-working plants, blooming repeatedly throughout the summer with flat clusters of flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Drought tolerant and deer resistant, lantana are available in a wide range of colors including multi-colored forms, as well as some varieties with variegated foliage.
Remove the small pineapple-shaped seed heads when petals have fallen to encourage the next flush of flowers.
12 to 26 inches tall and 12 to 24 inches wide
Luscious® Berry Blend™ (pictured), Bandana® Cherry, Samantha
‘Paprika’ marigold. Photo by BMMir / Shutterstock.
The ever-popular French and African marigolds are, in fact, both native to Mexico, where they have been used for medicinal, ceremonial, and decorative purposes for centuries. Today, home gardeners enjoy them as easy-care bedding plants, equally at home in the vegetable garden as they are in containers or the landscape.
African marigolds (Tagetes erecta) are the tallest form, with double blooms up to 6 inches in diameter, and the shorter and smaller-flowered French marigolds (Tagetes patula) are enjoyed for their rich color blends. Finally, dainty signet marigolds (Tagetes tenuifolia) are perfect for edging and bloom the most prolifically.
Deadhead to encourage continued flowering and treat for slugs as needed.
6 to 36 inches tall and 6 to 24 inches wide
‘Paprika’ (signet, pictured), Gold Coins series (African), ‘Disco Queen’ (French)
Superbells® Double Chiffon calibrachoa. Photo by Proven Winners.
You can’t beat Calibrachoa, (commonly called Superbells® or Million Bells®) for sheer flower power. While each bell-shaped bloom is typically less than 1 inch in diameter, they are usually borne in abundance and cover the plant entirely. With so many colors to choose from and habits ranging from compact to more generous-sized varieties that spill over the edge of larger containers, gardeners can enjoy creating their perfect summer combination. Look for single and double flowered forms, the latter resembling miniature roses.
Rain resistant and self cleaning, just water regularly and fertilize to look their best.
3 to 12 inches tall and 10 to 30 inches wide
Superbells® Double Chiffon (pictured), Cruze Yellow Red Eye, Million Bells® Trailing Blue
Sundial moss rose. Photo by Bertrand Dumont / Millette Photomedia.
MOSS ROSE(Portulaca grandiflora or P. umbraticola)
Perfect for hot, dry locations, moss rose will thrive in tough conditions. Use these succulent beauties to trail from baskets or to act as a carpeting groundcover in the landscape where they will bloom nonstop without regular water. In ideal conditions, they may also set seed for the following year.
3 to 6 inches tall and 12 to 18 inches wide
Mojave® series, Sundial ‘Fuchsia’, Sundial ‘Yellow’
Sunsatia® Coconut nemesia. Photo by Proven Winners.
NEMESIA(Nemesia fruticans and hybrids)
With many new colors to choose from, including bi-colors and blends, nemesia are ideal for adding some fun to your late spring and early summer designs. Their gently mounding habit makes them a perfect candidate for the edges of containers and baskets, where they can be allowed to cascade.
The main requirement for success is good drainage, so nemesia generally do better in containers than garden beds. Otherwise, these are easy-care plants and do not need deadheading.
6 to 12 inches tall and 8 to 18 inches wide
Supertunia Vista® Bubblegum® petunia. Photo by Proven Winners.
Speckled or striped, pastel or jewel tones, compact or trailing, single flowers or fully double you will find plenty of petunias to suit every design criterion imaginable. Just add sun and water and you’ll have an abundant display.
To encourage continuous bloom, deadhead regularly (although many new varieties are self-cleaning) and remember to fertilize during the season. If plants begin to look leggy, a quick trim will have them bouncing back in no time.
Mature size will vary considerably with variety.
6 to 10 inches tall and 10 to 36 inches wide
Supertunia Vista® Bubblegum® (pictured), Crazytunia Moonstruck, Surfinia Giant Blue
‘Evolution’ mealycup sage. Photo by Proven Winners.
SALVIA, SAGE(Salvia spp. and hybrids)
In addition to the perennial and shrub forms of sage, there are several outstanding tender varieties that can be enjoyed as annuals in colder climates. All are deer resistant and drought tolerant once established, and reliably heat tolerant. These upright plants perform well in the landscape and containers.
Mealycup sage (S. farinacea) is typically blue and makes a statement in the landscape some newer hybrids are larger and especially attractive to hummingbirds, with flowers in shades of red, orange, and pink. For an electric glow, try pineapple sage (S. elegans) with its golden-yellow leaves and fire-engine red blooms in late summer or early fall. This grows to the size of a modest shrub in a single growing season. Finally, consider leaving room for scarlet sage (S. coccinea). A perennial in its native southern range, varieties are often available as annuals in cooler climates.
Size and habit will vary with species and variety.
12 to 48 inches tall and 6 to 36 inches wide
Superbena Royale® Romance verbena. Photo by Proven Winners.
This vigorous, deer-resistant, drought-tolerant annual will act both as a filler and a spiller in your containers, or it can be used to add a carpet of color to your landscape beds. Verbena typically re-blooms quickly, and newer varieties do not need to be deadheaded in order to encourage successive blooming.
Mature size will vary with variety.
3 to 12 inches tall and 12 to 36 inches wide
my flower is loosing its blooms is this normal what can i do to stop it
Such an amazing plant. Put it mostly in planters . Nice if you have something behind that it can climb as well as hang down. A crowd pleaser to be sure. Always comments and just wish the name of the plant was easier to remember.
I had this in a hanging pot on a shepherds hook next to my pond. Had several people walk in to my yard as they walked by the house to ask what it was!! it was beautiful
Fantastic trailing plant looks great nice color. do find it very hard to find in area of minnesota.
Found this plant at a zone 3 nursery. I live in zone 5. Many compliments on it. Planted it in the woil and trained it to climb up a post by the front door. Even got a compliment from the UPS man! Will seek it out again for 2011.
Planted in a hanging basket facing south. Cascaded and flowered beautifully.
I purchased this plant in late May and it July 7th and I still have no blooms. I have fertilized every 2 weeks and all I have is foliage. I know we have been having a cool spring summer so far but I should have some color by not.
This is a great plant for the hot humid climate. It keeps on blooming and is a colorful addition to a hanging basket. I was not shopping for my garden when I saw this plant and the nursary owner said it was impressive. She was correct and I love it
Lotus berthelotii or parrot’s beak is known for its ornamental lobster-claw like flowers, which also look like parrot’s beak. It makes for an adorable display of silver-gray leaves and contrasting shades of bright yellow, orange and red flowers. Since the year 1884, the plant started to disappear in Canary Island and Cape Verde Island and hence, deemed vulnerable and protected by law. It is a great plant that is low on maintenance and drought-resistant to some extent.
It is a vine that flowers. It is also a soft, silver plant that flowers. The flowering phase is quite short and depends heavily on temperature. The floral phase happens in spring and if the temperature fast forward to directly summer, it simply doesn’t happen. It blooms well in cool temperatures and spring. In warm climates, it is found as a perennial evergreen cover of 1” needle-like leaves arranged in whorls (3-7 leaves per whorl). It prefers sun and well-drained but moist soil. Rotting of roots is very common problem with parrot’s beak, which happens due to poor draining arrangement.
It is to be noted that the Lotus berthelotii or parrot’s beak is different and not to be confused with Nelumbo or water lily, a commonly known lotus.
How to Grow and Care for the Lotus Vine or Parrot’s Beak
While this plant is endangered, it can be cultivated indoors as an annual perennial plant, through seed germination and stem cutting. The flowering phase remains elusive, though.
With parrot-beak flowers and silvery foliage, it is one of the most beautiful and rarest flowers. It can go up to the height of either under 6 inches or up to 12 inches. About 2 feet wide, it is the best and go-to option for container gardening. Since it is a vine, it climbs to walls and fences and thus, can be used for privacy and to control soil erosion.
Based on the variety, the plants produce 1” bright orange or yellow flowers in late spring. Whenever the temperature begins to cool down after summer, the flowering phase begins again momentarily.
Out of all parrot’s beak types, Lotus Amazon Sunset is most adaptable and blooms easily with little care. Apart from this, Lotus maculates ‘Gold Flame’ is another variety of this plant that loves sun but can do with little shade too. It can also tolerate little neglect with regards to watering if you are growing the plant for its foliage. It can bear flowers with periodic watering and good care.
While the plants prefer sun, it is better to keep them in shade during extreme blistering sun. The regular watering pattern can help lotus vine to establish early.
People, who are planting lotus vine or parrot’s beak for the foliage, need to take care of their pruning and protection from bugs such as bugs, aphids and spider mites. Though, the plant can bear non-availability of water for some time, it grows better when watered regularly. A well-ventilated and bright area is recommended for their planting.
Stem-cutting is the ideal way to grow them during the summer. If you want to plant the flower in spring, snip a cut in late winters. For container gardening indoors, you need to plant the seed 8 to 10 weeks prior to the last frost. Keep the temperature of 60 to 70 degrees until germination that can take up to 20 days.