Rafflesia Arnoldii

We previously wrote about Amorphophalius (the world’s tallest flower) but the Rafflesia Arnoldii aka The Corpse Flower takes the crown size. The large and rare blood-red Rafflesia Arnodii is the largest known flower on Earth. It can grow to be as large as 3 feet across and weigh up to 24 pounds! They are native to the rainforest climates and grown in Indonesia, Malaya, Borneo, Sumatra and the Philippines.

This large flower is more similar to a fungi growing by attaching itself to a host plant like a grape vine. It will embed itself and feed upon the hosts water supply and nutrients to grow to it’s massive size. It’s parasitic nature is what allows it to grow to such a huge state. Just like the simliar Amorphophalius, the Rafflesia Arnoldii emits a stink that smells of rotting flesh!
The corpse flower’s primary habitat is in danger in Borneo and Sumatra forests urging scientists to protect these flowers in nature. They are now being studied and observed more to figure out a way to preserve the species. Scientists are trying to find a way to recreate the natural habitat of the corpse flower in order to research and study it’s amazing composition and learn more. These flowers have medicinal purposes that have been known to help mothers recover quicker after giving birth.
The Rafflesia Arnoldii is truly an amazing plant and not just because of it’s size- it’s stunning appearance, rotten smell, and medicinal properties set it apart and that’ why it is crucial that scientist find a way to preserve this extraordinary gift of nature.
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Aloe
Some dogs could care less about plants, greens and grazing and then there are some who you could graze for hours. My dog is one of those grazers and he loves to chow down on all types of plants and flowers no matter what his diet has in it. I’ve learned to accept it and let him graze. I am cautious however on what he is eating and to be sure I know the local plants and flowers that are poisonous and toxic to him and maybe not to humans. Here are few plants and flowers that are harmful to dogs and other pets that can cause multiple symptoms from mild to severe depending on the plant and how much they ingest or come in contact with.

Aloe plant- Aloe is toxic to both dogs and cats. Ingesting it can cause Vomiting, depression, diarrhea, anorexia, tremors, change in urine color.

Apple – Apple plants are toxic to horses, cats and dogs. They are toxic specifically when wilting. The stems, leaves and seeds all contain cyanide which is highly toxic. Ingestion of any of these parts of the apple plant can cause difficulty breathing, brick red mucous membranes, dilated pupils, panting or even shock.

Calla Lily-Calla Lilies are toxic to dogs and cats. They ingestion can cause intense burning and irritation of the mouth, tongue and lips, excessive drooling can occur with difficulty swallowing.

Cherry plant- Just like the apple plant the cherry plant also contains cyanide and is toxic to horses, cats and dogs. The stems, leaves and seeds are all toxic during the wilting stage and cause the same reaction as the apple plant.

Tobacco plant- The tobacco plant is toxic to horses, cats and dogs. The symptoms of ingesting this plant can cause hyperexcitability followed by depression, vomiting, incoordination, paralysis or even death from the symptoms themselves or from too much of the plant.

Japanese Yew/Yew- The Japanese Yew is extremely toxic to animals including horses, cats and dogs. Ingestion can lead to sudden death or acute cardiac failure. Muscular tremors or seizures can be a sign that your animal has ingested this plant and you should seek help immediately.

To find out more flowers and plants that could be toxic to your pets, check out the ASPCA website for a complete list with hundreds of toxic flowers and plants.


Botanical Garden
Botanical gardens are a natural wonder in themselves. There are many around the world that promote the education of plants, flowers and gardening. Groups are centered around these gardens to promote healthy gardening for the environment, educational gardening programs and community around the the techniques and passion for plants and flowers. There are a few botanical gardens that we felt deserved to be named “the coolest” botanical gardens from around the world. Here are the picks from the
MyVirtualFlower girls:
Normandy, France
One of the most popular gardens in the world, the Claude Monet has been studied more than any other botanical garden in the world. The famous Monet water lilies can be found here. The Nympheas-filled pond are a sight that cannot be described but only painted or photographed it’s so marvelous. Artists come here to be inspired and motivated by the beauty. Giverny is where Monet lived for years up until he died in 1926.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Brooklyn, New York
This amazing garden was one of only a few in the world whom hosted the claim to fame with the stinkiest flower in existence- the Corpse Flower. We blogged about this flower back in May – you can read more about the decaying scent here. The Brooklyn Botanical also has an amazing event called the Cherry Esplanade. What seems like endless rows of cherry trees cover the grounds and looking up all you is a rapture of pink each spring.
Reid’s Palace
Madeira
In 1891, William Reid established these beautiful and breathtaking gardens of the Atlantic. A hotel for guests to stay sits atop a cliff overlooking the Bay of Funchal and the Atlantic ocean. The hotel is surrounded by 10 acres of semitropical jardims. Nothing can really describe the beauty of these gardens, check out the pictures at Reid’s Palace’s website- breathtaking.
Quebec, Canada
Over 185 acres are utilized in this garden with over 160,000 preserved live specimens. Many come from around the world to see the crowd pleasing monarch butterfly at the Jardin Botanique. This garden also houses The Dream Lake Garden. The Dream Lake Garden took 48 Chinese craftspeople six months to build this Ming-era like attraction. It is the largest garden of it’s type outside of Asia.

Organic Gardening

June 30, 2011

You’ve probably been hearing a lot about organic gardening lately. It’s becoming a very popular method of gardening, but to the novice, it can seem confusing and overwhelming. Organic gardening doesn’t have to be complicated and will make a huge difference in the way your plants and flowers grow, so we thought we would give you some easy organic gardening tips and tricks.

First things first, what should you grow? 

Red Mountain Sage-  This plant does very well in full sunlight and flowers beautifully. Its ideal if you’re starting your first organic garden.

American Agave- This plant has a beautiful structural shape and can grow pretty large. Its leaves do have sharp edges so handle it with care but it’s drought tolerant and really thrives in dry soil and full sun.

Scotch Bonnet- If you like hot peppers as much as I do, this pepper is an absolute necessity in your organic garden. It’s pretty spicy and comparable to a habanero pepper but does really well in full sun and drier soil. Always wear gloves when handling these peppers- I learned that the hard way.

You’ve got your plants, now how do you take care of them organically?

Watering- Collecting rainwater is one of the best organic gardening tips. Just put barrels or buckets out in the open when it rains and keep the collected water to use on your plants and flowers on days when it’s not raining. If you live in an area with little rainfall, I recommend using a watering can instead of a hose. Usually, when people use hoses to water their plants and flowers they end up wasting a lot of water by using a watering can, you can quench your plants thirst without wasting much.

Compost- Feed your plants with waste from your own kitchen and yard. You can buy compost, but you don’t really know what goes into it. Creating your own compost is really easy and I’ve found it meets my plants and flowers needs better than anything I’ve ever used.

Organic Pest Control- You can buy organic pest control and they seem to work pretty well but there are also lots recipes for homemade pest controls that work very well. Usually, these pest controls contain garlic, chili power or oil, fish, soap, vegetable oil, and other plants that have natural insecticides. You can find recipes for these all over the internet. I have had the best luck with is Garlic Chili spray. It’s powerful stuff.

Pay Attention- You can’t ignore your organic garden, it needs daily attention. It doesn’t have to be more than a few minutes each day, but you do need to put in that time to make sure it’s growing and thriving.

Anyone else have some good organic gardening tips?

Orchids

June 28, 2011

orchid
A Study in Nature, reported new evidence that Orchids may date back as far as 76 to 84 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous period far earlier than had ever been believed before. An extinct species of a stingless bee was found trapped in amber from about 15 million years ago. Pollen being carried by the bee was a type of orchid known as Meliorchis Caribea on its wings! This is the first fossil find for orchids in history. This finding means that orchids may have existed during the time of dinosaurs.
Orchids have been known as a rare and beautiful flower that people adorn and keep in their homes, offices and gardens. Here are some of the interesting and facts about these flowers:
  • Orchids can grow up to 20 meters high
  • Orchids can come in a rainbow of colors except blue
  • The name orchid comes from the Greek word orchis- which means testicle in Greek. They’re named this way due to their shape.
  • There are over 25,000 species in the world and every year new species are discovered- an average of 200 and 300 new ones annually.
  • Some flower and science experts believe that there are still another 5,000 species of orchids undiscovered
Do you find the newest orchid developments interesting? Tell us what you love most about orchids!

Listen, when you live in Texas like I do, you have to think about how to keep your garden blooming throughout the hot summer months especially during drought years when water restrictions apply. So, I wanted to share some of my top heat-resisting flower choices for those of you who may live in similar climates.

Spider Flower: This beautiful flower comes in pink, purple, and white. It looks delicates, but it can take the heat really well. Water it every few days and it will be good to go.

Spider Flower

 

California Poppy: California Poppies come in a variety of bright colors including red, pink, orange, yellow, and white. Not only as these flowers perfect for hot climates, they actually thrive in them! In fact, California Poppies can’t tolerate wet soil, which makes them an excellent flower to plant in hot dry climates.

California Poppy

 

Lantana: Oh yeah! This is my absolute favorite and I have loads of it all around my house. It comes in red, pink, orange, cream, white, purple, and bicolors. It does amazingly well in the hot hot heat of Texas and the only thing it can’t tolerate is temperatures below 60 Fahrenheit. It doesn’t get much better than this when talking about flowers who can handle the heat.

Lantana

What are your favorite hot weather flowers??

Smelly Flower

The Corpse Flower has been described as smelling like a rotting mammal or rotting flesh when its preparing to bloom. It blooms in Spring in its native habitat, the equatorial rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia.Gardeners, private collectors and horticulture historians alike plant this flower in their gardens and anticipate it’s bloom and it’s smell every year. The smell is intense and distinct but only lasts a day or two and then the flower withers away.

The Corpse Flower is a carrion flower also known as stinking flowers. Some other notable carrion flowers are the Rafflesia which emits an odor that resembles the smell of decaying meat. This pungent odor attracts a certain type of fly, which pollinates it. It has no roots, stems or visible leaves and can grow up to 3 feet across and weigh up to 15 lbs.

The source of these unique and foul smelling flowers is still not fully identified or known. It is believed to be due to the insects that pollinate them and the feeding habits of these insects- usually being feces, decaying matter or rotting flesh.

Who knew something so beautiful could be so disgusting? Do you have any stinky flowers in your garden?

Summer is a great time for gardeners as everything begins to grow rapidly and flourish. Keeping your flowers blooming this summer will depend on a delicate balance of feeding, watering and weeding. Here are some critical tips to keep your flowers and garden blooming all summer long.

Feeding

·        Make a plan that works for you and is safe for your plants.

·        Feeding with a slow release fertilizer will allow your flowers to get the nutrition they need, when they need it.

·        Use feeds that are high in nitrogen until midsummer and then use feeds that are high in potassium in late summer.

Watering

·        Regular watering is important to keep your garden looking fresh all summer long.

·        To save on water costs, you can collect rain water and use it to water the plants in your garden.

·        Watering your plants in the morning will allow them to absorb the water they need before the midday heat dries out the soil.

·        Avoiding nighttime watering will reduce the chances of fungus and slugs on your plants.

Weeding

·        The best time to weed is just after it rains.

·        To save time down the road, try to remove the weeds before the seedheads are developed.

Are there any tips you recommend for healthy summertime flowers??

Do you sit in an office all day working wishing you were sitting in a garden filled with beautiful flowers and plants? That would be a great place to work, not only inspiring but the rich aromas from the flowers are intoxicating and can brighten anyone’s day! Studies show that people’s overall well being is improved when they add some plants to their working spaces. To add a little botanical flair to your office space start by answering these questions to choose the right plants and flowers that will thrive in work space today.

1.      Space: How much desk, floor and window (if you have one) does your office have for a plant or flower to grow?

2.      Light source: How much light is in your office? Is it from a natural source, artificial only or a combination of both?

3.      Time: How much time can you devote weekly or monthly to care for your plants? Be sure to choose a plant that you have enough time to care for as some require more maintenance than others.

4.      Budget: How much can you spend on the plant or flowers? How long do they last for the price? Some might be more expensive but may last years in an indoor space such as an office.

5.      Research: Do your research about the plants that you are interested in keeping in your office before purchasing them and be sure it best for the environment that you will be able to provide it.

Adding plants to your work space is not only good for your soul but it’s good for your health too. Plants can remove particles in the air such as carbon dioxide and also help balance humidity levels. Creating a more inspirational working space by “greening” your office is a great way to increase your mood and improve productivity.

Dangerous Flowers

May 6, 2011

Sweet Pea

They may be beautiful, but the following flowers are also very poisonous. Don’t be fooled by beauty alone- sometimes the most beautiful things are also the most dangerous.

Azaleas– These flowers are some of the most common to find in front lawns and back yards across the country. Azaleas aren’t poisonous to humans, dogs, or cats but, they are extremely toxic to sheep, goats, and horses.

Blood-Flower– aka Mexican Butterfly Weed, are great butterfly food but should be handled very carefully by humans as a poisonous milky sap is released when leaves or stems are broken that can cause serious injury if it comes in contact with your eye.

Calla Lily– One of the most beautiful and most painted flowers, the Calla Lily is also extremely toxic and can cause severe reactions when ingested or even handled too frequently.

Lily of the Valley– The birth flower for the month of May, the Lily of the Valley is very beautiful but every part of it is poisonous. Especially toxic are the red berries that develop and are sometimes accidently ingested causing severe abdominal pain and reduced heart rate.

Sweet Pea– Don’t let it’s fragrant smell fool you, this flower is toxic and should not be consumed by anyone.

Plant them, use them for center-pieces, give them to your friends and family, but never, ever eat the flowers in this post. Are there any others you want to add to the list? Feel free to share them in the comments section.