Feb 27, 2011

Friend Me on Facebook!

To all my readers...

I am expanding my fan base, but I need your help! Please add me on Facebook today! www.facebook.com/eirinn.cunningham

Tell everyone you know about Houseplant Care Guides, especially if they love plants! Become my friend on Facebook to learn more about my interests! Email me any plant questions you have at: espressomocha86@hotmail.com! Need plant advice, but don't see your plant questions answered here?? Tell me about it! Send me a message... I'd love to hear from you!

Brightest Blessings,

Check out http://www.pagancenter.com/

Do you need more blogs to read?
Visit 'Domestic Witch': http://domesticwitch.blogspot.com/
Or try 'Raven's Voodoo Lounge': http://ravenzvoodoolounge.blogspot.com/
Read 'Living The Secret': http://kellyconcord.blogspot.com/

Feb 5, 2011

The Magick Plants of Westland

Here’s a bit about the Magickal plants in Westland – plants growing in our yard that I researched on the net because I’m a plant dork:

We have Bittersweet Nightshade or Climbing Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara) growing up the fence by our driveway. The plant is not related to Belladonna, but has the name ‘climbing’ nightshade (as opposed to ‘Deadly Nightshade’). Its berries ARE poisonous to humans and most animals, except birds. The plant is considered a weed, but I’m going to keep it – it’s not harmful to the touch. It is invasive, but not dangerous, and will not damage other plants. Just do not eat!

Good for protection and fairy magick. Releases painful or bitter memories. Typically needs something to climb up, like a pole, a fence or a trellis.

Solanum dulcamara, also known as bittersweet, bittersweet nightshade, bitter nightshade, blue bindweed, Amara Dulcis, climbing nightshade, fellenwort, felonwood, poisonberry, poisonflower, scarlet berry, snakeberry, trailing bittersweet, trailing nightshade, violet bloom, or woody nightshade, is a species of vine in the potato genus Solanum, family Solanaceae. It is native to Europe and Asia, and widely naturalized elsewhere, including North America, where it is an invasive problem weed. It occurs in a very wide range of habitats, from woodlands to scrubland, hedges and marshes. It is an invasive species in the Great Lakes region and was first spotted in 1843.

Bittersweet is a semi-woody herbaceous perennial vine, which scrambles over other plants, capable of reaching a height of 4 m where suitable support is available, but more often 1–2 meters high. The leaves are 4–12 cm long, roughly arrowhead-shaped, and often lobed at the base. The flowers are in loose clusters of 3–20, 1–1.5 cm across, star-shaped, with five purple petals and yellow stamens and style pointing forward. The fruit is an ovoid red berry about 1 cm long, soft and juicy, but edible for birds, which disperse the seeds widely.

Bittersweet is used in naturopathy and herbalism. Its main usage is for conditions that have an impact on the skin, mucous membrane and the membrane (synovial membrane) around the joints. Bittersweet is considered by some to be a herbal remedy for treating herpes and allergies.

Although fatal human poisonings are rare, several cases have been documented. The poison is believed to be solanine.

The name bittersweet is also used in some areas for some species in the genus Celastrus (elsewhere referred to as the staff vines, family Celastraceae), e.g. American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) and oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus).

Another Magick plant we have growing by the driveway is called Bishop’s Weed (Aegopodium podagraria), the variegated variety. Also known as Goutweed, Ground Elder, and Snow on the Mountain. It was thought by the Ancient Greeks to be a cure for gout: the Latin names, Aegopodium from the Greek translates as "goat little foot", referring to the fact that the plant was once thought to cure gout. And podagraria translates as "foot chain" for its leaf shape and again its supposed ability to treat gout.

Today, Snow on the Mountain is commonly used as a groundcover (although is considered rather unattractive these days), and is highly resistant to weed killers. Most people won’t plant it for fear it will get out of hand, and because of its reputation for being a weed. The variegated variety is used preferably over the green variety, which spreads faster and easier than its cousin. Prefers sunny conditions and moist soil.

See the entry for Bishop’s Weed in The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Magical Plants by Susan Gregg.

The Weed of Death

Currently, I live in Westland, Michigan with my boyfriend of 4 years, Kenny. We are both renting a place right now, and let me tell you – the property has some of its own ‘planty’ surprises! During the growing season, we are faced with the horror that is…unspeakable! I’m so distraught by its fury I can’t even talk about it!

Ok, there. I took a deep breath. It’s a truly nasty surprise noticeable in the late spring and all summer long: False Bindweed, also known as the Morning Glory Vine or Hedge Bindweed. Its scientific name is Calystegia spp.

This demon is an invasive weed that winds around other plant stems clockwise …and kills them. Anything you have growing nearby that it decides to attack will die, if the weed is given free reign and enough time to perform its hideous murder!

…Bushes are fair game. Small tress and mature and trees alike are fair game. Watch out! If you notice Bindweed near any plants you want to keep—take action now—before it’s too late!!

About Morning Glory Vine

This weedy perennial vine will twine all over the garden, covering your ornamental plants to the point of smothering them. It is usually introduced by seed or invasive roots from under the neighbor's fence. Its success as a weed lies in its thick fleshy roots which travel long distances just under the soil surface. Since morning glory is a perennial weed, control lies in removing the root system. Hand weeding can remove large quantities of roots, but any broken pieces are capable of sprouting new growth. Repeated, persistent digging as the new growth sprouts can deplete the food reserves. If chemical control is required, cut back the growth and apply the material to leaves or stems in as localized a fashion as possible.

The Weed From Hell
One man’s fight with The Weed of Death is revealed below. Eventually he was able to win the battle, even when it seemed the odds were most certainly against him! But it didn’t come without a cost…Time, lots and lots of time!

Gardening is close to impossible when it gets this well established, as the massive root system of the plant goes about 15 foot deep and can throw out endless meters of plant growth all summer. I've seen it scale to the top of a 5 foot fence in just three days. Of all the weeds I've had in my garden, this one is the weed from Hell.

The main problem with bindweed is the massive deep root network, so if you kill that the result should be good. Glyphosate weed killers (like roundup) are taken in to the roots of weeds and kill them, so I tried them first and discovered that they didn't have lasting effects on such a large plant. The quantity absorbed by the foliage isn't enough to kill the main root system, it's just too big, and increasing the concentration of glyphosate would cause the foliage to die faster and quickly cut off the absorption. What you need is slow poisoning, that way the plant and it's vast roots will absorb as much glyphosate as possible before it becomes terminal.

I collected the long strands of bindweed and wrapped them up in balls that I placed inside old jars and tin cans. These I filled with a glyphosate based weed killer, but I mixed it with about 1/3 more water than the instructions suggested, then I covered them over with plastic which I taped down firmly to keep animals and rain out. Do be aware that if these are knocked over and spilt on to plants you want they will die, so it's advisable to keep them at a distance and partly bury them in the ground for stability.

It takes time, but I could clearly see the level in the containers reducing as the plant absorbed it. This seemed to work faster in the hot weather as the plant would be drawing more water, and also not removing the new bindweed shoots as they emerge since their growing is causing the plant to soak up more weed killer, and also these shoots will be your next place to attach another can of solution when the old ones die off. For the first couple of months I saw no effect, although the bindweed had sucked in several pints of weed killer, but then it started to slow down, and after a while I noticed the new growth was an unhealthy yellow color with holes in the misshapen leaves. About four months after starting this the main root system must have collapsed as the plant just withered away, even the bindweed across the road died (must have been one huge plant under the garden/road). It did continue to sprout the very occasional sickly yellow shoot, but a quick spray of weed killer dealt with them nicely.

In the end, it took roughly 2-3 years to kill the entire root system! Calystegia has a huge root system; the real trick is to get to it early or it can be very hard to control. Digging up the weed, the masses of root were as big around as my thigh and traveling the entire length of the home’s cement foundation!

Methods of Control
1. Dig what you can, treat any new growth sprouting immediately with Roundup. Be consistent, complete removal may take a year or two.

2. Fill a small container with roundup. Cut a small hole or slit in the top and stick one of the vines in the container (through the hole in the top). Place the container in an area where it won't get knocked over or disturbed. Watch and wait for the plant to die. You may need to do this several times to kill it all. The idea is to let the plant soak up lots and lots of roundup (far more than what it would soak up from the leaves.) It is VERY important that the container of RU be in a safe spot where kids and animals won't get into it or knock it over.

3. Also another method is to hand pull all old growth you can find, then apply roundup to any new growth. (Just by spraying or painting this time) Newer growth is far more susceptible to herbicides.

Moving Outdoors/Repotting/Container Notes

Here are some helpful plant related notes that I wanted to share with everyone! Happy readings!

Moving Houseplants Outdoors

1. Summer is a good time to put plants outdoors…repotting is also a good idea at this time!

2. Straighten plants when repotting during the summer if they appear to be leaning

3. Use a plastic pot to protect more decorative plant pots (esp. plants that will be outdoors)

4. If you notice any pests, spray them with an insecticidal soap outdoors

5. Leave treated plants outdoors for at least 3 days before bringing inside again

6. Be sure to keep them away from other plants if they turn out to be afflicted

7. Put plants in a shady place, not full sun—the leaves will scorch if you aren’t careful!

Repotting Tips:

1. Spring is a great time for repotting, as is summertime

2. Breaking the pot is sometimes necessary (although this is rare), so don’t be afraid to do this if you absolutely have to!

3. Potsherds can be used for increasing drainage beneath a plant’s rootball

4. Be sure to wash away salt buildup occurring from fertilization. Flush the pot outdoors with lots of water whenever you see salt crystals on the soil surface

5. Loosen the roots before repotting so you can redirect them into the new soil. This step is extra, but very beneficial to a plant’s health over time.

6. Cut stubborn roots away – this will help with newer growth and encourage new roots to form

7. Layer soil around the root ball, and then water the plant

8. The soil will settle into the new pot on its own; don’t compress the soil by hand, or you will close air pockets within soil that let roots breathe!

Containers: Terracotta

1. Terracotta is a classic material for plant pots

2. Expensive terracotta is softer and more porous. It’s very fragile and will break if dropped. You don’t want an investment like this to break!

3. Water collects in the pores of the clay and freezes—then expands—after which point it will shatter. Protecting both the plant and pot from freezing temperatures is advisable!

4. Higher grade terracotta is much denser and more durable than lower grade

5. Apply a water sealer on the inside of the pot to help preserve it for many years

6. Use a plastic nursery container to place the plant in instead of putting it into the actual pot. This will help protect the pot over a long time period