Curly aka Corkscrew Rush ( Juncus decipiens)

I’d never seen this plant before. I was wandering through HD looking for good loot in the garden section and there it was. I have it planted in the swale garden.

We are at the southern edge of where it will grow. It is rated for zones 4-8.

It is a bog plant, but will tolerate moist areas, which makes it perfect for Houston.

It wants sun to partial shade but it also listed as a good choice for shady areas on several gardening sites. This one is in light shade. It will grow to 12″ to 15″ tall.

This plant did not survive the summer in Houston. If the droughts don’t get it the heat does. I’ve tried them in several locations, sunny, shady, wet, damp and dry and it just can’t take the heat.

I’m told the best way to grow this in Houston is to put it in a pot, and put the pot about halfway down in a pond.  ( you want the water level about half way up the pot )

Urn Vine ( Dischidia rafflesiana )

Urn Vine aka Dischidia are epiphyte vines which live on trees in Southeast Asia. Many of them have a symbiotic relationship with ants. Some of the leaves form homes for the ants. You can see a large bubble like leaf in the photo. Roots form inside these areas and feed on the ant waste.

They can grow to be 16′ long. They usually grow on some other plant such as a tree.

They prefer bright indirect light, but will grow in low light.

Wrap the roots in sphagnum moss and mount as you might an air plant or orchid. Water them when the moss gets dry to the touch on the top.

Sparkler Grass aka minature Umbrella plant ( Cyperus alternifolius gracilis )

This is a smaller version of the traditional umbrella plant. It is in the papyrus family.

It is a bog plant. I have it in the swale garden. So it wants to be in wet or at the very least damp soil.

It has browned a bit over the winter here. I have not watered much in the cool weather. It could be that or it could be from the cooler weather I am not sure.

It will grow to about a foot and a half tall.

It wants full sun, but this one has light shade and has done well.

Cold is not a problem, we had many cold nights well below freezing last winter and it’s no better or worse than it was any other year.

It has less tendency to seed so it is not as likely to take over your garden as are other plants in this family. Notice there are no seeds at the top center of the umbrellas. The ones that are invasive are the ones with the tiny brown seed clusters onto of the umbrellas.

This plant has done well, stayed put, but filled out and required little from me.  Every spring I cut it to the ground as about half the stalks brown up and die each winter.

If you want an easy water plant consider this one.

Survives extreme heat and drought

Ming Aralias ( Polyscias )

Ming Aralias is a very delicate, oriental looking plant. It can grow to four or five feet or it can be trimmed and kept small like a bonsai.

They want bright light and high humidity. I’ve had them grow just fine in low light and drier conditions, but you ‘ll get faster, healthier growth if you have it near an east or north window.

These can be grown in bogs, so it is OK to sit the pot in a dish of water ( ~1″-2″ deep ) as you would for a bog plant. The problem with sitting a house plant in water is bacteria. If you have your plant in water it is imperative you keep the water fresh. Do not let this plant dry out.

I find they grow slowly at first and pick up speed once they get comfortable in your home. This is a very low maintenance plant.

More Information:
Polyscias – Ming Aralias

How to remove a bird from your home

In the old house when a bird flew inside you could chase the bird into a room with a broom. You could then close the door, open the windows and go have coffee. When your coffee was done the bird would have flown out one of the open windows.

This house has an open floor plan. Three of the rooms have 20′ ceilings. Most of the windows are fixed. So the old plan wouldn’t work.

To make things more complicated the cardinal’s mate sat outside the window chatting with him. So he wasn’t about to leave the window.

Sister sent the following helpful message “Get the cat a bigger ladder”. That wasn’t helpful. Fred had already fallen off the ladder twice. The cats have already blown this years vet budget.

When we coaxed the cardinal to a lower plant shelf, Fred climbed up the ladder on to the shelf and decided it was time for a nap. Kazoo hid through the whole ordeal. So much for the cats chasing the cardinal out of the house.

I was able to borrow a pool net from a neighbor and we caught the bird, tossed a towel in the net on top of the bird to keep the bird in the net till we moved him outside. We were then able to bring the cardinal outside and let him go, apparently unharmed.

Jasmine ( Jasmine officinale )

Jasmine needs to be in a south facing window where it will get lots of sun. If you live in a place where winter strikes you’ll find it is difficult to get this plant all the light it desires in the winter. It is happiest in a sunny, drafty window.

The flowers are heavily scented and there are almost always a couple in bloom. What is nice is that they don’t fill the house with the scent you must be up close to the flower to catch a whiff of the scent. Flowers are usually white, occasionally yellow.

Keep the soil moist watering this plant does not like to be dry.

More information:
Simple regimen keeps jasmine thriving

How to get a bird out of your house

Fred helping

In the old house when a bird flew inside you could chase the bird into a room with a broom. You could then close the door, open the windows and go have coffee. When your coffee was done the bird would have flown out one of the open windows.

This house has an open floor plan. Three of the rooms have 20′ ceilings. Most all of the windows are fixed. So the old plan wouldn’t work. The cardinal’s mate sat outside the window chatting with him. So he wasn’t about to leave the window willingly.

Sister suggested getting the cat a bigger ladder. Fred had already fallen off the ladder twice at this point, but when the bird flew to the lower plant shelf, Fred climbed up the ladder on to the shelf and decided it was time for a nap. Kazoo hid through the whole ordeal.

I was able to borrow a pool net from a neighbor and we caught the bird, tossed a dish towel in the net on top of the bird. She was able to bring the cardinal outside and let him go, apparently unharmed. No thanks to the cats.