Plant Names and Classifications

Are you like me and didn’t know that common plant names are not the best way of identifying plants because a lot of the common names get confused or could overlap with others? I mean there are trees that are called oak trees that are not in the same group. It’s just a bunch of craziness and I just want to make it clear: up until this point I was entirely ignorant. I’m cool with it.

Now there is a science to plant classification and in that science there are two categories that we should be aware of and that is the plant taxonomy and plant systematic systems. We used to go by common names but it often became confusing  for a lot of people. Today we classify all plants based on their genetic and evolutionary characteristics, this means that the plants are grouped based on who their common ancestors are.

In horticulture they are primarily concerned with the last three levels of classification: Species, Genus and Family.

The species is the most basic level of classification and below this there can be many subspecies. These plants are usually the most closely related to one another and they can interbreed freely.

The Genus is a group of related species.

The Family is the general group of Genus who are all related by a common ancestor.

There are two important flowering plant families that my professor made sure that we covered. Frankly, I’ve already learned more than what I knew before and I am pleased, but we’re only part of the way through so I’ll continue to let you know what I know or I am learning.

First is the dicot family, which is a flowering family with two cotelydons (embrodic leaves). Just to let you know those cotelydons are inside and this is the largest of the two families. There are over 200,000 types and they are everywhere. They are roses, myrtle trees and so many more.

The second flowering family is the Monocot. They are grass like flowering plants that only have one cotelydon per seed. In agriculture the majority of biomass is created through monocots. You might find a monocot as wheat, rice, bamboo, sugar cane, forage grasses and many others. This family includes many bulb flowers like daffodils, lilies, and iris. They are not simply flowers and grasses but also tumeric, garlic, and asparagus.

Both are angiosperms and very popular. I really enjoy these classes and can’t wait to learn more. How many more things am I going to learn? Who knows but I can’t wait.

Although this information may not be useful right away I am certain being able to identify plant families will be useful in the future. These pictures are by a wonderful lady named Vivian Morris.

Plant names are identified not my their family but by the genus and species. Common names change by region and can be confusing because a rose is a rose and can be any different species of rose if you are looking for a specific type. Although common names can be misleading botanical names are not. The Botanic name is a Latin name accepted world wide.

For example: Magnolia alba or Ligustrum album.

Until next time…

Beneficial Grants: Texas Monarch Butterfly Grant

I live in Texas. Howdy.

I was looking into things that could boost my permaculture food forest without costing me any money. As I was looking through the many grants. It all started with the Monarch Butterfly Grant.

This is a very small personal grant that cannot exceed past 400 per person/group. This grant can only be used to purchase plants (which is all I want- free plant money). So there are some rules to this particular grant that go further than that: they have to be native to Texas. I want Butterflies

As I wait for winter to be over I plan. My close friend LD always has a beautiful yard and I want to shine too. This has inspired me to look for money to supply my hobbies.

Challenge accepted.

I want all four hundred of those dollars so that I can expand my already amazing dream permaculture food forest. So I looked into it.

Agarita is one of the native plants. I hadn’t thought about this plant before -primarily because I was so narrow minded on the idea of a permaculture food forest- but I love that we have so many milkweed plants in my pasture because it attracts the butterflies.

That’s also how I happened upon this grant because I decided I wanted to start a butterfly garden to attract even more. The agarita has the nectar that the butterflies crave. If I have this lovely blossoming flower it will give the mom butterflies plenty of food – these plants also are great for other pollinators like bees. Keep that in mind.

It is a shrub that is pointy. I like pointy shrubs because they make good barriers to keep animals away from my property. Sold. They are an evergreen, drought tolerant and they also produce tasty berries (and makes delicious jelly). Sounds like a win-win-win to me.

These are my end game goals guys. I want to be on this list.

Flame acanthus also known as the hummingbird bush. This is absolutely beautiful and another shrub. This is considered a ‘profuse’ bloomer. It allegedly is a huge bloomer and that is exciting because it attracts not just monarch butterflies but also hummingbirds and bees. (It’s also a deer resistant and drought tolerant)

Kidneywood is so beautiful. I had no idea, they are allegedly really fragrant and attract bees and butterflies. They have many branches and they can get up to be 12 feet tall. That is amazing because it is also drought tolerant and can survive cold and heat. (Clay soil is acceptable here). I am digging it. Sounds like it will be a great place for butterflies to settle in and eat some nectar.

Cone Flower is something we already have but would love to have it planted everywhere. Who knew that it was a native Texas plant? Now I know and you do too. This is a perennial and has beneficial properties which I will probably go over at a later time. They bloom from April until September so this will give my early pollinators a snack before the rest bloom in May or June.

The application is online and the application and process seems very easy.

They say purple cone flower can be aggressive- I sure hope so. So keep that in mind.

Cenizo is just a cool name to have. If I get another pet (fingers crossed I don’t but if I do) I am going to name it Cenizo. Regardless, it is made for our zone. It flowers and can take the heat but it does need to be watered. They can get to be up to 8 feet tall. Sounds live privacy fence material to me.

Cenizo goes by another name Texas Sage. Amazingly enough I already have a couple growing. I had no idea. Also this plant does not appreciate heavy pruning- I’ll have to keep that in mind.

The fragrant or pink mimosa is another thorny shrub great for deer resistance and a nice barrier around my property (I hear it smells good too). Another early bloomer but it ends earlier too (March to July). The flowers are lovely and I would love to add them to my butterfly garden (or barrier I haven’t decided). Here is even more Information.

They will check up on us and I can’t wait. This adventure will be really exciting. I can’t wait to start.

Texas Lantana is something I already have growing and they are amazing. I kind of want more of them because they make a beautiful groundcover. All parts of this plant are poisonous and it is considered deer resistant.

Lantanas are perennial shrubs that can grow 2 to 4 foot tall. Wow, they just don’t seem to be scrubbing out for me. They’re just creeping across the ground. That is strange maybe next year they will perk up, regardless I would love to have more. One more link: Texas Lantana. Just in case you’re considering it. It is really beautiful.

Last but not least is Salvia texana and I want this one. If I got that grant I would definitely get this plant. This is a perennial herb and it grows to be up to 2 feet tall. It is drought tolerant and does well in clay or rocky soil (bonus i won’t need to modify the soil I have). Salvias are a perennial flower and have more than 75 species including autumn sage. That is something we already have in honor of my eldest child: Autumn Sage. This is a rabbit hole I’ll have to go down another time, but every new flower or sage that I have gets me more excited.

I have murdered lavender every single year I’ve tried it but look at her growing it like it’s nothing. I am so jealous of her naturally green thumb.

I will, of course, get more milkweed but that will place where where I want them primarily and have a large area in the middle of the garden. That sounds absolutely beautiful.

Can’t wait and I hope I get it, but I already have some of these plants. The milkweed does grow naturally and I want to entice Monarch butterflies. I want them to pollinate all of my fruit trees and attract all of the bees. I understand the importance of planting native plants and I can’t wait to get started.

I will share more grants as I come across more information.

Ginger in Pots

I just began growing a sprouted ginger in a pot yesterday. This morning I was scrolling through my Facebook groups and there it was: a sign from the universe.

STORY TIME: We had this green shoot come off a piece of ginger I had lost in the back of my spices. I hate forgetting but sometimes, I just buy more. This time it came with a prize: a little baby green shoot. I thought, oh no, it’s winter and you can’t plant new plants outside – so I just potted it and put a little bit of hope into it. I said a lot of beautiful things to it in hopes it would inspire the ginger to grow like crazy.

Photo credit to Ronel Bey

Then the universe gifted me with the answer to the question: can you grow ginger in a pot? I had wondered when I potted the ginger, but I didn’t feel the need to research because this was the baby sprouts only chance.It was magic everyone, I just potted this yesterday and now I was seeing it in a Facebook group. Is this what fate feels like? I am so excited.

They posted the answer with easy to go to links. I followed those links because I just tried this yesterday.

Epic Gardening informed me that if you look for ginger at the store (to grow) you should look for eyes like you do potatoes. Also, the larger your ginger is determines how much we’ll get. Ginger grows faster and you’ll get more ginger when you pick larger pieces of ginger. This is because they’ll have more sprouts and that will lead to more shoots and more roots.

Ronel Bey is so amazing he has all of this ginger. I am impressed. I want to grow ginger now too.

He says that you need a shallow pot with good drainage. Now that I am seeing what he is doing: maybe I’ll repot mine. He says I should just barely cover it up. I will have to pull my ginger closer to the surface, and I should just give them enough water to tell them to grow but be sure not to over water the ginger.

They enjoy heat, humidity and water. He gave use some tips to look for as our ginger grows, which i found helpful you might too: Browning tips means your ginger needs water. Yellow leaves means your, nutrient loving, plant needs some nutrients. Give them the fertilizer they will thank you for it later.

Ginger can always produce new ginger was pretty cool too. You harvest at the end and they can be dry stored for a while. I like that because I enjoy using ginger in my cooking but sometimes I don’t have a recipe to require it.

My shoot of ginger that I am so pleased with

You should always look for multiple sources… So, I went and clicked a suggested video. 5 ways to get tons of ginger (Top Tips) is where I am going, he’s Australian which is appealing because I love the accent. That distracted me for the entire video and I can’t wait to try growing them outside next year.

It was not useful for containers, but it will probably be useful in the Spring. I can’t wait to get it started and he has such a lovely accent. His tips have also helped me before which made it a lot easier for me to consider his advice.

I love international channels because they place importance on different things. This YouTube channel Everyday simple health tips has a lot of useful information and this is specifically about growing ginger in containers.

Another Ronel Bey picture, I do not have my own pictures of a successful harvest yet so I must live through others.

He suggests that I dry my ginger out 10 to 20 hours before planting, which is good because my ginger was super dry. It probably was out longer than 20 hours, but we’ll see how it goes.

He also shows himself planting it not far from the top of the soil. I really love it when multiple sources use the same information, it shows that it is a common tip and will most likely be beneficial.

We should see a sprout in 10 to 15 days. After 6 months we should be ready to harvest the ginger. I like the time line in the video so that I know when to give up on this plant. The easier for me to understand the more likely I am to return.

We are going to see how this adventure works out. I will do more research and find out what I can, but I am excited to have a baby ginger sprout.

It is now snug as a bug in a rug only a few inches from the top of the soil.
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