The Chinese Money Tree: Luck be a Tree Tonight

The Chinese money tree is a succulent ornamental houseplant that is said to bring luck to its recipient. Chinese money trees are aesthetically pleasing and low maintenance trees ideally suited for homes and offices.  Many people who decorate in the Feng Shui manner tend to incorporate this plant in their designs because of the five lobed leaves.  A Chinese money tree that has leaves in clusters of seven is considered especially lucky.  Another benefit of the plant for the busy office executive is that its leaves are edible.  No longer is time a reason to skip a meal.  Just reach over and grab a leaf!

Money Tree
NYC Money Trees-A Great Plant of All Seasons!

History

The Chinese have always believed strongly in the usefulness of lucky charms or symbols.  The Chinese Money tree is one of these symbols of luck.  Several stories tell the tale of origin of this tree’s symbolism.  One tale tells of a sculptor who placed fake money on a tree in order to trick villagers into cutting it down for him.   However, the tree was soon revered by the villagers as sacred.  It was believed that cutting it down would lead to their doom.  When the sculptor attempted to cut it down, the villagers paid him not to harm the tree.  Another story tells of an elderly man who gave a peasant a purported special seed.  The man told the farmer to plant the seed and water it daily with beads of his own sweat until it sprouted.  Once the seed sprouted the fledgling tree required drops of the farmer’s blood for survival.  The peasant did as he was instructed and the resulting plant grew up to be a “money tree”.  The peasant found that by shaking the tree, coins would fall to the ground.  Repeated harvests led to the peasant becoming rich.  The tree became a source of perpetual wealth.  The story can be taken literally.  However, today it is taken to mean that to become rich, it must be through hard work and one’s own sweat and blood.  The Money tree is a popular gift during the Chinese New Year.

Tree Care

1) Water:  Chinese money trees aren’t water hogs.  Typically they require a light watering once a week.  Feel the soil, if it is dry, time to water.  Do not spray mist.

2) Light: A young tree should not be subjected to direct sunlight.  Indirect sunlight for 4 hours a day is sufficient.  Mature plants can tolerate direct sun but prefer indirect.

3) Temperature: Chinese money tree grows well in typical indoor temperatures (60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit).

4) Pruning:  Remove any damaged or dead leaves regularly thereby promoting new and healthy growth.

5) Fertilizer: Like any houseplant, a dose of fertilizer now on occasion is beneficial.  Be careful not to over fertilize.  Better to not fertilize rather than fertilize too much.

6) Repotting: The container of the money tree should not be undersized.  Typically every couple of years it’s time to repot the tree into a larger pot.  Make sure there are adequate drainage holes.  Inability to drain could lead to root rot.

This scribe is brought to you by Starbright Floral Design, “The Official Florist of the City that Never Sleeps”.  Along the way we try to find and write about the fun side of flowers.  Starbright delivers flowers all over the world for the endless romantics everywhere.

Starbright Floral Design is the “Official Florist of Romance” and most of the time we deliver flowers, love, passion and hope everywhere in Manhattan and worldwide.

Give us a call, visit our website or pop on in!  We would love to meet you….

Passionately yours,

The Official Florist

Starbright Floral Design

Located in the heart of New York City’s Historic Flower District

150 West 28th Street, Studio 201.

T. 800.520. 8999

Web: www. starflor.com

E-commerce portal: www.starbrightnyc.com

The Peace Lilly – Simple Care / Ideal Plant

What’s in a Name

Being of Greek descent I like to relate everything back to the birthplace of civilization, Greece.  With most flowers/plants there is an interesting story rooted in Greek mythology or Greek history giving the plant its name.  The Peace Lily, I would expect, would be no different.  Perhaps its name derived from their use to adorn an Olympic event.  Or perhaps the plant was given as a gift of appreciation to the great Alexander as he heroically brought civilization to the lands of savages.    Sadly I was disappointed to find that its name is nothing more than a reflection of its appearance. The white spathe represents a raised white flag of surrender.  This plant’s name is not rooted in Greek history but that of the French.

Watering

The peace lily belongs to the Spathiphyllum family.  Its flowers may be white or yellow with long bright green leaves. This plant is at peace when it is watered regularly.  Typically two or three times a week is sufficient.  Check the soil and make sure its moist.  If its dry, or the leaves are wilting or browning its been too long between watering.  In addition to regular watering, this plant likes its leaves misted.  The misting helps prevent red spider mite infestation.  If you see tiny spider webs treat the leaves with alcohol and spray with an insecticidal soap.

CAUTION FOR NYC RESIDENTS and others with chlorinated water supplies.   This plant is very sensitive to chlorinated water.  Either water with distilled water (unlikely) or let the tap water sit overnight thereby dissipating the chlorine.

Sunlight

One reason why this plant is so well equipped for office life is that it is not a sunbather.  The plant prefers natural filtered light.  Exposing the plant to direct sunlight will brown the leaves and create problems.

Ancillary Care

The roots of a Peace Lily like to be tightly confined but will normally overfill their initial pot within 1 year.  However, they do not usually require a pot larger than 10 inches.  Although the plant is simple to care for, it still needs to be fertilized occasionally. However, be sure that the fertilizer is not too strong or the leaves will brown and the root hairs will be killed.  Err on the side of a milder mix to be safe.  Rule of a green thumb is a fertilizer mix of 20-20-20.

If your plant was beautiful and healthy when purchased and you’ve maintained it as discussed herein, but it doesn’t bloom or has deformed shaped leaves you need to show some patience.  It is possible it was purchased from a discount retailer who artificially induced the plant into bloom for sale.  Your plant is simply said a drug addict.  It is looking for a dose of the hormone gibberellic acid.  Don’t be an enabler.  Let it beat the habit with your love and care and eventually it will live out a normal cycle.  The lesson here is to purchase your plants from a respectable retailer such as Starbright.

We highly recommend the Peace Lily for a variety of uses:

It is a great plant to send someone as a gift (personal or corporate).

We use them to decorate venues for events (plant rental).

We offer weekly maintenance on plants for offices and we take care of many Peace Lilies throughout New York City.

These tips are brought to you by The Official Florist.  The Official Florist is the blogging arm of Starbright Floral Design.  We are a full-service corporate and retail florist located in the heart of New York City’s Historic Flower District.  We are at 150 West 28th Street (Studio 201).  To learn more about our organization and about the type of work that we do, please  visit our website at www.starflor.com.  You may also order a gift by visiting our e-portal at www.starbrightnyc.com. Starbright is open seven days a week and we deliver flowers and other gifts in Manhattan and worldwide.  We invite you to give us a call or visit our website.

Thank you for visiting our blog.  Always “at your service”,

The Official Florist – Starbright Floral Design

“The Official Florist of the City that Never Sleeps”

t.800.520.8999

starflor.com

 

Amaryllis – Our Plant Care Series Continues

The Glorious Amaryllis
A bloom with ties to Greek Mythology...

Amaryllis-Beauty without the Beast of Burdensome Care

The Amaryllis, which features large, gorgeous trumpet-like flowers, is a popular gift come the wintertime.  Did you know the Greek mythological tale from which it gets its name?

Amaryllis was a shepherdess who loved a conceited shepherd. The shepherd, presumably a part-time botanist, said he would only love her if she created a flower.  Ingenuity being one of the many admirable qualities of Greeks, she stabbed herself in the heart in order to create a beautiful red blossom.

If you received an Amaryllis plant at any time this fall or winter,  its blooms have probably been open for a few weeks.  Generally they will bloom from 7-10 weeks.  To prolong the life of the bloom, keep the plant in a shaded cool room (65 F).   Keeping a blooming amaryllis in a bright room is not the best environment.  Sunlight and excessive warmth will cause the bloom to wither.  The plant loves moisture so keep the soil wet, but not over-watered.

With proper care, this gift is a gift that will keep on giving.  The bulb will flower again for years to come and each time it will bring a sense of excitement and accomplishment.  Regardless of the variety, from various shades of red, white, salmon, and pink, these flowers deserve the limited effort necessary to bring them back to bloom.  Of all flowering bulbs (tulips, hyacinth, etc), amaryllis is the easiest to bring to bloom over and over again.

After-Bloom Care

After the amaryllis has stopped flowering, unlike those box of chocolates, this gift can be brought back to enjoy again.  After flowering, cut the old flowers from the stem just in back of the bloom, removing the green ‘lump’ in back of the blossom, and the thin stem connecting the bloom to the main flower stem.  When the stem starts to sag and turn yellow, cut it back to the top of the bulb.

 
Continue to water and fertilize as with any plant all summer, or for at least 5-6 months, allowing the leaves to fully develop and grow. When the leaves begin to yellow, which normally occurs in the early fall, cut the leaves back to about 2 inches from the top of the bulb.

 
Put the potted amaryllis in a cool (55 degrees F), dimly-lit place such as a cellar for 6-8 weeks.   If storing in a refrigerator, do not store amaryllis with apples.  The apples give off ethylene gasses which will sterilize the bulbs and prevent future blooms.
After 6 weeks you should water the potted bulb ONCE thoroughly, from top and bottom of the pot and place in a normal indoor temperature.  Do not water regularly until new green growth appears at the top of the neck. If the soil dries out before that time, water no more than once per week.  Excessive watering will rot the bulb and prevent its bloom.   Typically the bulbs will re-bloom in 8 weeks.

Repeat these instructions and enjoy the amaryllis year after year…

These tips are brought to you by The Official Florist.  The Official Florist is the blogging arm of Starbright Floral Design.  We are a full-service corporate and retail florist located in the heart of New York City’s Historic Flower District.  We are at 150 West 28th Street (Studio 201).  To learn more about our organization and about the type of work that we do, please  visit our website at www.starflor.com.  You may also order a gift by visiting our e-portal at www.starbrightnyc.com. Starbright is open seven days a week and we deliver flowers and other gifts in Manhattan and worldwide.  We invite you to give us a call or visit our website.

Thank you for visiting our blog.  Always “at your service”,

The Official Florist – Starbright Floral Design

“The Official Florist of the City that Never Sleeps”

t.800.520.8999

starflor.com

Plant Care Series – Your Yucca Plant

Here we are again, this time we will talk about a great houseplant.  The yucca.  It is a lush green plant that generally grows on a bark.  It is found outdoors in the Southern California type of climates but is also a great houseplant pretty much in any climate or environment.

The Yucca is a very easy plant to take care of and you should give it with confidence even to those that do not have much of a green thumb.  It will thrive in almost any office environment, home or apartment.  Here are a few simple tips that you should know about the plant you have or that you are thinking of buying:

It loves the sun!  A yucca will thrive in direct sunlight. The sun promotes the growth of the plant.  By its very nature the Yucca is a slow growing plant.  In a not-well-lit area the plant will remain green and it will not lose it lushness.  However, it will not grow much at all.  If you want to see your plant grow, give it sun!

If you can, take your plant out of doors in the summertime.  Leave it in a back porch, a balcony or even a fire escape.  If you cannot do this, the plant will be fine.  But it does love basking in the sun.  By the same token, because the Yucca recognizes the seasons, if at all possible, give it a chillier than room temperature environment in the wintertime.  By no means am I talking about freezing!

Most people kill their houseplants by over-watering!  Do not bother your plant every five  minutes with water and nutrients!  The top layer of the soil must be completely dry before you add water.

When you do water the plant, pour the water slowly so that it does not drain straight through the pot.  You want the moisture to seep into the soil and become very moist.  So watering your Yucca is a slow process.  Stop watering when your plant’s soil cannot absorb any more water and drops of water start coming out the bottom drain of your pot.

When you have watered your plant, leave it alone until the top half inch is granular.  How long this will take and with what frequency your plant will need to be watered depends on your environment.  In dry/warm rooms the plant will need to be watered more often.

Transplanting your Yucca (from the greenhouse or florist’s plastic pot) into a decorative pot.  Because the Yucca tends to be top-heavy (do to its leaf structure), you need to maintain a low center of gravity so that the plant does not tip over.  To accomplish this, you will need to select a heavy clay pot or a ceramic pot.

Next, make sure  your pot has good drainage.  The bottom layer of the pot should be either broken clay fragments or about two inches of gravel.  This will permit the excess water to run through.  It is also a good practice to put a screen above the gravel and below the  soil.  This will ensure that the  soil and the stones do not become one (and potentially a cement mixture!).

That’s about it for your Yucca!  Sit back and enjoy!

A Word About Starbright Floral Design: Starbright is a full-service florist and floral delivery service.  We are located on 28th Street in Manhattan (between 6th and 7th Avenues).  Our studio is on the Second Floor at 150 West 28th Street.  Besides offering worldwide delivery of flowers, plants and all types of related gifts; we are also a premiere florist for events, corporate accounts and weekly flowers.  Users of CitySearch.com voted Starbright the Best Florist in Manhattan for 2009 and The Knot selected us as the Wedding Florist in Manhattan too!  To learn more about us, the type of work that we do and investigate your inspirations, we invite you to visit our website at www.starflor.com.  See you there!

Areca Palm – How to Take Care of your Areca Palm

Welcome to the first entry of our new series on  taking care of your plants.  So often we want to have  some live greenery in our homes and all to often we are intimidated by the care requirements that a plant may have.  How many times have we said to ourselves, I can’t have it because around me it will die? Or the classic: “I don’t have a green thumb”!  Some people (I am sure you have heard) play classical music to their plants, others talk to them!  While I will never dispute the benefits of talking to a plant, I can assure you that making sure that your plant is in an environment that it is comfortable in, is far more important than conversation or musical genre!

In this and all entries that follow, we will offer simple no-nonsense easy to understand instructions.  We should not be scared of the care that plants require  and in fact, they don’t require that much care.   Today we introduce you to the Areca Palm!

This Areca Palm plant is about seven feet tall - Brought to you by Starbright Floral Design

Areca palms can live indoors quite comfortably.  They are tropical plants and they would thrive in that type of climate.  Generally in a bright, sunny airy room that you are comfortable in (room temperature, with no extremes) they become well acclimated.  Here are some basic care instructions for your plant:

  • Select a sunny location.   It is best to have the plant near a Southern or Western facing window.
  • Water the plant about once every ten to fifteen days.  If the soil feels dry and granular on the top layer it is time to water your plant.
  • When you water your plant, pour the water in slowly so  that the moisture is absorbed by the soil, rather  than running through the plant.
  • Do not water your plant too often or too much.  Most plants do not like living in a moisture  infested swamp.
  • Too much standing water attracts bugs!
  • Feed about every one or two months with your choice of manufacturer’s indoor plant food.  Follow instructions on the bottle / box.
  • Avoid extreme temperature fluctuations.  Do not expose the plant to drafts by doors that open and close to the freezing cold or scorching heat.
  • Keep the plant away from  the direct influence of a radiator (it will dry the soil and make the foliage crisp).

Areca palms can be purchased from small table top plants (12 inches tall) to really tall floor plants that are over nine feet in height.  The average is between four and six feet.  If you have any questions on how to take care of your plant or on which plant is best for you, please feel free to reach out to me at nic@starflor.com.  You may also visit our website at www.starflor.com.  You can also email us a photo of your Areca for more thoughts on how to take care of your plant and correct a certain situation.

Lastly, don’t forget that Areca Palms make great gifts for a home or an office.  In the right space it will live forever and you will be remembered every time the person receiving your gift looks at its luscious green fronds!

About Starbright Floral Design: Starbright is a full service florist located in the heart of New York City’s historic flower district on 28th Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues.  We service all hotels, event venues in the city as well as assisting with sending floral and plant gifts worldwide.  We can be reached at www.starflor.com, by email at cs@starflor.com or by phone at 1-800-520-8999.

For the Orchid Enthusiast…

A double stemmed purple phaleonopsis orchid

Orchids give us so much majesty and beauty that they sometimes are intimidating and we feel that we cannot take proper care of them, or that we do not have a “green enough thumb” to be able to care for an orchid.  We shy away from the most majestic flowering plant simply because we do not feel competent or capable of caring for it.   Well for all the glory that orchids give, they do not ask for very much in return.  Here is a primer on orchids to help you over the initial fear…

FIRST – Come to Starbright (or any other reputable florist in your area) and purchase a Phaleonopsis orchid plant.  They come in a variety of colors but the most basic white or pink will do.  Remember that you are not buying this orchid as an expert or as a connoisseur, but rather as a novice trying to learn and to gain confidence that the plant can actually survive around YOU!

When you go home, place your orchid plant in a brightly lit room, but away from direct sunlight.  The orchid loves to bask in the sun but the more sun you give it the faster the blooms will open and eventually lose their petals.  You want a room that has sunlight but where the rays of the sun never hit directly on the plant.  Room temperature is fine.  In most cases if you are comfortable so is your plant.  This holds true for ANY plant (for the most part).   Also try to keep you plant away from sudden drafts.  A burst of cold air or hot air will certainly not help the orchid at all.

So far it is pretty simple, right?

Now make sure (at least for your first orchid) that you have a pot with good drainage.  Most orchids (phaleonopsis for certain) do not live in a swamp and if the water sits in the pot and does not drain, you are killing your plant.   So make sure that your pot allows excess moisture to escape.

Lastly – do not bother your plant.  The less you do for your orchid the more it will give back.  This is because there is not much that you can really do to care for the plant and in reality the plant requires very little care.  Water is about the only thing that it needs.

My advice to folks is instead of water; give your orchid ice cubes.  That is right – ICE CUBES.  Why?  Well for one, because when ice melts it becomes water.  It is a slow watering process because the ice melts slowly and it allows for the roots of the orchid to drink the water as opposed to the water running through the plant.  You also do not run the risk of the water ever building that swamp I mentioned earlier at the bottom of the pot.  So your orchid will get the water it needs and it will never be too much.  In most cases if the environment is not too hot or too dry, a handful of ice cubes a week will do.

Eventually the blooms on the plant will begin to wilt.  As they do, clip them off because they are unsightly.  As time goes on all the blooms will have opened and they will all have wilted. Eventually there will be nothing left but a bare stem.  Depending on what stage you had purchased your orchid in (how many blooms were open already, etc), this process should take no less than three weeks and in many cases an orchid will last over two months.

At the end of that period you should feel confident that orchids can in fact survive around you!  Hopefully you found enjoyment in caring for a live plant that gave beauty every day.  Now it is time to experiment!  No time to lose…

What do I do with that long stem that is bare and just sticking out of my pot?

Can I get my orchid to re-bloom?

What other orchid varieties are there?

What colors can I get?

Where do orchids come from?

There is a whole new world out there ready for you to explore!  It is a lot of fun and you can delve into it as much or as little as you want to.  Short of being a professional “orchidologist”, there are orchid clubs you can join, websites and books you can read from and there are even artists and photographers who have become known around the world simply because of their love for this magnificent plant.

You can go as far as you want to, or you can stay close to home.  Either way, it is a relaxing and enjoyable journey or hobby – depending on how you define it.

Here are two orchid websites that you should consider visiting:

The Orchid Board

American Orchid Society

I have found them to be informative and worthy of your interest.

Do you have a question? Send me a note at nic@starflor.com.  I will always be happy to hear from you and share some thoughts.  You can even visit our website (www.starflor.com) or call us at our store at 800-520-8999.  Reach out to us any way you would like to.  We will always be happy to hear from you and to help however we can.

A little bit about Starbright Floral Design – We are a full service florist located in the heart of New York City’s Historic Flower District (on 28th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues).  We are open every day and most evenings till 8PM (Sunday until 6PM).  We deliver all over the world and can help you in selecting your gift to fit any taste design or budget.

Starbright was voted on Citysearch.com as the Best Florist of New York City in 2009.  We are the most reviewed and highest rated florist in New York.

TheKnot.com has also rated us as The Best Florist in New York City to partner with for wedding and bridal Florals.

We thank you for your support and look forward to hearing from you!

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