What Are Costus Plants?
Costus plants are small, round, greenish-yellow flowers with a thick stalk. They grow from a single stem that grows up to 3 feet high. These plants have many names: crepe ginger, crepes, creperie or crepettes. They are very popular in France and Belgium where they are called “crepe gingers” (or sometimes “creme puffs”).
The name crepe ginger comes from the fact that these plants look like little crepes. The flower stalks are often decorated with tiny white dots or spots.
Crepes are edible and are used in many dishes such as soups, salads, pastries and desserts. They can be eaten raw or cooked but they taste best when prepared with butter, cream or sugar. You will find them at most grocery stores in the produce section.
In Europe, crepe ginger is known as crepe de chineau, which means “chicken crepe.” The word “crepe” comes from the French word “crème,” which means cream. So crepes are made with whipped cream. In some parts of Africa, they call them kopi luwak. This is the same name as the coffee plant.
The plant that these flowers grow on has a long green stem and grows in warm, tropical climates. It requires partial sun or full sunlight to grow properly. It can be grown outdoors in a garden or grown hydroponically indoors.
Crepes do well in most types of soil but prefer well-drained, sandy loam soils that are high in humus and nutrients. They are native to Southeast Asia, but can be grown in most parts of the world.
These plants need warm temperatures and constant moisture to thrive. Crepes prefer daytime temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Nighttime temperatures should not fall below 60 degrees. The soil that these plants grow in can remain wet without becoming waterlogged. It will not tolerate frost.
When grown indoors, crepe plants need lots of bright sunlight along with some bottom heat.
Growing Crepe Ginger
Crepes are grown from the plant’s tuberous roots. In nature, these tubers are buried under layers of soil and leaf litter. If you want to grow crepe plants in your garden, place the tubers in a shallow hole about 4 inches deep. Add a few handfuls of compost or humus and then cover with soil. Water well.
Keep the soil moist but not soggy wet.
Crepes grow slowly at first and then send up stalks that produce flowers. The blooms are greenish-yellow in color. The flowers are followed by round, flat seedpods that contain the seeds. These pods are often used in dried flower arrangements.
These plants can be grown from seed, but they take several months to reach blooming size and may not bloom the first year. Some gardeners report that the plants grown from seed do not produce flowers and are more likely to be attacked by fungus disease if they are not moved.
Most gardeners prefer to grow the plants from their tuberous roots because it is faster and produces blooming size plants in about 6 months. There are two types of tubers: those with green stems and those without. Both types produce flowers but the ones without have more blooms.
How to Care for Crepe Plants
Crepes need warm temperatures that are at least 65 degrees to create large stalks with many flowers. They prefer daytime temperatures between 75 and 85 degrees and do not like cold drafts or temperature drops at night.
These plants need full sun in warmer climates but can grow in light shade. They can be grown indoors in pots but need a warm location. They cannot tolerate cold and need to be protected if there is a possibility of frost.
Crepes are very susceptible to fungus diseases, so the soil where they are grown should be free of disease and debris. They are not particular about soil and can be grown in clay or sand or garden loam. Most gardeners grow crepes in pots to facilitate drainage and use a sterile soil.
The soil where crepes grow should be kept evenly moist but not waterlogged. During the growing season, crepe plants need 1 to 2 inches of water a week. The soil where the plants are grown should be well-draining. Wet, compacted soil will cause the plants stems to become weak and prone to falling over. After they are grown, they need less water.
Crepes are shallow-rooted plants that need lots of air around their roots. Do not mulch the area where they are growing.
Crepes can be grown from tuberous roots or from seed. It takes about 6 months for seedlings to reach blooming size during which time they need lots of sun and warmth and should be fertilized monthly with an all-purpose 20-20-20 fertilizer.
Planting from seed is challenging because seeds need several months of warm temperatures to germinate. The seeds require light to germinate so do not cover them with soil. The seedlings also need lots of sun and warmth to grow. Keep the seedlings well watered and fertilize them monthly with an all-purpose 20-20-20 fertilizer.
Most gardeners prefer to grow their crepe plants from the tubers, which are also called “eyes”. The tubers produce plants the fastest and each one will grow into a plant with blooms.
Tuberous crepe plants can be planted anytime, but spring through summer is best. After planting, it takes 4 to 6 weeks for them to germinate and begin growing. Crepe plants grow best in warm weather and do not tolerate cold weather. When temperatures fall below 50 degrees at night, the plants must be protected or they will die. As a safety measure, grow them in pots and bring them indoors when the weather turns cold.
Spring: Plant tuberous crepe eyes in soil that is at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit and keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. When they germinate, keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Water when the soil dries down to the bottom of your fingernail. Grow in a sunny location.
Summer: In the summer, crepe plants need at least 12 hours of sunlight each day. Keep consistently moist but not waterlogged and fertilize monthly with an all-purpose 20-20-20 fertilizer.
Fall: As fall approaches, stop fertilizing your crepe plants and keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. When the night time temperatures consistently stay above 50 degrees, your crepe plants are ready to withstand cold weather.
Winter: When nighttime temperatures consistently stay above 50 degrees, your crepe plants are ready to withstand cold weather.
In the spring, your crepe plants will produce flowers. Crepe plants can be grown in large containers but the pots should have plenty of room for the roots to expand. The best varieties for containers are ‘Butterflies’, ‘Diana’ and ‘Victoria’.
Common issues: Crepe plants grow best when adequate sunlight, air and water are available. Poor growing conditions result in wilted or discolored leaves and stems and slow growth.
If you notice large yellow areas on your crepe plant’s leaves, it may be getting too much or too little water.
If your crepe plant’s leaves have large spots of purple or yellow this is a sign that it needs more fertilizer.
If your crepe plant’s leaves have brown tips this is a sign that it is getting too much water.
If your crepe plant’s leaves have yellow or white spots this is a sign that it is not getting enough water.
Common Types of Hydrangeas
Hydrangeas are plants that are most commonly known for their large flower heads. There are two types of hydrangeas, the mop head and the lace head. Moos head hydrangeas grow large, round flower heads on thick stems. Lace head hydrangeas have smaller, denser flower heads on thinner stems.
Hydrangeas are deciduous plants that can reach up to 15 feet in height and live for 30 years or more. They prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. They require full sun and well-draining soil.
They do not grow well in the shade.
Fall is the best time to plant hydrangeas as their roots systems are more actively growing and require less maintenance after they have been planted. The ideal planting depth is 2 to 3 times the diameter of the plant’s container. Make sure that the crown of the plant is slightly above the soil line. It should be watered thoroughly after planting and then watered regularly until it is firmly established in its new location.
Fertilize 3 to 4 times a year in the spring, summer and fall with an all-purpose fertilizer. Hydrangeas are large, robust plants that only require occasional pruning to keep their size under control. They should be deadheaded regularly to keep them flowering and to discourage it from seeding itself all over the place.
If your hydrangea is growing more as a vine than a shrub, it most likely does not have enough light. It should be planted in a location that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day.
If the edges of your hydrangea’s leaves are turning brown while the rest of the leave stays green, this is a sign that it is getting too much water.
If your hydrangea’s leaves have large, brown spots on them, this is a sign that it does not have enough air circulation around it.
Creeping Mahonia (Mahonia Repens)
Creeping mahonia is a low-growing shrub or ground cover that is native to the Northwest and Southwest United States. It requires very little maintenance and tolerates poor, well-draining soil. Creeping mahonia can grow up to 3 feet tall and spread out up to 15 feet.
Creeping mahonia prefers full sun but will tolerate light shade. It grows best in sandy, well-draining soil but tolerates a wide variety of soil conditions. It may require more water during the first two or three years after it has been planted but is generally drought tolerant after that. It will benefit from a yearly application of fertilizer in the spring.
If your creeping mahonia is declining in health and vigor despite proper watering and feeding, it may be getting too much water. The branches of the creeping mahonia are susceptible to root rot if the soil is too wet. This can be remedied by planting the creeping mahonia in a raised bed with rich, well-draining soil or planting it in a hole that has been filled with gravel and then well-draining soil. The other common issue is the branches of the creeping mahonia are being damaged by late spring or early summer frost. This can be remedied by planting the creeping mahonia in an area that is sheltered from the early summer frost.
Oregon State Extension
Rugosa Rose (Rosa Rugosa)
Rugosa Rose is a deciduous shrub that grows wild along coastal areas of the Pacific Northwest. It has long, arching branches that form a dense thicket of thorny canes. In spring, it bears clusters of pink or magenta flowers that are followed by intense fruity fragrance.
Rugosa Rose prefers full sun but will tolerate light shade. It prefers moist fertile soil but will tolerate poorer soils and will grow in dry conditions once it is established. It is hardy and tolerates maritime climates very well.
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