Philodendron Rojo Congo

Philodendron Rojo Congo

Philodendron Rojo Congo

Say hello to my new friend Philodendron Rojo Congo. We met a couple of weeks ago, when this curiously coloured character found its way onto my desk. It took me several google attempts to ascertain it’s species, but I wasn’t completely surprised to discovered it to be yet another Philodendron – the Araceae family does after all, have close to 500 different species.

Philodendron Rojo Congo
Philodendron Rojo Congo

Philodendron Rojo Congo

The Philodendron Rojo Congo can be identified by the bright red colour of young foliage. As the plant ages, the lance shape leafs turn a deeper darker green while the leaf stems retain their deep Auburn hue.

Philodendron Rojo Congo
Philodendron Rojo Congo

From the ancient Greek “philos” which means “love” and “dendron”, meaning “tree”, the name philodendron describes the species’ propensity for winding around trees. But unlike it’s brother Monstera, the Rojo does not share this climbing character. Instead, like the Xanadu, this philodendron is self-heading, which means it grows upwards and outwards.

Philodendron Rojo Congo

Philodendron Rojo Congo
Philodendron Rojo Congo

Native to South America, the Rojo Congo prefers partial to shady areas but does not tolerate cold temperatures. This low maintenance perennial makes an excellent houseplant thanks to its sculptural appearance and good looks, plus it keeps the air clean while doing so.

Names: Philodendron Rojo Congo
Family: Araceae, native to South America
Water: At regular intervals – keeping the soil moist but never soggy
Location: Diffused natural or indirect sunlight like a northern exposure
Soil: Fast draining acidic to neutral soil
Toxicity: Toxic to pets and children

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THE WEEPING FIG i.e FICUS BENJAMINA

Close-up of branches from the weeping fig, on sitsitso.com

THE WEEPING FIG

i.e Ficus Benjamina

 

With the cheerless winter lingering on, we’ve been enjoying the company of our leafy friends at home and so the choice for this weeks houseplant post was as much inspired by it’s personality as by it’s name.

The Weeping Fig is a handsome character; it’s downward drooping branches and glossy pointed leaves giving it a moody charm. And with the whole of Berlin still gloomy and grey, the weeping fig is both a splash of happy greenery as well as a reminder of the melancholy of winter.

Dried leaves of the ficus benjamina or weeping fig
Dried ficus leaf of the weeping fig

 

The Benjamina (as it’s scientifically called) is part of the ficus genus and a popular choice for a houseplant, due to it’s relative ease in care. The reason I call it moody is because this beautiful tree can be quite temperamental. The weeping fig is rather intolerable of disturbances, and will quickly shed all of it’s leaves if you dare to move it. A protesting tree can look rather bare and dull, as if winter has find it’s way indoors.

 

Weeping fig or ficus benjamina on sitsitso

Close-up of leaves from the weeping fig tree
Beautiful leaves of the weeping fig on sitsitso.com

 

Weeping figs enjoy bright areas with a bit of sun and shade, so a spot near a west or east facing window should provide a good setting. Once in it’s place, let the ficus settle, and only move it if you have to. Benjamina’s are sensitive to colds and drafts so best not place it in areas with fluctuating temperatures. Make sure your pot drains quickly and well. The ficus dislikes soggy soil so be sure to water it less often during the colder months.

 

Close-up of leaves from a weeping fig on sitsitso.com
Ficus leaf ensemble on sitsitso.com

 

Much like introverts, Benjamina’s are great company as long as you don’t expect them to go anywhere. They will silently grow without any bother, and will look great doing so throughout the year.

 

Names: Weeping Fig, Benjamin Fig or Ficus tree
Family: Moraceae, native to Asia and Australia
Water: Moderate watering in Summer, less during Winter

Leaves dropping from over-watering: Fallen leaves fold easy
Leaves dropping from under watering: Fallen leaves are crispy

Soil: Fast draining soil mix
Prune: After Summer and before Spring
Toxicity: Mildly toxic to cats & dogs
Propagation: During Summer months by placing branch-cuttings into soil 

 

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eco-friendly christmas with plants and lights

Candles in my home made christmas wreath

 

PLANTS AND LIGHT

for an eco-friendly christmas

 

This year, in honour of tip number thirteen on Plastic Free Friday, I decided to create a festive atmosphere without buying any plastic or cheaply made christmas decorations. My aim was to keep it as green and eco-friendly as possible and to try and use plants wherever I can. Combining them with lights and candles also meant that my christmas-plant-ensembles were perfectly suited for this months Urban Jungle Bloggers theme; Plants and Light

 

Christmas Wreath

My mom used to have advent candles and this year I wanted to partake in the tradition by making my own. An advent wreath is a Lutheran tradition where four candles–that signify the four weeks leading up to Christmas–is placed in a circle (often combined with an evergreen wreath) to symbolise the eternity of God. The candles are then lit every Sunday, starting with the first candle on the 1st advent and finally lighting all four on the final Sunday before christmas.

 

eco-friendly home made advent wreath with real plants

 

For my own advent wreath, I wanted an eco-friendly option that was made from real plants, so that I could use it every year or use the plants elsewhere once christmas was over. I decided to get four small plants that I could later repot. I positioned them in a circle with four candles and filled the open spots with chestnuts and pine cones. For the base I used a round baking tray and placed it in this pretty copper bowl – a previous christmas gift from my mum.

 

Christmas Lights

Maybe you’ll recognise my glass jars from last month’s Urban Jungle Bloggers post on plant pots. Well, I decided to give them a christmas spin by wrapping some christmas twine around the brims. Since the plants in here don’t need water I added the battery operated fairy lights to make it even more christmassy and added a white candle for a bit of warmth.

 

December's Urban Jungle Bloggers theme: Lights and plants.

 

Christmas Trolly

I found this trolly on the street back when I lived in London. It’s not very slick but works great for displaying plants, which gives it a rather bohemian air. I wanted my bohemian nook to look christmassy too, so I used old cardboard to create a fun mountainous backdrop (I saw this clever idea on pinterest a couple of years ago). With some candles lit, the setup looks undoubtedly festive, albeit a little unusual. I love it.

 

My eco-friendly christmas with plants and lights

 

Christmas Dinner

For our annual Berlin-family christmas dinner I wanted to create a super simple table setting that would be elegant but also a little striking. So I combined lots of candles in bottles and terracotta holders with cypress cuttings in glass jars. The table cloth is simply unbleached cotton linen to compliment the earthy tones. To add to the festive ambiance, I created a hanging “christmas tree chandelier” with home-made paper pendants that could hang above the table.

 

Simple table settings for an eco-friendly christmas

 

I got the idea for the hanging branches from this neat idea for an advents calendar. The pendants I folded from paper (using this tutorial) and just added some beads to round it off. I had so many paper corner cuttings from the folded pendants so I decided to turn them into little paper “leaves” to go with my wooden beads. It was really hard to get a good photo of the hanging branch, so I hope you can get a slight idea of what it looked like in the end.

 

Green christmas decor: plants and lights

 

Creating an eco-friendly plant-based christmas theme turned out to be much easier than I expected it would. Somehow the restrictions I had placed on myself (like not being allowed to buy any plastic or ready made decor) forced me to be a little more creative then usual and I had so much fun making it all.

 

I hope you enjoyed my contribution to this month’s Urban Jungle Bloggers post! Be sure to check out some of the other Plants and Light posts on Urban Jungle Bloggers and if you haven’t been there, both blogs by UJB creators Igor Josifovic and Judith de Graaff are well worth the visit!

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

 

Urban Jungle Bloggers Logo

 

A rainy day escape to the Berlin Botanical Gardens

A rainy day trip to the Berlin Botanical gardens.

 

THE BERLIN BOTANICAL GARDENS

A rainy day escape

 

On her recent trip to Berlin, my lovely sister Almarie suggested we venture down to Steglitz for a visit to the Berlin botanical gardens. Almarie’s quite the phytophile and so we hopped on our bicycles and headed down south.

 
Tropical Greenhouse at Berlin Botanical Gardens
 

From the entrance on Unter den Eichen the gardens didn’t look like much, but we payed the 6 euro entrance anyway and proceeded into the park. Soon after we set down the first pathway I started feeling a little apprehensive about the outing. Thus far the Berlin botanical garden grounds were rather, er, underwhelming and it had just started to drizzle. With dismay I thought we’d chosen probably the worst day to explore a mildly exciting garden and suggested we headed to the glass houses to escape the rain.

 

Weird and wonderful plants at the Berlin Botanical GardenBotanical-Gardens-Berlin-Tropical-Greenhouse

 

As soon as we entered the huge mechanical structure my disdain swiftly disappeared. The conservatories or Gewächshäuser, as they’re called in german, are huge glass and steel structures that cleverly controls the weather and with its 23m high dome the main tropical greenhouse is one of the largest in the world. Thanks to its size, the Berlin botanical conservatory houses a breathtaking tropical paradise with giant palm trees and towering vines and epiphytes.

 

Berlin Botanical Garden Conservatory Detail

Beutiful-and-strange-specimens-at-Berlin-Botanical-Garden

 

Next we found ourselves in the desserts of the south with a marvellous welwitschia enchanting us with its beautiful inelegance. More succulents and cacti awaited in the adjacent chambers with long furry characters and their spiky friends. To our amazement the botanical greenhouses held an incredibly rich collection of specimens; from China, New Zealand and Japan, to Africa, North America and the Canaries. In fact they have 15 different chambers, each designated to a specific biosphere. 

 

Cacti and succulents from the Berlin Botanical Gardens
 
We spent so much time in every hall that we had to break for coffee – and off course on account of the weather – for some cake. I can highly recommend the chocolate one. It was delicious. The cappuccino wasn’t bad either.

With full bellies we went on to explore the carnivorous plants and gawked at the almost florescent flowers in the rainforest. Later we felt proud and a little nostalgic to discover the beautiful South African biosphere with it’s massive species of Aloes, crassulas and euphorbias.

 

Greenhouse at the Botanical Gardens in Berlin

 

Finally, our trip around the world ended in the Mediterranean, but not before we got a short introduction to the different uses of plants; things like cocoa and bulbs and poisons I do not remember the name of.

What I thought was going to be a drab and dreary day turned out to be a spectacular journey around the world – an absolutely sensory rich experience. So if you love plants as much as I do and you feel like taking a trip abroad but can’t afford the plane ticket, just pop into the greenhouses at the Berlin botanical gardens. It’ll be a mind-blowing treat.

 

 

When to go: Open all year but perfect for rainy days

Where is it: Entrances are on Unter den Eichen 5-10, 12203 Berlin (Metrobus M48) or Königin-Luise-Platz, 14195 Berlin (ExpressBus X83, Bus 101)

Price per person: €6.00 (Cash only – they do not take credit, debit cards or EC Karte)