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Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Planting a Purple Hedge

I have been plating a hedge at the house at Malifa on the side facing the road. I choose a purplish black leafy hedge plant for a couple of reasons. First it is unusual as most people have hibiscus hedges while others have variegated (green and yellow) leafed hedges. Two it has nice white flowers with little bits of purple in them. I plan on having a second layer with yellow/green variegated leaves. Actually it is not exactly the plant I wanted. I have seen one which is a deep purple. This one ranges from green (in the shade) to black and purplish balck in the full sun.

I started with some cuttings that I transplanted once they had established roots. Then when these grew I waited until I was able to make more cuttings from these. Hoping that no "overly clever and enthusiastic" person decided to "trim" the hedge. I needed woody stems so it has taken a while. But as long as it is woody I can use it. At first I was using pieces from 6 - 8 inches long and sticking them into poly bags fileld with river silt which I have found to be the best medium for rooting cuttings. then I tried to see if I could get more cuttings from each woody stem. So I cut 1 - 2 inch bits making sure that each piece had at least one set of leaves. I used cell trays insead of poly bags since the plantlets were much smaller and that also saved on space. It worked.

Once these had nice healthy roots systems I dug a trench and transplanted them extending the bit of hedge on both sides. Colin and Leatuse helped me with this. Recently we transplanted another stretch and started some more cuttings. As you can see they are green since they were in a shady area.
One major drawback of this plant and one other variety of variegated (green/yellow) hedge plants is that it appears to be the favourite food of one of the butterfly species here. I’m not sure which one. They have BIG fat black furry caterpillars with green and blue stripes with voracious appetites.

In the foreground you can see the Torch gingers that were planted as a secondary screen as well as for the stunning and large flowers they produce. Fully grown the stalks will be about 10 feet tall. I intend the hedge infront to be atleast 6 feet tall to block out the noise and dust from Vailima road as well as provide some privacy.

These were planted from suckers about a month ago. As you can see they already have suckers coming up. These were suckers from a couple suckers that I had planted a few months before that which are to the left as well as one sucker from the original stand that I planted at the back of the house over looking the river (creek). The soil on this part of the property is very sand which is strange but may have been where they dumped sand when building the house. Anyway the soft sandy soil seems to help the plants grow suckers a lot faster. Here you can see the ones I planted a few months ago. The grassless exposed area used to have a covering of bread fruit leaves which I had started with the triple purpouse of compost, mulch and to kill the sensitive grass (Mimosa pudica )that was starting to grow there.

Then certain individuals removed all the leaves. After I explained the reason the leaves were there they started putting some back. The only useful outcome of this is that you can now see the extent of the sucker development. There is also one rather anaemic looking flower stalk emerging. Well plants can be anaemic but its a rather apt description for this poor little thing. Maybe its because of too much direct sun? The others are all semi shaded.

I only hope that with the removal of the moist leave cover that the young plants are not adversly affected. soon they will be covered up again so hopefully it will not be a problem.

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