Give your garden a new direction

Enjoy gardening, but the flowerbeds are getting too crowded? Then grow up, literally. Think trees.

Planting epiphytes and lipophytes are easy alternatives to planting ferns and flowers in the ground and add a little life to the deadly looking trees in the yard, according to assistant manager for the tour programs at the National Botanical Garden, Jon Letman.

Simply put, epiphytic plants, like the bromeliads and orchids, have the ability to grow on trees instead of out of the ground. Lipophytic plants, like the bird’s nest fern, can grow out of rocks.

“They’re real easy to do and they don’t need any taking care of at all because they get their water from the air and precipitation,” he said. “Just take some bromeliads, tie them up with a little wire or a little rope and leave them there.”

Letman said for the trees at his house, he used twine to tie plants to trees because it falls off and rots away. On some occasions, he’s seen plant roots wrapped in burlap with a little bit of fertilizer in it and tied to the tree with gardening tape. That, he said, is OK too.

“You don’t have to do anything to them. When the plant’s well established on the tree, just take the wire or rope off,” he said.

Letman said the epiphytes growing on the trees don’t do any damage to the stumps themselves.

As far as old, cut tree stumps that are too big to remove from the property, those are perfect, he said.

“The epiphytes are good, especially if you’ve got a mango or a monkeypod,” he said. “Turn it into a piece of art. Tie some orchids on the stump and let it grow.”

All these plants can be found at any local nursery, but Letman said getting clippings of these plants is as easy as taking a hike.

“You can probably get everything without going to a nursery. People can take advantage of going for a walk. Just take a little clipping and take it home and let it grow.”

• Lanaly Cabalo, lifestyle writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 237) or


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