USA Today Loves the Carlsbad Flower Fields!

The USA Today Travel Section recently listed the top “Most Romantic Flower Fields” and we made the list! Mellano and Company is proud to have farmed the Ranunculus fields at Carlsbad Ranch for over 20 years. Check out some of the impressive locations we are honored to be included with.

World-Famous Tecalote Ranunculus

Ranunculus Fields in San Diego, California

A visit to the Carlsbad Flower Fields has become a spring tradition for many a San Diego resident. Over 50 acres of hills along the Carlsbad coast are covered in rainbow-hued ranunculus blooms. Walk the paths through the fields, take a tractor-driven wagon ride, get lost in the sweet pea maze or picnic in one of the
themed gardens.

Baby Blue-Eyes at the Hitachi Seaside Park, Japan

Japan may be best known for cherry blossoms, but at Hitachi Seaside Park, it’s the rolling hills of baby blue-eyes that steal the show. After the blue blossoms fade, you’ll see burning bush, cosmos, zinnia and roses throughout the rest of the year. In autumn, the leaves on the trees are just as colorful as the flowers.

Sunflowers in Tuscany, Italy

Nothing says “summer” like a field of sunflowers, and one of the most romantic places to see them is in Tuscany. As you drive between medieval villages perched on hilltops, you’ll pass endless fields of these yellow beauties when they peak in mid-July. If you get there early, you can spot fields of red poppies.

Lavender in Provence, France

The fields of purple blooms along the Lavender Route in Provence, France smell just as beautiful as they look. The area is hone to some of the most picturesque villages in the country. Make the drive during the summer when the plants are in full bloom, and be sure to pick up some lavender honey to take home with you.

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Preserving Your Poinsettia

christmas-poinsettia-sue-kempHappy Holidays from Rob the Plant Guy and crew here at Mellano & Company Las Vegas! As promised, here are the steps for caring for your Poinsettia plant so that it will bloom again next year. There are some very specific things you need to do throughout the coming months, but it can be a fun challenge to preserve a plant year to year rather than tossing it out after the holidays! First, read my last post on Poinsettia care to be sure you are watering correctly and keeping your plant at the right temperature. Then…

1. Keep watering your plant through January, February and March whenever the surface of the soil is dry. Starting in April gradually decrease water allowing the plant to dry out between waterings. A shriveled stem is a sign you’ve cut back too quickly.
2. In a week or 2 when your Poinsettia has acclimated to the decreased water, move it to a cool spot like the basement or garage. Keep it at about 60 degrees F.
3. In May cut the stems back to 4 inches and repot in a slightly larger container with new potting soil. Water it well. Place the newly potted plant in a the brightest window you have and keep it around 65-75 degrees F.
4. Continue to water when the surface of the soil is dry. Once you see new growth, add a complete fertilizer every 2 weeks.
5. In June move your Poinsettia outside in a partially shaded location and maintain your watering and fertilizer schedule.
6. In early July pinch back each stem by about 1 inch. This will encourage a stout, well-branched plant rather than a tall spindly one.
7. By mid-August the stems should have branched and leafed out. Again, pinch back new stems leaving 3-4 leaves on each shoot.
8. During September, bring the plant back indoors to your brightest window. Continue watering and fertilizing, and make sure the temperature stays above 65 degrees F.
9. Poinsettias are short-day plants, meaning their bud set is affected by the length of daylight. To re-bloom, they need 10 weeks with 12 hours of light per day. To artificially create this, it is crucial that you are diligent. Beginning October 1st, keep your plant in complete darkness from 5 pm to 8 am. Any exposure to light will delay blooming. Use an opaque box or material to block out light. Some people place their plants in a closet- but if light gets in through the cracks or you use the closet, it will affect the bud set.
10. Move the plant back to a sunny window during the day and continue to water and fertilize. Around the last week of November you can stop the darkness treatment and allow the plant to remain in the window. You should see flower buds at this point. Stop fertilizing around the middle of December. Keep watering and treat your plant the way you did when you first brought it home a year ago! If all has gone well, it should be back in bloom and ready to begin the process all over again for you to enjoy or give as a gift!

Stay tuned to this blog in 2013 for creative ideas, fascinating history and updates on quality Mellano and Company products. We are looking forward to sharing our love for the cut-flower and potted-plant industry with all of you in the new year!

Rob the Plant Guy

Posted in Holiday Plants, Indoor Plant Care, Mellano and Company, Poinsettias, Potted Plants, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Poinsettia Passion!

Hi Guys, Rob the Plant Guy back again! This time we are talking Poinsettias- one of the most popular holiday flowers. There is a lot know about caring for your Poinsettia, including the fact you CAN keep it for next year and it will bloom again.  That does involve some extra care and we’ll get to those instructions in my next post. For now let’s see how we can care for our Poinsettia to keep it healthy and looking great through the holidays.

One of the biggest misconceptions about Poinsettias is that they are a cold weather plant. In fact, they are tropical and don’t like the cold. Poinsettias are native to Mexico and Central America and like as much sunlight as possible. A sunny window facing East, South or West is preferred. Poinsettias do best in a daytime temperature of 65-75 degrees F which will also help to keep it in bloom as long as possible. If the temperature drops to about 60 at night that’s OK, just keep your plant away from drafty areas and do not let the leaves touch the cold window. Have you ever seen a gangly Poinsettia in bloom with only a couple of sad, wilted leaves hanging on? It is more than likely that it was exposed to the cold or to extreme shifts in temperature.

Water your Poinsettia when it feels dry to the touch. Water it until it drains out of the bottom, but do not let it sit in water. Remember, these plants are tropical so you may want to mist your Poinsettia if the air in your home is dry due to climate or heating. You can also place pebbles in a tray under your plant to create some humidity, and prevent the soil from getting soggy.

Oh, and I have to make sure you know the truth about Poinsettias- they often get a bad rap for being poisonous when in fact they are not! Yes, the sap is a bit caustic and may irritate your skin, and certainly some indegestion will occur if you or your pet eats it. So avoid getting the sap on yourself and don’t make a salad with your Poinsettia and you’ll be fine!

Interesting Fact!  Did you know that the colorful petal-looking part of a Poinsettia is really its bracts?  The bracts are simply leaves posing as petals. The actual flowers are the tiny yellow clusters found at the center of the bracts.

For my December post I’ll show you how to keep your Poinsettia so it will bloom again next year. Until then, I hope you are enjoying all the fun and spirit of the holiday season!

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Turning Waste into Beautiful Blooms ~ Composting at the Mellano and Company Farm

Composting has become a growing trend with many home gardeners as an environmentally friendly way to re-use kitchen scraps and produce natural fertilizer. If you visit the Mellano and Company San Luis Rey farm, you will be introduced to a HUGE compost project- not one with apple cores, potato peel and worms- but one made of flowers, greens and our recyclable cardboard!

Our post-harvest process includes inspecting every stem and discarding anything that does not meet our exact specifications for strength, length and fullness of blooms. The result is a GIANT compost pile that is constantly being added to and maintained. The rich fertile soil that the compost helps create is just one the reasons Mellano and Company grows the world’s finest fresh flowers and foliage year after year!

No additives are needed for our compost other than water- which is reclaimed from surrounding houses. The final result is a fine, rich, chemical-free fertilizer that is used in all of Mellano and Company’s open or hoop-housed areas. Composting is one of Mellano and Company’s green initiatives that we take great pride in. Watch this blog and our Facebook page for more upcoming posts about how we incorporate environmentally friendly practices in all of our locations!

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Mellano and Company Birds of Paradise

Hey everyone, Ken Taniguchi here, Production Manager at the San Luis Rey farm. This is a great time of year for one of our signature crops, Birds of Paradise. We started growing Birds about 12 years ago and are now up to about 4 acres of production. The harvest peaks from fall through winter, depending on the variety. In fact in the last 2 weeks we have gone from 100 stems a day to harvesting about 500 or more per day!

Birds of Paradise take a little extra care in terms of our cold chain management program. While most of our products are kept at a steady 34 degrees, it’s very important that Birds are kept at 45 degrees. Why? Well, Birds are part of the Musaceae family which includes bananas, plantains and heliconias. So think of what happens when you store a banana in the fridge- black outside and mush inside. A similar result will happen if Birds of Paradise get too cold.

We grade our Birds of Paradise by height into two classes: 100cm and 90cm. 90% of what we pick is 100cm. We are very pleased with the strength and vibrant color of our Birds this year- we know you will be too! Mellano and Company Birds of Paradise and Birds of Paradise Foliage are available now at all of our wholesale locations.

Posted in Birds of Paradise, California Grown Flowers, Cold Chain Management, Flower Farm, Fresh Cut Flowers, Mellano and Company, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pom Pom Pumpkins!

I love Fall colors, and this floral craft is a great way to feature the rich colors of the season in your home or Halloween display.  It’s pretty easy to make a Floral Pumpkin, and should only take about  ½ hour depending on what size you make.  You will need:

Pumpkin Stem or Thick Branch
Marigold or Chrysanthemum Heads
Floral Foam
Chicken Wire
Floral Tape and Picks
Small Dish or an Aerosol Cap

For the large Marigold Pumpkin use 2 bricks of foam. Trim the foam bricks into a pumpkin shape, such as a tall oval or short round. Mold, trim and secure chicken wire, cleanly and tightly, around the foam.

Next, secure the base to your foam shape with floral tape. For the large pumpkin use a plastic dish, and for the small, an aerosol cap. Submerge the form in water until fully soaked. Take the pumpkin stem or branch and attach it to the top of the form a couple of inches above the foam with floral picks.

Now the fun part! You’re ready to insert your flowers. Cut the flowers and leave about 2” of the stem. You’ll need about 80 Marigolds on the large and 4 bunches of Mums on the small. Work your way around the top and bottom first, then fill in the center.

If any blooms will not stay put or need a little support use a 20 gauge wire and pin it right through the head to secure. Gently mist and it’s ready to display! It should last at least 5-7 days. Happy Halloween!

Posted in California Grown Flowers, Day of the Dead, Dias de los Muertos, Halloween, Holiday Floral, Mellano and Company, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Marigold Garlands ~ A Day of the Dead Tradition

Dia de los Muertos festivals across the world use Marigolds as the centerpeice of elaborate ofrendas, or offerings to the dead.  Marigolds are a significant symbol for the Day of the Dead festivity, and are known as the “flower of the dead.” They are used to construct an offering (ofrenda) to the spirits. Marigolds are part of the offering of gifts for the spirits and often petals from the flower are spread on the ground to guide the spirit to the house and tombs. Their scent is believed to “attract the souls and draw them back.”

Since pre-Hispanic times, the Marigold plant has had medicinal purposes and it is still used in many parts of the world today. It is thought to cure stomach ache, parasites, liver illnesses, vomiting, and toothache.  All of these illnesses are said to be cured by a tea made from the flowers, eating the flowers, or wearing the flowers in a pouch around the neck.

Wow- all that AND did you know that Marigolds are also important in traditional weddings? Here is an easy way to create a stunning garland to use as a wedding lei or to drape your Day of the Dead alter. I can’t promise it will help with your stomach ache- but you never know!

You will need

  •  40 -60 Marigold Heads
  •    White Dental Floss ( waxed)
  •   Large upholstery needle or Lei needle

Measure and cut a length of waxed dental floss twice as long as you want your garland, plus 12 more inches (for example, for a 36 inch garland cut a piece of string 84 inches long). Thread one end through the needle and pull it through until both sides are of equal length. Tie the loose ends of the thread together in a very large knot three inches from the end.

Cut off the heads of the Marigolds at the base of the stems Insert the needle through the center of a Marigold from the stem end up through the middle of the blossom. Gently push the blossom down the thread until it is snug against the knot. Insert the needle through the center of the next Marigold from the blossom end down through the stem end; push it down the thread until it is snug against the previous flower, bloom-to-bloom. Continue in this way, threading flowers onto the garland blossom end first, until you have strung all the blooms. Make sure they are packed together snugly. Repeat until you have all flowers strung onto the thread. There should be 3 inches of thread left at the needle end of the garland. Tie the threads at the ends of the garland together firmly so that it forms a circle; double or triple-knot the threads. Clip off the needle and the loose ends of thread. Mist the flowers with water and keep in a cool, dark place until ready to wear.

Another common use for flower garlands and leis is in weddings. When Indian couples marry in a traditional wedding, they give one another long floral necklaces in a ceremony called Jaimala, also known as the exchange of the garlands. The Jaimala symbolizes the couple’s respect for each other and their promise to accept one another. Wedding garlands are made of vibrantly colored blooms (including Marigolds) strung tightly together for maximum visual impact and are a colorful, sweet-smelling part of the Indian wedding.

Posted in California Grown Flowers, Cut Flower Industry, Day of the Daed, Fresh Flower Tips, Halloween, Mellano and Company, Uncategorized, Wedding Floral Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Spooky Bird of Paradise Design

Tropical flowers for Halloween? Yes! They can be a great match when they are arranged with fall items. Some of the tropical flowers that are structured such as Bird of Paradise and Heliconia, can look carnivorous if you tone down the tropical color aspect with floral spray paint. I like using a matte paint versus a glossy. Keep a pop of color on the flower by masking the bloom when you paint them. I like to show the natural color of the tips.

Best results for painting Bird of Paradise:

Make sure the entire flower and stem are wiped dry and at room temperature. Start with a tight unopened Bird of Paradise if possible. If the Bird is open or cracking you can gently mask the bloom with a paper tissue and tape.Use a matte black floral or general spray paint and give the stem a light even coat of paint. Let it dry and touch up or repeat. When they are fully dry hold the Bird’s unopened head in both palms of your hands and gently pry open the orange blooms one layer at a time.

Now you can arrange them with fall flowers, foliages and textures.  I paired them with Black Millet, Pumpkin branch, Lichen covered branches, black ornamental peppers, and dark purple tinted seeded Eucalyptus.

Posted in Charity Event Design, Dyeing Flowers, Floral Design, Fresh Flower Tips, Halloween, Holiday Floral, Mellano and Company, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy Houseplants Part III ~ Container Conundrum

Now that we have covered the ins and outs of watering houseplants, a logical next question is, “What type of container should I use?” You might think that the container is not as crucial as other factors in growing healthy, long-living plants, but it is equally important as the soil, water and light! Just as watering techniques vary from plant to plant, so does the type of vessel that will work best. When choosing the perfect pot for your plant, there are a few key points to remember: pot size, pot material, and drainage.

The pot must be large enough to handle your plant’s root structure. For example, planting a seed or seedling in a small pot makes sense, but as its roots extend and the plant rows larger, you should transfer the plant to a larger pot. A good rule of thumb is to go up one pot size at a time (4″ to a 6″ to an 8″ and so on). This will allow a plant’s roots to acquire the the nutrients they need from the soil.

“So Rob”, you may be thinking,”why can’t I save myself all that work and just plant my seedlings in a 12″ pot? They will grow into it, right?” Well, maybe– if they make it that long! You see, planting in a too-big container can negatively affect the health of your plant. Larger pots require more water and most of it will be lost to evaporation and drainage so the roots can’t use the volume absorbed by the soil. Also the extra soil may hold on to much of the water and cause the roots to rot. NOTE: My next blog post will be a step-by-step on exactly HOW to re-pot your seedlings or house plants, and what type of soil to use.

What style to choose? That’s really up to you, but the trick is to take the plant’s needs into consideration. Plastic is a good choice for busy people who may sometimes forget to water since they hold the water in longer than other types, plus extra holes for drainage can be made easily. Not the most attractive, though. Unglazed terracotta pots are porous so they absorb water and allow it to evaporate, thus you must keep up with your watering. Terracotta is great for growing cactus and succulents or if you tend to overwater your plants.  TIP!  Before you plant in an unglazed terracotta pot submerge it in a bucket of water for 24 hours. This will prevent the pot from sucking up all the water during your first plantingand watering.

Glazed ceramic pots usually don’t have drainage holes so you’ll have to put gravel or shards of broken clay pots or old dishes in the bottom. Even with this step, most flowering plants do not do well in a pot without drainage holes. If you prefer the look of a glazed ceramic pot my advice is to use it as a shell for a clay or plastic pot.

So have some fun learning a little about what type of plant you have and its specific watering needs. Then you can decide which type of “home” is suitable for your different varieties and pick out a style that you like within that type. Don’t forget to check back next week for my How-To on successfully repotting your precious plants.

Questions? Feel free to ask in the Comments section below and I’ll reply asap!

Rob the Plant Guy

Posted in Indoor Plant Care, Mellano and Company, Potted Plants, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pincushion Underwater World

Pincushion Proteas are a great long-lasting flower. They look a lot like a sea anemone when they are under water. They will hold up underwater for several days.

How to design with Pincushions underwater:
I suggest you start with a wide mouth elliptical bowl or a glass container that is curved like a bubble bowl. The curves will magnify the flowers.

You will need:
• Pincushion Proteas, Greens to accent
• Floral pin frog
• Waterproof clay stickum
• Stones or gravel

Less is more- remember that everything is magnified underwater. Depending on the size of your container, 3-5 stems are all that you need. Add some Lily Grass or Papyrus as an accent. Cover frog with more stones and gently fill with water 1 inch below the top. If there is any sediment in the water let your bowl sit awhile and it will settle. Orchids are a great match with this arrangement; I have used every variety with Pincushions like Cymbidiums, Vandas, and Cataleyas.
There you go…an interesting underwater arrangement for any occasion!

Use your imagination!

Posted in Anenome, Floral Design, Fresh Flower Tips, Holiday Floral, Proteas, Uncategorized, Wedding Floral Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment