31 May

Agave Potatorum ‘Kissho Kan’, The Lucky Crown

Agave Potatorum ‘Kissho Kan’ is a compact, slow growing plant that bears short blue-grey leaves with yellow margins and red spines. Kissho Kan makes an excellent container plant because of its compact size(12 inches tall and 12 inches wide, max.), regular proportions and nicely variegated succulent leaves.

The plant is considered a Japanese cultivar and a distant cousin of Agave Parryi. The name Kissho Kan is translated as ‘happy crown’ or ‘lucky crown’.  Agave Potatorum Kissho Kan bears yellow blooms that grow on a long stalk like all other agave plants.

Agave Potatorum, Kissho Kan

Agave Potatorum, Kissho Kan

How to Grow Agave Potatorum ‘Kissho Kan’

Kissho Kan is easy to grow under filtered sunlight and moderate watering. Normally, it would grow solitary and form hemispherical shape. Mature plants produce offshoots that can be rooted and propagated easily. Kissho Kan withstands drought and cold spells to -3° C.

30 May

Unusual Flowers of Jade Vine, Strongylodon Macrobotrys

Strongylodon Macrobotrys, also known as Jade Vine or Emerald Vine, is a perennial and evergreen vine from tropical forests of the Philippines. Known for its unusual flowers, a blooming Jade Vine makes a spectacular show of green and blue flowers hanging in long stalks. Flowering stalks are 5 feet in length or more and each covered by about 100 flowers.

Unusual Flowers of Jade Vine

Unusual Flowers of Jade Vine, Image from davidwyatt.me.uk

A mature Jade Vine would have bright green and soft leaves covering the woody stem. In it native rainforest, Jade Vine can grow as long as 75 feet, however, in cultivation it is pruned and trained to cover arches or grown over a pergola or display cascading stalks of it unusual flowers. Jade Vine blooms in spring and summer to attract birds. Fallen blooms change colors from emerald to blue-green and the purple as they dry out.

How to Grow Jade Vine

Being a native of rainforests, Jade Vine grows in humid and temperate zones where temperature does not fall below 15 °C. It does not tolerate frost. Grow Jade Vine is moist, fertilized and slightly acidic soil for perfect coloration of flowers; water regularly and provide it with plenty of sunshine.

Jade Vine can be grown from cuttings as well as seeds. In colder climates, Jade Vine can be grown in a greenhouse with adequate level of humidity and temperature. For pollination and seeds to produce, grow two vines side by side.

29 May

Cortaderia selloana, the Pampas Grass

Cortaderia selloana or Pampas Grass belong to a genus of about 25 grasses native to South America especially Brazil, Argentina and Chile. The most popular and commercially grown species is Cortaderia selloana which is commonly known as Pampas Grass. The plant is used in dried flower arrangements or an ornamental grass in landscapes.

Cortaderia selloana (Buy seeds online) spreads over 3 meters with feathery plumes reaching 4 meters or more in summer. The plumes are silver white, cream or dusk pink and attract birds that use these soft plumes to lines their nests.

Cortaderoa Selloana, The Pampas Grass

Cortaderoa selloana, image from gardenplantsbypost.com

How to Grow Pampas Grass

Pampas Grass is quite hardy and easy to grow. It can be propagated from seeds sown in spring under bright light and temperature not exceeding 22° C. Young seedlings should be water from below. Once young plants are established, they can be transplanted in the ground where they should be grown in a rich soil. Cortaderia selloana prefers good sunlight and regular watering.

28 May

Lovely, Fruity Trees and Shrubs: Syzygium

Syzygium is a large genus of evergreen, ornamental trees and shrubs. Widely grown for their beautiful foliage, fluffy flowers and edible fruits, the genus of Syzygium comprises of some 1100 species. Most species grow natively in tropical regions of Asia, Africa, Australia and the Pacific. Fruits of some species are edible and are used in preparation of salads, jams and jellies. Growing conditions vary among species. Although most species would grow in tropical climate, there are some species of Syzygium that grow in temperate zones.

Syzygium Luehmannii, Leaves and Fruits

Syzygium Luehmannii, Image from SydneyGreenRing blog

How to Grow Syzygium

Syzygium makes robust trees and shrubs that require pruning to make good ornamental plants. They can be propagated from seeds and softwood cuttings. These plants require constantly moist soil and bright sunlight. With suitable climate provided, Syzygium can be grown outdoor as well as indoors. Grown outdoors in gardens, Syzygium attract bees, butterflies and birds. They are good candidate for bonsai experiments.

Popular Species of Syzygium

Syzygium Paniculatum: Commonly known as Bush Cherry, Syzygium Paniculatum makes a nice ornamental tree that bears glossy green leaves and very attractive edible fruits of pink color. Young leaves are red and flowers are very attractive. With regular pruning, Bush Cherry can serve as an excellent hedge and neat specimen plant in lawns with regular pruning.

Syzygium Malaccense: Native to Asia, Syzygium Malaccense is a nice ornamental tree that grows as tall as 5 meters. Commonly known as Malay Apple or Rose Apple, this specimen plant bears large edible fruits that resemble the fruits of pear. It bears very attractive purple-red flowers in spring.

Syzygium Aromaticum: Known as Clove plant, Syzygium Aromaticum is grown commercially for its flower buds that are dried and use for culinary and medicinal purposes. Dried buds are known as Clove. The plant grows natively in Pakistan, Zanzibar, Madagascar, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Local name of Clove in Pakistan is Laung where it is used as spice and as cure of dental pain.

26 May

Ravenala Madagascariensis, The Traveler’s Tree

Ravenala madagascariensis commonly known as Traveler’s Tree (Buy seeds online) is a unique, evergreen and ornamental tree. Being only member of its genus, Ravenala madagascariensis is closely related to the family of Bird of Paradise (Strelitziaceae). The tree grows as tall as 20 meters or more in its natural habitat and produces several clustered trunks. Each trunk bears a crown of long and broad leaves that resemble the leaves of banana tree. Ravenala madagascariensis produces small white flowers covered by bracts.

Ravenala Madagascariensis, Traveler Tree

Ravenala madagascariensis (Traveler Tree), Image from wikipedia

As the name describes, the original home of Traveler’s Tree is Madagascar. However, it is commercially grown in most warn and subtropical regions of the world as an ornamental tree. It is an excellent choice for landscapes and gardens because of its bright, evergreen foliage. The common name, Traveler’s Tree, is given because it stores rainwater in the leaf base for emergency drinking and also because of its leaves that grow in east-west line thus serving as a compass.

Ravenala madagascariensis is sometimes referred as Traveler’s Palm though it is not related to the Palm family.

How to Grow Traveler’s Tree

The best way to propagate Ravenala madagascariensis or Traveler’s Tree is from offsets, tubers or divisions. The tree is tender to frost and prefers bright sunlight, rich soil and regular watering.

25 May

Delightful Flowering Shrub for Saline Soil: Limonium

Limonium is a genus of more than 120 annual and perennial shrubs that bear peppery flowers on strong, thin stems. Actual flowers of Limonium are usually minor and surrounded by colorful bracts of blue, pink, yellow and white. These attractive bracts and flowers can be used in dried flower arrangements. Most varieties of Limonium bear in coastal areas ranging from Canary Island through most parts of Mediterranean region towards central Asia.

Limoniums are also known as Statice.

Flowers of Limonium Sinuatum

Flowers of Limonium Sinuatum

How to Grow Limonium

Growing conditions vary within different varieties of Limonium. Some of these species grow natively in saline conditions whereas some grow in well-drained yet moist sandy soil. Most species can be propagated from seeds or divisions. Limonium grows under full or partial sun and makes excellent fillers in rock gardens and landscapes. Plants bloom is spring and summer.

Popular Varieties of Limonium

Limonium Latifolium: Commonly known as Sea Lavender, Limonium Latifolium is a summer flowering shrub and bears clusters of colorful blooms.

Limonium Perezii: This showy of variety Limonium bears large leaves and grows in to woody shrub of dense clumps. Flowers are white, purple and blue. The plant prefers partial sun, well-drained soil and ventilated position.

Limonium Peregrinum: An evergreen shrubby plant that bears rose pink flowers on woody stems. It prefers rich soil, good drainage, regular watering and humid climate.

24 May

Beautiful Landscape Tree, Pandanus

Pandanus is a large genus of about 600 trees and shrubs from Asia and Africa. Most plants in this species have broad and dense leaves. These deciduous plants produce male and female flowers on separate plants. Fruits resemble the fruit of pineapple plant. Pandanus are a good choice for planting outdoors for their handsome foliage. They also make spectacular container plants for ornamental purposes.

Pandanus Utilis, Landscape Tree

Pandanus Utilis, Landscape Tree

How to Grow Pandanus

Since most species of Pandanus grow alongside coastal belts, they require humidity and generous watering. Most species can be propagated from stem cuttings, offsets, tubers, or by layering.

Popular Varieties of Pandanus

Pandanus Utilis: Commonly known as Madagascar Screw Pine, Pandanus Utilis turns into a medium sized tree of about 20 meters. The trunk is stout and bears a canopy of twisted, fan-like leaves. Leaves are usually 2 meters or long. This is a perfect plant if you are looking for a striking landscape design. Grown for its leaves that are used for many purposes, Pandanus Utilis is evergreen tree and can be propagated easily from root balls, cuttings, or offsets.

Pandanus Utilis Fruit

Fruit of Pandanus Utilis

23 May

Night Blooming Jasmine: Cestrum Nocturnum

Cestrum Nocturnum, commonly known as Night Blooming Jasmine, is a flowering shrub of tropical and sub-tropical regions. It is also a must have in every gardener’s collection of the Indian sub-continent where it is called Raat ki Raani (Lady of the Night/Queen of the Night). Grown for its intoxicating fragrance, the Night Blooming Jasmine makes an excellent shrub for gardens.

Night Blooming Jasmine, Cestrum Nocturnum

Cestrum Nocturnum / Night Blooming Jasmine , Image © H. G. Mukhopadhyay

Cestrum Nocturnum bears small and white flowers by the beginning and the end of summer. Flowers bloom in hot and humid nights and emit smell that is unique and different from other flowering plants. Smell of Night Blooming Jasmine is sensual, enticing and quite exhilarating. It fills the passer by with delicate and intoxicating feelings. This plant is natively Caribbean and it is also known as Dama De Noche in Spanish.

How to Grow Night Blooming Jasmine

Night Blooming Jasmine is normally grown in subtropical regions as an fragrant plant for its strongly scented aroma. The ideal soil for this plant is clammy and sandy with humid climate. The plant spreads itself when it grows and can obtain the height of twelve feet, but does not spread more than four feet. The plant’s stems are like creepers, with bigger leave approximately between four and eight inches in length The flowers of Night Blooming Jasmine are relatively smaller colouring white or green in color and blossom off the creepers. There are also some verities found with yellowish flowers. Cestrum nocturnum is a fast growing shrub in the suitable conditions.

The stronger understanding about Cestrum Nocturnum is that normally it smells in the night. Although the smell could be stronger in the nights due to the full blossoming of the flowers but it also smells during the day in the season. Night Blooming Jasmine works fabulously as a mixed border additive. It is also fascinating when used as a freestanding plant. Cestrum nocturnum also possess luscious attraction for butterflies  and some types of caterpillars that consume its leaves as a source of food.

Night Blooming Jasmine is reported to cause respiratory problems from the scent, and feverish symptoms following ingestion to the people who are respiratory sensitive or are asthmatic.

22 May

Dazzling, Lovely Flowers of Portulaca

Portulaca (Buy seeds online), commonly known as Moss Rose, is a drought tolerant flowering ‘weed’ that bears splashes of colorful flowers in hot and dry climates. Both annual and perennial species of Portulaca are grown commercially and used as ground cover. Almost all species have small and fleshy leaves; grow without requiring much care, and love full sun.

Portulaca Grandiflora, Moss Rose

Portulaca Grandiflora (Moss Rose), Image from wellgrowhorti.com

How to Grow Portulaca

Portulaca is a perfect plant for beginners. They are propagated easily from seeds and adapt themselves in many different conditions – as container plants, as ground cover for hot and sunny locations, in hanging flowering baskets, ornamental plants for window gardens, or grown for edging rock gardens and pathways. Provide Moss Rose with moderate water in a well drained soil.

Popular Varieties of Portulaca (Moss Rose)

Portulaca Grandiflora: The most popular and commercially grown species, Portulaca Grandiflora is a prolific bloomer that bears dazzling flowers of dozens of colors (yellow, pink, orange, red, white, cream) in single as well as double forms. Easily grown from seeds (usually self-seeding), Portulaca Grandiflora loves full sun, moderate watering and well-drained soil.

Other popular hybrid species of Portulaca include: Double Sunset Fire, Tequila Series, Margarita Series, and Sundial Series.

20 May

Ceanothus, Lovely Flowering Shrubs for Cold Climates

Ceanothus is a genus of about 50-60 flowering shrubs (up to 3 meters) and small trees (up to 7 meters) that bear fragrant blue, pink, white or lilac flowers. Both evergreen and deciduous varieties of Ceanothus are available for growing as ornamental flowering plants. Ceanothus are at their best when blooming in late spring or mid-summer. Flowers are tiny but densely clustered to form a rich display of soft and fragrant blooms.

Ceanothus 'Cynthia Postan', Flowering Shrub

Ceanothus 'Cynthia Postan', Image from cambridge2000.com

With a little effort, Ceanothus can be trained to form effective ground cover, hedge or climber. Prune only when required, the best time to prune Ceanothus is after the end of flowering spell.

How to Grow Ceanothus

Most species of Ceanothus would grow from softwood cuttings sowed in later spring or mid-summer. Propagating from seeds can be challenging. In winter, soak Ceanothus seeds in hot water for 12 hours and then store them at 1° C for three months. Sow stratified seeds when temperature is between 16-18°C. Germination may take one to three months.

Once established, Ceanothus is easy to care. It requires well-drained and mulched soil, average watering under full sun, and protection from frost. Ceanothus is not a hungry plant and can grow on nutrients available in soil and water without any extra feed.

Popular Varieties of Ceanothus

Ceanothus Concha (Californian Lilac): Suitable for alkaline soil; withstands drought, grows up to 4 feet, makes a bushy plant and blooms in late spring.

Ceanothus Delileanus (Gloire de Versailles): Another bushy variety. Gloire de Versailles is deciduous and bears pale-blue flowers from mid-summer to autumn.

Ceanothus , ‘Blue Mound’: An evergreen shrub, producing dark-blue flowers in late spring. Blue Mound can grow as tall as 5 feet and, spread up to 6 feet.

Ceanothus, ‘Autumnal Blue’: Autumn Blue is evergreen, grows upright and bears light blue flowers in late summer. It can grow as tall as 10 feet.

Ceanothus ‘Puget Blue’: One of the mostly cultivated varieties of Ceanothus, Puget Blue makes a good flowering shrub.

Ceanothus Thyrsiflorus (Skylark): Excellent climber and prolific bloomer. Skylark flowers blooms in late spring or early summer.