19 May

Beautiful Betel Nut Palm Tree, Areca Catechu

Areca Catechu also known as betel nut tree or betel palm is a tall, slender and elegant tree that bears strong fragrant flowers and popular betel nut. Originally belonging to Philippines and Malaysia, betel nut palm grows in the long tropical belt of Pacific, Asia and Africa.

Betel Nut Palm Tree, Areca Catechu

Areca Catechu, Image © Bngishak on Flickr

Areca Catechu makes a graceful, tall tree with dark green leaflets. Normally, a betel nut tree gains a height of 20 meters or more (up to 30 meters) with a crown of beautiful trees on a slender trunk of just 45 cm. The grey stem of betel nut tree has ring formations caused by fallen leaves. White flowers are followed by orange drupes commonly known as betel nut (though it is not actually a nut). Dried nuts are used for fragrance and flavor in Paan. It is estimated that about 50,000 tonnes of betel nut are consumed annually for chewing with Paan all over the world. The extract from betel nut is supposed to have digestive and anti-depressant properties but could be addictive and toxic.

How to Grow Betel Nut Tree

Betel nut tree is extremely easy to grow in warmer climates. It requires regular watering (mostly moist soil) and bright sunlight but does not survive colder climates. Areca Catechu grows well as ornamental plant in containers or as indoor or outdoor landscape tree.  As an indoor ornamental plant, Areca Catechu grows slower and requires less water.

18 May

Poinsettia, Ornamental Shrub for Indoor and Outdoor Gardens

The cheerful colors of Poinsettia (Euphorbia Pulcherrima) always remind me of holidays. This ornamental and colorful shrub is an excellent choice for any indoor or outdoor gardens.

Native of Mexico and Central America, Poinsettia belongs to Euphorbiaceae which is a large family of succulent plants. Unlike most plants of this family, Poinsettia is quite showy plant that bears large bracts of pink, bright red, yellow, white and variegated colors.

Colorful Pionsettia Shrub for indoor and outdoor Gardens

Pionsettia, Image from oldmillnursery.wordpress.com

Poinsettia usually forms a short and thick trunk with a brown, rough bark. New leaves are soft and bronze that ultimately turn in to green, hard and leathery succulent leaves. The plant exudes milky sap from wounds which can cause irritation on skin.

How to Grow Poinsettia

Poinsettia is easy to care and fast growing shrub that makes an excellent ornamental plant for any garden. Poinsettia requires a well-drained and mulched soil, and bright sunlight (morning exposure to sun for a couple of hours is enough, if you are growing your Poinsettia indoors). The plant can be propagated from cuttings that root readily. Cuttings are, however, prone to rot if planted in soggy soil. Protect Poinsettia from frost in cold climates.

Poinsettia is also known as Christmas Plant, Lobster Plant or Mexican Flame Leaf.

17 May

Hardy and Easy to Grow Ferns for Beginners: Nephrolepis

Of all ferns, Nephrolepis are perhaps the most popular and easy to grow ferns. Nephrolepis is native of tropical and sub-tropical regions and can be grown under various indoor and outdoor climatic conditions. Most Nephrolepis would withstand frost and drought. These are excellent ferns for to be grown as ground cover or as hanging baskets.

Nephrolepis Exaltala, Boston Fern

Nephrolepis Exaltala (Boston Fern), Image © Tech Mentor on Flickr

Popular Varieties of Nephrolepis Fern

Nephrolepis Exaltala: Commonly known as Boston fern or Sword fern, Nephrolepis Exaltala produces dense and attractive crowns of long and drooping leaves. Boston fern prefers humid conditions and bright yet filtered sunlight. It also makes an excellent choice for indoor landscapes or hanging baskets. Propagation is easy from divisions of the crown.

Nephrolepis Cordifolia: This is another drought-tolerant and a vigorously growing fern. Nephrolepis Cordifolia grows under partial sunlight, well-drained soil and moderate fertilization. It is also propagated from divisions. Common name of Nephrolepis Cordifolia is Fishbone fern.

16 May

Liquidambar Styracifula, The Sweetgum Tree

Liquidambar, commonly known as Sweetgum, is a genus of deciduous trees majorly found in North America and parts of Asia. They are hardy trees and tolerate several climates from cold to sub-tropical.  The common name, sweetgum, is associated with the sap excreted from Liquidambar trees. It has been actually used as chewing gum and is believed to relieve sciatica and strengthen weak nerves.

Liquidambar Styracifula, Sweetgum Tree

Image from treesdirect.co.uk

Culture

Though Liquidambar is widely used in manufacturing of furniture, the tree itself makes an excellent ornamental plant. Leaves on a Liquidambar tree would change many colors throughout the year from green, orange, purple, red and yellow. The tree bears small, dense and attractive flowers followed by fruition. The bark is grayish and grooved vertically.

How to Grow Liquidambar

Most species of Liquidambar can be grown easily from seeds or grafting. They require rich soil, frequent watering, bright sunlight (in cold or mild climates), and ample room to develop their roots.

Popular Varieties of Liquidambar

Liquidambar Styracifula: Makes a medium sized shrub reaching about 1-2 meters and displays red leaves in autumn.

Liquidambar Styracifula, Canberra Gem: The most colorful variety of Liquidambar with yellow, green and red autumn foliage.

Liquidambar Styracifula, Golden Treasure: Excellent ornamental plant with variegated leaves of gold and green colors.

15 May

Catharanthus Roseus, Evergreen Flowering Shrub

Catharanthus Roseus is a self-seeding and evergreen flowering shrub from Madagascar and tropical areas of Asia. Commonly known as Vinca, PeriwinkleRose Periwinkle and Sadaa Bahaar (in Pakistan), Catharanthus is easy to grow and flowers throughout the year.

Catharanthus Roseus, Pink Flowers

Catharanthus Roseus does not require much care to thrive. It can withstand frost and drought, and produces glossy green leaves. Flowers are white (with yellow or pink center), pink, purple and orange. Catharanthus Roseus is a good choice for xeriscaping and window gardens but could be invasive and hard to remove in its native climate.

Catharanthus Roseus is grown commercially for its medicinal benefits for the treatment of diabetes, lymphoma and high blood pressure.

Catharanthus Roseus, Purple Flower

Catharanthus Roseus, Image © H. G. Mukhopadhyay

14 May

Euphorbia milii, The Crown of Thorns

I have been growing Euphorbia milii (also known as Crown of Thorns) for many years and I grow it for many purposes. It makes a nice hedge plant, it is an excellent flowering bush for container gardening, and it adds beautiful colors to a landscape.

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Euphorbia milii is a bushy succulent and bears small yet attractive flowers almost throughout the year. The stem is covered with sharp and dense spines, and bright green leaves near the growing ends. Flowers are red, pink and white though you can find a wide range hybrid Euphorbia Milii that bear more colorful flowers (yellow, orange, cream and many mixed colors). Hybrid varieties are usually grown as grafted plants and display larger flowers.
Euphorbia milii.

How to Grow Euphorbia milii

The actual home of Euphorbia Milii is Madagascar, however it has been successfully acclimatized and grown commercially in many parts of the world. Euphorbia Milii requires well drained soil, moderate water and good sunlight, however, it can survive drought and high temperature. It can be propagated from cuttings that can be rooted or grafted on a stock. When growing from cuttings, allow cuttings to dry for a few days and then plant them in a mixture of moist soil and peat moss. Keep the medium barely moist till plants are established. Over watering would rot these tender cuttings.

Euphorbia milii o Corona de Cristo

Image from riverrocksucculents.comEuphorbia milii can be used as hedge plant, pruned down for edging, grown to cover spaces in rock garden or landscape, or kept as indoor ornamental plant (provided with ample sunlight).

Euphorbia milii is named after Baron Milius who introduced these plants on France.

Euphorbia milii

11 May

Win Free License of GardenPuzzle: Garden & Landscape Design Tool

Remember my recent post on GardenPuzzle? Now, you can win free license of GardenPuzzle for your personal use. Here is how to qualify for a free GardenPuzzle software license.

1. Go to GardenPuzzle.com and sign up for a free basic account.

2. Send an email to with THELOVELYPLANTS in the subject line and get a free GardenPuzzle Plus account.

3. Start painting your garden 🙂

GardenPuzzle is an excellent tool for designing and planning your garden and landscape in just 5 minutes. The software has a huge database of plants for all climates, garden accessories and furniture that you can use to design and visualize your garden before start digging and experimenting.

Licenses are limited and would be distributed on First Come, First Serve basis.

GardenPuzzle, Landscape & Garden Designs

GardenPuzzle, Landscape & Garden Designs

10 May

Lagerstroemia: Flowering Shrubs and Trees

Lagerstroemia, commonly known as Crepe Myrtle, is a genus of about 50 species of flowering shrubs and trees. Native to the Indian subcontinent, South Asia and Oceania, most species of Lagerstroemia are found in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, China, Australia and parts of Central America.

Lagerstroemia Speciosa

Lagerstroemia bears beautiful flowers of pink, purple, mauve and white colors in summer. In full bloom, bright green leaves and clusters of flowers make it an excellent choice as ornamental tree for homes and gardens. Lagerstroemia sheds its leaves in a gradual process so you would hardly find it completely bare. Flowers contain six or seven crumpled and wrinkled petals, that is why, Lagerstroemia is also called Crepe Flowers tree.

Apart from its ornamental value, Lagerstroemia Speciosa (commonly known as Banaba) is widely used in preparation of medicine for diabetes and obesity. The timber is durable and takes fine polish. For this reason it is widely used in manufacturing of furniture and wooden panels.

Popular Species of Lagerstroemia

Lagerstroemia Indica (Indian Lilac or Crepe Myrtle) – It is a large flowering shrub that bears sprays of ornamental flowers from May to August. Flowers are white, pink, rose or mauve. It also makes a good candidate for a bonsai project.

Lagerstroemia Lancasteri – This hybrid variety flowers abundantly. A perfect ornamental shrub!

Lagerstroemia Speciosa (Queen’s Myrtle, Banaba, Pride of India) – It is the most common species of Lagerstroemia. The plant turns into small or medium tree. Leaves of Lagerstroemia Speciosa have medicinal value and are exported world wide.

Lagerstroemia Indica

Lagerstroemia Indica, Image © W. J. Hayden

07 May

Colorful Climber: Parthenocissus

Parthenocissus is a beautiful creeper usually grown for its attractive autumn coloring leaves. The name comes from two Greek words: partheno (virgin) and kissos (ivy) – thus, Virgin Ivy.

Parthenocissus grows natively in temperate zones of Asia and North America and belongs to the grape family, Vitaceae. There are about 15 known species of this deciduous creeping plant. Parthenocissus can be used to cover sun-facing walls or as ground cover among shrubs. It can be grown from seeds as well as cuttings. It can withstand frost and needs bright sunlight with average watering.

Parthenocissus Ornamental Clilmber and Creeper

Popular Species:

Parthenocissus Quinquefolia (also known as Virgina Creeper and American Ivy): This high climbing creeper displays dense growth of leaves that turn red in autumn. Ideal as ornamental plant in landscapes and against walls.

Parthenocissus Tricuspidata (also known as Boston Ivy or Japanese Ivy): This ornamental climber bears purple fruits and dense growth of leaves that turn purple and red in autumn.