Episcia is a genus of eight perennial and herbaceous plants from tropical regions of Central and South America. Grown as ornamental houseplants for their beautiful foliage, Episcia produce colorful, often variegated, broad leaves of green or reddish-green colors. Variegation is usually yellow and flowers vary from red-pink, orange, purple and white. One of the common houseplant species of Episcia genus is Episcia Cupreata which bears coppery-green or bright green leaves, sometimes showing variegation of yellow, red or silver colors.
Flowers on Episcia Cupreata are usually yellow. The plant is commonly known as Flame Violet. A number of hybrid species with colorful flowers and foliage namely Episcia ‘Tricolor’, Episcia ‘Tiger Stripe’, Episcia ‘Metallica’, and Episcia ‘Chocolate Velour’ are also grown commercially.
Episcia Cupreata, Image from www.sci.muni.cz
How to Grow Episcia
Most species of Episcia would grow indoor as well as outdoor when provided with moderate watering and partial sunlight, and protected from frost. Propagation is easy from leaf cuttings or seeds.
Rhipsalidopsis Gaertneri or Easter Cactus is an epiphytic plant from Brazil and is best known for its showy flowers. It belongs to the group of ‘leaf cacti’ – the name given to Schlumbergera and Rhipsalidopsis because of their thin stems that look like leaves. Easter Cactus produces abundance of branches that are erect or pendant and bear showy flowers on their tips.
Rhipsalidopsis, Easter Cactus
How to Grow Easter Cactus
Easter Cactus comes from rainforest areas of Brazilian coastline where they grow as epiphytic plants under the shady trees. Thus when growing them as houseplants, Easter Cactus would require humid and frost-free climate in a semi-shaded spot. They can be grown indoor as well as outdoor, however, care must be taken to provide natural sunlight when grown indoor and to ensure moisture when grown outdoor. Easter Cactus can be propagated easily from stem cuttings. Allow the cuttings to dry for a couple of days before sowing them in the soil. Provided Easter Cactus with a loose, coarse and well-drained soil fertilized with a general purpose fertilizer.
Flowers of red and purplish-pink color start appearing after the cold spell of winter is over and bloom till the end of spring. Flowers on Easter Cactus remain open during the day and close at night. A well-branched Easter Cactus bearing large, showy flowers in a hanging basket is a very rewarding experience.
Keeping your garden fresh, clean and adorable all through the year is quite a challenging task. Not just because you have to maintain your plants for all seasons, add seasonal plants, and manage the space but also because you really have to plan your garden and organize yourself for the hobby. However, with a few practical and simple tips you can manage to keep your garden maintained, fresh and clean for all seasons. Here are 9 tips for a fresh, green and clean garden for all seasons.
Beautiful Garden, Image from hydrochanger.com
Mulch: Mulch retains moisture in summer, warmth in winter and helps suppress weeds. It gives beds a neat ‘finished‘ look.
Deadheading: Deadheading keeps the plants looking nice and promotes blooming. Always keep a bucket and pruners handy to remove spent blooms and any dead leaves from the area.
Plant Seasonal Annuals: By planting seasonal plants, you always have something green and in bloom for the most part of the year.
Be creative with containers: Containers not only make it easy to keep bright spots in the garden, they can be used to add thematic and dramatic effects to your garden. Experiment with containers of different types, styles and materials. You can find plenty of unique containers for your plants. The best part of planting in containers is that you can easily move them around as needed.
Grow Evergreen Plants: Get some evergreen shrubs and trees for structure and a spot of green year round. There are a number of evergreen flowering shrubs and climbers available that you can use creatively in your garden. You can grow them against trellis, pergolas, against walls or for hedging purposes. Try Mandevilla, Hebe and Syzygium.
Explore: Explore and admire your garden daily; not just to get the joy of admiring your work but to also catch problems early such as unwanted insects, early symptoms of disease or possible crop failure, and respond immediately.
Weeding: For most weeding is a chore but it is wonderfully therapeutic as well. When you are stressed or just need to ‘escape’ for awhile, heading to my garden to weed is the ticket. It not only keeps the garden fresh and clean but also helps catch problems before they get out of hand.
Get Early Crops: Plant new crops following harvest of an early crop – plant beans following lettuce, spinach and other cold-season crops. This keeps the garden producing, fills in those empty spots and provides less area for weeds to develop.
Shoot and Enjoy: Take a camera! Experiment macro shots of blossoms, seedlings and more. You can archive those shot and enjoy them year round!
Calamondin is a very adorable plant for indoor as well as outdoor gardening. Its shiny green leaves, miniature orange fruit and symmetrical growth make it a perfect ornamental plant. This beautiful and versatile plant is good for container gardening as well as a small tree for your garden. Besides its ornamental value, Calamondin is extensively used for its culinary and medicinal value. It is used extensively in Philippine cuisine as well as in many household remedies for cough, acne and insect bites. Calamondin is also an important ingredient in cosmetic products like hair conditioners and body deodorants.
Calamondin is seldom without its tiny fragrant flowers or miniature fruits – both add to the beauty of this small plant.
Calamondin is actually a hybrid of Mandarin orange and Kumquat and is believed to have originated from China. That is why, it is also known as Chinese Orange. Fruit of Calamondin is used in many forms – it is frozen and used as ice cube for ice tea, crushed to use in marmalade, or squeezed for its juice which is used in lemonade or to season fish and other Asian dishes. Taste of Calamondin fruit is sour but the peel is sweet.
How to Grow Calamondin
Calamondin is easy to grow at home. It can be grown as ornamental plant in containers or as small tree in gardens. When grown in container, it has to be repotted every two or three years to give sufficient room to its roots that grow vigorously. Water only when the soil is dry and protect the plant from frost.
Calamondin thrives well as indoor plant provided that it receives bright sunlight during the day. As container plant, Calamondin hardly reached beyond 3 feet. However when planted in the ground, Calamondin would become a small shrubby tree reaching 6 feet or more.
I am a big fan of miniature gardens. They allow you a lot of freedom in a very limited space to grow your gardens the way you want – Japanese tea garden, a traditional Italian garden, a mini succulent garden or whatever creative or unusual you can imagine.
Best Plants for a Miniature Succulent Garden
Being a lover of cacti and succulents, I have compiled a list of unusual plants that I am going to use in my next miniature succulent garden experiment. These plants are unusual as well as slow growing, so they can live together for quite a long time.
Epithelantha Micromeris (Button Cactus)
Epithelanthais a really slow growing, miniature succulent. It grows in rocky and well drained soil, requires very little amount of water and usually remains solitary. The plant bears white or pink flowers in summer. Epithelantha requires a sunny spot to grow but does not like direct harsh sunlight. It is also known as Ping Pong cacti for its unusual formation and resemblance with the Ping Pong ball.
Epithelantha micromeris (Button Cactus), Image from www.drogen.bz
Lithops (Living Stones)
You would hardly find these unusual plants visible in their habitat because of their unusual formation and colors that make them look like pebbles. These miniature plants of South Africa are an excellent choice for a miniature garden. These are relatively easy to grow when provided with proper sunlight, regular fertilizer and grown in well drained soil. Lithopsbear white and yellow flowers that look like dandelion flowers.
Lithops (Living Stones), Image from lithops.net
Fenestraria (Baby Toes)
Another group of miniature and unusual succulents, Fenestrariabelong to extremely dry regions of South Africa where they rely on rainfall for survival and hide themselves in sand for protection against harsh climate. They are excellent choice for a miniature succulent garden and form a soft, green mat of succulent leaves. This unusual plant bears white and yellow flowers in winter. Fenestraria is also known as Baby Toes plants.
Fenestraria Rhopalophylla (Baby Toes), Image from wikipedia.org
Almost all species in this group are suitable for a miniature succulent garden. These attractive plants are known for their colorful foliage and unusual, tiny flowers. These are drought tolerant plants and do not require plenty of water. These unusual succulents need protection against direct/harsh sunlight and frost. The most unusual of all Crassula is Crassula ‘Buddha’s Temple’ which is a hybrid of Crassula Pyramidalis and Crassula Perfoliata var. minor. This unusual plant actually looks like a mini pagoda.
Crassula (Buddha’s Temple), Image from ilgiardinosullago.blogspot.com
Another unusual, lovely and rare succulent plant that belongs to Brazil, Discocactus horstii is known for its unusual white flowers that bloom in the night and spread intoxicating fragrance. This unusual plant grows solitary and forms a nice and symmetrical globose body. Mature plants produce woolly cephalium covered by bristles. This plant is sensitive to frost, requires partial sunlight and moderate watering.
Discocactus horstii, Image from www.discocactus.nl
Looking for a colorful addition to your garden beds, landscape or indoor garden? Try Setcreasea.
Setcreasea is a group of low-growing perennials plants grown for their attractive and colorful foliage. They are very versatile plants and can be grown in garden beds or rockeries, as ground cover or ornamental hanging plants, or as indoor container plants. They are quite easy to grow, in fact, hard to kill. Most species of Setcreasea produce pink and mauve flowers.
The most popular species is Setcreasea Purpurea which is commonly known as Wandering Jew, Purple Heart or Purple Queen for its purple leaves.
Wandering Jew Plant, Image from rgbmail.com.br
How to Grow Wandering Jew
Wandering Jew is an excellent choice as ground cover or as a showy plant for hanging baskets. Propagated from divisions, Wandering Jew would grow in sunny as well as shady locations. It requires moderate watering and bears purple flowers throughout the year.
Wandering Jew can also be used for xeriscaping for its capacity to withstand droughts.
Also known as Chinese Lantern for its beautiful, rose-pink and papery seed pods that actually look like Chinese paper lantern, Nymania Capensis is an evergreen shrubby tree. It is native of hot and arid regions of Africa especially the deserts of Namibia. This small tree bears small but green, leathery and stiff leaves. The plant blooms in late summer and flowers continue to appear till early winter. Flowers are usually pink, red or dark-red. The real beauty of this small tree is for its attractive seed pods that hang all over the branches. They are inflated like small balls and have papery skin of pink-red color.
Nymania Capensis requires very well drained soil and very little amount of water or moisture to thrive. Propagation is easy from seeds. For arid climates, Nymania Capensis is an excellent ornamental tree that would grow well even if neglected. It is a slow growing plant and takes about three years to reach a length of 1.5 m. Normal lifespan of Nymania Capensis is more than twenty five years in habitat.
Nymania Capensis is a perfect plant for xeriscaping. It is also known as Little Karoo.
Lysimachia or Creeping Jenny is a genus of several annual and perennial plants from temperate and subtropical regions of Asia and Europe. Usually used as border plants and ground covers, Lysimachia bear attractive yellow flowers in spring. The most popular species from of this genus is Lysimachia Nummularia (Creeping Jenny), which is suitable for growing as ground cover or in hanging baskets. When grown as ground cover, it makes a nice mat of fresh green color.
Creeping Jenny, Image from 9daysqueen.blogspot.com
How to Grow Lysimachia Nummularia/ Creeping Jenny
Lysimachia Nummularia grows in full shade as well as under partial sun. It requires plenty of water and can be grown as foliage plant for hanging baskets. The plant can be propagated easily from cuttings. Lysimachia Nummularia is also known as Moneywort.
Iboza is a very versatile but usually unappreciated winter flowering shrub. It is easy to grow, blooms in late winter when very few plants flower, has aromatic leaves, and grows in almost any soil. The only cultivated species is Iboza Riparia that grows natively in South Africa. The name Iboza comes from the Zulu people of Africa who revere this plant very highly and use it for many medicinal purposes.
Flowers of Iboza are borne on bare branches in late winter when the plant has shed most of it leaves. Flowers are usually white, pink or mauve. Leaves are dense and bright green in color. Iboza is also known as Ginger Bush.
Iboza Riparia, Fragrant and Winter Flowering Shrub
How to Grow Iboza Riparia/ Ginger Bush
Iboza is fairly fast growing and takes up empty spaces quickly. It prefers well drained soil, bright sunlight, regular watering in summer and barely necessary watering in winter. If you are grown Iboza is hot regions, provide it a partially shaded spot. Propagation is very easy from cuttings. Being a fast growing shrub, Iboza should be pruned after each flowering season. Iboza can be grown as pot plant or as ornamental shrub in gardens.
Other names of Iboza are Musk Bush, Misty Plume Bush and Vleisalie/Watersalie.