14 Aug

Lovely Flowering Vines for Hanging Baskets: Columnea

Hanging baskets are a good way to grow plants indoor especially for plants lovers who live in apartments with limited space to spare for pots and plants. Columnea is one of the best plants for hanging baskets for their ornamental flowers and their ability to grow indoors. Most species of this genus are epiphytic – usually small shrubs and vines. These beautiful flowering plants bear ornamental blooms that grow in trailing fashion thus making them a good choice for hanging baskets. Flowers usually appear in summer.

Columnea, Plant for Hanging Baskets

Columnea, Image by Kevan (flickr)

How to Grow Columnea

Columnea comes from tropical and sub-tropical parts of North and South America. These frost tender plants grow in humid and moist conditions. Provide them with a sunny location in a well-drained and rich soil. When grown indoors, the best spot for Columnea is a well-lit window where they receive plenty of light. Under indoor conditions, keep them under-watered in winter. Columnea, when grown outdoors, requires plenty of water to flourish.

Popular Species of Columnea

Columnea Microphylla – pendulous perennial plant with yellow or scarlet flowers in summer

Columnea x Banksii – shrubby plant with pendulous stem, scarlet flowers and greenish-bronze leaves. Makes a good plant for hanging baskets

13 Aug

Lovely Flowering Plants for Coastal Climate: African Violets

Saintpaulia or African Violets are popular ornamental houseplants that are grown for their attractive, showy flowers that appear almost all through the year. These ornamental perennials belong to eastern parts of Africa especially Kenya and Tanzania, however, they have been domesticated in many parts of the world as outdoor flowering plants. Saintpaulia is given the common name, African violets, because of the resemblance of its flowers with true violets. African violets usually produce think, heart-shaped flowers and prominent flowers of violet, white, pink, purple and mauve colors.

African Violets

African Violets, Image by Tom D (flickr)

How to Grow African Violets

African Violets come from coastal line of eastern Africa and thus require coastal conditions to flourish – humid and warm climate. A number of hybrids and cultivars are available for growing as ornamental houseplants mostly driven from Saintpaulia Ionantha. African Violets are best grown outdoor in shady spots or at locations where they receive filtered but bright sunlight during the day and protection from frost.

12 Aug

Lovely Flowering Plants for Garden Landscapes: Crocosmia

Crocosmia is a small genus of exotic summer bloomers that produce sprays of star-shaped red flowers. The Iris-like flowers are quite showy and make an excellent show in fresh floral arrangements. Crocosmia have both evergreen and deciduous species that tend to form large clumps, and bear long and thin leaves. Orange-red flowers are borne on long stalks that last several days and attract bees, butterflies and humming birds.

Crocosmia is an excellent choice for landscapes and rock gardens where they can be grown to fill empty spaces with their foliage and flowers. The delicate and bright flowers of Crocosmia can be easily distinguished from other plants because of their orange-red flowers that appear on long, delicate racemes.

Crocosmia Flowers

Crocosmia Flowers, Image by Heidi (flickr)

How to Grow Crocosmia

Crocosmia is quite easy to propagate from small corms. These beautiful flowering plants prefer partial sunlight (away from scorching summer sun), moderate watering and a well-drained soil, rich soil. Popular species of Crocosmia include: Crocosmia Masonorum (Golden Swan) and Crocosmia Aurea (Falling Stars)

10 Aug

Ornamental Foliage Plants for Tropical Gardens – Caladium

The first ever plant that I grew myself, as a 7 year old, was a Caladium. Digging small tubers, given by my father, in a container, watering it daily and watching it twice a day sprouting and sending off colorful leaves was like a magic. I just fell in love with colorful heart-shaped leaves of all shades of green, red, white, silver and pink. They looked like color pallets of an artist. We still grow Caladiums in our house and enjoy the spectacular show of colorful foliage every year with the same delight and amazement.

Caladium, Colorful Foliage Plants

Caladium, Colorful Foliage Plants, Image from wikipedia

Caladium is a genus of about 15 species and thousands of cultivars that are grown in many temperate regions as ornamental foliage plants. Usually grown as perennials, they are good as ornamental pot plants, as colorful foliage plants for window gardens, or as ground covers under shady trees. Flowers are inconspicuous but the plant itself is quite attractive.

Caladium is also known as Elephant Ears, Angel Wings or Heart of Jesus.

How to Grow Caladium

Caladiums can be grown easily from divisions. The tubers multiply easily and can be stored in winter for sowing later in spring. Caladiums are native to Florida, South America and parts of Central America where they grow in humid and temperate climate. That is why, you need to imitate the same climate for Caladiums when growing them in outdoor in gardens or indoor as patio plants. Caladium requires regular water and partial shade (but well-lit) spots to flourish. They also require rich soil so fertilize them during the growing season.

Popular Varieties of Caladium

  • Caladium Bicolor ‘Freida Hemple’
  • Caladium Bicolor ‘White Christmas’
  • Caladium Bicolor ‘Rosebud’
  • Caladium Bicolor ‘Aaron’
  • Caladium Bicolor ‘White Queen’
  • Caladium Bicolor ‘Wharton’
09 Aug

Lovely Colors and Fragrance of Henna: Lawsonia Inermes

Lawsonia Inermes which in widely known as Henna or Mehndi is a tall evergreen shrub from tropical and sub-tropical regions of southern Asia and Africa. This sun loving shrub grows up to 2.5 meters and bears small fragrant flowers of white or pale pink colors almost all through the year. Suitable as hedge plant, Henna plant makes a good evergreen and strong hedges that emit strong fragrance during summer and rainy seasons.

Lawsonia Inermis, Nehndi, Henna Plant

Lawsonia Inermis (Henna, Mehndi) , Image by J. M. Garg

Henna has been an important plant is human civilization. The history of Henna plant can be traced back to ancient civilization of Egypt where Egyptians used Henna powder to dye their skin, hair and nail. In fact, use of Henna was considered a delicacy and a cultural refinement in ancient Egyptian civilization. Later this cultural was adopted by the Arabs and other civilizations in Africa and India.

Today, Henna is the most popular part of women’s cosmetic is Asian cultures especially in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan etc. where it is used for dying hair and nail and decorating hands and feet with beautiful floral patterns and tattoos on the eve of weddings, parties and other festivals. In fact, it is a ‘must’ in bridal make up and wedding ceremonies in Asian cultures. The immense popularity of Henna as cosmetic product has led to its commercial production at large scale in Pakistan and India where it grows in abundance under minimal care.

Bridal Mehndi Design

Bridal Mehndi, Image by Abdullah Mohiuddin

Henna is used in the form of paste prepared from water and powder of dried Henna leaves. Henna plant is also an important ingredient in preparation of several perfumes. It is also known as a useful medicinal herb for the treatment of leprosy.

How to Grow Henna

Henna can be propagated easily from cuttings and seeds. These shrubby plants require moderate watering and bright sunlight.

05 Aug

7 Ornamental Houseplants for Beginners

Today we are featuring 7 ornamental houseplants for beginners who want to brighten up empty spaces in their homes with lustrous greenery or bright flowers – but with minimal care and limited time to pamper, feed, prune and water. The plants listed here are recommended for beginners because of their ability to survive without requiring any special care. In fact, these are hard-to-kill plants that would not mind being ignored for some time.

Asparagus densiflorus ‘sprengeri’: This is one of the most cultivated species of its genus. Commonly sold as Asparagus Fern, this low growing plant is both easy and quick to grow. As an attractive houseplant, Asparagus Fern ‘Sprengeri’ bears richly green leaves on delicate branches that spread quickly and bear small inconspicuous flowers of white or pale pink colors. Flowers turn into red ornamental berries.

Asparagus Fern (Buy Asparagus sprengeri online) requires bright but filtered sunlight (protect it from scorching sun) and regular water during summer. Provide just barely necessary water in winter. Propagation is easy from divisions. Asparagus Fern makes an excellent houseplant grown in hanging baskets or as ground cover.

Asparagus Fern Plant

Asparagus Fern, Image by SupremeMystery(flickr)

Silver Inch Plant /Tradescantia zebrina (Buy Tradescantia zebrina online): This is perhaps the easiest foliage plant to grow for beginners. Suitable for hanging baskets, Silver Inch plant bears silver-white leaves with a central band of bright green color. Flowers are purple-pink that usually bloom in late summer. Silver Inch plant requires filtered sunlight and can be grown under shade or near well-lit windows. This beautiful foliage plant prefers ventilated conditions and withstands spells of drought. However, it is recommended that provide it with sufficient water and allow the soil to dry completely before next watering.

Silver Inch Plant

Silver Inch Plant

Bunny Ear Cactus /Opuntia microdasys (Buy Opuntia microdasys online): Bunny Ear cactus is a hardy and drought tolerant plant that would grow in almost any condition and withstand neglect. The plant bears succulent leaves that look like thick fleshy pads with small bristles on it. Native to Mexican desert, Bunny Ear Cactus grows well in full sun and dry conditions. When grown as houseplant, provide it with ample water and allow the soil to dry completely before next watering. Feed once a month with a regular fertilizer to encourage succulent growth of leaves/pads.

Bunny Ears Cactus

Bunny Ears Cactus, Image by Leslie Errin

Elephant Bush / Portlucaria afra ‘variegata’ (Buy Portlucaria afra ‘variegata’ online): Elephant Bush is a low growing, foliage plant. Suitable for growing as ground cover or in hanging baskets, this lovely plant bears small attractive leaves on thick and red branches. Small flowers of white or pink color appear rarely (usually after long periods of drought). Elephant Bush can be grown easily both indoor and outdoor where it receives bright sunlight and sufficient water in summer – though it can withstand spells of drought easily. Feed with a regular fertilizer in spring and summer and pot in a well-drained soil.

Elephant Bush

Elephant Bush, Image by wikipedia

Wandering Jew / Setcreasea purpurea (Setcreasea purpurea online): 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

Wandering Jew Plant, Image from rgbmail.com.br

Tree Ivy / x Fatshedera lizei (Buy Fatshedera lizei online): Tree Ivy is a versatile plant that can be grown as evergreen ground cover, as climbing plant against walls and trellis, as evergreen shrub in garden or as pot plant grown both indoor or outdoor. It requires a shady spot, moderate watering and protection from frost.

Tree Ivy, Evergreen Ornamental Plant

Tree Ivy, Evergreen Ornamental Plant, Image by S John Davey

PothosEpipremnum aureum (Buy Epipremnum aureum online): Pothos is widely cultivated plant in almost all parts of the world. It makes an excellent houseplant that does not require much care. It makes an excellent foliage plant especially in warm climates where it produces showy green and sometimes variegated leaves. Pothos requires partial sunlight in outdoor locations or bright light in indoor spots. This ornamental plant should be provided with moderate amount of water and general purpose liquid fertilizer in spring.

Pothos Plant

Pothos, Image from professorspride.com

04 Aug

Colorful Foliage Plants for Gardens: Coleus

Solenostemon or Coleus is a popular houseplant for its strikingly ornamental foliage. Native to tropics, these colorful foliage plants grow outdoors under partial sunlight where they produce colorful leaves of purple, red, yellow, green and pink colors. A number of cultivars with variegated leaves are also available commonly.

Coleus can be grown as pot plants, as ground covers, to form borders and hedges in gardens or just as foliage plants in landscapes. When allowed to grow freely, most species of Coleus would turn leggy. The best way to keep these plants in share is pinching their growing points to encourage bushy growth. Plants that are clipped properly form dense, colorful and well-shaped foliage. Most species would grow 0.5 to 1.5 meter in height.


Coleus, Image by Ann Stretton

How to Grow Coleus

As Coleus comes from tropics, it would grow well in a temperate and well-lit spot. Water, clip and feed Coleus plants regularly for healthy ornamental foliage. When grown indoors, place them near windows where they receive plenty of light and some fresh air. Plants that are grown indoors or under filtered sunlight usually have deeper colors and contrast in their colorful leaves. Coleus propagates freely from seeds as well as cuttings.

Coleus is also known as Painted Nettle or Flame Nettle.

Coleus Leaves

Coleus, Image by Ann Stretton

03 Aug

Lovely Flowering Trees and Shrubs of Cassia

Cassia is a large genus of flowering trees and shrubs from tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. These fast growing plants are second to none when they are in full bloom. Most species of Cassia would produce dense clusters of very attractive flowers. In fact, a Cassia in full bloom is a treat to watch. Being drought and frost tolerant, Cassias are excellent plants for gardens where they would grow fast into shrubs or mid-sized trees. Almost all species bloom and bear lovely flowers of yellow or pink colors.

How to Grow Cassia

Most species of Cassia are sun loving plants and require moderate watering in a well-drained soil. These lovely flowering plants propagate from seeds and quickly grow into young shrubs or trees.

Cassia, Flowering Trees and Shrubs

Cassia Flowers, Image from homestretching.blogspot.com

Popular Species of Cassia

Cassia Fistula (Golden Shower Tree): Locally known as Amaltas, this is one my favorite trees. Cassia Fistula grows into a mid-sized deciduous tree and bears profuse, bright flowers of yellow color.

Cassia Nodosa: Native to Himalayas and the Malay Peninsula, Cassia Nodosa or Pink Shower Tree grows into a large tree with dense leaflets. Flowers are yellow that turn into dark pink as they mature.

Cassia Corymbosa: Native to South America, this autumn bloomer grows as a woody shrub or small tree. Leaves are bright green and dense.

Cassia Didymobotyra: Commonly known as Peanut Butter Cassia (fragrance of its flowers is reminiscent of peanut butter), this beautiful plan grows as evergreen, semi-deciduous, flowering shrub in cold climates. Yellow flowers grow on long stalks in summer or autumn.

Cassia Nodosa, Pink Shower, Pink Cassia, Pink Lady

Cassia Nodosa, Image from oramsnurseries.com.au

02 Aug

Evergreen, Ornamental Climber:Glow Vine

Saritaea Magnifica widely known as Glow Vine is an evergreen climber of South American origin. It is a perfect choice for evergreen foliage and ornamental flowers provided that you keep it properly trimmed or trained against a good support such as a pergola, or a hedge. As as ornamental plant, Glow Vine is propagated from layering or hardwood cuttings.

Glow Vine Flowers

Glow Vine, Image by Jayesh Patil

Leaves of Glow Vine is leathery and bright green that make this adorable when it is not in bloom. Funnel-shaped flowers are up t0 2.5 inches wide and are violet, purple, magenta or mauve in color. Flowers usually appear in spring and continue blooming till fall. Glow Vine requires bright sunlight and regular watering to flourish. Check out some beautiful pictures of Glow Vine to see the real ornamental value of this beautiful climber.