31 Oct

Easy Plants for Difficult Spots: Saxifraga

Saxifraga is a large genus of low-growing and evergreen plants that form thick mounds or mats of dense rosettes. Native to sub-arctic and alpine regions, these are perfect plants to grow at cold and shady spots where very plants would survive. The Saxifragas grow naturally in rocks slopes with their penetrating root system that keeps them strongly studded and provides essential moisture and food.

Based on their growing habits, Saxifraga plants are divided in several groups including: Kabschia, Engleria, Porphyrion, Dactyloides, Euaizoonia and others. Most of the species grow quickly and require very good drainage system. A good loamy soil with equal parts of grit, crushed stones, and horticulture-grade sand can be used to grow these plants. Saxifraga plants usually produce clusters of low-growing rosette that serve well as ground covers or as ornamental plants in rockeries, window gardens, containers and dish gardens. Long, erect stalks appear from center of silvery-green rosettes. Flowers are borne on these stalks in winter or early spring. Flowers are white, pink, cream or yellow in color.

Saxifraga Flowers

Saxifraga Flowers, Image by Randi Hausken

Saxifraga Stolonifera is one of the common and commercially popular species. Usually sold as evergreen perennial for indoor gardens, it grows as dwarf plant and produces attractive foliage and flowers. Also known as Mother-of-Thousands, this lovely plant is a good candidate for hanging baskets as well as dish gardens. Other popular species include: Saxifraga Longifolia, Saxifraga Paniculata and Saxifraga Hypnoides

Saxifraga grow best in well-drained soil and under full to partial shade. Water regularly but avoid overwatering. Here are some excellent photos of these lovely plants for your inspiration.

30 Oct

Lovely Annuals for Flower Beds: Linaria

Linaria is a genus of about 100 herbaceous annuals from temperate regions of Africa, Asia, Europe and parts of Mediterranean region. Excellent choice for bedding, these quick growing plants would bloom in almost every color. Most of the species from this genus start blooming in late spring and continue to flower through summer until early fall. Linaria are sun loving plants that grow freely in flower beds and do well in mixed borders. Most commercially available varieties of Linaria are low growing annuals that are usually used in larger landscapes to produce massive display of colorful flowers.

Linaria Vulgaris

Linaria Vulgaris, Image by J. Bakker (flickr)

How to Grow Linaria

Linaria do not require special care when grown under bright sunlight and provided with regular water. They would survive a little frost and drought. Linaria are self-seeding plants and can be propagated from cuttings or root-ball divisions as well. Deadhead young plants to keep them in shape and under control. Seeds can be sown in early spring.

Also known as Toadflax or Baby Snapdragon, Linaria attract garden birds, bees and butterflies.

Some of the popular species of Linaria are:

Linaria Marcoccana – Usually available as dwarf flowering plant, this pretty annual produces dense flowering in yellow, red, orange and mauve colors.

Linaria Vulgaris – Grown as erect border or bedding plant, this perennial produces blue-green foliage and pale yellow flowers in mid-summer. Flowering lasts till mid-autumn.

Linaria Purpurea – Grown as garden perennial, this species produces small yet very attractive flowers of purple color is delicate raceme.

27 Oct

Chinese Aster: Colorful Flowering Plants for Garden Beds

If you are looking for easy to grow and carefree plants for your sunny garden beds, Chinese Asters should be on top of your list. Easily grown from seeds, this popular summer annual bears very attractive flowers of pink, blue, purple, mauve, white and yellow colors. Flowers are long lasting and can be used as attractive cut flowers. As the name describes, Chinese Aster originally belongs to China but it has been widely cultivated and hybridized to grow as popular cut flower in many parts of the world.

Depending on variety, can be grown as low growing flowering plant in landscape or as tall herbaceous annuals in flowering beds. A number of dwarf varieties are available for patio or balcony gardens.

Chinese Aster Flowers

Chinese Aster Flowers, Image by Carl E. Lewis (flickr)

How to grow Chinese Aster

Chinese Aster grows well in a well-drained soil with moderate. Seeds should be sown in early spring when temperature is above 20 C. Protect these plants from frost and heavy watering. Popular varieties of Chinese Aster include: Princess Aster, Popom Aster and Plume Aster.

26 Oct

Aspidistra, the Cast Iron Plant for Indoor Garden

Aspidistra or Cast-iron Plant is one of the easiest and carefree houseplants to grow. It grows a bit slow but offers lovely evergreen foliage for indoor plantation. Native to Asia, Aspidistra has a large number of hybrid varieties offering variegated and multicolor foliage.

In a good soil mix with regular watering, Aspidistra would produce rich, leathery foliage. However, these plants are capable of surviving neglect and very tough conditions as well – thus earning the name: Cast-iron plant. The most popular species of this genus is Aspidistra Eliator which is grown as indoor container plant or as garden plant in dark-shady spots where very few plants would survive. Cast iron plant typically forms dense clumps of evergreen leathery leaves that grow as long as 750 mm long.

Aspidistra, The Cast Iron Plant

Aspidistra, The Cast Iron Plant

Popular varieties of Cast iron plant include: Milky Way, Lennon’s Green, White Snowy Crown, Morning Frost and ‘Bubba‘ cast iron plant.

25 Oct

Lovely, Tropical Shrub for Landscapes: Lollipop Plant

Pachystachys is a genus of evergreen shrubs from tropical parts of South America, West Indies and parts of Africa and the US. These prolific bloomers produce attractive bracts and flowers almost throughout warm months and make decent accent plants in gardens as well as good indoor plants.

From about 12 species in the genus, Pachystachys Lutea is perhaps the most popular and widely grown for its intense yellow blooms. Usually known as Lollipop Plant or Golden Shrimp plant, Pachystachys Lutea spreads quite easily and fills empty landscapes very well. The plant grows up to 1.5 meters and bears dark green leaves and golden yellow bracts around white flowers. It is a good choice for borders as well as indoor containers grown under full to partial sunlight. Lollipop Plant usually starts blooming in spring and continues to bloom through summer and fall. To keep these shrubby plants in shape, it is recommended to prune them back once flowering season has ended.

Pachystachys Lutea, Lollipop Plant

Lollipop Plant, Image by Roland & Sonja

How to grow Lollipop Plant

Pachystachys Lutea is not fussy about soil and water. It grows quite well is regular soil mix and requires regular watering. It propagates easily from cuttings as well as seeds. When grown indoors, place Lollipop Plant near a well-lit window where it receives normal humidity and temperature between 18 and 27 ◦C.  Increase watering if leaves fall.

24 Oct

Evergreen, Ornamental Plant for Beginners: Baby’s Tears

Baby’s Tears or Soleirolia Soleirolii is an evergreen and low growing ground cover known for its round cascading leaves. A good candidate for a beginner’s must-have list, Baby’s Tears can be grown as a maintenance-free hanging basket or pot plant. When confined in containers or hanging baskets, this vigorous grower would soon outgrow its container and form dense mound of fresh-green and delicate leaves. These attractive plants can be grown indoors at shady spots or near bright sunlit windows or patios.

Baby's Tars, Soleirolia Soleirolii

Baby's Tars, Soleirolia Soleirolii

Baby’s Tear is equally good for rock gardens and landscapes where it can easily take up empty spaces and form thick mounds of attractive foliage. It can also be used as alternate of grass because it would survive cold and shady spots easily and serve as nice ground cover throughout the year. When grown with other plants, Baby’s Tears proves to be a bad neighbor as it tends to cover and take up the space of surrounding plants very soon. Therefore it should be pruned back regularly to keep this vigorous grower under control.

How to grow Baby’s Tears

Native to parts of Europe and some Mediterranean climates, Bab’s Tears grows easily in almost all parts of the world. It is easy to grow, in fact, difficult to kill plant. You can grow it under shade as well as under sun. The plant requires moist soil all the time and performs well is a well-drained, sandy or boggy soil. Baby’s Tears can be propagated easily from divisions. Water it regularly and protect from long dry spells.

Soleirolia Soleirolii is also known as Mind-Your-Own-Business or Angel’s Tears.

22 Oct

Easy to Grow Ferns for Hanging Baskets: Pellaea

Ferns are my all-time favorite plants for their delicate, fresh and decent foliage. They are quite compromising plants that would grow almost anywhere in homes, offices, gardens, greenhouses, window gardens and hanging baskets. There are a number of popular ferns grown and commercially as successful ornamental plants. Pellaea is perhaps one of the less known species of all ferns. Originally native to South Africa, Pellaea is a relatively smaller but very attractive plant.

Pellaea Mucronata

Pellaea Mucronata

Pellaea makes a good low-growing plant that can be used in garden landscapes as filler as well as attractive foliage plant. Pellaea is equally good for hanging baskets because of its delicate stems that are usually covered with small and fresh-green leaves. In its native climate, Pellaea grows in rocky mountains; thus you can mimic same conditions in your indoor or outdoor gardens to grow these beautiful ferns easily in your rock garden.

Pellaea Rotundiflora or Button Fern which is easy to grow in temperate as well as cold climates, it is nice plant for hanging baskets. It bears dense round leaves. Pellaea Viridis is another popular species which loves and grows natively in warm and humid climate. It also grows beautifully in hanging baskets.