16 Nov

Lovely, Aromatic Plants for your Herb Garden: Camomile

Anthemis is a genus of annuals and perennials forming dense clumps of flowering feathery and aromatic leaves. Usually grown for summer flowering, Anthemis are nice plants for garden beds, borders or empty spaces in gardens and landscapes.

Camomile Flowers

Camomile Flowers, Image by Lynne (flickr)

Popular species include Anthemis Tinctoria which is a busy annual with golden yellow flowers and Anthemis Cupaniana which is a profuse summer bloomer with ‘cushion-forming’ white flowers. It is also known as Camomile and is used in traditional herbal medicine. The plant grows up to 1 meter and forms large clusters. Both flowers and leaves are used in herbal tea for soothing effects. Flowers can also be used in cut flower arrangements.

Most species of Anthemis grow in ordinary but well-drained soil under bright sunlight. These plants propagate from divisions and require moderate watering.

15 Nov

Lovely, Unusual Flowering Shrub: Liparia

Liparia is a genus of evergreen shrubs known for their lovely and unusual flowers that are covered with golden yellow bracts. Though not common in cultivation, Liparia make an excellent evergreen shrub for tropical gardens where it flowers from autumn till summer. Flowers are similar to those of Dahlia.

Liparia, Mountain Dhalia

Liparia, Mountain Dhalia, Image by Derek Keats

Liparia belongs to the Fabaceae family of which a number of members are known as ornamental, flowering  plants such as Acacias and Mimosas as or as agricultural crops like soya bean, chickpeas and peanuts. Out of four species, L. splendens is more popular among gardeners. It is sometimes referred as Mountain Dahlia or Geelkoppie. This beautiful plant grows as erect shrub up to 1.5 meters and produces large drooping flowers of yellow or golden color. Flowering is followed by bean-like fruition. The plant attract ants, bees and garden birds.

How to Grow Liparia

This lovely flowering shrub is propagated from seeds or cuttings and grown in full to partial sun. Since it is native to mountainous regions, it should be grown is a well-drained and acidic soil. Provide ample water and protect the plant from long spells of freeze and frost.

13 Nov

Lovely Pompon Tree for Gardens and Landscapes

If you are looking for an easy-to-maintain ornamental tree with fragrant flowersPompon Tree should be on top of your list. Though it is suitable for tropical and sub-tropical regions only, it is undeniably the best candidate for landscaping in large or small gardens as well as for container gardens or as street tree.

Dais Cotonifolia, Pompon Tree

Dais Cotonifolia, Pompon Tree

Popmpon Tree or Dais Cotonifolia grows as a small tree and can be pruned or shaped easily to flourish in small spaces as well. Mature trees produce a decent crown which is covered with abundance of fragrant flowers in spring making it a highly decorative tree. Leaves are smooth and dark-green that fall in autumn. Globose flowers are pink, cream or mauve and emit lovely fragrance especially at dusk.

Dais Cotonifolia is quite easy to grow from seeds or cuttings. Young plants require moderate watering in a well-drained soil. Mature plants are capable of resisting some frost and periods of drought. Best suited for sunny or semi-shaded areas, Pompon Tree can be grown easily in containers, patios, lawn, garden landscapes or as part of massive street plantation schemes.

11 Nov

Lovely Flowering Bush for Beginners: Forsythia x Intermedia

Forsythia is a small genus of deciduous shrubs known for their spectacular golden flowers. These sun loving shrubs are a must for beginners and expert gardeners alike for its ability to produce abundance of lovely flowers in early spring when very few plants would bloom.

Forsythia is grown for many purposes – garden hedge, border plant, garden screens or as solitary ornamental shrub. Forsythia x Intermedia is perhaps the best representative of its genus. Usually known as Golden Bells, Forsythia x Intermedia grows as woody bush or sometimes as a small tree with many arching branches. It is quite a quick growing bush and requires regular pruning.

Forsythia x Intermedia, Golden Bells

Forsythia x Intermedia, Image by Maja Dumat - flickr.com

Forsythia x Intermedia produces sheds almost all of its leaves in autumn followed by abundance of bright yellow flowers in late winter or early spring. It is quite hardy plant and grows in almost any soil with good drainage. Water moderately and provide it with plenty of sunlight. Forsythia x Intermedia also tolerates frosty and windy conditions.

The best way to propagate this lovely bush is from softwood cuttings planted in summer.

10 Nov

Lovely Winter Blooming Shrub: Yellow Flax

Yellow Flax or Reinwardtia Indica is a small herbaceous plant from Pakistan, India and parts of China. Known for its rich yellow flowers, this beautiful flowering shrub is an excellent winter bloomer. The plant grows up to 1 meter and bears sprays of bright and lovely yellow flowers from autumn to spring. Though the life of flower is not more than a day, but it continues to bloom quite frequently.

Winter Blooming Yellow Flax

Yellow Flax, Image by Dinesh Valke

Flowers of Yellow Flax usually grow solitary on small stalks. Flowers have golden center and sometimes red nectar lines on petals. These lovely yellow flowers often remind me of Pablo Neruda who has described them beautifully thus –

“We are dust and to dust return.

In the end we’re

Neither air, nor fire, nor water,

Just dirt,

Neither more nor less, just dirt,

And maybe,

Some yellow flowers.”

Yellow Flax is a shade loving plant though it can be grown under bright sunlight too. It can grow under trees or in mixed garden beds. For best results, provide Yellow Flax plants with plenty of water and grow in a rich soil.

09 Nov

Indoor Ornamental Air Plant: Tillandsia Tenuifolia

Tillandsia, commonly known as Air Plants, is a genus of evergreen epiphytic plants from tropical, sub-tropical regions of America and the Caribbean. Suitable for indoor greenhouses, terrariums or indoor gardens, these unusual plants grow without soil and obtain moisture and nutrients from air. Most species of Tillandsia grow as small rosettes or form moss-like plants.

Tillandsia are easy to grow, in fact, they are maintenance-free plants when provided with the right level of moisture and temperature. These unusual plants require bright sunlight, preferably direct sunlight in the morning, and a temperature not exceeding 26◦ C. Since these plants obtain moisture from air, just spray these plants once or twice a day. Liquid fertilizer can be added to spray occasionally.

Tillandsia Tenuifolia, Air Plant

Tillandsia Tenuifolia

Though there are a number of species sold commercially, one of the most popular and ornamental is Tillandsia Tenuifolia. It is a small ‘succulent’ rosette of grey-green leaves that produces showy pink bracts in spring followed by red or purple petals. An excellent plant for greenhouses or indoor gardens, Tillandsia Tenuifolia can be grown almost anywhere in your home or apartment where moisture level is a bit high such as bathroom, kitchen, patio garden or anywhere else in your home.

08 Nov

Fragrant, Small Tree for Gardens: Widdringtonia Nodiflora

Widdringtonia is a small genus of coniferous trees usually described as African Cypress. Though not seen commonly in gardens, these evergreen trees make an excellent specimen plants in gardens and landscapes. Most species have fragrant wood which is usually used in preparing furniture and wooden panels because the timber is easy to work on resists decay.

Widdringtonia Nodiflora, Mountain Cypress

Widdringtonia Nodiflora, Mountain Cypress

Widdringtonia is found natively in mountain regions of South Africa only however it grows quite easily in tropical and sub-tropical climates as small trees or large shrubs. The genus of best represented by Widdringtonia Nodiflora or Mountain Cypress which grows as a medium sized tree of 12 to 15 feet and produces male and female cones on the same plant. Grown as evergreen specimen plant, it grows under full to partial sun and survives frosty and windy weather easily.

Widdringtonia Nodiflora also makes a nice subject of bonsai.

Image via PhytoImages

07 Nov

Brilliantly Colorful Flowering Plants: Tritonia

Tritonia is a genus of brilliantly colorful flowering plants from winter rainfall regions of South Africa but grown almost in every part of the world. These low growing plants grow and spread quite quickly and easily. A number of spring and summer flowering species of Tritonia are also available. Tritonia makes good display plants in landscapes, rockeries as well as in container gardens.

Tritonia Crocata, Flame Freesia

Tritonia Crocata, Image by Eric Hunt

Easily propagates from offsets, these bulbous plants are not much fussy about soil and water. They just grow in ordinary soil under bright sunlight and moderate watering. One of the popular species is Tritonia Crocata or Blazing Start or Flame Freesia which is grown as small flowering plants in landscapes. It grows best in a sandy soil with plenty of water during the growing season. Other popular species include: Tritonia Bakeri, T. Gladiolaris, and Tritonia Karooica. A number of hybrids are also available that produce flowers of red, orange, yellow, mauve, pink, cream and white colors.

Most of these species are drought tolerant and produce nice cut flowers.

06 Nov

Flowering Vine for Warm Climates: Pandorea ‘Bower Vine’

Pandorea is a small genus of climbers and woody vines. These sun loving vines grow quite vigorously and serve as nice plants grown against trellis and pergolas or when grown against walls or garden screens. The most common species which is commercially sold as Bower Plant is Pandorea Jaminoides. It is a fast growing twining plant that produces showy and colorful flowers almost all through the year in warmer climates. Originally native to Australia and Malaysia, Pandorea prefers warm climate and moist conditions. It grows as high as 4 meters and produces dark green foliage. Flowers are white or pink with a dark carmine throat.

Pandorea Jasminoides, Bower Vine

Pandorea Jasminoides, ‘Bower Vine’, Image by douneika (flickr)

Bower plant can also be grown in hanging baskets or as trailing plant in balcony gardens. Provide this quick growing climber with adequate water and grow I full to partial sun.

05 Nov

Easy to Grow Rockery Plant: Cotyledon ‘Pig’s Ear’

Cotyledon is a genus of wonderful succulent plants for gardens, rockeries, landscape designs or just as ornamental houseplants. These hardy succulents offer a lot of variety to choose from – small pot plants, tall leafy shrubs, evergreen ornamentals, beautiful hanging plants, and miniature plants for window gardens. Cotyledons are known for their fleshy leaves and beautiful flowers that make them stand out in any garden or landscape.

Native to South Africa and parts of Arabian Peninsula, Cotyledon require grow best in temperate and dry climates where they receive just sufficient water to survive. These plants are capable of storing enough water in their succulent leaves to survive spells of drought. Leaves of most species of Cotyledon have powdery surface that helps retain water by preventing evaporation and blocking harsh sunlight.

Cotyledon Orbiculata, Pig's Ear

Cotyledon Orbiculata, Pig's Ear, Image by Mollivan Jon

Cotyledon Orbiculata or Pig’ Ear is the most popular species of this genus which is widely grown by commercial nurseries as ornamental plant. This beautiful plant produces grey-green leaves with red or pink margins in pair. Orange, bell-shaped flowers grow in summer on long stalks.

Cotyledon Orbiculata can be grown in landscapes, rockeries or just as ornamental container plants. It propagates easy from cuttings and requires moderate watering in a well-drained soil. Protect from overwatering.