30 Dec

Lovely Tree for Tropical Gardens: Peltophorum Africanum

Peltophorum is a small genus of quick-growing trees from the family of Fabaceae (the family of Wisteria and Cassia, Robinia and other amazing bloomers). Like other plants from this family, Peltophorum is known for its ornamental flowers that are produced abundantly in drooping racemes of golden-yellow color.

Native to tropical climates of Africa, Peltophorum are grown in many parts of the world as ornamental shade trees. Most popular of all species is Peltophorum Africanum which is commercially known as Weeping Wattle. It is a quick-growing that grows as high as 10 meters and produces a dense crown of mimosa-like leaves.

Peltophorum Africanum

Peltophorum Africanum Image by Tatiatna Gerus

Crinkled flowers of golden-yellow color appear in summer and last long. Like other trees of the family, Peltophorum loves sunny conditions, well-drained soil and moderate watering. Propagation is done from seeds.

The leaves of Peltophorum Africanum are used as fodder whereas timber is used for manufacturing of furniture. The roots and bark are also used in traditional medicine in Africa.

28 Dec

Summer Blooming Shrub for Beginners: Valeriana Officinalis

Valeriana is a large genus of perennial shrubs known for their sweet-scented and colorful flowers. A number of species from this genus grow natively across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. The most popular of all species is Valeriana Officinalis. It is an evergreen, perennial shrub that grows up to 1.5 meters and produces flowers of pink, white or lavender flowers in summer.

Valeriana Officinalis

Valeriana Officinalis, Image by Willie Angus

Valeriana Officinalis has been in cultivation for many hundred years for both ornamental and medicinal purposes. Even today, it is grown commercially for Valeriana root which is used in preparation of sedative and relaxant drugs for patients of insomnia and hysteria. The name, Valeriana, is itself a derivation of Latin word valeo meaning ‘healthy’.

Apart from medicinal benefits, Valeriana is equally good for gardeners. It is an easy to grow plant and thrives in almost any soil type as far as the plant receives bright sunlight and moderate water. The best place to plant Valeriana Officinalis can be mix borders, containers or landscapes where it makes a decent ornamental plant often laden with fragrant clusters of funnel-shaped flowers. The plant can be propagated from seeds and cuttings.

25 Dec

Unusual, Tropical Fern for Your Garden: Platycerium

If you are in to collecting unusual plants, Platycerium should be in your top-ten list. This genus of unusual rather oddly-shaped ferns offers some extra ordinarily ornamental plants for both indoor and outdoor gardening. Native to tropical regions of Asia, Australia, South America and Africa, Platycerium require are epiphytic plants that usually grow on large trees. When growing these beautiful ferns at home, they can be grown indoors in hanging baskets in patios or near sunny windows. For growing outdoors, they would well against a tree or on wooden surface.

Platycerium, Tropical, Epiphytic Fern

Platycerium, Image by Michael Dawes

Platycerium produces basal and fertile fronds. Basal leaves are broad and kidney-shaped; they protect the root system and conserve water. Fertile leaves appear as the plant matures and take unusual shapes – usually broad and horn-shaped, thus getting the common name ‘Staghorn fern’.

Platycerium, like Air Plants, do not require soil. Most species grow as epiphytic plants and just require warm, well-lit and humid conditions to flourish. Provide them with regular water and sunny conditions. When in doubt, water sparingly as these plants can withstand drought and come back to life quickly as soon as they are hydrated properly.

Platycerium Bifurcatum

Platycerium Bifurcatum, Image by faroutflora.com

Leaves on a healthy Platycerium plant under suitable growing conditions can grow as wide as 1 meter – giving a very exotic touch to indoor and outdoor gardens.

24 Dec

Miniature Succulents for Dish Gardens: Conophytum

Conophytums are my personal favorites ever since I was introduced to these miniature succulents. Though a bit tricky to grow, they are excellent plants for dish gardens. These miniature plants grow in small spreading clumps and usually form thick mat of succulent leaves. Each Conophytum plant consists of a pair of leaves that withers out to make room for a fresh pair in growing season. Some species also branch out – each branch consists of a pair of leaves.

Miniature Conophytum Succulent Plants

Conophytum Plants, Image by Manuel M. Ramos

Conophytums are usually grown in dish gardens where they spread slowly but make good ornamental plants for window gardening. They also do well in rockeries where they can be grown in crevices.

Conophytums come from winter rainfall regions of South Africa and Namibia where they grow vigorously in winter and go dormant in summer. Thus the best way to grow Conophytum plants at home is to provide them with the same climate – generous watering under bright sunlight in winter, and barely moist in shady spots in winter. Grow Conophytums in a loose, PH-balanced and a well-drained soil. They are not hungry plants and occasional supply of water-soluble fertilizer in winter in usually sufficient. Ideal temperature for Conophytums is 10 to 25 ◦C.

Most species of Conophytum bear yellow, white, purple or orange flowers in winter with a hint of fragrance. Usually grown from seeds, popular species of Conophytum include: C. obcordellum, C. truncatum, C. pellucidum, C. meyeri, and Conophytum gratum.


22 Dec

Lovely Plant for Hanging Basket: Callisia Elegans

Callisia is a genus of low growing plants with delicate and lovely foliage. Native to dry climate of Mexico,these sprawling plants server as excellent ground covers for dry as well as moderate climates where they are protected from long spells of freeze and frost.

Most species in this genus produce velvety, green leaves and small white flowers. The most popular and easy to maintain plant from this genus is Callisia Elegans. It can be grown easily in beds or in hanging pots. The plant produces olive-green leaves with purple edges. This ornamental plant requires a moist soil at all times and performs very well when grown under partial shade. Fertilize regularly and repot every spring in a rich but well-drained soil mix.

Callisia Elegans

Callisia, Inch Plant

Though popular for its beautiful foliage, Callisia Elegans produces small yet beautiful and fragrant flowers of white color. Propagation is done from cuttings or divisions.

Common name of Callisia Elegans is Inch Plant.

21 Dec

Aruncus Dioicus, The Goat’s Beard Plant

Aruncus Dioicus or Goat’s Beard belongs to a small genus of perennials from Europe, Asia and North America. The plant is grown for its broad, fern-like leaves that make it an excellent ornamental plant for landscapes. It also serves as an excellent foliage plant for gardens where it can be grown in shady spots to provide a rich background to flowering beds.

Aruncus Dioicus, Goat's Beard

Aruncus Dioicus, Image by Megan Hansen

Aruncus Dioicus does not have any special requirements of soil as it can be grown quite easily is almost any type of soil. Growing as a decent foliage plant, Aruncus Dioicus grows up to 2 meters and bears delicate plumes of creamy-white flowers in summer. The name ‘Aruncus’ comes from a Greek word meaning ‘beard of goat’ because of the feathery plumes that actually resembles the beard of a goat.

Aruncus Dioicus belongs to the family of rose. It grows as a low-maintenance plant that has average watering requirements and grows in a well-drained soil under full sun to partial shade.

20 Dec

Sow and Crop with SproutRobot

If you are on facebook and have the slightest flavor for gardening, chances are great that you are/have been addicted to FarmVille. I remember spending endless moments of sowing and cropping during my days of gross addiction – always thinking about withering crops and actually setting up alarms and reminders 🙂

Fortunately, for real gardeners, there is actually a service called SproutRobot that takes care of your sowing and cropping schedules and sends you reminders and seeds – excellent idea.

SproutRobot is simple and really useful. The idea behind the services is to “tell you when to plant fruits and veggies in your garden and send you seeds”.



You can sign up for a free basic account and start growing your favorite plants without hassle. You just have to provide your zip code. SproutRobot services suggests you suitable plants and gives complete schedule for sowing seeds in your garden as per your personal preferences.

The free SproutRobot account comes with a complete gardening calendar for the year and regular alerts, tips and reminders via email. You can also select and buy seeds online. Paid subscriptions of $ 19.99/year, $ 39.99/year and $ 59.99/year give you option to grow 3, 8 or 10 different varieties respectively. The seeds provided by SproutRobot are certified organic and come from Seeds of Change.

SproutRobot promises ‘hand-checked’ gardening calendars, heirloom organic seeds, free instructions and reminder via email, and 100% money back guarantee.

Start with a free account and let us know your experience with SproutRobot.