19 Dec

Lovely, Loveable, Rananculus

Rananculus is a large genus of annuals and biennials popular for very versatile and showy flowers of red, white, yellow, pink and orange color. Besides more than 250 species that include buttercups, spearworts and water crowfoots, there is a huge variety of extensively hybrid available today. Most hybrids are available as single as well as double varieties in a broad spectrum of colors.

Rananculus are moisture-loving plants and grow well when provided with cool and moist conditions. Some of the species are grown as aquatic or waterside plants.

Rananculus Flowers

Rananculus Flowers, Image by Sandy Austin

Almost all species of Rananculus produce showy flowers that last long and can be used as excellent cut flowers. Propagated from bulbs, these plants are easy to grow and maintain when provided with a rich soil and plenty of water.

From a large range of species and varieties, Rananculus Asiaticus is the most common and undeniably the most favorite among gardeners in all parts of the world. It grows natively in south-eastern Europe, south-eastern Asia and parts of Africa but grown commercially in almost all parts of the world. It is a quick growing plant and produces red, pink, white or yellow flowers that spread 3-5 cm across.

Rananculus Asiaticus is usually described as Persian Buttercup.

18 Dec

7 Tips to Prevent Pests in Your Garden

Pests are uninvited guests to the garden but spraying them furiously is not the right way to remove them. You have to be cautious when selecting a pesticide as most of the pesticides would kill nasty as well as friendly pests. Hence the best way to control pests is to prevent them from establishing and growing in your garden. Spraying insecticide should be the last resort.

The following are some useful and natural ways to prevent pests is your garden.

Keep your garden clean – Always keep your garden free from weeds; they might attract unwanted pests in your garden. Remove debris; it might become safe haven for pests. Do not allow unwanted parts of plants to decay in open. Either remove them or use them to prepare your own compost.

Provide the right spots to the plants – Provide your plants with the best growing conditions. Plants that require sunny conditions should be planted in place where they receive good amount of sunlight for most part of the day. Plants that do not get the right growing conditions are more prone to diseases and pests. Try to grow native plants that are easier to keep healthy and strong; avoid plants that are difficult to grow in your climate unless you can spend time and effort to keep the healthy.

Garden Pests

Prepare the ground well – Whether your plants grow in the ground of in containers, provide them with a balanced and well-prepared soil. Whatever is the type of soil your plants prefer, make sure that it contains the right mix and comes from healthy sources. Do not reuse soil that comes from a diseased plant.

Frequently change location – Try to rotate growing spots especially if you grow vegetables or annuals. Growing the same plant is a spot for years raises the chances of insects to invade and establish them slowly.

Keep your plants healthy – Healthy plants are more resistant to pest attacks. Provide your plants with the right amount of water, light and fertilizer. Plants that get scrappy should be removed or at least separated.

Understand and diagnose – Understand growing habits of common pests to prevent them from appearing. For instance, there are some insects that propagated in boggy soil. You can prevent them by keeping the soil from becoming boggy. Pests that grow underneath leaves can be diagnosed by regularly examining your plants. When a branch of leaf is affected, remove it immediately. Spraying insecticide should be the last option. Dispose affected parts off properly.

Attract birds and keep friendly pests – There are a number of garden birds that feed on insects. Place a bird feeder or grow plants that attract birds to garden.

Friendly insects like bees, ground beetle, hover fly and ladybeetles discourage the growth of harmful insects. You can also purchase them to release in your garden.

15 Dec

Ornamental Grass for Lovely Landscapes: Miscanthus sinensis

I have a special liking for grasses when it comes to selecting accent plants for landscapes and gardens. Though usually under-valued, grasses, like Pampas or Miscanthus, can add a soft and striking look to any garden or landscape design. They are easy to maintain, do not require special attention and look good in any season – just like Miscanthus sinensis.

Usually described as Chinese Silver Grass or sometimes as Zebra Grass, Miscanthus sinensis is quite a robust grass that produces large clumps of blue-green leaves. Like other species of this genus, this ornamental grass grows as tall as 3 meters and produces long, feathery flowers heads of silvery-white color in summer.

Miscanthus Sinensis Grass

Miscanthus sinensis, Image via Wikipedia

How to Grow Miscanthus sinensis

Miscanthus sinensis is a sun loving grass and grows as evergreen perennial in Pakistan, India, Japan, Korea and parts of Eastern Asia. It is resistant to both windy and frosty conditions and withstands long droughts.

This graceful grass can be used in gardens and landscapes to fill in tough spots and empty spaces where no other plant can survive. It is also good as ornamental plant along borders or for adding variety to ornamental landscapes. It is also used in dried flower arrangements. It is also considered a good source of fiber in paper industry. Another popular variety, Miscanthus giganteus is an excellent source of ethanol and bio fuel.

Miscanthus sinensis is also described as Susuki Grass in Japan.

13 Dec

Colorful Shrub for Hedges and Screens: Photinia Glabra ‘Rubens’

Today’s featured plant is Photinia Glabra ‘Rubens’ – another tropical shrub ideal for hedges, dividers, screen, topiary projects or outdoor specimen plant – very versatile plant indeed. Native to Pakistan and parts of South and East Asia, Photinia is grown for its colorful foliage. Typically, a plant would contain old green leaves and new growth of glossy red foliage. As the winter approached the entire turns red.

Photinia Glabra, Colorful Shrub

Photinia Glabra, Image Tatiana Gerus

Photinia Glabra produces dense foliage and grows up to 6 meters as evergreen shrub. Flowers appear in profuse sprays of tiny white flowers. Flowering is followed by fruition in the form of small red berries that eventually turn black.

Almost all species of Photinia can be propagated easily by softwood cuttings planted in summer. Since these plants belong to the family of rose, they require a good soil mix and ample water to flourish well. For best results, provide Photinia Glabra with bright sunlight, regular trimming and fertilizer at least once a year.

12 Dec

Tropically Yours, The Firecracker Flower

Firecracker Flower – the name given to Crossandra Infundibuliformis, is as unusual and fantastic as this lovely plant itself is. Growing as a small shrub, this lovely tropical bloomer produces flowers of salmon, yellow or orange color all through the year. A cousin of Black-eyed Susan, Firecracker Flower belongs to Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India and Madagascar where it grows as evergreen shrub.

Crossandra Infundibuliformis, The Firecracker Flower

Firecracker Flower, Image by Hedwig Storch

It is an excellent ornamental plant for both indoor and outdoor usage. However, the best results are achieved when it is grown in garden beds under bright sunlight. Firecracker Flower is propagated from cuttings and grows easily as long as it is protected from freeze and frost. The plant bears glossy green foliage that provides a decent background for its showy flowers. Most gardeners grow Firecracker Flower in mix borders, garden beds or as a small hedge.

When provided with moderate watering and fairly rich soil, this lovely bloomer would continue to produce colorful flowers for many years. The flowers last long and are often used locally in preparing garlands. Flowers are followed by seed pods that ‘explode’ to spread seeds all around and thus giving the plant its common name – Firecracker Flower.

Popular varieties of Firecracker Flower include: ‘Lutea’ or Yellow Crossandra and ‘Tropic Flame’.

11 Dec

Indoor Ornamental Plant for Warm Climates: Schefflera arboricola

Schefflera is a small shrubby tree often found in tropical and subtropical regions almost all across the world. Most of the species perform very well both indoors and outdoors and make excellent foliage plants in warmer areas. Schefflera are fast growing plants and are typically useful for in landscapes or massive plantation schemes. The most popular of species from this genus is Schefflera arboricola  – a common indoor ornamental plant with abundance of glossy green leaves. It is commercially grown and sold as Hawaiian Elf.

Schefflera Arboricola, Ornamental Indoor Plant

Schefflera arboricola, Image via tarjeplanta.com

How to Grow Schefflera arboricola

Schefflera arboricola  like most species of this genus produces large palmate leaves in a set of seven or eight leaflets in a circular pattern. It propagates easily from seeds, cuttings or by layering. For best results, provide it with bright sunlight and water only when the soil is dry. When growing it indoors, make sure that the plant receives direct light at least in the morning. Schefflera arboricola is also available with variegated foliage. Flowers appear on long stalk but are not much significant.

It is a good subject of bonsai experiments as well. When grown indoors, regular pruning would help keep your plants is good shape.

10 Dec

Love in a mist…

Love-in-a-mist or Nigella Damascena is a herbaceous annual from the family of Buttercup. Originally belonging to Mediterranean climates of southern Europe, Africa and Asia, this beautiful flowering plant has been a popular garden plant in most parts of the world.

This lovely annual can be grown in flowers beds, mix borders or in empty spaces is garden. Popular for its dainty flowers, Nigella Damascena serves as an attractive plant even when not it blooms. Flowers are usually blue or violet that bloom in spring or summer. Flowers of Nigella Damascena are characterized by beautiful and delicate thin bracts that surround each flower giving this plant its common name – Live-in-a-mist.

Love in a mist, Nigella Damascena

Nigella Damascena (Love in a Mist), Image by Ian Sutton

Nigella Damascena is propagated from seeds; usually sown directly in beds as they do not like to be transported or transplanted. Once established in your garden, it would self-seed to propagate itself. A sunny spot and regular soil mix with good drainage are sufficient for these hardy annuals.

When in bloom, Nigella Damascena can be easily identified by its delicate flowers that can serve very well as cut flower. Flowers last long and are also dried for using in dry arrangements.

Popular varieties of Nigella Damascena are: ‘Miss Jekyll’, ‘Oxford Blue’, ‘Persian Jewel’ and ‘Persian Rose’.

09 Dec

Quick Growing, Tropical Ground Cover: Rhoeo Spathacea

Rhoeo Spathacea is a fast growing and evergreen perennial usually grows as ground cover or border plant. Native to West Indies, Mexico and parts of central America, this tender perennial produces clumps of long bicolor leaves – green leaves with purple side underneath.

Rhoeo Spathacea which is commercially sold as Boat Lily or Moses in the Cradle is quite fast growing plant in warm and humid climates. It can also survive long spells of drought which makes it a good choice for landscapes, xeriscape projects and ornamental perennial for places where most plants would not grow easily. Rhoeo Spathacea only requires a regular but well-drained soil mix, a sunny or partially shaded spot, a moderate watering. It is does quite well as ornamental houseplant especially for beginners.

Rhoeo Spathacea, Ground Cover Plant

Rhoeo Spathacea, Image by Tony Rodd

Rhoeo Spathacea is not a demanding plant and grows well with other plants, that is why, it can be grown with a number of other plants in garden beds, mix borders, landscaping schemes, rock gardens or just as ornamental ground cover. It can also be grow in hanging baskets to add delightful colors in patios or window and balcony gardens.

Rhoeo Spathacea produces small white flowers almost all through the year. Flowers are, however, not very significant. Propagation is easy from cuttings taken in spring or fall.