07 Dec

Lovely and Easy to Grow Indoor Tree: Brassaia Actinophylla

Brassaia is a popular houseplant grown for its ornamental foliage and unusual flowers. Native to tropical and subtropical regions of Australia, Asia and the Pacific, Brassaia is widely grown as small ornamental tree.

Among all known species, Brassia Actinophylla is the most popular and commercially available plant. It is also known as Umbrella Plant because of its leaves that grow in a set of leaves that actually looks like an umbrella. Brassia Actinophylla is easily propagated from cuttings rooted in summer; it requires a deep, rich and well-drained soil under sunny or semi-shaded spots. Its leaves are glossy-green and flowers are red that grown on a long stalk. The stalk appears from the crown of a mature plant. The unusual flowers are often seen in wild, however plants grown in containers rarely bloom.

Brassaia Actinophylla, The Umbrella Plant

Brassaia Actinophylla, The Umbrella Plant, Image by Ahmad Fuad Morad

Brassia Actinophylla is a perfect candidate for bonsai and an easy to maintain indoor container plant as well. Prune and pinch regularly when grown indoors to keep the plant in good shape.

06 Dec

Colorful, Tropical Garden Shrub: The Mickey Mouse Plant

Mickey Mouse plant is common name of Ochna Serrulata because of its beautiful shiny black and berry-like fruits. Ochna Serrulata produces narrow, elliptic leaves of glossy green texture enriched with new leaf growth of bright red color making it a nice ornamental plant. Mickey Mouse plant grows as shrublet sometimes growing into a small tree and performs very well as flowering hedge.

Ochna Serrulata, The Mickey Mouse Plant

Ochna Serrulata, The Mickey Mouse Plant

Ochna Serrulata like most of species of its genus produces bright yellow flowers in spring followed by fruition. Most of the species are deciduous plants and prefer sunny spot where they are protected from heavy frost. Though not fussy about soil, Mickey Mouse plant produces rich foliage and blooms when fed properly in a sunny or semi-shaded spot.

Fruit of Mickey Mouse plant is known to be used for medicinal purposes by Zulu people.

Another popular species is Ochna Pulchra which is known for its yellow, fragrant flowers and lovely growth of new foliage that changes colors from pink, red and green.

05 Dec

Winter Flowering Miniature Succulents: Cheiridopsis

Cheiridopsis is a genus of unusual succulent plants mostly from south-western Africa. Grown this sandy soil, these succulents are perfect choice for dish gardens, as small pot plants, miniature gardens, or rockeries for because of their low growing and clump forming habits.

Cheiridopsis, Succulent Flowering Plant

Cheiridopsis, Image by Manuel M. Ramos

Almost all species of Cheiridopsis grow in pairs of thick succulent leaves of olive or pale-green colors tinged with red and pink tips. Flowers usually appear from center of leaf-pair and resemble the flowers of daisy. Mature plants would form thick clumps and flower profusely in winter when Cheiridopsis would bloom and grow vigorously after a long dormant period in summer.

Cheiridopsis can be grown from seeds and planted in sandy soil to provide very well drained soil system. Provide these plants spots where they are protected from winter frost and direct sunlight of summer. Water barely enough to keep them alive in summer. Start moderate watering in winter.

Popular species include:

Cheiridopsis Herrei: Easy to grow, clump forming plants with small green leaves tipped with shades of pink or purple.

Cheiridopsis Serrulata: Grey-green succulent leaves with bright yellow flowers in spring and winter.

03 Dec

Evergreen, Ornamental Shrubs for Your Lovely Garden: Mahonia

Mahonia is a genus of attractive, evergreen shrubs with fragrant winter flowers. Popular as ground covers, border plants or hedges, most species of Mahonia do very well as ornamental plants in ground or as pot plants. These evergreen shrubs are originally native to Asia, and Central and North America but are popular houseplants all over the world especially in Europe where it is grown for its winter/autumn flowers and showy fruits.

Flowers of Mahonia usually appear on long stalks and last for a long time. Most species would produce berry-like flowers after flowering period.

Ornamental, Flowering Shrub: Mahonia

Scented Yellow Flowers of Mahonia, Image by Shihmei Barger (flickr)

How to Grow Mahonia

Mahonia are frost hardy and do not have any special requirements of soil and water. However, these ornamental shrubs would grow in to perfect ornamental plants when grown with a little care. They are not fussy about growing conditions – just provide moderate water, a sunny spot and a well-drained soil in tropical or sub-tropical climate. These beautiful shrubs can be divided easily by softwood cuttings.

Popular species include:

M. lomariifolia: Evergreen, winter flowering shrub; grows up to 2 meters and produces deep yellow flowers followed by black berries.

M. japonica: Tall and wide spreading shrub with scented, lemon flowers. It is quite hardy plant and produced abundance of flowers.

M. aquifolium: Usually known as Oregon Grape; this lovely plant makes a good ground cover and produces flowers usually in spring. Good choice for landscpaes or rock gardens.