28 Jun

Pennisetum: Ornamental Grasses for Landscapes and Gardens

Pennisetum is a genus of annual and perennial ornamental grasses from tropical and temperate regions of the world. Some popular species from this genus include millet, grain and some fodder plants. These ornamental grasses are known for their foliage and flowers that really add ornamental value to gardens and landscapes.

Pennisetum are generally tough, drought-tolerant and easily grown plants. They usually grow in small clumps and produce soft, feathery inflorescence in late summer. Most species of Pennisetum are frost hardy in tropical climates; however they need protection from long winters of cold regions. These plants prefer full sun and a well-drained soil. In their native climate, these plants can withstand drought and require only moderate watering.

Pennisetum Setaceum 'Rubrum'

Pennisetum Setaceum 'Rubrum', Image by Matt Lavin

Some of the popular species of Pennisetum include:

Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’ (Fountain Grass) – Grows up to 1 meter and produces rose-colored flowers on long spikes in summer.

Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’ (Dwarf Fountain Grass) – Relatively smaller species (50 to 75 cm) with small clumps of grassy leaves; grows in almost any soil. Prefers full sun and a little moist soil. Flowers appear in late summer.

Pennisetum orientale (Oriental Fountain Grass) – Ornamental grass with fresh green leaves that grow up to 75 cm. This species produces white, feathery flowers and prefers partial sun, moist soil and a regular soil mix with good drainage.

26 Jun

Quick Tip # 2: Buying Plants

Avoid buying a plant in bloom. When you buy a new plant and move it to your home or garden, it requires sufficient amount of energy to adjust to new conditions especially when you are transplanting it. If the plant is already in bloom, it would continue to finish the blooming cycle instead of establishing itself resulting in poor health. If you have to buy a blooming plant, it is better to nip the buds and blooms so that that plant can use its energies to acclimatize itself. Once established in its new place, the plant would produce healthy foliage and prolific blooms in the next blooming season.

23 Jun

Lovely, Multicolor Houseplant: Agave lophantha ‘quardicolor’

The very first look at my rooftop garden would tell you that I have a special interest for Agaves so much so that they have gradually taken place of other succulent plants in my collection. I love Agave plants for the variety of colors, texture, foliage, size and formation. Another reason that I tend to love my Agave plants more than other succulents is their ability to survive harsh and humid summers as well as nearly freezing winters.

The plants in my Agave collection are as big as 4 meters across and as small as 6 inches across – and of course, there are many personal favorites. One of them is Agave lophantha ‘quardicolor’. It is a very interesting and colorful plant that grows as a medium sized and compact plant. It is characterized by green leaves with a pale-green mid stripe, and bright yellow border having greyish spines. In winters, yellow borders get a hint of red color to add the fourth shade and justifying the name of the plant – quardicolor.

Agave lophantha 'quadricolor'

Image from pieceofeden.blogspot.com/

Agave lophantha ‘quardicolor’ grows as a compact plant. Leaves can grow up to 30 cm long whereas the plant itself attains the diameter of 60 cm. Mature plants produce suckers that can be separated easily to propagate the plant. Flowers on Agave lophantha ‘quardicolor’ appear rarely.

Since it is quite hardy, Agave lophantha ‘quardicolor’ can be a good ornamental plant for containers, rock gardens or xeriscapaes.  It requires moderate watering, and full to partial sun (avoid direct sunlight where summer is harsh). When grown in containers, repot every two or three years or according to the size of the plant.

22 Jun

[Event, Jun 24, 2012] How to make your own terrarium at home

No green thumb or yard space needed- create your own sustainable eco-system with a DIY terrarium. The perfect option for us LA folk without much yard space, Jessica will explain all you need to know about succulents, cacti, and desert plants. Design a terrarium in a dish or vase and keep for yourself or gift it! All plants & containers for terrariums included, plus a take-home reference chart, plant care guide, and refreshments to sip on while you work!

Get your hands dirty and grow something great; it’s your world, celebrate it.

Event: Homemade Terrarium

Date/Time: Sunday, June 24, 2012 – 4:00 PM

 

Location: 7377 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90046

Organizer: Life Crowd

More info: https://www.lifecrowd.com/activity/homemade-terrariums/2844

 

 

20 Jun

Fancy and Flowery: Scilla

Scilla is a genus of low-growing and bulbous perennials that make excellent container or border plants. Most plants form this genus come from summer rainfall regions of Europe, South Africa and Asia. Though, not common in cultivation, Scilla are nice and easy-to-grow plants that produce clumps of lovely blue or purple flowers in spring.

Scilla flowers

Scilla flowers growing in a landscape, Image by Roger Bruce

Being low-growing plants, Scilla can be grown as border plants, or to fill empty spaces in landscapes and flower beds where they can grow up to 3 feet.  Most species of Scilla grown under partial sun and prefer slightly moist but rich, loamy soil. Late summer or early autumn is the best time to plant bulbs. Young plants produce fresh foliage in winter and spring. Pale blue or purple flowers appear in spring but they do not last long.

Popular species of Scilla include: Schilla peruviana, S.madeirensis, S. greillhuberi, and Scilla messeniaca.

19 Jun

Unusual Succulent Plant for Miniature Gardens: Fenestraria

Fenestraria is a small genus of miniature succulent plants that can be grown indoor or outdoor as small ornamental plants. These tiny plants are characterized by clumps of small, soft and succulent leaves. Fenestraria comes from arid regions of Namibia and South Africa where they grow and hide themselves in sandy soil in order to retain maximum water in their leaves protect them from harsh sunlight. When grown as houseplants, they tend to produce large clumps of fleshy and soft leaves that look like pebbles or tiny toes, that is why, they are commonly described as Baby Toes plants.

Fenestraria

Fenestraria rhopalophylla (Baby Toes), Image from wikipedia.

Fenestraria or Baby Toes are excellent choice for miniature gardens or as miniature indoor plants. They can be grown in containers as low-maintenance plants. Either grown indoor or outdoor, Fenestraria loves bright but filtered sunlight in summer and protection from winter frost. The plant requires sandy and well-drained soil with regular dose of general fertilizer. Water only when the soil is completely dry because these plants cannot survive wet conditions.

Fenestraria or Baby Toes plant produces white or yellow flowers in winter. Commercially available species are:

Fenestraria aurantiaca: Grows as dwarf (50 mm) succulent plant and produces grey-green leaves and yellow flowers.

F. rhophalophylla: Miniature succulent with white flowers and grey-green leaves; grows up to 40 mm.

 

Though a little tricky, Fenestraria can be grown from seeds.

18 Jun

Lovely, Hardy, Musky and Delightful: Muscari armeniacum

Muscari is a genus of bulbous plants from Europe and the Mediterranean regions and are known for their spectacular flowers and delightful musky fragrance. These lovely bloomers do not require much care, in fact, they would do well even when neglected, and grow in almost anywhere in a garden. Most species can be grown in beds, containers, rock gardens, borders or even in mass plantation schemes where they would grow in clusters and produce prolific flowers of purple-blue or white color.

Muscari armeniacum

Muscari armeniacum, Image by Kai Yan, Joseph Wong

Small Muscari flowers grow in clusters on short stalks (up to 10 inches) in spring and emit musky fragrance thus justifying its name – Muscari (derived from Greek word moschos, meaning ‘musk’). These thick clusters of purple flowers often look like bunches of grapes, that is why, these plants are commonly described as Grape Hycinths. The lovely flowers of Muscari are often seen in the background of dark-green foliage that only dies in summer followed by new growth of fresh-green leaves.

Muscari are very easy to grow – they only need full to partial sun, and a rich, moist but well-drained soil. The bulbs can be planted in containers or beds in late summer. For best results, bulbs should be sown in groups or clusters. These clustered plants would produce abundance of flowers that emit delightful fragrance and attract bees and butterflies. For added effects, companion plants like Alyssum, Forsythia, Iris or Narcissus can be grown with Muscari.

Popular species of Muscari include Muscari armeniacum and M. botryoides.

15 Jun

Lovely Lilac

Syringa is a genus of deciduous and woody shrubs known for their beautiful fragrant flowers and ability to survive cold and temperate climates. Native to Asia, Europe and South Africa, many varieties and hybrids of Syringa are grown worldwide as ornamental plants in gardens and landscapes.

The most common of all species is Syringa vulgaris which grows as a woody shrub up to 5 meters and produces fragrant lilac flowers in spring or early summer. However, a number of other cultivars and hybrids are grown commercially and described generally as Lilac. Some popular hybrids are Charles Joy Lilac, Sensation Lilac, Miss Kim, and Angel White Lilac.

Lilac, Flowering Shrub

Syringa / Lilac Flowers, Image by Nick Wolfe

Most of these verities grow into large bushes reaching 5 meters or more and require regular pruning after every flowering season. These bushy plants can be propagated easily from cuttings. Though the genus is known for lilac flowers, however, new verities produce flowers in all shades of lavender, dark purple, blue, pink and white.

Lilacs can be grown under full or partial sun in a fertile, slightly alkaline, and well-drained soil. Avoid over watering and feed them with some lime and well-rotted manure when flowering ends. Start each flowering season with application of a fresh layer of compost (in early spring) under the plant to controls weeds and retain moisture.

13 Jun

Lovely and Unusual, Moraea tortilis: The Spiral Grass

Moraea tortilis or Spiral Grass is a bulbous plant known for its very unusual and ornamental twisting and curly leaves that resemble a corkscrew. Native to limited regions of Namibia and South Africa, Moraea tortilis is a hardy and drought tolerant plant. In cultivation, it can be propagated in a well-drained soil and under sunny exposure. The bulb usually grows up to 2.5 cm in diameter with several twisting and curly leaves that grow up to 15 cm. The succulent and glossy leaves of Moraea tortilis are light-green providing a beautiful background to its white or purple-blue flowers that appear in spring till late summer. Flowers are usually short-lived but add dramatic effect to the intriguing beauty of its spiral leaves.

Moraea tortilis, Spiral Grass

Moraea tortilis, Spiral Grass, Image from duitang.com

Known for its beautiful, spiral leaves, Moraea tortilis makes an excellent ornamental houseplant grown in pots or hanging baskets. As the name suggests, it is not actually a grass but serves as a nice low-growing plants for containers.

Moraea tortilis can be grown indoors as well as outdoors provided that it receives plenty of sunlight, moderate water and a regular but granular soil mix.

Where to buy Moraea tortilis?

I receive many queries from readers asking where to buy Moraea tortilis. Though I have not purchased it yet, I found a couple of online sellers on Amazon. You can check them out here.

10 Spiral Grass Seeds ($5.86)

Spiral Grass Seeds x 10 ($5.44)

Spiral Grass Seeds ($7.38) from joyously

Spiral Grass 10 Seed ($5.35) from Souked