10 Jul

Ornamental Shrub for Gardens and Landscapes: Salvia chamelaeagnea

Salvia is a large genus of shrubs and herbaceous perennials from the family of mint, sage and several other herbs and medicinal plants. With their worldwide distribution, Salvias are grown for their attractive foliage and flowers. Most species have evergreen and often fragrant foliage with small but showy flowers.

Among many popular species, Salvia chamelaeagnea is my favorite plant. It is quite hardy and can be grown as ornamental plant in many different places and growing conditions. It makes a good border plant, a nice choice for large landscapes, or as evergreen foliage plant rock gardens or sandy soils.

Salvia chamelaeagnea

Salvia chamelaeagnea

Salvia chamelaeagnea grows as an evergreen shrub growing up to 1 meter or more. The plant produces green leathery leaves that make it a good ornamental plant for gardens and landscapes. Flowers of white or blue color appear in summer that add to the beauty of this lovely plant. Salvia chamelaeagnea has upright growth and can be trimmed easily to keep it in shape. It is propagated from seed or cuttings and grown under full or partial sun in a regular but well-drained soil.

Like many other plants in its family, Salvia chamelaeagnea has been used as a medicinal plant that relieves cough, cold, diarrhea, and colic.

Other popular species of Salvia include: Salvia dolomitica, S. farinacea, S. officinalis, and Salvia splendens.

09 Jul

Colorful Ground Cover with Lovely Flowers: Polygonum capitatum

Polygonum is a large genus of very versatile and multipurpose plants. The genus includes several climbers, ground covers, aquatics, and small perennials and annuals that can be grown quickly and easily. Most species of Polygonum are low-growing plants that produce colorful foliage and delicate flowers of various colors.

Propagated from seeds or cuttings, Polygonums are popular urban plants. They can be grown as ornamental houseplants or attractive foliage and landscape plants. Several species of Polygonum are commercially available as ground covers or border plants. These are usually sold under their common name Knotweed. My favorite is Polygonum capitatum. It is a small and low-growing ground cover that produces attractive green foliage that turns reddish, pink or bronze when grown under bright sunlight. Flowers grow in small heads of tiny pink flowers in spring, summer and autumn.

Polygonum capitatum

Polygonum capitatum, Knotweed, Image by Christian Defferrard

Polygonum capitatum grows in a regular soil and requires moderate watering under full or partial sun.

08 Jul

Spiny, Hardy, Lovely, and Flowery Cactus: Echinopsis

Echinopsis is the most popular and widely grown genus from the family of cactus. This genus includes more than 100 species varying in size, shape and growing habits. Most of the species in the genus of Echinopsis grow in clusters of globular heads. In some species, these globular heads remain solitary whereas some species produce several offspring around globular heads.

Echinopsis are fast growing plants, and with age they change their shape from globular heads to elongated succulent stems. Old plants can grow into large clumps measuring more than 60 cm in diameter. At this age, most species of Echinopsis produce profuse flowers in spring and summer. The funnel-shaped flowers come in all shades of yellow, white, pink and orange. The best known flowers are borne on Echinopsis multiplex (sometimes described as Echinopsis oxygana).

Echinopsis Huntigton Hybrid

Echinopsis Huntigton Hybrid, Image by epiforums(flickr)

Originally native to South America, Echinopsis multiplex is widely cultivated is many parts of the work for its lovely flowers. Though flowers last for a day or two, they appear in flushes several time during spring and summer – producing many flowers in each cycle. It is quite hardy plant that does not require special attention or growing conditions to thrive. Moderate watering, a regular soil mix with good drainage, and bright sunlight are more than sufficient for this hardy plant to grow. If kept dry, Echinopsis can easily withstand frost and cold.

Echinopsis multiplex

Echinopsis multiplex, Image by pizzodisevo (flickr)

Echinopsis can be propagated from offspring sown in spring or summer. The best and most sought after varieties of Echinopsis are Schick hybrids produced by the Huntington garden. These include (my favorites):

Echinopsis ‘Antares’, Echinopsis ‘Bacarole’, Echinopsis ‘Brigitte’s Beauty’, Echinopsis ‘Desdemona’ and many more.

Echinopsis Schick Hybrid

Echinopsis Schick Hybrid, Image by epiforums(flickr)

Common names of Echinopsis are Hedgehog cacti, Sea-Urchin cactus or Easter lily cactus.

05 Jul

Ornamental Houseplant for Tropical Climate: Aphelandra squarrosa (Zebra Plant)

Aphelandra, usually known as Zebra Plant, is an evergreen perennial from tropical climates. It is popular among gardeners and horticulturists for its beautiful foliage and flowers. The genus includes about 170 species of evergreen bushes; all known by the common name – Zebra Plant.

Aphelandras or Zebra Plants are characterized by large, showy and glossy green leaves with prominent veins of white or silver color that make these plants quite attractive and a good choice as ornamental houseplants. One of the common species is Aphelandra squarrosa. It produces large leaves and quite showy and colorful flowers surrounded by yellow bracts.

Aphelandra squarrosa

Aphelandra squarrosa, Zebra Plant, Image via CoffeeGeek.com

Most species of Aphelandra are frost tender and do not grow well in colder climates. They are best grown under partial shade and rich, organic soil. For best results, Aphelandras should be provided with moist soil and temperature not falling below 70 F.

Flowers on Zebra Plant appear in late summer or autumn and last for several weeks. Both the flowers and foliage make Aphelandra a good candidate for container gardening and ornamental houseplant for patios and gardens where they can be grown for seasonal displays.

05 Jul

9 Creative Ideas for DIY Garden Borders

Garden Border with Used China Plates

Garden Border with China Plates

Image from bloominghillva.blogspot.com

DIY Succulent Garden Border

DIY Succulent Border

Image via Pinterest

Edible Garden Border

Edible Plants Border

Image via Pinterest

DIY Garden Border with Used Bottles

DIY Plants Border with Bottles

Image from apartmenttherapy.com

Stone Garden Border

Stones Border

Image from mooseyscountrygarden.com

Garden Border with Groundcovers

Plants Border

Image via Pinterest

DIY Garden Border with Grass

DIY Garden Border

Image via Pinterest

Bricks Border

Brick Border

Image from deucecitieshenhouse.com

DIY Garden Border with Steel Pipes

DIY Garden Border with Steel Pipes

Image from welchwrite.com

04 Jul

Flowering Shrub for Perennial Borders: Eupatorium purpureum

Eupatorium is a genus of perennial shrubs that are distributed widely in tropical climates of America, Africa and Asia. These flowering shrubs are popular among gardeners as late season perennials when only a few plants bloom.

Most species of Eupatorium produce attractive and fluffy flowers of pink or mauve colors, and grow as tough and hardy shrubs. Among popular species, Eupatorium purpureum is grown widely for its ornamental flowers. The plant spreads in clumps and grows up to 2 meters.

Eupatorium purpureum

Eupatorium purpureum, Joe Pye weed, Image by Carolyn Willitts

Eupatorium purpureum prefers full to partial sun, slightly moist soil and regular watering. It produces purple-pink flowers in late summer or early autumn. These vanilla-scented flowers appear in large bunches and attract birds and butterflies.

Eupatorium purpureum serves as a nice ornamental shrub even when not in bloom. It can be grown in  perennial borders, landscapes or backyard garden for its fragrance and ability to attract a variety of butterflies. The plant, however, needs sufficient space to grow and bloom. For best results, prune back at the end of every flowering season.

Common names of Eupatorium purpureum are Indian Sage and Joe Pye weed.

02 Jul

Lovely, Evergreen Bush: Hamelia patens, the Firebush

Hamelia is a genus of evergreen shrubs and small trees from the family of Ixora, and like Ixora it makes an flowering bush for gardens and landscapes. The genus is perhaps best represented by  Hamelia patens, which is widely grown in hedges, borders and as an accent plant.

It is an easily grown bush that produces evergreen foliage and beautiful red or scarlet flowers almost all through the year – thus justifying it common name, Firebush. Hemalia patens grows quite quickly in tropical and sub-tropical climates and grows up to 3 or 4 feet tall with some woody growth. It grows well under full sun or partial shade and requires moderate but regular watering (though mature plants can withstand some drought). Firebush is best known for its flowers which are rich in nectar and attract a lot of butterflies. Flowering is followed by formation of small berries which are favorite food of birds especially hummingbird.

Hamelia patens, the Firebush

Hamelia patens, the Firebush, Image by Mary Keim

Grown as annual flowering bush, Firebush should be pruned regularly to keep the plant in proper shape. When allowed to grow on its own, Firebush tends to form large mounds with dense growth of evergreen foliage and small red flowers.

Besides its horticultural value, Firebush has been used by indigenous people of south and Central America for its medicinal benefits. The extract of the leaves and stems of Firebush is believed to have antibacterial and antifungal properties, that is why, it has long been used a good remedy for all kinds of skin diseases including rashes, skin fungus, sores and insect stings. The extract is also used today for the treatment of headache, rheumatism, fever, and dysentery.