31 Oct

Sutera grandiflora, the Wild Phlox

Sutera grandiflora is a woody perennial from tropical regions of Africa. The plant is known for its aromatic leaves and its ability to produce large clusters of small purple flowers. Commonly known as Wild Phlox, Sutera grandiflora grows as a mound forming plant up to 1.5 meter and produces large groups in wild. The plant grows in ordinary soil and requires regular watering in summer. Flowers appear in summer or autumn and last for many days.

Sutera grandiflora, Wild Phlox

Sutera grandiflora, Wild Phlox

Sutera grandiflora is a good choice for growing in borders or as background plant in landscapes and flowering beds, or containers as trailing plant. Propagation is easy from seeds or cuttings.

29 Oct

Peliospilos, the Split Rock Plant

Pleiospilos is a genus of miniature succulent plants from the family of Lithops. These interesting plants are indigenous to the semi-desert land of the Great Karoo in South Africa. Pleiospilos are widely grown as ornamental plants among container gardeners. These plants are characterized by a pair of succulent leaves that grows on the underground stem. The leaves are covered with tiny, black dots. The daisy-like flowers of Pleiospilos are orange or yellow.

Pleiospilos bolusii

Pleiospilos bolusii, Split Rock Plant/ Image by Manuel M. Ramos

Common name of Pleiospilos is Split Rock plant because of their pebble-like leaves that are split from the center. Pleiospilos grow best when planted deep in a well-drained soil under bright sunlight. These plants prefer only occasional watering and feed especially in winter.

The most popular and widely grown species is Pleiospilos nelii which is grown easily from seeds. Other popular species include P. bolusii and Pleiospilos nobilis.

29 Oct

Flowering Shrubs and Trees: Crotalaria, the Rattlepod

Crotalaria is a large genus of flowering shrubs and trees from the Fabaceae family to which popular flowering trees like Laburnum, Orchid Tree, and Wisteria belong. Most species of Crotalaria are indigenous to Africa where they grow in tropical climates as flowering shrubs or small trees.

Crotalarias are popular plants among horticulturists because of showy, yellow flowers that look like fluttering birds giving these plants their common names – Bird Flower and Canary Bird Bush. Most species bloom in spring. Flowering is followed by formation of hallow seed pods containing large seeds that rattle when dried seed pod is shaken, that is why these plants are also known as rattlepods.

Crotalaria agatiflora, Bird Bush

Crotalaria agatiflora/ Bird Bush/ Image by Erick Lux

A popular garden plant from this genus is Crotalaria agatiflora which grows as a small tree and produces large yellow flowers in spring. Crotalaria capensis is another popular species which is grown as a fast-growing and small tree.

Most species of Crotalaria prefer moderate watering, bright sunlight and a regular soil mix.

28 Oct

Lovely Flowering Shrub: Hypericum, the Rose of Sharon

Hypericum is a large genus of flowering shrubs, ground covers and annuals with a worldwide distribution. Known for their ornamental flowers and foliage, most species of Hypericum are frost-resistant plants that can be grown in landscapes as border plants or ground covers. Most species of Hypericum can be grown in shaded or semi-shaded areas of the garden where they bloom profusely in spring or summer. The flowers are bright yellow or golden. A number of hybrids have been produced for their horticultural use.
Hypericum x hidcote

Hypericum x hidcote/ Image by M. Martin Vicente

Among many useful flowering shrubs and ground covers, my personal favorite is Hypericum calycinum which is a vigorous growing plant. Usually grown as ground cover or small shrub, this lovely bloomer produces bright yellow flowers in summer. The flowers are chactrized by a mass of showy stamens that make this flower look quite unusual. H. calycinum prefers bright sunlight and moderate watering. The plant is commonly known as Rose of Sharon.
Other popular species of Hypericum include: H. perforatum (it is a popular homeopathic remedy for relieving pain and depression), H. uralum, H. pulchrum, Hypericum olympicum and Hypericum hidcote (St. John’s wort).
27 Oct

Orthosiphon labiatus – Shell Bush, Pink Sage, Pink Cat’s Whiskers

Orthosiphon is a genus of herbaceous shrubs from the family of Salvia and is known for its ornamental blooms. These drought tolerant shrubs especially Orthosiphon labiatus is a long blooming plant that forms a handsome shrub (up to 1 meter) for gardens and landscapes.

Orthosiphon labiatum

Orthosiphon labiatum

Orthosiphon labiatus is known for its pink, tubular flowers that appear on upright stems of the plant to cover the entire plant in spring and summer. Flowers are usually purple-pink and emit a minty fragrance.  This handsome shrub is perfect for mass plantation schemes to form large beds of decent foliage and spring blooms.

Orthosiphon labiatus is known by many names – Shell Bush, Pink Sage, and Pink Cat’s Whiskers. It grows best in full to partial sun and requires regular watering.

26 Oct

Unforgettably Fragrant and Lovely: Lonicera, the Honeysuckle

Lonicera is a wonderful genus of climbers, ground covers and shrubs grown for their foliage and fragrant flowers. The plants in the genus of Lonicera are usually known as Honeysuckles. The genus includes two major types of plants – bushes and climbers.

The bush type honeysuckles make decent shrubs that can be used for hedges or garden borders. The climber type honeysuckles are often grown against walls, pergolas or trellis. Both type of honeysuckles require proper pruning to keep them in good shape. Most honeysuckles would grow under bright sunlight and in a rich, moist but well-drained soil.

Honeysuckles make good ornamental plants in small gardens as well as landscape designs where they grow under little care and produce unforgettably fragrant flowers in spring.

Lonicera periclymenum, Honeysuckle

Lonicera periclymenum / Image by nicolas_gent (flickr)

Popular species of honeysuckle include:

Lonicera japonica (Japan honeysuckle) is an evergreen climber with white tubular flowers that appear in spring. A variegated variety Lonicera japonica ‘Variegata’ is also available for cultivation.

Lonicera caprifolium (Italian woodbine or goat-leaf honeysuckle) is a deciduous perennial that grows as vigorous climber (up to 8 meters). The plant produces abundance of strongly scented flowers of white and pink colors in midsummer.

Lonicera hildebrandiana (Giant honeysuckle) is an evergreen climber with large leaves and flowers. The flowers are yellow or orange that appear in spring.

Lonicera sempervirens is an excellent climber that produces decent foliage and tubular red flowers.

25 Oct

Tropical Vine with Fragrant Flowers: Cup of Gold (Solandra maxima)

Solandra maxima (Buy online), which is popularly known as Cup of Gold, is a vigorous and fast growing vine from tropical regions of Mexico, Central America, and South America. It is an evergreen and sprawling vine that prefers a well-drained soil and exposure to bright sunlight. Cup of Gold is usually grown against pergolas, trellis or walls because its thick and twinning stems require a sturdy support. As a fats growing vine, Cup of Gold can grow up to 40 meters or more, therefore, it should be regularly pruned to keep it in shape and under control.

Solandra maxima, Cup of Gold

Solandra maxima, Cup of Gold/ Image by Eric Hunt

Cup of Gold produces wide, leathery leaves of dark green color. The bell-shaped flowers of Cup of Gold hang on woody stems. These attractive and prominent flowers closely resemble the flowers of Duranta. These lovely flowers are yellow when they bloom but as the time passes they eventually tend to appear deep golden, thus giving the vine its common name – Cup of Gold. These lovely flowers emit a decent fragrance.

Cup of Gold vine is quite easy to propagate from layering. Young plants require regular water, however, as they grow they become quite hardy and withstand long periods of drought easily.

22 Oct

Evergreen Shrub with Turquoise Flowers: Tweedia caerulea

Tweedia caerulea is an interesting twinning perennial from South America. This evergreen subshrub grows up to 1 meter or more and produces delicate flowers of turquoise color. The beautiful flowers give the plant many names like Southern Star, Heavenborn, Little Blue Star, and Blue Flowered Milkweed.

Tweedia caerulea

Tweedia caerulea/ Image by douneika (flickr)

Tweedia caerulea prefers full to partial sun and regular watering in ordinary but well-drained soil mix. Although evergreen, it is best to prune back the plant in early spring. A mature plant of Tweedia caerulea usually has dense foliage characterized by soft and felted leaves. Easily grown from seeds, Tweedia caerulea is a good choice for gardens, wall-side borders and containers.

22 Oct

9 Unusual Gifts for Gardeners from Etsy

Gardening Apron by Growing Hope (12 USD)

The Growing Hope gardening apron is made of a heavy duty canvas material with 3 pockets and a waist tie in back.

'gets dirty' Gardening Apron

‘gets dirty’ Gardening Apron

Pressed Flower Glass Pendant by Dianne (24 USD)

An unusual glass pendant for someone who loves flowers, gardening, or something out of the ordinary. A very unusual gift for any season, or any reason.

Flowers Glass Pendant

Flowers Glass Pendant

Hand Made Wooden Utility Box by Christina O’Neill (97.12 USD)

A perfect for any gardener, to last a lifetime. The box contains 12 wooden monthly dividers, engraved with each month (so you can organize your seeds by the sowing calendar), a roll of jute, for tying in plants, 25 wooden plant labels, 10 seed storage envelopes for collecting and storing seeds, and a tube each of Crabtree and Evelyn Gardener’s Hand Therapy cleanser and moisturizing cream.

Gardening Box

Gardening Box

Miniature Gardening Tools by Carol (5.99 USD)

The set includes a hoe, a shovel and a garden rake! Very realistic looking and even usable for miniature garden projects.

Miniature Gardening Tools

Miniature Gardening Tools

Felt Wool Gardening Set by Hand Crafter (15 USD)

A lovely set of handmade, cute little gardening objects.

Felt Wool Gardening Set

Felt Wool Gardening Set

Hand Made Birdhouse by Natalie Bowman (39.95 USD)

The birdhouse is created using 2 gourds. The roof has gourd seed that has been placed one by one all around to resemble an old shingled roof. The perch is a gourd stem.

Handmade Birdhouse

Handmade Birdhouse

Gardening Utility Belt for Little Gardeners by Denise Hayes (21.40 USD)

This useful utility belt is made with waterproof canvas. All the pouches and loops will come off the belt to be re-arranged and easily slide back and forth so can be moved to the most comfortable positions.

Gardening Belt

Gardening Belt

Golden Brooch Pin for Gardeners by ErisJewels (16 USD)

A raised design of swirling vines and blooming flowers adorning a watering can of rich gold tone.

Golden Brooch Pin

Golden Brooch Pin

Hand Painted Spades by Julie Bass (19.95 USD)

Vintage pair of gardening spades with painted motif featuring bird houses, picket fences, butterflies, bee hives and flowers.

Painted Gardening Spades

Painted Gardening Spades

20 Oct

Lovely Border Plants: Clarkia, the Satin Flower

Clarkia is a small genus of lovely annuals usually grown as border plants for showy flowers. Native to North America, the genus of Clarkia consists of quick growing plants that grow up to 1 to 2 meters in flower borders or large containers. These plants are easily grown from seeds and require a fertile and well-drained soil under bright sunlight.

Though most Clarkias are hardy annuals but they should be protected from long spells of drought and cold. Most plants of Clarkia are eager bloomer and produce abundance of shiny purple, pink, mauve or salmon flowers in summer. The beautiful flowers of Clarkia grow on tall spikes with single or double flowers that can be used as cut flower for floral arrangements.

Clarkia concinna

Clarkia concinna/ Image by James Gaither

Common name of Clarkia is Satin flower. Popular species include: Clarkia bottae, C. williamsonii, C. breweri, and Clarkia concinna.