28 Nov

Fragrant and Winter Flowering Shrub: Luculia gratissima

Luculia gratissima

Luculia gratissima/ Image by James Gaither

The plant in picture is Luculia gratissima – an excellent bloomer and ornamental shrub from south Asia particularly from the Himalayas. Luculia gratissima belongs to the family of popular flowering shrubs and trees including Ixora, Gardenia and Hamelia. It is an evergreen shrub or small tree (up to 5 meters) that bears beautiful glossy leaves and produces abundance of fragrant flower in fall and winter. The masses of pink flowers spread delightful and jasmine-like scent.

Luculia gratissima is a bit difficult to grow in garden in garden as it thrives in a very limited spectrum of day and night temperature (between 28 to 80 F). It also requires long exposure to indirect sunlight, higher level of moisture and well-drained soil.

Though a bit difficult to grow, Luculia gratissima is a very rewarding plant that produces long lasting and fragrant winter flowering. It is usually propagated from seeds or hardwood cuttings. Other popular species include: Luculia grandiflora and L. intermedia.

27 Nov

Ornamental Shrub with Fragrant Flowers: Elaeagnus pungens

Elaeagnus is a genus of ornamental shrubs, small trees and flowering plants from subtropical and temperate regions of Europe and Asia. Majority of the species are very adaptable plants that can be grown outdoors in almost every garden. Generally, the genus of Elaeagnus comprises of sun-loving plants that prefer fertile soil and regular watering. However, they can withstand long spells of drought too.

The genus of Elaeagnus is better known for its fragrant flowers of silvery white color. Flowering is followed by formation of red berries that add to the beauty of these ornamental plants. Most species of Elaeagnus are used as specimen pot plants, as flowering shrubs or in hedges. Some of the popularly grown species include: Elaeagnus commutata (American silverberry), Elaeagnus multiflora (cherry silverberry or goumi) and Elaeagnus pungens.

Elaeagnus pungens

Elaeagnus pungens

Elaeagnus pungens has various popular varieties characterizing variegated and colorful foliage. Commonly known as ‘Silverthron’, Elaeagnus pungens grows as a spiny shrub. It is a fast growing and evergreen shrub that produces dense foliage, white flowers and reddish-brown berries. The fragrance of white flowers is reminiscent of Gardenia. It is an adaptable plant that tolerates varied climatic conditions.

Elaeagnus pungens is easily propagated from cuttings.

25 Nov

Ornamental Miniature Aloe – Aloe descoingsii x hawothioides

Aloe haworthioides as it is commonly known is a beautiful and miniature variety of Aloe. The plant is a hybrid of Aloe descoingsii and A. hawothioides.

Aloe haworthioides is an easy and fast growing plant that produces large clumps of miniature plants that grow very well in pots. The plant characterizes fresh green leaves marked with white spots and tiny bristles on their margins.

Aloe haworthioides

Aloe haworthioides

Aloe haworthioides is good as pot plant as well as an excellent choice for miniature gardens. It requires slightly moist but well drained soil. The plant can be grown propagated from divisions or seeds that germinate easily and form miniature plants quickly. Aloe haworthioides does not require much care and grows well under partial sun. Water generously when soil is completely dry in summer. In winter, keep these miniature plant protected from heavy frost and water barely sufficient to protect them from rot.

Like other species of this genus Aloe haworthioides produces small tubular flowers on a long stalk. Spring flowers are orange-pink that attract a lot of birds to the garden.

20 Nov

Agave Collection in my Succulent Garden

My love for succulents especially Agaves in not old but it is for sure obsessive. In fact, I have replaced many other plants in my collection with Agaves. The following are some of the Agaves in my succulent garden.

Agave victoria reginae

My favorite plant – Agave victoria reginae is slow but easy to grow plant characterized by a unique leaf pattern and formation.

Agave victoria reginae

Agave victoria reginae

Agave victoria reginae variegata

This variegated variety is even more beautiful and unique than its original form.

Agave victoria reginae variegata

Agave victoria reginae variegata

Agave bracteosa

A very different formation and leaf style for an Agave. Agave bracteosa has ‘softer’ and spineless leaves – quite different from its cousins.

Agave bracteosa, Squid Agave, Spider Agave

Agave bracteosa

Agave striata

Another beautiful and unique form. Agave striata produces long, needle-like leaves of greyish green color.

Agave striata, Live Wires

Agave striata, Live Wires

Agave augustifolia

A beautiful specimen plan with nicely arranged white leaves contrasted by reddish teeth and red terminal spines

Agave augustifolia variegata

Agave augustifolia variegata

Agave potatorum, Kissho Kan

Another beautiful Agave with bicolor leaves beautified by red spines.

Agave potatorum, Kissho Kan

Agave potatorum, Kissho Kan

Agave nicklesiae, King Ferdinand

Somewhat similar to Agave victoria reginae but with different style and formation of leaves.

Agave nicklesiae, King Ferdinand

Agave nicklesiae, King Ferdinand

Agave leopoldii

A variegated variety closely resembling Agave filifera.

Agave x leopoldii

Agave x leopoldii

Agave Blue Glow variegated

Pretty rare plant – Also known as Sun Glow, this beautiful plant is a variegated form of Agave Blue Glow.

Agave Blue Glow 'Sun Glow'

Agave Blue Glow ‘Sun Glow’

Agave desmettiana ‘Joe Hoak’

A nice plant for landscaping/ xeriscaping – fast growing and easy to maintain.

Agave desmettiana 'Joe Hoak'

Agave desmettiana ‘Joe Hoak’

Agave guiengola ‘Creme Brulee’

A clump of Agave guiengola ‘Creme Brulee’. A delicate yet fast growing plant. Good for containers.

Agave guiengola 'Creme Brulee'

Agave guiengola ‘Creme Brulee’

Agave manfreda x Bloodspot

Unique and attractive, it is believes to be a cross of Manfreda and Agave, that is why it is also described as Mangave.

Agave manfreda x Bloodspot

Agave manfreda x Bloodspot

Agave victoriae reginae ‘Kazo Bana’

Another beautiful variety of Agave victoria reginae. ‘Kazo Bana‘ is quite rare and elegant plant.

Agave victoriae reginae 'Kazo Bana'

Agave victoriae reginae ‘Kazo Bana’

Agave lophantha ‘Quardicolor’

As the name suggests, this is a colorful and beautiful plant. Ideal for both container gardening as well as landscaping.

Agave lophantha 'Quardicolor'

Agave lophantha ‘Quardicolor’

Agave schidigera ‘Shira ito no Ohi’

The name – Shira ito no Ohi – is quite difficult to pronounce and so is the maintenance of the plant.

Agave schidigera 'Shira ito no Ohi'

Agave schidigera ‘Shira ito no Ohi’

 

17 Nov

D is for Delphinium

Delphinium is a genus of wonderful annuals and perennials known for their colorful and attractive flowers that grow abundantly on long stalks. Native to temperate regions of the northern hemisphere, Delphinium are easy to grow and manage. Most species grow tall with stalks full of flowers though some low-growing species are also available. Taller species are prefect for growing in the background of flower beds or landscape.

Delphinium is know traditionally for its showy flowers of strong blue or purple color, however a large number of hybridized Delphiniums have also been produced in recent years. The hybridized Delphinium produce flowers in all shades of white, blue, mauve, red and yellow.

Delphinium flowers

Delphinium/ Image by hello-julie(flickr)

Popular in traditional gardens, Delphinium has been extensively hybridized to produce long-lasting cut flowers. Some popular hybrids of Delphinium include: ‘Atlantis’, ‘Blue Dawn’, ‘Elizabeth Cook’, ‘Oliver’, ‘Summerfield Miranda’, and ‘Sungleam’.

Delphinium requires fertile and slightly soil but well-drained soil under the bright sun. The plants can be propagated from seeds as well as divisions. The flower stalks should be provided firm support of staking when the stalks reach 10 inches or more. Delphiniums can be cut back to the ground after the end of flowering season in order to encourage better growth for the next flowering season.

12 Nov

7 Edible Herbs to Grow at Home

Mint:

Mint is one of the easiest herbs to grow. It just requires sunny or partially shaded spot in a moist and regular soil mix. Mint can be grown from stems cuttings (3 to 4 cm) that can be planted into the moist soil or water until cuttings develop roots.

Mint can be grown in pots or directly into the ground. Established plants can be harvested in from spring to fall. A number of varieties and hybrids of mint are available that differ in terms of height, fragrance, and texture of leaf. Besides commonly grown species of Mint, some unusual varieties can also be grown at home. These include: Mentha suaveolens (Apple Mint), Mentha x gracilis (Ginger Mint), Mentha ‘Berries and Cream’, and Mentha spicata ‘Tashkent’.

When growing different varieties, make sure that you plant them separately to preserve original fragrance of each variety.

Mint Leaves

Mint/ Image by Fernando Stankuns

Lemon Balm:

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is an aromatic herb that can be grown in pots as well as in the ground under bright sunlight. The plant is grown for its highly aromatic leaves that are source of essential oil used in aromatherapy and traditional remedies. The leaves are also added in preparing soothing herbal tea.

Oregano:

Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is source of flavorful leaves that are dried and sprinkled on food for extra flavor. Oregano is quite an easy herb to grow in herb gardens. It requires sunny exposure, regular soil mix and moderate watering. Oregano can be grown in pots as ornamental plants with small pink flowers.

Chamomile:

Chamomile is another popular herb among herb gardeners because of its medicinal benefits. Chamomile bears feathery foliage and daisy-like flowers. The flowers are dried and used for preparing soothing chamomile tea.

Chamomile has both low growing and sprawling varieties. Commonly grown species is Chamaemelum nobile that grows under full to partial sun and requires slightly rich soil. Flowers can be plucked in summer.

Chamomile flowers

Chamomile / Image by Lynne Hand

Sage:

Sage (Salvia officinalis) is a hardy herb with a bushy growth. The plant produces ornamental foliage which is used in many traditional recipes for culinary benefits. Sage can be propagated from cuttings planted in spring.

Sage is not fussy about growing needs and survives neglect; however, it should be protected from long spells of cold and frost.

Parsley:

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is grown widely in herb gardens as well as in commercial farms for its edible leaves that can be harvested almost all through the year. Parsley can be grown from seeds and grown under partial sun. It is a winter-hardy herb and grown well in the months of winter. When grown in pots, Parsley makes an excellent ornamental plant as well.

Parsley

Parsley/ Image by Jane Starz

Thyme:

Like Sage, Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is a hardy and drought tolerant herb that can be grown easily in a herb garden at home. It just requires a sunny exposure and well-drained soil. Thyme produces beautiful foliage which is used in salads and various traditional recipes. Besides culinary benefits, Thyme can be grown as an effective ground cover or as companion plant with various annuals and perennials.