31 Oct

Easy Plants for Difficult Spots: Saxifraga

Saxifraga is a large genus of low-growing and evergreen plants that form thick mounds or mats of dense rosettes. Native to sub-arctic and alpine regions, these are perfect plants to grow at cold and shady spots where very plants would survive. The Saxifragas grow naturally in rocks slopes with their penetrating root system that keeps them strongly studded and provides essential moisture and food.

Based on their growing habits, Saxifraga plants are divided in several groups including: Kabschia, Engleria, Porphyrion, Dactyloides, Euaizoonia and others. Most of the species grow quickly and require very good drainage system. A good loamy soil with equal parts of grit, crushed stones, and horticulture-grade sand can be used to grow these plants. Saxifraga plants usually produce clusters of low-growing rosette that serve well as ground covers or as ornamental plants in rockeries, window gardens, containers and dish gardens. Long, erect stalks appear from center of silvery-green rosettes. Flowers are borne on these stalks in winter or early spring. Flowers are white, pink, cream or yellow in color.

Saxifraga Flowers

Saxifraga Flowers, Image by Randi Hausken

Saxifraga Stolonifera is one of the common and commercially popular species. Usually sold as evergreen perennial for indoor gardens, it grows as dwarf plant and produces attractive foliage and flowers. Also known as Mother-of-Thousands, this lovely plant is a good candidate for hanging baskets as well as dish gardens. Other popular species include: Saxifraga Longifolia, Saxifraga Paniculata and Saxifraga Hypnoides

Saxifraga grow best in well-drained soil and under full to partial shade. Water regularly but avoid overwatering. Here are some excellent photos of these lovely plants for your inspiration.

30 Oct

Lovely Annuals for Flower Beds: Linaria

Linaria is a genus of about 100 herbaceous annuals from temperate regions of Africa, Asia, Europe and parts of Mediterranean region. Excellent choice for bedding, these quick growing plants would bloom in almost every color. Most of the species from this genus start blooming in late spring and continue to flower through summer until early fall. Linaria are sun loving plants that grow freely in flower beds and do well in mixed borders. Most commercially available varieties of Linaria are low growing annuals that are usually used in larger landscapes to produce massive display of colorful flowers.

Linaria Vulgaris

Linaria Vulgaris, Image by J. Bakker (flickr)

How to Grow Linaria

Linaria do not require special care when grown under bright sunlight and provided with regular water. They would survive a little frost and drought. Linaria are self-seeding plants and can be propagated from cuttings or root-ball divisions as well. Deadhead young plants to keep them in shape and under control. Seeds can be sown in early spring.

Also known as Toadflax or Baby Snapdragon, Linaria attract garden birds, bees and butterflies.

Some of the popular species of Linaria are:

Linaria Marcoccana – Usually available as dwarf flowering plant, this pretty annual produces dense flowering in yellow, red, orange and mauve colors.

Linaria Vulgaris – Grown as erect border or bedding plant, this perennial produces blue-green foliage and pale yellow flowers in mid-summer. Flowering lasts till mid-autumn.

Linaria Purpurea – Grown as garden perennial, this species produces small yet very attractive flowers of purple color is delicate raceme.

27 Oct

Chinese Aster: Colorful Flowering Plants for Garden Beds

If you are looking for easy to grow and carefree plants for your sunny garden beds, Chinese Asters should be on top of your list. Easily grown from seeds, this popular summer annual bears very attractive flowers of pink, blue, purple, mauve, white and yellow colors. Flowers are long lasting and can be used as attractive cut flowers. As the name describes, Chinese Aster originally belongs to China but it has been widely cultivated and hybridized to grow as popular cut flower in many parts of the world.

Depending on variety, can be grown as low growing flowering plant in landscape or as tall herbaceous annuals in flowering beds. A number of dwarf varieties are available for patio or balcony gardens.

Chinese Aster Flowers

Chinese Aster Flowers, Image by Carl E. Lewis (flickr)

How to grow Chinese Aster

Chinese Aster grows well in a well-drained soil with moderate. Seeds should be sown in early spring when temperature is above 20 C. Protect these plants from frost and heavy watering. Popular varieties of Chinese Aster include: Princess Aster, Popom Aster and Plume Aster.

12 Oct

Lovley, Eatable, Border Plant: Amaranthus Caudatus

Amaranthus is a genus of tropical bushes and shrubs usually grown as border plants in almost all tropical regions of the world. Some of the species are grown for their colorful foliage, some for unusual spiky flowers and some for food.

Amaranthus offers a wide variety of plants that can be grown together as mixed border plants or simply as container plants for their ornamental foliage.

Amaranthus Caudatus, Image by Carl E Lewis (flickr)

Most species of Amaranthus are self-seeding and grow quite vigorously without requiring much care or any special soil requirements. In fact, plants grown in poor soil produce more colorful and vibrant foliage. Amaranthus Caudatus is the most popular of all species. It is known for its long spiky or drooping red flowers that make this plant center of attention in any summer garden or landscape. It grows as a small bush (up to 8 feet) under full sun and flourishes in both arid and humid climates. Amaranthus Caudatus is also known as Tassel Flower or Love-Lies-Bleeding. Besides its beautiful and unusual flowering, this plant is also grown as source of food in India, Thailand and other Asian countries. Almost all parts of Amaranthus Caudatus serve as food as they are a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin C, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, iron, zinc, manganese and many other useful trace elements.

It is also a major ingredient in Pak Khom, a famous Thai cuisine.

10 Oct

Evergreen, Fragrant Flowering Bush: Cheiranthus, Wallflower

Cheiranthus are flowering perennial and annual plants of wide spread origin. Usually grown as free-flowering plants, Cheiranthus can be found in Europe, Asia, the Americas and parts of Mediterranean regions. Known for their sweet scented flowers of yellow, orange, pink, blue or purple shades, Cheiranthus are good flowering plants for growing under sun or partial shade. A number of double and multi-colored flowering species of Cheiranthus are also available.

If you are growing them outdoor, Cheiranthus are good plants for flower beds as they flower in late winter and continue to bloom till early spring. One of the most common species from this genus is Cheiranthus Cheiri that grows as small bushy plant and yields yellow or brownish-yellow flowers in spring.

Cheiranthus Cheiri is usually known as Wallflower.

Cheiranthus Cheiri, Wallflower

Cheiranthus Cheiri, Wallflower, Image by David Monniaux

How to grow Cheiranthus/ Wallflower

Most species of Cheiranthus grow easily from seeds as well as cuttings. These plants can grow under sun as well as partial shade and prefer a very well drained soil. Water requirements are moderate. Pinch young plants to encourage bushy growth. Flowers of Cheiranthus Cheiri are fragrant and last long; good choice for flowering arrangement, as cut flowers or in potpourri.

02 Oct

Summer Blooming Border Plant: Ammi Majus

Ammi Majus is a delicate and ornamental plant that serves very well as border plant as well as beautiful flowering plant for container gardening. Native to the Mediterranean regions of Africa and parts of Europe, Ammi Majus is usually cultivated as small annual.

Ammi Majus is characterized by puffs of tiny white flowers, and delicate, feathery foliage that make it an ideal plant for mixed borders. It is also popular plant with florists who use it in floral arrangements and bouquets. Cut flowers last for 3 to 4 days and add dramatic effects to bouquets as well as flower arrangements. Besides horticultural use, Ammi Majus has also been in use as medicinal plant in Egypt for a long time where it is used to treat skin diseases. It also has medicinal benefits in treatment of cancer and AIDS. Commonly known as Queen Anne’s Lace or simply Lace Plant, Anni Majus is a good plant to attract butterflies and useful insects for gardens.

Ammi Majus, Lace Plant

Ammi Majus, Lace Plant, Image by Jacki Dougan

How to Grow Ammi Majus

Ammi Majus grows fairly easily from seeds. It requires full to partial sun and grows well in a well drained ordinary soil. When grown in ordinary garden soil, it would not require extra feed.

17 Sep

Tropical Flowering Shrubs for Poor Soil: Convolvulus Cneorum

Convolvulus is a genus of annual and perennial shrubs from tropical and Mediterranean regions. These easy to grow plants vary from climbers or trailing plants to shrubs and mound forming bushes. Plants and flowers also vary in size and spread. Flowers of Convolvulus plants are trumpet shaped and vary from white and pink to purple and mauve in color. These sun loving plants grow quite easily and survive very well in sandy, chalky and dry soil.

Convolvulus Cneorum, Flowering Shrub, Morning Glory

Convolvulus Cneorum, Image by Jessie Hirsch

Convolvulus Cneorum which is commonly known as Silver Bush grows as low growing plant and usually forms a think carpet of evergreen foliage. Because of its capacity to withstand drought and grow in poor soil, Convolvulus Cneorum is a good choice for rock gardens or as ground cover for sandy or poor soil. It is easy to maintain and should be pruned back after flowering.

How to grow Convolvulus Cneorum

Convolvulus Cneorum or Silver Bush grows well in sunny positions where it is protected from frost and long, dry spells of cold. These plants are easily propagated from seeds and require just sufficient water; do not over water.

Convolvulus Cneorum is generally related to the family of Morning Glory. Other popular species include: Convolvulus Mauritanicus, Convolvulus Tricolor and Convolvulus Arvensis.

14 Sep

Ornamental Flowering Plant for Gardens: Torenia Fournieri

Whether you are a beginner or a master gardener, you just cannot resist Torenia in your garden for its beautiful flowers and versatile usage. It is an excellent choice for hanging baskets and window gardens, as ground cover or as trailing plant in landscape borders, raised beds or indoor containers.

Torenia forms tender branches of usually 6 inches that can trail up to 30 inches which makes it a good plant for hanging baskets. Native to tropical and subtropical regions of Asia and Africa, most species of Torenia require humid and moist conditions to thrive. These herbaceous plants are grown for their unusual flowers that are commonly known wishbone flowers. Each flower has a unique wishbone shape. These beautiful flowers come in purple, violet, pink, white and yellow colors.

Torenia, Wishbone Flowers

Torenia, Wishbone Flowers, Image by Kelly Teague

How to Grow Torenia Fournieri

Torenia has a lot of hybrid varieties and cultivars that grow as annuals (though some of them are perennials). These plants are best grown under partial shade in a fertile soil. Provide your Torenia plants with regular watering and do not allow the soil to dry out completely for long periods.

Torenia are easy to grow both from seeds or cuttings. Regularly pinch back Torenia to keep these plants in shape.

17 Aug

Lovely Flowering Plant for Rock Gardens: Gaura Lindheimeri

Gaura commonly known as Beeblossom is a genus of annuals and perennials from North America where it grows natively as summer bloomer. These hardy and drought tolerant plants produce long and delicate spikes of conspicuous flowers. The most popular species of the genus is Gaura Lindheimeri which is grown commercially as popular garden plant. Suitable for borders or as background filler in landscape, Gaura Lindheimeri grows into dense clusters and bears ornamental flowers from midsummer till early fall. Flowers are white with a touch of pink and appear in frequent sprays.

Gaura Lindheimeri is a good choice for xeriscaping or rock gardens because of its capacity to withstand drought.

Gaura Lindheimeri, Beeblossom

Gaura Lindheimeri, Image by Søren Holt

How to Grow Gaura Lindheimeri

Gaura Lindheimeri performs good at both sunny or partial shady garden locations. Being a hardy plant, it requires moderate watering but protection from strong winds. Propagation is easy from divisions.

15 Aug

Easy to Grow Foliage Plant: Kochia Scoparia (Summer Cypress)

Kochia scoparia or Summer Cypress (Buy seeds online) is a hardy and drought-tolerant foliage plant grown as ornamental as well as forage plant. It is a quick growing plant that tends to form rounded or pyramid body of dense leaves and branches. Young plants of Kochia are bright green and color but turn red in colder climate as they mature. Thin and finely cut leaves of Kochia add to its ornamental value. It is useful as accent plant in landscapes and grows in almost any soil (rich, sandy, alkaline, poor etc.) except very acidic conditions. For this reason, Kochia is sometimes grown at mass level to control soil erosion, and for reclamation or re-vegetation of land.

Kochia scoparia can spread very quickly and become invasive in warm and dry climates where it breaks off from the base and is blown by winds as a tumbleweed. In landscapes and gardens, it can be contained by frequent trimming especially before formation of seed heads in spring.

Kochia Scoparia contains higher levels of protein and oxalate than most grasses and fodder plants, thus it also serves as a forage crop for livestock. However, high intake of Kochia scoparia can be toxic for most animals therefore  it should be used sparingly and mixed with other forage plants .

Kochia Scoparia, Summer Cypress Plant

Kochia Scoparia, Image by Shin Kusano

How to Grow Kochia

Kochia is fairly easy to grow and does not have any special requirements. Propagated from seeds, Kochia requires bright sunlight and moderate water.