28 Jun

Lovely Summer Bloomer: Agapanthus, the African Lily

Agapanthus flowers

Image by Samantha Schipani

If you are looking for something new to try for your summer garden, consider Agapanthus. Weather grown as a pot plant or grouped in a garden border, it looks striking with its ultra bright flowers that outshine most of the common bloomers.

Many varieties and cultivars of Agapanthus that are commercially available can be divided in two grouped: evergreen species that originate from milder climates of South Africa and deciduous Agapanthus that comes from colder regions. Growing condition of all varieties are generally similar – sunny exposure, well-drained soil, moderate watering, and protection from extreme cold.

Agapanthus can be propagate easily by division in spring and early summer, or after plants have finished flowering in early autumn. Mature plants tends to divide their bulbous roots; these should be split every three to four years. Agapanthus can also be propagated from seeds however young plant grown from seeds require frequent watering and protection from winter in their first year. Once established, they should be watered only when the soil in dry. Plants grown from seeds take two to three years to flower. Flowers of violet, white, or pink hues appear in summer.

If you growing Agapanthus in the garden, they can be combined easily with other plants in flowering beds. Agapanthus also make nice plants for garden borders. In winter, protect them by mulching with straw and sand. If your soil is water-logged, grow your Agapanthus in large pots and place them in brightly-lit spot where they are protected from frost. Plants grown in pots can be fertilized with a regular fertilizer in spring to encourage flowering. Because the roots system is vigorous, plants grown in pots should be divided every two years. If your plants are reluctant to bloom, move them to a sunnier spot.

African lily

Image by Michael Coghlan

Among many varieties and cultivars of Agapanthus, some outstanding varieties include: Agapanthus ‘Peter Pan’, ‘Tinkerbell’, ‘Northern Star’, Agapanthus inapertus ‘Midnight Cascade’, and Agapanthus ‘Snowstorm’.

Though it is not related to the Lily family, commercially Agapanthus is also known as Africa Lily or Lily of the Nile.

14 Feb

Alliums: The Ornamental Onions

Alliums, commonly known as Ornamental Onions, are popular perennials among gardeners because of their graceful flowers and ability to grow in many different conditions. Most Alliums are characterized by their tall flower stalks (up to 3 feet) that stand like sentries with big, round flower heads (up to 5 inches). Their prominent flower heads make Alliums very useful for providing a nice and attractive background to low-growing bloomers in flower beds.

Allium globemaster

Allium globemaster – Image by PKdon50 (flickr)

Growing Alliums should not be a big challenge even for beginners. They are drought-tolerant, resistant to pests, and low on maintenance. They also come in a wide range of variety in terms of heights, blooming period, and form and color of flowers. Alliums are grown from bulbs planted in the fall. Bulbs should be planted at a depth of four times the diameters of bulb. Alliums generally prefer a rich and well-drained soil under sunny conditions. If you are growing them in poor soil, feed them with a general fertilizer in early spring or top up the soil with a layer of compost [Also read: How to prepare your own compost].

Most varieties start blooming from late summer to early summer. Flowers, especially of late blooming verities, last longer. Both fresh and dry flowers make excellent addition to flower arrangements. As end of season approaches, leaves start straggling and should be cut back, if required. Once flowering is over, bulbs can be lifted and stored for the next harvest.

Popular varieties of Allium include:

Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ produces large (3 inches or more) purple flowers on tall (up to 3 feet) stalks.

Allium Purple Sensation

Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ / Image by Farrukh

Allium caeruleum or ‘Blue Allium’ produces very attractive flowers of sky-blue color in spring and summer.

Allium schoenoprasum or Chives is a useful herb that produces nice pink flowers from mid to late spring.

Allium ‘Globemaster’ is a popular variety known for its huge flowers of purple color.

Allium ‘Millennium’ is a great bloomer for the late summer season. This variety is known for its long lasting lavender flowers.

Allium tuberosum or Garlic Chives are attractive border plant because of their delicate form and nice white flowers.

Allium aflatunense is known for its large and prominent pink-purple flowers that sit on tall flower stalks.

Other popular species are: Allium moly (Golden Garlic), A. cristophii (Stars of Persia) and Allium ‘Mount Everest’.


Blue Allium

Blue Allium / Image by Joe Shlabotnik

09 Aug

Artemisia schmidtiana ‘Silver Mound’

The plant in pictures is Artemisia schmidtiana. Commonly known as ‘Silver Mound’, It is grown for its interesting foliage.

Artemisia schmidtiana

Artemisia schmidtiana/ Image by Quinn Anya (flickr)

Artemisia schmidtiana grows as a low-growing perennial that forms symmetrical mound of feathery and silver-green leaves – making it an excellent choice for pots, borders, and a filler plant for flower beds. It can also be combined with other annuals and perennials in the garden.

Silver Mound plant

Silver Mound plant/ Image via flickr

Though the plant produces small ball-like flowers of yellow color in summer, the flowers usually remain unnoticed. It is the delicate, fern-like foliage that gives this plant its ornamental value.

How to Grow Artemisia schmidtiana

The plant can be grown easily from stem cuttings or by dividing the rootball. It requires sunny exposure and survives in almost any soil type. It also requires moderate watering and thrives in a well-drained soil. It can also withstand spells of droughts easily.

18 Dec

Fragrant and Colorful Flowering Plant for Beginners: Malcolmia maritima

The plant featured today is Malcolmia maritima. Commonly known as Virginia stock, is a popular flower plant with gardeners because of its attractive flowers. It is a low maintenance plant that grows easily from seeds in almost any soil.

Malcolmia maritima / Virgina stock

Malcolmia maritima / Virgina stock

The origin of Malcolmia maritime is Mediterranean Europe where it grows as a bushy annual. Being a Mediterranean plant, Malcolmia maritima grows well in sunny locations where it is protected from long spells of frost and freeze.

Malcolmia maritima can be a good candidate for filling empty spaces in landscapes and gardens. It can also be grown along garden borders or in raised flower beds with other shrubs and bushes.

31 May

7 Plant Varieties to Add to Your Rose Garden to Make It Pop

Roses only bloom at certain times of the year. The rest of the time, they end up with a field of thorny foliage plants. Even with a fully planted rose garden, most flower lovers will find that they will still find themselves wishing they can plant more. No single garden can contain every possible type of plant. Instead of trying to jam everything into one patch, put some in side gardens; you’ll be able to give every flower the space it needs to be seen the way it deserves to be. Now is the time to add companion plants to the your rose garden, so the garden has great focal points at all times:


When not in bloom, they provide plumes of grass like foliage. While they are blooming, they make the garden pop with a variety of colors. Daylilies are rugged, adaptable, vigorous perennials that last for years with little or no care, according to the University of Minnesota.

Daylily in the Garden

Daylily in the Garden/ Image by jacki-dee

Ornamental Grasses

Select the right kind of grass for your region when using it to spice up your garden. Look for varieties that are noninvasive so you don’t have to spend hours pulling out runners. Better Homes and Gardens suggests feather reedgrass, fountaingrass, little bluestem, switchgrass or blue oatgrass for versatility in your garden.

Fountain Grass

Image by Allan Hack

Annual Flowers

French marigolds, zinnias, petunias, and other low growing but bold annuals look great all through the season. Avoid using tall annuals because they’ll block the display once the roses come into bloom.

Marigold flowers

Marigold Flowers


By choosing a variety of low growing perennials, you can have blooms in your garden at all times without having to replant. Choose types that grow well in your area and whose colors will not clash with those of the roses. Still stumped? Peruse varieties of flowers by FTD.com for inspiration.

Sweet Alyssum, Lobularia maritima

Sweet Alyssum/ Image by Bill Bumgarner

Foliage Plants

Plants like hostas often have blooms, but the leaves are the showiest aspect. You won’t have to worry about these plants competing with the main display, but they’ll provide great visual interest.

Neoregelia plants

Image by Christoph Diewald

Architectural Plants

These are very bold plants, but they won’t overwhelm your flowers. Small palm trees, bamboo, New Zealand flax, and various spiky specimens will provide a great backdrop for your star performers, according to Houzz.com.

Alluaudia procera

Alluaudia procera/ Image by Natalie Tapson


Low shrubs, especially when perfectly maintained provide that manicured look that gives rose gardens their reputation for being fancy.

Kennedia prostrata

Kennedia prostrata/ Image via flickr

When choosing companion plantings for roses, consider more than how the plants will look together. The health of the roses must be considered first, according to HeirloomRoses.com. Roses are very sensitive to competition for water, nutrients, and sunlight. Choose plants that will not steal essential resources from the roses.

20 Mar

Lobularia maritima, the Sweet Alyssum

Sweet Alyssum is one of the favorite flowering plants among gardeners and landscape designers. This small plant with its tiny flowers is very useful in gardens and landscapes – it is a good filler plant under larger specimen landscape plants, it makes dense and flowery mats in landscapes, it also makes excellent border plants, Sweet Alyssum is an excellent container plant as well.

Sweet Alyssum, Lobularia maritima

Sweet Alyssum/ Image by Bill Bumgarner

Sweet Alyssum is a remarkable bloomer too; it flowers all through the spring and continues to bloom in summer. Because of its long flowering season and small size, Sweet Alyssum is often grown as a companion plant with other flowering plants.

Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima), once classified in the genus of Alyssum, is now placed in the genus of Lobularia but it is still known by its common name ‘Sweet Alyssum’ – ‘sweet’ is because of the sweet fragrance of its white or purple flowers.

Sweet Alyssum is quite easy to propagate. It is grown from seeds sown in early spring. The plant requires a loamy and well-drained soil under full to partial sun. With moderate watering and good exposure to sun, Sweet Alyssum grows quickly and starts blooming within a few weeks after germination. In its original Mediterranean climate, the plant grows as perennial, however in colder climates it is grown as an annual bloomer.

Besides the common variety, a number of cultivars of Sweet Alyssum are also available for cultivation. These include: ‘Snow Cloth’, ‘Oriental Nights’, ‘Snow Drift’ and the ‘Golf Series’.

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.

02 May

Lovely and Evergreen Ground Cover: Dichondra repens

Remember my earlier post about growing a lush green lawn and another about ornamental grasses to try in your garden? Today, I am introducing quite an unusual plant that you can use as alternative of common grasses for an evergreen and lush lawn – it is Dichondra repens.

Dichondra repens, Lovely Ground Cover

Dichondra repens, image by Javier Volcan

Dichonrda repens is a low growing, and evergreen herbaceous plant that servers very well as all-seasons ground cover. It grows quite rapidly in warmer climates and covers empty spaces very well. In fact, it forms a thick and tight carpet of small and round leaves. Leaves are of the shape of kidney, that is why the plant is usually known as Kidneyweed.

Dichonrda repens is one of the most attractive ground covers that I have seen. It can grow under full or partial sun and requires a well-drained soil. It can be easily mowed and trained to desired size and shape. Dichonrda repens grows easily from seeds and is maintained with occasionally supply of nitrogenous fertilizer.

Flowers (white or yellow) are quite inconspicuous but the plant itself is really lovely especially when grown over a large area.

23 Feb

For Every Climate, There is One Clematis

It won’t be wrong to say that there is one Clematis for every climate. Belonging to the buttercup family, Clematis is a large genus of several hundred species, cultivars and hybrid varieties from temperate regions of the world. However, there are a number of varieties available today that can grow well in other climates.

Clematis Flowers

Clematis Flowers, Image by Jonathan Moreau

Clematis are traditionally known as woody vines that bloom almost all through the year. They can be grown against trellis, fences or walls where they tend to climb up and establish themselves easily. These lovely creepers and climbers produce colorful and sometimes fragrant flowers that start appearing in late summer and continue to bloom for most time of the year. Actual petals on a Clematis flower are quite inconspicuous but these are surrounded by very colorful and attractive sepals.

Clematis can be grown from seeds or cuttings. Young plants prefer rather cool and moist conditions. Once established, they will take care of themselves. The best time to plant Clematis cuttings is late autumn or mid-spring. Established plants require bright sunlight and a slightly rich and well-drained soil. Whether you are planning to grow Clematis in containers or beds, these lovely bloomers comes in many different shapes and sizes – low growing creeping plants for garden beds to vigorous climbers for trellis, and from woody vines and mound-forming varieties to delicate hanging plants for balcony gardens. All have to do is find the right kind of Clematis for your garden.

15 Dec

Ornamental Grass for Lovely Landscapes: Miscanthus sinensis

I have a special liking for grasses when it comes to selecting accent plants for landscapes and gardens. Though usually under-valued, grasses, like Pampas or Miscanthus, can add a soft and striking look to any garden or landscape design. They are easy to maintain, do not require special attention and look good in any season – just like Miscanthus sinensis.

Usually described as Chinese Silver Grass or sometimes as Zebra Grass, Miscanthus sinensis is quite a robust grass that produces large clumps of blue-green leaves. Like other species of this genus, this ornamental grass grows as tall as 3 meters and produces long, feathery flowers heads of silvery-white color in summer.

Miscanthus Sinensis Grass

Miscanthus sinensis, Image via Wikipedia

How to Grow Miscanthus sinensis

Miscanthus sinensis is a sun loving grass and grows as evergreen perennial in Pakistan, India, Japan, Korea and parts of Eastern Asia. It is resistant to both windy and frosty conditions and withstands long droughts.

This graceful grass can be used in gardens and landscapes to fill in tough spots and empty spaces where no other plant can survive. It is also good as ornamental plant along borders or for adding variety to ornamental landscapes. It is also used in dried flower arrangements. It is also considered a good source of fiber in paper industry. Another popular variety, Miscanthus giganteus is an excellent source of ethanol and bio fuel.

Miscanthus sinensis is also described as Susuki Grass in Japan.