15 Aug

Small and Beautiful Foliage Plant: Peperomia carperata

Peperomia is a genus of popular houseplants used for their ornamental foliage. These slow growing plants have bushy habit and are rather easy to grow. Originally coming from tropical forests of South America, a number of species in this genus are grown widely as ornamental houseplants such as Peperomia carperata, which is known for its lovely foliage.

Peperomia carperata

Peperomia carperata, Image by Grigoris Deoudis

Peperomia caperata grows as a dwarf plant. It is usually grown in containers or mixed with other foliage plants where it complements its companion plants with attractive and textured leaves. Peperomia caperata produces inconspicuous flowers in late spring or late autumn. The flowering period is the time when the plant requires higher level of humidity and frequent watering. Once flowering season ends, water Peperomia caperata plants only when the soil is dry.

Peperomia caperata prefers bright but indirect sunlight. The best soil mix for Peperomia caperata is loamy and well-drained soil that does not retain much water. Being humidity loving plants, Peperomias tends to drop its leaves when temperature (minimum 10◦ C) or humidity level is too low. Like other plants in the genus, Peperomia caperata prefers moderate watering in summer and barely sufficient water in winter.

Peperomia caperata can be grown from leaf cutting as well as seeds.

Other popular species include: Peperomia sandersii, Peperomia prostrate, Peperomia puteolata, Peperomia obtusifolia, and Peperomia orba ‘Variegata’.

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.

23 Jun

Lovely, Multicolor Houseplant: Agave lophantha ‘quardicolor’

The very first look at my rooftop garden would tell you that I have a special interest for Agaves so much so that they have gradually taken place of other succulent plants in my collection. I love Agave plants for the variety of colors, texture, foliage, size and formation. Another reason that I tend to love my Agave plants more than other succulents is their ability to survive harsh and humid summers as well as nearly freezing winters.

The plants in my Agave collection are as big as 4 meters across and as small as 6 inches across – and of course, there are many personal favorites. One of them is Agave lophantha ‘quardicolor’. It is a very interesting and colorful plant that grows as a medium sized and compact plant. It is characterized by green leaves with a pale-green mid stripe, and bright yellow border having greyish spines. In winters, yellow borders get a hint of red color to add the fourth shade and justifying the name of the plant – quardicolor.

Agave lophantha 'quadricolor'

Image from pieceofeden.blogspot.com/

Agave lophantha ‘quardicolor’ grows as a compact plant. Leaves can grow up to 30 cm long whereas the plant itself attains the diameter of 60 cm. Mature plants produce suckers that can be separated easily to propagate the plant. Flowers on Agave lophantha ‘quardicolor’ appear rarely.

Since it is quite hardy, Agave lophantha ‘quardicolor’ can be a good ornamental plant for containers, rock gardens or xeriscapaes.  It requires moderate watering, and full to partial sun (avoid direct sunlight where summer is harsh). When grown in containers, repot every two or three years or according to the size of the plant.

18 Jun

Lovely, Hardy, Musky and Delightful: Muscari armeniacum

Muscari is a genus of bulbous plants from Europe and the Mediterranean regions and are known for their spectacular flowers and delightful musky fragrance. These lovely bloomers do not require much care, in fact, they would do well even when neglected, and grow in almost anywhere in a garden. Most species can be grown in beds, containers, rock gardens, borders or even in mass plantation schemes where they would grow in clusters and produce prolific flowers of purple-blue or white color.

Muscari armeniacum

Muscari armeniacum, Image by Kai Yan, Joseph Wong

Small Muscari flowers grow in clusters on short stalks (up to 10 inches) in spring and emit musky fragrance thus justifying its name – Muscari (derived from Greek word moschos, meaning ‘musk’). These thick clusters of purple flowers often look like bunches of grapes, that is why, these plants are commonly described as Grape Hycinths. The lovely flowers of Muscari are often seen in the background of dark-green foliage that only dies in summer followed by new growth of fresh-green leaves.

Muscari are very easy to grow – they only need full to partial sun, and a rich, moist but well-drained soil. The bulbs can be planted in containers or beds in late summer. For best results, bulbs should be sown in groups or clusters. These clustered plants would produce abundance of flowers that emit delightful fragrance and attract bees and butterflies. For added effects, companion plants like Alyssum, Forsythia, Iris or Narcissus can be grown with Muscari.

Popular species of Muscari include Muscari armeniacum and M. botryoides.

05 Jun

Galtonia candicans, The Berg Lily

Galtonia is a genus of bulbous plants from South Africa that grow in dense clumps and produce tall spikes of beautiful white flowers in late summer. Galtonia candicans is perhaps the most popular species in this genus. The plant is featured by lance-shaped leaves that grow up to 1.5 meter and tall spikes that bear bell-shaped fragrant flowers.
Galtonia candicans

Galtonia candicans, Berg Lily

Galtonia candicans is winter-dormant and produces new growth of leaves in spring. The fragrant and long lasting flowers appear in summer. The plant usually prefers a fertile and well-drained but moist soil under full sun. It is frost tender and needs protection from long spells of winter.
Galtonia candicans can be grown from seed as well as divisions. It can be grown in containers as well as in flower beds where it fills empty spaces makes an excellent choice as companion plant for many other summer bloomers.
Galtonia candicans is commonly known as Berg Lily.
04 Jun

Evergreen Foliage Plant for Landscape Designs: Phormium

Phormium is a genus of evergreen perennials from swampy lands of New Zealand where it has been an important part of culture and history of indigenous Maori people. For a very long time, Maori people have been using it as a medicinal plant as well as an excellent source of strong fiber that they used in production of baskets, mats, clothing etc. Today, Phormium is grown in many parts of the world as an ornamental houseplant.

The most popular and widely grown species is Phormium tenax which itself offers more than 75 cultivars of different sizes and colors. Phormium is characterized by large leaves that grow up to 3 meters long and 125 mm wide. These tough and sword-like leaves are dark-green in color though several cultivars offer colorful foliage ranging from red, pink, white and yellow to bronze, cream and scarlet.

Phormiumm New Zealand flax

Phormiumm, New Zealand flax, Image by Peter Stevens

Phormium tenax is commercially grown and sold as New Zealand flax. It makes an excellent accent plant for landscpaes and can be grown in containers or almost anywhere in the garden. The evergreen foliage of New Zealand flax makes it a good candidate as border plant for making hedges, or borders along pathways.

Phormium tenax or New Zealand flax is quite easy to grow in a rich soil under full sun. It can also be grown under share or as indoor plant provided that it receives moderate amount of water in a well-drained soil. Mature plants produce a long stalk of red flowers. The plan can be propagated easily from rhizomes.

Some popular cultivars of Phormium include:

Phormium ‘Alison Blackman’: Upright perennial; grows up to 4 feet and produces olive green or bronze foliage with yellow variegation.

Phormium ‘Duet’: Dwarf variety that grows up to 1 foot and produces foliage of green or variegated leaves.

Phormium ‘Jester’: Bronze leaves with green stripping; grows up to 3 feet.

Phormium ‘Amazing Red’: Evergreen perennial with upright and long reddish-brown leaves ( up to 2 feet long).

Phormium ‘Bronze Baby’: Featured by bronze foliage that grows up to about 2 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide.

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.

26 Apr

Ornamental and Hardy Flowering Succulent: Kalanchoe tubiflora

Kalanchoe is a genus of more than 125 flowering succulents offering a wide range of interesting colors, textures, size and flowering pattern. Ideal of xeriscaping or just as ornamental plants, Kalanchoe make quite hardy and unique plants that can be grown in containers, landscapes, or rock gardens. They add very interesting textures and formations to gardens and landscapes – highly recommended, if you are an experimental gardener.

Kalanchoe tubiflora

Kalanchoe tubiflora, The Chandelier Plant

As most of the Kalanchoe species come from tropical and arid climates of Madagascar and Africa, these hardy succulents grow easily without requiring any special care. As a general rule, grow them in a well-drained soil, provide moderate watering, protect from frost and provide sunny exposure. Kalanchoe starts booming in early spring and continue to bloom till later summer. Most species require a good hibernation period in winter. Avoid watering much during this period.

Kalanchoe species have many different growing habits. Some of them grow as tall as 1 meter where as some grow quite low and hardly grow over 1 foot. Some produce fleshy, showy leaves where as some produce inconspicuous foliage but dense clusters of colorful flowers.

Kalanchoe prefer a warm, outdoor, and sunny spot where they propagate themselves from leaf-bus, cuttings or divisions.

One of the most popular and easy growing species of Kalanchoe is K. tubiflora which is commercially described as Chandelier plant. It is characterized by erect, cylindrical leaves and dense clusters of tubular flowers of red color. The plant propagates itself rapidly from leaf buds. When given appropriate conditions, it tends to become invasive and requires extensive pruning.

Megan has shared a nice picture of Kalanchoe tubiflora in bloom at Far out Flora.

29 Mar

Lovely Flowering Plants for Container Gardening: Mimulus, the Monkey Flower

Mimulus or Monkey Flower is a genus of free flowering annuals, perennials and shrubs and is popular for its ornamental flowers. Most species of Mimulus are sun loving plants that grow in a moist soil and produce abundance of flowers in spring.

Besides a few plants that grow as evergreen shrubs, Mimulus usually perform well when grown in containers. However, plants growing in containers should be provided with ample exposure to sunlight and plenty of water. Grow them in a regular soil mix and provide with general fertilizer for prolific flowering season. To keep the plants in good shape, prune back overgrowth of plants after flowering season ends.

Mimulus Barbatus, the Monkey Flower

Mimulus Barbatus, Image by Patrick Alexander

Some popular species of Mimulus include:

Mimulus sanguines: Evergreen shrub (up to 5 feet) with deep orange flowers that appear year round in warmer climates.

Mimulus aurantiacus: Evergreen and bushy growth (up to 5 feet), flowers are light orange or pale yellow; prefers direr growing environment.

Mimulus cardinalus: Perennial plant growing up to 3 feet, produces red flowers.

Mimulus guttatus: Prefers wet or waterside spots, produces bright yellow flowers with red throat.

27 Feb

Pelargonium: Lovely, Colorful, Scented Flowers

If you are new to gardening, Pelargonium is one of the best flowering plants to satisfy and encourage the passion. These easy-to-grow and evergreen bloomers offer a wide variety of colors. They are not fussy about growing conditions, and do well in almost any soil type and light conditions however a light loamy soil and good exposure to bright sunlight is preferable.

Pelargonium Flowers

Originally growing in Mediterranean climates of South Africa, Madagascar and parts of Asia, Pelargoniums are now cultivated in almost all parts of the world. There are a number of cultivars and hybrids of Pelargonium with different growing habits: shrubby, bushy, trailing, and low-growing. The easiest and the fastest way to propagate Pelargonium plants is by cuttings that root easily and become new plants in a couple of weeks.  Young plants can be grown in containers to decorate window gardens and patios. They are also good for bedding or just as ornamentals for seasonal display.

Water your Pelargoniums moderately during the growing season from spring to summer; water sparingly in winter.

Pelargonium Garden Flowers

A number of Pelargoniums emit nice citrus or fruity scents. Some of these scented Pelargonium species are grown commercially for the production of perfumes and geranium oil. Some species produce edible leaves and flowers are also used for flavoring in desserts, cakes, jellies and teas.

Popular species include: Pelargonium bowkeri, P. cucullatum, Pelargonium echinatum, P. domesticum, and P. elargonium. Scented Pelargoniums include:

Pelargonium crispum (lemon scent), Pelargonium odoratissimum (apple scent), Pelargonium x torento (ginger scent), and P. capitatum (rose scent).