05 Aug

7 Ornamental Houseplants for Beginners

Today we are featuring 7 ornamental houseplants for beginners who want to brighten up empty spaces in their homes with lustrous greenery or bright flowers – but with minimal care and limited time to pamper, feed, prune and water. The plants listed here are recommended for beginners because of their ability to survive without requiring any special care. In fact, these are hard-to-kill plants that would not mind being ignored for some time.

Asparagus densiflorus ‘sprengeri’: This is one of the most cultivated species of its genus. Commonly sold as Asparagus Fern, this low growing plant is both easy and quick to grow. As an attractive houseplant, Asparagus Fern ‘Sprengeri’ bears richly green leaves on delicate branches that spread quickly and bear small inconspicuous flowers of white or pale pink colors. Flowers turn into red ornamental berries.

Asparagus Fern (Buy Asparagus sprengeri online) requires bright but filtered sunlight (protect it from scorching sun) and regular water during summer. Provide just barely necessary water in winter. Propagation is easy from divisions. Asparagus Fern makes an excellent houseplant grown in hanging baskets or as ground cover.

Asparagus Fern Plant

Asparagus Fern, Image by SupremeMystery(flickr)

Silver Inch Plant /Tradescantia zebrina (Buy Tradescantia zebrina online): This is perhaps the easiest foliage plant to grow for beginners. Suitable for hanging baskets, Silver Inch plant bears silver-white leaves with a central band of bright green color. Flowers are purple-pink that usually bloom in late summer. Silver Inch plant requires filtered sunlight and can be grown under shade or near well-lit windows. This beautiful foliage plant prefers ventilated conditions and withstands spells of drought. However, it is recommended that provide it with sufficient water and allow the soil to dry completely before next watering.

Silver Inch Plant

Silver Inch Plant

Bunny Ear Cactus /Opuntia microdasys (Buy Opuntia microdasys online): Bunny Ear cactus is a hardy and drought tolerant plant that would grow in almost any condition and withstand neglect. The plant bears succulent leaves that look like thick fleshy pads with small bristles on it. Native to Mexican desert, Bunny Ear Cactus grows well in full sun and dry conditions. When grown as houseplant, provide it with ample water and allow the soil to dry completely before next watering. Feed once a month with a regular fertilizer to encourage succulent growth of leaves/pads.

Bunny Ears Cactus

Bunny Ears Cactus, Image by Leslie Errin

Elephant Bush / Portlucaria afra ‘variegata’ (Buy Portlucaria afra ‘variegata’ online): Elephant Bush is a low growing, foliage plant. Suitable for growing as ground cover or in hanging baskets, this lovely plant bears small attractive leaves on thick and red branches. Small flowers of white or pink color appear rarely (usually after long periods of drought). Elephant Bush can be grown easily both indoor and outdoor where it receives bright sunlight and sufficient water in summer – though it can withstand spells of drought easily. Feed with a regular fertilizer in spring and summer and pot in a well-drained soil.

Elephant Bush

Elephant Bush, Image by wikipedia

Wandering Jew / Setcreasea purpurea (Setcreasea purpurea online): Wandering Jew is an excellent choice as ground cover or as a showy plant for hanging baskets. Propagated from divisions, Wandering Jew would grow in sunny as well as shady locations. It requires moderate watering and bears purple flowers throughout the year.

Wandering Jew

Wandering Jew Plant, Image from rgbmail.com.br

Tree Ivy / x Fatshedera lizei (Buy Fatshedera lizei online): Tree Ivy is a versatile plant that can be grown as evergreen ground cover, as climbing plant against walls and trellis, as evergreen shrub in garden or as pot plant grown both indoor or outdoor. It requires a shady spot, moderate watering and protection from frost.

Tree Ivy, Evergreen Ornamental Plant

Tree Ivy, Evergreen Ornamental Plant, Image by S John Davey

PothosEpipremnum aureum (Buy Epipremnum aureum online): Pothos is widely cultivated plant in almost all parts of the world. It makes an excellent houseplant that does not require much care. It makes an excellent foliage plant especially in warm climates where it produces showy green and sometimes variegated leaves. Pothos requires partial sunlight in outdoor locations or bright light in indoor spots. This ornamental plant should be provided with moderate amount of water and general purpose liquid fertilizer in spring.

Pothos Plant

Pothos, Image from professorspride.com

24 Jul

Evergreen, Ornamental Foliage Plant for Beginners: Tree Ivy

If you are a beginner looking for some easy-to-grow plants for year round ornamental foliage, you should give Tree Ivy (x Fatshedera Lizei) a try. It is a less-demanding as well as a versatile plant that can be grown as evergreen ground cover, as climbing plant against walls and trellis, as evergreen shrub in garden or as pot plant grown both indoor or outdoor.

Tree Ivy is a hybrid between Fatsia Japonnica (a tree) and Hedra Helix (an ivy) that is why it has characteristics of both. Tree Ivy bears relatively larger ivy-like leaves and stiff, shrubby branches. The glossy green leaves appear round the year to make Tree Ivy an excellent foliage plant. Stiff branches require support for climbing against a wall, tree or trellis. A variegated variety (x Fatshedera Lizei ‘Variegate’) is also grown widely for its ornamental leaves (with white margins).

Tree Ivy, Evergreen Ornamental Plant

Tree Ivy, Evergreen Ornamental Plant, Image by S John Davey

How to Grow Tee Ivy

Tree Ivy requires a shady spot, moderate watering and protection from frost. Plants propagate from cuttings and reach about 2 meters or more in height. When pruned regularly, Tree Ivy can be grown as ornamental pot plant.

19 Jun

Indoor Flowering Plant for Hanging Baskets: Easter Cactus

Rhipsalidopsis Gaertneri or Easter Cactus is an epiphytic plant from Brazil and is best known for its showy flowers. It belongs to the group of ‘leaf cacti’ – the name given to Schlumbergera and Rhipsalidopsis because of their thin stems that look like leaves. Easter Cactus produces abundance of branches that are erect or pendant and bear showy flowers on their tips.

Rhipsalidopsis, Easter Cactus

Rhipsalidopsis, Easter Cactus

How to Grow Easter Cactus

Easter Cactus comes from rainforest areas of Brazilian coastline where they grow as epiphytic plants under the shady trees. Thus when growing them as houseplants, Easter Cactus would require humid and frost-free climate in a semi-shaded spot. They can be grown indoor as well as outdoor, however, care must be taken to provide natural sunlight when grown indoor and to ensure moisture when grown outdoor. Easter Cactus can be propagated easily from stem cuttings. Allow the cuttings to dry for a couple of days before sowing them in the soil. Provided Easter Cactus with a loose, coarse and well-drained soil fertilized with a general purpose fertilizer.

Flowers of red and purplish-pink color start appearing after the cold spell of winter is over and bloom till the end of spring. Flowers on Easter Cactus remain open during the day and close at night. A well-branched Easter Cactus bearing large, showy flowers in a hanging basket is a very rewarding experience.

01 Jun

Foliage Plant for Landscapes and Indoor Gardens: Cordyline

Cordyline is a genus of more than one dozen species of colorful foliage plants. Widely grown for their ornamental foliage and colors, Cordyline are hardy plants – suitable for both indoor and outdoor gardens. They add striking colors in landscapes and produce greenish-white or yellow-green flowers. In cold climates, they can be grown indoors as patio plants.

Cordyline Australis, Cabbage Tree

Cordyline Australis (Cabbage Tree) Image © Magnus Manske

How to Grow Cordyline

Cordyline are hardy plants and grow under direct or partial sunlight. Most species love rich and well-drained soil with moderate watering. Plants can be propagated from cuttings. Protect your Cordyline plants from frost.

Popular Varieties of Cordyline

Cordyline Australis: Commonly known as Cabbage Tree, Palm Lily or Grass Palm, Cordyline Australis is usually grown as outdoor tree that grows as tall as 30 meters. It is equally suitable as container plant. The plant bears white fragrant flowers that usually appear in summer. Cordyline Australis is also grown for its medicinal benefits and commercial use of its fiber.

Cordyline Terminalis: This species grows as foliage shrub up to 3 meters. Leaves are showy and tend to produce variegation. Other names of Cordyline Terminalis are Ti Tree and Good Luck Plant.

19 May

Beautiful Betel Nut Palm Tree, Areca Catechu

Areca Catechu also known as betel nut tree or betel palm is a tall, slender and elegant tree that bears strong fragrant flowers and popular betel nut. Originally belonging to Philippines and Malaysia, betel nut palm grows in the long tropical belt of Pacific, Asia and Africa.

Betel Nut Palm Tree, Areca Catechu

Areca Catechu, Image © Bngishak on Flickr

Areca Catechu makes a graceful, tall tree with dark green leaflets. Normally, a betel nut tree gains a height of 20 meters or more (up to 30 meters) with a crown of beautiful trees on a slender trunk of just 45 cm. The grey stem of betel nut tree has ring formations caused by fallen leaves. White flowers are followed by orange drupes commonly known as betel nut (though it is not actually a nut). Dried nuts are used for fragrance and flavor in Paan. It is estimated that about 50,000 tonnes of betel nut are consumed annually for chewing with Paan all over the world. The extract from betel nut is supposed to have digestive and anti-depressant properties but could be addictive and toxic.

How to Grow Betel Nut Tree

Betel nut tree is extremely easy to grow in warmer climates. It requires regular watering (mostly moist soil) and bright sunlight but does not survive colder climates. Areca Catechu grows well as ornamental plant in containers or as indoor or outdoor landscape tree.  As an indoor ornamental plant, Areca Catechu grows slower and requires less water.

07 Apr

Adenium Obesum, The Desert Rose

Adenium Obesum, also known as Desert Rose, is a succulent and caudex forming shrub from southern region of Africa and Arabia. Adenium are popular for their unusual shapes and spectacular flowers. This slow growing flowering shrub can ultimately turn in to a small tree with large swollen trunk/caudex.

Adenium Obesum can be used in landscape or grown as container plants. They can also be trained to make good bonsai specimens. Beware that sap from Adenium plants is toxic.

adenium plant

Culture

Desert Rose or Adenium Obesum grows as tall as 1 to 3 meters in height. It produces green, leathery leaves that grow near the tips of branches. Adenium blooms in late spring and sometimes in mid fall. Flowers are red and pink with whitish shade and resemble the flowers of Frangipani.

These days a number of hybrids are commercially grown and sold as houseplants. These hybrids bear spectacular flowers of many different shades. You can also find many different hybrids grafted on a single rootstock all producing flowers of different colors.

Adenium Obesum is a popular houseplant in temperate zones of India, Thailand and Vietnam.

adenium flowers

Cultivation

In temperate zones, Adenium can be grown from seeds. However, they are mostly cultivated from cuttings or grafting though plants grown from seeds acquire better caudex and trunk shape.

Water, Soil and Temperature

Adenium prefers sunny location, very well drained soil, and a minimum 10 C temperature in winter. They should be watered carefully as overwatering may rot the stem. Adenium prefer bright sunlight and can be grown outdoors easily. In winter, it can be grown indoors near a sunny window where it is protected from frost. Adenium prefers slightly alkaline soil.

Fertilizer

In order to develop a perfectly developed caudex and vigorous flowering, you need to fertilize your adeniums regularly. (Good lighting condition also encourages production of more carbohydrates that ultimately form better caudex. Also lift your Adenium a little above from soil every time you re-pot it to encourage good caudex formation.)

hybrid adenium flowers

Popular Adenium Species

Popular species of Adenium include: Adenium Swazicum, Adenium Somalense, Adenium Arabicum, Adenium Boehmianum, Adenium Multiflorum, Adenium Crispum and Adenium Obesum.

Adenium Crispum is relatively compact species and bears striking flowers. It is difficult to grow and does not withstand cold or hot, humid conditions. As grafted plant, Adenium Crispum can grow into a tall shrubby tree.

Adenium Multiflorum has brownish bark and bears white, pink, crimson and red flowers with predominant white base. It remains compact and grows in columnar style to attain a height of 3 meters. Adenium Multiflorum is also known as Impala Lily.

Adenium Boehmianum produces fleshy stem and can be grown easily from seeds, cuttings and grafting. Adenium Boehmianum is not grown commercially and thus cannot be found commonly.

Adenium Arabicum resembles Adenium Obesum and bears crimson and pink flowers. It can be grafted easily on a rootstock. Adenium Arabicum bears fleshy green leaves and makes a perfect show plant.

Adenium Swazicum is an evergreen dwarf shrub from Swaziland. It is usually used to develop hybrid plants because of its floriferous habit. Adenium Swazicum is relatively a hardy plant.

All images are taken from flowerpictures.net

14 Mar

Blood Spots

Today, I am sharing one of my favorite Agave plants, Agave x Manfreda.

Agave x Manfreda

The plants is remarkable because of dark red spots on its delicate leaves. The plant makes a compact rosette (usually 12″ in height and 12″ to 20″ in width). The grey-green leaves have red margins and are usually fragile. It is suitable for container gardening, requires regular maintenance and survives cold spells, if protected from frost. In summer, it can be grown under bright and filtered sunlight with moderate watering.

Mangave Bloodspots

Agave x Manfreda is believed to be a hybrid of Agave Macroacantha with Manfreda Maculosa that is why it is listed as Mangave Bloodspots.

09 Mar

Quisqualis Indica – The Rangoon Creeper

I was raised in a big house with plants, vines and trees in abundance. Naturally, I have a lot of childhood memories associated with these plants… and there are some special memories that I still cherish like a big Rangoon Creeper vine loaded with large tufts of white, pink and bright red flowers. It was planted in the ground from where it had climbed up to the third-storey of the house. It used to bear large bunches of flowers that spread intoxicating fragrance in our backyard and attracted bees and butterflies of various colors throughout the year.

quisqualis indica or rangoon creeper

Image © Kai Yan, Joseph Wong

As children we used to collect those sweet smelling flowers to decorate our sand houses. This Rangoon Creeper grew in our house until we moved to our new home where we had limited space for plantation but we managed to grow this plant against fences. Since Rangoon Creeper is a fast growing vine, it covered all the fences and started producing flowers quickly.

Now it grows in our small lawn against walls and fences under full sun. Actually, Rangoon Creeper is a nice choice if you want to cover empty spaces, create visual dividers or provide shady cover on a porch, balcony or terrace. It is easy to trim though it requires regular trimming otherwise it grows wild. Rangoon Creeper can be grown in almost all tropical and sub-tropical regions and requires bright sunlight and moderate amount of water.

Flowers of Rangoon Creeper

Rangoon Creeper flowers profusely throughout the year. Flowers open as white trumpet-shaped blooms and then turn to pink and bright red in the next two or three days. You can see all three colors on a single flower stalk of Rangoon Creeper spreading sweet smell all around. Healthy plants bear lush green leaves and abundance of flowers. Hybrid varieties bear more profuse flowers.

Rangoon Creeper is also known as Chinese Honeysuckle, Burma Creeper, Scarlet Rangoon or simply by its botanical name Quisqualis Indica (Quisqualis Indica is a Latin word and translates in English as ‘What is that?’). It is easy to grow and can be planted in containers as ornamental vine. It is said to reach up to 70 meters in length but can be pruned easily. When grown in ground, Rangoon Creeper needs support of a fence, wall or wire.

Growing Rangoon Creeper

Both as container plant or creeping vine planted in the ground, Rangoon Creeper requires bright light, fertile soil and moderate water. It can withstand cold spells of winter but loves the spring season. Rangoon Creeper can be grown by seed though propagation from cutting and layering is easy and quick.

Rangoon Creeper is used in traditional medicine in Pakistan, China and India to relieve diarrhea, nephritis and rheumatism.