01 Mar

Xerosicyos danguyi, the Silver Dollar Plant

Xerosicyos danguyi or Silver Dollar Plant (Buy seeds online) is an evergreen climber from arid regions of Madagascar. It is a drought tolerant and hardy succulent that can survive really high temperatures and long spells of drought. If you are new to the world of houseplants, Xerosicyos danguyi is a nice plant to start with.

Xerosicyos danguyi belongs to the family of squash, cucumber, and watermelon and shares many characteristics with its cousins. Hobbyists like the Silver Dollar Plant for its round, succulent, and silver-green leaves giving the plant its common name, ‘Silver Dollar Plant’. These unusual round leaves grow along a cylindrical stem that usually grows up to 20 inches. In wild, Xerosicyos danguyi uses its tendrils to hook up with surrounding plants to keep it from falling on the ground. Clusters of tiny flower of pale-green color appear in spring.

Xerosicyos danguyi, the Silver Dollar Plant

Xerosicyos danguyi, the Silver Dollar Plant / Image Source

How to Grow Xerosicyos danguyi, the Silver Dollar Plant

Xerosicyos danguyi can be easily grown in a well-drained soil and under sunny conditions. Being a drought-tolerant succulent, the Silver Dollar Plant requires only occasional watering. If you are growing it in a pot, water it thoroughly and then allow the soil to dry out completely before the next watering. In colder climates, Silver Dollar Plant can be grown indoors in hanging baskets. Xerosicyos danguyi can be propagated from seeds and cuttings. Plants grown from seeds tend to form caudex on maturity.

15 Feb

Lovely Ground Cover: Moss Phlox

Phlox subulata (Buy online), also known as Moss Phlox, is an excellent ground cover for low-maintenance landscapes. Known for its ability to survive under various conditions, Moss Phlox makes an excellent plant for covering unsightly patches. It can be grown as a bordering plant, as a ground cover in rock gardens, as cascading plant against walls, or as a charming creeper in gardens and landscapes.

Moss Phlox

How to Grow Moss Phlox

Consider Moss Phlox when you are looking for a ground cover that does not require much care and performs well in a sandy, rocky or low-fertility soil. Phlox subulata is propagated from seeds, layering or stem cuttings (cuttings especially shorter ones root quickly).

Young plants require moderate watering in a well-drained soil. They also benefit from a little application of fertilizer in early spring. Once established they do not require much maintenance. Except for annual pruning (preferably in winter to encourage better growth in the following season), this lovely ground cover will thrive under full sun and require occasional watering.It usually spreads 1 meter across and gain a height of up to 10 cm. Depending on the climatic conditions, a young plant may require 2 to 5 years to reach this size.

Moss Phlox bears flowers of magenta pink-purple, red, fuchsia, violet, cream and white colors appear in mid-spring.

Popular varieties include: Phlox subulata ‘Candy Stripes’, Phlox subulata ‘Snowflake’, Phlox subulata ‘Red Wings’, Phlox subulata ‘Drummonds Pink’, and Phlox subulata ‘Emerald Cushion’. Buy Moss Phlox online.

Moss phlox

28 Mar

Akebia quinata, the Chocolate Vine

Akebia quinata, popularly known as Chocolate Vine because of its brownish-purple flowers, is a beautiful climber for sunny or partially shaded spots in gardens. Native to the Far East, Akebia quinata grows as a quick climber and makes an excellent specimen for growing over pergolas or against walls where it produces abundance of fresh-green foliage. It can also be used as ground cover. The compound leaves of Akebia quinata are evergreen in tropical climates and semi-evergreen in colder areas.

Akebia quinata, the Chocolate Vine

Akebia quinata, the Chocolate Vine/ Image via flickr

Akebia quinata grows in a slightly moist soil under full or partial sun. The chocolaty flowers appear in spring or summer and emit exotic spicy fragrance with the hint of vanilla. Flowers last longer in warm and dry conditions. Flowering is followed by formation of long pulpy and edible fruits. However, it usually requires two plants of Akebia quinata to fertilize the flowers. The plant can be pruned back at the end of the flowering season. The fruit as well as the plant itself are used in traditional Chinese medicine for their diuretic properties.

Like most Akebias, Chocolate Vine can be grown from seeds sown in spring, or by layering long stems in winter.

26 Oct

Unforgettably Fragrant and Lovely: Lonicera, the Honeysuckle

Lonicera is a wonderful genus of climbers, ground covers and shrubs grown for their foliage and fragrant flowers. The plants in the genus of Lonicera are usually known as Honeysuckles. The genus includes two major types of plants – bushes and climbers.

The bush type honeysuckles make decent shrubs that can be used for hedges or garden borders. The climber type honeysuckles are often grown against walls, pergolas or trellis. Both type of honeysuckles require proper pruning to keep them in good shape. Most honeysuckles would grow under bright sunlight and in a rich, moist but well-drained soil.

Honeysuckles make good ornamental plants in small gardens as well as landscape designs where they grow under little care and produce unforgettably fragrant flowers in spring.

Lonicera periclymenum, Honeysuckle

Lonicera periclymenum / Image by nicolas_gent (flickr)

Popular species of honeysuckle include:

Lonicera japonica (Japan honeysuckle) is an evergreen climber with white tubular flowers that appear in spring. A variegated variety Lonicera japonica ‘Variegata’ is also available for cultivation.

Lonicera caprifolium (Italian woodbine or goat-leaf honeysuckle) is a deciduous perennial that grows as vigorous climber (up to 8 meters). The plant produces abundance of strongly scented flowers of white and pink colors in midsummer.

Lonicera hildebrandiana (Giant honeysuckle) is an evergreen climber with large leaves and flowers. The flowers are yellow or orange that appear in spring.

Lonicera sempervirens is an excellent climber that produces decent foliage and tubular red flowers.

19 Oct

Hardy Shrub and Ground Cover for Tropical Climate: Kennedia

Kennedia is a small genus of small shrubs and woody climbers from tropical and subtropical climate of Australia. These useful plants are grown for their lovely and unusual flowers of red color. Kennedia originates from tropical and summer rainfall regions and thus are quite hardy to heat and spells of drought. Most species grow easily in temperate climate where they spread quickly and become good choice for covering the ground, fences or hedges. Kennedias can be grown easily from seeds. Young plants require moist yet well-drained soil, however, mature plants can withstand long spells of drought.

Kennedia prostrata

Kennedia prostrata/ Image via flickr

Popular species of Kennedia include:

Kennedia prostrate: Low-growing plant suitable as ground cover or hanging plant. Propagation is easy from seed. The plant produces showy frequent red flowers when grown under bright sunlight.

Kennedia rubicunda: Twining creeper that grows up to 5 meters and produces showy red flowers in spring and summer.

06 Aug

Lovely Flowering Vine for Tropical Garden: Distictis buccinatoria

Distictis is a small genus of flowering vines from tropical regions of West Indies and the Americas. These evergreen and sun-loving vines grow rapidly and produce showy flowers in spring and summer. Their fresh green foliage and attractive flowers make them a good choice for tropical gardens. The plants in the genus of Distictis have vigorous roots systems and tendrils that help these vines climb up trellis, fences, trees and walls. That is why Distictis is a popular flowering vines among gardeners and horticulturists.

Distictis buccinatoria

Distictis buccinatoria, Image by Mark Pilbeam

How to Grow Distictis buccinatoria

Distictis buccinatoria is commonly described as Red Trumpet Vine because of its showy orange-red flowers that bloom in abundance during the months of summer and spring. Distictis buccinatoria can grow up to 30 feet. It is easy to train and prune this lovely flowering vine, that is why it is a good choice for growing in gardens, balconies, or patios to get a year round foliage and decent summer flowering. It benefits from regular watering, full to partial sun, and occasional fertilization with a general purpose fertilizer. Young plants require regular watering but they become drought tolerant and they mature. Distictis buccinatoria can be propagated from cuttings in a sandy to loamy soil.

Other popular species in this genus include Distictis laxiflora (Vanilla Trumpet Vine) and Distictis ‘Rivers’ , which is a pink flowering hybrid of  Distictis buccinatoria.

19 Jul

Sedum album, the Coral Carpet

Sedum album or Coral Carpet is a low-growing and very attractive plant for containers as well as a mat-forming ground cover. The plant is known for its small, mossy and succulent foliage that makes this plant look like coral from the oceans. Sedum album or Coral Carpet makes an excellent ground cover because of its shiny and dark-green leaves that turn red in winter. Since it is frost hardy, it is used in rock gardens, containers or garden landscapes for a year-round effect.

Sedum album, Coral Carpet

Sedum album (Coral Carpet), Image by William Kirby

Sedum album spreads horizontally and effectively covers empty areas with its succulent growth and tiny, star-shaped flowers of white or pinkish color. Flowers usually appear in midsummer.

Sedum album is a good plant for a beginner’s collection. It only requires bright sunlight, and loamy but well-drained soil. Water moderately in summer but only occasionally in winter when it turns red. New plants can be produced from leaves that root easily and grow into small plants. When grown in containers, repot your plant every other year in spring.

18 Jul

Antigonon leptopus, the Coral Vine

Antigonon is a small genus of creeping vines grown for their lovely pink flowers that appear in midsummer till fall. The most popular plant from this genus is Antigonon leptopus that comes from Mexico and Central America and is commercially known as Coral Vine or Mexican Creeper.

Antigonon leptopus, the Coral Vine

Antigonon leptopus (Coral Vine), Image by Tatiana Gerus

Antigonon leptopus is a fast growing vine that can climb supporting walls, pergolas or trees and produces small clusters of pink flowers. Ideal for growing in gardens, against walls, or over pergolas, Antigonon leptopus grows up to 40 feet. Heart-shaped leaves and vigorous growth of tendrils makes it easy for this creeping vine to cover empty spaces very quickly.

Antigonon leptopus requires full to partial sun, regular watering and a loamy soil in which it can establish its tuberous roots.

Antigonon leptopus can be propagated from seeds or cuttings.

09 Jul

Colorful Ground Cover with Lovely Flowers: Polygonum capitatum

Polygonum is a large genus of very versatile and multipurpose plants. The genus includes several climbers, ground covers, aquatics, and small perennials and annuals that can be grown quickly and easily. Most species of Polygonum are low-growing plants that produce colorful foliage and delicate flowers of various colors.

Propagated from seeds or cuttings, Polygonums are popular urban plants. They can be grown as ornamental houseplants or attractive foliage and landscape plants. Several species of Polygonum are commercially available as ground covers or border plants. These are usually sold under their common name Knotweed. My favorite is Polygonum capitatum. It is a small and low-growing ground cover that produces attractive green foliage that turns reddish, pink or bronze when grown under bright sunlight. Flowers grow in small heads of tiny pink flowers in spring, summer and autumn.

Polygonum capitatum

Polygonum capitatum, Knotweed, Image by Christian Defferrard

Polygonum capitatum grows in a regular soil and requires moderate watering under full or partial sun.

09 Jun

Gelsemium sempervirens: The Carolina Jasmine

Gelsemium is a small genus of evergreen climbers from Southeast Asia and eastern North America particularly Virginia, Florida, Texas and Arkansas. These fast growing climbers can be grown for profuse flowering in spring. The most popular plant from this genus is Gelsemium sempervirens; it is commonly described with various names: Carolina Jasmine, False Jasmine, Yellow Jessamine, and Evening Trumpetflower.

Gelsemium sempervirens, the Carolina Jasmine

Gelsemium sempervirens, the Carolina Jasmine, Image by Mary Keim

Gelsemium sempervirens is a fast growing climber that grows up to 20 feet. It can easily climb adjacent trees or structure, grow on fences, or form a mound when allowed to grow freely on the ground. The plant is not fussy about growing conditions and can be grow in almost any garden.

Gelsemium sempervirens produces showy, evergreen foliage of dark-green color. Yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers grow profusely in spring. These attractive flowers last long and have a hint of fragrance. Flowering is followed by formation of small red berries. Both the flowers and fruits are poisonous and can be lethal for livestock.

Apart from its horticultural use, Gelsemium sempervirens is also used as a homeopathic remedy for motor paralysis, general prostration, dizziness, drowsiness, and muscular weakness.

Gelsemium sempervirens is propagated from seeds or divisions. It requires full to partial sun and moderate watering.