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.

22 Feb

Easy Growing, Ornamental House Plants: Philodendron

Philodendron is a large genus of creepers and clambering plants. Widely grown as indoor ornamental plants, philodendrons make excellent container plants for difficult (dark, shady and ignored places) spots. Native to tropical climate of the Americas, these beautiful foliage plants come in a large range of sizes, colors, and growing habits. Some are good for hanging baskets, some flourish under shady trees, and some of them server as outdoor ornamental plants.

Philodendron, Ornamental Foliage Plant

Philodendron, Ornamental Foliage Plant, Image by Ahmad Fuad Morad

In their native habitat, Philodendrons usually outgrow their neighbours however plants grown indoors or captivated in containers do not grow vigorously. In fact, they are quite easy to train when grown as indoor container plants.

Most species of Philodendron are characterized by evergreen lobbed leaves and aerial roots. They are easily cultivated from cuttings and prefer a damp and rich soil all the time. Avoid overwatering and place Philodendron plants in places where they receive indirect sunlight for some part of the day. When grown outdoors, protect them from direct, harsh sunlight and provide them with rich organic soil. As a general rules, all species of Philodendron should be provided with a warm environment (minimum 55 F).

Popular species include:  Philodendron Selloum, P. Squamiferum, P. Cannifolium, P. Scandens, and Philodendron Bipinnatifidum.

Philodendron Selloum

Philodendron Selloum, Image by Kahlil (flickr)

24 Oct

Evergreen, Ornamental Plant for Beginners: Baby’s Tears

Baby’s Tears or Soleirolia Soleirolii is an evergreen and low growing ground cover known for its round cascading leaves. A good candidate for a beginner’s must-have list, Baby’s Tears can be grown as a maintenance-free hanging basket or pot plant. When confined in containers or hanging baskets, this vigorous grower would soon outgrow its container and form dense mound of fresh-green and delicate leaves. These attractive plants can be grown indoors at shady spots or near bright sunlit windows or patios.

Baby's Tars, Soleirolia Soleirolii

Baby's Tars, Soleirolia Soleirolii

Baby’s Tear is equally good for rock gardens and landscapes where it can easily take up empty spaces and form thick mounds of attractive foliage. It can also be used as alternate of grass because it would survive cold and shady spots easily and serve as nice ground cover throughout the year. When grown with other plants, Baby’s Tears proves to be a bad neighbor as it tends to cover and take up the space of surrounding plants very soon. Therefore it should be pruned back regularly to keep this vigorous grower under control.

How to grow Baby’s Tears

Native to parts of Europe and some Mediterranean climates, Bab’s Tears grows easily in almost all parts of the world. It is easy to grow, in fact, difficult to kill plant. You can grow it under shade as well as under sun. The plant requires moist soil all the time and performs well is a well-drained, sandy or boggy soil. Baby’s Tears can be propagated easily from divisions. Water it regularly and protect from long dry spells.

Soleirolia Soleirolii is also known as Mind-Your-Own-Business or Angel’s Tears.

18 Oct

Creeping Fig Vine: Love it or Hate it?

I have kind of love and hate relation with Creeping Fig. I love for its quick and creeping growth (good for quick results) and I hate it because when it outgrows my pruning efforts to cover almost all kinds of surfaces or objects.

Ficus Pumila or Creeping Fig is a fast growing, in fact, vigorous growing creeper which is suitable for many purposes: quick growing ground cover, evergreen creeper to cover walls and trellis, thickly leaves vine for hanging pots, nice woody and leafy plant for topiaries, and for many other purposes.

creeping fig vine

Creeping fig grows rapidly and creeps up almost all surfaces and objects via its aerial roots. Stem is covered with dense foliage which is bright green to dark green depending on light condition. Native to eastern Asia, Creeping Fig is widely under cultivation is most climates (except very cold or freezing environments). The plant requires consistently moist soil and grows well in ground as well as in containers. Older plants tend to form hard woody stem, however, new branches are quite easy to prune or train.

Cutting root quickly and are the easiest way to propagate Creeping Fig. Take cuttings in spring and plant them in a regular potting mix. Keep them under partial sunlight until new growth is visible.

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.

28 Aug

Fast Growing, Ornamental Ground Cover: Ajuga Reptans

Ajuga Reptans or Carpet Bugleweed is a quick solution if you are looking for a plant to cover wide empty spaces, beds or bare soil. As a vigorous growing groundcover, it would readily cover the ground to form a low growing thick mat of dark green or coppery leaves. Ajuga Reptans can also be used to control soil erosion as it spreads quickly via runners and grows almost in any type of soil with good drainage.

Ajuga Reptans Groundcover

Ajuga Reptans Groundcover, Image from wikipedia

Grown as ornamental groundcover, Ajuga Reptans is good for beds as well as landscapes where it provides a glossy dense mat of leaves and produces attractive flowers of blue or purple colors. Flowers grow on small stalks (up to 6 inches). These conspicuous flowers make a spectacular show in spring till midsummer. Ajuga Reptans can also be grown under tree or combined with shrubs in landscapes for a dramatic effect in flowering season. Rich in nectar, flowers of Ajuga Reptans attract birds, bees and butterflies.

How to Grow Ajuga Reptans

Ajuga Reptans is native to Europe and parts of Asia and Australia. It can be grown under shade or sun with regular watering. It does not have any special soil needs and grows in almost any soil with good water drainage. Propagation is done from softwood cuttings.

22 Aug

Fast Growing Ornamental Groundcover: Duchesnea Indica

Duchesnea Indica is a quick growing, ornamental plant that spreads quickly to serve as a good groundcover. Popularly known as Indian Strawberry or Mock Strawberry, Duchesnea Indica bears ornamental foliage and fruit – both resemble the foliage and fruit of real strawberry plants, however the fruit of Mock Strawberry is quite tasteless.

Duchesnea Indica grows natively in south Asia and parts of eastern Asia as a low growing perennial. The plant has been acclimatized in many parts of the worlds where it is grown as ornamental houseplant. Suitable as groundcover, for container gardening and window gardens, these low growing plants do not require special care. In fact, they can withstand neglect.

Duchesnea Indica, Mock Strawberry, Indian Strawberry

Duchesnea Indica, Image by Shihmei Barger

How to Grow Duchesnea Indica

Mock Strawberry can be grown easily from divisions or seeds as evergreen groundcover. It requires full to partial sun and tolerates drought and frost – a good choice for xeriscaping. Duchesnea Indica self-seeds in favorable conditions and becoming quite invasive.

03 Jul

Colorful and Fragrant Climber for Warm Climate: Wisteria

Wisteria is perhaps one of the most beautiful flowering climbers that fill your garden with exotic colors and fragrance. Native to temperate regions of North America and Asia, it is a very fast growing woody climber. Not all species produce fragrant flowers, but all of the species in the genus are excellent bloomers.

Flowers appear in long and drooping pendulous clumps resembling the flowers of Laburnum (Golden Shower Tree). Wisteria blooms in spring and continue to bloom till late summer. Flowers are usually white, purple, pink and blue. Leaves are soft and green.

Wisteria grows vigorously and becomes a mound if not provided with a suitable support therefore it should be grown against pergola or a wall. Most species of Wisteria would climb up to 20 meters or more.  The world’s largest Wisteria grows in Sierra Madre, California spanning over 1 acre.

One of the most common and easy to grow species is Wisteria Sinensis (also known as Chinese Wisteria) which is a deciduous creeping plant growing up to 30 meters. Its violet flowers are fragrant and bloom in spring.

Wisteria Vine with Violet Flowers

Wisteria with Violet Flowers, Image from tamarynwhite.com

Wisteria grows in deep and well-drained soil under full sun. Usually it does not require much care and grows freely with just moderate amount of water. Most species can be grown from hardwood or softwood cutting, seeds or by layering.

25 Jun

Evergreen Ornamental Climber for Warm Climate: Epipremnum Aureum

Epipremnum Aureum (also mentioned as Pothos) is perhaps the most popular ornamental houseplant in South East Asia where it grows natively as tropical climber and creeper. As an easy to grow houseplant, Epipremnum makes an excellent foliage plant for containers in warm climates. It grows best against trellis, moss stick or any type of support as an evergreen climber or in hanging baskets.

Epipremnum is widely grown in homes, offices and shopping areas for its ability to reduce the effect of pollutants in the atmosphere. Leaves of Epipremnum are green with white or yellow variegation.

Epipremnum Aureum Growing in the Wild

Epipremnum Aureum (Pothos), Image from www.hear.org

How to Grow Epipremnum Aureum (Pothos)

Epipremnum is quite hardy and easy to grow. It requires partial sunlight in outdoor locations or bright light in indoor spots. Epipremnum should be provided with moderate amount of water and general purpose liquid fertilizer in spring. Epipremnum can also be grown hydroponically (in mineral based water solutions; without soil).

Popular species of Epipremnum are: Epipremnum Pinnatum, Epipremnum  Aureus, Epipremnum Mirabile and Epipremnum Aureum ‘Golden Ceylon Creeper’ also known as PothosSilver Vine, Devil’s Ivy or Solomon Island’s Ivy.

Epipremnum climber in indoor hanging basket

Epipremnum Growing Indoor, Image from professorspride.com

14 Jun

Wandering Jew: Colorful Ground Cover and Hanging Plant

Looking for a colorful addition to your garden beds, landscape or indoor garden? Try Setcreasea.

Setcreasea is a group of low-growing perennials plants grown for their attractive and colorful foliage. They are very versatile plants and can be grown in garden beds or rockeries, as ground cover or ornamental hanging plants, or as indoor container plants. They are quite easy to grow, in fact, hard to kill. Most species of Setcreasea produce pink and mauve flowers.

The most popular species is Setcreasea Purpurea which is commonly known as Wandering Jew, Purple Heart or Purple Queen for its purple leaves.

Wandering Jew Plant

Wandering Jew Plant, Image from rgbmail.com.br

How to Grow Wandering Jew

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 can also be used for xeriscaping for its capacity to withstand droughts.