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.

13 Jun

Lovely and Unusual, Moraea tortilis: The Spiral Grass

Moraea tortilis or Spiral Grass is a bulbous plant known for its very unusual and ornamental twisting and curly leaves that resemble a corkscrew. Native to limited regions of Namibia and South Africa, Moraea tortilis is a hardy and drought tolerant plant. In cultivation, it can be propagated in a well-drained soil and under sunny exposure. The bulb usually grows up to 2.5 cm in diameter with several twisting and curly leaves that grow up to 15 cm. The succulent and glossy leaves of Moraea tortilis are light-green providing a beautiful background to its white or purple-blue flowers that appear in spring till late summer. Flowers are usually short-lived but add dramatic effect to the intriguing beauty of its spiral leaves.

Moraea tortilis, Spiral Grass

Moraea tortilis, Spiral Grass, Image from duitang.com

Known for its beautiful, spiral leaves, Moraea tortilis makes an excellent ornamental houseplant grown in pots or hanging baskets. As the name suggests, it is not actually a grass but serves as a nice low-growing plants for containers.

Moraea tortilis can be grown indoors as well as outdoors provided that it receives plenty of sunlight, moderate water and a regular but granular soil mix.

11 Jun

Lovely Ground Cover for Coastal Climates: Armeria maritima

Armeria maritima is a compact, low-growing plant, which is known for its prolific and long-lasting spring flowers. The plant is commonly known as Thrift or Sea Pink – the latter is perhaps the more appropriate name for this lovely plant because of its ability to produce large clumps of grassy growth which is topped with vigorous pink flowering – thus making a ‘sea’ of pink flowers in its native habitat.

Armeria maritima, Sea Pink, Thrift

Armeria maritima, Image by Randi Hausken

Though the plant belongs to the coast lines of Northern Hemisphere, especially Europe but it has been grown successfully in many parts of the world as an excellent ground cover. The plant can grow in almost all types of soils with good drainage and under bright sunny exposure. In fact, Armeria maritime can grow quite easily in poor soil conditions and spots where very few plants would survive.

As a compact and low-growing plant, Armeria maritime is a good choice for edging, border fronts, rock gardens or wall pockets. The plant requires moderate watering and can be grown easily from seeds. Flowers are useful for both ornamental as well as cut-flower arrangements.

11 Jun

Pachypodium lamerei: The Madagascar Palm

Pachypodium is a genus of caudiciform succulents from the family of Plumeria. The plants in this genus are characterized by thick, succulent stems that are usually covered by long spines and crowned by lance-shaped leaves that are arranged in a circular fashion. Belonging to Africa and Madagascar, Pachypodium are quite hardy plants that can adapt to a variety of growing conditions in tropical and sub-tropical climates.

Pachypodium offers a variety of unusual yet attractive plants of different sizes (as small as a few inches and as tall as 4 meters or even more). Since these plants originate from hot and dry climates, they are a good choice for designing low maintenance landscapes such as rock gardens and xeriscapes where they can store sufficient amount of water in their succulents stems to survive long spells of drought. In fact, the name ‘Pachypodium’ (pachy- podium/thick-footed) is derived from their habit of forming thick and succulent stems.

From a number of commercially grown species, Pachypodium lamerei is the most popular and widely cultivated in landscapes and gardens. It is fairly easy to grown both indoors and outdoors where it receives sufficient exposure to sunlight and moderate water except in winter. It is cold sensitive and needs to be protected from frost, overwatering and freezing temperatures in winter.

Pachypodium lamerei, The Madagascar Palm
Pachypodium lamerei , Image by Axel Straub

Though it is not a palm but Pachypodium lamerei is commonly described as Madagascar Plam – may be for its rich green leaves that crown the tall succulent stem of the plant. These leaves usually pale out and fall in winter followed by new growth in spring. This is the time when the plant produces showy white or yellow fragrant flowers. However, it takes a lot of years (up to 10 years) to start blooming. At this stage, the plant reaches the height of 3 meters or more.

Pachypodium lamerei can be propagated from seeds, divisions or grafting. The plant prefers a regular but well-drained soil mix.

Other popular species include:

Pachypodium geayi: Similar to P. lamerei with thicker stems. Tends to branch out and grow up t0 m meters or more. White flowers often appear on branches.

Pachypodium horombense: Grows as a small succulent shrublet and produces a swollen tuberous stem with spiny branches each bearing a rosette of leaves. Average height is 1 meter. Flowers appear in early summer.

27 May

Lovely, Loveable Grevillea

Grevillea is a large genus of evergreen shrubs and small trees known for their spectacular flowers and foliage. In fact, plants in this genus offer a great variety of flowers, foliage, size, spread, and forms. Most plants in the genus of Grevillea are quite easy to grow as ornamental houseplants for many different purposes – hedges, topiaries, small trees, indoor houseplants, or just as specimen plants in gardens.

Grevillea jerrabomberra

Grevillea jerrabomberra, Image by Donald Hobern

Most species of Grevillea come from tropical and subtropical zones of Africa, Australia, and Malaysia where the bloom in spring. Flowers usually appear in clusters and range from red, white, cream and pink. These flowers are rich in nectar and thus attract birds and pollinating insects.

Grown from seeds or cuttings, most plants in the genus of Grevillea grow well in a regular soil mix, and under sunny or partially-shaded regions where the receive moderate water.