Category Archives: Drought Tolerant Plants

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.

23 May

Evergreen, Tropical Shade Tree: Schinus, Pepper Tree

Schinus is a genus of ornamental trees and shrubs from tropical and subtropical climates, mainly from South America. Plants in this genus are known for their fine evergreen foliage, ability to survive drought and strong winds, and ornamental fruit.

Most species in the genus of Schinus grow into tall and shady trees which are rich in fresh-green foliage. These are quite fast growing plants (sometimes, invasive) and make excellent choice for gardens and landscapes where they can be grown for shade or breaking strong winds. One of the commonly grown plants from this genus is Schinus terebinthifolius that grows as a tall shrub and later turns into a hardy tree. It grows up to 6 meters as a self-seeding plant and produces ornamental pink berries after flowering season. The sap from its stem is fragrant and might cause irritation on skin. Schinus terebinthifolius is also known as Brazilian Pepper Tree.

Schinus molle

Schinus molle, Pepper Tree, Image by Petr Kosina

Another popular plant from this genus is Schinus molle which is usually descried as Pepper Tree because of peppery fragrance of its leaves. The plant grows up to 20 meters and provides a nice shady spot under its dense foliage. The red berries that are produced after flowering season and very attractive because of shiny red color and spicy fragrance.

Almos all species of Schinus are drought-tolerant and can be grown in a regular soil where they receive sufficient sunlight, moderate water and a rich but well-drained soil.

07 May

Winter Flowering, Ornamental Shrubs: Phylica

Phylica Pubescens

Phylica Pubescens - Image by faroutflora.com

These lovely and unusual flowers grow on winter-flowering plants in the genus of Phylica. Most species in this genus are small shrubs from winter rainfall areas of South Africa. However, a number of species of Phylica are grown in many parts of the world for their ornamental flowers.

Phylica are good plants to grow in landscape, as border plants or simple outdoor ornamental shrubs. Flowers of Phylica are fluffy because of dense silvery hairs that give these flowers the appearance of feathery pompons.

Phylica are drought resistant plants and thus make good choice for xeriscaping. Propagation is easy from seeds. Popular species include:

Phylica plumosa: Low growing, evergreen shrub with feathery flowers in winter.

Phylica pubescens: Small and erect, evergreen shrub. Grows up to 1.5 meter and produces yellow-green flowers in winter.

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.