13 Mar

Lovely Landscape Plant: Euphorbia lambii, the Tree Euphorbia

Euphorbia lambii – a lovely landscape tree with evergreen foliage and beautiful yellow blooms in spring. Actually a fast growing shrub, Euphorbia lambii is grown as a landscape specimen for its attractive evergreen foliage of lime-green color. The plant grows up to 6 feet and produces upright, succulent branches. Each branch is usually covered with thick foliage that makes it a nice plant for gardens and landscapes. The plant becomes even more attractive when yellow bracts appear from the center of thick foliage on each branch in spring.

Euphorbia lambii

Euphorbia lambii/ / Image by Brian Pettinger

Euphorbia lambii grows easily in tropical and sub-tropical climates. With low water requirements and ability to grow in almost any soil, it is a good candidate for xericapes. Euphorbia lambii is propagated from stem cuttings and can be grown under full sun. The only challenge is to protect it from long spells of frost and cold.

Because of its trunk and branching habit, Euphorbia lambii is commonly known as Tree Euphorbia.

12 Mar

Lovely Tropical Tree: Amherstia nobilis, the Pride of Burma

Quite hard to find on local nurseries, Amherstia nobilis is a lovely tropical tree known for its showy orchid-like flowers of crimson and red colors. It is a slow growing tree that grows up to 12 meters and produces beautiful foliage.

Amherstia nobilis, the Pride of Burma

Amherstia nobilis, the Pride of Burma/ Image by Jayesh Patil

Amherstia nobilis is native to tropical forests of Myanmar (Burma) from where it has been collected for cultivation. Because of obscure information about the origin of the plant, slow growth rate and difficulty of growing it from seed, Amherstia nobilis is not widely available for cultivation, thus limited to private collections and specialty growers (Kukiat’s Gardens has a nice collection of Amherstia nobilis). Anyways, the tree is worth growing in your garden as it produces beautiful furled foliage and a great profusion of large and showy flowers.

Flowers of Amherstia nobilis have shades of crimson, pink, red and yellow. These colorful flowers appear on drooping branches and create a spectacular show when in full bloom. This is the time when it attracts birds, butterflies and by-passers. In fact, it is rightly called Pride of Burma and sometimes Queen of Flowering Trees.

As Amherstia nobilis is strictly a tropical tree, it requires a lot of sun, moderate water and protection from long spells of frost and cold. The tree can grow in ordinary soil mix that provides good drainage.

02 Mar

Santolina chamaecyparissus: the Cotton Lavender

Santolina is a genus of dwarf and evergreen shrubs known for their aromatic summer flowers. Originally native to the Mediterranean climate, most species of Santolina can be grown in tropical and sub-tropical regions.

Among many cultivate species; S. chamaecyparissus is more popular because of its attractive silvery foliage and button-like yellow flowers. The plant is commonly known as Cotton Lavender or Ground Cypress.

Santolina chamaecyparissus

Santolina chamaecyparissus/ Image by Manel (flickr)

Santolina chamaecyparissus is an easy-to-grow plant that prefers in hot, sunny, and well-drained sites. The plant grows as a dwarf (up to 1 to 1.5 feet high) and dense shrub ideally suited to small dividers or hedges in landscape designs schemes. Santolina chamaecyparissus performs well in sandy and loamy soil with average watering. Generally, it is a low-maintenance plant that should be trimmed after each flowering season to keep it compact and in good shape.

14 Feb

Lovely Flowering Shrub for Sandy Soil: Chamelaucium uncinatum

Chamelaucium is a genus of evergreen shrubs from semi-arid regions of Australia especially the Western Australia. Several species of this genus are however grown as cut flowers in many tropical and subtropical regions of the world. These evergreen shrubs are known for their small and beautiful flowers. One of the widely known species is Chamelaucium uncinatum or Geraldton Wax Plant.

Chamelaucium uncinatum

Chamelaucium uncinatum/ Image by Arthur Chapman

Chamelaucium uncinatum is characterized by needle-like waxy foliage and small white flowers that usually have a touch of pink or lilac. The shrub grows up to 5 meters and serves as an easy to maintain hedge or screen. As it is native to semi-arid climate, Chamelaucium uncinatum prefers a well-drained soil and occasional watering. The best place for Chamelaucium uncinatum is a garden is a bright lit spot where it is protected from over watering and long spells of cold. Besides Chamelaucium uncinatum, many hybrids and cultivars are also sold commercially. Most of these varieties share common characteristics and grow easily from woody stem cuttings.

14 Jan

Evergreen Shrub for Lovely Gardens: Carissa carandas

Carissa carandas is an evergreen shrub from the Indian subcontinent where it grows widely in Pakistan, India and other tropical and sub-tropical plains of the region. The plant has been grown in the entire region for a long time for its fruits which has many medicinal and culinary uses. Besides its fruits, Carissa carandas also serves as an excellent shrub for the purposes of landscaping and hedging the land.

Carissa carandas

Carissa carandas/ Image by Phuong Tran

Carissa carandas grows as an evergreen shrub with fresh green and glossy leaves and sharp thorns. The branches are usually sturdy and flexible. The plant produces small white flowers that have a hint of fragrance. Flowering is followed by berry-like fruits. The fruit of Carissa carandas is usually collected and consumed unripe. If left to ripe on branches, the fruit turn from light green to pink or red color. It is rich in iron and vitamin C and is often used in preparation of pickles.

Carissa carandas grows vigorously under full sun and does not require much care. It can grow in almost any soil and is capable of surviving spells of drought.

Carissa carandas can be used as a nice ornamental shrub not only for its foliage and flowers but also for its berry-like fruit that grow in small bunches and add to the beauty of the plant. Carissa carandas can be propagated from cuttings and can be pruned easily to keep the shrub in good shape.

Flowers of Carissa carandas

Flowers of Carissa carandas/ Image by Dinesh Valke

When grown in the ground, Carissa carandas makes an excellent shrub for creating an evergreen display of fresh foliage or as a hardy shrub to serve as hedge or privacy screen in gardens.

04 Jan

Hardy and Versatile Flowering Shrub: Leonotis leonurus

Leonotis leonurus is a versatile and useful flowering shrub for tropical and subtropical climates. It grows as a sturdy and drought tolerant shrub that can be used to fill empty landscape spaces, trimmed to make nice borders, or grown as ornamental plant for beautiful flowers and decent foliage.

Leonotis leonurus, the Lion's tail

Leonotis leonurus, the Lion’s tail/ Image by Andy Carvin

Leonotis leonurus grows up to 6 feet and bears flowers on long stalks. Flowers of orange color grow in small tufts along the stalk and last long. The tufts of flowers growing along the long and sturdy stalk give the plant looks of a lion’s tail, thus giving the plant its common name – Lion’s tail.

Leonotis leonurus bears delicate, green foliage with nice fall colors in fall. The leaves emit fragrance when crushed. The plant comes from summer rainfall areas of Africa and parts of southern America where it has been used in preparation of traditional medication for flu, fever and headache.

Since Leonotis leonurus is not fussy about growing conditions, it can be grown easily from seeds. It can grow in almost any part of the garden however a sunny exposure is good for healthy foliage and vigorous flowering. The plant can survive long spells of drought as well as occasional frost and spells of cold.

Besides popular orange flowering variety, a white flowering variety of Leonotis leonurus is also grown as ornamental flowering shrub.

Leonotis leonurus can be a good plant to attract butterflies and birds to the garden.

13 Dec

Saponaria officinalis: Soapwort

Saponaria is a small genus of annuals and perennials from the Mediterranean climate where it is grown for its colorful flowers. Saponaria officinalis is the most popularly known species from this genus. It is a low-growing perennial that produces fragrant flowers of white and pink hues in early summer. The flowers appear in dense clusters and make a colorful impact on the background of green leaves. The best place to grow Saponaria officinalis is mixed borders where it can grow in almost any soil and tolerate long spells of cold and frost.

Saponaria officinalis, Soapwort/ Image by AnneTanne

Saponaria officinalis, Soapwort

Most plants in the genus of Saponaria tend to becomes weedy and invasive, however Saponaria officinalis is quite easy to control with regular pruning.

Extract of the leaves of Saponaria officinalis has soapy content. It produces fine lather when rubbed, that is why it has traditionally been used as soap or luxurious shampoo especially for washing delicate surfaces. The soapy extract gives the plant its common name – Soapwort.

11 Dec

Lovely, Tropical Flowering Vine: Tecomaria capensis

Tecomaria capensis

Tecomaria capensis/ Image by James Gaither

The lovely orange-red flowers in the picture grow on Tecomaria capensis which is an evergreen and a very versatile plant. Grown for its lovely flowers Tecomaria capensis can be grown as a shrub, small tree, or a vine growing on pergolas or arches.

Tecomaria capensis is popular among gardeners and horticulturists for its cluster of beautiful flowers that appear in autumn and winter and continue to appear for an extended period of time every season. The fiery orange-red flowers are rich in nectar and attract a lot of birds and butterflies during the flowering season.

Tecomaria capensis is a fast growing plant that can be easily pruned and trained to obtain desired shapes. The plant prefers full sun but can be grown in light shade. Propagation is done from cuttings or seeds.

A number of hybrid verities of Tecomaria capensis are also available. These hybrids vary is coloration of flowers that ranges from pink and yellow to scarlet red.

01 Dec

Lovely and Fragrant Flowering Shrub: Murraya paniculata

Murraya is a small genus of flowering shrubs and small trees from south Asia especially from subtropical plains of Pakistan and India. Several species of Murraya are grown as houseplants and shrubs because of their beautiful foliage and sturdy structure that makes then useful for creating hedges and screens.

The most popular species is Murraya paniculata. It is a fast growing shrub that often grows in to a small tree up to 3 meters or more. Locally it is known as Kamini and grown for lovely foliage and flowers. The glossy, white flowers of Murraya paniculata are strongly fragrant. The plant produces abundance of small and white flowers that add to the beauty of fresh green foliage and spread their fragrance all around. The flowers are followed by formation of small, oval fruits of red or orange color. The fruit serves as food for many birds.

Murraya paniculata, Kamini flower

Murraya paniculata/ Image by Tim Waters

Murraya paniculata has been acclimatized in many parts of the world where it grows in tropical and subtropical plains. The plant requires bright sunlight, regular watering and occasional pruning. It is quite easy to prune and train in to favorite shapes and topiary designs.

Murraya paniculata can be propagated from seeds or cuttings. Other popular names are Chinese box and Orange Jasmine.

28 Nov

Fragrant and Winter Flowering Shrub: Luculia gratissima

Luculia gratissima

Luculia gratissima/ Image by James Gaither

The plant in picture is Luculia gratissima – an excellent bloomer and ornamental shrub from south Asia particularly from the Himalayas. Luculia gratissima belongs to the family of popular flowering shrubs and trees including Ixora, Gardenia and Hamelia. It is an evergreen shrub or small tree (up to 5 meters) that bears beautiful glossy leaves and produces abundance of fragrant flower in fall and winter. The masses of pink flowers spread delightful and jasmine-like scent.

Luculia gratissima is a bit difficult to grow in garden in garden as it thrives in a very limited spectrum of day and night temperature (between 28 to 80 F). It also requires long exposure to indirect sunlight, higher level of moisture and well-drained soil.

Though a bit difficult to grow, Luculia gratissima is a very rewarding plant that produces long lasting and fragrant winter flowering. It is usually propagated from seeds or hardwood cuttings. Other popular species include: Luculia grandiflora and L. intermedia.