18 Sep

Beautiful Winter Flowering Shrub: Hamamelis, the Witch Hazel

The name of the lovely plant in pictures is Hamamelis. It is commonly known as Witch Hazel.

Witch Hazel

Witch Hazel / Image by Steven Severinghaus

Hamamelis

Hamamelis / Image by Dietmut Teijgeman-Hansen

Hamamelis or Witch Hazel is a deciduous shrub that sometimes grows into a small tree. The plant is characterized by twiggy branches, fall colors, and unusual flowers.

Hamamelis produces alternatively arranged leaves that change their colors from green to yellow, orange and red through spring, summer and winter. After the plant has shed all its leaves, flowers of spicy fragrance and multiple shades adorn its branches – a perfect shrub for winter gardens. The flowers are unique in their shape as they produce long crumpled and ribbon like petals along brown sepals. They are usually yellow, pink, scarlet or orange.

How to Grow Witch Hazel

Witch Hazel can be grown from cuttings however it is a bit difficult to root cuttings. Commercially it is propagated by grafting on Hamamelis virginiana. An established plant required slightly moist but well-drained soil in a partially shaded spot.

Popular cultivars include:

H. × intermedia ‘Diane’, H. × intermedia ‘Jelena’ and H. × intermedia ‘Pallida’.

17 Sep

Lapageria rosea, the Chilean Bellflower

Lapageria rosea is an evergreen perennial vine known for its beautiful and unusual flowers. Commonly known as Chilean bellflower, Lapageria rosea can be grown as a beautiful climber in shady and slightly humid parts of the garden. This lovely vine is characterized by dark-green waxy leaves that grow alternatively along wiry stem.

Lapageria rosea, Chilean bellflower

Lapageria rosea / Image by Eric Hunt

Lapageria rosea is a slow-growing plant. When grown from seed, the plant can take 2 to 3 years to establish itself. Mature plants can grow long twinning stems that grow up to 10 meters. Lapageria rosea belongs to mountain range of the southern Chile where it enjoys rich soil and moderate winters. In cultivation, Lapageria rosea should be provided with a rich soil in a shady and slightly humid spot where it is protected from strong winds, frost and long spells of cold. Water generously when soil is dry.

Summer is the best time for Lapageria rosea, this is the time when it starts producing beautiful pendular flowers that keep appearing on the plan till autumn. The colors of flowers can range from pink to red and orange. A number of new cultivars provide a wider range of colors. These include: Collinge (white flared with red), Nube Blanca (pure white) and Sangre de Toro (intense red).

Chilean bellflower can be propagated from cuttings, layering and fresh seeds.

29 Jul

Primula vulgaris: Lovely Plant for Early-Spring Flowers

Primula is a large genus of perennials known for their early-spring flowers. These lovely bloomers are usually grown in flower borders and beds under shade where traditional flowering plants cannot thrive. These shade loving plants grow nicely in shady spots and produce flowers in almost all hues of red, orange, yellow, blue and violet.

In the recent years, the genus of Primula has been extensively hybridized resulting in a large number of low-maintenance varieties. In general, all species of Primula require partial shade, fertile loamy soil, regular watering and cooler temperatures. Therefore, they make good plants to grow for early-spring when they produce a lot of flowers and continue to bloom until early summer.

Primula vulgaris

Primula vulgaris /Image via Flickr

If you have not grown a Primula before, you can start with Primula vulgaris which is a low-maintenance and versatile plant. It is characterized by tongue-shaped leaves and scented flowers of cream color. The plant tends to form small clumps each producing erect flower stems. When grown under shade and provided with sufficiently moist soil, Primula vulgaris does not require much maintenance and spreads 3 to 4 cm across. Usually grown for bedding, Primula vulgaris can be easily grown in containers and placed indoors under humid and slightly cool conditions.

Primula vulgaris is also known as Primula grandiflora.

25 May

Colorful Flowering Shrubs for Gardens: Cornus (Dogwoods)

Cornus is a genus of woody shrubs and small trees from temperate regions of the Americas, eastern Asia and Europe. Commonly known as Dogwood, the genus of Cornus offers a wide variety of flowering shrubs, foliage plants, and small trees for almost any soil type. The flowering species like Cornus kousa are grown for their showy bracts that appear in spring and early summer. The deciduous species like Cornus alba are grown for their uniquely colorful stems whereas the winter flowering species like Cornus mas are grown in colder climates.

Cornus florida/ Image by Margit

Cornus florida/ Image by Margit

Most species of Cornus are quite easy to grow. They are not fussy about their growing requirements and do well in almost any soil. They are frost hardy plants that grow 10 to 20 feet in height but are easily pruned to achieve desired shapes. These lovely plants can be grown from seeds or cuttings and require full to partial sun. Generally, Cornus grow well in rich, well-drained but lightly moist soil under sunny conditions.

Popular species of Cornus include:

Cornus kousa (Kousa dogwood) grows as a small deciduous tree with dense and fresh green foliage. The plant produces lovely flowers or bracts of cream color in early spring followed by formation of berry-like drupes.

Cornus alba (Siberian dogwood) is a deciduous shrub that produces woody branches and small flowers. The plant is grown for winter interest when it sheds its leaves and wears hues of bright-crimson on its twigs.

Cornus alba

Cornus alba/ Image by Marion Wacker

Cornus x ‘Venus is grown for its splendid creamy flowers that appear in mid-summer. The plant grows as a small tree and attains the height of 10 to 12 feet.

Cornus x rutgersensis ‘Stellar Pink’ is a lovely plant with dark green foliage that changes many colors (orange, red, yellow and pink) before falling in autumn. The plant blooms in summer and grows up to 20 feet.

Cornus kousa ‘Miss Satomi’ is a known for its dense and prominent pink flowers that appear in summer. It makes a lovely addition to the garden because of its pink flowers and autumn foliage.

Because of their flowers, colorful foliage and interesting stem colors, Cornus are popular plants among horticulturists and gardens who use them in garden borders, garden screens, and mass plantation schemes.

29 Jan

Border Plant for Low-maintenance Gardens: Yucca filamentosa

If you are looking for a low-maintenance plant for garden borders, consider Yucca filamentosa – an evergreen, hardy and drought-tolerant plant.

Yucca filamentosa

Yucca filamentosa

On local nurseries, Yucca filamentosa is available with many different names: Adam’s needle, Spanish bayonet, Bear-grass and Needle-palm. The plant is known for its lovely white flowers and architectural structure that makes it a nice accent plant.

Yucca filamentosa thrives in a well-drained soil under partial sun. However, it can easily adapt itself to different types of soil and light conditions. For this reason, it makes a nice plant for gardens and landscapes where it forms small groups of shrubby plants with stem-less structure. A mature Yucca filamentosa can grow up to 1 meter in height and spread across 1.5 meter (however it takes around 20 years to attain this size).

Yucca filamentosa 'Color Guard'

Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard’

Yucca filamentosa is characterized by its sword-shaped, spine-tipped green leaves that form a tight rosette. The leaves change many shades from winter to spring. In spring, Yucca filamentosa produces a long stalk of beautiful white flowers. The flowers last for a long time and attract bees and butterflies.

Yucca filamentosa also offers a couple of popular cultivars that include:

Yucca filamentosa ‘Golden Sword’ – similar to ‘Bright Edge’, but larger.

Yucca filamentosa ‘Ivory Tower’ – creamy white flowers tinged with green.

Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard’ – broad yellow stripes all year, plus red stripes in the winter.

19 Dec

Small and Evergreen Flowering Tree: Arbutus unedo

Arbutus unedo

Arbutus unedo / Image by Jesuskyman (flickr)

The plant in this picture is Arbutus unedo – a lovely, evergreen, compact tree which is highly regarded by gardeners for its ornamental value. This small tree grows up to 10 meters, branches gracefully and produces deep green foliage. Small white or pink flowers appear in autumn. These bell-shaped flowers not only add to the beauty of this lovely tree but also offer sweet nectar to honey bees. Flowers are followed by formation of strawberry-like edible fruit. Fruits changes colors from yellow to red and ultimately to scarlet – making this beautiful tree more attractive. Because of its strawberry-like fruit, Arbutus unedo is also known as Strawberry Tree.

Arbutus unedo is quite easy to grow and does not require much maintenance. Therefore, it makes a good choice for growing along garden borders or form informal hedges. A few smaller and compact varieties of Arbutus unedo are also available. These varieties grow up to 3 meters and make decent specimen plants for small gardens where you can observe attractive flowers and ripening fruits along with fresh green foliage – making a colourful addition to the garden.

Arbutus unedo can be grown easily from seeds or cuttings. It grows in almost any soil but prefers a well-drained lean soil that allows the tree to develop its extensive root system. Young plants benefit from partial shade and slightly moist soil. Once established, mature plants can easily tolerate spells of drought.

Strawberry tree

Strawberry tree / Image by obni (flickr)

Arbutus unedo branches decently to make a compact, small tree. However, you can prune it easily to keep in the desired shape. Winter is the best time to prune Arbutus unedo.

Popular varieties of Arbutus unedo include:

Arbutus unedo ‘Compacta’: grows up to 2 metres tall eventually and fruits abundantly.

Arbutus unedo ‘Croomei’: grows up to 4 meters and produces reddish flowers.

Arbutus unedo ‘Elfin King’: is a slow growing  and dwarf variety that grows up to 1 meter.

18 Dec

Fragrant and Colorful Flowering Plant for Beginners: Malcolmia maritima

The plant featured today is Malcolmia maritima. Commonly known as Virginia stock, is a popular flower plant with gardeners because of its attractive flowers. It is a low maintenance plant that grows easily from seeds in almost any soil.

Malcolmia maritima / Virgina stock

Malcolmia maritima / Virgina stock

The origin of Malcolmia maritime is Mediterranean Europe where it grows as a bushy annual. Being a Mediterranean plant, Malcolmia maritima grows well in sunny locations where it is protected from long spells of frost and freeze.

Malcolmia maritima can be a good candidate for filling empty spaces in landscapes and gardens. It can also be grown along garden borders or in raised flower beds with other shrubs and bushes.

13 Dec

Attractive Flowering Pot Plants for the Winter: Geissorhiza

Geissorhiza radians

Geissorhiza radians (Wine Cups) / Image by Wilferd Duckitt

The lovely plants in these pictures belong to the genus of Geissorhiza  – a genus of about 80 species known for their attractive flowers. Grown from seeds or corms, these lovely bloomers make excellent pot plants for winter.

Most species of Geissorhiza are low-growing plants and can be grown in small pots. They need constant moisture during the winter and require complete drought in the summer. Geissorhizas also make good plants for mass plantation in landscapes.

Popular species of include: Geissorhiza radians or Wine Cups, G. tulbaghensis, and Geissorhiza grandiflora.

Geissorhiza monanthos

Geissorhiza monanthos / Image by Wilferd Duckitt

30 Nov

Lovely Flowering Vine: Macfadyena unguis cati

Macfadyena is a small genus of flowering vines from tropical regions of America. The one commonly known species from this genus is Macfadyena unguis-cati. The name translates in English as Cat’s claw creeper.

Macfadyena unguis-cati is grown as an evergreen vine under full or partial sun. The plant grows up to 5 meters and uses its tendrils to climb attached surfaces. Bright yellow flowers in appear summer and cover the entire plant.

Macfadyena unguis cati

Macfadyena unguis cati/ Image by Reinaldo Aguilar’s 

Macfadyena unguis-cati is propagated seeds, cuttings or tubers and grows well in a sandy soil. Because of its vigorous growth, Macfadyena unguis-cati needs to be properly trimmed and pruned to keep it in proper shape. Quick growth also makes this vine as excellent choice for growing against fences and walls.

13 Nov

Lovely Flowering Shrub with Sweet Fragrant Flowers: Abelia

Abelia is a genus of lovely flowering shrubs from Asia and Mexico. Loved by gardeners because of its compact growth, Abelias are excellent specimen shrubs for gardens and landscapes. The genus of Abelia consists of more than 30 species and many hybrids.

Most species of Abelia grow from 1 to 6 meters and produce attractive glossy foliage accompanied by beautiful flowers of white, pink and mauve colors. Flowers are usually fragrant especially in summer evenings.

Abelia grandiflora

Abelia grandiflora/ Image by Leonora Enking

Abelias can be easily trimmed to form desirable shapes and size. These lovely shrubs are quite hardy and adaptable. Most species will tolerate drought and frost. Propagated by cuttings, Abelias will go good under full to partial sun.

From a large number of available varieties to choose from, you can start with popular species like:

Abelia grandiflora is a medium-sized flowering shrub that grows up to 3 meters and produces arching branches with small glossy leaves. Pink flowers with light fragrance appear in mid-summer.

Abelia Edward Goucher is a popular hybrid variety and is grown for its longer flowering period (usually much of the summer till early fall). This compact flowering shrub grows up to 5 feet and usually forms dense and rounded shape. The lustrous green leaves turn to pinkish-purple in winter.

Abelia grandiflora ‘Kaleidoscope’ is known for its red stems and bright, golden yellow variegation on glossy green leaves creating a kaleidoscope of color. The plant makes an excellent specimen shrub for indoor use.