31 Jul

Lovely Flowering Shrub for Sandy Soil: Lechenaultia biloba

Lechenaultia biloba is an Australian native plant where it is grown for its brilliant and colorful flowers. Though not found in common cultivation, the plant makes an excellent choice for rock gardens and landscape designs in sandy soil.

Lechenaultia biloba

Lechenaultia biloba/ Image by Margaret Donald

As an ornamental plant, Lechenaultia biloba offers attractive flowers of blue, yellow, red and orange colors. Since it comes from Western Australia, the plant is quite capable of enduring spells of drought and neglect.

Gardeners can use Lechenaultia biloba  as an ornamental dwarf shrub that can be easily pruned to keep it in shape. It makes an excellent choice for growing in containers or along pathways.

When not in bloom, Lechenaultia biloba looks attractive because of its grey-green fleshy leaves. The plant can be propagated from cuttings. For successful cultivation, it should be provided with bright sunlight and moderate watering in a well-drained soil.

Lechenaultia biloba is commonly known as Blue Lechenaultia.

08 Jul

Dwarf, Lovely and Hardy Flowering Plants: Romulea

Romulea is a genus of dwarf plants known for their attractive and colorful flowers. These excellent bloomers belong to South Africa, parts of Europe and the Mediterranean region where they grow in wild and bloom in fall and early spring.

Most species of Romulea are quite easy to grow from seeds. These lovely bloomers are low-maintenance plants that require a sunny exposure and a well-drained soil. In colder climates, Romulea can be grown successfully in a greenhouse where they are protected from long spells of cold.

Romulea are specially known for their lovely flowers that have all the shades of violet, lavender, white, orange, yellow and pink.

Romulea ligustica

Romulea ligustica / Image by bathyporeia (flickr)

Some popular species of Romulea include: Romulea obscura (pink flowers), R. pearsonii (yellow flowers), R. rosea (magenta flowers), R. saldanhensis (golden-yellow flowers) and Romulea setifolia (peach flowers).

Romulea can be propagated by dividing rhizomes. They look best when grown in containers or in rock gardens.

17 Jun

Lovely Winter Flowering Plants for Gardens: Chasmanthe

Chasmanthe is a small genus of winter flowering plants from the family of Iris mainly from South Africa. These winter-growing plants are known for their attractive flowers of red, orange and yellow flowers that grow along a tall stalk, which makes these lovely plants stand out from their neighbors.

Chasmanthes are propagated from corms and produce sword-like leaves that grow up to 1 meter. Most species form small colonies that require bright sunlight and a moist soil. Colonies of Chasmanthe can be planted in landscapes, garden borders or in the background of flowering beds where both the foliage and flowers make an excellent show.

Chasmanthe aethiopica

Chasmanthe aethiopica/ Image by faroutflora.com

Popular species of Chasmanthe include:

Chasmanthe floribunda grows up to 1.5 meters and produces brilliant orange-red flowers in winter or spring.

Chasmanthe floribunda var. duckittii is an easy-to-grow variety with lovely yellow flowers.

Chasmanthe bicolor has small growth and produces scarlet flowers in midwinter or spring.

Chasmanthe aethiopica or Cobra Lily grows up to 1.5 feet and bears prominent deep-orange flowers on tall spikes.

16 Jun

Lovely Aquatic Plants for Pots and Small Ponds: Nymphoides

Nymphoides is a genus of aquatic plants grown for their lovely white or yellow flowers. These plants are commonly known as Floating-Heart plants because of their heart shaped leaves that float on the surface of the water. The heart-shaped leaves have their roots submerged in the water and small white flowers that nod along the floating leaves.

Nymphoides cristata

Nymphoides cristata/ Image by Mary Keim

Nymphoides is widely grown across Africa, Asia, Australia and America in ponds, aquariums and ornamental water gardens. Most of the species vary in shape and size but their basic structure and growing habit is similar. Unlike other aquatic plants, they do not sprawl much and can be grown in rather small ponds. They can be grown along the margins of ponds in about 12″ of water, or in a pot in open water in up to 20″ of water where they can form small colonies.

Flowers usually appear in mid spring through the summer, and frequently into the fall. Propagation can be done from divisions or runners.

Popular species of Nymphoides include:

Nymphoides indica or Water Snowflake: Fast-growing perennial with white flowers that have feathery edges.

Nymphoides cristata: Beautiful aquatic plant with heart-shaped green leaves that have purple veins. White flowers appear in spring or summer.

Nymphoides pelata: Easy to grow and low-maintenance aquatic plant with lovely yellow flowers.

21 May

Brunfelsia pauciflora: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

Brunfelsia is a small genus of flowering shrubs and small trees native to tropical climates of the Americas. The plants in this genus are known for their exotic flowers. Most plants in the genus of Brunfelsia are evergreen and drought tolerant.

Brunfelsias make good specimen plants in sunny or partially shaded parts of the garden where they can grow up to 4 meters and produce abundance of colorful flowers that exude sweet fragrance. Among many popular species, Brunfelsia pauciflora and its various hybrids are perhaps the most common and widely cultivated plants.

Brunfelsia pauciflora

Brunfelsia pauciflora / Image by Tony Rodd

Brunfelsia pauciflora grows as an evergreen shrub that can gain the height of 4 meters. The plant is known for its scented and colorful flowers that change their hues from violet-mauve to pale-mauve and then white on successive days. Thus giving the plant its common name – Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Other popular species include: B. grandiflora, Brunfelsia australis, Brunfelsia isola (Lady of the Night), and B. nitida (Raintree). Most of these species can be easily propagated from hardwood cuttings and grown in a shaded or sunny spot where they are protected from heavy frost.

07 May

Lovely and Unusual, Clianthus puniceus: the Kaka Beak Flower

Clianthus is a beautiful tropical shrub with very lovely and unusual flowers. Originally native to the New Zealand, Clianthus belongs to the family of Golden Shower and the Orchid Tree, and grows easily in tropical climates – average watering, full to partial exposure to the sun and protection from long, frosty winters.

In its habit, Clianthus grows as a scrambling shrub that can reach up to 3 meters, produces evergreen foliage and clusters of claw-like flowers in summer. The unusual claw-like formation of its flowers gives the plant its common names – Kaka beak, lobster claw or parrot’s bill.

Clianthus puniceus, Kaka Beak

Clianthus puniceus/ Image by Tony Rodd

The most common and commercially grown species is Clianthus puniceus. It is an evergreen shrub which is perfect for growing in a warm and sunny spot where it can be grown in a well-drained soil. The claw-like flowers of red or pink color appear in summer. Typically, a mature plant bears flowers in small clusters that make the plant quite attractive and unusual.

Clianthus puniceus can be propagated from seeds or cuttings.

19 Apr

Lovely Landscape Shrubs: Viburnum

Viburnum is a large genus of flowering shrubs and small trees that offer a wide range of plants for landscapes and gardens. In fact, you can find Viburnums for almost all types of climates and growing conditions. Some of the species grow well in warm and sunny conditions and some prefer colder and shady spots. Some species adore landscapes and some accommodated in small gardens and containers.

Viburnum opulus 'roseum'

Viburnum opulus ‘roseum’/ Image by Dietmut Teijgeman-Hansen

Gardeners grow Viburnums as exotic bloomers that produce beautiful and showy flowers. Flowering starts in early spring and lasts till mid-summer. Flowering is followed by formation of berry-like fruits that are eaten by birds. Most species of Viburnum are sun loving but they accommodate well in partially shaded spots easily.

Viburnum can be propagated from cuttings or layers. The best use of Viburnum is in hedges, borders or landscapes where these lovely bloomers can be grown in groups for abundant spring flowering.

Among many species and hybrids, popular varieties include:

Viburnum x burkwoodii: Large white or pink flowers with strong fragrance.

V. davidii: Shrubby plant often growing into a small tree; makes a good specimen plant.

V. carlesii: Beautiful reddish foliage and slightly fragrant flowers of pink color.

Viburnum opulus: Known for large snowball flowers.

04 Apr

Flowering Plant for Garden Borders: Globularia cordifolia

The plant featured today is Globularia cordifolia. Commonly known as Globe Daisy, Globularia cordifolia is a low growing, evergreen and mat forming plant that grows widely across Europe, and parts of Africa and Asia. Globe Daisy is grown in gardens as ground cover or as border plant because of its evergreen and low growing habit. It is also grown in rock gardens for its ability to survive long spells of drought.

Globularia cordifolia, Globe Daisy

Globularia cordifolia, Globe Daisy/ Image by Roberto Verzo

Globularia cordifolia prefers sunny exposure and moderate watering in a well-drained soil. The plant grows up to 6 inches and tends to spread across 12 inches to form a thick mat of leathery leaves. From the mat of dense leaves, appear slightly taller stems that bear beautiful flowers in early summer or late spring. Flowers usually have mauve or pale lilac colors. These flowers last long and create a beautiful display in landscapes and gardens.

Other popular species in the genus include:

Globularia meridionalis – Another evergreen perennial with glossy green leaves and lavender blue flowers. The plant is quite easy to grow in Mediterranean climate.

Globularia punctata or Iberian Globe DaisyDrought tolerant plant; grows in full to partial sun and produces globe-shaped flower in spring.

28 Mar

Akebia quinata, the Chocolate Vine

Akebia quinata, popularly known as Chocolate Vine because of its brownish-purple flowers, is a beautiful climber for sunny or partially shaded spots in gardens. Native to the Far East, Akebia quinata grows as a quick climber and makes an excellent specimen for growing over pergolas or against walls where it produces abundance of fresh-green foliage. It can also be used as ground cover. The compound leaves of Akebia quinata are evergreen in tropical climates and semi-evergreen in colder areas.

Akebia quinata, the Chocolate Vine

Akebia quinata, the Chocolate Vine/ Image via flickr

Akebia quinata grows in a slightly moist soil under full or partial sun. The chocolaty flowers appear in spring or summer and emit exotic spicy fragrance with the hint of vanilla. Flowers last longer in warm and dry conditions. Flowering is followed by formation of long pulpy and edible fruits. However, it usually requires two plants of Akebia quinata to fertilize the flowers. The plant can be pruned back at the end of the flowering season. The fruit as well as the plant itself are used in traditional Chinese medicine for their diuretic properties.

Like most Akebias, Chocolate Vine can be grown from seeds sown in spring, or by layering long stems in winter.

20 Mar

Lobularia maritima, the Sweet Alyssum

Sweet Alyssum is one of the favorite flowering plants among gardeners and landscape designers. This small plant with its tiny flowers is very useful in gardens and landscapes – it is a good filler plant under larger specimen landscape plants, it makes dense and flowery mats in landscapes, it also makes excellent border plants, Sweet Alyssum is an excellent container plant as well.

Sweet Alyssum, Lobularia maritima

Sweet Alyssum/ Image by Bill Bumgarner

Sweet Alyssum is a remarkable bloomer too; it flowers all through the spring and continues to bloom in summer. Because of its long flowering season and small size, Sweet Alyssum is often grown as a companion plant with other flowering plants.

Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima), once classified in the genus of Alyssum, is now placed in the genus of Lobularia but it is still known by its common name ‘Sweet Alyssum’ – ‘sweet’ is because of the sweet fragrance of its white or purple flowers.

Sweet Alyssum is quite easy to propagate. It is grown from seeds sown in early spring. The plant requires a loamy and well-drained soil under full to partial sun. With moderate watering and good exposure to sun, Sweet Alyssum grows quickly and starts blooming within a few weeks after germination. In its original Mediterranean climate, the plant grows as perennial, however in colder climates it is grown as an annual bloomer.

Besides the common variety, a number of cultivars of Sweet Alyssum are also available for cultivation. These include: ‘Snow Cloth’, ‘Oriental Nights’, ‘Snow Drift’ and the ‘Golf Series’.