12 Jan

Kalanchoe orgyalis, the Copper Spoons

The plant featured today is Kalanchoe orgyalis. It is a popular plant among landscape designers because of attractive colors and texture of the plant.

Kalanchoe orgyalis is characterized by succulent leaves that have tiny hair of copper-brown colors that gives its leave a felted substances and copper color. Fresh leaves have shiny copper color. As they grow old, they assume hues of silver making the plant even more attractive. Because of the shape and color of its leaves, Kalanchoe orgyalis is often known as Copper Spoons.

Kalanchoe orgyalis

Kalanchoe orgyalis /Image by Peter Kemmer

Native to tropical and sub-tropical regions of Africa, Kalanchoe orgyalis requires average water and a well-drained soil. Therefore it makes a nice landscape plant in warmer climates because it does not require much maintenance. In colder climates, Kalanchoe orgyalis can be grown as outdoor pot plant in summer and a nice indoor accent plant in winter.

Like other plants of its genus, Kalanchoe orgyalis can be propagated easily from leaf cuttings.

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.

16 Dec

Low Maintenance Shrubs for Arid Climate: Myoporum

Myoporum is a small genus of evergreen shrubs and small trees from Australia and New Zealand. Because of their low maintenance growth and ability to tolerate drought,  Myoporum is widely grown in arid climates as hedge plant.

Most species of Myoporum produce attractive foliage, white flowers and colourful berries that add to the beauty of these smart plants. Known as tough and fast growing shrubs, Myoporums make good plants for hedges, screens, or along banks and slopes. Most species do best when provided with moderate watering and grown under full or partial sun.

Myoporum parvifolium is probably the most common species. It is a low-growing plant that forms dense mounds of evergreen foliage. The plant grows up to 6 inches tall and spreads to 5 feet or more. As a low-maintenance plant, Myoporum parvifolium is often grown as a ground cover in landscapes and gardens.

Myoporum parvifolium

Myoporum parvifolium / Image by Tony Rodd

Other popular species include:

Myoporum insulare is a hardy shrub that grows up to 5 meters. It is characterized by glossy-green leaves, tiny white flowers and purple-blue berries.

Myoporum laetum is a small tree with light green leaves. The plant produces summer flowers followed by formation of red berries in autumn.

23 Nov

12 Hardy and Beautiful Ferns to Grow in Your Garden

Ferns are excellent plants to grow in shaded gardens. Known for their attractive foliage (known as fronds), these lovely plants offer a great variety of form and size to fit in any spot in the garden. Most Ferns are slow growing and can take several years to reach their mature size.

Following is a list of some hardy and beautiful Ferns that you can grow in your garden as ground covers or border plants, under large trees or along ponds and pools.

Adiantum pedatum (Maidenhair Fern)

Attractive ornamental fern for shaded borders and pathways. Forms large clumps of finely textured fronds. Easily grown in average and well-drained soil.  (Zone 3 – 8)

Adiantum pedatum

Maidenhair Fern/ Image by Joshua Mayer

Athyrium forma rubellum (Lady in Red)

Low maintenance fern characterized by upright, fresh-green fronds with red stripes. Suitable for shaded spots in garden where it can grow in a well-drained but slightly moist and rich soil. (Zone 4 – 8)

Athyrium forma rubellum

Lady in Red fern/ Image by Valleybrook Perennials

 Athyrium vidalii (Japanese lady fern)

Small and easy-to-grow fern, suitable for rock gardens and borders under full to partial shade. Prominent green fronds of this lovely fern are beautifully contrasted by deep red stems. The plant prefers moist, slightly acidic and well-drained soil. (Zone 5 – 9)

Athyrium vidalii

Japanese lady fern/ Image by Powell Gardens

Blechnum spicant (Deer Fern)

Ideal for borders and rock gardens, this lovely fern produces leathery green fronds. Grows in a well-drained, acidic and moist soil. (Zone 5 – 8)

Blechnum spicant

Deer Fern/ Image by Peggy A.

 Cyrtomium falcatum (Japanese holly fern)

Beautiful evergreen fern with upright leathery fronds that resemble holly branches. Grows in well-drained soil and under full to partial shade. Not suitable for colder climates. (Zone 6 – 9)

Cyrtomium falcatum

Japanese Holly fern/ Image by Leonora Enking

Dennstaedtia punctilobula (Hay-scented fern)

Beautiful fern with delicate green fronds that turn to yellow in in fall. The plant emits fragrance of fresh mown hay when crushed or bruised. Grows in rich, moist but well-drained soil. (Zone 3 – 8)

Dennstaedtia punctilobula

Hay-scented fern/ Image by Nicholas A. Tonelli

Dryopteris clintoniana (Clinton’s wood fern)

Low maintenance and semi-evergreen fern with prominent upright fronds. Grows easily in a moist and organically rich soil. Suitable for fully or partially shaded and marshy spots. (Zone 3 – 8)

Dryopteris clintoniana

Clinton’s wood fern/ Image by douneika (flickr)

Dryopteris tokyoensis (Tokyo wood fern)

Beautiful fern with erect fronds that grows up to 4 feet and spreads across 3 feet. Grows easily in partially shaded spots. This lovely fern requires moderate but frequent watering and is suitable for most shaded indoor/outdoor spots. (Zone 5 – 8)

Dryopteris tokyoensis

Tokyo wood fern/ Image by Ferntastic Nursery

Dryopteris erythrosora ‘Brilliance’

Excellent ground cover with arching, evergreen fronds. This lovely fern forms compact clumps of displays striking striking shades of orange-red to copper-pink on new growth. (Zone 5 – 8)

Dryopteris erythrosora 'Brilliance'

Dryopteris erythrosora ‘Brilliance’/ Image by James Gaither

Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich fern)

Excellent fern for mass plantation especially under trees or in empty landscape pockets. Clumps grow up to 4 feet and spread across 8 feet. (Zone 3 – 7)

Matteuccia struthiopteris

Ostrich fern/ Image by Ryan Somma

Osmunda claytoniana

Good for growing along ponds and steams. Grows easily in semi-shaded areas where it gets moist environment in a rich and slightly acidic soil. (Zone 3 – 8)

Osmunda claytoniana

Osmunda claytoniana/ Image by Bahamut Chao

Onoclea sensibilis (Sensitive fern)

Large fern that loves moist conditions. Grows well along ponds and streams and produces rich green fronds. This lovely fern is useful for growing in marshy areas as a beautiful ground cover.

Onoclea sensibilis

Sensitive fern/ Image by Tom Potterfield

08 Nov

Lovely Flowering Shrub for Garden Borders: Spiraea thunbergii

The plant featured today is Spiraea thunbergii. It is one of my favourite flowering shrubs because of its delicate spring flowers and interesting foliage. Spiraea thunbergii grows up to 5 feet as a dense, twiggy shrub and produces attractive narrow leaves. The beautiful foliage grows on wiry stems that densely branch out from the main stem of the plant. The interesting formation of leaves gets more beautiful in fall when the green color of leaves turns to golden-yellow to orange and bronze. The leaves fall of in winter and start sprouting again in early spring.

Spiraea thunbergii

Spiraea thunbergii / Image by Wikimedia Commons

Flowering starts in spring and last for many weeks. The white delicate flowers of Spiraea thunbergii form small clusters that cover the entire plant. Exposure to full sun encourages growth of flowers. Because of its interesting foliage, beautiful flowers and growing habits, Spiraea thunbergii makes an excellent border plant for gardens and landscapes.

Spiraea thunbergii can be easily grown in a slightly moist but well-drained soil. This lovely shrub loves sun but tolerates light shade. As with most plants in the Rose family, propagation of Spiraea thunbergii is done from layering or cuttings.

26 Sep

Ornamental Foliage Plant: Codiaeum, the Garden Croton

Codiaeum is a genus of lovely ornamental plants known for their attractive and colorful foliage. The genus originally belongs to Malaysia and the Pacific islands but grown widely in most tropical and subtropical climates across the globe. Only one species Codiaeum variegatum is cultivated and sold as outdoor ornamental plant.

Codiaeum

Codiaeum/ Image by Ryan Somma

Codiaeum variegatum is characterized by its colorful and variegated foliage. A large number of cultivars with different variegation patterns are easily available at garden nurseries and are usually described as ‘Garden Croton’ because of close resemblance to Croton.

Garden Crotons have leathery, colourful leaves. These plants prefer rich, moist soil and a warmer climate. Most Garden Crotons benefit from bright sunlight and develop stronger foliage colors and variegation under sunny conditions. They can be grown as evergreen shrubs as well as outdoor specimen plants. In colder climates, they can be grown in a greenhouse. For best results, provide them with a humid environment.

Codiaeum variegatum

Codiaeum variegatum/ Image by PL Tandon

Garden Crotons are easily propagated from stem cuttings.

23 Sep

Ornamental Tree for Gardens and Landscapes: Schotia brachypetala

Schotia is a genus of flowering shrubs and trees from tropical regions of southern Africa where it is known for its ornamental flowers and foliage. Most plants in this genus grow as flowering shrubs often growing in to small trees that can be used for shade or ornamental purpose.

Schotia brachypetala

Schotia brachypetala/ Image by Tatiana Gerus

The flowers of Schotia grow in large clusters in spring and spread their lovely shades of bright red and pink. Schotia make excellent ornamental plants because they do not have messy growth and do not require much maintenance. Most species of Schotia would grow up to 5 m, and produce attractive evergreen foliage. Propagation is easy from seeds or cuttings.

Popular species of Schotia include S. afra var. afra and Schotia brachypetala.

16 Aug

Euphorbia rigida: the Gopher Plant

Euphorbia rigida is a shrubby and evergreen, succulent from the Mediterranean climate. Known for its attractive spiral-forming foliage and ability to withstand drought, the plant makes a valuable addition to a rock garden.

Euphorbia rigida, the Gopher Plant

Euphorbia rigida, the Gopher Plant / Image by FarOutFlora.com

Commonly known as Gopher Plant, Euphorbia rigida forms clumps of upright ascending stems and grows up to 2 feet in height and 3 feet in width. The blue-green leaves of the plant form spiral formation around its stems that make this plant very attractive. Flowers of bright yellow color appear in spring followed by formation of seed pods. Gardeners usually prune spent flowers to prevent self-seeding. The plant itself can be pruned at the end of flowering season to prevent a leggy appearance.

Euphorbia rigida can be grown in raised beds, garden borders and rock gardens and as an excellent ground cover. It also performs well in containers and landscaping with other drought-tolerant plants.

Propagated from seeds or cuttings, Euphorbia rigida can be grown under prefer full sun to partial sun. The plant usually blooms well in rather poor or sandy soil.

Like other plants from Euphorbia family, the milky sap emitted by Euphorbia rigida can be toxic and may cause severe skin irritation.

31 Jul

Beautiful Shade Tree for Tropical Climate: Smodingium argutum

If you are looking for an easy-to-grow and maintain shade tree for tropical climate, consider Smodingium argutum. It is an attractive foliage tree with splash of fresh green leaves with fine cuts. Similar to Rhus, in appearance and habits, Smodingium argutum makes an excellent tree for small as well as large landscapes. The plant usually grows quickly when grown tropical climates where it only requires moderate watering and bright sunlight.

Smodingium argutum is commonly known as African poison ivy, because of the poisonous milky sap that emits from its damaged trunk or branches.

Smodingium argutum

Smodingium argutum

The foliage of Smodingium argutum changes interesting colors in autumn and turns fresh green in spring and summer. Though not conspicuous, spray of creamy-green flowers appears in summer.

Smodingium argutum can be grown in a well-drained soil and requires care in initial years. Mature plants can survive a variety of weather conditions and growing conditions. However, size of the plant may vary diversely according to the growing conditions. You may find Smodingium argutum growing as a shrub or as a tree as tall as 5 meters.

Smodingium argutum originally belongs to South Africa from where it has spread to many tropical climates across the globe.

16 Jul

Small and Lovely: Fittonia, the Mosaic Plant

Fittonia is a small genus of low-growing perennials that are usually grown for their lovely and colorful foliage. These small plants come from tropical rainforest of the South America where they grow under shade and receive higher level of moisture. Therefore, it is important to imitate the same growing conditions when growing as houseplants. Buy Fittonia online

Fittonia, the Mosaic plant

Fittonia, the Mosaic plant/ Image by Brandon Shea

In colder climates, Fittonias can be grown in small greenhouses whereas in hotter climates, they will do well indoors.

Commonly known as Mosaic Plants, most species of Fittonia are characterized by showy and colorful foliage of oval shape. The lush green leaves are made prominent by white, silver or pink veins. These colorful plants can be grown as creeping ground covers or small trailing plants that require shaded spot, regular watering, and average temperature of 70 F.

Propagation is easy from leaf-tip cutting. The most popular and commonly available species is Fittonia argyroneura which offers a number of lovely verities including: Mini White, Red Anne, Superba, Titanic and White Anne.