30 Oct

Lovely Annuals for Flower Beds: Linaria

Linaria is a genus of about 100 herbaceous annuals from temperate regions of Africa, Asia, Europe and parts of Mediterranean region. Excellent choice for bedding, these quick growing plants would bloom in almost every color. Most of the species from this genus start blooming in late spring and continue to flower through summer until early fall. Linaria are sun loving plants that grow freely in flower beds and do well in mixed borders. Most commercially available varieties of Linaria are low growing annuals that are usually used in larger landscapes to produce massive display of colorful flowers.

Linaria Vulgaris

Linaria Vulgaris, Image by J. Bakker (flickr)

How to Grow Linaria

Linaria do not require special care when grown under bright sunlight and provided with regular water. They would survive a little frost and drought. Linaria are self-seeding plants and can be propagated from cuttings or root-ball divisions as well. Deadhead young plants to keep them in shape and under control. Seeds can be sown in early spring.

Also known as Toadflax or Baby Snapdragon, Linaria attract garden birds, bees and butterflies.

Some of the popular species of Linaria are:

Linaria Marcoccana – Usually available as dwarf flowering plant, this pretty annual produces dense flowering in yellow, red, orange and mauve colors.

Linaria Vulgaris – Grown as erect border or bedding plant, this perennial produces blue-green foliage and pale yellow flowers in mid-summer. Flowering lasts till mid-autumn.

Linaria Purpurea – Grown as garden perennial, this species produces small yet very attractive flowers of purple color is delicate raceme.

12 Oct

Lovley, Eatable, Border Plant: Amaranthus Caudatus

Amaranthus is a genus of tropical bushes and shrubs usually grown as border plants in almost all tropical regions of the world. Some of the species are grown for their colorful foliage, some for unusual spiky flowers and some for food.

Amaranthus offers a wide variety of plants that can be grown together as mixed border plants or simply as container plants for their ornamental foliage.

Amaranthus Caudatus, Image by Carl E Lewis (flickr)

Most species of Amaranthus are self-seeding and grow quite vigorously without requiring much care or any special soil requirements. In fact, plants grown in poor soil produce more colorful and vibrant foliage. Amaranthus Caudatus is the most popular of all species. It is known for its long spiky or drooping red flowers that make this plant center of attention in any summer garden or landscape. It grows as a small bush (up to 8 feet) under full sun and flourishes in both arid and humid climates. Amaranthus Caudatus is also known as Tassel Flower or Love-Lies-Bleeding. Besides its beautiful and unusual flowering, this plant is also grown as source of food in India, Thailand and other Asian countries. Almost all parts of Amaranthus Caudatus serve as food as they are a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin C, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, iron, zinc, manganese and many other useful trace elements.

It is also a major ingredient in Pak Khom, a famous Thai cuisine.

10 Oct

Evergreen, Fragrant Flowering Bush: Cheiranthus, Wallflower

Cheiranthus are flowering perennial and annual plants of wide spread origin. Usually grown as free-flowering plants, Cheiranthus can be found in Europe, Asia, the Americas and parts of Mediterranean regions. Known for their sweet scented flowers of yellow, orange, pink, blue or purple shades, Cheiranthus are good flowering plants for growing under sun or partial shade. A number of double and multi-colored flowering species of Cheiranthus are also available.

If you are growing them outdoor, Cheiranthus are good plants for flower beds as they flower in late winter and continue to bloom till early spring. One of the most common species from this genus is Cheiranthus Cheiri that grows as small bushy plant and yields yellow or brownish-yellow flowers in spring.

Cheiranthus Cheiri is usually known as Wallflower.

Cheiranthus Cheiri, Wallflower

Cheiranthus Cheiri, Wallflower, Image by David Monniaux

How to grow Cheiranthus/ Wallflower

Most species of Cheiranthus grow easily from seeds as well as cuttings. These plants can grow under sun as well as partial shade and prefer a very well drained soil. Water requirements are moderate. Pinch young plants to encourage bushy growth. Flowers of Cheiranthus Cheiri are fragrant and last long; good choice for flowering arrangement, as cut flowers or in potpourri.

05 Oct

Evergreen Shrub with Lovely Fragrant Flowers: Pimelea

Pimelea is a genus of evergreen flowering shrubs from New Zealand and Australia. These herbaceous perennials are grown for their fragrant and very showy flowers. Flowers of Pimelea grow in clusters and resembles clustered flowers of Ixora. Pink Rice Flower or Pimelea Ferruginea is among popular shrubs from this genus. It grows as small (up to 1 meter) evergreen shurb with dark green and glossy leaves with rose-pink flowers in spring or summer.

Pimelea Ferruginea, Flowering Shrub

Pimelea Ferruginea, Image by Barry Michael

Suitable for both landscapes and container gardening, Pimelea Ferruginea requires regular watering and partial sunlight to flourish. It is easy to propagate from cuttings. Like all other species of Pimelea, Pink Rice Flower prefers temperate climate, however, it is equally good for cooler climates where it is protected from frost. Pimelea Ferruginea makes a good landscape or border plant in gardens.

 

30 Sep

Lovely Waterside Foliage and Flowering Plant: Gunnera

Gunnera is one of the most unusual botanical creations of nature. Suitable for large gardens, bogs or waterside landscapes, these herbaceous plants can grow to enormous size. Almost all species of Gunnera come from tropical parts of Brazil though some of them grow natively in Colombia and New Zealand.

Gunnera, Foliage Plant

Gunnera

A typical Gunnera plant is characterized by gigantic leaves (up to 10 feet wide). These large leaves grow on thick, succulent stems that usually grow as long as 9 feet. Because of massive foliage, Gunnera plants are not suitable for small gardens. The best place for Gunnera is a waterside bed where they receive ample moist which is very important for their survival.

Of all species, Gunnera Manicata is relatively easy to grow and maintain. Like other species it requires a lot of moisture and temperature between 23° C and 28° C. These plants are sensitive to frost and cannot withstand hot, dry season which is why they are usually cultivated alongside water reserves where they look quite spectacular. Besides their ornamental foliage, almost all species of Gunnera produce attractive and unusual blooms that appear from mid-summer and last till early fall.

Gunnera can be propagated from divisions. Leaves of Gunnera plants usually have spines and sharp edges that should be handled with care. Handling these plants can also cause allergy or irritation on skin.

These plants are also known as Giant Rhubarb.

14 Sep

Ornamental Flowering Plant for Gardens: Torenia Fournieri

Whether you are a beginner or a master gardener, you just cannot resist Torenia in your garden for its beautiful flowers and versatile usage. It is an excellent choice for hanging baskets and window gardens, as ground cover or as trailing plant in landscape borders, raised beds or indoor containers.

Torenia forms tender branches of usually 6 inches that can trail up to 30 inches which makes it a good plant for hanging baskets. Native to tropical and subtropical regions of Asia and Africa, most species of Torenia require humid and moist conditions to thrive. These herbaceous plants are grown for their unusual flowers that are commonly known wishbone flowers. Each flower has a unique wishbone shape. These beautiful flowers come in purple, violet, pink, white and yellow colors.

Torenia, Wishbone Flowers

Torenia, Wishbone Flowers, Image by Kelly Teague

How to Grow Torenia Fournieri

Torenia has a lot of hybrid varieties and cultivars that grow as annuals (though some of them are perennials). These plants are best grown under partial shade in a fertile soil. Provide your Torenia plants with regular watering and do not allow the soil to dry out completely for long periods.

Torenia are easy to grow both from seeds or cuttings. Regularly pinch back Torenia to keep these plants in shape.

17 Aug

Lovely Flowering Plant for Rock Gardens: Gaura Lindheimeri

Gaura commonly known as Beeblossom is a genus of annuals and perennials from North America where it grows natively as summer bloomer. These hardy and drought tolerant plants produce long and delicate spikes of conspicuous flowers. The most popular species of the genus is Gaura Lindheimeri which is grown commercially as popular garden plant. Suitable for borders or as background filler in landscape, Gaura Lindheimeri grows into dense clusters and bears ornamental flowers from midsummer till early fall. Flowers are white with a touch of pink and appear in frequent sprays.

Gaura Lindheimeri is a good choice for xeriscaping or rock gardens because of its capacity to withstand drought.

Gaura Lindheimeri, Beeblossom

Gaura Lindheimeri, Image by Søren Holt

How to Grow Gaura Lindheimeri

Gaura Lindheimeri performs good at both sunny or partial shady garden locations. Being a hardy plant, it requires moderate watering but protection from strong winds. Propagation is easy from divisions.

04 Aug

Colorful Foliage Plants for Gardens: Coleus

Solenostemon or Coleus is a popular houseplant for its strikingly ornamental foliage. Native to tropics, these colorful foliage plants grow outdoors under partial sunlight where they produce colorful leaves of purple, red, yellow, green and pink colors. A number of cultivars with variegated leaves are also available commonly.

Coleus can be grown as pot plants, as ground covers, to form borders and hedges in gardens or just as foliage plants in landscapes. When allowed to grow freely, most species of Coleus would turn leggy. The best way to keep these plants in share is pinching their growing points to encourage bushy growth. Plants that are clipped properly form dense, colorful and well-shaped foliage. Most species would grow 0.5 to 1.5 meter in height.

Coleus

Coleus, Image by Ann Stretton

How to Grow Coleus

As Coleus comes from tropics, it would grow well in a temperate and well-lit spot. Water, clip and feed Coleus plants regularly for healthy ornamental foliage. When grown indoors, place them near windows where they receive plenty of light and some fresh air. Plants that are grown indoors or under filtered sunlight usually have deeper colors and contrast in their colorful leaves. Coleus propagates freely from seeds as well as cuttings.

Coleus is also known as Painted Nettle or Flame Nettle.

Coleus Leaves

Coleus, Image by Ann Stretton

29 Jul

Striking, Fragrant Flowers of Monarda Didyam: Bee Balm

Monarda Didyam or Bee Balm is an excellent perennial for gardens for its aromatic leaves and fragrant flowers. These sun loving plants form large clusters and bloom prolifically in summer and autumn. Flowers are rich in nectar and attract lots of butterflies, bees and birds. Flowers of Bee Balm are scarlet-red and serve well as cut flowers in both fresh and dry arrangements. are Leaves are usually crushed to obtain a highly fragrant oil. Bee Balm is also a good companion plant in vegetable and fruit gardens for its ability to attract pollinating bees.

Fragrant Flowers of MonardaDidyam, Bee Balm

Bee Balm Flower, Image by Stephanie Wallace

How to Grow Monarda Didyam/ Bee Balm

Native to North America, Monarda is a small genus of perennial and annual plants. These fast growing plants propagate easily from seeds or divisions.  Bee Balm prefers full to partial sun. Plants grown in full shade produce dense foliage but less flowers. Almost all species of Monarda grow well in moist but well-drained soil.

21 Jul

Black Eyed Susan in My Garden: Thunbergia Alata

Black Eyed Susan (Thunbergia Alata) is one of my favorite climbers. Fresh green leaves and bright orange and yellow flowers make it an excellent choice for gardeners as a climber of ornamental plant for hanging baskets. Native to Africa and Asia, Black Eyed Susan is easy to grow is most tropical and temperate regions of the world where it can be grown as ornamental climber. Flowers appear in summer and autumn.

Black Eyed Susan Flowers - Thunbergia Alata

Black Eyed Susan Flowers – Image by Shihmei Barger

How to Grow Black Eyed Susan/ Thunbergia Alata

Propagating from seeds and cuttings, Black Eyed Susan requires moist but well-drained soil. These fast growing climbers prefer full to partial sun and protection from frost. Black Eyed Susan is a perfect climber to be grown against fences, pergolas, trellis, and arches where it can grow up to 8 feet.

The name ‘Black Eyed Susan’ is also used for other flowering plants like Rudbeckia and Hibiscus.