17 Apr

Ornamental and Unusual Succulent Shrub: Alluaudia procera

If you are looking for a striking, unusual and low-maintenance ornamental plant, consider Alluaudia procera – a really striking succulent shrub that can be used as outdoor as well as indoor ornamental plant.

Alluaudia procera

Alluaudia procera/ Image by Natalie Tapson

Alluaudia procera or African Ocotillo, as it is commonly known among gardeners, belongs to a small genus of succulent shrubs that resemble Fouquieria and Crown of Thorns in their structure and growing habit. A typical Alluaudia produces a tall central stem covered with spines and small deciduous leaves. From the central stem appear stout vertical branches. Small white or yellow flowers grow along these branches in large clusters. Leaves usually fall in winter and come back during warm and humid summer. Alluaudia procera can grow up to 3 meters tall indoors and as tall as 18 meters in its native habitat.

Because of its unusual shape, Alluaudia procera makes a nice specimen plant especially when grown in small groups. The plant grows well when provided with bright sunlight, and well-drained porous soil. The plant does not need much watering and is able to survive long spells of drought.

Alluaudia procera is easily propagated from cuttings.

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.

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.

03 Mar

Linum grandiflorum, the Scarlet Flax

Finally the spring has almost set in as the early spring bloomers are spreading their colors all around the town – especially the Scarlet Flax. It is blooming wildly and endlessly everywhere to celebrate early spring.

Linum grandiflorum, Scarlet Flax

Linum grandiflorum

Linum grandiflorum (Buy seeds online) or Scarlet Flax as it is commonly known is originally native to North Africa and parts of Europe and Asia where it grows as a drought-tolerant annual. The plant grows under sunny exposure and produces erect branches (up to 18 inches) with waxy-green leaves. The leaves provide a nice background to spectacular scarlet flowers of the plant.

How to Grow Linum grandiflorum

Linum grandiflorum can be grown in almost any soil that provides good drainage. The plant does well in containers as well as in the ground where it tends to form large mounds of elegant branches. The plant starts producing flowers in early spring. At this time, large mounds of the plant produce small scarlet flowers in abundance. The catchy colors of the flowers and dense branches of waxy-green leaves make it an excellent choice for garden borders or as nice filler for empty landscape spaces. It can also be mixed with larkspur, cosmos and other spring bloomers to create a dramatic effect.

Linum grandiflorum is easily propagated from seeds and does not require much care. Other names of the plant are Red Flax and Flowering Flax.

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.

02 Feb

Hardy and Lovely Shrub for Arid Gardens: Maireana sedifolia

Maireana is a genus of compact and attractive perennial shrubs from the family of popular ornamental shrubs like Iresine and Amaranthus. Among many popular shrubs from this genus, Maireana sedifolia is a widely grown shrub in Australia and other parts of the world. The plant is characterized by small succulent leaves that grow abundantly along upright branches.

Maireana sedifolia

Maireana sedifolia/ Image by Justin Taylor

The plant is commonly known as Pearl Bush or Cotton Bush because of its attractive succulent leaves. The beautiful foliage is also useful in cut flower arrangements. Maireana sedifolia is native to Western Australia and grows as a hardy and drought tolerant plant. The plant grows well in a well-drained soil and under bright sunlight; however it can be grown under partial shade too.

Maireana sedifolia is not fussy about soil requirements until it is well-drained. On average, the plant grows as a compact shrub (up to 3 feet) and can be pruned easily according to the requirements.

29 Dec

Pseuderanthemum alatum, the Chocolate Plant

Chocolate Plant is common name of Pseuderanthemum alatum, which is a low-growing shrub from the family of popular tropical plants like Ruellia and Odontonema. Chocolate Plant takes its name from coppery-brown colors of its foliage.

Pseuderanthemum alatum is usually grown as ground cover in tropical climates where it grows under full to partial sun. In colder climates, it can be grown in greenhouse. The plant requires rich, well-drained soil and regular watering though it is capable of surviving occasional droughts.

Pseuderanthemum alatum, the Chocolate Plant

Pseuderanthemum alatum, the Chocolate Plant

Pseuderanthemum alatum is usually propagated from cuttings. The plant grows up to 1 foot and bears purple or magenta flowers. The beautiful foliage of Chocolate Plant makes it an attractive plant for landscapes and gardens where it can be grown to fill large spaces or cover uncultivated ground. It can also be grown along borders to add dramatic colors to the garden.

29 Dec

Beautiful Foliage Plant for Marshy Soil: Typha, the Bullrush

Typha is a small genus of flowering plants known for their beautiful foliage and unusual flowers. The genus consists of more than eleven species that grow in wetlands or marshy areas in almost all parts of the world.

Typhas make excellent accent plants for water gardens. These fast growing plants make large clumps of stem-less foliage and brown cylindrical inflorescence. The flowers are dried and used in floral arrangements to add dramatic effects.

Typha, the Bullrush plant

Typha, Bullrush/ Image by Gertrud K.

Most species of Typha contain high levels of nutrients such as protein and starch that is why it has been used as culinary item in Europe. Because of high level starch, some species of Typha can be used to produce ethanol as biofuel. Other traditional uses of Typha as recorded in history are preparation of paper, fiber and diuretic medicine.

Typha can be grown easily near ponds and pools. The plants can be grown from seeds or rhizomes under full to partial sun in wet soil. Popular species include Typha capensis, Typha latifolia and T. angustifolia.

Commin name of Typha is Bullrush.

12 Dec

Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’: the Japanese Bloodgrass

The lovely plant in the picture is Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’ – a perennial grass with beautifully colored and textured blades. Commonly known as Japanese Bloodgrass, this ornamental grass is an excellent choice for creating dramatic effects in any garden.

Imperata cylindrica 'Rubra'

Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’

Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’ (Buy online) forms dense clumps of strappy leaves that grow up to 5 feet. The silvery-green foliage has margin of bright red color that make it an excellent ornamental grass for gardens and landscapes. It is usually mixed borders or grown along flower beds to provide contrasting and colorful background throughout the year.

How to Grow Imperata cylindrica

Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’ is propagated from divisions and is grown in well-drained soil. Like most ornamental grasses it should be pruned regularly to keep it in shape and under control. Without regular pruning and control it tends to become invasive and hard to weed out completely.

The plant requires regular watering and good exposure to bright sunlight. In colder climates, it requires protection from heavy frost.

Japanese Bloodgrass

Japanese Bloodgrass/ Image by jacki Dee