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.

22 Oct

Beautiful Flowering Plants for Shady Conditions: Clivia

Clivia is a small genus of flowering plants from South Africa. Grown as excellent flowering plants for shady spots, most species of Clivia also server as nice pot plants for shady patios and some indoor situations. These lovely bloomers are characterized by strap-like leaves and bell-shaped flowers that grown on a prominent stalk. Flowers of Clivia vary in colors from yellow through orange to red.

Clivias are typically forest undergrowth plants. They thrive in shady and rather dry conditions. In their native climate, they receive summer rainfall and almost completely dry winters. The same conditions can be imitated by watering them thoroughly in warmer months and then providing them barely sufficient water in winter. Excessive moisture rots these plants whereas long spells of drought hamper the growth of roots.

Clivia miniata

Clivia miniata/ Image by Maja Dumat

Most species of Clivia will benefit from slightly acidic soil and filtered sunlight. Popular species of Clivia include:

Clivia miniata: Commonly known as Bush lily, Clivia miniata grows up to 45 cm and produces flowers of orange, red, or yellow colors. Flower often emit slight but sweet fragrance.

Clivia nobilis closely resembles C. miniata but produces smaller drooping flowers.

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.

01 Aug

V is for Verbena

The letter ‘V’ reminds me of two things – Vendetta and Verbena. I love both: Vendetta for its dramatic and thought-provoking effect, and Verbena for its small fragrant flowers.

Verbena (Buy seeds online) is a genus of small annual and perennial shrubs from tropical parts of the Americas. These lovely plants are known for their colorful and long lasting flowers.

Verbena are multi-purpose plants – the low-growing and sprawling varieties can be used as ground covers whereas the compact varieties can be grown in flower beds or containers. Flowers in most species of are fragrant and have a variety of colors ranging from red, pink, purple, lavender, white and mauve. Most varieties produces groups of rounded heads each containing dozens of small fragrant flowers.

Verbena rigida

Verbena rigida/ Image by Arthur Chapman

How to Grow Verbena

Verbenas can be propagated easily from divisions or seeds. Some varieties are self-seeding. Most species of Verbena would happily grow in an ordinary soil under bright sunlight.

Among many hybrids, popular species of Verbena include: Verbena canadensis, and V. peruviana.

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.

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.

19 Jun

Lovely Summer Bloomer for Cold Climates: Phygelius

Phygelius is a small genus of ornamental bloomers from South Africa. These cold hardy plants make excellent border plants that grow up to 1 meter and produce and produce long spikes of fuchsia-like flowers. They can also be grown in large pots and hanging baskets in semi-shaded or sunny spots.

Phygelius

Phygelius/ Image by faroutflora.com

Phygelius are grown as evergreen shrubs or as perennials in colder climates for their ability to produce abundance of tubular flowers that usually appear in summer and stay for a long time. Flowers are orange or red.

In their natural habitat, Phygelius grow in shade near water. Therefore, they prefer slightly moist and semi-shaded spots.

Though only two species, P. capensis and P.aequalis, are found in nature, a number of interesting cultivars and hybrids of Phygelius are commercially sold. The popular varieties include:

Phygelius x rectus ‘African Queen’, Phygelius x rectus ‘Sunshine’, and Phygelius x rectus ‘Salmon Leap’. These varieties are usually easy to grow when grown in a slightly moist and fertile soil.

18 Jun

Hardy and Lovely Bloomers for Sandy Soil: Lewisia

Lewisia is a genus of hardy perennials from the alpine climate western North America. These lovely bloomers make excellent plants for rock gardens, borders, and container gardening. Most species of Lewisia are low-growing, sometimes dwarf, perennials that produce spectacular and considerably larger flowers for their size.

The genus of Lewisia is characterized by hardy plants that produce small rosettes of succulent leaves and very showy flowers white, pink, purple, mauve, yellow, and cream colors. Flowers appear in early summer or late spring.

Lewisias can be grown under bright sunlight in a sandy and porous soil that guarantees perfect drainage. Though slow-growing, most species of Lewisia are low-maintenance plants that withstand drought and neglect.

Lewisia

Lewisia in a rock garden/ Image by dan.kristiansen

Popular species include:

Lewisia cotyledon forms evergreen succulent rosette and produce flowers of orange, pink, white or yellow colors.

Lewisia glandulosa is a deciduous plant that produces a rosette of narrow leaves and bears small flowers of white or pink shades.

Lewisia x pygmaea is a dwarf and deciduous perennial that produces lovely pink flowers in spring.

Lewisias can be grow easily in moderately fertile, neutral to acid, and well-drained soil under full sun or light shade.

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.

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.