17 Jun

Calamondin: Easy to Grow, Easy to Love

Calamondin is a very adorable plant for indoor as well as outdoor gardening. Its shiny green leaves, miniature orange fruit and symmetrical growth make it a perfect ornamental plant. This beautiful and versatile plant is good for container gardening as well as a small tree for your garden. Besides its ornamental value, Calamondin is extensively used for its culinary and medicinal value. It is used extensively in Philippine cuisine as well as in many household remedies for cough, acne and insect bites. Calamondin is also an important ingredient in cosmetic products like hair conditioners and body deodorants.

Calamondin, Citrus Fruit Plant

Calamondin - Citrus Fruit Plant, Image © DocTony Photography

Calamondin is seldom without its tiny fragrant flowers or miniature fruits – both add to the beauty of this small plant.

Calamondin is actually a hybrid of Mandarin orange and Kumquat and is believed to have originated from China. That is why, it is also known as Chinese Orange. Fruit of Calamondin is used in many forms – it is frozen and used as ice cube for ice tea, crushed to use in marmalade, or squeezed for its juice which is used in lemonade or to season fish and other Asian dishes. Taste of Calamondin fruit is sour but the peel is sweet.

How to Grow Calamondin

Calamondin is easy to grow at home. It can be grown as ornamental plant in containers or as small tree in gardens. When grown in container, it has to be repotted every two or three years to give sufficient room to its roots that grow vigorously. Water only when the soil is dry and protect the plant from frost.

Calamondin thrives well as indoor plant provided that it receives bright sunlight during the day. As container plant, Calamondin hardly reached beyond 3 feet. However when planted in the ground, Calamondin would become a small shrubby tree reaching 6 feet or more.

13 Jun

Evergreen Ornamental Tree for Arid Climates: Nymania Capensis

Also known as Chinese Lantern for its beautiful, rose-pink and papery seed pods that actually look like Chinese paper lantern, Nymania Capensis is an evergreen shrubby tree. It is native of hot and arid regions of Africa especially the deserts of Namibia. This small tree bears small but green, leathery and stiff leaves. The plant blooms in late summer and flowers continue to appear till early winter. Flowers are usually pink, red or dark-red. The real beauty of this small tree is for its attractive seed pods that hang all over the branches. They are inflated like small balls and have papery skin of pink-red color.

Seed Pods of Nymania Capensis (Chinese Lantern)

Seed Pods of Nymania Capensis (Chinese Lantern), Image © Ori Fragman

How to Grow Nymania Capensis/ Chinese Lantern

Nymania Capensis requires very well drained soil and very little amount of water or moisture to thrive. Propagation is easy from seeds. For arid climates, Nymania Capensis is an excellent ornamental tree that would grow well even if neglected. It is a slow growing plant and takes about three years to reach a length of 1.5 m. Normal lifespan of Nymania Capensis  is more than twenty five years in habitat.

Nymania Capensis is a perfect plant for xeriscaping. It is also known as Little Karoo.

11 Jun

Fragrant, Winter Flowering Shrub for Beginners: Iboza Riperia

Iboza is a very versatile but usually unappreciated winter flowering shrub. It is easy to grow, blooms in late winter when very few plants flower, has aromatic leaves, and grows in almost any soil. The only cultivated species is Iboza Riparia that grows natively in South Africa. The name Iboza comes from the Zulu people of Africa who revere this plant very highly and use it for many medicinal purposes.

Flowers of Iboza are borne on bare branches in late winter when the plant has shed most of it leaves. Flowers are usually white, pink or mauve. Leaves are dense and bright green in color. Iboza is also known as Ginger Bush.

Iboza Riparia, Fragrant and Winter Flowering Shrub

Iboza Riparia, Fragrant and Winter Flowering Shrub

How to Grow Iboza Riparia/ Ginger Bush

Iboza is fairly fast growing and takes up empty spaces quickly. It prefers well drained soil, bright sunlight, regular watering in summer and barely necessary watering in winter. If you are grown Iboza is hot regions, provide it a partially shaded spot. Propagation is very easy from cuttings. Being a fast growing shrub, Iboza should be pruned after each flowering season. Iboza can be grown as pot plant or as ornamental shrub in gardens.

Other names of Iboza are Musk Bush, Misty Plume Bush and Vleisalie/Watersalie.

10 Jun

Kerria Japonica: Lovely Flowering Shrub for Beginners

If you are a beginner looking for an ornamental shrub with plenty of attractive spring and summer flowers, try Kerria Japonica. Also known as Japanese Rose, Kerria Japonica is a deciduous shrub from the rose family. The plant is named after William Kerr who introduced this native of Asia, China, and Koera in Europe.  Kerria bears profuse yellow flowers that start blooming in spring and last till midsummer.

Kerria Japonica Flower

Kerria Japonica Flower - Image from Wikipedia

How to Grow Kerria/ Japanese Rose

This hardy and vigorous grower prefers semi-shaded spot, well-drained soil and regular watering. Grown from cuttings, layering or divisions, Kerria soon makes dense clusters of long, arching branches requiring regular pruning. Summer is the best time to propagate cuttings or divisions.

Kerria Japonia is the only species in its genus but there are a number of cultivars including a double-flower form (known as Pleniflora) commercially available for ornamental gardens. Other popular names of Kerria Japonica are: Easter Rose and Yellow Rose of Texas.

06 Jun

Evergreen Flowering Shrub for Beautiful Hedges: Hebe

Native of New Zealand, Hebe is a genus of beautiful flowering shrubs with glossy leaves and attractive flowers of purple, blue, white, pink and mauve colors. Flowers are small and appear in the form of spikes. These frost resistant shrubs are a good choice for hedging especially when used as wind breaker.

Hebe, Flowering Shrub for Hedges

Hebe, Flowering Shrub for Hedges, Image by Lindsay Smith

How to Grow Hebe

Hebe requires regular water and bright sunlight. Most species of Hebe are fast growing in coastal climates and should be pruned regularly to form neat flowery hedges. Hebe would grow almost any soil but it prefers well drained and slightly acidic soil. Hebe is propagated from seeds and cuttings.

Popular Varieties of Hebe

Hebe x Andersoni: It is a small shrub with lavender flowers and glossy leaves that often tend to variegate.

Hebe Speciosa: It is a winter flowering shrub and bears purple flowers.

Hebe Salicifolia: A summer bloomer, Hebe Salicifolia produces abundant flowers of light pink color in summer.

For further information on Hebe, the best source is The Hebe Society website.