09 Aug

Lovely Colors and Fragrance of Henna: Lawsonia Inermes

Lawsonia Inermes which in widely known as Henna or Mehndi is a tall evergreen shrub from tropical and sub-tropical regions of southern Asia and Africa. This sun loving shrub grows up to 2.5 meters and bears small fragrant flowers of white or pale pink colors almost all through the year. Suitable as hedge plant, Henna plant makes a good evergreen and strong hedges that emit strong fragrance during summer and rainy seasons.

Lawsonia Inermis, Nehndi, Henna Plant

Lawsonia Inermis (Henna, Mehndi) , Image by J. M. Garg

Henna has been an important plant is human civilization. The history of Henna plant can be traced back to ancient civilization of Egypt where Egyptians used Henna powder to dye their skin, hair and nail. In fact, use of Henna was considered a delicacy and a cultural refinement in ancient Egyptian civilization. Later this cultural was adopted by the Arabs and other civilizations in Africa and India.

Today, Henna is the most popular part of women’s cosmetic is Asian cultures especially in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan etc. where it is used for dying hair and nail and decorating hands and feet with beautiful floral patterns and tattoos on the eve of weddings, parties and other festivals. In fact, it is a ‘must’ in bridal make up and wedding ceremonies in Asian cultures. The immense popularity of Henna as cosmetic product has led to its commercial production at large scale in Pakistan and India where it grows in abundance under minimal care.

Bridal Mehndi Design

Bridal Mehndi, Image by Abdullah Mohiuddin

Henna is used in the form of paste prepared from water and powder of dried Henna leaves. Henna plant is also an important ingredient in preparation of several perfumes. It is also known as a useful medicinal herb for the treatment of leprosy.

How to Grow Henna

Henna can be propagated easily from cuttings and seeds. These shrubby plants require moderate watering and bright sunlight.

03 Aug

Lovely Flowering Trees and Shrubs of Cassia

Cassia is a large genus of flowering trees and shrubs from tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. These fast growing plants are second to none when they are in full bloom. Most species of Cassia would produce dense clusters of very attractive flowers. In fact, a Cassia in full bloom is a treat to watch. Being drought and frost tolerant, Cassias are excellent plants for gardens where they would grow fast into shrubs or mid-sized trees. Almost all species bloom and bear lovely flowers of yellow or pink colors.

How to Grow Cassia

Most species of Cassia are sun loving plants and require moderate watering in a well-drained soil. These lovely flowering plants propagate from seeds and quickly grow into young shrubs or trees.

Cassia, Flowering Trees and Shrubs

Cassia Flowers, Image from homestretching.blogspot.com

Popular Species of Cassia

Cassia Fistula (Golden Shower Tree): Locally known as Amaltas, this is one my favorite trees. Cassia Fistula grows into a mid-sized deciduous tree and bears profuse, bright flowers of yellow color.

Cassia Nodosa: Native to Himalayas and the Malay Peninsula, Cassia Nodosa or Pink Shower Tree grows into a large tree with dense leaflets. Flowers are yellow that turn into dark pink as they mature.

Cassia Corymbosa: Native to South America, this autumn bloomer grows as a woody shrub or small tree. Leaves are bright green and dense.

Cassia Didymobotyra: Commonly known as Peanut Butter Cassia (fragrance of its flowers is reminiscent of peanut butter), this beautiful plan grows as evergreen, semi-deciduous, flowering shrub in cold climates. Yellow flowers grow on long stalks in summer or autumn.

Cassia Nodosa, Pink Shower, Pink Cassia, Pink Lady

Cassia Nodosa, Image from oramsnurseries.com.au

24 Jul

Evergreen, Ornamental Foliage Plant for Beginners: Tree Ivy

If you are a beginner looking for some easy-to-grow plants for year round ornamental foliage, you should give Tree Ivy (x Fatshedera Lizei) a try. It is a less-demanding as well as a versatile plant that can be grown as evergreen ground cover, as climbing plant against walls and trellis, as evergreen shrub in garden or as pot plant grown both indoor or outdoor.

Tree Ivy is a hybrid between Fatsia Japonnica (a tree) and Hedra Helix (an ivy) that is why it has characteristics of both. Tree Ivy bears relatively larger ivy-like leaves and stiff, shrubby branches. The glossy green leaves appear round the year to make Tree Ivy an excellent foliage plant. Stiff branches require support for climbing against a wall, tree or trellis. A variegated variety (x Fatshedera Lizei ‘Variegate’) is also grown widely for its ornamental leaves (with white margins).

Tree Ivy, Evergreen Ornamental Plant

Tree Ivy, Evergreen Ornamental Plant, Image by S John Davey

How to Grow Tee Ivy

Tree Ivy requires a shady spot, moderate watering and protection from frost. Plants propagate from cuttings and reach about 2 meters or more in height. When pruned regularly, Tree Ivy can be grown as ornamental pot plant.

13 Jul

Hardy, Evergreen Flowering Shrub: Kalmia Angustifolia

Widely known as Sheep Laurel, Kalmia Angustifolia is a low growing flowering shrub suitable as ornamental plan in gardens. Native to Cuba and parts of North America, Kalmia is a good choice for gardens and landscapes both as foliage plant and flowering shrub. Leaves of Kalmia are dark and glossy green. They are known to be poisonous for sheep. Waxy crimson, white, pink and purple flowers appear in spring.

Kalmia Angustifolia, Ornamental Flowering Shrub

Kalmia Angustifolia, Image by K. A. Kron

How to Grow Kalmia Angustifolia

Depending on climate, Kalmia grows well in full or partial sun. Usually grown from seeds, It is frost tolerant and requires moderate watering and rich, acidic soil.

Other popular species are Kalmia Latifolia and K. Microphylla.

22 Jun

Decorative Flowering Plant: Gypsophila, Baby’s Breath

Gypsophila is a genus of about 100 very decorative flowering plants. A number of species are grown commercially and used as cut flowers in floral arrangements or as fillers in flower bouquets. For gardeners and landscape designers, Gypsophila are prime choice for rock gardens and borders. These herbaceous perennial and annual plants produce dense sprays of small and delicate flowers.

Gypsophila, Baby Breath Flowers

Gypsophila (Baby Breath) Flowers, Image © Petr Kocna

Popular species of Gypsophila include Gypsophila Elegans, Gypsophila Elgans ‘Grandiflora Alba’, Gypsophila Paniculata, Gypsophila Repens, and Gypsophila Pilosa.

How to Grow Gypsophila

Gypsophila are easy to grow, fast growing plants that can be propagated from seeds or divisions. Seeds germinate quickly and young plants rapidly become small flowering shrubs. As the greek name suggests Gypso (chalk) phila (to love), these plants like chalky soil, however, they can be grown in almost any well drained and fertilized soil. Gypsophila prefer bright sunlight and moderate water, and withstand frost.

Common name of Gypsophila is Baby’s Breath.