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.

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.