08 Sep

Lovely, Flowering Shrub for Landscapes: Spartium junceum

Spartium junceum is an ornamental shrub grown for its yellow and sweet scented flowers. This fast growing shrub belongs to the Mediterranean regions of Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas where it is a popular shrub in gardens and landscapes.

Spartium junceum grows from a central stem and produces long, erect branches that shoot up to 4 meters. A well-established specimen can produce a mass of rush-like branches that bear bright yellow flowers in mid or late spring and last till summer. Leaves are often insignificant and deciduous.

Spartium junceum, The Spanish broom

Spartium junceum, The Spanish broom/ Image by Manuel M. Ramos

Spartium junceum can be a useful shrub for producing a beautiful background effect in gardens and landscapes. The shrub can be easily pruned to give it trimmed or rounded shapes.

Commonly known as Spanish Broom, Spartium junceum can be grown from seeds in almost any soil with good drainage. The shrub prefers full sun and tolerates spells of drought easily.

22 Aug

Serruria florida, the Blushing Bride

Serruria florida, Blushing Bride

Serruria florida / Blushing Bride, Image by Martin Heigan

The beautiful plant in this picture is Serruria florida or Blushing Bride – as it is commonly known in horticulture. Serruria florida represents a genus of approximately 50 species of evergreen shrubs. Almost all plants from the genus of Serruria produce exquisite and long lasting flowers. Serruria florida itself is grown for long lasting cut flowers that are usually used in bridal bouquets. Flowers of Serruria florida have delicate shades of yellow, white, mauve and pink. The flowers are usually covered in colorful bracts.

Serruria florida grows as an evergreen shrub. The plant grows up to 1.5 meter and produces lovely and slightly fragrant flowers in winter and spring. The plant requires bright, sunny exposure and a rich soil. Water requirements are average.

22 Aug

Tropical Shrubs and Trees for Lovely Flowers: Tibouchina

Tibouchina (Buy Online), commonly known as Princess Flower or Glory Flower, is a genus of beautiful bloomers from tropical regions of Mexico and the Americas, especially Brazil. When in bloom, Tibouchina plants are perfect head turners with bunches of vivid pink and purple flowers.

Tibouchina lepidota 'Alstonville'

Tibouchina lepidota ‘Alstonville’, Image by Tatiana Gerus

How to Grow Tibouchina

The genus includes evergreen shrubs and small trees that love warm and humid climate. Most species of Tibouchina are sensitive to frost and require protection from freezing temperatures. Propagated from cuttings, these tropical plants should be grown in a loamy, slightly acidic and well-drained soil under full to partial sun. In tropical climate, Tibouchinas should be watered freely in summer and kept just moist in winter.

Tibouchina mutabilis

Tibouchina mutabilis, Image by Mauricio Mercadante

Popular species include:

T. elegans: Evergreen, tropical shrub with pink or purple flowers borne in summer; the plant grows up to 2 meters and requires regular pruning.

T. urvilleana (Brazilian Glory Bush): Grows as shrub, this lovely bloomer tends to grow into a small tree; the plant bears soft, hairy leaves, and vibrant purple flowers.

T. granulosa: Commonly described as Purple Glory Tree, the plant is grown as a small tropical tree (10 to 15 feet) in tropical gardens. The plant can be trimmed to different sizes and shapes, and bears plenty of flowers in spring.

Tibouchina ‘Jules’: Grown as dwarf tropical shrub (up to 1 meter), the plant bears soft, velvety leaves, and purple flowers that appear in spring/early summer.

30 Jul

Lovely Shrub for Gardens: Myrtus communis (Myrtle)

Today’s featured plant is Myrtus communis – an excellent ornamental shrub from the Mediterranean regions of the world. Commonly known as Myrtle or Greek myrtle, this beautiful shrub has been in cultivation as long as the days of ancient Roman Empire where it was an essential garden element. Today, Myrtle is known for its beautiful and fragrant foliage.

Myrtus communis

Myrtle (Myrtus communis), Image by Tim Waters

Myrtus communis has a bushy growth. The plant produces glossy green leaves that emit strong fragrance when crushed.  Summer is the time of full bloom when small clusters of small fluffy flowers are borne on Myrtle – making it the center of attraction.

Myrtus communis is good for containers as well as landscape plant. When grown in containers, it serves as a nice accent plant for patios. Besides its bushy growth, Myrtus communis can be easily pruned to any shape. That is why it is often used in designing topiary designs.

Myrtle is easy to grow as it does not have any special requirement. The plant requires a regular soil mix, full to partial sun, and moderate watering. In fact, it can be grown as a drought tolerant plant in rock gardens or xeriscapes.

Myrtus communis can be propagated from cuttings.

10 Jul

Ornamental Shrub for Gardens and Landscapes: Salvia chamelaeagnea

Salvia is a large genus of shrubs and herbaceous perennials from the family of mint, sage and several other herbs and medicinal plants. With their worldwide distribution, Salvias are grown for their attractive foliage and flowers. Most species have evergreen and often fragrant foliage with small but showy flowers.

Among many popular species, Salvia chamelaeagnea is my favorite plant. It is quite hardy and can be grown as ornamental plant in many different places and growing conditions. It makes a good border plant, a nice choice for large landscapes, or as evergreen foliage plant rock gardens or sandy soils.

Salvia chamelaeagnea

Salvia chamelaeagnea

Salvia chamelaeagnea grows as an evergreen shrub growing up to 1 meter or more. The plant produces green leathery leaves that make it a good ornamental plant for gardens and landscapes. Flowers of white or blue color appear in summer that add to the beauty of this lovely plant. Salvia chamelaeagnea has upright growth and can be trimmed easily to keep it in shape. It is propagated from seed or cuttings and grown under full or partial sun in a regular but well-drained soil.

Like many other plants in its family, Salvia chamelaeagnea has been used as a medicinal plant that relieves cough, cold, diarrhea, and colic.

Other popular species of Salvia include: Salvia dolomitica, S. farinacea, S. officinalis, and Salvia splendens.

04 Jul

Flowering Shrub for Perennial Borders: Eupatorium purpureum

Eupatorium is a genus of perennial shrubs that are distributed widely in tropical climates of America, Africa and Asia. These flowering shrubs are popular among gardeners as late season perennials when only a few plants bloom.

Most species of Eupatorium produce attractive and fluffy flowers of pink or mauve colors, and grow as tough and hardy shrubs. Among popular species, Eupatorium purpureum is grown widely for its ornamental flowers. The plant spreads in clumps and grows up to 2 meters.

Eupatorium purpureum

Eupatorium purpureum, Joe Pye weed, Image by Carolyn Willitts

Eupatorium purpureum prefers full to partial sun, slightly moist soil and regular watering. It produces purple-pink flowers in late summer or early autumn. These vanilla-scented flowers appear in large bunches and attract birds and butterflies.

Eupatorium purpureum serves as a nice ornamental shrub even when not in bloom. It can be grown in  perennial borders, landscapes or backyard garden for its fragrance and ability to attract a variety of butterflies. The plant, however, needs sufficient space to grow and bloom. For best results, prune back at the end of every flowering season.

Common names of Eupatorium purpureum are Indian Sage and Joe Pye weed.

02 Jul

Lovely, Evergreen Bush: Hamelia patens, the Firebush

Hamelia is a genus of evergreen shrubs and small trees from the family of Ixora, and like Ixora it makes an flowering bush for gardens and landscapes. The genus is perhaps best represented by  Hamelia patens, which is widely grown in hedges, borders and as an accent plant.

It is an easily grown bush that produces evergreen foliage and beautiful red or scarlet flowers almost all through the year – thus justifying it common name, Firebush. Hemalia patens grows quite quickly in tropical and sub-tropical climates and grows up to 3 or 4 feet tall with some woody growth. It grows well under full sun or partial shade and requires moderate but regular watering (though mature plants can withstand some drought). Firebush is best known for its flowers which are rich in nectar and attract a lot of butterflies. Flowering is followed by formation of small berries which are favorite food of birds especially hummingbird.

Hamelia patens, the Firebush

Hamelia patens, the Firebush, Image by Mary Keim

Grown as annual flowering bush, Firebush should be pruned regularly to keep the plant in proper shape. When allowed to grow on its own, Firebush tends to form large mounds with dense growth of evergreen foliage and small red flowers.

Besides its horticultural value, Firebush has been used by indigenous people of south and Central America for its medicinal benefits. The extract of the leaves and stems of Firebush is believed to have antibacterial and antifungal properties, that is why, it has long been used a good remedy for all kinds of skin diseases including rashes, skin fungus, sores and insect stings. The extract is also used today for the treatment of headache, rheumatism, fever, and dysentery.

15 Jun

Lovely Lilac

Syringa is a genus of deciduous and woody shrubs known for their beautiful fragrant flowers and ability to survive cold and temperate climates. Native to Asia, Europe and South Africa, many varieties and hybrids of Syringa are grown worldwide as ornamental plants in gardens and landscapes.

The most common of all species is Syringa vulgaris which grows as a woody shrub up to 5 meters and produces fragrant lilac flowers in spring or early summer. However, a number of other cultivars and hybrids are grown commercially and described generally as Lilac. Some popular hybrids are Charles Joy Lilac, Sensation Lilac, Miss Kim, and Angel White Lilac.

Lilac, Flowering Shrub

Syringa / Lilac Flowers, Image by Nick Wolfe

Most of these verities grow into large bushes reaching 5 meters or more and require regular pruning after every flowering season. These bushy plants can be propagated easily from cuttings. Though the genus is known for lilac flowers, however, new verities produce flowers in all shades of lavender, dark purple, blue, pink and white.

Lilacs can be grown under full or partial sun in a fertile, slightly alkaline, and well-drained soil. Avoid over watering and feed them with some lime and well-rotted manure when flowering ends. Start each flowering season with application of a fresh layer of compost (in early spring) under the plant to controls weeds and retain moisture.

06 Jun

Tropical, Flowering Bush: Pavetta lanceolata

Pavetta is a genus of flowering shrubs and trees from tropical and subtropical climates with wide distribution across Asia and Africa. Plants in this genus are grown for their beautiful and prolific flowering habit.

Pavetta lanceolata

Pavetta lanceolata, Image by Satish Nikam

Most plants in the genus of Pavetta are woody shrubs that usually take the form of bushes or small, evergreen trees. They are quite hardy plants and can survive various growing conditions; however, for prolific flowering and foliage, grow them is a regular soil mix and water generously in summer. There are a number of popular species for almost every garden. Pavetta lanceolata is, however, quite common in cultivation. It is grown as ornamental bush for its summer flowers when it produces dense clusters of star-shaped flowers. Flowering is followed by formation of black berries in autumn.

Common name of Pavetta lanceolata is Forest Bride’s bush.

27 May

Lovely, Loveable Grevillea

Grevillea is a large genus of evergreen shrubs and small trees known for their spectacular flowers and foliage. In fact, plants in this genus offer a great variety of flowers, foliage, size, spread, and forms. Most plants in the genus of Grevillea are quite easy to grow as ornamental houseplants for many different purposes – hedges, topiaries, small trees, indoor houseplants, or just as specimen plants in gardens.

Grevillea jerrabomberra

Grevillea jerrabomberra, Image by Donald Hobern

Most species of Grevillea come from tropical and subtropical zones of Africa, Australia, and Malaysia where the bloom in spring. Flowers usually appear in clusters and range from red, white, cream and pink. These flowers are rich in nectar and thus attract birds and pollinating insects.

Grown from seeds or cuttings, most plants in the genus of Grevillea grow well in a regular soil mix, and under sunny or partially-shaded regions where the receive moderate water.