22 May

Medinilla magnifica, the Philippines Orchid

Medinilla magnifica (Buy seeds online) is a tropical evergreen shrub known for its attractive and unusual flowers. The pendulous flowers grow in clusters surrounded by beautiful pink bracts making it a nice outdoor as well as indoor plant. Broad, shiny green leaves retain ornamental value of the plant when it is not blooming.

Medinilla magnifica

How to Grow Medinilla magnifica

Medinilla magnifica (Buy seeds online) comes from tropical regions of the Philippine where it prefers warm and humid climate. The same conditions should be provided to this lovely bloomer when growing in your garden. As a general rules, grow it in a well-drained and rich soil. You can use any orchid mix to grow your plant. Water it regularly during spring and summer and reduce it to minimum during winter. If you are growing it in colder climates, move your plant indoors where it receives bright sunlight. Mist leaves occasionally.
Philippines Orchid

Flowers appear in spring and last throughout the summer season. Flowers of Medinilla magnifica are small are grow in drooping clusters covered with large pink bracts.

Medinilla magnifica can grow up to 3 or 4 meters however you can contain its growth by keeping it in smaller pots, if required. You can also prune it back after each flowering season. Propagation is usually done from cuttings.

The plant is also known as Pink Lantern, Chandelier Tree or the Philippine Orchid.

24 Apr

Lagurus ovatus, Bunny Tails Ornamental Grass

Lagurus ovatus or Bunny Tails Grass is a lovely ornamental grass known for its puffy white flowers that resemble a bunny’s tail. This beautiful annual grass can be grown along garden borders or pathways, as an accent plant in the garden or an ornamental grass in xeriscapes.

Lagurus ovatus

Lagurus ovatus / Image via faroutflora.wordpress.com

Bunny Tails grows as a compact ornamental grass growing up to 20 inches high and about 1 foot wide. The blades are soft and about 1.5 foot in length. The ornamental value of this lovely grass is because of its fluffy, white oval flowers that start appearing in early summer. Bunny tails flowers assume tan color as they enter the fall season arrives. The flowers start to dry out at this time. You can keep them on the grass for winter interest. Stalks with dried fluffy flowers can also be removed and used in dry flower arrangement.

How to Grow Bunny Tails Ornamental Grass

Bunny Tails Grass

Bunny Tails Grass / Image by Mollivan Jon (flickr)

Bunny Tails can be propagated from seeds (Buy Seeds Online) collected from dried flowers. Seeds can be sown in spring. Plants grown from seeds take 1 to 2 year to attain the maximum size.

Bunny Tails grass comes from Mediterranean climates where it thrives in a rather dry climate. When grown in gardens or landscapes, provide it sunny exposure and water moderately. Bunny Tails prefers sandy soil that does not retain water. It is a drought-tolerant grass. Water it thoroughly in summer and then allow the soil to completely dry before watering next. When temperature falls, water sparsely.

03 Apr

Lovely Indoor Foliage with Colcosia / Elephant Ears Plant

Colocasia also known as Elephant Ears Plant are attractive foliage plants that add a lot of character to a garden landscape. Their bold foliage also makes them excellent indoor foliage plants. If you are looking for nice foliage, rich colors and a low-maintenance plant for your garden landscape or indoor décor, Colocasia should be on top of your list.

Colocasia, Elephant Ears Plant

Image by F.D. Richards via Flickr

Colocasia or Elephant Ears Plant (Buy Colocasia online) produces prominently large heat-shapes foliage. The attractive large leaves grow on a 2 to 3 feet long stalk. Different varieties Elephant Ears Plant offers colorful foliage that varies from green to dark purple. Some varieties produce green leaves with prominent white variegation. Elephant Ears plant can grow from 3 to 5 feet and it does not take it much time to attain this size. In fact, Elephant Ears is a rather fast growing plant. When grown under right conditions, a plant from tuber can easily grow up to 3 feet in a year.

How to Grow Colocasia / Elephant Ears Plant

Colocasia or Elephant Ears Plant is grown from tubers. Weather grown in the ground or container, provide them with moist, rich and slightly acidic soil. When grow indoors, make sure that they are placed near a window where it receives bright sunlight. Because of the large size of its foliage, plants grown indoors should be provided with sufficient room to grow. Elephant Ears plants grown indoors also require higher level of humidity.

Colocasia can be easily grown in poolside gardens where they provide nice foliage and lush colors to the landscape.

When grown outdoors, Elephant Ears Plant should be placed in a spot where it gets plenty of sun in the morning and partial shade for the rest of the day. Plants under partial shade usually grow large foliage than those placed under sun during most part of the day. Colocasia / Elephant Ears Plant should be protected from strong winds, frost or freezing winter temperatures. If you are living in a colder climates, move your plants indoors or trim the foliage completely and tubers for the next season.

Popular varieties of Elephant Ears Plant (Buy online) include:

  • Colocasia ‘Black Magic’, a 3-5 foot specimen with dark burgundy-black leaves.
  • C. ‘Black Stem’ grows black stems with burgundy-black veins on green foliage.
  • Colocasia ‘Green Giant’ gets its name because of extra ordinary large foliage (up to 5 feet).
  • Colocasia ‘Nancy’s Revenge’ grows up to 5 feet and produces dark green leaves with creamy centers.
01 Mar

Xerosicyos danguyi, the Silver Dollar Plant

Xerosicyos danguyi or Silver Dollar Plant (Buy seeds online) is an evergreen climber from arid regions of Madagascar. It is a drought tolerant and hardy succulent that can survive really high temperatures and long spells of drought. If you are new to the world of houseplants, Xerosicyos danguyi is a nice plant to start with.

Xerosicyos danguyi belongs to the family of squash, cucumber, and watermelon and shares many characteristics with its cousins. Hobbyists like the Silver Dollar Plant for its round, succulent, and silver-green leaves giving the plant its common name, ‘Silver Dollar Plant’. These unusual round leaves grow along a cylindrical stem that usually grows up to 20 inches. In wild, Xerosicyos danguyi uses its tendrils to hook up with surrounding plants to keep it from falling on the ground. Clusters of tiny flower of pale-green color appear in spring.

Xerosicyos danguyi, the Silver Dollar Plant

Xerosicyos danguyi, the Silver Dollar Plant / Image Source

How to Grow Xerosicyos danguyi, the Silver Dollar Plant

Xerosicyos danguyi can be easily grown in a well-drained soil and under sunny conditions. Being a drought-tolerant succulent, the Silver Dollar Plant requires only occasional watering. If you are growing it in a pot, water it thoroughly and then allow the soil to dry out completely before the next watering. In colder climates, Silver Dollar Plant can be grown indoors in hanging baskets. Xerosicyos danguyi can be propagated from seeds and cuttings. Plants grown from seeds tend to form caudex on maturity.

25 Feb

Aloe ferox: Flowering Succulent for Lovely Xeriscapes

Aloe ferox
Aloe ferox is a hardy and attractive succulent known for its lovely flowers and medicinal value of the gel extracted from its leaves. If you are planning to design a xeriscape, Aloe ferox should be on top of your plants list for many reasons. It is a hardy succulent that does not require much care. It produces very attractive flowers of red, orange, yellow-orange and scarlet colors in mid-winter. When grown in groups, spikes of attractive flowers on Aloe ferox add striking colors to the landscape.

Aloe ferox originates from rocky and tropical regions of South Africa where it receives marginal rainfall and plenty of sun. When growing it in your garden or xeriscape, you need to imitate the similar climate. You can plant this hardy Aloe in a spot where it receives good amount of sunlight in a loamy and slightly sandy soil. Aloe ferox does not require frequent watering and should survive long spells of drought.

Aloe ferox (Buy seeds online) can grow up to 3 meters though it takes many years to attain this size. The plant produces fleshy leaves of dull green color. The leaves are arranged around the stem to form a rosette. Young leaves have prominent spines along the leaf margins and smaller spines on leaf surface. As the plant matures, older leaves dry up to expose main stem of the plant. The Greek name ‘ferox’ meaning ‘fierce’ is probably because of prominent spines on the leaves.

Aloe ferox is also known as Cape Aloe.

Winter Aloe Spectacle

Flowers of Aloe ferox

Aloe ferox produces abundant flowers that attract birds and bees as pollinating agents. Mid-winter is the time when this lovely Aloe begins to send out orange, scarlet, yellow-orange and red flowers giving the plant its common name, Red Aloe.

Medicinal Benefits of Aloe ferox

Aloe ferox is grown commercially for its medicinal value. The gel derived from its succulent leaves is used in cosmetics. The hard, brown excretions obtained from the plan are used for their laxative properties.

How to grow Aloe ferox from seeds

Aloe ferox can be propagated from seeds (Buy seeds online) that easily germinate when sown in a well-drained but slightly moist soil. Young seedlings should be kept lightly moist until they are 4- 6 cm in size.

17 Jan

Lovely Flowering Shrub: Cuphea

Cuphea is a genus of evergreen and perennial flowering shrubs. These lovely flowering shrubs are useful for growing in garden borders where they keep blooming almost all through the year. Native to Mexico and tropical regions of Central America, these flowering shrubs produce flowers of green, purple, pink and white. Most species start blooming as soon as winter days are gone and continue to bloom until late summer.

Cuphea cyanea "Pink Cigar Plant"

How to Grow Cuphea

Most species of Cuphea require a well-drained soil and indirect sun, and grow up to 1 feet. In colder regions, Cupheas will freeze to ground in winter but will emerge in early spring. Being excellent flowering shrubs, most species are used in garden borders, mixed with seasonal bloomers in a mixed flowering bed or grown as small container plants.

Several hybrids and cultivars of Cuphea are easily available at commercial nurseries. Most of them are easily propagated from seeds (buy seeds online).

Popular species include:

C. ignea: Also known as ‘Cigarette Bush’, Cuphea ignea grows as a small flowering shrub and produces bright red flowers in spring and summer.

C. hyssopifolia: Also known as ‘False Heather’, this small flowering shrub produces flowers of varying shades including white, green, pink and purple.
Cuphea hyssopifolia
C. micropetala is known for its bright summer flowers.

16 Dec

Hypoestes aristata: Ribbon Bush

The lovely plants featured today is Hypoestes aristata. It belongs to a genus of perennials and evergreen shrubs from tropical regions of Asia and Africa.
Hypoestes aristata, Ribbon Bush
Hypoestes aristata is grown as evergreen flowering shrub that grows up to 5 feet and produces mauve, pink or white flowers. Flowers have ribbon-like petals, which is why the plant is also known as Ribbon Bush.

How to Grow Hypoestes aristata, Ribbon Bush

Hypoestes aristata prefers full to partial sun and thrives in tropical climates. In colder climates, it can be grown in greenhouse or as an attractive indoor plant. Hypoestes aristata can be propagated from both seed and cuttings. Seeds can be sown in spring. Soft or hardwood cuttings can be taken in the late winter or early spring.

05 Aug

Lovely Ground Cover: Lotus berthelotii

Lotus berthelotii is an evergreen bloomer and is usually used as a ground cover in garden beds and borders or as an attractive hanging plant. The plant is known for its sickle-shaped red flowers with a prominent ‘beak’. The unusual shape of flowers give the plant its common name, Parrot’s Beak. These lovely flowers appear in clusters on trailing stems. The red flowers mature to turn in to orange-red blooms.
lotus maculatus
Lotus berthelotii is characterized by soft needle-like foliage that varies in color from light green to blue-green and silver. The bright flowers of Lotus berthelotii nicely contrast with the foliage and give a rich and delicate look to the plant. Long, trailing stems of Lotus berthelotii make it a nice plant for hanging baskets. The trailing stems can grow up to 10 inches. Prune stems ends to encourage branching.

Lotus berthelotii is usually grown from stem cuttings or seeds though the plants grown from seeds take some time to start blooming. Lotus berthelotii prefers a well-drained soil and partially sunny spot in summer. When grown indoors, place it near a sun-lit window where the plant gets 6 to 8 hours of direct or indirect light. When grown outdoors, Lotus berthelotii should be protected from cold winter by moving it to a greenhouse.

28 Jun

Lovely Summer Bloomer: Agapanthus, the African Lily

Agapanthus flowers

Image by Samantha Schipani

If you are looking for something new to try for your summer garden, consider Agapanthus. Weather grown as a pot plant or grouped in a garden border, it looks striking with its ultra bright flowers that outshine most of the common bloomers.

Many varieties and cultivars of Agapanthus that are commercially available can be divided in two grouped: evergreen species that originate from milder climates of South Africa and deciduous Agapanthus that comes from colder regions. Growing condition of all varieties are generally similar – sunny exposure, well-drained soil, moderate watering, and protection from extreme cold.

Agapanthus can be propagate easily by division in spring and early summer, or after plants have finished flowering in early autumn. Mature plants tends to divide their bulbous roots; these should be split every three to four years. Agapanthus can also be propagated from seeds however young plant grown from seeds require frequent watering and protection from winter in their first year. Once established, they should be watered only when the soil in dry. Plants grown from seeds take two to three years to flower. Flowers of violet, white, or pink hues appear in summer.

If you growing Agapanthus in the garden, they can be combined easily with other plants in flowering beds. Agapanthus also make nice plants for garden borders. In winter, protect them by mulching with straw and sand. If your soil is water-logged, grow your Agapanthus in large pots and place them in brightly-lit spot where they are protected from frost. Plants grown in pots can be fertilized with a regular fertilizer in spring to encourage flowering. Because the roots system is vigorous, plants grown in pots should be divided every two years. If your plants are reluctant to bloom, move them to a sunnier spot.

African lily

Image by Michael Coghlan

Among many varieties and cultivars of Agapanthus, some outstanding varieties include: Agapanthus ‘Peter Pan’, ‘Tinkerbell’, ‘Northern Star’, Agapanthus inapertus ‘Midnight Cascade’, and Agapanthus ‘Snowstorm’.

Though it is not related to the Lily family, commercially Agapanthus is also known as Africa Lily or Lily of the Nile.

20 Jun

Tecomanthe venusta: the Forest Bell Creeper

Tecomanthe is a small genus of tropical creepers and climbers known for their exotic flowers. Though hard to find, growing a Tecomanthe is rewarding. These fast growing vines grow up to 5 meters with their twinning stem that grows around anything that supports it making it a good choice for growing around pergolas and trellis.

Tecomanthe venusta

Tecomanthe venusta / Image by Cerlin Ng

The plant in picture is Tecomanthe venusta. It is a fast growing evergreen vine that produces waxy lush-green leaves that make it an attractive plant even when it is not blooming. Flowers appear in clusters. Each cluster contains multiple trumpet-shaped flowers in spring. Flowers of Tecomanthe venusta are usually rose or mauve waxy petals.

In its natural habitat, Tecomanthe venusta grows in tropical regions therefore it requires warm and moist conditions to thrive when grown in gardens. The plant benefits from rich but well-drained soil in a spot where it receives bright but indirect sunlight. Tecomanthe venusta is sensitive to frost and long spells of cold and should be grown under cover in colder climates. Tecomanthe venusta can be propagated from cuttings and seeds though the plants grown from seeds take 5 years or more to start blooming.

Tecomanthe venusta is commonly known as Forest Bell Creeper or New Guinea Trumpet Vine.