12 Jan

Kalanchoe orgyalis, the Copper Spoons

The plant featured today is Kalanchoe orgyalis. It is a popular plant among landscape designers because of attractive colors and texture of the plant.

Kalanchoe orgyalis is characterized by succulent leaves that have tiny hair of copper-brown colors that gives its leave a felted substances and copper color. Fresh leaves have shiny copper color. As they grow old, they assume hues of silver making the plant even more attractive. Because of the shape and color of its leaves, Kalanchoe orgyalis is often known as Copper Spoons.

Kalanchoe orgyalis

Kalanchoe orgyalis /Image by Peter Kemmer

Native to tropical and sub-tropical regions of Africa, Kalanchoe orgyalis requires average water and a well-drained soil. Therefore it makes a nice landscape plant in warmer climates because it does not require much maintenance. In colder climates, Kalanchoe orgyalis can be grown as outdoor pot plant in summer and a nice indoor accent plant in winter.

Like other plants of its genus, Kalanchoe orgyalis can be propagated easily from leaf cuttings.

30 Dec

Lovely Ground Cover for Landscapes: Aloe brevifolia

Aloe brevifolia is a low-growing succulent and is usually grown as a beautiful ground cover or lovely pot plant. The plant forms beautiful rosette of grey-green leaves that grows up to 1 foot and produces lovely orange flowers on long spikes. In winter, leaves of Aloe brevifolia turn pink to add striking colors to the garden.

Aloe brevifolia

Aloe brevifolia// Image by Gardening in a Minute (flickr)

Unlike most Aloes, Aloe brevifolia is a smaller plant that seldom grows beyond 1 foot in height and width. The succulent leaves form compact rosette. Mature plants produce suckers near the bottom to form tight clumps making it a nice ground cover for landscapes. The flowers appear on long spikes that usually appear in spring and continue to bloom till mid-summer.

Because of its compact growth and showy succulent leaves, Aloe brevifolia can be used as effective ground cover or as small specimen plant grown in pots or rock gardens.

In its natural habitat, Aloe brevifolia grows in a coastal area and thus likes the similar environment. However, it is can adapt to various growing conditions. Ideally Aloe brevifolia should be grown under full or partial sun in a well-drained soil. Though the plant can withstand light frost, it should be protected from long spells of heavy frost in colder climates.

Aloe brevifolia is propagated from seeds or suckers.

22 Oct

Beautiful Flowering Plants for Shady Conditions: Clivia

Clivia is a small genus of flowering plants from South Africa. Grown as excellent flowering plants for shady spots, most species of Clivia also server as nice pot plants for shady patios and some indoor situations. These lovely bloomers are characterized by strap-like leaves and bell-shaped flowers that grown on a prominent stalk. Flowers of Clivia vary in colors from yellow through orange to red.

Clivias are typically forest undergrowth plants. They thrive in shady and rather dry conditions. In their native climate, they receive summer rainfall and almost completely dry winters. The same conditions can be imitated by watering them thoroughly in warmer months and then providing them barely sufficient water in winter. Excessive moisture rots these plants whereas long spells of drought hamper the growth of roots.

Clivia miniata

Clivia miniata/ Image by Maja Dumat

Most species of Clivia will benefit from slightly acidic soil and filtered sunlight. Popular species of Clivia include:

Clivia miniata: Commonly known as Bush lily, Clivia miniata grows up to 45 cm and produces flowers of orange, red, or yellow colors. Flower often emit slight but sweet fragrance.

Clivia nobilis closely resembles C. miniata but produces smaller drooping flowers.

10 Oct

Ensete ventricosum: The Abyssinian Banana

Today’s featured plant is Ensete ventricosum. It is a large, evergreen perennial plant known for its giant and lush green leaves. Commonly known as Ethiopian Banana, false banana or sometimes as Abyssinian Banana, Ensete ventricosum is widely grown as an ornamental plant for gardens and landscapes.

Ensete ventricosum

Ensete ventricosum/ Image by Gardening in a Minute (flickr)

Ensete ventricosum grows up to 6 meters and produces large banana-like leaf blades. The stout trunk of the plant is formed by overlapping leaf-bases. The ornamental value of Ensete ventricosum is because of the texture and lush green colors of the leaves. Leaves that usually up to 5 meters have smooth texture and a contrasting midrib of salmon color.

Because of the fast growth rate and easy maintenance in temperate climates, Ensete ventricosum is a favourite landscape plant among gardeners and horticulturists. Because of its big size, the plant requires plenty of room to grow to its full potential. A healthy and mature plant makes an excellent specimen that instantly grabs attention. Besides, its ornamental value, Ensete ventricosum is also grown as fodder plant in Africa.

Ensete ventricosum flowers once and then dies. The flower is actually a huge bunch of 2 to 3 meters that hangs like a pendant. The bunch consists of maroon bracts that surround the actual flower.

Ensete ventricosum can be grown easily from seeds. The plant requires generous watering, plenty of sunlight, and protection from heavy frost.

Another popular species in the genus of Ensete is Ensete maurelii (Red Abyssinian Banana). It is a beautiful ornamental plant that grows up to 10 – 20 feet produces beautiful foliage of green and maroon shades. Because of its relatively smaller size, Ensete maurelii can be grown in large containers too.

26 Sep

Ornamental Foliage Plant: Codiaeum, the Garden Croton

Codiaeum is a genus of lovely ornamental plants known for their attractive and colorful foliage. The genus originally belongs to Malaysia and the Pacific islands but grown widely in most tropical and subtropical climates across the globe. Only one species Codiaeum variegatum is cultivated and sold as outdoor ornamental plant.

Codiaeum

Codiaeum/ Image by Ryan Somma

Codiaeum variegatum is characterized by its colorful and variegated foliage. A large number of cultivars with different variegation patterns are easily available at garden nurseries and are usually described as ‘Garden Croton’ because of close resemblance to Croton.

Garden Crotons have leathery, colourful leaves. These plants prefer rich, moist soil and a warmer climate. Most Garden Crotons benefit from bright sunlight and develop stronger foliage colors and variegation under sunny conditions. They can be grown as evergreen shrubs as well as outdoor specimen plants. In colder climates, they can be grown in a greenhouse. For best results, provide them with a humid environment.

Codiaeum variegatum

Codiaeum variegatum/ Image by PL Tandon

Garden Crotons are easily propagated from stem cuttings.

23 Sep

Ornamental Tree for Gardens and Landscapes: Schotia brachypetala

Schotia is a genus of flowering shrubs and trees from tropical regions of southern Africa where it is known for its ornamental flowers and foliage. Most plants in this genus grow as flowering shrubs often growing in to small trees that can be used for shade or ornamental purpose.

Schotia brachypetala

Schotia brachypetala/ Image by Tatiana Gerus

The flowers of Schotia grow in large clusters in spring and spread their lovely shades of bright red and pink. Schotia make excellent ornamental plants because they do not have messy growth and do not require much maintenance. Most species of Schotia would grow up to 5 m, and produce attractive evergreen foliage. Propagation is easy from seeds or cuttings.

Popular species of Schotia include S. afra var. afra and Schotia brachypetala.

16 Sep

Lovely Flowering Tree for Coastal Landscape: Lagunaria patersonia

Lagunaria patersonia or Primrose Tree is an evergreen tree from tropical and subtropical regions of Australia. Known for its glossy green leaves and large pink flowers, the plant is grown in landscapes and gardens for summer flowering.

Lagunaria patersonia

Lagunaria patersonia/ Image by Tatiana Gerus

Lagunaria patersonia grows as a tall and sturdy tree with the habits of forming symmetrical pyramidal shape. Though native to Australia and the Pacific Islands, Lagunaria patersonia is easily grown and propagated in most temperate climates of the world. Because of rapid and sturdy growth of the tree, Lagunaria patersonia is often used for shade, as wind breaker in coastal landscapes, or for background screening garden landscapes. A mature tree can grow up to 15-25 meters and produce beautiful evergreen foliage with sprays of pink or mauve flowers. The shape and waxy texture of flowers of Lagunaria patersonia remind of Hibiscus.

Lagunaria patersonia prefers full sun and protection from heavy frost. The tree is drought-tolerant and requires moderate watering in summer.

31 Jul

Beautiful Shade Tree for Tropical Climate: Smodingium argutum

If you are looking for an easy-to-grow and maintain shade tree for tropical climate, consider Smodingium argutum. It is an attractive foliage tree with splash of fresh green leaves with fine cuts. Similar to Rhus, in appearance and habits, Smodingium argutum makes an excellent tree for small as well as large landscapes. The plant usually grows quickly when grown tropical climates where it only requires moderate watering and bright sunlight.

Smodingium argutum is commonly known as African poison ivy, because of the poisonous milky sap that emits from its damaged trunk or branches.

Smodingium argutum

Smodingium argutum

The foliage of Smodingium argutum changes interesting colors in autumn and turns fresh green in spring and summer. Though not conspicuous, spray of creamy-green flowers appears in summer.

Smodingium argutum can be grown in a well-drained soil and requires care in initial years. Mature plants can survive a variety of weather conditions and growing conditions. However, size of the plant may vary diversely according to the growing conditions. You may find Smodingium argutum growing as a shrub or as a tree as tall as 5 meters.

Smodingium argutum originally belongs to South Africa from where it has spread to many tropical climates across the globe.

16 Jul

Small and Lovely: Fittonia, the Mosaic Plant

Fittonia is a small genus of low-growing perennials that are usually grown for their lovely and colorful foliage. These small plants come from tropical rainforest of the South America where they grow under shade and receive higher level of moisture. Therefore, it is important to imitate the same growing conditions when growing as houseplants. Buy Fittonia online

Fittonia, the Mosaic plant

Fittonia, the Mosaic plant/ Image by Brandon Shea

In colder climates, Fittonias can be grown in small greenhouses whereas in hotter climates, they will do well indoors.

Commonly known as Mosaic Plants, most species of Fittonia are characterized by showy and colorful foliage of oval shape. The lush green leaves are made prominent by white, silver or pink veins. These colorful plants can be grown as creeping ground covers or small trailing plants that require shaded spot, regular watering, and average temperature of 70 F.

Propagation is easy from leaf-tip cutting. The most popular and commonly available species is Fittonia argyroneura which offers a number of lovely verities including: Mini White, Red Anne, Superba, Titanic and White Anne.

28 Jun

Unusual Living Rock of South Africa: Titanopsis calcarea

Though I have not had much success with growing it, Titanopsis is one of my favorite succulents any day. My recent purchase was a couple of Titanopsis calcarea from Uwe Beyer a few months ago. So far they are doing well.

Titanopsis calcarea

Titanopsis calcarea/ Image by Manuel M. Ramos

Titanopsis is a small genus of dwarf succulents from the family of Aizoaceae. Naturally growing in the Upper Karoo in South Africa, Titanopsis is an attractive but quite unusual plant because of its formation. The plant grows as a dwarf succulent and produces thick truncated leaves that have crumpled surface. These unusual leaves display all the hues of red, purple, green, cream and blue throughout the year. Flowers appear in late fall and winter. Like its cousins in the Aizoaceae family, Titanopsis produces small daisy-like flowers of yellow color.

Titanopsis grows to form clumps. These clumps can be divided for further propagation of the plant. Titanopsis calcarea, like other species, requires moderate watering during the growing season (late fall to early spring) and almost no water the rest of the year. These succulent plants prefer porous soils with excellent drainage. They are capable of tolerating both high (45° C or more) and low temperature (up to -10° C).

The best place to grow Titanopsis calcarea is a sunny spot where it gets bright sunlight in summer and direct exposure to the sun in winter. Other popular species of Titanopsis include: Titanopsis fulleri and Titanopsis primosii.