02 Feb

Hardy and Lovely Shrub for Arid Gardens: Maireana sedifolia

Maireana is a genus of compact and attractive perennial shrubs from the family of popular ornamental shrubs like Iresine and Amaranthus. Among many popular shrubs from this genus, Maireana sedifolia is a widely grown shrub in Australia and other parts of the world. The plant is characterized by small succulent leaves that grow abundantly along upright branches.

Maireana sedifolia

Maireana sedifolia/ Image by Justin Taylor

The plant is commonly known as Pearl Bush or Cotton Bush because of its attractive succulent leaves. The beautiful foliage is also useful in cut flower arrangements. Maireana sedifolia is native to Western Australia and grows as a hardy and drought tolerant plant. The plant grows well in a well-drained soil and under bright sunlight; however it can be grown under partial shade too.

Maireana sedifolia is not fussy about soil requirements until it is well-drained. On average, the plant grows as a compact shrub (up to 3 feet) and can be pruned easily according to the requirements.

14 Jan

Evergreen Shrub for Lovely Gardens: Carissa carandas

Carissa carandas is an evergreen shrub from the Indian subcontinent where it grows widely in Pakistan, India and other tropical and sub-tropical plains of the region. The plant has been grown in the entire region for a long time for its fruits which has many medicinal and culinary uses. Besides its fruits, Carissa carandas also serves as an excellent shrub for the purposes of landscaping and hedging the land.

Carissa carandas

Carissa carandas/ Image by Phuong Tran

Carissa carandas grows as an evergreen shrub with fresh green and glossy leaves and sharp thorns. The branches are usually sturdy and flexible. The plant produces small white flowers that have a hint of fragrance. Flowering is followed by berry-like fruits. The fruit of Carissa carandas is usually collected and consumed unripe. If left to ripe on branches, the fruit turn from light green to pink or red color. It is rich in iron and vitamin C and is often used in preparation of pickles.

Carissa carandas grows vigorously under full sun and does not require much care. It can grow in almost any soil and is capable of surviving spells of drought.

Carissa carandas can be used as a nice ornamental shrub not only for its foliage and flowers but also for its berry-like fruit that grow in small bunches and add to the beauty of the plant. Carissa carandas can be propagated from cuttings and can be pruned easily to keep the shrub in good shape.

Flowers of Carissa carandas

Flowers of Carissa carandas/ Image by Dinesh Valke

When grown in the ground, Carissa carandas makes an excellent shrub for creating an evergreen display of fresh foliage or as a hardy shrub to serve as hedge or privacy screen in gardens.

04 Jan

Hardy and Versatile Flowering Shrub: Leonotis leonurus

Leonotis leonurus is a versatile and useful flowering shrub for tropical and subtropical climates. It grows as a sturdy and drought tolerant shrub that can be used to fill empty landscape spaces, trimmed to make nice borders, or grown as ornamental plant for beautiful flowers and decent foliage.

Leonotis leonurus, the Lion's tail

Leonotis leonurus, the Lion’s tail/ Image by Andy Carvin

Leonotis leonurus grows up to 6 feet and bears flowers on long stalks. Flowers of orange color grow in small tufts along the stalk and last long. The tufts of flowers growing along the long and sturdy stalk give the plant looks of a lion’s tail, thus giving the plant its common name – Lion’s tail.

Leonotis leonurus bears delicate, green foliage with nice fall colors in fall. The leaves emit fragrance when crushed. The plant comes from summer rainfall areas of Africa and parts of southern America where it has been used in preparation of traditional medication for flu, fever and headache.

Since Leonotis leonurus is not fussy about growing conditions, it can be grown easily from seeds. It can grow in almost any part of the garden however a sunny exposure is good for healthy foliage and vigorous flowering. The plant can survive long spells of drought as well as occasional frost and spells of cold.

Besides popular orange flowering variety, a white flowering variety of Leonotis leonurus is also grown as ornamental flowering shrub.

Leonotis leonurus can be a good plant to attract butterflies and birds to the garden.

29 Dec

Pseuderanthemum alatum, the Chocolate Plant

Chocolate Plant is common name of Pseuderanthemum alatum, which is a low-growing shrub from the family of popular tropical plants like Ruellia and Odontonema. Chocolate Plant takes its name from coppery-brown colors of its foliage.

Pseuderanthemum alatum is usually grown as ground cover in tropical climates where it grows under full to partial sun. In colder climates, it can be grown in greenhouse. The plant requires rich, well-drained soil and regular watering though it is capable of surviving occasional droughts.

Pseuderanthemum alatum, the Chocolate Plant

Pseuderanthemum alatum, the Chocolate Plant

Pseuderanthemum alatum is usually propagated from cuttings. The plant grows up to 1 foot and bears purple or magenta flowers. The beautiful foliage of Chocolate Plant makes it an attractive plant for landscapes and gardens where it can be grown to fill large spaces or cover uncultivated ground. It can also be grown along borders to add dramatic colors to the garden.

22 Dec

Leuchtenbergia principis, the Cactus Agave

Leuchtenbergia principis is one of the most unusual forms of cactus. Though it closely resembles an Agave but the plant actually belongs to the family of cactus, thus justifying its common name, Cactus Agave.  It does not have usual spines or typical globular or cylindrical formation of a cactus. It is characterized by its long and triangular tubercles that actually look like leaves of the plant. The tubercles of Leuchtenbergia principis grow on a corky stem. Each tubercle is 4 to 5 cm long and produces papery spines at the tip.

Leuchtenbergia principis

Leuchtenbergia principis/ Imahe by Manuel M. Ramos

Leuchtenbergia principis produces showy yellow flower in spring and summer. However, flowering is not really frequent.

Leuchtenbergia principis is significantly slow growing plant and grows up to 10 cm in wild. The plant has a strong tap root that requires deep soil. Like other species of cacti, Leuchtenbergia principis is not fussy about requirements. It requires occasional watering and fertilizer. The plant prefers hot and sunny location but protection from winter frost.

Leuchtenbergia principis can be easily propagated from seeds that can be collected from its fruit. Young seedlings can be grafted for quicker and healthy growth of plants.

25 Nov

Ornamental Miniature Aloe – Aloe descoingsii x hawothioides

Aloe haworthioides as it is commonly known is a beautiful and miniature variety of Aloe. The plant is a hybrid of Aloe descoingsii and A. hawothioides.

Aloe haworthioides is an easy and fast growing plant that produces large clumps of miniature plants that grow very well in pots. The plant characterizes fresh green leaves marked with white spots and tiny bristles on their margins.

Aloe haworthioides

Aloe haworthioides

Aloe haworthioides is good as pot plant as well as an excellent choice for miniature gardens. It requires slightly moist but well drained soil. The plant can be grown propagated from divisions or seeds that germinate easily and form miniature plants quickly. Aloe haworthioides does not require much care and grows well under partial sun. Water generously when soil is completely dry in summer. In winter, keep these miniature plant protected from heavy frost and water barely sufficient to protect them from rot.

Like other species of this genus Aloe haworthioides produces small tubular flowers on a long stalk. Spring flowers are orange-pink that attract a lot of birds to the garden.

29 Oct

Peliospilos, the Split Rock Plant

Pleiospilos is a genus of miniature succulent plants from the family of Lithops. These interesting plants are indigenous to the semi-desert land of the Great Karoo in South Africa. Pleiospilos are widely grown as ornamental plants among container gardeners. These plants are characterized by a pair of succulent leaves that grows on the underground stem. The leaves are covered with tiny, black dots. The daisy-like flowers of Pleiospilos are orange or yellow.

Pleiospilos bolusii

Pleiospilos bolusii, Split Rock Plant/ Image by Manuel M. Ramos

Common name of Pleiospilos is Split Rock plant because of their pebble-like leaves that are split from the center. Pleiospilos grow best when planted deep in a well-drained soil under bright sunlight. These plants prefer only occasional watering and feed especially in winter.

The most popular and widely grown species is Pleiospilos nelii which is grown easily from seeds. Other popular species include P. bolusii and Pleiospilos nobilis.

27 Oct

Orthosiphon labiatus – Shell Bush, Pink Sage, Pink Cat’s Whiskers

Orthosiphon is a genus of herbaceous shrubs from the family of Salvia and is known for its ornamental blooms. These drought tolerant shrubs especially Orthosiphon labiatus is a long blooming plant that forms a handsome shrub (up to 1 meter) for gardens and landscapes.

Orthosiphon labiatum

Orthosiphon labiatum

Orthosiphon labiatus is known for its pink, tubular flowers that appear on upright stems of the plant to cover the entire plant in spring and summer. Flowers are usually purple-pink and emit a minty fragrance.  This handsome shrub is perfect for mass plantation schemes to form large beds of decent foliage and spring blooms.

Orthosiphon labiatus is known by many names – Shell Bush, Pink Sage, and Pink Cat’s Whiskers. It grows best in full to partial sun and requires regular watering.

25 Oct

Tropical Vine with Fragrant Flowers: Cup of Gold (Solandra maxima)

Solandra maxima (Buy online), which is popularly known as Cup of Gold, is a vigorous and fast growing vine from tropical regions of Mexico, Central America, and South America. It is an evergreen and sprawling vine that prefers a well-drained soil and exposure to bright sunlight. Cup of Gold is usually grown against pergolas, trellis or walls because its thick and twinning stems require a sturdy support. As a fats growing vine, Cup of Gold can grow up to 40 meters or more, therefore, it should be regularly pruned to keep it in shape and under control.

Solandra maxima, Cup of Gold

Solandra maxima, Cup of Gold/ Image by Eric Hunt

Cup of Gold produces wide, leathery leaves of dark green color. The bell-shaped flowers of Cup of Gold hang on woody stems. These attractive and prominent flowers closely resemble the flowers of Duranta. These lovely flowers are yellow when they bloom but as the time passes they eventually tend to appear deep golden, thus giving the vine its common name – Cup of Gold. These lovely flowers emit a decent fragrance.

Cup of Gold vine is quite easy to propagate from layering. Young plants require regular water, however, as they grow they become quite hardy and withstand long periods of drought easily.

14 Oct

Lovely Tropical Bloomer: Ixora coccinea ‘Jacqueline’

Ixora coccinea ‘Jacqueline’ is one of the many popular hybrids of Ixora coccinea. The plant is popular for its salmon orange blooms and evergreen foliage. Like other plants of the genus, Ixora ‘Jacqueline’ prefers a well-drained, loamy and slightly acidic soil. Suitable for outdoor plantation, this beautiful hybrid is a bit fussy about moisture and temperature. The idea place for Ixora ‘Jacqueline’ in a garden is a sunny spot where it receives bright sunlight but protection from frosty winters.

Ixora coccinea 'Jacqueline'

Ixora coccinea ‘Jacqueline’/ Image by Troy Mckaskle

Ixora ‘Jacqueline’ is characterized by glossy foliage and shrubby growth that can be easily control by regular pruning. Ixora ‘Jacqueline’ does not like being moved around and often drops flower buds when moved around. Clusters of showy flowers appear almost all through the summer. The plant benefits from general purpose fertilizer every fortnight during the flowering season.

Ixora coccinea ‘Jacqueline’ has many common names including Jungle Flame, Jungle Geranium, Flame of the Woods, Needle Flower, and West Indian Jasmine.