Category Archives: Zone 3a

07 Feb

Symphoricarpos albus, the Snowberry Shrub

Symphoricarpos is a genus of deciduous shrubs known for their beautiful berry-like white fruit. Originally native to North America, these hardy shrubs can be grown in many different climatic conditions. Most species of Symphoricarpos prefer full to partial sun, average watering and almost any type of soil that does not retain water.

Symphoricarpos albus, Snowberry Shrub

Symphoricarpos albus/ Image via flickr

From more than 15 species, Symphoricarpos albus is the one that is widely known and cultivated for its beautiful foliage and white berry-like fruit. The plant grows up to 5 feet and spreads vigorously across 6 feet or more. Cultivated from seeds or suckers, Symphoricarpos albus best performs when grown in partial sun and pruned regularly.

The pinkish-white flowers of Symphoricarpos albus are quite insignificant but are followed by formation of large clusters of white berries in winter. These clusters of white berries add to the beauty of the plant in winter when it sheds most of its leaves.

Symphoricarpos albus is capable of resisting frost and survive long spells of winter. The plant can be used in hedges and borders as a low-maintenance shrub.

Common names of Symphoricarpos albus include Snowberry and Waxberry.

19 Jul

Sedum album, the Coral Carpet

Sedum album or Coral Carpet is a low-growing and very attractive plant for containers as well as a mat-forming ground cover. The plant is known for its small, mossy and succulent foliage that makes this plant look like coral from the oceans. Sedum album or Coral Carpet makes an excellent ground cover because of its shiny and dark-green leaves that turn red in winter. Since it is frost hardy, it is used in rock gardens, containers or garden landscapes for a year-round effect.

Sedum album, Coral Carpet

Sedum album (Coral Carpet), Image by William Kirby

Sedum album spreads horizontally and effectively covers empty areas with its succulent growth and tiny, star-shaped flowers of white or pinkish color. Flowers usually appear in midsummer.

Sedum album is a good plant for a beginner’s collection. It only requires bright sunlight, and loamy but well-drained soil. Water moderately in summer but only occasionally in winter when it turns red. New plants can be produced from leaves that root easily and grow into small plants. When grown in containers, repot your plant every other year in spring.

15 Jul

Beautiful Flowering Plant for Landscapes, Alcea rosea (Hollyhock)

If you are looking for an easy to grow, hardy and rich flowering plant for your garden landscape, consider Alcea rosea. Commonly described as Hollyhock, a number of tall and dwarf varieties are popular among gardeners – majorly because of the variety of colorful flowers that ranges from beautiful shades of pink, white, maroon, purple, yellow and black.

Alcea rosea, Hollyhock

Alcea rosea (Hollyhock), Image by Charles Roffey

Hollyhocks make excellent ornamental houseplants because they do not require special care or climate. They can grow in ordinary soil mix under full or partial sun. These drought tolerant plants can be used to fill uncultivated spaces where they would grow up to 3 meters or more as biennial plants to produce showy flowers in the second year. Alcea rosea produces vigorous tap roots and should not be grown with plants that cannot compete for food and moisture. Hollyhock grows best when cultivated separately in background of landscape design or places where ordinary plants cannot be grown.

Alcea rosea originally comes from Mediterranean and tropical climates of Asia, thus it requires bright sunlight and moderate watering. Long stalks of flowers need to be protected from strong winds. Thus, Alcea rosea is grown against walls or in locations where they are not directly affected by strong winds or they should be provided with support of staking. Several dwarf species of Alcea rosea are also available that can be grown in windy conditions.

Alcea rosea can be propagated easily from seeds.

20 Jun

Fancy and Flowery: Scilla

Scilla is a genus of low-growing and bulbous perennials that make excellent container or border plants. Most plants form this genus come from summer rainfall regions of Europe, South Africa and Asia. Though, not common in cultivation, Scilla are nice and easy-to-grow plants that produce clumps of lovely blue or purple flowers in spring.

Scilla flowers

Scilla flowers growing in a landscape, Image by Roger Bruce

Being low-growing plants, Scilla can be grown as border plants, or to fill empty spaces in landscapes and flower beds where they can grow up to 3 feet.  Most species of Scilla grown under partial sun and prefer slightly moist but rich, loamy soil. Late summer or early autumn is the best time to plant bulbs. Young plants produce fresh foliage in winter and spring. Pale blue or purple flowers appear in spring but they do not last long.

Popular species of Scilla include: Schilla peruviana, S.madeirensis, S. greillhuberi, and Scilla messeniaca.

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.

11 Jun

Lovely Ground Cover for Coastal Climates: Armeria maritima

Armeria maritima is a compact, low-growing plant, which is known for its prolific and long-lasting spring flowers. The plant is commonly known as Thrift or Sea Pink – the latter is perhaps the more appropriate name for this lovely plant because of its ability to produce large clumps of grassy growth which is topped with vigorous pink flowering – thus making a ‘sea’ of pink flowers in its native habitat.

Armeria maritima, Sea Pink, Thrift

Armeria maritima, Image by Randi Hausken

Though the plant belongs to the coast lines of Northern Hemisphere, especially Europe but it has been grown successfully in many parts of the world as an excellent ground cover. The plant can grow in almost all types of soils with good drainage and under bright sunny exposure. In fact, Armeria maritime can grow quite easily in poor soil conditions and spots where very few plants would survive.

As a compact and low-growing plant, Armeria maritime is a good choice for edging, border fronts, rock gardens or wall pockets. The plant requires moderate watering and can be grown easily from seeds. Flowers are useful for both ornamental as well as cut-flower arrangements.

12 Apr

Cantaurea montana, the Bachelor’s Button

Mountain Cornflower, Bachelor’s Button or Mountain Bluet, as it is known commonly, are popular names of Cantaurea montana, which is an evergreen plant for cold climates of Europe British Isles and parts of North America. It is fairly easy growing plant that requires a regular but well drained soil mix and some exposure to the sun.

Centaurea montana

Centaurea montana, Image by Irma Kallio

Cantaurea montana is better known for its blue flowers that appear in abundance in flowering season that usually starts in spring and lasts till early summer. When the plant is in bloom, it produces a thick mound of attractive blue flowers. These lovely flowers provide a very nice show against the background of bright and velvety foliage.

Cantaurea Montana can be propagated from divisions as well as seeds. Other popular species from this genus are Cantaurea cineraria and C. cyanus. The latter is known for its flowers of many different colors including blue, pink, mauve, crimson, white and pink.

22 Mar

Lychnis coronaria, the Rose Campion

Rose campion or Campion (Lychnis coronaria) is an excellent border plant for its beautiful silvery leaves that make a nice background for prominent scarlet or magenta flowers that appear in summer. Native to temperate regions of Asia and Europe, Campion grows in a well-drained soil under sunny exposure and moderate watering.

Lychnis coronaria, Image by M. Fletcher

Lychnis coronaria, the rose campion

Like most species of Lychnis, Rose Campion grows as clump-forming and hardy perennial. It can grow is almost any soil and spread quickly to cover empty spaces; this makes it a good border plant for beginners. It is a self-seeding plant and blooms until late summer.

Other popular species from this genus are Lychnis chalcedonica. and L. viscaria.

13 Mar

Hardy Ornamental Plant for Sunny Spots: Potentilla Fruticosa

Potentilla is a large genus of flowering shrubs from the family of rose. Most of the plants from this genus are small leafy shrubs that make good choice for mixed borders or as hardy ornamentals. Native to the northern hemisphere, Potentilla can be found in Asia, North America and Europe where they grow as prolific bloomers.

Potentilla Fructicosa, 'Gold Finger'

Potentilla Fructicosa, 'Gold Finger', Image by Manuel Martín Vicente

Potentillas are generally grown as hardy ornamentals for their colorful and showy summer flowers of white, yellow, pink, red and golden colors. A number of cultivars are also grown commercially. Some of these grow quite well in cooler climates.

Among popular species of Potentilla, P. fruticosa is grown widely for its flowers and described as ‘Golden Finger’. It is characterized by dense growth of foliage, and showy yellow flowers. Like other species in the genus, Potentilla fruticosa can be propagated easily from seeds. It prefers a regular soil mix, moderate watering and a sunny spot.

If you are looking for a hardy ornamental for filling empty spaces and some nice flowering, Potentilla fruticosa should be in your list.

03 Feb

Lovely Summer Bloomers for Beginners: Coreopsis

Coreopsis is a genus of perfect summer bloomers for beginners. They withstand drought, require low maintenance, and grow in many soil types and climatic conditions. Originally native to North America, there are more than 100 species and varieties of Coreopsis for almost all garden styles. Some of them make good border plants, some do well in hanging baskets, some make good pot plants and some from nice flowering clumps.

Coreopsis Flowers

Coreopsis 'Fruit Punch' , Image by Terra Nova Nursery

Coreopsis are usually recognized for their daisy-like yellow or orange flowers that appear in summer and continue to bloom till fall – quite a long flowering season indeed. Almost all species of Coreopsis prefer lean and sandy soil in a sunny spot where they receive moderate watering. Established plants do not require much care and bloom very well without requiring additional fertilizer.

Coreopsis grow easily from seeds. Most species tend to form mounds of low-growing herbaceous plants, usually suitable for container gardening, or as ornamental bloomers in mix borders or garden beds.