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.

01 Feb

Hardy, Ornamental Flowering Shrub: Deutzia

Deutzia is a nice, low-growing and usually mound forming shrub that produces very ornamental flowers in summer. The genus offers more than 60 species and varieties (mostly from East Asia especially Japan) that add very nice and delicate show of colorful flowers in gardens. Most of the species are quite hardy and are capable of surviving drought or poor lighting conditions. Generally, these hardy shrubs grow in sunny or partially shaded spots where they receive regular water.

Deutzia Scabra

Deutzia Scabra (Bridal Wreath), Image by Martin LaBar (flickr)

Deutzia performs well when pruned regularly after every flowering season which occurs in later spring or early summer. Flowers are white with a touch of rose-pink or lavender. Though not very showy, flowers or Deutzia are delicate and appear in dense sprays to add a really charming effect to the landscape.

Most species of Deutzia are propagated easily from cuttings or layering. Popular species include Deutzia Gracillis and Deutzia Scabra (Bridal Wreath).

10 Jan

Physostegia Virginiana, The Obedient Plant

Physostegia is a small genus of herbaceous perennials that are grown for their showy flowers. Most species produce white, pink or mauve flowers that appear on long stalks from mid-summer to early autumn. Physostegia plants are commonly known as Obedient Plant because the flower heads have tendency to retain whatever position they are moved to. You can actually move each flowers of Physostegia in whatever direction you want. This makes it a useful cut flower plant.

Physostegia Virginiana, The Obedient Plant

Physostegia Virginiana, Image by Olaf (flickr)

The most popular of all species in this genus is Physostegia Virginiana. It is quite a vigorous grower and perfectly suitable for beginners. The best place to grow this excellent bloomer is a partially sunny location where it receives bright morning sunlight but protection from harsh sunlight for the rest of the day. Physostegia Virginiana, like other species, requires moderate watering in a regular soil mix. Propagation is usually done from seeds or divisions. It is quite hardy plant and does not require any special care.

Physostegia Virginiana performs well in mix borders as well as pot plants.

08 Jan

Ornamental Autumn Tree for Cold Climates: Betula Pendula

Betula is a genus of deciduous trees from mountainous regions of Europe and Eurasia where they grow as ornamental trees. These beautiful trees are known for their lovely foliage, drooping branches and slender trunks of white or silver color.

Betula Pendula Tree

Betula Pendula Tree, Image by Iain Turner

Most of the species are suitable for growing in cold climates only where they produce beautiful pale-green leaves that turn yellow in autumn and add a cheerful color to the surroundings. Betula Pendula is one of the most commonly grown species which is a deciduous tree that grows up to 20 meters and produces attractive foliage. The trunk is usually found covered with layers of silver-white flaky bark, which is why it is also known as Silver Birch. Suitable for gardens and landscapes, these trees have good growth rate and can be used for the purpose of forestation as well.

Like most trees of Betula family, these ornamental trees have shallow roots that require regular supply of water under bright sunlight. Propagation is usually done from seeds or grafting.

05 Jan

Natural Insect Repellent: Nepeta Cataria, the Catnip Plant

Nepeta is a large genus of perennial plants that grow naturally in parts of Asia, Europe and Africa. Commonly known as Catmint or Catnip, Nepeta grow as small shrubs or subshrubs and herbs. One of the commonly grown species is Nepeta Cataria, which is a good candidate for a nice border plant or ground cover. The plant produces heart-shapes leaves and tiny flowers (of white or lavender shades) that usually bloom in summer. Flowers are fragrant and have purple spots on them.

Nepeta cataria, The Catnip Plant

Nepeta cataria, The Catnip Plant/ Image by Isabelle Blanchemain

Because of a chemical compound called Nepetalactone naturally found in it, Catmint has long been used in traditional medicine as a sedative. It also acts as natural insect repellent which particularly keeps mosquitoes, cockroaches and termites. The chemical also affects cats and makes them drooling, sleepy or growling.

Nepeta Cataria or Catmint is very easy to grow. Generally, it prefers sunny conditions, moderate watering and a well-drained soil.

28 Dec

Summer Blooming Shrub for Beginners: Valeriana Officinalis

Valeriana is a large genus of perennial shrubs known for their sweet-scented and colorful flowers. A number of species from this genus grow natively across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. The most popular of all species is Valeriana Officinalis. It is an evergreen, perennial shrub that grows up to 1.5 meters and produces flowers of pink, white or lavender flowers in summer.

Valeriana Officinalis

Valeriana Officinalis, Image by Willie Angus

Valeriana Officinalis has been in cultivation for many hundred years for both ornamental and medicinal purposes. Even today, it is grown commercially for Valeriana root which is used in preparation of sedative and relaxant drugs for patients of insomnia and hysteria. The name, Valeriana, is itself a derivation of Latin word valeo meaning ‘healthy’.

Apart from medicinal benefits, Valeriana is equally good for gardeners. It is an easy to grow plant and thrives in almost any soil type as far as the plant receives bright sunlight and moderate water. The best place to plant Valeriana Officinalis can be mix borders, containers or landscapes where it makes a decent ornamental plant often laden with fragrant clusters of funnel-shaped flowers. The plant can be propagated from seeds and cuttings.

21 Dec

Aruncus Dioicus, The Goat’s Beard Plant

Aruncus Dioicus or Goat’s Beard belongs to a small genus of perennials from Europe, Asia and North America. The plant is grown for its broad, fern-like leaves that make it an excellent ornamental plant for landscapes. It also serves as an excellent foliage plant for gardens where it can be grown in shady spots to provide a rich background to flowering beds.

Aruncus Dioicus, Goat's Beard

Aruncus Dioicus, Image by Megan Hansen

Aruncus Dioicus does not have any special requirements of soil as it can be grown quite easily is almost any type of soil. Growing as a decent foliage plant, Aruncus Dioicus grows up to 2 meters and bears delicate plumes of creamy-white flowers in summer. The name ‘Aruncus’ comes from a Greek word meaning ‘beard of goat’ because of the feathery plumes that actually resembles the beard of a goat.

Aruncus Dioicus belongs to the family of rose. It grows as a low-maintenance plant that has average watering requirements and grows in a well-drained soil under full sun to partial shade.