Category Archives: Zone 4a

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.

22 Nov

Lovely Bloomer for Cold Climate: Leucojum, Spring Snowflake

Leucojum Vernum or Spring Snowflake, as it is usually known, is a lovely flowering plant ideally suited to cooler and Mediterranean regions. This bulbous plant originally belongs to Europe and Russia and grows very well under trees or near ponds where soil is moist or boggy.

White Flowers of Leucojum, Spring Snowflake

Spring Sowflake, Image by Louisa Billeter

The plant produces clumps of narrow, lily-like leaves of dark green color. Flowers are small and inconspicuous but fragrant. These bell-shaped flowers appear on drooping stems. Each flower has white petals that are tipped with green. Flowers appear in winter or early spring.

Spring Snowflake can be grown in containers, flower beds, borders or as ground covers. It reproduces itself quickly and can be propagated from divisions planted in spring. Though Leucojum would grow in almost any soil, provide it regular watering and feed in a well-drained soil under full or partial sun for best results.

If you are looking for a low-maintenance winter bloomer for your cold climate garden, Spring Snowflake is a good choice – both for beginners as well as master gardeners.

11 Nov

Lovely Flowering Bush for Beginners: Forsythia x Intermedia

Forsythia is a small genus of deciduous shrubs known for their spectacular golden flowers. These sun loving shrubs are a must for beginners and expert gardeners alike for its ability to produce abundance of lovely flowers in early spring when very few plants would bloom.

Forsythia is grown for many purposes – garden hedge, border plant, garden screens or as solitary ornamental shrub. Forsythia x Intermedia is perhaps the best representative of its genus. Usually known as Golden Bells, Forsythia x Intermedia grows as woody bush or sometimes as a small tree with many arching branches. It is quite a quick growing bush and requires regular pruning.

Forsythia x Intermedia, Golden Bells

Forsythia x Intermedia, Image by Maja Dumat -

Forsythia x Intermedia produces sheds almost all of its leaves in autumn followed by abundance of bright yellow flowers in late winter or early spring. It is quite hardy plant and grows in almost any soil with good drainage. Water moderately and provide it with plenty of sunlight. Forsythia x Intermedia also tolerates frosty and windy conditions.

The best way to propagate this lovely bush is from softwood cuttings planted in summer.

27 Oct

Chinese Aster: Colorful Flowering Plants for Garden Beds

If you are looking for easy to grow and carefree plants for your sunny garden beds, Chinese Asters should be on top of your list. Easily grown from seeds, this popular summer annual bears very attractive flowers of pink, blue, purple, mauve, white and yellow colors. Flowers are long lasting and can be used as attractive cut flowers. As the name describes, Chinese Aster originally belongs to China but it has been widely cultivated and hybridized to grow as popular cut flower in many parts of the world.

Depending on variety, can be grown as low growing flowering plant in landscape or as tall herbaceous annuals in flowering beds. A number of dwarf varieties are available for patio or balcony gardens.

Chinese Aster Flowers

Chinese Aster Flowers, Image by Carl E. Lewis (flickr)

How to grow Chinese Aster

Chinese Aster grows well in a well-drained soil with moderate. Seeds should be sown in early spring when temperature is above 20 C. Protect these plants from frost and heavy watering. Popular varieties of Chinese Aster include: Princess Aster, Popom Aster and Plume Aster.