Category Archives: Zone 4a

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.