14 Feb

Alliums: The Ornamental Onions

Alliums, commonly known as Ornamental Onions, are popular perennials among gardeners because of their graceful flowers and ability to grow in many different conditions. Most Alliums are characterized by their tall flower stalks (up to 3 feet) that stand like sentries with big, round flower heads (up to 5 inches). Their prominent flower heads make Alliums very useful for providing a nice and attractive background to low-growing bloomers in flower beds.

Allium globemaster

Allium globemaster – Image by PKdon50 (flickr)

Growing Alliums should not be a big challenge even for beginners. They are drought-tolerant, resistant to pests, and low on maintenance. They also come in a wide range of variety in terms of heights, blooming period, and form and color of flowers. Alliums are grown from bulbs planted in the fall. Bulbs should be planted at a depth of four times the diameters of bulb. Alliums generally prefer a rich and well-drained soil under sunny conditions. If you are growing them in poor soil, feed them with a general fertilizer in early spring or top up the soil with a layer of compost [Also read: How to prepare your own compost].

Most varieties start blooming from late summer to early summer. Flowers, especially of late blooming verities, last longer. Both fresh and dry flowers make excellent addition to flower arrangements. As end of season approaches, leaves start straggling and should be cut back, if required. Once flowering is over, bulbs can be lifted and stored for the next harvest.

Popular varieties of Allium include:

Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ produces large (3 inches or more) purple flowers on tall (up to 3 feet) stalks.

Allium Purple Sensation

Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ / Image by Farrukh

Allium caeruleum or ‘Blue Allium’ produces very attractive flowers of sky-blue color in spring and summer.

Allium schoenoprasum or Chives is a useful herb that produces nice pink flowers from mid to late spring.

Allium ‘Globemaster’ is a popular variety known for its huge flowers of purple color.

Allium ‘Millennium’ is a great bloomer for the late summer season. This variety is known for its long lasting lavender flowers.

Allium tuberosum or Garlic Chives are attractive border plant because of their delicate form and nice white flowers.

Allium aflatunense is known for its large and prominent pink-purple flowers that sit on tall flower stalks.

Other popular species are: Allium moly (Golden Garlic), A. cristophii (Stars of Persia) and Allium ‘Mount Everest’.

 

Blue Allium

Blue Allium / Image by Joe Shlabotnik

04 Nov

Ornamental Grass for Gardens and Landscapes: Festuca glauca

The plant featured today is Festuca glauca – a low maintenance and lovely ornamental grass. It is a semi-evergreen grass that forms tight mounds of silver-blue foliage. The needle-like foliage of Festuca glauca changes it colors from blue-green to silver-blue and from steel-blue to brown throughout the year. Because of its unusual texture and color of its foliage, and attractive tufted shape of the plant, Festuca glauca has become a popular grass for gardens and landscapes. It is often mass planted in rock gardens or mixed with succulents to form beautiful landscape designs.

Festuca glauca can also be grown in containers, garden borders or simply as a pot plant. The ornamental value of Festuca glauca is doubled by delicate inflorescence.

Festuca glauca requires a well-drained soil under partial sun. It has tremendous ability to survive long spells of drought. In colder climates, the foliage is usually cut back in harsh winter in order to get fresh foliage in spring.

Festuca glauca can grow up to 10 inches and is easily propagated from clumps divided from the mother plant. When grown in pots, it should be repotted every 3 to 4 years or transferred to ground permanently.

Popular varieties of Festuca glauca include: Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’, Festuca glauca ‘Blue Glow’, and Festuca glauca ‘Blaufuchs’.

30 Oct

Fall-Blooming Bulbs: Colchicums

While the fall season has come and most trees are turning their royal green attire in to a cover of orange, red and yellow. It is time to enjoy beautiful show of fall-blooming Colchicums.

Colchicum flowers

Colchicum / Meadow saffron / Image by ukgardenphotos (flickr)

Colchicum is a genus of fall blooming bulbs known for their lovely white, pink, and purple flowers. Colchicum are loved by gardeners because of their refreshing and lovely flowers that appear in the months when very few plants bloom.

Usually known as Autumn crocus or Meadow saffron, Colchicum is a low growing plant that sprouts from small bulbs and produces small stems (10 to 15 cm high) terminated by a star-shaped flower. Since it does not produce any foliage, Colchicum is also described as naked lily.

Autumn crocus

Fall flowering Colchicum / Autumn crocus/ Image by Manuel Martin Vicente

Colchicums make excellent plants for cold climates where they can be grown in a rich and slightly moist soil. Most species benefit from partial sunlight and occasional feeding. The bulbs can be planted in late summer.

Bulbs of Colchicums divided rapidly and can be separated and stored for planting next year.

18 Sep

Beautiful Winter Flowering Shrub: Hamamelis, the Witch Hazel

The name of the lovely plant in pictures is Hamamelis. It is commonly known as Witch Hazel.

Witch Hazel

Witch Hazel / Image by Steven Severinghaus

Hamamelis

Hamamelis / Image by Dietmut Teijgeman-Hansen

Hamamelis or Witch Hazel is a deciduous shrub that sometimes grows into a small tree. The plant is characterized by twiggy branches, fall colors, and unusual flowers.

Witch Hazel produces alternatively arranged leaves that change their colors from green to yellow, orange and red through spring, summer and winter. After the plant has shed all its leaves, flowers of spicy fragrance and multiple shades adorn its branches – a perfect shrub for winter gardens. The flowers of Witch Hazel are unique in their shape as they produce long crumpled and ribbon like petals along brown sepals. Flowers of Witch Hazel are usually yellow, pink, scarlet or orange.

Witch Hazel can be grown from cuttings however it is a bit difficult to root cuttings. Commercially it is propagated by grafting on Hamamelis virginiana. An established plant required slightly moist but well-drained soil in a partially shaded spot.

Popular cultivars include:

H. × intermedia ‘Diane’, H. × intermedia ‘Jelena’ and H. × intermedia ‘Pallida’.

09 Aug

Artemisia schmidtiana ‘Silver Mound’

The plant in pictures is Artemisia schmidtiana. Commonly known as ‘Silver Mound’, Artemisia schmidtiana is grown for its interesting foliage.

Artemisia schmidtiana

Artemisia schmidtiana/ Image by Quinn Anya (flickr)

Artemisia schmidtiana grows as a low-growing perennial that forms symmetrical mound of feathery and silver-green leaves – making it an excellent choice for pots, borders, and a filler plant for flower beds. It can also be combined with other annuals and perennials in the garden.

Silver Mound plant

Silver Mound plant/ Image via flickr

 

Though the plant produces small ball-like flowers of yellow color in summer, the flowers usually remain unnoticed. It is the delicate, fern-like foliage that gives this plant its ornamental value.

Artemisia schmidtiana plant

Artemisia schmidtiana in a rock garden / Image via flickr

Artemisia schmidtiana can be grown easily from stem cuttings or by dividing the rootball. The plant requires sunny exposure and survives in almost any soil type. Artemisia schmidtiana requires moderate watering and thrives in a well-drained soil. It can also withstand spells of droughts easily.