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 unusual texture and color of its foliage, and attractive tufted shape of the plant, It 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

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

How to Grow Festuca glauca

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.

Landscaping with Festuca glauca

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.

Festuca glauca - Ornamental Grass

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

30 Oct

Fall-Blooming Bulbs: Colchicum

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 Colchicum.

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 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, the plant is also described as naked lily.

Autumn crocus

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

How to Grow Colchicum

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 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.

Hamamelis 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 are unique in their shape as they produce long crumpled and ribbon like petals along brown sepals. They are usually yellow, pink, scarlet or orange.

How to Grow Witch Hazel

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’, It 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.

How to Grow Artemisia schmidtiana

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

29 Jul

Primula vulgaris: Lovely Plant for Early-Spring Flowers

Primula is a large genus of perennials known for their early-spring flowers. These lovely bloomers are usually grown in flower borders and beds under shade where traditional flowering plants cannot thrive. These shade loving plants grow nicely in shady spots and produce flowers in almost all hues of red, orange, yellow, blue and violet.

In the recent years, the genus of Primula has been extensively hybridized resulting in a large number of low-maintenance varieties. In general, all species of Primula require partial shade, fertile loamy soil, regular watering and cooler temperatures. Therefore, they make good plants to grow for early-spring when they produce a lot of flowers and continue to bloom until early summer.

Primula vulgaris

Primula vulgaris /Image via Flickr

If you have not grown a Primula before, you can start with Primula vulgaris which is a low-maintenance and versatile plant. It is characterized by tongue-shaped leaves and scented flowers of cream color. The plant tends to form small clumps each producing erect flower stems. When grown under shade and provided with sufficiently moist soil, Primula vulgaris does not require much maintenance and spreads 3 to 4 cm across. Usually grown for bedding, Primula vulgaris can be easily grown in containers and placed indoors under humid and slightly cool conditions.

Primula vulgaris is also known as Primula grandiflora.

25 Jul

Liatris spicata: Lovely Summer Bloomer for Garden Borders

Liatris is a small genus of flowering plants from the North America where they grow natively in ravines and grasslands where they can sufficiently moist soil. Gardeners and horticulturists grow Liatris for its beautiful flowers.

Most species of Liatris are characterised by narrow, grass-like foliage and long spikes of flowers that appear in later summer. The fuzzy pink or purple flowers of Liatris grow along erect spike that reminds of bottlebrush. These flowers usually bloom from top to bottom and stay fresh for quite a long time.

From a number of popular species, Liatris spicata is the one that is grown widely in gardens and landscapes. It is commonly known as Blazing Star or Button Snakewort. Liatris spicata has linear growth as it can grow up to 1 meter in height. The plant prefers full to partial sun and moist but well-drained soil. Overwatering, especially in winter, can kill these plants therefore good drainage is essential for growing these lovely perennials. Therefore, a sandy loam is the best media to grow this lovely bloomer.

Liatris spicata

Liatris spicata / Image by Drew Avery

How to Grow Liatris spicata

Most species of Liatris can be grown in containers too. So if you are looking for a low-maintenance summer-blooming perennial for your balcony or small garden Liatris spicata should be on your list.

25 May

Colorful Flowering Shrubs for Gardens: Cornus (Dogwoods)

Cornus is a genus of woody shrubs and small trees from temperate regions of the Americas, eastern Asia and Europe. Commonly known as Dogwood, the genus of Cornus offers a wide variety of flowering shrubs, foliage plants, and small trees for almost any soil type. The flowering species like Cornus kousa are grown for their showy bracts that appear in spring and early summer. The deciduous species like Cornus alba are grown for their uniquely colorful stems whereas the winter flowering species like Cornus mas are grown in colder climates.

Cornus florida/ Image by Margit

Cornus florida/ Image by Margit

Most species of Cornus are quite easy to grow. They are not fussy about their growing requirements and do well in almost any soil. They are frost hardy plants that grow 10 to 20 feet in height but are easily pruned to achieve desired shapes. These lovely plants can be grown from seeds or cuttings and require full to partial sun. Generally, Cornus grow well in rich, well-drained but lightly moist soil under sunny conditions.

Popular species of Cornus include:

Cornus kousa (Kousa dogwood) grows as a small deciduous tree with dense and fresh green foliage. The plant produces lovely flowers or bracts of cream color in early spring followed by formation of berry-like drupes.

Cornus alba (Siberian dogwood) is a deciduous shrub that produces woody branches and small flowers. The plant is grown for winter interest when it sheds its leaves and wears hues of bright-crimson on its twigs.

Cornus alba

Cornus alba/ Image by Marion Wacker

Cornus x ‘Venus is grown for its splendid creamy flowers that appear in mid-summer. The plant grows as a small tree and attains the height of 10 to 12 feet.

Cornus x rutgersensis ‘Stellar Pink’ is a lovely plant with dark green foliage that changes many colors (orange, red, yellow and pink) before falling in autumn. The plant blooms in summer and grows up to 20 feet.

Cornus kousa ‘Miss Satomi’ is a known for its dense and prominent pink flowers that appear in summer. It makes a lovely addition to the garden because of its pink flowers and autumn foliage.

Because of their flowers, colorful foliage and interesting stem colors, Cornus are popular plants among horticulturists and gardens who use them in garden borders, garden screens, and mass plantation schemes.

29 Jan

Border Plant for Low-maintenance Gardens: Yucca filamentosa

If you are looking for a low-maintenance plant for garden borders, consider Yucca filamentosa – an evergreen, hardy and drought-tolerant plant.

Yucca filamentosa

Yucca filamentosa

On local nurseries, Yucca filamentosa is available with many different names: Adam’s needle, Spanish bayonet, Bear-grass and Needle-palm. The plant is known for its lovely white flowers and architectural structure that makes it a nice accent plant.

Yucca filamentosa thrives in a well-drained soil under partial sun. However, it can easily adapt itself to different types of soil and light conditions. For this reason, it makes a nice plant for gardens and landscapes where it forms small groups of shrubby plants with stem-less structure. A mature Yucca filamentosa can grow up to 1 meter in height and spread across 1.5 meter (however it takes around 20 years to attain this size).

Yucca filamentosa 'Color Guard'

Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard’

Yucca filamentosa is characterized by its sword-shaped, spine-tipped green leaves that form a tight rosette. The leaves change many shades from winter to spring. In spring, Yucca filamentosa produces a long stalk of beautiful white flowers. The flowers last for a long time and attract bees and butterflies.

Yucca filamentosa also offers a couple of popular cultivars that include:

Yucca filamentosa ‘Golden Sword’ – similar to ‘Bright Edge’, but larger.

Yucca filamentosa ‘Ivory Tower’ – creamy white flowers tinged with green.

Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard’ – broad yellow stripes all year, plus red stripes in the winter.

19 Dec

Small and Evergreen Flowering Tree: Arbutus unedo

Arbutus unedo

Arbutus unedo / Image by Jesuskyman (flickr)

The plant in this picture is Arbutus unedo – a lovely, evergreen, compact tree which is highly regarded by gardeners for its ornamental value. This small tree grows up to 10 meters, branches gracefully and produces deep green foliage. Small white or pink flowers appear in autumn. These bell-shaped flowers not only add to the beauty of this lovely tree but also offer sweet nectar to honey bees. Flowers are followed by formation of strawberry-like edible fruit. Fruits changes colors from yellow to red and ultimately to scarlet – making this beautiful tree more attractive. Because of its strawberry-like fruit, Arbutus unedo is also known as Strawberry Tree.

Arbutus unedo is quite easy to grow and does not require much maintenance. Therefore, it makes a good choice for growing along garden borders or form informal hedges. A few smaller and compact varieties of Arbutus unedo are also available. These varieties grow up to 3 meters and make decent specimen plants for small gardens where you can observe attractive flowers and ripening fruits along with fresh green foliage – making a colourful addition to the garden.

Arbutus unedo can be grown easily from seeds or cuttings. It grows in almost any soil but prefers a well-drained lean soil that allows the tree to develop its extensive root system. Young plants benefit from partial shade and slightly moist soil. Once established, mature plants can easily tolerate spells of drought.

Strawberry tree

Strawberry tree / Image by obni (flickr)

Arbutus unedo branches decently to make a compact, small tree. However, you can prune it easily to keep in the desired shape. Winter is the best time to prune Arbutus unedo.

Popular varieties of Arbutus unedo include:

Arbutus unedo ‘Compacta’: grows up to 2 metres tall eventually and fruits abundantly.

Arbutus unedo ‘Croomei’: grows up to 4 meters and produces reddish flowers.

Arbutus unedo ‘Elfin King’: is a slow growing  and dwarf variety that grows up to 1 meter.

08 Nov

Lovely Flowering Shrub for Garden Borders: Spiraea thunbergii

The plant featured today is Spiraea thunbergii. It is one of my favourite flowering shrubs because of its delicate spring flowers and interesting foliage. Spiraea thunbergii grows up to 5 feet as a dense, twiggy shrub and produces attractive narrow leaves. The beautiful foliage grows on wiry stems that densely branch out from the main stem of the plant. The interesting formation of leaves gets more beautiful in fall when the green color of leaves turns to golden-yellow to orange and bronze. The leaves fall of in winter and start sprouting again in early spring.

Spiraea thunbergii

Spiraea thunbergii / Image by Wikimedia Commons

Flowering starts in spring and last for many weeks. The white delicate flowers of Spiraea thunbergii form small clusters that cover the entire plant. Exposure to full sun encourages growth of flowers. Because of its interesting foliage, beautiful flowers and growing habits, Spiraea thunbergii makes an excellent border plant for gardens and landscapes.

Spiraea thunbergii can be easily grown in a slightly moist but well-drained soil. This lovely shrub loves sun but tolerates light shade. As with most plants in the Rose family, propagation of Spiraea thunbergii is done from layering or cuttings.