15 May

How to Care for Amaryllis in Your Garden

Amaryllis are beautiful flowers that, if cared for correctly, will bloom year after year. They have a magnificent, exotic appearance and are best known for featuring red or red and white blooms. Although they do come in other colors such as purple, pink and yellow and some varieties are even multicolored. These colorful flowers are grown from bulbs and Amaryllis is the more popular name for what is actually the Hippeastrum bulb.

Amaryllis are easy to plant and of all the flowering bulbs, they are the easiest to bring to bloom. While they are ideal for any garden, they also make fantastic houseplants and have become popular gifts at Christmas because of this.

Amaryllis

So, you have your Amaryllis bulb, now what do you do…?

Ideally you will plant it between October and January, they will then flower from winter to spring – generally within six weeks of planting. Amaryllis bulbs are tender and need warmth to grow therefore it is best to plant them in pots – in nutritious compost – and start them indoors, to avoid the frost. The Amaryllis should be grown in a pot only slightly bigger than the bulb itself, with two-thirds of the bulb remaining above the surface.

You should begin to water sparingly – then, as the new leaves develop, start watering regularly avoiding excessive watering while not letting the compost dry out.

Amaryllis should be placed in full sun – they will grow in light shade but they tend to develop better in brighter light – but remember to turn the pot regularly to avoid the stalk growing towards the light. You should feed your amaryllis bulb every few weeks with a balanced fertilizer and stake larger flowers as they start to grow.

Once the flowers on the initial stem have faded, cut the stem back to the bulb and another should grow and flower.

So, when can you move Amaryllis into the garden?

Firstly, as soon as the plant starts flowering it should be moved to a cooler spot to help extend the flowering period. Then, in the summer, once the last of the frost has passed, it can be moved outside. When choosing where to place it in the garden remember that Amaryllis should not be in intense sunlight, instead look for a semi-shaded position.

Once outside you need to be aware of and on the look out for slugs and snails! Similarly, if you find that your plant is flowering this could be down to growing in conditions that are too shady, or under-watering during the previous summer. But, this could also be due to attack from fungal disease or bulb pests.

You may be tempted to start pruning but you don’t need to do this until the leaves turn yellow (around late September) – then you can cut them back to around two inches from the top of the bulb. Your Amaryllis will need re-potting every two to three years in January to March – after flowering.

Amaryllis will be a great addition to any garden and if you care for them properly, you will be able to enjoy their pretty, colorful flowers for months and years to come.

14 May

Lovely Flowering Shrub: Potentilla fruticosa

Potentilla is a genus of lovely flowering shrubs and small perennials from the family of Rose. These summer flowering shrubs make excellent plants for beginners. Most species, such as Potentilla fruticosa,  grow in almost any soil and are resistant to pests.

Potentilla fruticosa (Buy online) grows from 1 to 3 feet in height and produces attractive yellow flowers in late spring. Flowering continues till early days of fall. Potentilla fruticosa can be used to border plants, cover the ground in mass plantation schemes or as an outdoor ornamental plant. The ornamental value of the plant is because of its compact silvery-green leaves and attractive yellow flowers.

Potentilla fruticosa 'Lovely Pink'

How to Grow Potentilla fruticosa

Potentilla fruticosa like other plants in its genus prefers bright sunlight, regular watering and a well-drained soil. To keep the plant in shape, it is advised to prune annually at the end of the flowering season. When grown in colder climates, reduce or stop watering during the freezing period. Most Potentillas can be grown from softwood cuttings or divisions. Popular varieties include:

P. fruticosa ‘Abbotswood’ is grown as a hardy flowering shrub that produces abundance of white flowers.

P. parvifolia ‘Goldfinger’ is known for its large and prominent yellow flowers.

P. fruticosa ‘Goldstar’ grows as a compact and low-growing flowering shrub. It is suitable for growing as a ground cover. Flowers are yellow.

P. fruticosa ‘McKay’s White’ produces very nice white flowers.

Potentilla fruticosa 'McKay's White'

P. fruticosa ‘Pink Beauty’ is the most beautiful flowering shrub in this genus. It is known for its lovely pink flowers.

P. fruticosa ‘Red Robin’ produces yellow flowers that gradually change their color to yellow-orange.

15 Feb

Lovely Ground Cover: Moss Phlox

Phlox subulata (Buy online), also known as Moss Phlox, is an excellent ground cover for low-maintenance landscapes. Known for its ability to survive under various conditions, Moss Phlox makes an excellent plant for covering unsightly patches. It can be grown as a bordering plant, as a ground cover in rock gardens, as cascading plant against walls, or as a charming creeper in gardens and landscapes.

Moss Phlox

How to Grow Moss Phlox

Consider Moss Phlox when you are looking for a ground cover that does not require much care and performs well in a sandy, rocky or low-fertility soil. Phlox subulata is propagated from seeds, layering or stem cuttings (cuttings especially shorter ones root quickly).

Young plants require moderate watering in a well-drained soil. They also benefit from a little application of fertilizer in early spring. Once established they do not require much maintenance. Except for annual pruning (preferably in winter to encourage better growth in the following season), this lovely ground cover will thrive under full sun and require occasional watering.It usually spreads 1 meter across and gain a height of up to 10 cm. Depending on the climatic conditions, a young plant may require 2 to 5 years to reach this size.

Moss Phlox bears flowers of magenta pink-purple, red, fuchsia, violet, cream and white colors appear in mid-spring.

Popular varieties include: Phlox subulata ‘Candy Stripes’, Phlox subulata ‘Snowflake’, Phlox subulata ‘Red Wings’, Phlox subulata ‘Drummonds Pink’, and Phlox subulata ‘Emerald Cushion’. Buy Moss Phlox online.

Moss phlox

12 Jan

Lovely Flowering Shrub:Buddleja

Butterfly bush, Buddleja davidii, flowering head in IN rest area
Buddleja is a large genus of flowering shrubs and small trees known for their fragrant flowers. Most species in the genus of Buddleja produce lush green foliage with silvery-white underside. The attractive foliage is contrasted by colorful and fragrant spring or summer flowers that attract wild birds and butterflies to the garden.

Also See: How to attract birds and butterflies to your garden

Most species of Buddleja are fast growing shrubs or small trees ranging from 4 to meters in height. Propagation can be done from seeds or hardwood cuttings. Being low-maintenance plants, Buddleja are suitable for xeriscapes or low-maintenance gardens.

Also See: How to design a low maintenance garden landscape
 
Buddleja and Roses
A large number of Buddleja hybrids and cultivars are available easily and can be grown in most tropical and sub-tropical climates where are provided with moderate watering and protected from heavy frost.

22 Dec

Lovely Flowering Vine: Lonicera sempervirens

Lonicera sempervirens is a fast-growing vine from the famous Honeysuckle family. Also known as Carol honeysuckle and sometimes as Trumpet honeysuckle because of its trumpet shaped flowers, this lovely vine can be used as a nice climber for pergolas and trellis.

Also see:

Lonicera sempervirens 06 3325

How to Grow Lonicera sempervirens

Lonicera sempervirens (Buy online) grows up to 5 feet and produces showy trumpet-shaped flowers of scarlet or red-orange color. Summer flowers are followed by red berries. Both flowers and berries attract wild birds. The vine grows in a well-drained soil under full sun. Though it can grow in shade, Lonicera sempervirens is primarily a sun loving vine. Brighter sunlight encourages abundance of ornamental flowers.

Lonicera sempervirens is a vigorous growing vine and might require annual pruning. It is evergreen in warm climates but sheds most of its foliage is colder climates. It can be propagated from layering or softwood cuttings.

19 Dec

Ornamental Shrub: Cotinus coggygria

Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple'
Cotinus coggygria or Purple Smoke tree as it commonly known is a wonderful ornamental shrub. I love it for its colors, and ability to grow in almost any soil and survive drought or a little neglect.

Cotinus coggygria is recognized by its purple leaves that change many colors throughout the fall season. While the season changes from summer to fall, you can spot purple, red-orange and scarlet colors in foliage. The beauty of this wonderful shrub is enhanced when its flowers pop to produce plum-like clusters of seeds. These plumes give this beautiful shrub a hazy look (and of course the common name, Purple Smoke Tree) that adds charm to its colorful foliage.
Smoke Bush

How to Grow Cotinus coggygria

Cotinus coggygria can be grown as a hedging plant or a specimen plant in garden. It is usually propagated from softwood cuttings taken in summer or seeds sown in fall. The plant does not require much care and only requires a regular or slightly fertile soil under bright sunlight. It is a drought-tolerant plant and can easily survive long spells of drought making it a good choice when you are designing a xeriscape.

Cotinus coggygria usually grows up to 4 meters but it can be easily pruned in early spring to keep it in desired shape and size. To encourage flowering, it is advised that you prune it in late spring.

Popular varieties of Cotinus coggygria include C. coggygria ‘Royal Purple’ and C. coggygria ‘Velvet Cloak’. A number of other hybrids varying in size and foliage colors are also sold commercially.

12 Aug

Hellebore: Beautiful Winter and Early Spring Bloomer

Hellebore is a small genus of winter-hardy perennials. They are loved by gardeners for their ability to grow in shady spots and produce flowers in late winter when very few plants can bloom. The flowers are actually colorful sepals that assume the shape of star-shaped flowers. These attractive ‘flowers’ bloom in various shades of purple, white, yellow, pink and red. These lovely flowers can last for two to three months thus making these plants a good choice for late winter or early spring interest.
Hellebore 'Peppermint Ice'

Hellebores can be grown easily from divisions. They prefer a rich and well-drained soil in a shady or partially sunny spot. Avoid over-watering and water only when the soil is dry. Most Hellebores are not fussy about growing conditions and can be easily mixed with common ground covers and evergreen plants in a garden bed. Mature plants will only require occasional cleaning up of withered leaves. A general purpose fertilizer can be applied to encourage healthier blooms to plants grown in containers.

Watlington Hellebore

Popular varieties of Hellebore include:

Helleborus x ericsmithii `Pirouette’ (rose flowers), Helleborus  x ericsmithii `Ruby Glow’ (rose-pink flowers, Helleborus  x ericsmithii `Winter Sunshine’ (cream flowers), Helleborus atrorubens (dark violet flowers), and Helleborus x ballardiae (burgundy flowers).

Hellebores are also sold as Lenten Rose or Christmas Rose.

28 May

Carex eburnean: The Bristleleaf Sedge

Carex eburnean is a versatile plant. Commonly grown as a tough ground cover, this nice little plant performs very well under shade or sun and in moist as well as dry areas. You can grow it as a ground cover, companion plant in a rock garden or as alternative to ornamental grasses in Xeriscape. It can also be grown as a nice specimen plant in containers.

Image from Houzz.com

Carex eburnean or Bristleleaf sedge forms small mounds of needle-shaped tufted leaves. The plant can grow up to 8 inches and width. The soft tufted leaves of Carex eburnean hide a very hardy and adaptive plant that does not require much maintenance. Typically, it performs very well in a slightly moist but well-drained alkaline soil under partial shade. However in urban settings, Carex eburnean can adapt to different growing conditions. When grown in urban settings Carex eburnean can be used to fill spaces where most plants fail – under shady trees, lands that are not frequently irrigated, and soil that is too sandy to grow your favorite plants.

Flowers, though not prominent appear in spring followed by formation of small, fluffy seed heads. Carex eburnean is propagated from seeds and division of rootball from spring to autumn.

Common names of Carex eburnean are: Bristle-leaved sedge, Ebony sedge, and Ivory sedge.

18 May

Ornamental Grass for Containers: Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’

Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’ is a popular ornamental grass for growing in containers as well as in garden landscapes. This lovely grass is commonly known as Ribbon Grass because its green leaves and beautifully stripped in contrasting white or cream.

Ornamental grass for containers

Phalaris arundinace ‘Picta’ / Image by F. D. Richards

How to Grow Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’

Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’ makes a nice choice when you want to cover slopes or empty spaces in your garden landscape. It spreads quick and easily when grown in a sunny spot and provided with moist soil. Therefore it makes a nice ornamental grass when grown around ponds or under shady trees (it grows slowly under shade).

Like most ornamental grasses, Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’ can be easily divided from rhizomes. The best time of the year for planting ribbon grass is spring or fall when you can take out healthy rhizomes from the root zone and plant them in to the ground or containers. If you do not have plenty of space to accommodate this spreading grass, grow it in containers as evergreen ornamental plant. Otherwise invasive, ribbon grass is easy to maintain and control in containers. Usually a 5 gallon container is a good size. When allowed to grow freely in the ground, Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’ can grow up to 3 feet in height and spread from 3 to 4 feet across. Be careful when you are planting ribbon grass with other plants because of its rapid spreading and sometimes invasive root system.

Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’ is a low-maintenance grass. It is generally a pest-free grass that requires regular watering and light pruning in midsummer to encourage fresh growth.

01 May

Lovely Accent Tree for Cold Climates: Larix decidua ‘Pendula’

Larix decidua 'Pendula'

Larix decidua ‘Pendula’/ Image by Kurt Andreas

The tree featured today is Larix decidua ‘Pendula’ – an excellent accent tree to grow in for year round interest. Larix decidua ‘Pendula’ or Weeping European larch, as is known commonly, offers many interesting features: soft, fresh green, needle like foliage that turns into golden yellow in autumn, interesting sculptural branch structure in winter when it sheds its foliage, and attractive, exfoliating, and nicely textured bark on the trunk.

Spring is the best time of the year to appreciate the beauty of this lovely tree. It is the time when nice green foliage covers pendulous branches of the tree. The pendulous branches of Larix decidua ‘Pendula’ form a nice mound of foliage in cascading fashion. Autumn changes the color of delicate foliage from green to golden yellow making the tree stand out from its neighbors.

Larix decidua ‘Pendula’ grows slowly but eventually makes a nice accent tree. The best time to plant it is spring or fall. Young plants can be started in containers but they would eventually need to be transferred into the ground. The best place to plant Larix decidua ‘Pendula’ in a garden is a sunny spot in a well-drained soil. The tree does not require frequent watering and should be irrigated only when the soil has dried completely. A mature tree of Larix decidua ‘Pendula’ can grow up to 12 feet in height.

If you like Larix decidua ‘Pendula’, you should also consider Taxodium distichum ‘Cascade Falls’.