Category Archives: Zone 6b

02 Mar

Santolina chamaecyparissus: the Cotton Lavender

Santolina is a genus of dwarf and evergreen shrubs known for their aromatic summer flowers. Originally native to the Mediterranean climate, most species of Santolina can be grown in tropical and sub-tropical regions.

Among many cultivate species; S. chamaecyparissus is more popular because of its attractive silvery foliage and button-like yellow flowers. The plant is commonly known as Cotton Lavender or Ground Cypress.

Santolina chamaecyparissus

Santolina chamaecyparissus/ Image by Manel (flickr)

Santolina chamaecyparissus is an easy-to-grow plant that prefers in hot, sunny, and well-drained sites. The plant grows as a dwarf (up to 1 to 1.5 feet high) and dense shrub ideally suited to small dividers or hedges in landscape designs schemes. Santolina chamaecyparissus performs well in sandy and loamy soil with average watering. Generally, it is a low-maintenance plant that should be trimmed after each flowering season to keep it compact and in good shape.

07 Feb

Symphoricarpos albus, the Snowberry Shrub

Symphoricarpos is a genus of deciduous shrubs known for their beautiful berry-like white fruit. Originally native to North America, these hardy shrubs can be grown in many different climatic conditions. Most species of Symphoricarpos prefer full to partial sun, average watering and almost any type of soil that does not retain water.

Symphoricarpos albus, Snowberry Shrub

Symphoricarpos albus/ Image via flickr

From more than 15 species, Symphoricarpos albus is the one that is widely known and cultivated for its beautiful foliage and white berry-like fruit. The plant grows up to 5 feet and spreads vigorously across 6 feet or more. Cultivated from seeds or suckers, Symphoricarpos albus best performs when grown in partial sun and pruned regularly.

The pinkish-white flowers of Symphoricarpos albus are quite insignificant but are followed by formation of large clusters of white berries in winter. These clusters of white berries add to the beauty of the plant in winter when it sheds most of its leaves.

Symphoricarpos albus is capable of resisting frost and survive long spells of winter. The plant can be used in hedges and borders as a low-maintenance shrub.

Common names of Symphoricarpos albus include Snowberry and Waxberry.

13 Dec

Saponaria officinalis: Soapwort

Saponaria is a small genus of annuals and perennials from the Mediterranean climate where it is grown for its colorful flowers. Saponaria officinalis is the most popularly known species from this genus. It is a low-growing perennial that produces fragrant flowers of white and pink hues in early summer. The flowers appear in dense clusters and make a colorful impact on the background of green leaves. The best place to grow Saponaria officinalis is mixed borders where it can grow in almost any soil and tolerate long spells of cold and frost.

Saponaria officinalis, Soapwort/ Image by AnneTanne

Saponaria officinalis, Soapwort

Most plants in the genus of Saponaria tend to becomes weedy and invasive, however Saponaria officinalis is quite easy to control with regular pruning.

Extract of the leaves of Saponaria officinalis has soapy content. It produces fine lather when rubbed, that is why it has traditionally been used as soap or luxurious shampoo especially for washing delicate surfaces. The soapy extract gives the plant its common name – Soapwort.

12 Dec

Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’: the Japanese Bloodgrass

The lovely plant in the picture is Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’ – a perennial grass with beautifully colored and textured blades. Commonly known as Japanese Bloodgrass, this ornamental grass is an excellent choice for creating dramatic effects in any garden.

Imperata cylindrica 'Rubra'

Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’

Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’ forms dense clumps of strappy leaves that grow up to 5 feet. The silvery-green foliage has margin of bright red color that make it an excellent ornamental grass for gardens and landscapes. Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’ is usually mixed borders or grown along flower beds to provide contrasting and colorful background throughout the year.

Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’ is propagated from divisions and is grown in well-drained soil. Like most ornamental grasses it should be pruned regularly to keep it in shape and under control. Without regular pruning and control Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’ tends to become invasive and hard to weed out completely.

The plant requires regular watering and good exposure to bright sunlight. In colder climates, Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’ requires protection from heavy frost.

Japanese  Bloodgrass

Japanese Bloodgrass/ Image by jacki Dee

28 Oct

Lovely Flowering Shrub: Hypericum, the Rose of Sharon

Hypericum is a large genus of flowering shrubs, ground covers and annuals with a worldwide distribution. Known for their ornamental flowers and foliage, most species of Hypericum are frost-resistant plants that can be grown in landscapes as border plants or ground covers. Most species of Hypericum can be grown in shaded or semi-shaded areas of the garden where they bloom profusely in spring or summer. The flowers are bright yellow or golden. A number of hybrids have been produced for their horticultural use.
Hypericum x hidcote

Hypericum x hidcote/ Image by M. Martin Vicente

Among many useful flowering shrubs and ground covers, my personal favorite is Hypericum calycinum which is a vigorous growing plant. Usually grown as ground cover or small shrub, this lovely bloomer produces bright yellow flowers in summer. The flowers are chactrized by a mass of showy stamens that make this flower look quite unusual. H. calycinum prefers bright sunlight and moderate watering. The plant is commonly known as Rose of Sharon.
Other popular species of Hypericum include: H. perforatum (it is a popular homeopathic remedy for relieving pain and depression), H. uralum, H. pulchrum, Hypericum olympicum and Hypericum hidcote (St. John’s wort).