31 Oct

Lovely Flowering Shrub: Chaenomeles speciosa, the Japanese quince

Chaenomeles speciosa, commonly known as Japanese quince, is a beautiful flowering shrub from the family of Rose. Native to China and Japan, Japanese quince is a popular plant in horticulture. It is often used for forming hedges, screens, and garden borders.

Chaenomeles speciosa

Chaenomeles speciosa/ Image by Etringita (flickr)

Japanese quince grows as a dense and broad flowering shrub that grows 6-10 feet tall and wide. This lovely shrub is known for its beautiful cup-shaped flowers that appear in late winter and early spring. Flowers are usually red, pink or white. Flowering is followed by formation of berry-like fruits called quince.

Japanese quince growing in a container

Japanese quince growing in a container/ Image by Cpike55151 (flickr)

Japanese quince moderate watering and a well-drained soil. This shrub loves bright sunlight and blooms profusely when provided with ample sunlight. The plant can be propagated easily from cutting.

Besides Chaenomeles speciosa, a number of cultivars are also grown for their beautiful flowers. Popular varieties include:

Japanese quince

Japanese quince/ Image by kuromeri (flickr)

Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Cameo’  produces double flowers of pink colors. The plant grows as a low growing shrub (4′ to 5′ tall) with bright green foliage and few thorns.

Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Contorta’ is characterized by twisted stems and lovely  white flowers.

Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Texas Scarlet’ is another low-growing plant (to 4′ tall) with few thorns. Flowers are bright red.

Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Toyo-Nishiki’ is a rather unusual form with red, pink and white flowers in the same flower cluster.

Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Geisha Girl’ is a compact deciduous shrub with semi-double salmon-pink flowers borne on leafless branches in early spring.

20 Oct

Beautiful Flowering Shrubs and Trees: Tamarix

Tamarix is a genus of flowering shrubs and trees from arid regions of Africa and Eurasia but widely spread in most parts of the world. Known for their feathery flowers, most species of Tamarix are grown as drought-tolerant ornamental plants in gardens and landscapes.

Tamarix shrub

Tamarix/ Image by Matthijs Quaijtaal (flickr)

Gardeners often plant these plants and ornamental shrubs in gardens or as shade trees in landscapes. Most species of Tamarix produce slender stem and branches that grow scale-like leaves. Major attraction of Tamarix is from spring to fall when these plants produce feathery flowers of pink or white color. These lovely flowers appear is dense masses at the tips of slender branches. When not in bloom, Tamarix server as good plants for hedges or screens.

Because of their ability to withstand long spells of drought, Tamarix are easy to maintain. They are grown from seeds and cuttings and thrive easily in saline soils. Most species of Tamarix would grow well under full sun and require moderate watering.

Popular species of Tamarix include:

Tamarix hispida, commonly known as Kashgar tamarisk, is known for its vigorous growth and beautiful pink flowers.

Tamarix ramosissima, usually described as Saltcedar, has shrubby growth. It can be grown in poor and saline soils. Under preferable conditions, this plants can become seriously invasive.

18 Oct

Growing Helianthus, the Sunflower, in Landscape and Gardens

Helianthus, commonly known as Sunflower, is a genus of lovely and prolific flowering plants. These lovely bloomers are easily grown in almost any soil and make excellent flowering plants in gardens and landscapes. Most species of Helianthus are annuals and perennials growing from 2 to 4 meters. Helianthus is typically characterized by stout, hairy and seldom branching stem. Each stem has a terminal flower head bearing showy and fairly large-sized flowers.

Helianthus annuus

Helianthus annuus/ Image by Margrit (flickr)

Because of their columnar growth, bright flowers, and easy maintenance, many species of Helianthus have become popular flowering plants in many parts of the world. These species vary in height, and size and color of the flower.

Popular garden species of Helianthus include:

Helianthus annuus or common Sunflower: This is a branching annual growing up to 3 meters. The plant is characterized by coarse leaves and large yellow flowers. The Spanish name ‘annuus’ is because of the movement of flower head along with the sun. It actually follow the sun each day, facing eastward in the morning, westward at sunset.

Helianthus tuberosus is another popular plant from this genus. Unlike its cousins, this lovely bloomer produces smaller flowers on delicate stems. The tubers are edible and are usually known as Jerusalem artichoke.

Helianthus tuberosus

Helianthus tuberosus/ Image by Kingsbrae Garden (flickr)

Helianthus decapetalus ‘Multiflorus’ is popular because of its tufted flowers. This perennial blooms in summer and bears golden-yellow flowers.

Other popular species include: H. salicifolius, H. divaricatus and Helianthus debilis.

Sunflower

Sunflower/ Image by Maja Dumat (flickr)

Most species of Helianthus easily grown in average, moist and well-drained soil under full sun. Propagation is done from seeds or divisions. Regular feeding and watering encourage prolific flowering.

14 Aug

Lovely Flowring tree Liriodendron tulipifera, the Tulip Tree

Liriodendron tulipifera, commonly known as Tulip Tree or sometimes as Yellow Poplar, is a tall and deciduous flowering tree from North America. Characterized by its height and beautiful flowers, Liriodendron tulipifera makes an excellent flowering tree for gardens and landscapes. With a rapid growth rate, the tree can gain the height of up to 150 feet or more in wild. However, it takes much time to reach that height (An old Tulip Tree in Queens area in New York measures 134 feet; it is said to be 400-450 years old and often described the oldest living thing in New York. The tree is named Queens Giant). In cultivation, it can grow as tall as 70 to 100 feet.

Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip Tree)

Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip Tree)/ Image by Tim Waters

Liriodendron tulipifera does not branch much and tends to form columnar growth which makes it a good source of fine-grained timber.

Like most plants in the Magnolia family, Liriodendron tulipifera is a valuable plant in horticulture. It has broad, glossy green leaves that turn to golden in autumn. Large tulip-like, cup-shaped flowers appear in spring to add to the grandeur of the tree. Flowers are predominantly greenish-yellow with dashes of red and orange.

Liriodendron tulipifera prefers bright sunlight, and a rich and moist soil. The tree can be propagated from seeds. Young plants should be grown under partial sun and later moved to direct sunlight. Young plants of Liriodendron tulipifera have deep and fleshy roots that are easily broken if handled roughly.

28 Jun

Unusual Living Rock of South Africa: Titanopsis calcarea

Though I have not had much success with growing it, Titanopsis is one of my favorite succulents any day. My recent purchase was a couple of Titanopsis calcarea from Uwe Beyer a few months ago. So far they are doing well.

Titanopsis calcarea

Titanopsis calcarea/ Image by Manuel M. Ramos

Titanopsis is a small genus of dwarf succulents from the family of Aizoaceae. Naturally growing in the Upper Karoo in South Africa, Titanopsis is an attractive but quite unusual plant because of its formation. The plant grows as a dwarf succulent and produces thick truncated leaves that have crumpled surface. These unusual leaves display all the hues of red, purple, green, cream and blue throughout the year. Flowers appear in late fall and winter. Like its cousins in the Aizoaceae family, Titanopsis produces small daisy-like flowers of yellow color.

Titanopsis grows to form clumps. These clumps can be divided for further propagation of the plant. Titanopsis calcarea, like other species, requires moderate watering during the growing season (late fall to early spring) and almost no water the rest of the year. These succulent plants prefer porous soils with excellent drainage. They are capable of tolerating both high (45° C or more) and low temperature (up to -10° C).

The best place to grow Titanopsis calcarea is a sunny spot where it gets bright sunlight in summer and direct exposure to the sun in winter. Other popular species of Titanopsis include: Titanopsis fulleri and Titanopsis primosii.