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.

18 Jun

Hardy and Lovely Bloomers for Sandy Soil: Lewisia

Lewisia is a genus of hardy perennials from the alpine climate western North America. These lovely bloomers make excellent plants for rock gardens, borders, and container gardening. Most species of Lewisia are low-growing, sometimes dwarf, perennials that produce spectacular and considerably larger flowers for their size.

The genus of Lewisia is characterized by hardy plants that produce small rosettes of succulent leaves and very showy flowers white, pink, purple, mauve, yellow, and cream colors. Flowers appear in early summer or late spring.

Lewisias can be grown under bright sunlight in a sandy and porous soil that guarantees perfect drainage. Though slow-growing, most species of Lewisia are low-maintenance plants that withstand drought and neglect.

Lewisia

Lewisia in a rock garden/ Image by dan.kristiansen

Popular species include:

Lewisia cotyledon forms evergreen succulent rosette and produce flowers of orange, pink, white or yellow colors.

Lewisia glandulosa is a deciduous plant that produces a rosette of narrow leaves and bears small flowers of white or pink shades.

Lewisia x pygmaea is a dwarf and deciduous perennial that produces lovely pink flowers in spring.

Lewisias can be grow easily in moderately fertile, neutral to acid, and well-drained soil under full sun or light shade.

16 Jun

Lovely Aquatic Plants for Pots and Small Ponds: Nymphoides

Nymphoides is a genus of aquatic plants grown for their lovely white or yellow flowers. These plants are commonly known as Floating-Heart plants because of their heart shaped leaves that float on the surface of the water. The heart-shaped leaves have their roots submerged in the water and small white flowers that nod along the floating leaves.

Nymphoides cristata

Nymphoides cristata/ Image by Mary Keim

Nymphoides is widely grown across Africa, Asia, Australia and America in ponds, aquariums and ornamental water gardens. Most of the species vary in shape and size but their basic structure and growing habit is similar. Unlike other aquatic plants, they do not sprawl much and can be grown in rather small ponds. They can be grown along the margins of ponds in about 12″ of water, or in a pot in open water in up to 20″ of water where they can form small colonies.

Flowers usually appear in mid spring through the summer, and frequently into the fall. Propagation can be done from divisions or runners.

Popular species of Nymphoides include:

Nymphoides indica or Water Snowflake: Fast-growing perennial with white flowers that have feathery edges.

Nymphoides cristata: Beautiful aquatic plant with heart-shaped green leaves that have purple veins. White flowers appear in spring or summer.

Nymphoides pelata: Easy to grow and low-maintenance aquatic plant with lovely yellow flowers.