28 May

Lovely Indoor Foliage Plant: Balfour Aralia

Polyscias balfouriana, commonly known as, Balfour Aralia is a beautiful foliage plant known for its attractive leathery foliage. Though a bit hard to find in horticulture marketplace, it makes an excellent indoor plant that does not require much maintenance. Originally from tropical regions of the Pacific, can be grown in bright and slightly humid spot near a sun exposed window where it receives plenty of indirect sunlight in the morning and occasional watering.

The plant is characterized by round, leathery, dark green leaves that look like dinner plates thus giving the plant its common name – the Dinner Plate Aralia. Variegated varieties of Balfour Aralia with gold and cream leaf margins are also available.

In its native climate, it grows up to 12 feet or more but it takes many years to attain that size. When grown indoors, it grows slowly and can be easily pruned and trimmed to keep it in desired shape. In fact, Balfour Aralia makes an excellent subject of bonsai.

Balfour Aralia

Balfour Aralia / Image via jardin-secrets.com

How to Grow Balfour Aralia

Balfour Aralia benefits from a well-drained soil and occasional application of nitrogen-rich fertilizer. The plant is prone to root-rot when over-watered therefore it is advisable to neglect on part of watering. Water generously when the soil is completely dry and then allow the soil to dry before next watering.

Balfour Aralia, Foliage Plant

Balfour Aralia, Foliage Plant / Image via pdiplants.com/

For healthier growth, make sure that your plant receives at least 2-3 hours of indirect morning light. A good shower to keep the leaves clean is also advisable.

Other popular species of Polyscias include:

Polyscias ‘Fabian’ (Fabian Aralia) grows scalloped dark green leaves on a woody trunk.

Polyscias fruticose (Ming Aralia) grows feathery leaves and makes a nice small tree for growing outdoors.

Alert: The leaves of Balfour Aralia are poisonous for pets.

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.

03 Apr

Lovely Indoor Foliage with Colcosia / Elephant Ears Plant

Colocasia also known as Elephant Ears Plant are attractive foliage plants that add a lot of character to a garden landscape. Their bold foliage also makes them excellent indoor foliage plants. If you are looking for nice foliage, rich colors and a low-maintenance plant for your garden landscape or indoor décor, Colocasia should be on top of your list.

Colocasia, Elephant Ears Plant

Image by F.D. Richards via Flickr

Colocasia or Elephant Ears Plant (Buy Colocasia online) produces prominently large heat-shapes foliage. The attractive large leaves grow on a 2 to 3 feet long stalk. Different varieties Elephant Ears Plant offers colorful foliage that varies from green to dark purple. Some varieties produce green leaves with prominent white variegation. Elephant Ears plant can grow from 3 to 5 feet and it does not take it much time to attain this size. In fact, Elephant Ears is a rather fast growing plant. When grown under right conditions, a plant from tuber can easily grow up to 3 feet in a year.

How to Grow Colocasia / Elephant Ears Plant

Colocasia or Elephant Ears Plant is grown from tubers. Weather grown in the ground or container, provide them with moist, rich and slightly acidic soil. When grow indoors, make sure that they are placed near a window where it receives bright sunlight. Because of the large size of its foliage, plants grown indoors should be provided with sufficient room to grow. Elephant Ears plants grown indoors also require higher level of humidity.

Colocasia can be easily grown in poolside gardens where they provide nice foliage and lush colors to the landscape.

When grown outdoors, Elephant Ears Plant should be placed in a spot where it gets plenty of sun in the morning and partial shade for the rest of the day. Plants under partial shade usually grow large foliage than those placed under sun during most part of the day. Colocasia / Elephant Ears Plant should be protected from strong winds, frost or freezing winter temperatures. If you are living in a colder climates, move your plants indoors or trim the foliage completely and tubers for the next season.

Popular varieties of Elephant Ears Plant (Buy online) include:

  • Colocasia ‘Black Magic’, a 3-5 foot specimen with dark burgundy-black leaves.
  • C. ‘Black Stem’ grows black stems with burgundy-black veins on green foliage.
  • Colocasia ‘Green Giant’ gets its name because of extra ordinary large foliage (up to 5 feet).
  • Colocasia ‘Nancy’s Revenge’ grows up to 5 feet and produces dark green leaves with creamy centers.
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

17 Jan

Lovely Flowering Shrub: Cuphea

Cuphea is a genus of evergreen and perennial flowering shrubs. These lovely flowering shrubs are useful for growing in garden borders where they keep blooming almost all through the year. Native to Mexico and tropical regions of Central America, these flowering shrubs produce flowers of green, purple, pink and white. Most species start blooming as soon as winter days are gone and continue to bloom until late summer.

Cuphea cyanea "Pink Cigar Plant"

How to Grow Cuphea

Most species of Cuphea require a well-drained soil and indirect sun, and grow up to 1 feet. In colder regions, Cupheas will freeze to ground in winter but will emerge in early spring. Being excellent flowering shrubs, most species are used in garden borders, mixed with seasonal bloomers in a mixed flowering bed or grown as small container plants.

Several hybrids and cultivars of Cuphea are easily available at commercial nurseries. Most of them are easily propagated from seeds (buy seeds online).

Popular species include:

C. ignea: Also known as ‘Cigarette Bush’, Cuphea ignea grows as a small flowering shrub and produces bright red flowers in spring and summer.

C. hyssopifolia: Also known as ‘False Heather’, this small flowering shrub produces flowers of varying shades including white, green, pink and purple.
Cuphea hyssopifolia
C. micropetala is known for its bright summer flowers.

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.

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.