Category Archives: Zone 7b

29 Jan

Border Plant for Low-maintenance Gardens: Yucca filamentosa

If you are looking for a low-maintenance plant for garden borders, consider Yucca filamentosa – an evergreen, hardy and drought-tolerant plant.

Yucca filamentosa

Yucca filamentosa

On local nurseries, Yucca filamentosa is available with many different names: Adam’s needle, Spanish bayonet, Bear-grass and Needle-palm. The plant is known for its lovely white flowers and architectural structure that makes it a nice accent plant.

Yucca filamentosa thrives in a well-drained soil under partial sun. However, it can easily adopt to different types of soil and light conditions. For this reason, it makes a nice plant for gardens and landscapes where it forms small groups of shrubby plants with stem-less structure. A mature Yucca filamentosa can grow up to 1 meter in height and spread across 1.5 meter (however it takes around 20 years to attain this size).

Yucca filamentosa 'Color Guard'

Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard’

Yucca filamentosa is characterized by its sword-shaped, spine-tipped green leaves that form a tight rosette. The leaves change many shades from winter to spring. In spring, Yucca filamentosa produces a long stalk of beautiful white flowers. The flowers last for a long time and attract bees and butterflies.

Yucca filamentosa also offers a couple of popular cultivars that include:

Yucca filamentosa ‘Golden Sword’ – similar to ‘Bright Edge’, but larger.

Yucca filamentosa ‘Ivory Tower’ – creamy white flowers tinged with green.

Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard’ – broad yellow stripes all year, plus red stripes in the winter.

19 Dec

Small and Evergreen Flowering Tree: Arbutus unedo

Arbutus unedo

Arbutus unedo / Image by Jesuskyman (flickr)

The plant in this picture is Arbutus unedo – a lovely, evergreen, compact tree which is highly regarded by gardeners for its ornamental value. This small tree grows up to 10 meters, branches gracefully and produces deep green foliage. Small white or pink flowers appear in autumn. These bell-shaped flowers not only add to the beauty of this lovely tree but also offer sweet nectar to honey bees. Flowers are followed by formation of strawberry-like edible fruit. Fruits changes colors from yellow to red and ultimately to scarlet – making this beautiful tree more attractive. Because of its strawberry-like fruit, Arbutus unedo is also known as Strawberry Tree.

Arbutus unedo is quite easy to grow and does not require much maintenance. Therefore, it makes a good choice for growing along garden borders or form informal hedges. A few smaller and compact varieties of Arbutus unedo are also available. These varieties grow up to 3 meters and make decent specimen plants for small gardens where you can observe attractive flowers and ripening fruits along with fresh green foliage – making a colourful addition to the garden.

Arbutus unedo can be grown easily from seeds or cuttings. It grows in almost any soil but prefers a well-drained lean soil that allows the tree to develop its extensive root system. Young plants benefit from partial shade and slightly moist soil. Once established, mature plants can easily tolerate spells of drought.

Strawberry tree

Strawberry tree / Image by obni (flickr)

Arbutus unedo branches decently to make a compact, small tree. However, you can prune it easily to keep in the desired shape. Winter is the best time to prune Arbutus unedo.

Popular varieties of Arbutus unedo include:

Arbutus unedo ‘Compacta’: grows up to 2 metres tall eventually and fruits abundantly.

Arbutus unedo ‘Croomei’: grows up to 4 meters and produces reddish flowers.

Arbutus unedo ‘Elfin King’: is a slow growing  and dwarf variety that grows up to 1 meter.

13 Nov

Lovely Flowering Shrub with Sweet Fragrant Flowers: Abelia

Abelia is a genus of lovely flowering shrubs from Asia and Mexico. Loved by gardeners because of its compact growth, Abelias are excellent specimen shrubs for gardens and landscapes. The genus of Abelia consists of more than 30 species and many hybrids.

Most species of Abelia grow from 1 to 6 meters and produce attractive glossy foliage accompanied by beautiful flowers of white, pink and mauve colors. Flowers are usually fragrant especially in summer evenings.

Abelia grandiflora

Abelia grandiflora/ Image by Leonora Enking

Abelias can be easily trimmed to form desirable shapes and size. These lovely shrubs are quite hardy and adaptable. Most species will tolerate drought and frost. Propagated by cuttings, Abelias will go good under full to partial sun.

From a large number of available varieties to choose from, you can start with popular species like:

Abelia grandiflora is a medium-sized flowering shrub that grows up to 3 meters and produces arching branches with small glossy leaves. Pink flowers with light fragrance appear in mid-summer.

Abelia Edward Goucher is a popular hybrid variety and is grown for its longer flowering period (usually much of the summer till early fall). This compact flowering shrub grows up to 5 feet and usually forms dense and rounded shape. The lustrous green leaves turn to pinkish-purple in winter.

Abelia grandiflora ‘Kaleidoscope’ is known for its red stems and bright, golden yellow variegation on glossy green leaves creating a kaleidoscope of color. The plant makes an excellent specimen shrub for indoor use.

08 Nov

Lovely Flowering Shrub for Garden Borders: Spiraea thunbergii

The plant featured today is Spiraea thunbergii. It is one of my favourite flowering shrubs because of its delicate spring flowers and interesting foliage. Spiraea thunbergii grows up to 5 feet as a dense, twiggy shrub and produces attractive narrow leaves. The beautiful foliage grows on wiry stems that densely branch out from the main stem of the plant. The interesting formation of leaves gets more beautiful in fall when the green color of leaves turns to golden-yellow to orange and bronze. The leaves fall of in winter and start sprouting again in early spring.

Spiraea thunbergii

Spiraea thunbergii / Image by Wikimedia Commons

Flowering starts in spring and last for many weeks. The white delicate flowers of Spiraea thunbergii form small clusters that cover the entire plant. Exposure to full sun encourages growth of flowers. Because of its interesting foliage, beautiful flowers and growing habits, Spiraea thunbergii makes an excellent border plant for gardens and landscapes.

Spiraea thunbergii can be easily grown in a slightly moist but well-drained soil. This lovely shrub loves sun but tolerates light shade. As with most plants in the Rose family, propagation of Spiraea thunbergii is done from layering or cuttings.

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.