18 May

Ornamental Grass for Containers: Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’

Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’ is a popular ornamental grass for growing in containers as well as in garden landscapes. This lovely grass is commonly known as Ribbon Grass because its green leaves and beautifully stripped in contrasting white or cream.

Ornamental grass for containers

Phalaris arundinace ‘Picta’ / Image by F. D. Richards

How to Grow Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’

Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’ makes a nice choice when you want to cover slopes or empty spaces in your garden landscape. It spreads quick and easily when grown in a sunny spot and provided with moist soil. Therefore it makes a nice ornamental grass when grown around ponds or under shady trees (it grows slowly under shade).

Like most ornamental grasses, Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’ can be easily divided from rhizomes. The best time of the year for planting ribbon grass is spring or fall when you can take out healthy rhizomes from the root zone and plant them in to the ground or containers. If you do not have plenty of space to accommodate this spreading grass, grow it in containers as evergreen ornamental plant. Otherwise invasive, ribbon grass is easy to maintain and control in containers. Usually a 5 gallon container is a good size. When allowed to grow freely in the ground, Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’ can grow up to 3 feet in height and spread from 3 to 4 feet across. Be careful when you are planting ribbon grass with other plants because of its rapid spreading and sometimes invasive root system.

Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’ is a low-maintenance grass. It is generally a pest-free grass that requires regular watering and light pruning in midsummer to encourage fresh growth.

10 Apr

Winter Flowering Bush: Rhododendron ‘Christmas Cheer’

Rhododendron

Rhododendron ‘Christmas Cheer’ flowers / Image by Peter Stevens

Rhododendron ‘Christmas Cheer’ is an easy-to-grow, winter flowering bush known for its glorious pink flowers. When in full swing, you can spot this lovely bush laden with abundant of pink flowers that make it centre of attention in the garden.

Unlike other  Rhododendrons, ‘Christmas Cheer’ is a rather slow growing bush and can be grown in containers or gardens with limited space. The bush grows up to 4 feet in height and spreads 4 feet across. If you planning to grow this bush in the ground, select a spot where it gets sufficient room to grow and establish its shallow roots. When growing in containers, select a container that is as wide as the spread of the bush.

Rhododendron ‘Christmas Cheer’ is usually grown for its winter flowers. The funnel-shaped flowers can be 2 inches across. These attractive pink flowers start blooming as early as in January and continue to bloom throughout the winter.

Rhododendron ‘Christmas Cheer’ can be grown from cuttings. The bush require a rich, slightly acidic and well-drained soil. Provide this lovely bush with sufficient light and regular watering.

Rhododendron 'Christmas Cheer'

Rhododendron ‘Christmas Cheer’/ Image by peganum

A mature specimen of Rhododendron ‘Christmas Cheer’ is characterized by evergreen foliage of dark-green matt finish, medium height (up to 4 feet), and plenty of pink to pale-pink flowers growing through out the winter.

04 Mar

Spring Flowering Shrub: Loropetalum chinense

Loropetalum chinense

Loropetalum chinense / Image by tk78000u

Loropetalum chinense is an evergreen shrub from the family of Witch Hazel. It is also known as Chinese fringe-flowers because of its fringe-like flowers that appear in spring and summer.

Loropetalum chinense is grown for its colorful foliage and prominent but unusual flowers. Commonly available species include a green-leafed variety that produced white flowers and burgundy-leafed variety that bears pink blossoms. Loropetalum chinense is a low-maintenance plant that does not require much attention. All it needs is a rich but slightly acidic soil, moderate watering and protection from extreme cold. Generally it would grow well in USDA zone 7 – 10. In colder climates, Loropetalum chinense should be moved to a greenhouse or provided with an indoor spot where it receives sufficient sunlight and hydrated only when the soil is completely dry.

Chinese fringe-flowers

Chinese fringe-flowers / Image by Scott Zona

Gardeners and horticulturist use Loropetalum chinense as a colorful hedge that produces abundance of nice and colorful foliage. It can also be used to build privacy screen or to fill empty spots in large landscapes. With proper pruning, Loropetalum chinense can be grown into a small ornamental tree.

Flowering season begins as early as mid-March and lasts till summer. During this season, you can see Loropetalum chinense laden with eye-catching flowers that appear in small clusters. Each flower consists of ribbon-like, wavy petals that give it an unusual formation.

Besides popular green and burgundy-leafed varieties, a number of cultivars are easily available in market. These cultivars vary in flower size, and colors of leaves and flowers. Commonly grown cultivars of Loropetalum chinense include:

Loropetalum chinense ‘Blush’,  L. chinense ‘Purple Diamond’, ‘Burgundy’, ‘Little Rose Dawn’ and Loropetalum chinense ‘Carolina Moonlight’.

14 Feb

Alliums: The Ornamental Onions

Alliums, commonly known as Ornamental Onions, are popular perennials among gardeners because of their graceful flowers and ability to grow in many different conditions. Most Alliums are characterized by their tall flower stalks (up to 3 feet) that stand like sentries with big, round flower heads (up to 5 inches). Their prominent flower heads make Alliums very useful for providing a nice and attractive background to low-growing bloomers in flower beds.

Allium globemaster

Allium globemaster – Image by PKdon50 (flickr)

Growing Alliums should not be a big challenge even for beginners. They are drought-tolerant, resistant to pests, and low on maintenance. They also come in a wide range of variety in terms of heights, blooming period, and form and color of flowers. Alliums are grown from bulbs planted in the fall. Bulbs should be planted at a depth of four times the diameters of bulb. Alliums generally prefer a rich and well-drained soil under sunny conditions. If you are growing them in poor soil, feed them with a general fertilizer in early spring or top up the soil with a layer of compost [Also read: How to prepare your own compost].

Most varieties start blooming from late summer to early summer. Flowers, especially of late blooming verities, last longer. Both fresh and dry flowers make excellent addition to flower arrangements. As end of season approaches, leaves start straggling and should be cut back, if required. Once flowering is over, bulbs can be lifted and stored for the next harvest.

Popular varieties of Allium include:

Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ produces large (3 inches or more) purple flowers on tall (up to 3 feet) stalks.

Allium Purple Sensation

Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ / Image by Farrukh

Allium caeruleum or ‘Blue Allium’ produces very attractive flowers of sky-blue color in spring and summer.

Allium schoenoprasum or Chives is a useful herb that produces nice pink flowers from mid to late spring.

Allium ‘Globemaster’ is a popular variety known for its huge flowers of purple color.

Allium ‘Millennium’ is a great bloomer for the late summer season. This variety is known for its long lasting lavender flowers.

Allium tuberosum or Garlic Chives are attractive border plant because of their delicate form and nice white flowers.

Allium aflatunense is known for its large and prominent pink-purple flowers that sit on tall flower stalks.

Other popular species are: Allium moly (Golden Garlic), A. cristophii (Stars of Persia) and Allium ‘Mount Everest’.

 

Blue Allium

Blue Allium / Image by Joe Shlabotnik

07 Dec

Winter Flowering Shrub: Jasminum nudiflorum

Jasminum nudiflorum is a beautiful flowering shrub originating from northern parts of China but easily propagated in USD zones 6a to 9b. The shrub is commonly known as Winter Jasmine because of its attractive yellow flowers that bloom in winter when very few plants bloom so profusely. For this reason, it is considered a valuable shrub in colder regions.

Jasminum nudiflorum

Jasminum nudiflorum / Image by enbodenumer (flickr)

Jasminum nudiflorum produces arching branches with dark-green leaves and makes an excellent plant for growing against walls or arching over a trellis or pergolas. It is propagated from cuttings taken in summer and benefits from regular pruning.

The best spot to grow Winter Jasmine in a garden is a partially sunny location in a well-drained soil.

04 Nov

Ornamental Grass for Gardens and Landscapes: Festuca glauca

The plant featured today is Festuca glauca – a low maintenance and lovely ornamental grass. It is a semi-evergreen grass that forms tight mounds of silver-blue foliage. The needle-like foliage of Festuca glauca changes it colors from blue-green to silver-blue and from steel-blue to brown throughout the year. Because of unusual texture and color of its foliage, and attractive tufted shape of the plant, It has become a popular grass for gardens and landscapes. It is often mass planted in rock gardens or mixed with succulents to form beautiful landscape designs.

Festuca glauca

Festuca glauca can also be grown in containers, garden borders or simply as a pot plant. The ornamental value of this lovely grass is doubled by its delicate inflorescence.

How to Grow Festuca glauca

Festuca glauca requires a well-drained soil under partial sun. It has tremendous ability to survive long spells of drought. In colder climates, the foliage is usually cut back in harsh winter in order to get fresh foliage in spring.

Landscaping with Festuca glauca

Festuca glauca can grow up to 10 inches and is easily propagated from clumps divided from the mother plant. When grown in pots, it should be repotted every 3 to 4 years or transferred to ground permanently.

Festuca glauca - Ornamental Grass

Popular varieties of Festuca glauca include: F. glauca ‘Elijah Blue’, F. glauca ‘Blue Glow’, and F. glauca ‘Blaufuchs’.

01 Oct

Beautiful Flowering Plants for Ponds and Gardens: Crinum

Crinum is a large genus of bulbous perennials grown for their beautiful flowers. These lovely bloomers come from tropical and sub-tropical parts of the world and are admired by gardeners for the wide range of colorful blooms.

Crinum, commonly known as Crinum lily, produces large green leaves that usually die back in winter and appear again in spring. From the center of leaves, appears a tall flower stalk in spring and summer. The flower stalk can be as tall as 60 cm and is terminated by a group of prominent flowers. Flowers last for a long time and emit a light, sweet scent.

How to Grow Crinum

Crinums can be grown from seeds though some varieties can be propagated from divisions as well. Most species of Crinum benefit from full to partial sun but protection from direct exposure to scorching sun. Provide your Crinums with well-drained but slightly moist and rich growing media in spring and summer. Keep them rather dry in winter.

Crinum lily

Crinum lily / Image by Drew Avery

With their fresh green leaves and long-lasting flowers, Crinums make good plants for garden borders as well as excellent container plants. They also thrive well along ponds and pools.

Popular species of include:

C. bulbispermum is characterized by large green leaves and a long flower stalk that bears a bunch of funnel-shaped flowers.

C. paludosum is a rather smaller plant and produces arching green leaves and a bunch of white and pink flowers.

Crinum x powelii is a hardy plant and produces larger clusters of pink flowers in summer and continues to bloom till the early fall.

A large number of hybrid verities are also available easily. Some popular hybrids include:  C.’Birthday Party’, Crinum x digweedii ‘Connor White’, and C. ‘Elizabeth Traub’.

28 Aug

Sedum repestre ‘Angelina’: Stonecrop

Sedum repestre ‘Angelina’, commonly known as Stonecrop, is a low-growing and mat-forming plant for garden borders and rock gardens. The plant grows up to 4 inches tall but spreads across 2 feet thus making a nice ground cover.

Sedum repestre ‘Angelina’ is characterized by golden-yellow foliage and star-shaped summer flowers. It is propagated by cuttings and divisions.

Sedum repestre ‘Angelina’ is not fussy about growing conditions and thrives well in a well-drained soil under full or partial sun. As a hardy and drought-tolerant plant, Sedum repestre ‘Angelina’ can be used to fill empty garden spaces in garden. When grown in containers, it grows as a nice accent plant with cascading habits.

09 Aug

Artemisia schmidtiana ‘Silver Mound’

The plant in pictures is Artemisia schmidtiana. Commonly known as ‘Silver Mound’, It is grown for its interesting foliage.

Artemisia schmidtiana

Artemisia schmidtiana/ Image by Quinn Anya (flickr)

Artemisia schmidtiana grows as a low-growing perennial that forms symmetrical mound of feathery and silver-green leaves – making it an excellent choice for pots, borders, and a filler plant for flower beds. It can also be combined with other annuals and perennials in the garden.

Silver Mound plant

Silver Mound plant/ Image via flickr

Though the plant produces small ball-like flowers of yellow color in summer, the flowers usually remain unnoticed. It is the delicate, fern-like foliage that gives this plant its ornamental value.

How to Grow Artemisia schmidtiana

The plant can be grown easily from stem cuttings or by dividing the rootball. It requires sunny exposure and survives in almost any soil type. It also requires moderate watering and thrives in a well-drained soil. It can also withstand spells of droughts easily.

29 Jul

Primula vulgaris: Lovely Plant for Early-Spring Flowers

Primula is a large genus of perennials known for their early-spring flowers. These lovely bloomers are usually grown in flower borders and beds under shade where traditional flowering plants cannot thrive. These shade loving plants grow nicely in shady spots and produce flowers in almost all hues of red, orange, yellow, blue and violet.

In the recent years, the genus of Primula has been extensively hybridized resulting in a large number of low-maintenance varieties. In general, all species of Primula require partial shade, fertile loamy soil, regular watering and cooler temperatures. Therefore, they make good plants to grow for early-spring when they produce a lot of flowers and continue to bloom until early summer.

Primula vulgaris

Primula vulgaris /Image via Flickr

If you have not grown a Primula before, you can start with Primula vulgaris which is a low-maintenance and versatile plant. It is characterized by tongue-shaped leaves and scented flowers of cream color. The plant tends to form small clumps each producing erect flower stems. When grown under shade and provided with sufficiently moist soil, Primula vulgaris does not require much maintenance and spreads 3 to 4 cm across. Usually grown for bedding, Primula vulgaris can be easily grown in containers and placed indoors under humid and slightly cool conditions.

Primula vulgaris is also known as Primula grandiflora.