05 Mar

Little, Lovely Myosotis: Forget-me-not

Myosotis or Forget-me-not, as it is commonly known, is a lovely and easy to grow spring bloomer. The genus comprises of more than one hundred annuals, biennials and perennials that mostly grow as low-growing plants that tend to form large mounds.

Usually growing under shade or partial sunlight, most species of Myosotis prefer damp and rich soil where they can be planted for abundance of small blue flowers in spring. Myosotis or Forget-me-nots are easily propagated from seed or division in late winter. These tender plants need to be protected from frost in winter and scorching heat in summer.

Myosotis, Forget-me-not

Myosotis, Forget-me-not/ Image by Maurizio Albissola

Myosotis can be grown in containers where they would spill out to become delicate and attractive plants or in mass plantation scheme where they will form large mounds. The small and pointed leaves of Forget-me-not somewhat look like ears of a mouse – thus giving them their Greek name Myosotis (mouse’s ears).

The name Forget-me-not also has an interesting story. The legend has it that when God gave names to all the flowers, the little Myosotis cried, “Forget me not, O Lord!” The God replied, “That is your name, forget-me-not”. Besides the myths, Myosotis has been a popular subject in history, folk literature, and modern day fiction because of its lovely flowers and attractive colors.

02 Mar

Santolina chamaecyparissus: the Cotton Lavender

Santolina is a genus of dwarf and evergreen shrubs known for their aromatic summer flowers. Originally native to the Mediterranean climate, most species of Santolina can be grown in tropical and sub-tropical regions.

Among many cultivate species; S. chamaecyparissus is more popular because of its attractive silvery foliage and button-like yellow flowers. The plant is commonly known as Cotton Lavender or Ground Cypress.

Santolina chamaecyparissus

Santolina chamaecyparissus/ Image by Manel (flickr)

Santolina chamaecyparissus is an easy-to-grow plant that prefers in hot, sunny, and well-drained sites. The plant grows as a dwarf (up to 1 to 1.5 feet high) and dense shrub ideally suited to small dividers or hedges in landscape designs schemes. Santolina chamaecyparissus performs well in sandy and loamy soil with average watering. Generally, it is a low-maintenance plant that should be trimmed after each flowering season to keep it compact and in good shape.

12 Feb

Hedychium, the Ginger Lily Plant

Hedychium is a genus of tropical rhizomatous plants with dense foliage and clusters of beautiful, fragrant flowers from the family of common ginger, turmeric and cardamom.

Hedychium gardnerianum, Kahili Ginger

Hedychium gardnerianum / Image by Eric Hunt

The genus of Hedychium is represented by many popular species and their hybrid varieties. These easy to grow plant make beautiful foliage plants for gardens and landscapes. Most species grow as clumps of large green and glossy leaves. The lance-shaped leaves grow on long stalks that appear from thick rhizomes. These long stalks bear clusters of conspicuous flowers in midsummer. Flowers of Hedychium emit lovely fragrance especially in the evening making it an excellent houseplant.

Hedychium prefer rich and moist soil. The best place to grow them is a semi-shaded spot in the garden where they get ample amount of water but protection from frost in winter. Hedychium can be grown easily from rhizomes.

Popular varieties include:

Hedychium ‘Carnival’ – glossy green leaves with fragrant flowers of orange or yellow color.

Hedychium densiflorum ‘Assam Orange’ – hardy and easy to grow plant with lovely pinkish-orange flowers.

Hedychium ‘Elizabeth’ – beautiful hybrid variety with delicate flowers of salmon color.

Hedychium gardnerianum – commonly known as Kahili Ginger, this plant produces very fragrant and lovely yellow flowers.

Hedychium ‘Slim’s Orange’ – narrow, glaucous foliage and small orange-red flowers.

07 Feb

Symphoricarpos albus, the Snowberry Shrub

Symphoricarpos is a genus of deciduous shrubs known for their beautiful berry-like white fruit. Originally native to North America, these hardy shrubs can be grown in many different climatic conditions. Most species of Symphoricarpos prefer full to partial sun, average watering and almost any type of soil that does not retain water.

Symphoricarpos albus, Snowberry Shrub

Symphoricarpos albus/ Image via flickr

From more than 15 species, Symphoricarpos albus is the one that is widely known and cultivated for its beautiful foliage and white berry-like fruit. The plant grows up to 5 feet and spreads vigorously across 6 feet or more. Cultivated from seeds or suckers, Symphoricarpos albus best performs when grown in partial sun and pruned regularly.

The pinkish-white flowers of Symphoricarpos albus are quite insignificant but are followed by formation of large clusters of white berries in winter. These clusters of white berries add to the beauty of the plant in winter when it sheds most of its leaves.

Symphoricarpos albus is capable of resisting frost and survive long spells of winter. The plant can be used in hedges and borders as a low-maintenance shrub.

Common names of Symphoricarpos albus include Snowberry and Waxberry.

30 Dec

Lovely Tropical Bloomers: Sinningia

Sinningia is a popular genus of flowering plants from the family of African Violets. The genus comprises of several species and a large number of hybrids that range from large shrubs to small perennials and really miniature varieties.

The genus of Sinningia is native to South America. Most species produces dark green leaves and trumpet-shaped, velvety flowers of white, red, pink or purple shades in spring and summer. These lovely plants grow from tubers and often go dormant after completing one flowering cycle. After every period of dormant, they grow again from the tuber to complete another flowering cycle.

Miniature Sinningia

Miniature Sinningia/ Image by Khufram (flickr)

In colder climates, most species of Sinningia can be grown indoor or in greenhouse. Sinningias usually require slightly moist soil and partial sunlight. Popular species include:

Sinningia cardinalis: Characterized by velvety leaves and scarlet flowers.

S. speciosa: A popular variety with several hybrids varieties grown for violet, red and white flowers.

Sinningia tubiflora: Known for long tubular white flowers that emit sweet fragrance.

Sinningia leucotricha: One of the more commonly grown species. The plant is characterized salmon flowers that look outstanding on the background of white leaves.

13 Dec

Saponaria officinalis: Soapwort

Saponaria is a small genus of annuals and perennials from the Mediterranean climate where it is grown for its colorful flowers. Saponaria officinalis is the most popularly known species from this genus. It is a low-growing perennial that produces fragrant flowers of white and pink hues in early summer. The flowers appear in dense clusters and make a colorful impact on the background of green leaves. The best place to grow Saponaria officinalis is mixed borders where it can grow in almost any soil and tolerate long spells of cold and frost.

Saponaria officinalis, Soapwort/ Image by AnneTanne

Saponaria officinalis, Soapwort

Most plants in the genus of Saponaria tend to becomes weedy and invasive, however Saponaria officinalis is quite easy to control with regular pruning.

Extract of the leaves of Saponaria officinalis has soapy content. It produces fine lather when rubbed, that is why it has traditionally been used as soap or luxurious shampoo especially for washing delicate surfaces. The soapy extract gives the plant its common name – Soapwort.

12 Dec

Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’: the Japanese Bloodgrass

The lovely plant in the picture is Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’ – a perennial grass with beautifully colored and textured blades. Commonly known as Japanese Bloodgrass, this ornamental grass is an excellent choice for creating dramatic effects in any garden.

Imperata cylindrica 'Rubra'

Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’

Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’ (Buy online) forms dense clumps of strappy leaves that grow up to 5 feet. The silvery-green foliage has margin of bright red color that make it an excellent ornamental grass for gardens and landscapes. It is usually mixed borders or grown along flower beds to provide contrasting and colorful background throughout the year.

How to Grow Imperata cylindrica

Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’ is propagated from divisions and is grown in well-drained soil. Like most ornamental grasses it should be pruned regularly to keep it in shape and under control. Without regular pruning and control it tends to become invasive and hard to weed out completely.

The plant requires regular watering and good exposure to bright sunlight. In colder climates, it requires protection from heavy frost.

Japanese Bloodgrass

Japanese Bloodgrass/ Image by jacki Dee

27 Nov

Ornamental Shrub with Fragrant Flowers: Elaeagnus pungens

Elaeagnus is a genus of ornamental shrubs, small trees and flowering plants from subtropical and temperate regions of Europe and Asia. Majority of the species are very adaptable plants that can be grown outdoors in almost every garden. Generally, the genus of Elaeagnus comprises of sun-loving plants that prefer fertile soil and regular watering. However, they can withstand long spells of drought too.

The genus of Elaeagnus is better known for its fragrant flowers of silvery white color. Flowering is followed by formation of red berries that add to the beauty of these ornamental plants. Most species of Elaeagnus are used as specimen pot plants, as flowering shrubs or in hedges. Some of the popularly grown species include: Elaeagnus commutata (American silverberry), Elaeagnus multiflora (cherry silverberry or goumi) and Elaeagnus pungens.

Elaeagnus pungens

Elaeagnus pungens

Elaeagnus pungens has various popular varieties characterizing variegated and colorful foliage. Commonly known as ‘Silverthron’, Elaeagnus pungens grows as a spiny shrub. It is a fast growing and evergreen shrub that produces dense foliage, white flowers and reddish-brown berries. The fragrance of white flowers is reminiscent of Gardenia. It is an adaptable plant that tolerates varied climatic conditions.

Elaeagnus pungens is easily propagated from cuttings.

25 Nov

Ornamental Miniature Aloe – Aloe descoingsii x hawothioides

Aloe haworthioides as it is commonly known is a beautiful and miniature variety of Aloe. The plant is a hybrid of Aloe descoingsii and A. hawothioides.

Aloe haworthioides is an easy and fast growing plant that produces large clumps of miniature plants that grow very well in pots. The plant characterizes fresh green leaves marked with white spots and tiny bristles on their margins.

Aloe haworthioides

Aloe haworthioides

Aloe haworthioides is good as pot plant as well as an excellent choice for miniature gardens. It requires slightly moist but well drained soil. The plant can be grown propagated from divisions or seeds that germinate easily and form miniature plants quickly. Aloe haworthioides does not require much care and grows well under partial sun. Water generously when soil is completely dry in summer. In winter, keep these miniature plant protected from heavy frost and water barely sufficient to protect them from rot.

Like other species of this genus Aloe haworthioides produces small tubular flowers on a long stalk. Spring flowers are orange-pink that attract a lot of birds to the garden.

28 Oct

Lovely Flowering Shrub: Hypericum, the Rose of Sharon

Hypericum is a large genus of flowering shrubs, ground covers and annuals with a worldwide distribution. Known for their ornamental flowers and foliage, most species of Hypericum are frost-resistant plants that can be grown in landscapes as border plants or ground covers. Most species of Hypericum can be grown in shaded or semi-shaded areas of the garden where they bloom profusely in spring or summer. The flowers are bright yellow or golden. A number of hybrids have been produced for their horticultural use.
Hypericum x hidcote

Hypericum x hidcote/ Image by M. Martin Vicente

Among many useful flowering shrubs and ground covers, my personal favorite is Hypericum calycinum which is a vigorous growing plant. Usually grown as ground cover or small shrub, this lovely bloomer produces bright yellow flowers in summer. The flowers are chactrized by a mass of showy stamens that make this flower look quite unusual. H. calycinum prefers bright sunlight and moderate watering. The plant is commonly known as Rose of Sharon.
Other popular species of Hypericum include: H. perforatum (it is a popular homeopathic remedy for relieving pain and depression), H. uralum, H. pulchrum, Hypericum olympicum and Hypericum hidcote (St. John’s wort).