26 Oct

Unforgettably Fragrant and Lovely: Lonicera, the Honeysuckle

Lonicera is a wonderful genus of climbers, ground covers and shrubs grown for their foliage and fragrant flowers. The plants in the genus of Lonicera are usually known as Honeysuckles. The genus includes two major types of plants – bushes and climbers.

The bush type honeysuckles make decent shrubs that can be used for hedges or garden borders. The climber type honeysuckles are often grown against walls, pergolas or trellis. Both type of honeysuckles require proper pruning to keep them in good shape. Most honeysuckles would grow under bright sunlight and in a rich, moist but well-drained soil.

Honeysuckles make good ornamental plants in small gardens as well as landscape designs where they grow under little care and produce unforgettably fragrant flowers in spring.

Lonicera periclymenum, Honeysuckle

Lonicera periclymenum / Image by nicolas_gent (flickr)

Popular species of honeysuckle include:

Lonicera japonica (Japan honeysuckle) is an evergreen climber with white tubular flowers that appear in spring. A variegated variety Lonicera japonica ‘Variegata’ is also available for cultivation.

Lonicera caprifolium (Italian woodbine or goat-leaf honeysuckle) is a deciduous perennial that grows as vigorous climber (up to 8 meters). The plant produces abundance of strongly scented flowers of white and pink colors in midsummer.

Lonicera hildebrandiana (Giant honeysuckle) is an evergreen climber with large leaves and flowers. The flowers are yellow or orange that appear in spring.

Lonicera sempervirens is an excellent climber that produces decent foliage and tubular red flowers.

12 Oct

Tetrapanax papyriferus, the Chinese Paper Plant

Tetrapanax papyriferus is an evergreen shrub often growing in to a small tree (up to 6 meters). It is commonly known as Rice-paper Plant or Chinese Paper Plant because in ancient China, the plant was used in making paper. Today, it is well known as a useful plant in horticulture.

Tetrapanax papyriferus, Chinese Paper Plant

Tetrapanax papyriferus, Chinese Paper Plant/ Image by Bettaman (flickr)

Tetrapanax papyriferus is fast growing plant that can be grown in almost any soil and a wide range of climatic conditions. The plant produces large, green leaves that appear along a solitary trunk. The fresh green and prominent foliage of Tetrapanax papyriferus makes it a useful plant for landscapes and gardens. Fluffy white flowers are insignificant and appear in large clusters.

Tetrapanax papyriferus can be propagated from suckers. Since the plant is not fussy about growing conditions, it can be grown under full to partial sun with moderate watering throughout the year.

06 Oct

Lovely Lycoris

Lycoris is a small genus of bulbous plants known for their colorful and exceptionally beautiful flowers of all shades of pink, orange, red, white and yellow. They are quite easy to grow plants that just require a deep, rich and moist soil, with some warmth in summer. Most species of Lycoris belong to Japan, Korea, China and northern parts of Pakistan.

Lycoris can be grown in containers but preferably in raised beds where they would often form large clumps of bulbous plants. As with other plants in the Lily family, flowers of Lycoris grown on long stalks making them good background plants in mix flower beds.

Lycoris radiate

Lycoris radiate/ Image by osanpo (flickr)

Popular species of Lycoris include:

Lycoris squamigera – A cold hardy plant with large pink flowers that appear in late summer. The plant is also known as Magic Lily, Surprise Lily or Resurrection Lily because its flowers appear after the leaves have totally disappear during the summer and flowers appear from seemingly dead bulbs.

Lycoris sprengeri – Closely resembling Lycoris squamigera, L. sprengeri has smaller leaves and flowers. Common names of Lycoris sprengeri are Electric Blue Surprise Lily because the pink flowers have prominent and rich shade of ‘electric’ blue on tips of petals.

Lycoris aurea – A popular bulbous plant with golden-yellow flowers often used as cut flowers.

Lycoris radiate – Easy-to-grow plant and prolific plant producing large clumps in natural habitats. The plant is commonly known as Red Spider Lily because of its showy red flowers.

19 Sep

Spiny yet Lovely Plants of Mammillaria

Mammillaria is a large genus of globular or cylindrical spiny plants from Mexico and south-western part of the USA. It is also one of the best representatives of the Cactus family because of its beautiful formation and flowering.

Mammillaria sheldonii

Mammillaria sheldonii/ Image by Manuel M. Ramos

Most species of Mammillaria have small bristles-like spines that cover the globular or cylindrical body of the plant. Flowers appear near top of the plant and form a beautiful crown of silky and sometimes fragrant flowers. Flowering is followed by formation of colorful seed capsules that can be plucked and dried to obtain tiny seeds. Mature plants produce many offsets that usually appear at the bottom of the plant.

Mammillaria geminispina

Mammillaria geminispina/ Image J Brew (flickr)

Mammillaria are quite easy to maintain as they only require bright sunlight, well-drained soil and regular watering. Since it is the largest genus of the Cactus family, Mammillaria offers a wide range of ornamental plants for container gardening. Some Mammillarias remain solitary whereas some form large clumps. Some Mammillarias grow in cylindrical shape, and some attain globular shape. Some Mammillarias have long and hooked spines whereas some have tiny bristles.

Most species of Mammillaria grow easily from seeds or offsets. Like other plants in the Cactus family, Mammillarias are quite slow growers but easy to maintain and propagate. These drought-tolerant plants only require hibernation in winter and protection from frost and high level of humidity.

Mammillaria candida

Mammillaria candida/ Image by Blossfeldiana (flickr)

17 Sep

Lovely & Aromatic Shrub for Gardens: Rosmarinus officinalis

Rosmarinus is a small genus of evergreen shrubs from the family of Mint. The genus is best represented by Rosmarinus officinalis, which has been grown for several centuries in the Mediterranean region where it became part of ancient culture, traditions and mythology. Rosmarinus officinalis is an evergreen shrub that grows up to 2 meters and makes a good plant for hedges and landscape schemes. The plant narrow, needdle-like leaves that are intensely aromatic and bitter in taste. The leaves are used fresh or dried for flavor in carious traditional cuisines of the Mediterranean Europe. The plant is also considered valuable in improving memory and stimulating brain.

Rosmarinus officinalis

Rosmarinus officinalis/ Image by cliff (flickr)

Besides medicinal and culinary uses Rosmarinus officinalis has a significant place in horticulture. It is grown as evergreen shrub for hedges. Since the plant is easy to maintain and prune, it is good for hedges, border plant or as foliage plant in landscape schemes.

Rosmarinus officinalis is quite a tough and hardy plant that survives drought and neglect easily. It can be grown from cuttings or layers as a hardy ornamental plant in landscape or xeriscapaes. Rosmarinus officinalis requires full to partial sun, protection from harsh winter and frost, and a well-drained soil.

  • Rosmarinus officinalis has many popular cultivars that include:
  • Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Albus’ (white flowers)
  • ‘Arp’ (lemon-scented rosemary)
  • ‘Golden Rain’ (with yellow streaks on green leaves)
  • Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Gold Dust’ (with golden streaks on green leaves but stronger than Golden Rain)
  • ‘Majorica Pink’ (rosemary with pink flowers)
  • ‘Roseus’ (another pink flowering variant)
  • ‘Wilma’s Gold’ (yellow leaves)
08 Sep

Lovely, Flowering Shrub for Landscapes: Spartium junceum

Spartium junceum is an ornamental shrub grown for its yellow and sweet scented flowers. This fast growing shrub belongs to the Mediterranean regions of Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas where it is a popular shrub in gardens and landscapes.

Spartium junceum grows from a central stem and produces long, erect branches that shoot up to 4 meters. A well-established specimen can produce a mass of rush-like branches that bear bright yellow flowers in mid or late spring and last till summer. Leaves are often insignificant and deciduous.

Spartium junceum, The Spanish broom

Spartium junceum, The Spanish broom/ Image by Manuel M. Ramos

Spartium junceum can be a useful shrub for producing a beautiful background effect in gardens and landscapes. The shrub can be easily pruned to give it trimmed or rounded shapes.

Commonly known as Spanish Broom, Spartium junceum can be grown from seeds in almost any soil with good drainage. The shrub prefers full sun and tolerates spells of drought easily.

06 Sep

Lovely Succulent Plants for Landscapes: Dudleya

Dudleya is a small genus of rosette-forming succulent plants form California and Mexico. Grown for their lovely formation, most Dudleyas are strikingly beautiful when grown in landscapes or as specimen plants. A Dudleya is usually characterized by a green or silvery-white, succulent leaves that grow on a short stem to form a small rosette. Most species remain solitary whereas only a few of them branch. Flowers of white, red or yellow color appear in late winter or early spring from the bottom, rarely from the center, of the rosette.

Dudleyas in Landscape

Dudleyas in Landscape / Image by faroutflora.com

How to Grow Dudleya

Most species of Dudleya look similar to Echeveria which is another large genus of succulent plants but recently Dudleyas have been classified separately because of their flowering habit and growth pattern. They are winter-loving plants that usually go dormant is summer. They are quite hardy and drought resistant plants too thus making a good choice for rock gardens. When grown in landscape, most species of Dudleya tend to form thick clusters of small rosettes that add a dramatic look to the landscapes. Though, they can be grown as specimen plants, the best place to grow Dudleya plants is a tough landscape spot where very few plants can survive. Dudleyas would require good sunlight, a well-drained soil and small amount of water in winter (and barely sufficient moisture in summer). When provided with a congenial environment, Dudleya plants can grow for decades. For this reason, they are also known as ‘Live-Forever’.

Popular species of Dudleya include:

D. brittonii (Chalk Dudleya): A large rosette-forming plant with silvery-white leaves. Perfect for landscape as well as specimen plant Dudleya brittonii remains solitary and produces spectacular yellow flowers.

D. caespitosa (Sand Lettuce): A low-growing succulent plant that usually grows in to thick clusters. Yellow flowers appear in beautiful contrast to pale-green or silvery-white foliage.

D. pulverulenta (Chalk Live Forever): Another large and solitary plant known for its beautiful foliage. It is quite hardy plant and can be grown as ornamental plant in landscape and rockeries.

Dudleya pulverulenta

Dudleya pulverulenta / Image by faroutflora.com

24 Aug

Cytisus, the Bridal Broom Plant

Cytisus is a genus of evergreen and deciduous shrubs from the family of Wisteria and Golden Shower tree, which is popular for its ornamental flowers. The genus of Cytisus consists of small shrubs that produce white, pink, red and yellow flowers in spring.

Propagation of Cytisus is done from seeds. Young plants require regular water and partial sunlight but established plants do not have any special requirements. Most species in the genus of Cytisus are adaptable to a variety of climatic conditions. Though light shade and slightly moist soil are preferred, Cytisus can grow in poor soil or under shade. One of the popular species is Cytisus x praecox which grows up to 2 meters and bears masses of small white flowers.

Cytisus praecox 'Alba'

Cytisus praecox 'Alba', Image by Leonora Enking

Cytisus x praecox is commonly described as Bridal broom.

21 Aug

Lovely Plant for Borders and Edges: Erigeron

Erigeron is a genus of small annuals, biennials and perennials with a worldwide distribution across many Mediterranean climates. Commonly known as Fleabane, the genus of Erigeron offers more than 400 plants that are easy to grow in almost all soil types. Most species are useful for planting in garden borders, edges, and other empty spaces in garden landscapes.

Erigeron karvinskianus

Erigeron karvinskianus, Image by M. Martin Vicente

Erigerons are generally sun-loving and hardly plants that produce small but lovely flowers. With a long flowering season, flowers of Erigeron are yellow, white and pink and appear from early to late summer. Most species of Erigeron can be planted under full to partial sun. They require average watering and usually tend to grow as low-growing plant. The most popular plant from the genus of Erigeron is Erigeron karvinskianus which is grown as perennial shrub. The plant grows up to 40 cm and produce white flowers in early and late summer.

Erigeron karvinskianus is suitable for borders, edges and rockeries as a low maintenance plant.

19 Aug

Lovely Perennials for Sunny Gardens: Penstemon

Penstemon is a popular genus of perennials, shrubs and sub-shrubs that are grown for their colorful flowers. Native to hot and sunny regions of North America, the genus of Penstemon offers a wide range of perennials that can be grown at many different spots in gardens and landscapes. The taller species (1.5 to 3 meters) mix well with other perennials in borders. The low-growing species (1 to 1.5 meter) of Penstemon make good plant for rock gardens or flower beds.

Penstemon

Penstemon, Image by M. Martin Vicente

Most species of Penstemon produce dense spikes of tubular flowers that bloom in early summer and last till mid-summer. Penstemon are easily propagated from seeds or divisions planted in spring. These sun loving plants require good sunny exposure in rich and loamy soil that gives its roots plenty of room to grow. Once established, Penstemons requires average watering.

Popular varieties of Penstemon include:

Penstemon ‘Alice Hindley’: Grows up to 1 meter and produces large mauve flowers.

Penstemon ‘Osprey’: Grows up to 1.5 meter and produces pink and white flowers.

Penstemon ‘Raven’: Grows up to 1 meter and produces lovely purple flowers.

Penstemon ‘Stapleford Gem’: Low growing plant with large lilac flowers.

Penstemon ‘Sour Grapes’: Another small perennial with greyish-blue flowers.