Category Archives: Zone 7b

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.