14 May

Lovely Flowering Shrub: Potentilla fruticosa

Potentilla is a genus of lovely flowering shrubs and small perennials from the family of Rose. These summer flowering shrubs make excellent plants for beginners. Most species, such as Potentilla fruticosa,  grow in almost any soil and are resistant to pests.

Potentilla fruticosa (Buy online) grows from 1 to 3 feet in height and produces attractive yellow flowers in late spring. Flowering continues till early days of fall. Potentilla fruticosa can be used to border plants, cover the ground in mass plantation schemes or as an outdoor ornamental plant. The ornamental value of the plant is because of its compact silvery-green leaves and attractive yellow flowers.

Potentilla fruticosa 'Lovely Pink'

How to Grow Potentilla fruticosa

Potentilla fruticosa like other plants in its genus prefers bright sunlight, regular watering and a well-drained soil. To keep the plant in shape, it is advised to prune annually at the end of the flowering season. When grown in colder climates, reduce or stop watering during the freezing period. Most Potentillas can be grown from softwood cuttings or divisions. Popular varieties include:

P. fruticosa ‘Abbotswood’ is grown as a hardy flowering shrub that produces abundance of white flowers.

P. parvifolia ‘Goldfinger’ is known for its large and prominent yellow flowers.

P. fruticosa ‘Goldstar’ grows as a compact and low-growing flowering shrub. It is suitable for growing as a ground cover. Flowers are yellow.

P. fruticosa ‘McKay’s White’ produces very nice white flowers.

Potentilla fruticosa 'McKay's White'

P. fruticosa ‘Pink Beauty’ is the most beautiful flowering shrub in this genus. It is known for its lovely pink flowers.

P. fruticosa ‘Red Robin’ produces yellow flowers that gradually change their color to yellow-orange.

24 Apr

Lagurus ovatus, Bunny Tails Ornamental Grass

Lagurus ovatus or Bunny Tails Grass is a lovely ornamental grass known for its puffy white flowers that resemble a bunny’s tail. This beautiful annual grass can be grown along garden borders or pathways, as an accent plant in the garden or an ornamental grass in xeriscapes.

Lagurus ovatus

Lagurus ovatus / Image via faroutflora.wordpress.com

Bunny Tails grows as a compact ornamental grass growing up to 20 inches high and about 1 foot wide. The blades are soft and about 1.5 foot in length. The ornamental value of this lovely grass is because of its fluffy, white oval flowers that start appearing in early summer. Bunny tails flowers assume tan color as they enter the fall season arrives. The flowers start to dry out at this time. You can keep them on the grass for winter interest. Stalks with dried fluffy flowers can also be removed and used in dry flower arrangement.

How to Grow Bunny Tails Ornamental Grass

Bunny Tails Grass

Bunny Tails Grass / Image by Mollivan Jon (flickr)

Bunny Tails can be propagated from seeds (Buy Seeds Online) collected from dried flowers. Seeds can be sown in spring. Plants grown from seeds take 1 to 2 year to attain the maximum size.

Bunny Tails grass comes from Mediterranean climates where it thrives in a rather dry climate. When grown in gardens or landscapes, provide it sunny exposure and water moderately. Bunny Tails prefers sandy soil that does not retain water. It is a drought-tolerant grass. Water it thoroughly in summer and then allow the soil to completely dry before watering next. When temperature falls, water sparsely.

03 Apr

Lovely Indoor Foliage with Colcosia / Elephant Ears Plant

Colocasia also known as Elephant Ears Plant are attractive foliage plants that add a lot of character to a garden landscape. Their bold foliage also makes them excellent indoor foliage plants. If you are looking for nice foliage, rich colors and a low-maintenance plant for your garden landscape or indoor décor, Colocasia should be on top of your list.

Colocasia, Elephant Ears Plant

Image by F.D. Richards via Flickr

Colocasia or Elephant Ears Plant (Buy Colocasia online) produces prominently large heat-shapes foliage. The attractive large leaves grow on a 2 to 3 feet long stalk. Different varieties Elephant Ears Plant offers colorful foliage that varies from green to dark purple. Some varieties produce green leaves with prominent white variegation. Elephant Ears plant can grow from 3 to 5 feet and it does not take it much time to attain this size. In fact, Elephant Ears is a rather fast growing plant. When grown under right conditions, a plant from tuber can easily grow up to 3 feet in a year.

How to Grow Colocasia / Elephant Ears Plant

Colocasia or Elephant Ears Plant is grown from tubers. Weather grown in the ground or container, provide them with moist, rich and slightly acidic soil. When grow indoors, make sure that they are placed near a window where it receives bright sunlight. Because of the large size of its foliage, plants grown indoors should be provided with sufficient room to grow. Elephant Ears plants grown indoors also require higher level of humidity.

Colocasia can be easily grown in poolside gardens where they provide nice foliage and lush colors to the landscape.

When grown outdoors, Elephant Ears Plant should be placed in a spot where it gets plenty of sun in the morning and partial shade for the rest of the day. Plants under partial shade usually grow large foliage than those placed under sun during most part of the day. Colocasia / Elephant Ears Plant should be protected from strong winds, frost or freezing winter temperatures. If you are living in a colder climates, move your plants indoors or trim the foliage completely and tubers for the next season.

Popular varieties of Elephant Ears Plant (Buy online) include:

  • Colocasia ‘Black Magic’, a 3-5 foot specimen with dark burgundy-black leaves.
  • C. ‘Black Stem’ grows black stems with burgundy-black veins on green foliage.
  • Colocasia ‘Green Giant’ gets its name because of extra ordinary large foliage (up to 5 feet).
  • Colocasia ‘Nancy’s Revenge’ grows up to 5 feet and produces dark green leaves with creamy centers.
01 Mar

Xerosicyos danguyi, the Silver Dollar Plant

Xerosicyos danguyi or Silver Dollar Plant (Buy seeds online) is an evergreen climber from arid regions of Madagascar. It is a drought tolerant and hardy succulent that can survive really high temperatures and long spells of drought. If you are new to the world of houseplants, Xerosicyos danguyi is a nice plant to start with.

Xerosicyos danguyi belongs to the family of squash, cucumber, and watermelon and shares many characteristics with its cousins. Hobbyists like the Silver Dollar Plant for its round, succulent, and silver-green leaves giving the plant its common name, ‘Silver Dollar Plant’. These unusual round leaves grow along a cylindrical stem that usually grows up to 20 inches. In wild, Xerosicyos danguyi uses its tendrils to hook up with surrounding plants to keep it from falling on the ground. Clusters of tiny flower of pale-green color appear in spring.

Xerosicyos danguyi, the Silver Dollar Plant

Xerosicyos danguyi, the Silver Dollar Plant / Image Source

How to Grow Xerosicyos danguyi, the Silver Dollar Plant

Xerosicyos danguyi can be easily grown in a well-drained soil and under sunny conditions. Being a drought-tolerant succulent, the Silver Dollar Plant requires only occasional watering. If you are growing it in a pot, water it thoroughly and then allow the soil to dry out completely before the next watering. In colder climates, Silver Dollar Plant can be grown indoors in hanging baskets. Xerosicyos danguyi can be propagated from seeds and cuttings. Plants grown from seeds tend to form caudex on maturity.

25 Feb

Aloe ferox: Flowering Succulent for Lovely Xeriscapes

Aloe ferox
Aloe ferox is a hardy and attractive succulent known for its lovely flowers and medicinal value of the gel extracted from its leaves. If you are planning to design a xeriscape, Aloe ferox should be on top of your plants list for many reasons. It is a hardy succulent that does not require much care. It produces very attractive flowers of red, orange, yellow-orange and scarlet colors in mid-winter. When grown in groups, spikes of attractive flowers on Aloe ferox add striking colors to the landscape.

Aloe ferox originates from rocky and tropical regions of South Africa where it receives marginal rainfall and plenty of sun. When growing it in your garden or xeriscape, you need to imitate the similar climate. You can plant this hardy Aloe in a spot where it receives good amount of sunlight in a loamy and slightly sandy soil. Aloe ferox does not require frequent watering and should survive long spells of drought.

Aloe ferox (Buy seeds online) can grow up to 3 meters though it takes many years to attain this size. The plant produces fleshy leaves of dull green color. The leaves are arranged around the stem to form a rosette. Young leaves have prominent spines along the leaf margins and smaller spines on leaf surface. As the plant matures, older leaves dry up to expose main stem of the plant. The Greek name ‘ferox’ meaning ‘fierce’ is probably because of prominent spines on the leaves.

Aloe ferox is also known as Cape Aloe.

Winter Aloe Spectacle

Flowers of Aloe ferox

Aloe ferox produces abundant flowers that attract birds and bees as pollinating agents. Mid-winter is the time when this lovely Aloe begins to send out orange, scarlet, yellow-orange and red flowers giving the plant its common name, Red Aloe.

Medicinal Benefits of Aloe ferox

Aloe ferox is grown commercially for its medicinal value. The gel derived from its succulent leaves is used in cosmetics. The hard, brown excretions obtained from the plan are used for their laxative properties.

How to grow Aloe ferox from seeds

Aloe ferox can be propagated from seeds (Buy seeds online) that easily germinate when sown in a well-drained but slightly moist soil. Young seedlings should be kept lightly moist until they are 4- 6 cm in size.

15 Feb

Lovely Ground Cover: Moss Phlox

Phlox subulata (Buy online), also known as Moss Phlox, is an excellent ground cover for low-maintenance landscapes. Known for its ability to survive under various conditions, Moss Phlox makes an excellent plant for covering unsightly patches. It can be grown as a bordering plant, as a ground cover in rock gardens, as cascading plant against walls, or as a charming creeper in gardens and landscapes.

Moss Phlox

How to Grow Moss Phlox

Consider Moss Phlox when you are looking for a ground cover that does not require much care and performs well in a sandy, rocky or low-fertility soil. Phlox subulata is propagated from seeds, layering or stem cuttings (cuttings especially shorter ones root quickly).

Young plants require moderate watering in a well-drained soil. They also benefit from a little application of fertilizer in early spring. Once established they do not require much maintenance. Except for annual pruning (preferably in winter to encourage better growth in the following season), this lovely ground cover will thrive under full sun and require occasional watering.It usually spreads 1 meter across and gain a height of up to 10 cm. Depending on the climatic conditions, a young plant may require 2 to 5 years to reach this size.

Moss Phlox bears flowers of magenta pink-purple, red, fuchsia, violet, cream and white colors appear in mid-spring.

Popular varieties include: Phlox subulata ‘Candy Stripes’, Phlox subulata ‘Snowflake’, Phlox subulata ‘Red Wings’, Phlox subulata ‘Drummonds Pink’, and Phlox subulata ‘Emerald Cushion’. Buy Moss Phlox online.

Moss phlox

17 Jan

Lovely Flowering Shrub: Cuphea

Cuphea is a genus of evergreen and perennial flowering shrubs. These lovely flowering shrubs are useful for growing in garden borders where they keep blooming almost all through the year. Native to Mexico and tropical regions of Central America, these flowering shrubs produce flowers of green, purple, pink and white. Most species start blooming as soon as winter days are gone and continue to bloom until late summer.

Cuphea cyanea "Pink Cigar Plant"

How to Grow Cuphea

Most species of Cuphea require a well-drained soil and indirect sun, and grow up to 1 feet. In colder regions, Cupheas will freeze to ground in winter but will emerge in early spring. Being excellent flowering shrubs, most species are used in garden borders, mixed with seasonal bloomers in a mixed flowering bed or grown as small container plants.

Several hybrids and cultivars of Cuphea are easily available at commercial nurseries. Most of them are easily propagated from seeds (buy seeds online).

Popular species include:

C. ignea: Also known as ‘Cigarette Bush’, Cuphea ignea grows as a small flowering shrub and produces bright red flowers in spring and summer.

C. hyssopifolia: Also known as ‘False Heather’, this small flowering shrub produces flowers of varying shades including white, green, pink and purple.
Cuphea hyssopifolia
C. micropetala is known for its bright summer flowers.

12 Jan

Lovely Flowering Shrub:Buddleja

Butterfly bush, Buddleja davidii, flowering head in IN rest area
Buddleja is a large genus of flowering shrubs and small trees known for their fragrant flowers. Most species in the genus of Buddleja produce lush green foliage with silvery-white underside. The attractive foliage is contrasted by colorful and fragrant spring or summer flowers that attract wild birds and butterflies to the garden.

Also See: How to attract birds and butterflies to your garden

Most species of Buddleja are fast growing shrubs or small trees ranging from 4 to meters in height. Propagation can be done from seeds or hardwood cuttings. Being low-maintenance plants, Buddleja are suitable for xeriscapes or low-maintenance gardens.

Also See: How to design a low maintenance garden landscape
Buddleja and Roses
A large number of Buddleja hybrids and cultivars are available easily and can be grown in most tropical and sub-tropical climates where are provided with moderate watering and protected from heavy frost.

22 Dec

Lovely Flowering Vine: Lonicera sempervirens

Lonicera sempervirens is a fast-growing vine from the famous Honeysuckle family. Also known as Carol honeysuckle and sometimes as Trumpet honeysuckle because of its trumpet shaped flowers, this lovely vine can be used as a nice climber for pergolas and trellis.

Also see:

Lonicera sempervirens 06 3325

How to Grow Lonicera sempervirens

Lonicera sempervirens (Buy online) grows up to 5 feet and produces showy trumpet-shaped flowers of scarlet or red-orange color. Summer flowers are followed by red berries. Both flowers and berries attract wild birds. The vine grows in a well-drained soil under full sun. Though it can grow in shade, Lonicera sempervirens is primarily a sun loving vine. Brighter sunlight encourages abundance of ornamental flowers.

Lonicera sempervirens is a vigorous growing vine and might require annual pruning. It is evergreen in warm climates but sheds most of its foliage is colder climates. It can be propagated from layering or softwood cuttings.

19 Dec

Ornamental Shrub: Cotinus coggygria

Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple'
Cotinus coggygria or Purple Smoke tree as it commonly known is a wonderful ornamental shrub. I love it for its colors, and ability to grow in almost any soil and survive drought or a little neglect.

Cotinus coggygria is recognized by its purple leaves that change many colors throughout the fall season. While the season changes from summer to fall, you can spot purple, red-orange and scarlet colors in foliage. The beauty of this wonderful shrub is enhanced when its flowers pop to produce plum-like clusters of seeds. These plumes give this beautiful shrub a hazy look (and of course the common name, Purple Smoke Tree) that adds charm to its colorful foliage.
Smoke Bush

How to Grow Cotinus coggygria

Cotinus coggygria can be grown as a hedging plant or a specimen plant in garden. It is usually propagated from softwood cuttings taken in summer or seeds sown in fall. The plant does not require much care and only requires a regular or slightly fertile soil under bright sunlight. It is a drought-tolerant plant and can easily survive long spells of drought making it a good choice when you are designing a xeriscape.

Cotinus coggygria usually grows up to 4 meters but it can be easily pruned in early spring to keep it in desired shape and size. To encourage flowering, it is advised that you prune it in late spring.

Popular varieties of Cotinus coggygria include C. coggygria ‘Royal Purple’ and C. coggygria ‘Velvet Cloak’. A number of other hybrids varying in size and foliage colors are also sold commercially.