Category Archives: Zone 8b

19 Dec

Small and Evergreen Flowering Tree: Arbutus unedo

Arbutus unedo

Arbutus unedo / Image by Jesuskyman (flickr)

The plant in this picture is Arbutus unedo – a lovely, evergreen, compact tree which is highly regarded by gardeners for its ornamental value. This small tree grows up to 10 meters, branches gracefully and produces deep green foliage. Small white or pink flowers appear in autumn. These bell-shaped flowers not only add to the beauty of this lovely tree but also offer sweet nectar to honey bees. Flowers are followed by formation of strawberry-like edible fruit. Fruits changes colors from yellow to red and ultimately to scarlet – making this beautiful tree more attractive. Because of its strawberry-like fruit, Arbutus unedo is also known as Strawberry Tree.

Arbutus unedo is quite easy to grow and does not require much maintenance. Therefore, it makes a good choice for growing along garden borders or form informal hedges. A few smaller and compact varieties of Arbutus unedo are also available. These varieties grow up to 3 meters and make decent specimen plants for small gardens where you can observe attractive flowers and ripening fruits along with fresh green foliage – making a colourful addition to the garden.

Arbutus unedo can be grown easily from seeds or cuttings. It grows in almost any soil but prefers a well-drained lean soil that allows the tree to develop its extensive root system. Young plants benefit from partial shade and slightly moist soil. Once established, mature plants can easily tolerate spells of drought.

Strawberry tree

Strawberry tree / Image by obni (flickr)

Arbutus unedo branches decently to make a compact, small tree. However, you can prune it easily to keep in the desired shape. Winter is the best time to prune Arbutus unedo.

Popular varieties of Arbutus unedo include:

Arbutus unedo ‘Compacta’: grows up to 2 metres tall eventually and fruits abundantly.

Arbutus unedo ‘Croomei’: grows up to 4 meters and produces reddish flowers.

Arbutus unedo ‘Elfin King’: is a slow growing  and dwarf variety that grows up to 1 meter.

16 Dec

Low Maintenance Shrubs for Arid Climate: Myoporum

Myoporum is a small genus of evergreen shrubs and small trees from Australia and New Zealand. Because of their low maintenance growth and ability to tolerate drought,  Myoporum is widely grown in arid climates as hedge plant.

Most species of Myoporum produce attractive foliage, white flowers and colourful berries that add to the beauty of these smart plants. Known as tough and fast growing shrubs, Myoporums make good plants for hedges, screens, or along banks and slopes. Most species do best when provided with moderate watering and grown under full or partial sun.

Myoporum parvifolium is probably the most common species. It is a low-growing plant that forms dense mounds of evergreen foliage. The plant grows up to 6 inches tall and spreads to 5 feet or more. As a low-maintenance plant, Myoporum parvifolium is often grown as a ground cover in landscapes and gardens.

Myoporum parvifolium

Myoporum parvifolium / Image by Tony Rodd

Other popular species include:

Myoporum insulare is a hardy shrub that grows up to 5 meters. It is characterized by glossy-green leaves, tiny white flowers and purple-blue berries.

Myoporum laetum is a small tree with light green leaves. The plant produces summer flowers followed by formation of red berries in autumn.

30 Nov

Lovely Flowering Vine: Macfadyena unguis cati

Macfadyena is a small genus of flowering vines from tropical regions of America. The one commonly known species from this genus is Macfadyena unguis-cati. The name translates in English as Cat’s claw creeper.

Macfadyena unguis-cati is grown as an evergreen vine under full or partial sun. The plant grows up to 5 meters and uses its tendrils to climb attached surfaces. Bright yellow flowers in appear summer and cover the entire plant.

Macfadyena unguis cati

Macfadyena unguis cati/ Image by Reinaldo Aguilar’s 

Macfadyena unguis-cati is propagated seeds, cuttings or tubers and grows well in a sandy soil. Because of its vigorous growth, Macfadyena unguis-cati needs to be properly trimmed and pruned to keep it in proper shape. Quick growth also makes this vine as excellent choice for growing against fences and walls.

13 Nov

Lovely Flowering Shrub with Sweet Fragrant Flowers: Abelia

Abelia is a genus of lovely flowering shrubs from Asia and Mexico. Loved by gardeners because of its compact growth, Abelias are excellent specimen shrubs for gardens and landscapes. The genus of Abelia consists of more than 30 species and many hybrids.

Most species of Abelia grow from 1 to 6 meters and produce attractive glossy foliage accompanied by beautiful flowers of white, pink and mauve colors. Flowers are usually fragrant especially in summer evenings.

Abelia grandiflora

Abelia grandiflora/ Image by Leonora Enking

Abelias can be easily trimmed to form desirable shapes and size. These lovely shrubs are quite hardy and adaptable. Most species will tolerate drought and frost. Propagated by cuttings, Abelias will go good under full to partial sun.

From a large number of available varieties to choose from, you can start with popular species like:

Abelia grandiflora is a medium-sized flowering shrub that grows up to 3 meters and produces arching branches with small glossy leaves. Pink flowers with light fragrance appear in mid-summer.

Abelia Edward Goucher is a popular hybrid variety and is grown for its longer flowering period (usually much of the summer till early fall). This compact flowering shrub grows up to 5 feet and usually forms dense and rounded shape. The lustrous green leaves turn to pinkish-purple in winter.

Abelia grandiflora ‘Kaleidoscope’ is known for its red stems and bright, golden yellow variegation on glossy green leaves creating a kaleidoscope of color. The plant makes an excellent specimen shrub for indoor use.

08 Nov

Lovely Flowering Shrub for Garden Borders: Spiraea thunbergii

The plant featured today is Spiraea thunbergii. It is one of my favourite flowering shrubs because of its delicate spring flowers and interesting foliage. Spiraea thunbergii grows up to 5 feet as a dense, twiggy shrub and produces attractive narrow leaves. The beautiful foliage grows on wiry stems that densely branch out from the main stem of the plant. The interesting formation of leaves gets more beautiful in fall when the green color of leaves turns to golden-yellow to orange and bronze. The leaves fall of in winter and start sprouting again in early spring.

Spiraea thunbergii

Spiraea thunbergii / Image by Wikimedia Commons

Flowering starts in spring and last for many weeks. The white delicate flowers of Spiraea thunbergii form small clusters that cover the entire plant. Exposure to full sun encourages growth of flowers. Because of its interesting foliage, beautiful flowers and growing habits, Spiraea thunbergii makes an excellent border plant for gardens and landscapes.

Spiraea thunbergii can be easily grown in a slightly moist but well-drained soil. This lovely shrub loves sun but tolerates light shade. As with most plants in the Rose family, propagation of Spiraea thunbergii is done from layering or cuttings.