Category Archives: Zone 8b

10 Oct

Ensete ventricosum: The Abyssinian Banana

Today’s featured plant is Ensete ventricosum. It is a large, evergreen perennial plant known for its giant and lush green leaves. Commonly known as Ethiopian Banana, false banana or sometimes as Abyssinian Banana, Ensete ventricosum is widely grown as an ornamental plant for gardens and landscapes.

Ensete ventricosum

Ensete ventricosum/ Image by Gardening in a Minute (flickr)

Ensete ventricosum grows up to 6 meters and produces large banana-like leaf blades. The stout trunk of the plant is formed by overlapping leaf-bases. The ornamental value of Ensete ventricosum is because of the texture and lush green colors of the leaves. Leaves that usually up to 5 meters have smooth texture and a contrasting midrib of salmon color.

Because of the fast growth rate and easy maintenance in temperate climates, Ensete ventricosum is a favourite landscape plant among gardeners and horticulturists. Because of its big size, the plant requires plenty of room to grow to its full potential. A healthy and mature plant makes an excellent specimen that instantly grabs attention. Besides, its ornamental value, Ensete ventricosum is also grown as fodder plant in Africa.

Ensete ventricosum flowers once and then dies. The flower is actually a huge bunch of 2 to 3 meters that hangs like a pendant. The bunch consists of maroon bracts that surround the actual flower.

Ensete ventricosum can be grown easily from seeds. The plant requires generous watering, plenty of sunlight, and protection from heavy frost.

Another popular species in the genus of Ensete is Ensete maurelii (Red Abyssinian Banana). It is a beautiful ornamental plant that grows up to 10 – 20 feet produces beautiful foliage of green and maroon shades. Because of its relatively smaller size, Ensete maurelii can be grown in large containers too.

16 Aug

Euphorbia rigida: the Gopher Plant

Euphorbia rigida is a shrubby and evergreen, succulent from the Mediterranean climate. Known for its attractive spiral-forming foliage and ability to withstand drought, the plant makes a valuable addition to a rock garden.

Euphorbia rigida, the Gopher Plant

Euphorbia rigida, the Gopher Plant / Image by FarOutFlora.com

Commonly known as Gopher Plant, Euphorbia rigida forms clumps of upright ascending stems and grows up to 2 feet in height and 3 feet in width. The blue-green leaves of the plant form spiral formation around its stems that make this plant very attractive. Flowers of bright yellow color appear in spring followed by formation of seed pods. Gardeners usually prune spent flowers to prevent self-seeding. The plant itself can be pruned at the end of flowering season to prevent a leggy appearance.

Euphorbia rigida can be grown in raised beds, garden borders and rock gardens and as an excellent ground cover. It also performs well in containers and landscaping with other drought-tolerant plants.

Propagated from seeds or cuttings, Euphorbia rigida can be grown under prefer full sun to partial sun. The plant usually blooms well in rather poor or sandy soil.

Like other plants from Euphorbia family, the milky sap emitted by Euphorbia rigida can be toxic and may cause severe skin irritation.

14 Aug

Lovely Flowring tree Liriodendron tulipifera, the Tulip Tree

Liriodendron tulipifera, commonly known as Tulip Tree or sometimes as Yellow Poplar, is a tall and deciduous flowering tree from North America. Characterized by its height and beautiful flowers, Liriodendron tulipifera makes an excellent flowering tree for gardens and landscapes. With a rapid growth rate, the tree can gain the height of up to 150 feet or more in wild. However, it takes much time to reach that height (An old Tulip Tree in Queens area in New York measures 134 feet; it is said to be 400-450 years old and often described the oldest living thing in New York. The tree is named Queens Giant). In cultivation, it can grow as tall as 70 to 100 feet.

Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip Tree)

Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip Tree)/ Image by Tim Waters

Liriodendron tulipifera does not branch much and tends to form columnar growth which makes it a good source of fine-grained timber.

Like most plants in the Magnolia family, Liriodendron tulipifera is a valuable plant in horticulture. It has broad, glossy green leaves that turn to golden in autumn. Large tulip-like, cup-shaped flowers appear in spring to add to the grandeur of the tree. Flowers are predominantly greenish-yellow with dashes of red and orange.

Liriodendron tulipifera prefers bright sunlight, and a rich and moist soil. The tree can be propagated from seeds. Young plants should be grown under partial sun and later moved to direct sunlight. Young plants of Liriodendron tulipifera have deep and fleshy roots that are easily broken if handled roughly.

03 Aug

Tropical Flowering Vine: Clytostoma callistegioides

Clytostoma is a small genus of evergreen vines and shrubs from tropical parts of South America. These lovely plants are known for their showy flowers that grow abundantly on creeping stems.

Most species of Clytostoma grow quite fast and creep up trees, walls or whatever support they can find. Growing as creeping vines, Clytostomas are drought resistant pest free plants thus making a good choice for beginners. Clytostoma grows in a well-drained soil where it gets moderate watering and bright sunlight. Fertilization boosts their already fast rate of growth.

 

Clytostoma callistegioides

Clytostoma callistegioides/ Image by PL Tandon

The most popular and widely grown species is Clytostoma callistegioides which is characterized by glossy green leaves and pale lavender flowers. Generally it is a maintenance-free vine that grows up to 3 meters and looks pretty even when not in bloom.

Common names of Clytostoma callistegioides are Violet trumpet vine and Argentine trumpet vine.

01 Aug

V is for Verbena

The letter ‘V’ reminds me of two things – Vendetta and Verbena. I love both: Vendetta for its dramatic and thought-provoking effect, and Verbena for its small fragrant flowers.

Verbena is a genus of small annual and perennial shrubs from tropical parts of the Americas. These lovely plants are known for their colorful and long lasting flowers.

Verbena are multi-purpose plants – the low-growing and sprawling varieties can be used as ground covers whereas the compact varieties can be grown in flower beds or containers. Flowers in most species of Verbena are fragrant and have a variety of colors ranging from red, pink, purple, lavender, white and mauve. Most varieties produces groups of rounded heads each containing dozens of small fragrant flowers.

Verbena rigida

Verbena rigida/ Image by Arthur Chapman

Verbenas can be propagated easily from divisions or seeds. Some varieties are self-seeding. Most species of Verbena would happily grow in an ordinary soil under bright sunlight.

Among many hybrids, popular species of Verbena include: Verbena canadensis, and V. peruviana.