Category Archives: Zone 9a

25 Jul

Liatris spicata: Lovely Summer Bloomer for Garden Borders

Liatris is a small genus of flowering plants from the North America where they grow natively in ravines and grasslands where they can sufficiently moist soil. Gardeners and horticulturists grow Liatris for its beautiful flowers.

Most species of Liatris are characterised by narrow, grass-like foliage and long spikes of flowers that appear in later summer. The fuzzy pink or purple flowers of Liatris grow along erect spike that reminds of bottlebrush. These flowers usually bloom from top to bottom and stay fresh for quite a long time.

From a number of popular species, Liatris spicata is the one that is grown widely in gardens and landscapes. It is commonly known as Blazing Star or Button Snakewort. Liatris spicata has linear growth as it can grow up to 1 meter in height. The plant prefers full to partial sun and moist but well-drained soil. Overwatering, especially in winter, can kill these plants therefore good drainage is essential for growing these lovely perennials. Therefore, a sandy loam is the best media to grow Liatris spicata.

Liatris spicata

Liatris spicata / Image by Drew Avery

Most species of Liatris can be grown in containers too. So if you are looking for a low-maintenance summer-blooming perennial for your balcony or small garden Liatris spicata should be on your list.

29 Jan

Border Plant for Low-maintenance Gardens: Yucca filamentosa

If you are looking for a low-maintenance plant for garden borders, consider Yucca filamentosa – an evergreen, hardy and drought-tolerant plant.

Yucca filamentosa

Yucca filamentosa

On local nurseries, Yucca filamentosa is available with many different names: Adam’s needle, Spanish bayonet, Bear-grass and Needle-palm. The plant is known for its lovely white flowers and architectural structure that makes it a nice accent plant.

Yucca filamentosa thrives in a well-drained soil under partial sun. However, it can easily adapt itself to different types of soil and light conditions. For this reason, it makes a nice plant for gardens and landscapes where it forms small groups of shrubby plants with stem-less structure. A mature Yucca filamentosa can grow up to 1 meter in height and spread across 1.5 meter (however it takes around 20 years to attain this size).

Yucca filamentosa 'Color Guard'

Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard’

Yucca filamentosa is characterized by its sword-shaped, spine-tipped green leaves that form a tight rosette. The leaves change many shades from winter to spring. In spring, Yucca filamentosa produces a long stalk of beautiful white flowers. The flowers last for a long time and attract bees and butterflies.

Yucca filamentosa also offers a couple of popular cultivars that include:

Yucca filamentosa ‘Golden Sword’ – similar to ‘Bright Edge’, but larger.

Yucca filamentosa ‘Ivory Tower’ – creamy white flowers tinged with green.

Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard’ – broad yellow stripes all year, plus red stripes in the winter.

12 Jan

Kalanchoe orgyalis, the Copper Spoons

The plant featured today is Kalanchoe orgyalis. It is a popular plant among landscape designers because of attractive colors and texture of the plant.

Kalanchoe orgyalis is characterized by succulent leaves that have tiny hair of copper-brown colors that gives its leave a felted substances and copper color. Fresh leaves have shiny copper color. As they grow old, they assume hues of silver making the plant even more attractive. Because of the shape and color of its leaves, Kalanchoe orgyalis is often known as Copper Spoons.

Kalanchoe orgyalis

Kalanchoe orgyalis /Image by Peter Kemmer

Native to tropical and sub-tropical regions of Africa, Kalanchoe orgyalis requires average water and a well-drained soil. Therefore it makes a nice landscape plant in warmer climates because it does not require much maintenance. In colder climates, Kalanchoe orgyalis can be grown as outdoor pot plant in summer and a nice indoor accent plant in winter.

Like other plants of its genus, Kalanchoe orgyalis can be propagated easily from leaf cuttings.

30 Dec

Lovely Ground Cover for Landscapes: Aloe brevifolia

Aloe brevifolia is a low-growing succulent and is usually grown as a beautiful ground cover or lovely pot plant. The plant forms beautiful rosette of grey-green leaves that grows up to 1 foot and produces lovely orange flowers on long spikes. In winter, leaves of Aloe brevifolia turn pink to add striking colors to the garden.

Aloe brevifolia

Aloe brevifolia// Image by Gardening in a Minute (flickr)

Unlike most Aloes, Aloe brevifolia is a smaller plant that seldom grows beyond 1 foot in height and width. The succulent leaves form compact rosette. Mature plants produce suckers near the bottom to form tight clumps making it a nice ground cover for landscapes. The flowers appear on long spikes that usually appear in spring and continue to bloom till mid-summer.

Because of its compact growth and showy succulent leaves, Aloe brevifolia can be used as effective ground cover or as small specimen plant grown in pots or rock gardens.

In its natural habitat, Aloe brevifolia grows in a coastal area and thus likes the similar environment. However, it is can adapt to various growing conditions. Ideally Aloe brevifolia should be grown under full or partial sun in a well-drained soil. Though the plant can withstand light frost, it should be protected from long spells of heavy frost in colder climates.

Aloe brevifolia is propagated from seeds or suckers.

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.