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 of Cuphea start blooming as soon as winter days are gone and continue to bloom until late summer.

Cuphea cyanea "Pink Cigar Plant"

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, Cupheas can be used to border gardens, 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:

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

Cuphea hyssopifolia: Also known as ‘False Heather’, this small flowering shrub produces flowers of varying shades including white, green, pink and purple.
Cuphea hyssopifolia
Cuphea 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.

19 Dec

Ornamental Shrub: Cotinus coggygria, Purple Smoke

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

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. Cotinus coggygria or Purple Smoke tree does not require much care. It prefers 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 Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’ and Cotinus coggygria ‘Velvet Cloak’. A number of other hybrids varying in size and foliage colors are also sold commercially.

16 Dec

Hypoestes aristata: Ribbon Bush

The lovely plants featured today is Hypoestes aristata. It belongs to a genus of perennials and evergreen shrubs from tropical regions of Asia and Africa.
Hypoestes aristata - Ribbon Bush
Hypoestes aristata is grown as evergreen flowering shrub that grows up to 5 feet and produces mauve, pink or white flowers. Flowers of Hypoestes aristata have ribbon-like petals, which is why the plant is also known as Ribbon Bush.

Hypoestes aristata prefers full to partial sun and thrives in tropical climates. In colder climates, it can be grown in greenhouse or as an attractive indoor plant.

Hypoestes aristata can be propagated from both seed and cuttings. Seeds can be sown in spring. Soft or hardwood cuttings can be taken in the late winter or early spring.

28 Jun

Lovely Summer Bloomer: Agapanthus, the African Lily

Agapanthus flowers

Image by Samantha Schipani

If you are looking for something new to try for your summer garden, consider Agapanthus. Weather grown as a pot plant or grouped in a garden border, it looks striking with its ultra bright flowers that outshine most of the common bloomers.

Many varieties and cultivars of Agapanthus that are commercially available can be divided in two grouped: evergreen species that originate from milder climates of South Africa and deciduous Agapanthus that comes from colder regions. Growing condition of all varieties are generally similar – sunny exposure, well-drained soil, moderate watering, and protection from extreme cold.

Agapanthus can be propagate easily by division in spring and early summer, or after plants have finished flowering in early autumn. Mature plants tends to divide their bulbous roots; these should be split every three to four years. Agapanthus can also be propagated from seeds however young plant grown from seeds require frequent watering and protection from winter in their first year. Once established, they should be watered only when the soil in dry. Plants grown from seeds take two to three years to flower. Flowers of violet, white, or pink hues appear in summer.

If you growing Agapanthus in the garden, they can be combined easily with other plants in flowering beds. Agapanthus also make nice plants for garden borders. In winter, protect them by mulching with straw and sand. If your soil is water-logged, grow your Agapanthus in large pots and place them in brightly-lit spot where they are protected from frost. Plants grown in pots can be fertilized with a regular fertilizer in spring to encourage flowering. Because the roots system is vigorous, plants grown in pots should be divided every two years. If your plants are reluctant to bloom, move them to a sunnier spot.

African lily

Image by Michael Coghlan

Among many varieties and cultivars of Agapanthus, some outstanding varieties include: Agapanthus ‘Peter Pan’, ‘Tinkerbell’, ‘Northern Star’, Agapanthus inapertus ‘Midnight Cascade’, and Agapanthus ‘Snowstorm’.

Though it is not related to the Lily family, commercially Agapanthus is also known as Africa Lily or Lily of the Nile.