03 Nov

Washingtonia: The Mexican Fan Palm for your Garden Landscape

Washingtonia or the Mexican Palm is one of the favorite palms of landscape designer for its ornamrntal fronds and ability to grow in poor growing conditions. Native of desert mountain valleys and canyons of Mexico and North America, Washingtonia grows under sunny conditions and grows easily in poor, sandy soil. It can withstand spells of drought and thus makes a good choice for xeriscape projects.

The genus is represented by two species: Washingtonia Robusta or Mexican Fan Palm and Washingtonia Filifera or California Fan Palm. The former is more popular as ornamental tree and has been hybridized and domesticated in almost all tropical regions of the world.

Typically, Washingtonia Robusta can grow up to 100 feet though it takes quite a long time to attain that height. The plant is covered by the crown of large glossy-green and fan-shaped fronds that grow symmetrically around a tall, slender trunk. The solitary trunk of the plant bulges near the ground but continues to grow as slender trunk towards the crown.

Washingtonia Robusta, Tropical, Evergreen Palm

Washingtonia Robusta, Image by floresyplantas.net

Mature trees produce attractive blooms followed by small edible fruits.

Washingtonia Robusta can be used as a versatile ornamental plant in landscapes as well as small gardens. Young plants can be grown in containers as nice foliage plants for patios. Larger plants can be grown in open landscape projects where they can stay for decades and grow in to skyscraper-trees. They also serve as ornamental trees along streets or pathways.

Both species are grown from seeds. Though these plants grow without much care, however, a balanced and well-drained soil with regular watering really helps them flourish quickly.

03 Nov

Evergreen Flowering Climber: Asarina

Asarina usually described as Maurandia is a small genus of climbing perennials with evergreen foliage and very attractive flowers of purple, white, blue, yellow and white colors. Flowers are trumpet shaped and bloom from late spring till late autumn.

Asarina Procumbens

Asarina Procumbens, Image from wrightmanalpines.com

Suitable for hanging baskets, balcony gardens or as climbers against trellis and walls, Asarina are quite easy to grow. They require regular watering in fertile but well-drained soil, and bright sunlight to flourish. Most of the species grow quite well in cold climates where they are provided shelter from heavy frost. Asarina can be grown from cuttings planted in summer.

Asarina is commonly known as Creeping Gloxina, Climbing Snapdragon or Mexican Twist.

27 Oct

Chinese Aster: Colorful Flowering Plants for Garden Beds

If you are looking for easy to grow and carefree plants for your sunny garden beds, Chinese Asters should be on top of your list. Easily grown from seeds, this popular summer annual bears very attractive flowers of pink, blue, purple, mauve, white and yellow colors. Flowers are long lasting and can be used as attractive cut flowers. As the name describes, Chinese Aster originally belongs to China but it has been widely cultivated and hybridized to grow as popular cut flower in many parts of the world.

Depending on variety, can be grown as low growing flowering plant in landscape or as tall herbaceous annuals in flowering beds. A number of dwarf varieties are available for patio or balcony gardens.

Chinese Aster Flowers

Chinese Aster Flowers, Image by Carl E. Lewis (flickr)

How to grow Chinese Aster

Chinese Aster grows well in a well-drained soil with moderate. Seeds should be sown in early spring when temperature is above 20 C. Protect these plants from frost and heavy watering. Popular varieties of Chinese Aster include: Princess Aster, Popom Aster and Plume Aster.

26 Oct

Aspidistra, the Cast Iron Plant for Indoor Garden

Aspidistra or Cast-iron Plant is one of the easiest and carefree houseplants to grow. It grows a bit slow but offers lovely evergreen foliage for indoor plantation. Native to Asia, Aspidistra has a large number of hybrid varieties offering variegated and multicolor foliage.

In a good soil mix with regular watering, Aspidistra would produce rich, leathery foliage. However, these plants are capable of surviving neglect and very tough conditions as well – thus earning the name: Cast-iron plant. The most popular species of this genus is Aspidistra Eliator which is grown as indoor container plant or as garden plant in dark-shady spots where very few plants would survive. Cast iron plant typically forms dense clumps of evergreen leathery leaves that grow as long as 750 mm long.

Aspidistra, The Cast Iron Plant

Aspidistra, The Cast Iron Plant

Popular varieties of Cast iron plant include: Milky Way, Lennon’s Green, White Snowy Crown, Morning Frost and ‘Bubba‘ cast iron plant.

25 Oct

Lovely, Tropical Shrub for Landscapes: Lollipop Plant

Pachystachys is a genus of evergreen shrubs from tropical parts of South America, West Indies and parts of Africa and the US. These prolific bloomers produce attractive bracts and flowers almost throughout warm months and make decent accent plants in gardens as well as good indoor plants.

From about 12 species in the genus, Pachystachys Lutea is perhaps the most popular and widely grown for its intense yellow blooms. Usually known as Lollipop Plant or Golden Shrimp plant, Pachystachys Lutea spreads quite easily and fills empty landscapes very well. The plant grows up to 1.5 meters and bears dark green leaves and golden yellow bracts around white flowers. It is a good choice for borders as well as indoor containers grown under full to partial sunlight. Lollipop Plant usually starts blooming in spring and continues to bloom through summer and fall. To keep these shrubby plants in shape, it is recommended to prune them back once flowering season has ended.

Pachystachys Lutea, Lollipop Plant

Lollipop Plant, Image by Roland & Sonja

How to grow Lollipop Plant

Pachystachys Lutea is not fussy about soil and water. It grows quite well is regular soil mix and requires regular watering. It propagates easily from cuttings as well as seeds. When grown indoors, place Lollipop Plant near a well-lit window where it receives normal humidity and temperature between 18 and 27 ◦C.  Increase watering if leaves fall.