Category Archives: Zone 9a

11 Sep

Lovely Foliage Plant for Gardens and Landscapes: Acanthus

Acanthus is a genus of perennial sub-shrubs that are grown for their ornamental foliage and flowers. They are quite showy plants and can be recognized easily in a landscape for their glossy-green leaves. Originally native to the Mediterranean region, Acanthus has inspired several architectural designs and patterns in the Greek and Roman culture. One can easily recognize and relate several architectural motifs in ancient Roman culture with beautiful foliage of Acanthus. In fact, Roman and Greeks revered this plant and used it as a decorative plant.

Flowers on Acanthus plants are borne along long stalks (up to 2 meters) that stand out in plantation. Flowers are usually white or cream with a hint of purple.

Acanthus Mollis, Ornamental Foliage Plant

Acanthus Mollis, Image by meggle (flickr)

How to Grow Acanthus

Acanthus is easy to grow and maintain. These ornamental perennials are grown best under share or filtered sunlight. Young plants requite regular watering, however, once establish they do not require much attention. Most species of Acanthus have long tap roots making it difficult to root them out. Since these plants are quiet showy in noticeable in size, it is recommended that you do not grow them near low growing plants. Acanthus is best grown as border plants or as background foliage plants in a landscape. These shrubby plants can be propagated from cuttings. Among all species, the most cultivated is Acanthus Mollis, which is also known as Bear’s Breeches. Other popular species are: Acanthus Spinosus and Acanthus Hungaricus.

Acanthus Spinousu is recipient of Award of Garden Merit by The Royal Horticultural Society.

28 Aug

Fast Growing, Ornamental Ground Cover: Ajuga Reptans

Ajuga Reptans or Carpet Bugleweed is a quick solution if you are looking for a plant to cover wide empty spaces, beds or bare soil. As a vigorous growing groundcover, it would readily cover the ground to form a low growing thick mat of dark green or coppery leaves. Ajuga Reptans can also be used to control soil erosion as it spreads quickly via runners and grows almost in any type of soil with good drainage.

Ajuga Reptans Groundcover

Ajuga Reptans Groundcover, Image from wikipedia

Grown as ornamental groundcover, Ajuga Reptans is good for beds as well as landscapes where it provides a glossy dense mat of leaves and produces attractive flowers of blue or purple colors. Flowers grow on small stalks (up to 6 inches). These conspicuous flowers make a spectacular show in spring till midsummer. Ajuga Reptans can also be grown under tree or combined with shrubs in landscapes for a dramatic effect in flowering season. Rich in nectar, flowers of Ajuga Reptans attract birds, bees and butterflies.

How to Grow Ajuga Reptans

Ajuga Reptans is native to Europe and parts of Asia and Australia. It can be grown under shade or sun with regular watering. It does not have any special soil needs and grows in almost any soil with good water drainage. Propagation is done from softwood cuttings.

26 Aug

Lovely, Deciduous Flowering Tree: Cercis Siliquastrum

If you are looking for a tree that is unique in shape and delightful in blooms, try Cercis Siliquastrum. Commonly known as Judas tree, it is perhaps one the most beautiful species of all deciduous bloomers. It is hardy, drought tolerant, frost resistant and shaped beautifully in wild as well as in cultivation.

In it natural habitat that includes parts of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, Cercis Siliquastrum grows up to 30 meters, however, in cultivation it would rarely gain that much height because it grows quite slowly. This makes Cercis Siliquastrum as good choice for gardens where you have limited space. Though it is drought tolerant, Cercis Siliquastrum flourishes well when waters adequately.

Cercis Siliquastrum, Judas Tree

Cercis Siliquastrum, Image by Andrew Dunn

Being a member of pea-family (like Wisteria, Robinia, Cassia etc.), Cercis Siliquastrum is an excellent bloomer especially in winter and spring when it bears small yet very attractive flowers of magenta or pink colors. Flowers are borne on the trunk before leaves and are followed by seed pods that last long. The beautiful pink or magenta flowers not only add to the ornamental value of this handsome tree but are also used in salads for their tangy taste.

How to Grow Cercis Siliquastrum

Cercis Siliquastrum is propagated form softwood cuttings or seeds. Being native to temperate regions, these deciduous plants prefer exposure to bright sunlight and average water.

22 Aug

Fast Growing Ornamental Groundcover: Duchesnea Indica

Duchesnea Indica is a quick growing, ornamental plant that spreads quickly to serve as a good groundcover. Popularly known as Indian Strawberry or Mock Strawberry, Duchesnea Indica bears ornamental foliage and fruit – both resemble the foliage and fruit of real strawberry plants, however the fruit of Mock Strawberry is quite tasteless.

Duchesnea Indica grows natively in south Asia and parts of eastern Asia as a low growing perennial. The plant has been acclimatized in many parts of the worlds where it is grown as ornamental houseplant. Suitable as groundcover, for container gardening and window gardens, these low growing plants do not require special care. In fact, they can withstand neglect.

Duchesnea Indica, Mock Strawberry, Indian Strawberry

Duchesnea Indica, Image by Shihmei Barger

How to Grow Duchesnea Indica

Mock Strawberry can be grown easily from divisions or seeds as evergreen groundcover. It requires full to partial sun and tolerates drought and frost – a good choice for xeriscaping. Duchesnea Indica self-seeds in favorable conditions and becoming quite invasive.

19 Aug

Evergreen, Flowering Shrub for Tropical Gardens: Tecoma

Tecoma is a small genus of sun loving shrubs and small trees from Central and South America. Grown as popular houseplants, Tecoma produces clusters of trumpet shaped yellow and orange flowers. Evergreen in warm climates and deciduous in colder climate, Tecoma is easy to grow and attract many pollinating bees, butterflies and birds when in full bloom – adding charm to the garden.

Tecoma Capensis, Flowering Shrub

Tecoma Capensis, Image from wikipedia

How to Grow Tecoma

Most species of Tecoma can be propagated from seeds or cuttings. The best media to grow these prolific bloomers is a well-drained soil watered moderately. Provide them a sunny spot to grow and prune back after flowering season which is usually in summer.

Popular Species of Tecoma

Tecoma Alata: Evergreen shrub that tends to form a small tree. Bears showy yellow flowers in summer.

Tecoma Grandiflora: A vigorous climber and produces orange or scarlet flowers during all months of the year.

Tecoma Radicans: A perfect flowering shrub for covering walls or old trees because of its climbing habit. Bears scarlet, tubular flowers.

Tecoma Jasminoides: Evergreen climber with shiny, dark green foliage and wide open trumpet flowers of white or pink colors.