16 Sep

Cunonia Capensis: The Red Alder of South Africa

Cunonia is a small genus of flowering trees and shrubs with evergreen and ornamental foliage. Most of the species are distributed across South Africa whereas some grow towards east coast in to Natal. The most popular of all species is Cunonia Capensis which is grown as ornamental foliage plant in gardens. It bears beautiful glossy green leaves with shades of red and pink. Flowers are very showy and appear in dense spikes of cream color. These fragrant flowers attract butterflies, garden birds and honey bees that pollinate flowers and spread seeds of the plant.

Cunonia Capensis

Cunonia Capensis, Image by Tony Rodd

How to Grow Cunonia Capensis

Cunonia Capensis is an excellent choice when you are looking for a decent foliage plant for all seasons. It requires moderate water (do not over water but do not allow the plant to dry for a longer period). Almost all species of Cunonia grow under partial sunlight and bloom in mid-summer.

Cunonia Capensis is commonly known as Red Alder or Butterspoon Tree.

12 Sep

Beautiful and Unusual: Agave ‘Blue Glow’

Today I am featuring Agave ‘Blue Glow’ which is one of my favorite of all agave plants in my collection. Agave ‘Blue Glow’ is supposed to be a hybrid between Agave Attenuata and Agave Ocahui – ‘Blue Glow’ has long narrow leaves (from Agave Ocahui) with a terminal spines and almost no marginal spines (from Agave Attenuata). Dark blue-green leaves have red margins that glow when seen at eye-level with sunlight in the background. Agave ‘Blue Glow’ is relatively slow growing plant that tends to grow solitary. It forms a compact rosette of up to 18 inches in height and spreads as wide as 2 feet- suitable for growing in containers. The plant in picture is about 2 years old and was grown from a small offset.

Agave 'Blue Glow'

Agave 'Blue Glow'


Agave ‘Blue Glow’ prefers bright sunlight but protection from direct harsh sun of summer. It is quite hardy, easy to grow, and drought tolerant. I am growing my plant in a terracotta pot in my roof garden.

Agve 'Blue Glow' Leaves

Agve 'Blue Glow' Leaves

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.