Category Archives: Zone 9b

22 Oct

Beautiful Flowering Plants for Shady Conditions: Clivia

Clivia is a small genus of flowering plants from South Africa. Grown as excellent flowering plants for shady spots, most species of Clivia also server as nice pot plants for shady patios and some indoor situations. These lovely bloomers are characterized by strap-like leaves and bell-shaped flowers that grown on a prominent stalk. Flowers of Clivia vary in colors from yellow through orange to red.

Clivias are typically forest undergrowth plants. They thrive in shady and rather dry conditions. In their native climate, they receive summer rainfall and almost completely dry winters. The same conditions can be imitated by watering them thoroughly in warmer months and then providing them barely sufficient water in winter. Excessive moisture rots these plants whereas long spells of drought hamper the growth of roots.

Clivia miniata

Clivia miniata/ Image by Maja Dumat

Most species of Clivia will benefit from slightly acidic soil and filtered sunlight. Popular species of Clivia include:

Clivia miniata: Commonly known as Bush lily, Clivia miniata grows up to 45 cm and produces flowers of orange, red, or yellow colors. Flower often emit slight but sweet fragrance.

Clivia nobilis closely resembles C. miniata but produces smaller drooping flowers.

18 Oct

Growing Helianthus, the Sunflower, in Landscape and Gardens

Helianthus, commonly known as Sunflower, is a genus of lovely and prolific flowering plants. These lovely bloomers are easily grown in almost any soil and make excellent flowering plants in gardens and landscapes. Most species of Helianthus are annuals and perennials growing from 2 to 4 meters. Helianthus is typically characterized by stout, hairy and seldom branching stem. Each stem has a terminal flower head bearing showy and fairly large-sized flowers.

Helianthus annuus

Helianthus annuus/ Image by Margrit (flickr)

Because of their columnar growth, bright flowers, and easy maintenance, many species of Helianthus have become popular flowering plants in many parts of the world. These species vary in height, and size and color of the flower.

Popular garden species of Helianthus include:

Helianthus annuus or common Sunflower: This is a branching annual growing up to 3 meters. The plant is characterized by coarse leaves and large yellow flowers. The Spanish name ‘annuus’ is because of the movement of flower head along with the sun. It actually follow the sun each day, facing eastward in the morning, westward at sunset.

Helianthus tuberosus is another popular plant from this genus. Unlike its cousins, this lovely bloomer produces smaller flowers on delicate stems. The tubers are edible and are usually known as Jerusalem artichoke.

Helianthus tuberosus

Helianthus tuberosus/ Image by Kingsbrae Garden (flickr)

Helianthus decapetalus ‘Multiflorus’ is popular because of its tufted flowers. This perennial blooms in summer and bears golden-yellow flowers.

Other popular species include: H. salicifolius, H. divaricatus and Helianthus debilis.

Sunflower

Sunflower/ Image by Maja Dumat (flickr)

Most species of Helianthus easily grown in average, moist and well-drained soil under full sun. Propagation is done from seeds or divisions. Regular feeding and watering encourage prolific flowering.

10 Oct

Ensete ventricosum: The Abyssinian Banana

Today’s featured plant is Ensete ventricosum. It is a large, evergreen perennial plant known for its giant and lush green leaves. Commonly known as Ethiopian Banana, false banana or sometimes as Abyssinian Banana, Ensete ventricosum is widely grown as an ornamental plant for gardens and landscapes.

Ensete ventricosum

Ensete ventricosum/ Image by Gardening in a Minute (flickr)

Ensete ventricosum grows up to 6 meters and produces large banana-like leaf blades. The stout trunk of the plant is formed by overlapping leaf-bases. The ornamental value of Ensete ventricosum is because of the texture and lush green colors of the leaves. Leaves that usually up to 5 meters have smooth texture and a contrasting midrib of salmon color.

Because of the fast growth rate and easy maintenance in temperate climates, Ensete ventricosum is a favourite landscape plant among gardeners and horticulturists. Because of its big size, the plant requires plenty of room to grow to its full potential. A healthy and mature plant makes an excellent specimen that instantly grabs attention. Besides, its ornamental value, Ensete ventricosum is also grown as fodder plant in Africa.

Ensete ventricosum flowers once and then dies. The flower is actually a huge bunch of 2 to 3 meters that hangs like a pendant. The bunch consists of maroon bracts that surround the actual flower.

Ensete ventricosum can be grown easily from seeds. The plant requires generous watering, plenty of sunlight, and protection from heavy frost.

Another popular species in the genus of Ensete is Ensete maurelii (Red Abyssinian Banana). It is a beautiful ornamental plant that grows up to 10 – 20 feet produces beautiful foliage of green and maroon shades. Because of its relatively smaller size, Ensete maurelii can be grown in large containers too.

23 Sep

Ornamental Tree for Gardens and Landscapes: Schotia brachypetala

Schotia is a genus of flowering shrubs and trees from tropical regions of southern Africa where it is known for its ornamental flowers and foliage. Most plants in this genus grow as flowering shrubs often growing in to small trees that can be used for shade or ornamental purpose.

Schotia brachypetala

Schotia brachypetala/ Image by Tatiana Gerus

The flowers of Schotia grow in large clusters in spring and spread their lovely shades of bright red and pink. Schotia make excellent ornamental plants because they do not have messy growth and do not require much maintenance. Most species of Schotia would grow up to 5 m, and produce attractive evergreen foliage. Propagation is easy from seeds or cuttings.

Popular species of Schotia include S. afra var. afra and Schotia brachypetala.

16 Sep

Lovely Flowering Tree for Coastal Landscape: Lagunaria patersonia

Lagunaria patersonia or Primrose Tree is an evergreen tree from tropical and subtropical regions of Australia. Known for its glossy green leaves and large pink flowers, the plant is grown in landscapes and gardens for summer flowering.

Lagunaria patersonia

Lagunaria patersonia/ Image by Tatiana Gerus

Lagunaria patersonia grows as a tall and sturdy tree with the habits of forming symmetrical pyramidal shape. Though native to Australia and the Pacific Islands, Lagunaria patersonia is easily grown and propagated in most temperate climates of the world. Because of rapid and sturdy growth of the tree, Lagunaria patersonia is often used for shade, as wind breaker in coastal landscapes, or for background screening garden landscapes. A mature tree can grow up to 15-25 meters and produce beautiful evergreen foliage with sprays of pink or mauve flowers. The shape and waxy texture of flowers of Lagunaria patersonia remind of Hibiscus.

Lagunaria patersonia prefers full sun and protection from heavy frost. The tree is drought-tolerant and requires moderate watering in summer.