13 Nov

Lovely Flowering Shrub with Sweet Fragrant Flowers: Abelia

Abelia is a genus of lovely flowering shrubs from Asia and Mexico. Loved by gardeners because of its compact growth, Abelias are excellent specimen shrubs for gardens and landscapes. The genus of Abelia consists of more than 30 species and many hybrids.

Most species of Abelia grow from 1 to 6 meters and produce attractive glossy foliage accompanied by beautiful flowers of white, pink and mauve colors. Flowers are usually fragrant especially in summer evenings.

Abelia grandiflora

Abelia grandiflora/ Image by Leonora Enking

Abelias can be easily trimmed to form desirable shapes and size. These lovely shrubs are quite hardy and adaptable. Most species will tolerate drought and frost. Propagated by cuttings, Abelias will go good under full to partial sun.

From a large number of available varieties to choose from, you can start with popular species like:

Abelia grandiflora is a medium-sized flowering shrub that grows up to 3 meters and produces arching branches with small glossy leaves. Pink flowers with light fragrance appear in mid-summer.

Abelia Edward Goucher is a popular hybrid variety and is grown for its longer flowering period (usually much of the summer till early fall). This compact flowering shrub grows up to 5 feet and usually forms dense and rounded shape. The lustrous green leaves turn to pinkish-purple in winter.

Abelia grandiflora ‘Kaleidoscope’ is known for its red stems and bright, golden yellow variegation on glossy green leaves creating a kaleidoscope of color. The plant makes an excellent specimen shrub for indoor use.

08 Nov

Lovely Flowering Shrub for Garden Borders: Spiraea thunbergii

The plant featured today is Spiraea thunbergii. It is one of my favourite flowering shrubs because of its delicate spring flowers and interesting foliage. Spiraea thunbergii grows up to 5 feet as a dense, twiggy shrub and produces attractive narrow leaves. The beautiful foliage grows on wiry stems that densely branch out from the main stem of the plant. The interesting formation of leaves gets more beautiful in fall when the green color of leaves turns to golden-yellow to orange and bronze. The leaves fall of in winter and start sprouting again in early spring.

Spiraea thunbergii

Spiraea thunbergii / Image by Wikimedia Commons

Flowering starts in spring and last for many weeks. The white delicate flowers of Spiraea thunbergii form small clusters that cover the entire plant. Exposure to full sun encourages growth of flowers. Because of its interesting foliage, beautiful flowers and growing habits, Spiraea thunbergii makes an excellent border plant for gardens and landscapes.

Spiraea thunbergii can be easily grown in a slightly moist but well-drained soil. This lovely shrub loves sun but tolerates light shade. As with most plants in the Rose family, propagation of Spiraea thunbergii is done from layering or cuttings.

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.

16 Aug

Euphorbia rigida: the Gopher Plant

Euphorbia rigida is a shrubby and evergreen, succulent from the Mediterranean climate. Known for its attractive spiral-forming foliage and ability to withstand drought, the plant makes a valuable addition to a rock garden.

Euphorbia rigida, the Gopher Plant

Euphorbia rigida, the Gopher Plant / Image by FarOutFlora.com

Commonly known as Gopher Plant, Euphorbia rigida forms clumps of upright ascending stems and grows up to 2 feet in height and 3 feet in width. The blue-green leaves of the plant form spiral formation around its stems that make this plant very attractive. Flowers of bright yellow color appear in spring followed by formation of seed pods. Gardeners usually prune spent flowers to prevent self-seeding. The plant itself can be pruned at the end of flowering season to prevent a leggy appearance.

Euphorbia rigida can be grown in raised beds, garden borders and rock gardens and as an excellent ground cover. It also performs well in containers and landscaping with other drought-tolerant plants.

Propagated from seeds or cuttings, Euphorbia rigida can be grown under prefer full sun to partial sun. The plant usually blooms well in rather poor or sandy soil.

Like other plants from Euphorbia family, the milky sap emitted by Euphorbia rigida can be toxic and may cause severe skin irritation.

14 Aug

Lovely Flowring tree Liriodendron tulipifera, the Tulip Tree

Liriodendron tulipifera, commonly known as Tulip Tree or sometimes as Yellow Poplar, is a tall and deciduous flowering tree from North America. Characterized by its height and beautiful flowers, Liriodendron tulipifera makes an excellent flowering tree for gardens and landscapes. With a rapid growth rate, the tree can gain the height of up to 150 feet or more in wild. However, it takes much time to reach that height (An old Tulip Tree in Queens area in New York measures 134 feet; it is said to be 400-450 years old and often described the oldest living thing in New York. The tree is named Queens Giant). In cultivation, it can grow as tall as 70 to 100 feet.

Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip Tree)

Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip Tree)/ Image by Tim Waters

Like most plants in the Magnolia family, Liriodendron tulipifera is a valuable plant in horticulture. It has broad, glossy green leaves that turn to golden in autumn. Large tulip-like, cup-shaped flowers appear in spring to add to the grandeur of the tree. Flowers are predominantly greenish-yellow with dashes of red and orange. It does not branch much and tends to form columnar growth which makes it a good source of fine-grained timber.

How to Grow Liriodendron tulipifera

Liriodendron tulipifera prefers bright sunlight, and a rich and moist soil. The tree can be propagated from seeds. Young plants should be grown under partial sun and later moved to direct sunlight. Young plants have deep and fleshy roots that are easily broken if handled roughly.

05 Aug

Aspalathus linearis: the Rooibos plant

Aspalathus linearis is a shrub the Fabaceae family – the family of many popular flowering plants like Liperia, Lupinus and Mimosa. However, unlike its cousins Aspalathus linearis is not common in horticulture. It is rather grown commercially for leaves that are used for preparation of Rooibos tea.

Aspalathus linearis grows as a small shrub and prefers acidic and slightly sandy soil. The plant is characterized by needle-like leaves that are rich source of antioxidants. The leaves are used to brew herbal tea which is like not only for its flavor but also for its anti-cancer properties.

In its native habitat in South Africa, Aspalathus linearis have been consumed by the locals for a long time for its medicinal benefit. The plant is locally known as Red Bush tea. The tea brewed from the leaves of Rooibos is believed to alleviate asthma and allergies making it a useful plant for gardeners.

Aspalathus linearis, Rooibos

Aspalathus linearis / Image by Winfried Bruenken

 

Aspalathus linearis grows into a broom-like shrub and produces bright yellow flowers. The plant prefers moderate watering and a well-drained soil. For more detail on growing Aspalathus linearis.