12 Mar

Lovely Tropical Tree: Amherstia nobilis, the Pride of Burma

Quite hard to find on local nurseries, Amherstia nobilis is a lovely tropical tree known for its showy orchid-like flowers of crimson and red colors. It is a slow growing tree that grows up to 12 meters and produces beautiful foliage.

Amherstia nobilis, the Pride of Burma

Amherstia nobilis, the Pride of Burma/ Image by Jayesh Patil

Amherstia nobilis is native to tropical forests of Myanmar (Burma) from where it has been collected for cultivation. Because of obscure information about the origin of the plant, slow growth rate and difficulty of growing it from seed, Amherstia nobilis is not widely available for cultivation, thus limited to private collections and specialty growers (Kukiat’s Gardens has a nice collection of Amherstia nobilis). Anyways, the tree is worth growing in your garden as it produces beautiful furled foliage and a great profusion of large and showy flowers.

Flowers of Amherstia nobilis have shades of crimson, pink, red and yellow. These colorful flowers appear on drooping branches and create a spectacular show when in full bloom. This is the time when it attracts birds, butterflies and by-passers. In fact, it is rightly called Pride of Burma and sometimes Queen of Flowering Trees.

As Amherstia nobilis is strictly a tropical tree, it requires a lot of sun, moderate water and protection from long spells of frost and cold. The tree can grow in ordinary soil mix that provides good drainage.

11 Mar

Nicotiana mutabilis, the Flowering Tobacco

Nicotiana mutabilis, popularly known as Flowering Tobacco, is a delightful flowering annual that makes an excellent plant for containers as well as garden landscapes. This sun loving plant is an abundant bloomer that is often seen laden with flowers of white, purple and pink colors. The flowers of Nicotiana mutabilis appear as white trumpet-shaped blooms that fade into purple and then pink, thus giving the plant its name mutabilis, i.e., ‘changing’. These colorful and lovely flowers also make showy and delightful arrangements in a vase.

Nicotiana mutabilis, Flowering Tobacco

Nicotiana mutabilis, Flowering Tobacco / Image via flickr (FaroutFlora)

Nicotiana mutabilis is easily grown from seeds sown in spring. The plant prefers fertile and slightly moist but well-drained soil in a spot where it receives bright sunlight. Nicotiana mutabilis usually grows as a self-seeding plant that comes back every spring; deadhead the plant if you do not want it to grow again the next season.

Nicotiana mutabilis is attractive to birds and butterflies thus a good choice if you want to attract birds to your garden.

10 Mar

Lovely Bulbous Plants for Garden Landscape: Hyacinthoids

Hyacinthoids, sometimes referred as Endymion or Scilla, is a small genus of bulbous perennials popular for their bell-shaped fragrant flowers.

Native to northern Africa and parts of Africa, Hyacinthoids are low-growing bulbous plants that bloom profusely in spring. The bell-shaped flowers of blue or lavender color appear on a long stalk rising from each bulb. Because of their low-growing habit and abundant showy flowers, Hyacinthoids are well suited to garden borders, open woodlands or spots under large trees where they grow easily and form clumps.

Hyacinthoids, Bluebell

Hyacinthoids, Bluebell/ Image by Ed

Commonly grown species include:

Hyacinthoids hispanica: Also known as Spanish Bluebell, Hyacinthoids hispanica grows well in open woodlands where it tends to cover the ground rapidly. Flowers are blue, white or pink.

Hyacinthoides italica: Native to Europe, Hyacinthoides italica or Italian Bluebell is a smaller species that produces purple-blue flowers in spring. The star-like flowers are different from typical bell-shaped flowers of its genus.

05 Mar

Little, Lovely Myosotis: Forget-me-not

Myosotis or Forget-me-not, as it is commonly known, is a lovely and easy to grow spring bloomer. The genus comprises of more than one hundred annuals, biennials and perennials that mostly grow as low-growing plants that tend to form large mounds.

Usually growing under shade or partial sunlight, most species of Myosotis prefer damp and rich soil where they can be planted for abundance of small blue flowers in spring. Myosotis or Forget-me-nots are easily propagated from seed or division in late winter. These tender plants need to be protected from frost in winter and scorching heat in summer.

Myosotis, Forget-me-not

Myosotis, Forget-me-not/ Image by Maurizio Albissola

Myosotis can be grown in containers where they would spill out to become delicate and attractive plants or in mass plantation scheme where they will form large mounds. The small and pointed leaves of Forget-me-not somewhat look like ears of a mouse – thus giving them their Greek name Myosotis (mouse’s ears).

The name Forget-me-not also has an interesting story. The legend has it that when God gave names to all the flowers, the little Myosotis cried, “Forget me not, O Lord!” The God replied, “That is your name, forget-me-not”. Besides the myths, Myosotis has been a popular subject in history, folk literature, and modern day fiction because of its lovely flowers and attractive colors.

03 Mar

Linum grandiflorum, the Scarlet Flax

Finally the spring has almost set in as the early spring bloomers are spreading their colors all around the town – especially the Scarlet Flax. It is blooming wildly and endlessly everywhere to celebrate early spring.

Linum grandiflorum, Scarlet Flax

Linum grandiflorum

Linum grandiflorum (Buy seeds online) or Scarlet Flax as it is commonly known is originally native to North Africa and parts of Europe and Asia where it grows as a drought-tolerant annual. The plant grows under sunny exposure and produces erect branches (up to 18 inches) with waxy-green leaves. The leaves provide a nice background to spectacular scarlet flowers of the plant.

How to Grow Linum grandiflorum

Linum grandiflorum can be grown in almost any soil that provides good drainage. The plant does well in containers as well as in the ground where it tends to form large mounds of elegant branches. The plant starts producing flowers in early spring. At this time, large mounds of the plant produce small scarlet flowers in abundance. The catchy colors of the flowers and dense branches of waxy-green leaves make it an excellent choice for garden borders or as nice filler for empty landscape spaces. It can also be mixed with larkspur, cosmos and other spring bloomers to create a dramatic effect.

Linum grandiflorum is easily propagated from seeds and does not require much care. Other names of the plant are Red Flax and Flowering Flax.

02 Mar

Santolina chamaecyparissus: the Cotton Lavender

Santolina is a genus of dwarf and evergreen shrubs known for their aromatic summer flowers. Originally native to the Mediterranean climate, most species of Santolina can be grown in tropical and sub-tropical regions.

Among many cultivate species; S. chamaecyparissus is more popular because of its attractive silvery foliage and button-like yellow flowers. The plant is commonly known as Cotton Lavender or Ground Cypress.

Santolina chamaecyparissus

Santolina chamaecyparissus/ Image by Manel (flickr)

Santolina chamaecyparissus is an easy-to-grow plant that prefers in hot, sunny, and well-drained sites. The plant grows as a dwarf (up to 1 to 1.5 feet high) and dense shrub ideally suited to small dividers or hedges in landscape designs schemes. Santolina chamaecyparissus performs well in sandy and loamy soil with average watering. Generally, it is a low-maintenance plant that should be trimmed after each flowering season to keep it compact and in good shape.

18 Feb

Zaluzianskya capenis: the Night Blooming Phlox

Zaluzianskya is a small genus of flowering annuals and perennials grown for their lovely flowers. Native to South Africa, most plants in the genus of Zaluzianskya are drought-tolerant and low growing plants that can be grown in containers or in the ground.

Among many popular species, Zaluzianskya capensis is grown widely for its lovely and fragrant flowers. In fact, the plant is known for intoxicating and potent fragrance that its flowers emit. Flowers of Zaluzianskya capensis start blooming early in the day and the fragrance becomes stronger and stronger with the passage of time. As the night approaches, the small white flowers emit a potent and somewhat addicting fragrance that reminds of vanilla or almonds. That is why the plant is commonly described as Midnight candy or Night Blooming Phlox.

Zaluzianskya capensis

Zaluzianskya capensis/ Image via flickr

Zaluzianskya capensis is quite easy to grow from seeds that germinate easily when sown in early spring. Young plants require average watering and partial sun. Mature plants can be grown under shade or full sun. However, it should be protected from frost and long spells of cold.

Generally Zaluzianskya capensis benefits from a rich soil that is moist during the summer but well-drained in winter.

14 Feb

Lovely Flowering Shrub for Sandy Soil: Chamelaucium uncinatum

Chamelaucium is a genus of evergreen shrubs from semi-arid regions of Australia especially the Western Australia. Several species of this genus are however grown as cut flowers in many tropical and subtropical regions of the world. These evergreen shrubs are known for their small and beautiful flowers. One of the widely known species is Chamelaucium uncinatum or Geraldton Wax Plant.

Chamelaucium uncinatum

Chamelaucium uncinatum/ Image by Arthur Chapman

Chamelaucium uncinatum is characterized by needle-like waxy foliage and small white flowers that usually have a touch of pink or lilac. The shrub grows up to 5 meters and serves as an easy to maintain hedge or screen. As it is native to semi-arid climate, Chamelaucium uncinatum prefers a well-drained soil and occasional watering. The best place for Chamelaucium uncinatum is a garden is a bright lit spot where it is protected from over watering and long spells of cold. Besides Chamelaucium uncinatum, many hybrids and cultivars are also sold commercially. Most of these varieties share common characteristics and grow easily from woody stem cuttings.