04 Jan

Hardy and Versatile Flowering Shrub: Leonotis leonurus

Leonotis leonurus is a versatile and useful flowering shrub for tropical and subtropical climates. It grows as a sturdy and drought tolerant shrub that can be used to fill empty landscape spaces, trimmed to make nice borders, or grown as ornamental plant for beautiful flowers and decent foliage.

Leonotis leonurus, the Lion's tail

Leonotis leonurus, the Lion’s tail/ Image by Andy Carvin

Leonotis leonurus grows up to 6 feet and bears flowers on long stalks. Flowers of orange color grow in small tufts along the stalk and last long. The tufts of flowers growing along the long and sturdy stalk give the plant looks of a lion’s tail, thus giving the plant its common name – Lion’s tail.

Leonotis leonurus bears delicate, green foliage with nice fall colors in fall. The leaves emit fragrance when crushed. The plant comes from summer rainfall areas of Africa and parts of southern America where it has been used in preparation of traditional medication for flu, fever and headache.

Since Leonotis leonurus is not fussy about growing conditions, it can be grown easily from seeds. It can grow in almost any part of the garden however a sunny exposure is good for healthy foliage and vigorous flowering. The plant can survive long spells of drought as well as occasional frost and spells of cold.

Besides popular orange flowering variety, a white flowering variety of Leonotis leonurus is also grown as ornamental flowering shrub.

Leonotis leonurus can be a good plant to attract butterflies and birds to the garden.

31 Dec

2013: Wonderful World

Wonderful World

I see trees of green – red roses too

I see em bloom -for me and for you

And I think to myself -what a wonderful world.

 

I see skies of blue – clouds of white

Bright blessed days – dark sacred nights

And I think to myself – what a wonderful world.

 

The colors of a rainbow – so pretty in the sky

Are also on the faces – of people going by

I see friends shaking hands – sayin how do you do

They’re really sayin – i love you.

 

I hear babies cry – I watch them grow

They’ll learn much more – than I’ll never know

And I think to myself – what a wonderful world

Yes I think to myself – what a wonderful world.

~ George Douglas

30 Dec

Lovely Tropical Bloomers: Sinningia

Sinningia is a popular genus of flowering plants from the family of African Violets. The genus comprises of several species and a large number of hybrids that range from large shrubs to small perennials and really miniature varieties.

The genus of Sinningia is native to South America. Most species produces dark green leaves and trumpet-shaped, velvety flowers of white, red, pink or purple shades in spring and summer. These lovely plants grow from tubers and often go dormant after completing one flowering cycle. After every period of dormant, they grow again from the tuber to complete another flowering cycle.

Miniature Sinningia

Miniature Sinningia/ Image by Khufram (flickr)

In colder climates, most species of Sinningia can be grown indoor or in greenhouse. Sinningias usually require slightly moist soil and partial sunlight. Popular species include:

Sinningia cardinalis: Characterized by velvety leaves and scarlet flowers.

S. speciosa: A popular variety with several hybrids varieties grown for violet, red and white flowers.

Sinningia tubiflora: Known for long tubular white flowers that emit sweet fragrance.

Sinningia leucotricha: One of the more commonly grown species. The plant is characterized salmon flowers that look outstanding on the background of white leaves.

29 Dec

Pseuderanthemum alatum, the Chocolate Plant

Chocolate Plant is common name of Pseuderanthemum alatum, which is a low-growing shrub from the family of popular tropical plants like Ruellia and Odontonema. Chocolate Plant takes its name from coppery-brown colors of its foliage.

Pseuderanthemum alatum is usually grown as ground cover in tropical climates where it grows under full to partial sun. In colder climates, it can be grown in greenhouse. The plant requires rich, well-drained soil and regular watering though it is capable of surviving occasional droughts.

Pseuderanthemum alatum, the Chocolate Plant

Pseuderanthemum alatum, the Chocolate Plant

Pseuderanthemum alatum is usually propagated from cuttings. The plant grows up to 1 foot and bears purple or magenta flowers. The beautiful foliage of Chocolate Plant makes it an attractive plant for landscapes and gardens where it can be grown to fill large spaces or cover uncultivated ground. It can also be grown along borders to add dramatic colors to the garden.

29 Dec

Beautiful Foliage Plant for Marshy Soil: Typha, the Bullrush

Typha is a small genus of flowering plants known for their beautiful foliage and unusual flowers. The genus consists of more than eleven species that grow in wetlands or marshy areas in almost all parts of the world.

Typhas make excellent accent plants for water gardens. These fast growing plants make large clumps of stem-less foliage and brown cylindrical inflorescence. The flowers are dried and used in floral arrangements to add dramatic effects.

Typha, the Bullrush plant

Typha, Bullrush/ Image by Gertrud K.

Most species of Typha contain high levels of nutrients such as protein and starch that is why it has been used as culinary item in Europe. Because of high level starch, some species of Typha can be used to produce ethanol as biofuel. Other traditional uses of Typha as recorded in history are preparation of paper, fiber and diuretic medicine.

Typha can be grown easily near ponds and pools. The plants can be grown from seeds or rhizomes under full to partial sun in wet soil. Popular species include Typha capensis, Typha latifolia and T. angustifolia.

Commin name of Typha is Bullrush.

22 Dec

Leuchtenbergia principis, the Cactus Agave

Leuchtenbergia principis is one of the most unusual forms of cactus. Though it closely resembles an Agave but the plant actually belongs to the family of cactus, thus justifying its common name, Cactus Agave.  It does not have usual spines or typical globular or cylindrical formation of a cactus. It is characterized by its long and triangular tubercles that actually look like leaves of the plant. The tubercles of Leuchtenbergia principis grow on a corky stem. Each tubercle is 4 to 5 cm long and produces papery spines at the tip.

Leuchtenbergia principis

Leuchtenbergia principis/ Imahe by Manuel M. Ramos

Leuchtenbergia principis produces showy yellow flower in spring and summer. However, flowering is not really frequent.

Leuchtenbergia principis is significantly slow growing plant and grows up to 10 cm in wild. The plant has a strong tap root that requires deep soil. Like other species of cacti, Leuchtenbergia principis is not fussy about requirements. It requires occasional watering and fertilizer. The plant prefers hot and sunny location but protection from winter frost.

Leuchtenbergia principis can be easily propagated from seeds that can be collected from its fruit. Young seedlings can be grafted for quicker and healthy growth of plants.

15 Dec

C is for Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum

A bunch of purple Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum

A beautiful yellow Chrysanthemum with a hint of orange

Chrysanthemum

A beautiful bunch of Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum

Golden Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum

Unique and Lovely

Chrysanthemum

Another lovely specimen

Chrysanthemum

The best of the whole lot

Chrysanthemum

Beautiful Color of Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum

Yellow-Orange Chrysanthemum

13 Dec

Saponaria officinalis: Soapwort

Saponaria is a small genus of annuals and perennials from the Mediterranean climate where it is grown for its colorful flowers. Saponaria officinalis is the most popularly known species from this genus. It is a low-growing perennial that produces fragrant flowers of white and pink hues in early summer. The flowers appear in dense clusters and make a colorful impact on the background of green leaves. The best place to grow Saponaria officinalis is mixed borders where it can grow in almost any soil and tolerate long spells of cold and frost.

Saponaria officinalis, Soapwort/ Image by AnneTanne

Saponaria officinalis, Soapwort

Most plants in the genus of Saponaria tend to becomes weedy and invasive, however Saponaria officinalis is quite easy to control with regular pruning.

Extract of the leaves of Saponaria officinalis has soapy content. It produces fine lather when rubbed, that is why it has traditionally been used as soap or luxurious shampoo especially for washing delicate surfaces. The soapy extract gives the plant its common name – Soapwort.