22 Jan

Mesembs in My Succulent Garden

I have recently bought a small collection of Mesembs (a couple of Titanopsis and a big bunch of Lithops). The plants have not yet acclimatized themselves. The weather has been quite cold for a couple of weeks (usually it does not drop below 5 ~ 6 Celsius in winter here), but the last few weeks have been quite cold and frosty. I do not know how they are going to respond to the change of climate (I live in a semi-arid climate with very hot summer and a humid spell of monsoon).

Lithops in my succulent garden

Mix Variety of Lithops, Lapidaria and Pleiospilos

A bunch of Lithops

A bunch of Lithops

Titanopsis Hugo Schlechteri

Titanopsis Hugo Schlechteri

Titanopsis Schwantesii

Titanopsis Schwantesii

If you have any tips for growing Lithops and other Mesembs is sub-tropical climate, please share in the comments section below.

14 Jan

Evergreen Shrub for Lovely Gardens: Carissa carandas

Carissa carandas is an evergreen shrub from the Indian subcontinent where it grows widely in Pakistan, India and other tropical and sub-tropical plains of the region. The plant has been grown in the entire region for a long time for its fruits which has many medicinal and culinary uses. Besides its fruits, Carissa carandas also serves as an excellent shrub for the purposes of landscaping and hedging the land.

Carissa carandas

Carissa carandas/ Image by Phuong Tran

Carissa carandas grows as an evergreen shrub with fresh green and glossy leaves and sharp thorns. The branches are usually sturdy and flexible. The plant produces small white flowers that have a hint of fragrance. Flowering is followed by berry-like fruits. The fruit of Carissa carandas is usually collected and consumed unripe. If left to ripe on branches, the fruit turn from light green to pink or red color. It is rich in iron and vitamin C and is often used in preparation of pickles.

Carissa carandas grows vigorously under full sun and does not require much care. It can grow in almost any soil and is capable of surviving spells of drought.

Carissa carandas can be used as a nice ornamental shrub not only for its foliage and flowers but also for its berry-like fruit that grow in small bunches and add to the beauty of the plant. Carissa carandas can be propagated from cuttings and can be pruned easily to keep the shrub in good shape.

Flowers of Carissa carandas

Flowers of Carissa carandas/ Image by Dinesh Valke

When grown in the ground, Carissa carandas makes an excellent shrub for creating an evergreen display of fresh foliage or as a hardy shrub to serve as hedge or privacy screen in gardens.

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.