08 Jul

Spiny, Hardy, Lovely, and Flowery Cactus: Echinopsis

Echinopsis is the most popular and widely grown genus from the family of cactus. This genus includes more than 100 species varying in size, shape and growing habits. Most of the species in the genus of Echinopsis grow in clusters of globular heads. In some species, these globular heads remain solitary whereas some species produce several offspring around globular heads.

Echinopsis are fast growing plants, and with age they change their shape from globular heads to elongated succulent stems. Old plants can grow into large clumps measuring more than 60 cm in diameter. At this age, most species of Echinopsis produce profuse flowers in spring and summer. The funnel-shaped flowers come in all shades of yellow, white, pink and orange. The best known flowers are borne on Echinopsis multiplex (sometimes described as Echinopsis oxygana).

Echinopsis Huntigton Hybrid

Echinopsis Huntigton Hybrid, Image by epiforums(flickr)

Originally native to South America, Echinopsis multiplex is widely cultivated is many parts of the work for its lovely flowers. Though flowers last for a day or two, they appear in flushes several time during spring and summer – producing many flowers in each cycle. It is quite hardy plant that does not require special attention or growing conditions to thrive. Moderate watering, a regular soil mix with good drainage, and bright sunlight are more than sufficient for this hardy plant to grow. If kept dry, Echinopsis can easily withstand frost and cold.

Echinopsis multiplex

Echinopsis multiplex, Image by pizzodisevo (flickr)

Echinopsis can be propagated from offspring sown in spring or summer. The best and most sought after varieties of Echinopsis are Schick hybrids produced by the Huntington garden. These include (my favorites):

Echinopsis ‘Antares’, Echinopsis ‘Bacarole’, Echinopsis ‘Brigitte’s Beauty’, Echinopsis ‘Desdemona’ and many more.

Echinopsis Schick Hybrid

Echinopsis Schick Hybrid, Image by epiforums(flickr)

Common names of Echinopsis are Hedgehog cacti, Sea-Urchin cactus or Easter lily cactus.

05 Jul

Ornamental Houseplant for Tropical Climate: Aphelandra squarrosa (Zebra Plant)

Aphelandra, usually known as Zebra Plant, is an evergreen perennial from tropical climates. It is popular among gardeners and horticulturists for its beautiful foliage and flowers. The genus includes about 170 species of evergreen bushes; all known by the common name – Zebra Plant.

Aphelandras or Zebra Plants are characterized by large, showy and glossy green leaves with prominent veins of white or silver color that make these plants quite attractive and a good choice as ornamental houseplants. One of the common species is Aphelandra squarrosa. It produces large leaves and quite showy and colorful flowers surrounded by yellow bracts.

Aphelandra squarrosa

Aphelandra squarrosa, Zebra Plant, Image via CoffeeGeek.com

Most species of Aphelandra are frost tender and do not grow well in colder climates. They are best grown under partial shade and rich, organic soil. For best results, Aphelandras should be provided with moist soil and temperature not falling below 70 F.

Flowers on Zebra Plant appear in late summer or autumn and last for several weeks. Both the flowers and foliage make Aphelandra a good candidate for container gardening and ornamental houseplant for patios and gardens where they can be grown for seasonal displays.

05 Jul

9 Creative Ideas for DIY Garden Borders

Garden Border with Used China Plates

Garden Border with China Plates

Image from bloominghillva.blogspot.com

DIY Succulent Garden Border

DIY Succulent Border

Image via Pinterest

Edible Garden Border

Edible Plants Border

Image via Pinterest

DIY Garden Border with Used Bottles

DIY Plants Border with Bottles

Image from apartmenttherapy.com

Stone Garden Border

Stones Border

Image from mooseyscountrygarden.com

Garden Border with Groundcovers

Plants Border

Image via Pinterest

DIY Garden Border with Grass

DIY Garden Border

Image via Pinterest

Bricks Border

Brick Border

Image from deucecitieshenhouse.com

DIY Garden Border with Steel Pipes

DIY Garden Border with Steel Pipes

Image from welchwrite.com

04 Jul

Flowering Shrub for Perennial Borders: Eupatorium purpureum

Eupatorium is a genus of perennial shrubs that are distributed widely in tropical climates of America, Africa and Asia. These flowering shrubs are popular among gardeners as late season perennials when only a few plants bloom.

Most species of Eupatorium produce attractive and fluffy flowers of pink or mauve colors, and grow as tough and hardy shrubs. Among popular species, Eupatorium purpureum is grown widely for its ornamental flowers. The plant spreads in clumps and grows up to 2 meters.

Eupatorium purpureum

Eupatorium purpureum, Joe Pye weed, Image by Carolyn Willitts

Eupatorium purpureum prefers full to partial sun, slightly moist soil and regular watering. It produces purple-pink flowers in late summer or early autumn. These vanilla-scented flowers appear in large bunches and attract birds and butterflies.

Eupatorium purpureum serves as a nice ornamental shrub even when not in bloom. It can be grown in  perennial borders, landscapes or backyard garden for its fragrance and ability to attract a variety of butterflies. The plant, however, needs sufficient space to grow and bloom. For best results, prune back at the end of every flowering season.

Common names of Eupatorium purpureum are Indian Sage and Joe Pye weed.

02 Jul

Lovely, Evergreen Bush: Hamelia patens, the Firebush

Hamelia is a genus of evergreen shrubs and small trees from the family of Ixora, and like Ixora it makes an flowering bush for gardens and landscapes. The genus is perhaps best represented by  Hamelia patens, which is widely grown in hedges, borders and as an accent plant.

It is an easily grown bush that produces evergreen foliage and beautiful red or scarlet flowers almost all through the year – thus justifying it common name, Firebush. Hemalia patens grows quite quickly in tropical and sub-tropical climates and grows up to 3 or 4 feet tall with some woody growth. It grows well under full sun or partial shade and requires moderate but regular watering (though mature plants can withstand some drought). Firebush is best known for its flowers which are rich in nectar and attract a lot of butterflies. Flowering is followed by formation of small berries which are favorite food of birds especially hummingbird.

Hamelia patens, the Firebush

Hamelia patens, the Firebush, Image by Mary Keim

Grown as annual flowering bush, Firebush should be pruned regularly to keep the plant in proper shape. When allowed to grow on its own, Firebush tends to form large mounds with dense growth of evergreen foliage and small red flowers.

Besides its horticultural value, Firebush has been used by indigenous people of south and Central America for its medicinal benefits. The extract of the leaves and stems of Firebush is believed to have antibacterial and antifungal properties, that is why, it has long been used a good remedy for all kinds of skin diseases including rashes, skin fungus, sores and insect stings. The extract is also used today for the treatment of headache, rheumatism, fever, and dysentery.

28 Jun

Pennisetum: Ornamental Grasses for Landscapes and Gardens

Pennisetum is a genus of annual and perennial ornamental grasses from tropical and temperate regions of the world. Some popular species from this genus include millet, grain and some fodder plants. These ornamental grasses are known for their foliage and flowers that really add ornamental value to gardens and landscapes.

Pennisetum are generally tough, drought-tolerant and easily grown plants. They usually grow in small clumps and produce soft, feathery inflorescence in late summer. Most species of Pennisetum are frost hardy in tropical climates; however they need protection from long winters of cold regions. These plants prefer full sun and a well-drained soil. In their native climate, these plants can withstand drought and require only moderate watering.

Pennisetum Setaceum 'Rubrum'

Pennisetum Setaceum 'Rubrum', Image by Matt Lavin

Some of the popular species of Pennisetum include:

Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’ (Fountain Grass) – Grows up to 1 meter and produces rose-colored flowers on long spikes in summer.

Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’ (Dwarf Fountain Grass) – Relatively smaller species (50 to 75 cm) with small clumps of grassy leaves; grows in almost any soil. Prefers full sun and a little moist soil. Flowers appear in late summer.

Pennisetum orientale (Oriental Fountain Grass) – Ornamental grass with fresh green leaves that grow up to 75 cm. This species produces white, feathery flowers and prefers partial sun, moist soil and a regular soil mix with good drainage.

26 Jun

Quick Tip # 2: Buying Plants

Avoid buying a plant in bloom. When you buy a new plant and move it to your home or garden, it requires sufficient amount of energy to adjust to new conditions especially when you are transplanting it. If the plant is already in bloom, it would continue to finish the blooming cycle instead of establishing itself resulting in poor health. If you have to buy a blooming plant, it is better to nip the buds and blooms so that that plant can use its energies to acclimatize itself. Once established in its new place, the plant would produce healthy foliage and prolific blooms in the next blooming season.

23 Jun

Lovely, Multicolor Houseplant: Agave lophantha ‘quardicolor’

The very first look at my rooftop garden would tell you that I have a special interest for Agaves so much so that they have gradually taken place of other succulent plants in my collection. I love Agave plants for the variety of colors, texture, foliage, size and formation. Another reason that I tend to love my Agave plants more than other succulents is their ability to survive harsh and humid summers as well as nearly freezing winters.

The plants in my Agave collection are as big as 4 meters across and as small as 6 inches across – and of course, there are many personal favorites. One of them is Agave lophantha ‘quardicolor’. It is a very interesting and colorful plant that grows as a medium sized and compact plant. It is characterized by green leaves with a pale-green mid stripe, and bright yellow border having greyish spines. In winters, yellow borders get a hint of red color to add the fourth shade and justifying the name of the plant – quardicolor.

Agave lophantha 'quadricolor'

Image from pieceofeden.blogspot.com/

Agave lophantha ‘quardicolor’ grows as a compact plant. Leaves can grow up to 30 cm long whereas the plant itself attains the diameter of 60 cm. Mature plants produce suckers that can be separated easily to propagate the plant. Flowers on Agave lophantha ‘quardicolor’ appear rarely.

Since it is quite hardy, Agave lophantha ‘quardicolor’ can be a good ornamental plant for containers, rock gardens or xeriscapaes.  It requires moderate watering, and full to partial sun (avoid direct sunlight where summer is harsh). When grown in containers, repot every two or three years or according to the size of the plant.

22 Jun

[Event, Jun 24, 2012] How to make your own terrarium at home

No green thumb or yard space needed- create your own sustainable eco-system with a DIY terrarium. The perfect option for us LA folk without much yard space, Jessica will explain all you need to know about succulents, cacti, and desert plants. Design a terrarium in a dish or vase and keep for yourself or gift it! All plants & containers for terrariums included, plus a take-home reference chart, plant care guide, and refreshments to sip on while you work!

Get your hands dirty and grow something great; it’s your world, celebrate it.

Event: Homemade Terrarium

Date/Time: Sunday, June 24, 2012 – 4:00 PM

 

Location: 7377 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90046

Organizer: Life Crowd

More info: https://www.lifecrowd.com/activity/homemade-terrariums/2844