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.

12 Dec

Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’: the Japanese Bloodgrass

The lovely plant in the picture is Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’ – a perennial grass with beautifully colored and textured blades. Commonly known as Japanese Bloodgrass, this ornamental grass is an excellent choice for creating dramatic effects in any garden.

Imperata cylindrica 'Rubra'

Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’

Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’ forms dense clumps of strappy leaves that grow up to 5 feet. The silvery-green foliage has margin of bright red color that make it an excellent ornamental grass for gardens and landscapes. Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’ is usually mixed borders or grown along flower beds to provide contrasting and colorful background throughout the year.

Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’ is propagated from divisions and is grown in well-drained soil. Like most ornamental grasses it should be pruned regularly to keep it in shape and under control. Without regular pruning and control Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’ tends to become invasive and hard to weed out completely.

The plant requires regular watering and good exposure to bright sunlight. In colder climates, Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’ requires protection from heavy frost.

Japanese  Bloodgrass

Japanese Bloodgrass/ Image by jacki Dee