28 Oct

Lovely Flowering Shrub: Hypericum, the Rose of Sharon

Hypericum is a large genus of flowering shrubs, ground covers and annuals with a worldwide distribution. Known for their ornamental flowers and foliage, most species of Hypericum are frost-resistant plants that can be grown in landscapes as border plants or ground covers. Most species of Hypericum can be grown in shaded or semi-shaded areas of the garden where they bloom profusely in spring or summer. The flowers are bright yellow or golden. A number of hybrids have been produced for their horticultural use.
Hypericum x hidcote

Hypericum x hidcote/ Image by M. Martin Vicente

Among many useful flowering shrubs and ground covers, my personal favorite is Hypericum calycinum which is a vigorous growing plant. Usually grown as ground cover or small shrub, this lovely bloomer produces bright yellow flowers in summer. The flowers are chactrized by a mass of showy stamens that make this flower look quite unusual. H. calycinum prefers bright sunlight and moderate watering. The plant is commonly known as Rose of Sharon.
Other popular species of Hypericum include: H. perforatum (it is a popular homeopathic remedy for relieving pain and depression), H. uralum, H. pulchrum, Hypericum olympicum and Hypericum hidcote (St. John’s wort).
27 Oct

Orthosiphon labiatus – Shell Bush, Pink Sage, Pink Cat’s Whiskers

Orthosiphon is a genus of herbaceous shrubs from the family of Salvia and is known for its ornamental blooms. These drought tolerant shrubs especially Orthosiphon labiatus is a long blooming plant that forms a handsome shrub (up to 1 meter) for gardens and landscapes.

Orthosiphon labiatum

Orthosiphon labiatum

Orthosiphon labiatus is known for its pink, tubular flowers that appear on upright stems of the plant to cover the entire plant in spring and summer. Flowers are usually purple-pink and emit a minty fragrance.  This handsome shrub is perfect for mass plantation schemes to form large beds of decent foliage and spring blooms.

Orthosiphon labiatus is known by many names – Shell Bush, Pink Sage, and Pink Cat’s Whiskers. It grows best in full to partial sun and requires regular watering.

26 Oct

Unforgettably Fragrant and Lovely: Lonicera, the Honeysuckle

Lonicera is a wonderful genus of climbers, ground covers and shrubs grown for their foliage and fragrant flowers. The plants in the genus of Lonicera are usually known as Honeysuckles. The genus includes two major types of plants – bushes and climbers.

The bush type honeysuckles make decent shrubs that can be used for hedges or garden borders. The climber type honeysuckles are often grown against walls, pergolas or trellis. Both type of honeysuckles require proper pruning to keep them in good shape. Most honeysuckles would grow under bright sunlight and in a rich, moist but well-drained soil.

Honeysuckles make good ornamental plants in small gardens as well as landscape designs where they grow under little care and produce unforgettably fragrant flowers in spring.

Lonicera periclymenum, Honeysuckle

Lonicera periclymenum / Image by nicolas_gent (flickr)

Popular species of honeysuckle include:

Lonicera japonica (Japan honeysuckle) is an evergreen climber with white tubular flowers that appear in spring. A variegated variety Lonicera japonica ‘Variegata’ is also available for cultivation.

Lonicera caprifolium (Italian woodbine or goat-leaf honeysuckle) is a deciduous perennial that grows as vigorous climber (up to 8 meters). The plant produces abundance of strongly scented flowers of white and pink colors in midsummer.

Lonicera hildebrandiana (Giant honeysuckle) is an evergreen climber with large leaves and flowers. The flowers are yellow or orange that appear in spring.

Lonicera sempervirens is an excellent climber that produces decent foliage and tubular red flowers.

25 Oct

Tropical Vine with Fragrant Flowers: Cup of Gold (Solandra maxima)

Solandra maxima, which is popularly known as Cup of Gold, is a vigorous and fast growing vine from tropical regions of Mexico, Central America, and South America. It is an evergreen and sprawling vine that prefers a well-drained soil and exposure to bright sunlight. Cup of Gold is usually grown against pergolas, trellis or walls because its thick and twinning stems require a sturdy support. As a fats growing vine, Cup of Gold can grow up to 40 meters or more, therefore, it should be regularly pruned to keep it in shape and under control.

Solandra maxima, Cup of Gold

Solandra maxima, Cup of Gold/ Image by Eric Hunt

Cup of Gold produces wide, leathery leaves of dark green color. The bell-shaped flowers of Cup of Gold hang on woody stems. These attractive and prominent flowers closely resemble the flowers of Duranta. These lovely flowers are yellow when they bloom but as the time passes they eventually tend to appear deep golden, thus giving the vine its common name – Cup of Gold. These lovely flowers emit a decent fragrance.

Cup of Gold vine is quite easy to propagate from layering. Young plants require regular water, however, as they grow they become quite hardy and withstand long periods of drought easily.

22 Oct

Evergreen Shrub with Turquoise Flowers: Tweedia caerulea

Tweedia caerulea is an interesting twinning perennial from South America. This evergreen subshrub grows up to 1 meter or more and produces delicate flowers of turquoise color. The beautiful flowers give the plant many names like Southern Star, Heavenborn, Little Blue Star, and Blue Flowered Milkweed.

Tweedia caerulea

Tweedia caerulea/ Image by douneika (flickr)

Tweedia caerulea prefers full to partial sun and regular watering in ordinary but well-drained soil mix. Although evergreen, it is best to prune back the plant in early spring. A mature plant of Tweedia caerulea usually has dense foliage characterized by soft and felted leaves. Easily grown from seeds, Tweedia caerulea is a good choice for gardens, wall-side borders and containers.