In my previous post, I shared useful tips for designing a low maintenance garden landscape. Today, I am introducing some unusual plants for garden landscapes. These plants are unusual because of their extra-ordinary shape and formation. Almost all of these unusual plants are hardy, evergreen and require less maintenance. Before I introduce these plants, the question is why select unusual plants when you have a huge variety of plants for your garden landscape? The answer is simple. Unusual plants are for unusual people – enthusiasts and experimental gardeners.
There are a number of unusual and stunning plants in the universe but I would limit to just five of them. The plants in this list are easy to grow and can be used as nice companion plants in your garden landscape.
Beaucarnea recurvata or Ponytail Palm is an unusual plant because of its unusual and very noticeable caudex which is used to store water and food. Typically Beaucarnea develops a tuft of long and strappy leaves that emerge from a bulbous stem. Because of its palm-like leaves and swollen stem, it is also called ponytail palm and sometimes Elephant Foot Tree. Beaucarnea is considered one of the easiest houseplants to grow. It can be grown in garden containers as well as in landscape. The plant requires bright sunlight and preferably direct sunlight for some part of the day. Since it is native to the deserts of Mexico, Beaucarnea does not require much water. Water only when the soil is dry; excessive watering would damage the plant Fertilize Beaucarnea plants regularly during spring and summer. Beaucarnea loves well drained soil and warm climate; protect it from extremely cold weather and frost.
Beaucarnea is unusually slow plant. Though it eventually gains a height of more than 15 feet but it takes more than 10 years.
Echinocactus grusonii or Golden Barrel is one of the most widely grown commercial species of cactus. It is an easy to grow plant and can be used as companion plant in many types of garden landscapes. It remains solitary and assumes the shape of a big, fat ball until it mature; at maturity it tends to form a cylindrical shape. Echinocactus grusonii is unusual because of its striking shape, spines, crown, flowers, and ability to survive long droughts. Golden Barrel requires bright sunlight and warm, humid climate. However, it can withstand cold weather and small spans of freeze. Like Beaucarnea, Echinocactus grusonii is a hungry plant and requires regular fertilization.
Pachypodium lamerei or Madagascar Palm (it is not a palm) is a tree-like succulent plant with a thick, grey stem that is completely covered with spines and topped with palm-like leaves. The unusual formation of Pachypodium makes it a perfect choice for rocky or experimental landscapes. It can gain a height of more than 15 feet in tropical climates. Pachypodium belongs to Southern Madagascar. It loves well-drained but somewhat rich soil. The plant sheds its leaves during winter; during this phase it does not require much water. This weird looking plant produces delicate white and yellow flowers at maturity. Pachypodium does not like spells of frost and cold weather.
Agave Americana var. Medio Picta, ‘Alba’
One of my prime choices for landscape gardens, Agave americana var. Medio Picta can dramatically change and enhance the overall effect of your landscape garden. It is a rugged plant but adds unusual colors and shapes to your garden landscape as a companion plant. It produces a nice rosette of fleshy leaves with teethed edges and stripes of green and creamy white color. Agave Americana var. Medio Picta prefers bright sunlight and moderate watering. The plant can live up to 35 years and gains 90-120 cm in height.
Zamia Furfuracea is a slow growing plant and makes unusual foliage of thick and hard texture, that is why, it is also called Cardboard palm. Zamia likes bright sunlight, moderate watering, and some fertilizer in spring. The color of leaves ranges from olive green to dark green. A mature plant can grow as large as 3-4′ in height and 6′ in diameter with a heavy trunk that acts as water reservoir during drought. It is quite a hardy plant and makes a good choice for landscapes because of its hardy and drought-tolerant nature.
If you would like to add more entries to this list of unusual plants, do share your comments. I will review and feature those unusual plants on this website.