03 Jul

Colorful and Fragrant Climber for Warm Climate: Wisteria

Wisteria is perhaps one of the most beautiful flowering climbers that fill your garden with exotic colors and fragrance. Native to temperate regions of North America and Asia, it is a very fast growing woody climber. Not all species produce fragrant flowers, but all of the species in the genus are excellent bloomers.

Flowers appear in long and drooping pendulous clumps resembling the flowers of Laburnum (Golden Shower Tree). Wisteria blooms in spring and continue to bloom till late summer. Flowers are usually white, purple, pink and blue. Leaves are soft and green.

Wisteria grows vigorously and becomes a mound if not provided with a suitable support therefore it should be grown against pergola or a wall. Most species of Wisteria would climb up to 20 meters or more.  The world’s largest Wisteria grows in Sierra Madre, California spanning over 1 acre.

One of the most common and easy to grow species is Wisteria Sinensis (also known as Chinese Wisteria) which is a deciduous creeping plant growing up to 30 meters. Its violet flowers are fragrant and bloom in spring.

Wisteria Vine with Violet Flowers

Wisteria with Violet Flowers, Image from tamarynwhite.com

Wisteria grows in deep and well-drained soil under full sun. Usually it does not require much care and grows freely with just moderate amount of water. Most species can be grown from hardwood or softwood cutting, seeds or by layering.

30 Jun

Colorful, Ornamental Flowering Plants: Bellflower

Campanula or Bellflower is a delightfully attractive plant known for its colorful, bell-shaped flowers. This versatile genus comprises of a large number of annual and perennial herbaceous plants. Flowers range from many shades of purple and blue to white and pink. Excellent for flower beds, mixed borders and rockeries, Bellflower are quite easy to grow as houseplants.

The Latin name ‘Campanula’ is translated as ‘Little Bell’ because of the bell-shaped flowers.

Bellflower Plant

Bellflower Plant, Image from www.biblio.tu-bs.de

How to Grow Campanula/Bellflower

Bellflower is fairly easy to grow plant at sunny as well as shady spots in a well drained soil. Water Bellflower plants moderately and fertilize in summer. Cultivation is easy from seeds.

Popular Varieties of Campanula/Bellflower

Campanula Carpatica, also known as Tussock Bellflower, bears lilac-blue flowers in spring. This perennial species grows in clumps.

Campanula Glomerata is erect perennial plant that grows in dense clusters and bears blue or white flowers in summer. Common name is Clustered Bellflower.

Campanula Trachelium, usually called Nettle-leaved Bellflower, produces blue-purple, bell-shaped flowers in summer.

Other popular varieties include: Campanula lactiflora ‘Dwarf Pink’, Campanula x ‘Kent Belle’, Campanula ‘La Belle’, Campanula rotundifolia ‘Olympica’, and Campanula ‘Samantha’.

Campanula Bellflower

Blue Bellflower, Image from millersoap.com

21 Jun

Flowering Plant for Hot and Dry Landscapes: Kangaroo Paws

If you are looking for flowering plants for a low maintenance garden landscape, Anigozanthos should be on top of your list. Since they are native of south-west Australia, these hardy perennials would grow as very nice flowering plants in a dry and hot climate. Commonly known as Kangaroo Paws, Anigozanthos are popular for their nice and usual flowers that also attract flocks of birds. Most species of Kangaroo Paws bloom in spring and summer; flowers vary in size and colors and appear on a long stalk exposing the nectar in the flowers.

Anigozanthos Manglesii (Kangaroo Paws)

Anigozanthos Manglesii (Kangaroo Paws), Image © SeanMack

How to Grow Kangaroo Paws

Kangaroo Paws grow in a well-drained soil, and prefer and sunny, warm places in the garden. They need protection from frost and grow well without requiring much water. Propagation is easy from divisions or seeds sown in early spring or autumn.

Kangaroo Paws also make good cut flowers for floral arrangements. Popular varieties of Kangaroo Paws are: Anigozanthos ‘Bush Ranger‘ with orange flowers, Anigozanthos ‘Dwarf Delight‘ with apricot colored flowers, Anigozanthos Flavidus with yellow and green flowers, Anigozanthos Manglesii with red and green flowers, and Anigozanthos ‘Pink Joey‘ with Solomon pink colored flowers.

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About the Author: This guest post is compiled by Jahanzeb Nazir Malik who is an avid gardener, an environmental activist, and a lawyer by profession. He also writes his blog on food, culture, art, entertainment and architecture.

19 Jun

Indoor Flowering Plant for Hanging Baskets: Easter Cactus

Rhipsalidopsis Gaertneri or Easter Cactus is an epiphytic plant from Brazil and is best known for its showy flowers. It belongs to the group of ‘leaf cacti’ – the name given to Schlumbergera and Rhipsalidopsis because of their thin stems that look like leaves. Easter Cactus produces abundance of branches that are erect or pendant and bear showy flowers on their tips.

Rhipsalidopsis, Easter Cactus

Rhipsalidopsis, Easter Cactus

How to Grow Easter Cactus

Easter Cactus comes from rainforest areas of Brazilian coastline where they grow as epiphytic plants under the shady trees. Thus when growing them as houseplants, Easter Cactus would require humid and frost-free climate in a semi-shaded spot. They can be grown indoor as well as outdoor, however, care must be taken to provide natural sunlight when grown indoor and to ensure moisture when grown outdoor. Easter Cactus can be propagated easily from stem cuttings. Allow the cuttings to dry for a couple of days before sowing them in the soil. Provided Easter Cactus with a loose, coarse and well-drained soil fertilized with a general purpose fertilizer.

Flowers of red and purplish-pink color start appearing after the cold spell of winter is over and bloom till the end of spring. Flowers on Easter Cactus remain open during the day and close at night. A well-branched Easter Cactus bearing large, showy flowers in a hanging basket is a very rewarding experience.

09 Jun

Scabiosa: Lovely Pincushion Flowers

Scabiosa is a genus of prolific bloomers distributed across Asia, Europe, Mediterranean and many temperate regions of the world. They are easy to grow and fill empty spaces and borders very nicely in gardens and landscapes. Scabiosa forms low mounds of decorative leaves and bears nice flowers of creamy white, lavender and lilac colors. Flowers are borne on a long stalk.

Scabiosas are commonly known as Pincushion flowers.

Scabiosa Atropurpurea, The Pincushion Flower

Scabiosa Atropurpurea (Pincushion Flower), Image © Annie's Annuals

How to Grow Scabiosa

Scabiosa is easy to grow and requires almost in any soil but prefer well drained and rich media. Grow them in full to partial sun with regular watering though they can survive frost and drought to some extent. Propagation is easy from seeds as well as divisions.

Popular Species of Scabiosa

Scabiosa Africana: A shrubby, evergreen perennial, Scabiosa Africana bears white or mauve flowers. Flowers grow in spring and can be used as cut flowers.

Scabiosa Atropurpurea: It is an annual plant and bears flowers of white, pink, crimson and purple.

Other popular varieties and cultivars include Scabiosa Columbaria ‘Baby Blue’, Blue Diamonds, Butterfly Blue, Perfect Alba, Pincushion Pink, Pink Lemonade, Pink Mist, and Ultra Voilet.

08 Jun

Charming, Flowering Vine for Topical Climates: Mandevilla

Charming fragrant flowers, bright showy leaves, and tendency to grow beautifully against trellis and walls make Mandevilla a popular houseplant. Native to tropical regions of Central and South America, Mandevilla is an easy to grow climber. These summer bloomers bear attractive flowers of pink, white, yellow and red colors. They can be grown in hanging baskets, against fences, trellis and over pergolas.

Mandevilla Amabilis

Mandevilla Amabilis, Image from flowersofmaui.com

How to Grow Mandevilla

Mandevilla demands well drained and rich soil. For profuse flowering, provide your Mandevilla plants with bright but filtered sunlight in a warm spot. Water and fertilize them regularly; avoid overwatering and protect from frost. The easiest way to propagate Mandevilla is from softwood cuttings.

Popular Varieties of Mandevilla

Mandevilla Splendens: A beautiful summer bloomer, Mandevilla Splendens bears showy flowers of pink color. The plant grows as an evergreen creeper and can be grown in hanging baskets.

Mandevilla Laxa: Also known as Chilean Jasmine, Mandevilla Laxa grows as a deciduous vine. Growth is often vigorous and requires pruning of wood stems. Flowers are fragrant and can be used in flower arrangement to add colors and fragrance.

06 Jun

Evergreen Flowering Shrub for Beautiful Hedges: Hebe

Native of New Zealand, Hebe is a genus of beautiful flowering shrubs with glossy leaves and attractive flowers of purple, blue, white, pink and mauve colors. Flowers are small and appear in the form of spikes. These frost resistant shrubs are a good choice for hedging especially when used as wind breaker.

Hebe, Flowering Shrub for Hedges

Hebe, Flowering Shrub for Hedges, Image by Lindsay Smith

How to Grow Hebe

Hebe requires regular water and bright sunlight. Most species of Hebe are fast growing in coastal climates and should be pruned regularly to form neat flowery hedges. Hebe would grow almost any soil but it prefers well drained and slightly acidic soil. Hebe is propagated from seeds and cuttings.

Popular Varieties of Hebe

Hebe x Andersoni: It is a small shrub with lavender flowers and glossy leaves that often tend to variegate.

Hebe Speciosa: It is a winter flowering shrub and bears purple flowers.

Hebe Salicifolia: A summer bloomer, Hebe Salicifolia produces abundant flowers of light pink color in summer.

For further information on Hebe, the best source is The Hebe Society website.

29 May

Cortaderia selloana, the Pampas Grass

Cortaderia selloana or Pampas Grass belong to a genus of about 25 grasses native to South America especially Brazil, Argentina and Chile. The most popular and commercially grown species is Cortaderia selloana which is commonly known as Pampas Grass. The plant is used in dried flower arrangements or an ornamental grass in landscapes.

Cortaderia selloana (Buy seeds online) spreads over 3 meters with feathery plumes reaching 4 meters or more in summer. The plumes are silver white, cream or dusk pink and attract birds that use these soft plumes to lines their nests.

Cortaderoa Selloana, The Pampas Grass

Cortaderoa selloana, image from gardenplantsbypost.com

How to Grow Pampas Grass

Pampas Grass is quite hardy and easy to grow. It can be propagated from seeds sown in spring under bright light and temperature not exceeding 22° C. Young seedlings should be water from below. Once young plants are established, they can be transplanted in the ground where they should be grown in a rich soil. Cortaderia selloana prefers good sunlight and regular watering.

22 May

Dazzling, Lovely Flowers of Portulaca

Portulaca (Buy seeds online), commonly known as Moss Rose, is a drought tolerant flowering ‘weed’ that bears splashes of colorful flowers in hot and dry climates. Both annual and perennial species of Portulaca are grown commercially and used as ground cover. Almost all species have small and fleshy leaves; grow without requiring much care, and love full sun.

Portulaca Grandiflora, Moss Rose

Portulaca Grandiflora (Moss Rose), Image from wellgrowhorti.com

How to Grow Portulaca

Portulaca is a perfect plant for beginners. They are propagated easily from seeds and adapt themselves in many different conditions – as container plants, as ground cover for hot and sunny locations, in hanging flowering baskets, ornamental plants for window gardens, or grown for edging rock gardens and pathways. Provide Moss Rose with moderate water in a well drained soil.

Popular Varieties of Portulaca (Moss Rose)

Portulaca Grandiflora: The most popular and commercially grown species, Portulaca Grandiflora is a prolific bloomer that bears dazzling flowers of dozens of colors (yellow, pink, orange, red, white, cream) in single as well as double forms. Easily grown from seeds (usually self-seeding), Portulaca Grandiflora loves full sun, moderate watering and well-drained soil.

Other popular hybrid species of Portulaca include: Double Sunset Fire, Tequila Series, Margarita Series, and Sundial Series.

20 May

Ceanothus, Lovely Flowering Shrubs for Cold Climates

Ceanothus is a genus of about 50-60 flowering shrubs (up to 3 meters) and small trees (up to 7 meters) that bear fragrant blue, pink, white or lilac flowers. Both evergreen and deciduous varieties of Ceanothus are available for growing as ornamental flowering plants. Ceanothus are at their best when blooming in late spring or mid-summer. Flowers are tiny but densely clustered to form a rich display of soft and fragrant blooms.

Ceanothus 'Cynthia Postan', Flowering Shrub

Ceanothus 'Cynthia Postan', Image from cambridge2000.com

With a little effort, Ceanothus can be trained to form effective ground cover, hedge or climber. Prune only when required, the best time to prune Ceanothus is after the end of flowering spell.

How to Grow Ceanothus

Most species of Ceanothus would grow from softwood cuttings sowed in later spring or mid-summer. Propagating from seeds can be challenging. In winter, soak Ceanothus seeds in hot water for 12 hours and then store them at 1° C for three months. Sow stratified seeds when temperature is between 16-18°C. Germination may take one to three months.

Once established, Ceanothus is easy to care. It requires well-drained and mulched soil, average watering under full sun, and protection from frost. Ceanothus is not a hungry plant and can grow on nutrients available in soil and water without any extra feed.

Popular Varieties of Ceanothus

Ceanothus Concha (Californian Lilac): Suitable for alkaline soil; withstands drought, grows up to 4 feet, makes a bushy plant and blooms in late spring.

Ceanothus Delileanus (Gloire de Versailles): Another bushy variety. Gloire de Versailles is deciduous and bears pale-blue flowers from mid-summer to autumn.

Ceanothus , ‘Blue Mound’: An evergreen shrub, producing dark-blue flowers in late spring. Blue Mound can grow as tall as 5 feet and, spread up to 6 feet.

Ceanothus, ‘Autumnal Blue’: Autumn Blue is evergreen, grows upright and bears light blue flowers in late summer. It can grow as tall as 10 feet.

Ceanothus ‘Puget Blue’: One of the mostly cultivated varieties of Ceanothus, Puget Blue makes a good flowering shrub.

Ceanothus Thyrsiflorus (Skylark): Excellent climber and prolific bloomer. Skylark flowers blooms in late spring or early summer.