06 Jul

Lovely, Summer Bloomer for Warm Climates: Petunia

Petunia is one of the most cultivated annuals for their colorful flowers and ability to grow in many different conditions and places. Petunia can be grown in raised beds, hanging baskets, window boxes and containers for colorful flowers almost all through the year. Flowers of petunia grow in all shades of red, pink, purple, white, blue, mauve and yellow. The velvety flowers can be single, double, fringed or blotched.

The most popular species of this prolific bloomer is Petunia x. Hybrida which is a mix of Petunia Axillaris and Petunia Integrifolia. Petunia x. Hybrida comes in many different varieties ranging from dwarf flowering plants to trailing bloomers and compact ground covers. Petunia flowers in spring till summer but plants in warmer climates can bloom throughout the year. Other popular species include: Petunia Alpicola, Petunia Bajeensis, Petunia Parviflora, and Petunia Pubescens.

Petunia Flowers

Petunia Flowers, Image by Harmen de Vries

How to Grow Petunia

Petunia is easy to grow and low maintenance plant. Propagation is quite easy from seeds. Keep seedlings under indirect sunlight until they are able to be transferred in pots or beds. Young plants require bright sunlight and moderate water. Petunia is self-seeding plant and should be deadheaded to prevent it from invading the entire landscape.

29 Jun

Tropical Flowering Shrub: Hibiscus

Hibiscus is large genus of flowering bushes, small trees, herbs and shrubs from topical and sub-tropical climates. There are a number of ornamental species of Hibiscus popular among gardeners for their attractive foliage and lovely flowers.

Besides its value as ornamental flowering plant, Hibiscus is used in preparation of beverages and red tea which is rich in vitamin C and minerals. A flowering Hibiscus in your garden is bound to attract a lot of birds and butterflies.

It is also the national flower of South Korea (Hibiscus Syriacus) and Malaysia (Hibiscus Rosa Sinensis).

Hibiscus Flower

Hibiscus Flower

How to Grow Hibiscus

These sun loving, flowering plants should be pruned regularly to gain prolonged flowering. Hibiscus should be provided with well drained and mulched soil with moderate watering and regular fertilizer.

Popular Varieties of Hibiscus

Common Hibiscus can be grouped in four types: Hibiscus Mutabilis, Hibiscus Rosa Sinensis, Hibiscus Syriacus and Hibiscus Schizopetalus.

Hibiscus Mutabilis is known with many names: Persian Rose, Rose Mallow, Cotton Rose, and Confederate Rose. All of the names are given to this variety for its fairly large and attractive flowers. This shrubby plant bears dense cover of bright leaves and flushes of flowers that change many colors – white in the morning, pink in the noon, and red in the evening.

Hibiscus Sinensis grows as an evergreen shrub in almost all tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. It is widely grown as ornamental hedge that bears red, bell-shapes flowers. Some varieties also produce white, pink, orange or yellow flowers. Hibiscus Sinensis is usually known as China Rose.

Hibiscus Syriacus which is also known as Rose of Sharon is another popular variety that grows best as ornamental shrub of about 2.7 meters. Flowers are white, mauve and blue.

Hibiscus Schizopetalus also known as Coral Hibiscus or Japanese Hibiscus bears attractive and bigger flowers of red or orange-red colors. Countless hybrids of Hibiscus Schizopetalus available as houseplants.

Pink Hibiscus Flower

Pink Hibiscus

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.

20 Jun

Colorful Foliage Plant for Indoor/Outdoor Gardens: Episcia

Episcia is a genus of eight perennial and herbaceous plants from tropical regions of Central and South America. Grown as ornamental houseplants for their beautiful foliage, Episcia produce colorful, often variegated, broad leaves of green or reddish-green colors. Variegation is usually yellow and flowers vary from red-pink, orange, purple and white. One of the common houseplant species of Episcia genus is Episcia Cupreata which bears coppery-green or bright green leaves, sometimes showing variegation of yellow, red or silver colors.

Flowers on Episcia Cupreata are usually yellow. The plant is commonly known as Flame Violet. A number of hybrid species with colorful flowers and foliage namely Episcia ‘Tricolor’, Episcia ‘Tiger Stripe’, Episcia ‘Metallica’, and Episcia ‘Chocolate Velour’ are also grown commercially.

Episcia Cupreata

Episcia Cupreata, Image from www.sci.muni.cz

How to Grow Episcia

Most species of Episcia would grow indoor as well as outdoor when provided with moderate watering and partial sunlight, and protected from frost. Propagation is easy from leaf cuttings or seeds.

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.

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.

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.

14 May

Euphorbia milii, The Crown of Thorns

I have been growing Euphorbia milii (also known as Crown of Thorns) for many years and I grow it for many purposes. It makes a nice hedge plant, it is an excellent flowering bush for container gardening, and it adds beautiful colors to a landscape.

starr-110307-2246-Euphorbia_milii-flowers-Kula_Botanical_Garden-Maui
Euphorbia milii is a bushy succulent and bears small yet attractive flowers almost throughout the year. The stem is covered with sharp and dense spines, and bright green leaves near the growing ends. Flowers are red, pink and white though you can find a wide range hybrid Euphorbia Milii that bear more colorful flowers (yellow, orange, cream and many mixed colors). Hybrid varieties are usually grown as grafted plants and display larger flowers.
Euphorbia milii.

How to Grow Euphorbia milii

The actual home of Euphorbia Milii is Madagascar, however it has been successfully acclimatized and grown commercially in many parts of the world. Euphorbia Milii requires well drained soil, moderate water and good sunlight, however, it can survive drought and high temperature. It can be propagated from cuttings that can be rooted or grafted on a stock. When growing from cuttings, allow cuttings to dry for a few days and then plant them in a mixture of moist soil and peat moss. Keep the medium barely moist till plants are established. Over watering would rot these tender cuttings.

Euphorbia milii o Corona de Cristo

Image from riverrocksucculents.comEuphorbia milii can be used as hedge plant, pruned down for edging, grown to cover spaces in rock garden or landscape, or kept as indoor ornamental plant (provided with ample sunlight).

Euphorbia milii is named after Baron Milius who introduced these plants on France.

Euphorbia milii