Monday, October 8, 2007

Plant of the Moment-Orthosiphon labiatus

Very popular as a garden plant in South Africa, this long blooming member of the mint family forms a 3’ x 3’ shrub topped by showy, 1”, pink, tubular flowers held in whorls on many upright stems. Easy & fast growing in rich, composty garden soil. It’s also extremely drought tolerant once established but looks much prettier with regular water. Excellent used in mass planting in large beds or parks. In a small garden use singly or in small groups. Cut back to 1/3 height every couple of years to keep it fresh looking. Attracts butterflies

Last week I was in the greenhouses helping a customer ID a sprig that she brought in from a small tree growing in her yard. It looked like a hardy, bitter orange that we had talked briefly about on the gardenweb a couple of days before hand. I've actually have the same bitter orange growing in a pot outside for a couple of years now. I just couldn't remember the botantical name that day or where it was located in the greenhouses. All I could remember is that it was referred to as Flying Dragon. The customer and I went into the greenhouses but I could not locate the plant so she mentioned the computer and I could have kicked myself for not thinking of it first so I googled and found the name of the plant she was trying to identify, Poncirus trifoliata, Flying Dragon. But poncirus trifoliata is not what we are talking about today.

While in the greenhouses with the customer I got a tad bit distracted when I glimpsed a haze of pink blooms in a row ahead. Of course I was intrigued and I googled. I was disappointed to see that Orthosiphon labiatus is only hardy to zone 9. Hum, I thought.... I've pushed a zone or two before and this is certainly a worthy plant to try it with so today I will plant three Orthosiphon labiatus. I will try them in a west facing bed up against the side of my house. In this bed I've had good luck with another zone 9 plant which remains evergreen all though winter.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Plant of the Moment-Spiranthes odorata

This will be an ongoing blog. It is plant of the moment and not plant of the week or plant of the month for a reason. I am a very fickle girl and here at Big Bloomers we have a huge selection. I am always seeing something new out in the greenhouses or in the back field or my favorite way of finding a new plant, one that a customer has brought up to purchase.

Anyway I noticed the spiranthes odorata walking through the greenhouses about three weeks ago. A small nondescript plant that you would probably walk past a hundred times without noticing had suddenly produced strongly held flower stalks about 8 inches high. I was intrigued. I googled. I found I needed to have this plant called Spiranthes odorata: Best grown in moist, boggy, acidic soils in part shade. Plants spread slowly by rhizomes to form colonies in optimum growing conditions.

Lady's tresses (sometimes also called fragrant lady's tresses) is an orchid that is native to marshes, bogs, swamps and other wet areas in the eastern United States from New Jersey and Tennessee south to Florida and Texas. It features small, very fragrant, hooded, white flowers densely arranged in vertical, slightly spiral-like rows on spikes typically growing 9-18" (less frequently to 24") tall. Blooms in late summer to fall, often to first frost. Lance-shaped, linear leaves in basal rosettes, with some leaves extending up the flower spikes.

I had the perfect spot for it in a small northern exposed bed right off my covered front porch. This is the only spot in my three acres that I can plant moisture lovers since the ease of keeping this one small bed moist is no problem because of its close proximity to the house. Typically we are rescued from the heat of summer in late September. Things cool down. Its nicer to be outside and garden. I've been looking for plants that last into the fall and especially start blooming in the fall. Spiranthes is not your typical looking fall bloomer, reminded me more of spring blooming lily of the valley much like chrysanthemum nippon. daisy 'Fall Glory' reminds me of spring blooming daisies. Which just might be my next plant of the moment.....