Tag Archives: shrub

Pachystachys lutea (Lollipop Plant)

pachystachys lutea lollipop plantPachystachys lutea, also known as lollipop plant or golden shrimp plant, is a great houseplant to add to your everblooming collection. It makes quite a showy bush with lush leaves. You can keep it small and in shape by pruning, or grow it out to a large specimen at 3 feet in a pot, more if planted in a greenhouse.

 

This plant is a relative of the shrimp plant Justicia brandegeana, and just like it, has colorful, attractive bracts. It’s the bracts that are really the interesting aspect of the plant. The actual flowers emerge from the bracts and are small, white, and tubular.

 

The lollipop plant  is not a fussy plant, and does not require high light level to flower. It’s a very rewarding and reliable plant with lush tropical foliage. It’s easy to grow indoors and can be maintained at a medium or a larger size. pachystachys lutea lollipop plant

Requirements:

Watering needs:

Pachystachys lutea is not as drought tolerant as the regular shrimp plant, and does tend to soak up quite a bit of water during the warm months. Overall it has average watering needs. I would recommend letting the soil somewhat dry out between watering, especially during the winter months. If you accidentally dry out the plant, make sure you soak it in water and then drain the excess water well to ensure the soil is thoroughly moist.

Light:

pachystachys luteaEast/west or south windows are the best for this plant. Couple of hours of direct sunlight are ideal to keep the plant happy. They do tend to get leggy as they age, so a good light source and some pruning are essential to have a neat plant. I do take this plant out in the summer, and slowly acclimate it to higher light levels without any trouble.

Humidity:

Pachystachys lutea likes higher humidity, and  does like its leaves sprayed occasionally. Lower humidity levels will be tolerated, however the plant will be more susceptible to whiteflies, aphids and spider mites.

Soil Type and Fertilizer:

Regular potting mix with a bit of extra per-lite to keep the soil from compacting to much. Pachystachys lutea is not very needy. A regular fertilized and occasional blooming fertilizer applied during the growing season (spring to fall) will keep the plant looking its best.

Propagation:

Pachystachys lutea is very easy to propagate through cuttings.

Other Care Tips and Personal Observations: 

This is a great plant to have. It will brighten the dull winter months with its stricking yellow candle-like flowers. The flowers (by that I mean the bracts) are pretty large and showy. The lollipop plant makes a wonderful bush and can even be trained into a tree. Pruning it is very important (it flowers from the tips of the branches therefore you want a well branched plant), and form my experience this plant can take quite a hard pruning, returning to blooming in no time.pachystachys lutea golden shrimp lollipop plant

Clerodendrum ugandense (Blue Butterfly Bush)

Clerodendrum ugandenseClerodendrum ugandense, also called Rotheca myricoides, and commonly known as Blue Butterfly Bush, is a wonderful plant to have at home. It’s not a fussy, high requirement plant, and it’s very rewarding to have. The flowers sport two hues of blue and truly resemble butterflies, especially the way they flock around the plant.

The Blue Butterfly Bush requires warmth and light to flower. It flowers heavily during the warm months, and even if you cannot provide enough light and warmth during the winter time it might sporadically flower anyway. In the winter I grow mine next to a west facing window with additional grow lights and it’s doing great. In my experience it’s a very easy to grow plant, virtually pest free, and the only downside is that it can get quite leggy when not pruned.

The plant itself is an average looking bush with light bark and ordinary looking leaves. The leaves have a bit of a peppery smell to them, and that’s probably the reason why this plant is quite resistant to bug infestations. The flowers are relatively small, but the way they are positioned around the plant (like flocking butterflies) and the fact that they are quite numerous, makes up for it.  It can survive down to 20°F, and sprout back from the root ball, but if grown indoors it’s evergreen and with enough light everblooming. Blue Butterfly Bush

Requirements:

Watering needs:

Clerodendrum ugandense has average watering needs. In the hot summer months, I would recommend keeping the soil evenly moist, while during the colder months it will be better to let it dry out a bit between watering to prevent root rot.

Light:

Full sun to partial shade is ideal for this plant. Full sun will help get fuller growth and more flowers, though it will flower and grow well at partial sun as well. South/east or west windows are ideal for it. I grow mine on a west facing window and supplement it with grow lights to get a more uniform growth. You can take your plant outside during the warm months for best results. If you do bring your plant back indoors and provide enough light it will flower year round.

Humidity:

Higher humidity is preferable, though this plant can tolerate lower humidity as well. For best results, grow on a humidity tray or next to other humidity loving plants.

Soil Type and Fertilizer:

Blue Butterfly PlantClerodendrum ugandense doesn’t seem to have any special preference about the soil type. I grow mine in generic potting mix with extra sand/per-lite added to it and a bit of peat moss. It’s a moderate feeder, and requires regular fertilizing from spring to fall. A generic fertilizer should be fine. As usual I would suggest fertilizing with more diluted than the recommended solution.

Propagation:

The butterfly bush can be easily propagated though cuttings, and it does sprout suckers once the plant is well established. Very easy to propagate and share with friends.

Other Care Tips and Personal Observations: 

Clerodendrum ugandense seems to flower at the tips or new growth. Feel free to trim it anytime it seems to be growing out of proportion. I think the flowers look the best when the stems are hanging out and down, they seem to stand out more that way. I would say this plant is more of a vine-like bush and it will benefit from having some support or having it’s branches braided in a way. I will try to shape mine like a small willow tree, I think that would be the best way to showcase those wonderful little flowers.Clerodendrun ugandense

Euphorbia milii (Crown of Thorns)

crown of thornsEuphorbia milii is a very easy plant to grow, that thrives on neglect and puts out a colorful display of bracts around the unnoticeable flowers. The crown of thorns, generally blooms heavy in the winter and intermittently throughout the year. However when you have a large specimen plant it’s more or less a continuous bloomer. Interestingly enough light during the night time can disrupt the flowering cycle of this plant according to Tropica Nursery.Crown of thorns euphorbia milii

Crown of Thorns sap is poisonous and can be a skin irritant so be careful when trimming or reporting the plant. If you are making cuttings you can use cold water to stop the oosing of the sap from both the plant and the cutting.

There are variety of hybrids available with colors ranging from red , orange, yellow all the the way to white. The bracts can be stripes even dotted. There are dwarf varieties and variegated ones as well. Flowering depends on the hybrid type, not all are prolific bloomers.Euphorbia milii crown of thorns

Requirements:

Watering needs:

This plant can thrive on neglect. It can tolerate dry soil pretty well. Overall it has lower to medium watering requirements. Don’t let the soil be soggy, as your plant will most likely rot. Some of the hybrids however prefer a bit more frequent watering than your tipical succulent plant.

Light:

The higher the better. This plant will grow well on east/west and south facing windows.

Humidity:

Dwarf euphorbia milii
Dwarf Euphobria milii

Euphorbia milii is very tolerant of dry environments and is not needy in any way. It’s pretty much indifferent to the humidity level as you can just as well grow it next to higher humidity plant.

Soil Type and Fertilizer:

Cactus soil and cactus fertilizer work just fine for Euphorbia milii. You can use a regular fertilizer as well, at low dilution. Be careful during reporting time, I would recommend using gloves or wrapping the plant in newspaper to help with handling it.

Propagation:

Can be propagated though cuttings very easily. As with most succulents, it helps to leave the cutting out a few days to dry out a bit before planting it in moist sand to root. Rooting hormone can be used to speed up the process.

Other Care Tips and Personal Observations: 

Euphornia miliiThe plant tolerates well being re-potted lower than the original level it was in its old pot. Euphorbia milli can get leggy and the higher the light, the better the plant growth and flowering habit.

Most hybrids available are very easy to flower, are free branching and have a bushy growth habit in general. If the plant grows leggy don’t feel bad for cutting it back.

 

Justicia brandegeana (Shrimp Plant)

Shrimp plant

 

Justicia brandegeana, formerly known as Beloperone guttata, is an awesome plant to have at home. Just like the name suggest, the flowers, or actually the bracts, are positioned in a way that it looks like a shrimp.

 

Shrimp plant variagated

The actual flowers protrude from the bracts and can be different colors, though usually are white with red markings. The cultivar “fruit cocktail” has yellow bracts and red flowers (not pictured in this article). There are varieties that have yellow bracts, pick-orange bracts or dark red bracts. Some shrimp plants have variegated foliage. They can be grown as a shrub, or trained into a tree.

Darker variety shrimp plant

 

Justicia brandegeana originates from Mexico. It grows to about 3 feet, but can be maintained smaller with pruning. This plant is quite easy to grow. In it’s native environment it likes part shade. In a home it can tolerate lower light, but you will get the best results with higher amounts of light.

Requirements:

Watering needs:

Moderate watering is required. This plant likes to dry out between watering. Justicia brandegeana can be kept evenly moist in the summer, but the rest of the time you should let it dry out to prevent root rot. I have grown this with a hygrolon set up, where the soil moisture is kept almost constant and it seems to like that as well.Shrimp plant

Light:

Shrimp plant in the winterThis plant can tolerate lower light levels, though how well depends on the particular cultivar. It grows and flowers the best at full sun when grown in the north. I have grown this on a north facing garden window, though a normal north facing window will not be sufficient for flowering. East/west and south facing windows will produce the best results. The plant will get leggy with lower light, flower less and the bract color will be paler. Here is a shrimp plant flowering on a north facing garden window in the winter time.

Humidity:

The shrimp plant can tolerate lower humidity level and some neglect, but it will make it more susceptible to spider mites, aphids and mealy bugs.

Soil Type and Fertilizer:

I use generic potting soil, and add extra per-lite to make it lighter and faster draining. This plant is not very fussy about it’s requirements and quite easy to grow. It’s a moderate feeder, and you can use generic fertilizer spring to fall.

Propagation:

The shrimp plant is very easy to propagate though cuttings.

Other Care Tips and Personal Observations: 

Shrimp plantJusticia bandegeana is quite easy to grow, flowers constantly if enough light is provided, and has quite intriguing flowers. I do take it outside in the summer months where it gets 5-6 hours of direct sun. Be sure to slowly accustom your plant to higher light levels to avoid sunburn. Pruning is important for maintaining shape. The plant tends to grow long leggy stems, and likes to flower at the tips of those, so pruning will not only keep the shape and size of the plant good, but will also help with having more flowers. The shrimp plant is very easy and fun to grow :). I highly recommend it!

Pavonia multiflora (Brazilian Candle plant)

Pavonia multifloraPavonia multiflora, also called Brazilian
candle plant and Many Flowers, as it’s names suggest is an interesting Brazilian species that flowers profusely year-round.Pavonia flower buds

It has tropical looking glossy long leaves, and fascinating flowers. The bracts are pale pink when the flower bud is just forming and grow darker and redder as the flower bud matures.

Pavonia multiflora flower

 

You don’t even have to wait for the flower to open, the color and interesting shape all comes from the bracts. The flower itself is deep purple and resembles a  closed hibiscus flower. It makes sense since Pavonia multiflora is related to the Hibiscus family.

In nature Pavonia multiflora grows in part shade, in warm and humid environment, and grows up to 4-5 feet. Indoors this plant only grows to about 3 feet, and can be maintained smaller with pruning.

Pavonia multiflora

It likes it warm and humid, though it can tolerate  both lower temperature and lower humidity. Very, very easy to grow in my experience!

The plant starts blooming when small and never stops. Though it doesn’t show very well on pictures, this plant is exquisitely elegant: thick light in color woody stem, long glossy deep green-laves that are spaced perfectly to reveal clusters of intricate flowers.

Requirements:

Watering needs:

Medium watering requirements. If the humidity is high enough, Pavonia multiflora can tolerate quite a bit of dryness at the roots. Occasional soaking seems helps. It’s not very needy at all, and when I think of, I’ve been watering it rather erratic, and it can tolerate quite a range, in fact I don’t think it made any difference how I watered it.

Light:

Pavonia multiflora on an east window in the winterThis plant can tolerate a range of light levels. From part shade to full sun. I do take it outside in the summer, and slowly move it from part-shade to full sun where it gets covered with even more flowers. It will grow at low light levels as well, but the leaves will be spaced out more, and it will not flower as profusely. Indoors, you can grow it on a south/east/west window, and even a north window, though you won’t get as many flowers from it. The picture on the right shows a plant grown on a somewhat smaller east facing window, and as you can see it looks great.

Humidity:

Pavonia multiflora likes high humidity and enjoys its leaves being sprayed. Make sure it gets plenty of spraying in the winter time, when the air is drier. Humidity tray can be helpful too, though this plant is not as fussy as other humidity loving plants. If the humidity is not high enough, the leaves slightly curl down at the edges, and become more rigid and brittle.

Soil Type and Fertilizer:

Pavonia multiflora habitusAgain, this plant doesn’t really have fussy requirements. I grow mine (I have a few of them lol), in general potting mix with small amount of peat moss (it seems to me right to make the soil a bit acidic, since it’s a hibiscus relative), and quite a bit or per-lite for good drainage. General houseplant fertilizer will do. And as with all plants, I would always recommend fertilizing at at least half strength, more often during active growth, and significantly less if the plant is growing slower (such as winter time).

Propagation:

Pavonia multiflora can be propagated through cuttings, as well as seeds. Soft wood cuttings are fairly easy to root, and you can also do air-layering.

 

Other Care Tips and Personal Observations: 

Pavonia flowerPavonia multiflora is not as sensitive to pests as other plants, but it’s still somewhat susceptible to mealy bugs, spider mites and scale. If you miss out and have your plant heavily infested, you can always prune it down to an inch from the soil, clear out the top layer of the soil, maybe even re-pot and shake of the old soil, and spray it with the appropriate pesticide. The plant will re-sprout and resume blooming in a couple of months. It is such a fun plant to have, so easy to grow, and I have no idea why it’s not more popular as a house plant. It’s not an aggressive grower either and you can make arrangements or plant other smaller ground cover plants in the same pot.20161101_093231

 

After hard pruning:

20161101_093340

Plumbago auriculata (Leadwort)

20150908_103852Plumbago auriculata, commonly known as just Plumbago or Leadwort, is an ever blooming tropical shrub, that can be pruned and maintained at a desired size. Left to grow outside, it can reach 6 to 10ft in height, but remains much smaller when grown as a houseplant. In fact the plumbagos I have are constantly kept under 3 feet, and they don’t seem to mind it at all.

There are many cultivars out there for sale, some are smaller, some are white flowered or deeper blue flowered, though not all are year round bloomers. The one I have experience with is the Royal Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata ‘Monott’). It’s constantly covered with flowers. I grew it on an east facing window during the winter, as well as obscured west facing window, and it was flowering all throughout the winter months without a problem. One thing that can disturb the heavy blooming for some time is heavy pruning. Nevertheless, this plant does benefit from pruning. It not only helps maintain the desired shape and size,  but it also makes the plant denser and helps it bloom heavier. The plumbago mostly blooms from the tips of its branches.

This plant has gorgeous sky blue flowers and small light green leaves, making it look angelic. It’s also very easy to grow!Plumbago flower close up

Requirements:

Watering needs:

The Plumbago can tolerate some drought. It does like to have its soil dry out between watering, especially in the winter months.

You can read more about watering here.

Light:

IMG_1415
Plumbago flowers during the winter months

The higher the better, though this plant will still grow and flower at a part shade location. East/west/south windows will do best for this plant. I would recommend taking it outside at full sun during the warmer months. Remember to do that gradually. Taking your plant from the windowsill directly to full sun will burn the leaves.  Flowers are a bit paler in color when the light levels are lower. They do tend to get darker as the flowers age.

 

Humidity:

20150906_171040This plant can tolerate lower humidity levels, but seems to do better at higher humidity level, so occasional spraying will help out. In fact spraying the plant, especially during the winter months, seems to really help with flower production!

You can read more about humidity and tips on how to maintain it here.

Soil Type and Fertilizer:

Neutral to slightly acidic pH soil will do best for this plant. If the leaves start turning yellow, perhaps the pH of the soil is too high  or your plant doesn’t have enough manganese. I use generic fertilizer from spring to fall at a lower than the recommended concentration.

Propagation:

I haven’t been successful at rooting cuttings, though I have seen people mentioning it as a way to propagate this plant. Luckily it grows offshoots that can just be split of during re-potting. I will be trying out air-layering as I think it will definitely work out with this plant and I will let you know how it goes.

Other Care Tips and Personal Observations: 20150909_181646

Pruning and shaping the plant is needed as it tends to grow long leggy stems that start hanging low. This can definitely be trained to grow more upright or even grown in a hanging basket. It’s a wonderful plant and I highly recommend it. As the flowers age they tend to turn a bit darker shade of blue which is quite beautiful. Another thing about this plant is that it will require a bit of clean up. Dried and old leaves around the stem and old flowers can make a bit of a mess, so regularly picking those off will help out.

Calliandra emarginata (Pink Powder Puff)

calliandra-emarginata-powder-puff-plantCalliandra emarginata is a gorgeous ever blooming plant. It’s a dwarf shrub and can be shaped, pruned and maintained at a smaller size. It can grow up to 3-4′.

This is one of my favorite plants! It’s always covered with beautiful and dainty powder-puff flowers. The color is deep pink, almost red, and it seems to depend on the amount of light the plant is getting.

Winter time the flowers are lighter pink in color, but nevertheless there is an abundance of them. This plant will flower even at low light levels. The best results however come from high light conditions.
Calliandra-emarginataCalliandra emarginata originates from the region of southern Mexico, Panama and Bolivia (Zone 10+) . It belongs to the mimosa family. When the sun goes down in the evening, or if there isn’t enough light, the leaves of the plant will fold in. Do not mistake that for a sign of your plant being under-watered.

Requirements:

Watering needs:

This plant has medium watering requirements and seems to like drying out slightly between watering. I do have a  hygrolon strip though the soil and a reservoir of water for it, and it seems to do really well with that watering set up as well (I will post more about hygrolon soon).  Let the soil dry out more between watering it in the winter, to keep a healthier root system, though in the summer you can virtually have the soil moist all the time.

You can read more about watering here.

Light:

High light will do best for this plant. I grow this outside in full sun in the summer, and on a western/eastern windowsill during the colder months. It could be grown year round on an east/west/south windowsill. Keep in mind that the size of your windows and weather there are any obstructions matters. So a very large eastern window with plenty of light and no obstructions casting shadows on your plants will be better than a small southern window facing a building.

20151217_135748
Winter flowers under daylight LED Calliandra emarginata

I have also used daylight LED during the winter months and this plant grows really well under that type of light. Granted, there are more efficient systems which only use red and blue spectrum light, however I am really happy with the daylight LEDs as well. They are close enough spectrum-wise, the prices are going down, very easy to find in any store, and there are plenty of lumens/ Watts. I can also tell the plant is liking it, since it is growing and blooming towards the daylight lamps, and its leaves remain open if I leave the lights on (the leaves fold down when it’s dark).

Humidity:

This plants enjoys humidity, so spraying it regularly (especially in the winter when it’s dryer) will help the foliage look its best, and reduce the risk of getting spider mites and mealy bugs. Humidity of 50% and up is ideal, though as long as you are not at risk of getting bugs on your plant, lower humidity levels won’t harm it.

You can read more about humidity and tips on how to maintain it here.

Soil Type and Fertilizer:

I use a mix of regular gardening soil and cactus/citrus soil. I also like to add bark/perlite or sand for better drainage of the soil. I have not noticed anything specific when it comes to soil requirement for this plant. I use a regular fertilizer during the spring and fall. This plant has low to moderate fertilizer requirements. It’s always better to fertilize at a lower than the recommended concentration,  then to use a high concentration of fertilizer. High amounts of fertilizer can burn the root system.  A generic balanced fertilizer will do just fine for this plant.

Propagation:

calliandra-emarginata-powder-puff-plant-seed-pot

I have successfully managed to propagate this plant through cuttings, though that was a bit harder than for other species that can be propagated this way. I recommend planting the cuttings in moist soil, and keeping the humidity high. For some reason the newly formed roots are very fragile, compared to other plants, and are easily broken off, so you should be very careful when re-potting the newly rooted cuttings.

This plant also makes seeds pods, I have just planed a few and will see how much time it takes for them to sprout and reach a blooming size. Based on what I’ve read, propagating this plant through seeds should be very easy.

 

Other Care Tips and Personal Observations:

calliandra-emarginata-powder-puff-plant-habitusThis plant is surprisingly easy to grow, and
extremely rewarding to have. Pruning will help keep the growth dense and you can shape your plant however you like. Re-potting should be done when the plant gets root-bound.  I highly recommend this plant! It can be trained into a bonsai, or grown as a shrub on a windowsill, or trained as a small tree.

Besides the beautiful never ending array of flowers, the leaves of this plant are quite attractive. The new growth is orange in color, adding to the beauty of this plant.