Saturday, 25 May 2013

Some of my Acanthaceae plants

The Acanthaceae Family of plants is my favourite plant family my love for this family has developed over recent years as I have discovered more of the amazing plants that belong to this family.  The Acanthaceae family gives us a large variety of plants, in fact, so many that we don't always realise that they belong to this family; I am still continually surprised when I find a new one that belongs to this family. In each season of the year there is always one in flower, many can flower for months or retain their colourful bracts for months adding splashes of colour to those shady spots in the garden. They are ideal for lightly shaded areas and there are some that are ideal for those very dry shady spots under trees.  They are easy to grow needing little care, they are easy to propagate and they grow beautifully in our Sydney climate.   They definitely should be some growing in every garden.

 Whitfieldia elongata (syn W. longifolia)

Close up of Whitfieldia elongata flowers
White Candles is a perfect plant for shady gardens where the pure white flower spikes light up the area; these flower spikes are held high above the foliage on the end of the stem. The 2.5cm flowers emerge from the pure white calyx and then protrude past the calyx giving the flower an unusual two tiered look; adding to this are the pure white stamens which stand high above the flower.  As I wanted to see the flowers close up, I have planted this at the front of the garden and I am going to have to keep it pruned if it reaches it full height of 1.2m high.
Native: Tropical Africa

Barleria micans
This is an adorable small shrub growing to around 1m high; this one totally amazed me when I first saw it and it adds a splash of bright colour to the autumn and winter garden.  The flower spikes appear on the plant from autumn through to winter, the bright yellow flowers emerge from the bottom of the green bract first and then the next layer of flowers gradually open.  This plant prefers a shady spot with bright light or filtered sun.  Barleria micans has been growing in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney and it is available at the Friends of the Gardens Plant Sale at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney.
Native: West Indies and Tropical South America.

Close up of Barleria micans flowers

Crossandra infundibuliformis 
Crossandra infundibuliformis grows to around 1m high; the leaves are a deep green with prominent leaf veins.   The flowers on this one are an apricot orange in colour; there is also a yellow flower form and a blue flower form.  The top petals are spaced apart giving the impression of a missing top petal; they appear in the warmer months in Sydney.  One of the plants, in my garden, has been flowering continually since last October.  A shady position with bright light or dappled sun is ideal. 
Native: Southern India

Justicia brandegeeana
The Shrimp plant is an old fashioned plant that has been widely grown in cottage gardens for many decades.  It has been in and out of fashion during this time and it has been grown here for that long that we no longer think of it as a tropical plant.  The bracts are a red or russett colour, they are reminiscent of a shrimp and the tubular flowers are white with red spots; they appear from spring through to autumn and may even flower through winter.  Light shade is best for this Justicia, as the flowers will last longer. It grows to around 1.2m high by 1m wide  Justicia brandegeeana is available at the Friends of the Gardens Plant Sale at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney.
Native: Mexico

Justicia brandegeeana 'Yellow Queen'
The yellow Shrimp plant has beautiful yellow bracts that arch over from the plant, the
The yellow Shrimp plant has beautiful yellow bracts that arch over from the plant, emerging from these bracts are white flowers with a red spotted throat.  Justicia brandegeeana 'Yelllow' is also known as Justica brandegeeana 'Chartreuse' and it is available at the Friends of the Gardens Plant Sale at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney.

Justicia brandegeeana 'Fruit Cocktail'
The bracts on this one are a golden lime in colour; the flowers are tipped in a deep pink to red colour with a paler throat.  This is an upright grower and it has a continual display of flowers during the warmer months.

Justicia nodosa

Close up of Justicia nodosa flowers

This Justicia is a cascading or weeping shrub; the leaves are widely spaced along the stems, they are around 6cm apart.  The flowers emerge form the leaf axils and the wider spacing between the leaves allows the flowers to be fully seen as they
emerge from the leaf axils and cascade down along the weeping branches.  The flowers are held in small clusters; they are a deep pink and the bottom lip divided into 3 segments giving the flowers a frill like appearance.  It grows to around 1m high; it prefers morning sun or light shade and it will thrive under trees. Flowering throughout the year: this Justicia is ideal to plant near the front of the garden or along the edge of a wall, so that the flowers can be seen and appreciated.  Prune to keep this one more compact.  I bought my first one as a small plant from Ian Wintle in 2010.
Native: Brazil

Justicia carnea
The Pink Plume Flower has been growing in Sydney since 1850; it has been in and out of fashion during this time and it does pop up in our garden centres every so often.  The Pink Plume Flower has been grown here for that long that we no longer think this one as a tropical plant and it is mainly considered to be a cottage garden plant. The eye-catching flowers are a palish pink in colour and they appear on the shrub all year round, although they are smaller in winter.  This Justicia grows to 1.8m high and it prefers a lightly shaded position in the garden.
Native: South America

Justicia carnea Huntington Form (syn Justicia carnea Radiant)

This is a stunning form of J. carnea, it has deeper green leaves and the underside of the leaves are a red in colour.  The flowers are showier and they are a deeper pink.  It is a more compact form and only grows to 1m-1.2m high.

Justicia carnea Alba
The White Plume flower is slightly smaller in growth than J. carnea, it only grows to 1.2m. high.  It prefers a more shaded area to protect the flowers from our summer sun.  



 Megaskepasma erythrochlamys
Red Cloak is an eye catching shrub when it is in full flower and even when it is not in flower as the leaves are 30cm long and they do stand out in the garden.  It is a  multi stemmed shrub growing up to 3m high.  During late summer and autumn, flower spikes appear at the end of each stem; these flower spikes are up to 30cm long.  These flower spikes consist deep red bracts which stay on the shrub in full colour for many months; tiny white flowers emerge from each of the bracts during late autumn.  This plant will grow in shade or full sun; my plants are growing in a lightly shaded spot.   Red Cloak is available at the Friends of the Gardens Plant Sale at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney.
Native: Venezuela

Odontonema cuspidatum
The strikingly beautiful red flowers on Firespike have a waxy appearance to them. This shrub flowers in late summer and autumn, initially there is just one flower spike, as the flower stem ages more flower spikes appear from the bottom of the flower stem.  The leaves are almost oval in shape and they can easily reach 20cm in length.  Firespike does prefer bright filtered light or sun.  I have seen this shrub growing in full sun and it looks like a completely different plant; the lush look that this plant has in the shade isn't there instead the leaves and flowers are very small.
Native: Mexico

Ruellia elegans
 Ruellia elegans was introduced into this country by Sir Charles Cotton in 1808 and by 1851 it was available in nurseries in Sydney.   When this plant was introduced into Australia or New South Wales as it was known then, it was not called Ruellia elegans instead it was incorrectly named Ruellia formosa   This plant grows around 60cms by 60cms; my own plant started off as one stem last spring and it has developed six more stems since then.  The red flowers are held high above the foliage in small clusters and they can appear all year. Plant in a warm position in the garden as it is frost tender.   Ruellia elegans is available at the Friends of the Gardens Plant Sale at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney.
Native: Brazil
Ruellia makoyana
This is a gorgeous groundcover growing to about 30cm x 45cm.  This plant is ideal for shady spots in the garden as the silvery white line on either side of the main vein brings a touch of light to the dark green leaves. The top of the leaves feel like velvet when touched and the underside of these leaves is purplish red in colour.  This plant looks great all year round and the flowers in autumn are an added bonus.
Native: Brazil

Strobilanthes hamiltoniana
The Chinese Rain Bell grows to 1.5m high and during autumn and winter the top of this plant is covered with masses of these pink tubular flowers.  Morning sun or a lightly shaded position is ideal.  Strobilathes hamiltoniana is also known as Strobilanthes flaccidifolius or Strobilanthes cusia and it is available at the Friends of the Gardens Plant Sale at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney.
Native: South East Asia

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Flowering in May 2

  Flowering in May

Winter has arrived early this year.  The nights have been getting cold and the temperature has dropped down to 2C or 3C on a couple of nights.  It won't be long before we get the first frost as the dew on the windscreens of the car had almost turned into ice last Monday morning.   Even though the colder temperatures have started there are still flowers in the garden. The Brugmansias are in flower and the colour of the flowers is a lot paler; many of the plants have come to the end of their main flowering season.  The colour will soon come from my foliage plants and the odd flower on some of the plants. 
Here are some of the plants still in flower.


Dalechampia aristolochiaefolia

This climbing plant flowers for a many months in my garden, even though the flowers on this plant are unusual, it is only when you stop and look closely at the centre of the flower that you see just how beautiful and unusual it is.  I first saw this plant at the Nambour Garden Expo in 2010 and I just had to buy it. 


Clerodendrum wallachii

I found this plant in a plant wholesaler in Sydney (this wholesaler has since closed down) years ago and I just had to have it. It is a stunning plant when it is in flower during autumn; the ends of the stems bend downwards and the pendulous flowers emerge from the top of the stems flowers creating a gorgeous cascading look.  This plant grows well in light shade although I have heard that it will grow in heavier shad.
It is not hard to see how this plant got its common name of Bridal Veil.
Native: India

 Mussaenda luteola

I remember thinking after I saw this plant on the internet that I wouldn't buy it, that was until I saw this plant in full flower in a Darwin nursery.  It is simply stunning, it isn't as showy as other Mussaendas instead it has a delicate beauty to it; the flowers are fully seen on this one and they have a ridged or raised mid vein in the petals.  This one is cold hardier than the showier Mussaendas,  
Galphimia gracilis
Shower of Gold is a beautiful shrub growing to around 1.2m high.  The combination of light green leaves topped with yellow flowers is stunning; the flowers are a clear yellow in colour and their true beauty is seen when you look into the centre of the flower.  These terminal flower spikes are held high above the foliage and they appear during summer and continue through to late autumn in Sydney.
My plant is growing in a lightly shaded spot in summer and in winter it receives almost full day sun.  I bought this plant online around 3 years ago and the first time I saw Galphimia gracilis growing in a garden was last October at the Jingili Water Gardens in Darwin.

 Galphimia gracilis flowers

Plumeria pudica

I saw this plant in garden centres in the Cairns area and I was lucky enough to be given 3 of these by a plant collector up there; I kept 2 and gave one away to a friend.  My 2 have grown at different rates, one took off while the other one was slow to establish; the larger one flowered the next year and has been flowering ever since then.  I move the pot onto the front veranda during the cooler months  It does keep its leaves in winter. 
Native: Panama, Columbia and Venezuela

Angelonia angustifolia
These are a new plants in my garden, I bought them in Darwin last October and they haven't stopped flowering since I bought them.  I saw some of these in garden centres since I have been back home.  Angelonia angustifolia has been growing in Sydney since 1857. Strangely enough these plants are sold as potted colour here.

This one I did buy in Sydney after we got back.

Pentas lanceolata
 Pentas have been growing in Sydney since 1851, they are tough and reliable growers and they will flower for most of the year in a lightly shaded spot in the garden.