Tuesday, June 30, 2015

PLANT OF THE WEEK: Vietnamese Water Jasmine

Native to the tropical regions of Africa, Asia and Australia, Wrightia religiosa can also be grown successfully in the southern US, It is most often seen in bonsai form. Though not related to jasmine, the flowers produce a sweet honey scent that can easily fill a room. Clusters of white flowers hang beneath the leaves of the tree and can last for weeks at a time.
Sweetly scented flowers
While the name suggests that this plant would love water, it is very easy to over-water. If you cannot keep the soil evenly moist, I recommend letting the plant dry out. My personal Wrightia goes into full wilt before I water. Full to part sun and regular fertilizing during the growing season are essential.

Vietnamese Water Jasmine trained as bonsai

Though I love this plant for its graceful structure and the fragrance, the stories that I have heard, and the little hint of mystery surrounding it, make it my favorite. Also known as Sacred Buddhist, throughout my research, I never found the reason it was given this name. Instead I was told that the name, water jasmine, came from the plant’s natural habit of growing out over water. When the plant bloomed, the flowers would reflect from the surface of the water into the sky. During my research I also found a quick note about this plant flowering when it rained. Yet another reason it is called water jasmine? I’m not entirely sure, but after all the rain we had in June, my bonsai is blooming.

Wrightia religiosa is available as a starter plant in our greenhouse
Guest blogger Jen Kostick is a Maryland Master Gardener and bonsai enthusiast. She has worked at Valley View Farms for about 5 years, in our greenhouse in the spring and our International Christmas Shop in the fall. Jen has been assisting our bonsai grower, Martha Meehan, with our monthly meetings and workshops for the last few years.

Friday, June 26, 2015

PLANT OF THE WEEK: Gomphrena Pink Zazzle ™

Gomphrena Pink Zazzle in a mixed container

Mid to late summer blooming flowers need to be tough. They have to go through periods of drought, play well with others in mixed borders and containers and look good for the occasional summer barbecue when guests arrive. Gomphrena Pink Dazzle does not disappoint.

Gomphrena Pink Zazzle is a Proven Winners branded plant

Grow gomphrena in full to part sun. Pink Zazzle is a bit of a sprawler, so give it about 16" of space in a garden bed or plant it towards the edge of pots. The stiff, bristly bloom holds up for a very long time. The plant itself is drought tolerant and attractive to pollinators, including butterflies and hummingbirds.

Pink Zazzle in a pot at the edge of a garden bed greeted guests at a party held at Billy and Kay's house

We first saw this gomphrena in 2013 and decided to plant some up in pots for Breast Cancer Awareness that fall. We have the Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure in our area. The Pink Zazzle bloomed very well through September and October, enjoying the cooler fall months. Expect reliable bloom from June through October in Zone 7.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

PLANT OF THE WEEK: Echibeckia Summerina™

Part of me just loves the name of this plant. The brand new series of Echibeckias is an inter-genetic cross between Rudbeckia and Echinacea. For those gardeners that aren't currently practicing their Latin, that's a cross between a black-eyed Susan and a cone flower.  Pat, our store gardener, has planted them along our sidewalk bed in front of our white house offices. The Echibeckia would love an exposure of full to part-sun. It is hardy in our area here in Baltimore County and will survive in USDA Zone 6. The daisy-like flowers are available in three colors this year; brown, orange and yellow, measuring about three inches across. The breeder , Pacific Plug and Liner, states that the plant has the appearance of Rudbeckia with the hardiness of Echinacea. We expect Echibeckia Summerina™ to bloom for two to three months in late spring to mid-summer.

Monday, June 8, 2015

PLANT OF THE WEEK: Cuphea Vermillionaire

Cuphea Vermillionaire from Proven Winners

Every once in a while, a plant comes along that everybody agrees is going to be a winner. The Cuphea Vermillionaire is that plant this year. We heard about it in trade magazines and various websites in 2014. By mid-summer, we had seen the cuphea in trials in Ohio and just north of us in Landisville, PA. The Cigar flower, one of many nicknames that this plant goes by, has been around for a long time. We'd never seen it hold up in such good bloom for so long during the spring, summer and fall seasons.
Also known as Firecracker flower, this cuphea can handle heat and tolerate drought once established. It will grow to about 2 feet and spread to 18 inches. Cuphea works well in container gardens and will attract hummingbirds to the home landscape. Vermillionaire combines the best of many worlds; a sun tolerant plant that is attractive in the garden, providing a different flower shape to gardeners and a color that works well in all gardening seasons. Try a few in your garden this year and let us now how they do.