Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Tropical Croton

Codiaeum variegatum
A tropical, evergreen shrub to small tree that is native to Malaysia but is now widely popular around the world. Codiaeum is a genus within the Euphorbia family. Some records include: largest on record - 30 x 10 ( rarely over 13 ) feet; fastest growth rate - 3 feet. It can be used as a focal point specimen plant or as a hedge. It is also used as a summer feature plant in planters in colder climates where it is an annual. It is not related to the Croton alabamensis, a shrub of much cooler temperate climates.
The leaves, up to 18 ( rarely over 12 ) inches in length, are highly variable in shape and color.
Hardy zones 9b to 12 in full sun to full shade ( better foliage color with more sun ) preferring moist, sandy, well drained soil. Tropical Croton prefers a soil PH of less than 7.5 and is moderately tolerant of drought and salt.


* photos taken on Jan 3 2011 @ Deerfield Beach Arboretum, Florida

* photos taken on May 15 2013 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on July 11 2014 @ Smithsonian Inst., Washington, DC

* photos taken on May 4 2013 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on Oct 21 2014 @ Smithsonian Inst., Wash., DC

* photo taken on June 19 2015 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on Aug 5 2015 in Columbia, MD

* photo taken on Sep 2 2015 in Columbia, MD

Monday, April 6, 2015

Cuphea

Cuphea
A genus of perennials and small shrubs that are part of the Lythraceae family.

Cuphea hyssopifolia ( Mexican Heather )
A moderate growing, rounded, evergreen shrubby perennial, reaching up to 3 x 7 ( rarely over 2 x 2.7 outside tropics ) feet in size. It is native from Mexico to Guatemala.
The lance-shaped leaves, up to 1 inch in length, are deep green.
The purplish-pink ( rarely white ) flowers are borne on short axilliary racemes during summer, lasting well into autumn.
Hardy zones 9 to 12 ( reports of 8, often used much further north as annual ) in full sun to partial shade on moist, fertile. well drained soil. It is extremely heat tolerant. Propagation is from seed or stem-tip cuttings.

* photo taken on July 21 2012 in Columbia, MD


Cuphea ignea ( Firecracker Plant )
Also called Cigar Flower. A fast growing, bushy, evergreen perennial ( annual in cooler climates ), reaching up to 3.5 x 3 ( rarely over 3 ) feet. It is native to Jamaica and Mexico.
The pointed-oval leaves, up to 3 inches in length, are bright green. The orange-red, tubular flowers, up to 1 inch in length, are borne late spring through autumn. In tropical climates, the flowers may appear throughout the year.
Hardy zones 9b to 12 ( tolerating as low as 20 F ) in full sun to partial shade on moist, fertile, well drained soil. Occasionally pinch the stem tips if a more compact habit is desired. Propagation is from seed or stem-tip cuttings.

* photos taken on Aug 25 2014 @ U.S. Botanical Gardens, Washington, DC


'David's Variety'
Larger in size, reaching up to 4 x 3 feet.
The leaves and the yellowish-orange flowers are also larger.
Hardy zones 8b +. It is tougher in hot dry climates. Propagation is from stem-tip cuttings.

* photo taken on Aug 25 2014 @ Smithsonian Inst., Washington, DC

* photo taken on Oct 21 2014 @ Smithsonian Inst., Washington, DC


Cuphea micropetala
A rounded shrub, reaching a maximum size of 6 x 5 feet, that is native to Mexico.
The lance-shaped leaves, up to 7 inches in length, are bright green.
The golden-yellow to orangish-red, tubular flowers, up to 2 inches in length, are borne on terminal racemes all summer long lasting well into autumn.
Hardy zones 9 to 11 ( it may be root hardy to 10 F ) in full sun to partial shade on moist, fertile, well drained soil. Cut back during late winter. Propagation is from seed or stem-tip cuttings.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Missouri Maidenbush

Leptopus phyllanthoides
A moderate growing, small shrub, reaching a maximum size of 3 x 4.5 feet, that is native to limestone cliffs in the south-central U.S. ( from Oklahoma to central Missouri; south to southwest Texas to central Arkansas...with a disjunct in central Alabama where it is found on limestone glades in Bibb and Blount Counties ). Some records include: fastest growth rate - 2 feet. It is very rare to endangered in the wild.
The obovate leaves, up to 0.5 x 0.4 inches in size, are blue-green.
The greenish flowers, up to 0.5 inches long, are borne from the leaf axils during late spring through summer.
Hardy zones 6 to 8 ( est ) in full sun on just about any well drained soil. It is very tolerant of heat and drought. Barely known in cultivation...this shrub may hold great promise of greenery on difficult extremely hot parking lot islands and other commercial sites.

* photo taken on Aug 23 2014 @ U.S. Botanical Garden, Wash., DC