Guides: Patio and Containers
There are 17 Hellebore species. Most are native to the mountainous regions of Europe, especially the Balkan region of the former Yugoslavia, south along the eastern Adriatic to Greece and Turkey. Many of the species have been interbred, producing countless hybrid Hellebores in a rich array of colors and forms.
Bletilla are deciduous terrestrial perennial orchids boasting attractive pleated, linear to lance-shaped leaves, and erect racemes of bell-shaped flowers in spring and summer. The delicate flowers vary in color from white to purple to yellow. Bletilla striata (Chinese Ground Orchid), Bletilla formosana Taiwan Ground Orchid), Bletilla ochracea (Chinese Butterfly Orchid) are 3 popular hardy species of orchids grown by gardeners in temperate climate areas. They grow from pseudobulbs that usually sit at ground level. A well established clump of these in flower is quite beautiful and rewarding.
Lady’s slipper orchids are among the most desired of all hardy orchids. Often colorful and striking, these rhizomatous perennials have a distinctive inflated pouch or modified lip (labellum) that resembles a slipper or shoe. The slipper can be as large as a chicken egg or quite small depending on the species. Cypripedium is a genus of terrestrial orchids in the Orchidaceae family. It includes about 50 species, most of them quite hardy, which can be found in America, Europe, and Asia.
Among the oldest horticultural orchids in the world, Cymbidiums have been grown and revered in China for thousands of years. Prized for their incredibly decorative flower spikes, used especially as cut flowers or for corsages in the spring, they are among the most popular orchids in cultivation today. Most Cymbidiums are easily grown. They are one of the least demanding indoor orchids. They can also be grown in the garden. To flower well, Cymbidiums need a distinct difference between day and night temperatures in late summer.
Coveted around the world, Vanda is a genus of 50 orchid species found throughout tropical Asia, into the Philippines, and down to Australia. Prized for their huge and long-lasting flowers, these warm-growing tropical orchids are grown in the millions throughout Asia and in America. Vanda orchids are not a good choice for beginners as many species require bright light, warm temperatures, high humidity, ample water and strong air movement. Some of these requirements can be difficult to follow at home.
As climbers, Clematis are unsurpassed in their long flowering presence, their rich diversity of flower shapes, their wide array of colors and tolerances in terms of exposure and climate. Members of the Ranunculaceae family, Clematis include more than 300 species and hundreds of hybrids. They are divided into 12 groups.
Palms and cycads make striking container plants for decks, patios, porches and around pools, adding an exotic and tropical touch to our outdoor living areas. While most palm trees thrive in the landscape, there are also quite a few species that are suitable to container gardening.
Native to Japan, Hydrangea macrophylla (Big Leaf Hydrangea) is one of the most popular hydrangeas in our gardens. This deciduous shrub features a rounded habit, large bold leaves and attractive clusters of long-blooming summer flowers. The species is divided into two groups: the Mophead Hydrangeas with large rounded flower heads, mostly packed with showy sterile florets, and the Lacecap Hydrangeas with flattened flower clusters composed of showy sterile florets radiating around a central cluster of tiny fertile florets.
Prized for its delightful fragrance, Syringa vulgaris (Common Lilac) is a mainstay of the spring landscape in northern and colder climates. Easy to grow, tough as nails, deer resistant and relatively free from major pests, Common Lilacs are one of the most effective flowering shrubs. Tailored to meet the needs of all gardens, this species counts 2000 cultivars.
Real eye-catchers in the garden, Gladiolus, also known as sword lilies, are cormous perennials boasting incredibly spectacular spikes of funnel-shaped flowers in summer in a surprisingly wide range of colors. Borne atop attractive fans of sword-shaped or linear leaves, they always provide a dramatic effect with their rich and cheerful colors and their breathtaking vertical lines.
Native to Mexico and Central America, Echeverias are regarded by many as one of the most beautiful succulents. Evergreen, they form attractive rosettes of fleshy leaves and often resemble plum-petaled roses, waterlilies or ruffled lettuce. There are dozens of species, and hundreds of cultivars offering a wide array of colors, sizes or leaf shapes.
When days grow short and winds blow cold, indoor flowers go a long way to warm the heart and cheer the soul. The easiest and most rewarding bulbs you can grow, Paperwhites are amazingly fragrant daffodils that are perfect for producing flowers in a short period of time when grown indoors. Hailing from the temperate shores of the southeastern Mediterranean, these bright, peppery-scented bulb flowers are not winter hardy. However, in warm climates (zones 8-11) with hot, dry summers, paperwhite bulbs can be planted outside where they will bloom annually for many years. Paperwhites are members of the daffodil family, Narcissus tazetta.
Adored by florists and gardeners, Ranunculus asiaticus (Persian Buttercups) is a tuberous-rooted plant boasting brilliantly colored flowers adorned with multiple layers of delicate, crepe paper-thin petals. Native to Asia Minor, they produce masses of very long-lasting, single, double or frilled blossoms in a rainbow of gorgeous colors.
An essential component of many bouquets thanks to their long vase life (over 3 weeks), Freesias are striking beauties that also deserve a spot outdoors. Visually stunning with their abundant clusters of brightly colored flowers on gently arching stalks, they are also intensely fragrant. Native to South Africa, these tender cormous perennials, often grown as annuals, require minimal maintenance, are virtually disease-free and pest-free, deer and rabbit resistant, and will multiply to form generous clumps over time - provided some basic rules are respected.
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