Plant Guide

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Categories starting with A

Items starting with A

aloe-arborescens

Aloe arborescens

krantz aloe, candelabra aloe, octopus plant, torch plant

Succulent evergreen perennial plant from southern Africa. Bluish-green, toothed leaves with tapering and curved tips, arranged in rosettes at the end of branches. Very striking, bright orange to red, nectar-producing, tubular flowers in racemes on long stems during winter.

The specific epithet 'arborescens' means tree-like. The word krantz in the common name refers to 'rocky cliff' in Afrikaans.

Prefers a sunny position in well-draining soil. Suitable for coastal areas.

aloysia-citrodora

Aloysia citrodora

lemon verbena, lemon beebrush, sweet-scented verbena, lemon-scented verbena, lemon tree, herb Louisa, verbena oil plant

Shrub in the Verbenaceae family, native to South America, evergreen in tropical areas, but deciduous everywhere else. Lance-shaped, mid green leaves with a somewhat rough upper surface, about 8 cm long, arranged in whorls of three. Foliage emits a strong lemon scent. Panicles with tiny white or lilac flowers in summer.

Synonyms: Aloysia citriodora, Aloysia triphylla, Lippia citr(i)odora, Lippia triphylla, Verbena triphylla.

Prefers a sheltered, sunny position in free-draining soil. Is also happy in a partially shaded spot, especially in areas with hot summers. The plant tends to send out long shoots, in particular when not receiving all day sun, but it responds well to regular trimming. In the dormant season it can be pruned hard if required. Fertilise regularly during the growing season. Quite drought-tolerant once established. Caterpillars, spider mites and whiteflies like to feed on the foliage.Tolerates light to moderate frosts (zone 8). In colder climates, grow Aloysia citrodora in a pot, and overwinter indoors. It will most likely loose all leaves after the move, but this is normal. When grown outside, the leaves will drop in response to cold temperatures or stress. Avoid overwatering, in particular when the plant is dormant.

Not just a pretty plant, but very useful too. Leaves are used to make herbal teas. They can also be added to jams, puddings, fish and chicken dishes, salads, teas and other drinks to impart a lemon flavour. Essential oil extracted from the foliage is used in perfumery. Dried leaves add a lovely fresh scent to potpourries. Plant Aloysia citrodora where you can appreciate the gorgeous fragrance. You can train it to a single leader, much like a topiary subject.

amaryllis-belladonna

Amaryllis belladonna

naked lady, belladonna lily, March lily

Clump-forming bulbous plant, native to South Africa. Long, strap-like, mid green leaves to about 50 cm long. Foliage emerges in autumn and dies back in late spring. Mildly scented, 10 cm long, trumpet-shaped, pink flowers appear in late summer in heads of 2-12 on 30-60 cm long purplish red stems. The common name 'naked lady' refers to the fact that the plant flowers while the foliage is dormant. Amaryllis belladonna is poisonous, and the sap and bulbs may cause skin irritations.

Prefers a sunny or partially shaded position in almost any well-draining soil. Tolerates considerable dryness, in particular when the foliage has died back. Leaves can handle quite a bit of wind, but flower stems get damaged by strong winds, so a sheltered spot where the flower stems don't get blown about, is best for a good display. Amaryllis belladonna likes to be left undisturbed, but clumps of bulbs can be divided. Individual bulbs should be planted with their necks at or just above (not below) soil level. Tolerates moderate frosts to about -80 C.

Amaryllis belladonna is easy to grow and reliably produces a magnificent display of flowers from late summer onwards. Suitable for rock gardens, containers, under large deciduous trees, coastal gardens and borders. Flowers last well on water.

amaryllis-belladonna-alba

Amaryllis belladonna 'Alba'

white naked lady, white belladonna lily

White-flowering cultivar of a South African, bulbous, clump-forming plant with long strappy leaves to 50 cm long. Foliage emerges in autumn and dies back in late spring. Large, 10 cm long, trumpet shaped, mildly scented flowers appear in late summer in heads of 2-12 on 30-60 cm long, leafless, purplish red stems. Amaryllis belladonna is poisonous, and its sap and bulbs may cause skin irritations. The common name 'naked lady' for Amaryllis belladonna refers to the fact that the plant flowers while the leaves are dormant.

Prefers a sunny or partially shaded position in almost any well-draining soil type. Tolerates considerable dryness, in particular when the foliage has died back. Leaves can handle quite a bit of wind, but flower stems get damaged by strong winds, so a sheltered position where the flowering stems don't get blown about, is best for a good display. Plants like to be left undisturbed, but clumps of bulbs can be divided and individual bulbs should be planted with their necks at or just above soil level (not below).  Tolerates moderate frosts to about -80C. 

Suitable for flower display in rock gardens, arge containers, under large deciduous trees, coastal gardens and borders. Flowers last well on water.

anemone-hybrida

Anemone x hybrida

Japanese anemone, windflower

Herbaceous perennial, flowering in late summer and autumn with white, pink or rosy pink flowers with golden yellow stamens in the centre, 5-7 cm across. Cultivars vary somewhat in growth habit, but they usually form a clump and spread by means of rhizomes. The mid green leaves are palmately lobed with toothed margins. 'Honorine Jobert' is a popular white-flowering cultivar.

Anemone x hybrida is the name given to a group of hybrids of uncertain parentage. They are sometimes sold as cultivars of Anemone japonica.

Prefers a sheltered, partially shady position in well-draining soil, enriched with organic matter. May become quite vigorous when given an ideal spot, spreading underground. Water during hot spells in summer to help with establishment. Once established, Anemone x hybrida cultivars are reasonably tolerant of dry conditions. Hot summer sunlight tends to burn the foliage. Cut back after flowering and cover with mulch or straw if severe frosts (below -20 degC)  are expected, or leave frost-blackened foliage to protect the plant from further frost damage. Generally free from pests and diseases. Propagate by means of division in spring.

Delightful perennial for a semi-shaded position in a woodland garden, cottage garden, or combined with clipped plants to introduce an informal aspect to formal gardens.

argyranthemum-frutescens-double-act

Argyranthemum frutescens 'Double Act'

A variety belonging to the Federation daisies, a group of Australian-bred Marguerite daisies. Flowering with typical daisy flowers, carmine pink initially, and then gradually fading to a pale yellow. Flowers for a long time from autumn through to summer. 

Prefers well-draining soil and a sunny spot, but will tolerate a partially shaded site. Requires frost protection when young. Once established, Argyranthemum frutescens 'Double Act' tolerates light frosts. Suitable for coastal areas as long as there is some shelter from very strong winds. Lightly prune after flowering to keep the plant compact. Apply a general garden fertiliser in spring. Generally pest and disease free.

A wonderful, cheery and carefree plant that is completely smothered with flowers for an incredibly long time, including winter. I love the two tones of pink and yellow occurring on one plant. Suitable for cut flowers but the flower stems are relatively short and lend themselves better for posies rather than large bouquets.

arthropodium-cirratum

Arthropodium cirratum

rengarenga,maikaika, rock lily, New Zealand rock lily

New Zealand native, clump-forming perennial with drooping, strap-like leaves and white flowers in late spring to early summer. Dull-green leaves, 40-70 cm long and 3-10 cm wide, arranged in basal rosettes. Star-shaped white to cream flowers, 2 cm across, produced in long-stalked panicles. Flower stamens are white and purple with curled yellow tips. Occurs naturally in New Zealand throughout the North Island and northern parts of the South Island. It can be found in a range of different habitats from coastal regions to forests and exposed, rocky, inland areas. Several cultivars have been developed, differing from the species in size and width of the leaves.

Rengarenga was used by Maori for nutritional, medicinal, spiritual and cultural purposes.

Prefers free-draining soil in full sun or shade. Tolerates dry conditions. Suitable for very exposed sites, but has a smaller, tighter habit in such conditions. Leaves are damaged by light to moderate frosts, but even when all the leaves have turned into a brown mush due to frost burn, there is a good chance that the plant will recover in spring. To maintain a healthy, tidy appearance, pull out spent flower stalks, remove old or damaged leaves, and protect from snails and slugs. Fertilise or add compost if the plant seems to sulk and the foliage turns yellowish. Easy to propagate by division.

Arthropodium cirratum looks great when planted en masse as a ground cover under trees. Very attractive when in flower. Particularly effective when used as a foliage plant, adding a structural dimension to mixed plantings. Also suitable for containers.

asplenium-oblongifolium

Asplenium oblongifolium

shining spleenwort, huruhuru (whenua), paranako, paretao

Tufted evergreen fern with arching glossy green fronds. Over time fronds can grow up to 1.5 m long, but Asplenium oblongifolium is slow growing and remains much smaller for a long time. Slightly toothed leaflets to 15 cm long. Endemic to New Zealand. Occurs naturally in coastal and lower montane areas in the North Island and parts of the South Island of New Zealand.

Performs best in dry shade, and as such is perfect for areas under established trees. Tolerates full sun, but fronds are shorter and paler green. Wet intolerant.

 

astelia-chathamica-silver-spear

Astelia chathamica 'Silver Spear'

Large clump-forming plant with silvery, flax-like foliage, native to New Zealand. The leaves are broad and stiff, but droop towards the ends. Flowers are produced in spring and are followed by orange fruits. They are generally obscured and dominated by the foliage.

Suitable for sun or shade. Requires well-draining soil. Drought tolerant. Although Astelia chathamica 'Silver Spear' tolerates quite windy conditions, the leaves hold their shape better when conditions are not too exposed. Astelia chathamica 'Silver Spear' is intolerant of high moisture. Hardy to about -7oC.

Striking feature plant. The silvery foliage looks particularly good in sheltered, shady or partially shaded conditions. Careful when combining Astelia chathamica 'Silver Spear' with other grey-leafed plants; this tends to become quite overpowering. Instead, you could consider a combination with fine-leafed grasses or blue-flowering plants such as Dichroa and Geranium. An attractive, but strong contrast can be achieved with Loropetalum chinense 'Burgundy'. Suitable for containers.

aucuba-japonica

Aucuba japonica 'Crotonifolia'

variegated spotted laurel, variegated gold dust plant

Slow growing bushy shrub with shiny, leathery, toothed leaves, 6 to 12 cm long, heavily spotted and blotched with yellow. Aucuba japonica 'Crotonifolia' is dioecious, meaning it has separate male and female plants. The flowers are tiny and insignificant, chocolate brown to purplish, .5 cm across. On female plants, the flowers are followed after pollination by bright red, 1 cm wide berries. Foliage and berries are harmful when ingested.

Thrives in shade or partial shade. Leaves may get scorched in full sun. Requires well-draining soil, and does not cope with waterlogged conditions. Tolerates air pollution. Usually has a compact growth habit, but can be pruned to shape. Withstands drought, although growth is more luxuriant with regular moisture supply.

Wonderful foliage plant to lighten up a dark area, or to give your garden a lush, tropical feel. Also looks good as a hedge for year-round interest. If you like to see berries on your shrub, make sure to select a male plant for pollination and a female plant for fruit production. One male plant is sufficient for about eight female plants. Looks lovely in combination with the purple flowers of Liriope muscari, which thrives in similar growing conditions.