Achiote Tree | An Herbal Ornamental for the Garden

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Achiote (Bixa orellana), A.K.A. the Lipstick Tree, is a small deciduous tree native to Mexico, Central and South America. Achiote can grow up to 20 to 30 feet tall if grown as a tree. However, if pruned correctly, it can retain it’s shrubbery height of 12 feet. Throughout the growing season, Achiote produces  attractive, heart-shaped leaves and an abundance of light pink flowers. It produces inedible green fruit that, when it matures, turns a brownish-rust in color and is covered with soft, spiky hairs.

Inside of the Achiote’s fruit are an abundance of seeds surrounded by pulp that is a bright red/orange in color. However, the seeds (Annato) are the true prize, as they are used commercially worldwide to create a red dye that is used widely in various types of products such as cheese, rice, butter and even cosmetics.

Visually, Achiote makes an exceedingly beautiful addition to gardens in USDA zones 10-11.  Achiote can be grown from seed but propagation from stems and nursery-grown plants are recommended to provide rapid growth and a better fruit yield. In addition to full sun, Achiote prefers well draining, loamy soil and consistent watering. It can be grown in a container approximate to it’s predicted size. Typically, it takes 2-3 years before Achiote will produce fruit.

Achiote has very few pest problems or diseases (powdery mildew is one exception). Fertilizer is not required to grow this exceptionally hardy tree, but a combination of nitrogen, phosphorous and potash will greatly improve your yield and encourage faster growth.

Where To Buy Achiote Plants:

https://kensnursery.com/product/showy-lipsticktree-true-annatto-bixa-orellana

https://urbantropicals.com/product/annatto-lipstick-tree-bixa-orellana

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Butterfly Bush | A Garden Option to Attract Butterflies, Bees and Other Pollinators

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Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii) – Originating from China, Butterfly Bush is a delicious, perennial shrub known for it’s long plumes. The plumes feature a cascade of tiny, nectar rich flowers that attracts and provides food only, to adult butterflies, bees, hummingbirds and and other beneficial insects. The flowers colors can range from shades of blues, violet and purple but are generally white, pink and red.

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Buddlelia is fast growing, deer resistant and low maintenance. It can grow to reach heights of 6 to 8 feet. Buddlelia requires full sun to reach its optimum flowering potential. It also requires well draining, average to slightly acidic soil. It does not, however, like excessive wet soil. Once the plants are established,  they become drought tolerant and require only occasional watering unless subjected to extreme heat. Aggressive pruning during late fall only is recommended in mild climates. In cold climates, Buddlelia should be cut close to the ground (be forewarned the stalks are woody and tough) and mulched heavily until spring. Buddlelia generally flowers the first year, when started early (blooms from summer to autumn).

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The bad news: Buddlelia is becoming a invasive species in many climates; in particular the Pacific Northwest (has been banned in Oregon) and most of the eastern seaboard. Because seeds are easily dispersed naturally by weather and birds, deadheading spent plumes is recommended. The good news is non-invasive varieties have been cultivated and are perfect for perennial gardens and containers.

Non-Invasive Buddelelia Varieties:

Blue Chip’ Lo & Behold® Buddlelia – (also known as summer lilac in Oregon and Washington) –  24 to 30 inches – Flower Color (s) blue – purple

Inspired Pink  – 48 to 72 inches – Flower Color (s) pink

Asian Moon – 5 to 7 feet  – Flower Color (s) blue – purple

Lo-Behold Purple Haze – 24-36 inches – low spreading and perfect for ground cover, mass or foundation planting – Flower Color (s) purple

Butterfly Bush Flutterby Grande Blueberry Cobbler  –  4 to 6 feet – Flower Color (s) blue, yellow-orange

Butterfly Bush Flutterby Grande Peach Cobbler –  4 to 6 feet –  Flower Color (s) pink-orange

Flutterby Grande™ Sweet Marmalade Butterfly Bush (Summer Lilac) –  4 to 6 feet  – Flower Color (s) – orange

Flutterby Grande™ Tangerine Dream Butterfly Bush – 4 to 6 feet – Flower Color (s) yellow-orange

Flutterby Grande™ Vanilla Butterfly Bush –  4 to 6 feet  – Flower Color (s) white

Flutterby Petite® Snow White Butterfly Bush –  24 to 30 inches  – Flower Color (s) white

Flutterby™ Pink Nectar Bush  – 24 to 30 inches –  Flower Color (s) pink

Additional Resources:

https://www.provenwinners.com/search/content/buddleia?f[0]=bundle%3Aplant_identity

https://plants.monrovia.com/search?w=buddleia

https://www.americanmeadows.com/search/go?w=buddleia

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The Trumpet Vine | A Way to Add Beauty to Your Garden

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The Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans) is a fast growing, tenacious climbing vine native to the southeast region of the US. This hardy perennial is also known as trumpet creeper and produces large, tubular and stunningly beautiful flowers with colors ranging from orange to scarlet.  The plant’s vines are deciduous, enterprising and compact and rootlets cling almost any surface.

Trumpet vines make a perfect and beautiful screen plant if grown against extremely sturdy trellises, pergolas, arbors and fences (requires a lot of room and the vines can get heavy). You can also include trumpet vines in most naturalistic landscapes or woodland gardens, however, it spreads aggressively by underground runners and self seeds in abundance (growing up to 40 feet in height), so introduce it carefully. Consistent control of this vine is a must.

Trumpet vine is a favorite of nectar-seeking hummingbirds as well as certain bees. It is also the host plant for larva of the Trumpet Vine Sphinx Moth (Paratraea plebeja). Trumpet vine is deer-resistant and drought tolerant. It benefits from average soil and has regular watering needs. It prefers full sun for consistent and abundant flowering but can also be grown in part shade. The flowers typically bloom in late summer to early fall.

* The sap of this plant can cause skin irritation on contact.

Additional resources:

Garden.org

Wildflower.org

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Agapanthus | An Exotic Beauty of a Flower That Brings Annual Pop to Gardens

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Agapanthus (African Lily) is a summer flowering perennial (grown from bulbous root stocks) and is native to South Africa. Agapanthus features spectacular blue, white, pink and purple flowers on top of deciduous and tender evergreen leaves which would be a stunning addition to any Mediterranean or exotic landscape. Continue reading

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The Wonders of Acacias |Ornamental Trees for the Garden

 

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5 Stunning Plants to Attract Butterflies To Your Garden

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Herb Gardening 101 | Growing Herbs in Your Garden

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As a garden enthusiast, I love growing all types of plants, but the plants that give me the most joy are herbs. It is astounding how many varieties there are and the many qualities they have and benefits they provide: i.e. culinary, medicinal and ornamental.  For that reason, I think herbs should be included in every garden. Continue reading

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