Mitraria coccinea is a climber in full flower now. It is a loose shrubby plant with relatively weak stems which root if they fall onto the ground. It is an evergreen spreading shrub from the moist woodlands of Chile and Argentina. Mitraria coccinea prefers cool, humid climates.
Grow in a woodland garden or sheltered shrub border. In gardens where frosts are severe, grow in a cool greenhouse. The spectacular red flowers appear over a long period from late spring to autumn. The flower is followed by small reddish fruit which contains the tiny seeds in a gelatinous mixture. Seed is rarely available as it is difficult or impossible to separate from the pulp of the fruit.
In frost prone gardens grow in a glasshouse in a lime-free potting compost in bright filtered light, with moderate to high humidity. While it is growing, water freely and apply a balanced liquid fertiliser monthly, water sparingly in winter but do not allow to dry out. In frost free gardens, grow in moist but well drained, humus rich acid soil in light dapple shade. Shelter from cold drying winds.
Keep the roots cool and shaded, but allow the top to grow into sunlight. We grow mitraria coccinea on a north facing brick wall of a glasshouse with shelter form westerly winds. It is a plant that requires minimal pruning, trim or lightly cut back shoots to reduce size from mid to late spring.
Deadhead regularly to prolong the flowering season, unless the fruit is required. The plant is propagated by means of semi-ripe cuttings with bottom heat in summer. It is a delightful plant that suits a partially shaded, sheltered position that will provide you with lots of colour over a long period of time.
Shrub of the week
Heliotropium arborescens (Cherry pie) is a plant guaranteed to enhance any garden all through the summer. Heliotropium is a genus of about 250 species of erect, bushy annuals, perenials and shrubs that come from dry open sandy habitats in Mexico, South America and the Canary Islands. They are grown for their hairy leaves and tiny sweetly scented tubular flowers which are produced in summer in clusters that form flattened flower heads.
In frost prone areas grow in a cool greenhouse. In warmer gardens grow heliotropes at the front of a border or in containers outdoors. In the greenhouse grow in full light with shade from hot sun, provide moderate humidity, just keep moist in winter. Outdoors, grow in any fertile, moist but well drained soil in full sun.
Heliotropium arborescens is a bushy, short lived shrub, with lanced shaped wrinkled dark green, sometimes purple tinged leaves. It has produced lavender blue flowers in dense flower heads over the last six weeks and is still producing more new flower-heads. The flowers are strongly scented. It is a native of Peru. It is a shrub that grows about 4 feet tall. Numerous hybrids of heliotropium arborescens are used in summer bedding. ‘White Lady’ is a compact shrub, producing white flowers tinged with pink, that grows about 12 inches high.
Herbaceous Plant of the week
Hemerocallis (daylily) are herbaceous perennials with thousands of named cultivars to choose from. They are clump forming with dark-green leaves and can grow up to 2 feet tall.
The flowers come in a variety of shapes, such as circular, star-shaped and trumpet, which remains a popular choice. The flowers range in colour from almost white through yellow and orange to dark purple and deep red. Most flowers last for only one day but new flowers are produced each day. Hemerocallis like fertile, moist but well drained soil and full sun. Dig lots of compost into the soil before planting. Plants that are looked after in the first year will reward you with lots of blooms in later years.
Feeding is essential: a sprinkling of a high-potash fertiliser in spring followed by a mulch of compost will encourage strong growth and plenty of flowering stems. Water freely from spring until the buds develop; dry conditions and excessive shade will reduce flowering.
It takes a few years for hemerocallis to become fully established but once established they can tolerate drought. Divide every two to three years to maintain vigour.