Indigofera heterantha, commonly known as Himalayan indigo, is a very hardy flowering shrub native to Tibet
Indigofera gerardiana now called Indigofera heterantha is a deciduous shrub that flowers from summer into the autumn. The plant produces arching branches, with elegant, pinnate grey-green leaves and masses of pea like purple-pink flowers. It can grow up to ten feet tall in a moderately fertile, moist but well drained soil in full sun. It can be grown in a shrub border or trained against a warm, sunny wall. Plant the shrub in spring and prune lightly in spring to control shape and to keep the plant compact.
Eucomis, commonly known as pineapple lilies, have undergone a surge in popularity over the last few years. Eucomis is a tender plant from South Africa where it grows in regions with high summer rainfall. It is a plant that survived outside with us after the cold winter.
In this country the bulbs do not appear above the ground until May and will flower from late summer to October. Eucomis bicolour, is the most commonly cultivated species, is a hardy variety that grows outside in our heavy soil without protection. It is very suitable as a pot plant that is brought indoors for the winter in frost-prone gardens. When grown in pots keep them well watered. Place pot-growing plants in some shade, at least during the hottest part of the day.
Grow the plant in a fertile, moist, well-drained soil in full sun in a sheltered position at the base of a warm wall and mulch in winter. The bulbs look better when planted in a group rather than left to grow singly. Plant the bulbs in spring. The flower spike produced in late summer and early autumn is an amazing sight. Each spike can range in size from 12 to 24 inches tall and is made up of hundreds of small flowers that open from the bottom up. The top of the flowering spike has a turf of green leaves, similar to those found on a pineapple, hence its common name the pineapple lily. Flowerheads may last for up to three months and are followed by handsome seed pods.
Eucomis bicolor has pale green leaves with a purple margin to the petals. Eucomis is one plant that is thriving in our wet summer. Eucomis vandermerwei has wonderful spotted, dark purple-brown leaves with crinkled edges, like beetroot stems, and produces brownish flowers. The plant grows about 4 inches tall. Eucomis ‘Pink Gin’ has enormous heads of dazzling pink flowers and can grow up to 3 feet tall. Eucomis will always attract attention and comment. They give a long lasting flavour of the exotic to the late summer garden.
Zantedeschia (calla lily) is another bulb from South Africa in full flower now. They are grown for their unusual white or brightly coloured flowers. The leaves are green or speckled and spear shaped. The flowers are funnel shaped and come in a variety of colours that range from white to pink, yellow and various other colours. The plant grows flowers from July to October. The flowers are about 12 inches tall. Calla lilies are best grown in a humus rich, moist soil in full sun or partial shade.
The plant is suitable for border beds or containers. In frost prone gardens protect the bulbs in winter with a deep mulch or grow the in pots and move to greenhouse for the winter. Plant the bulbs in spring. This plant did not survive outside last winter but the plants removed to the greenhouse are doing fine.
Jobs for the week
Prune wisteria, cutting the long stems back to three or four leaves from the main stem. If the plant did not flower well this year give it a feed of high-potash fertiliser.
Continue to collect seeds from your favourite perennials and store them in a cool dry place.
House plants that have been outside for their summer holidays should be lifted in their pots , cleaned off and brought back into the glasshouse. Check closely that pests like ants and slugs are not sneaking in with them.