Month: April 2020

Types of potatoes: the best 50 potato varieties

Types of potatoes: the best 50 potato varieties

The potatoes Linda, Annabelle & Gala are well-known varieties. Widen your horizon in this article and find the best potato varieties ranging from floury to firm. Biodiversity: the hidden treasure of the Andes Since 2008 was proclaimed the international year of the potato (Solanum tuberosum),…

Top 10 plants for full sun

Top 10 plants for full sun

Some like it hot. Whether on a south-facing balcony or in a bed without shade – these ten plants feel at home in the full direct sun. The sun is an absolute must for plants. Unfortunately, there can be too much of the good thing…

Shade plants: 16 shade-loving plants for your garden

Shade plants: 16 shade-loving plants for your garden

Dark corners and shady garden beds? This article will help you discover the annual and perennial plants that will thrive in your garden even without much light.

Many gardeners exclusively associate plant life with sunshine. However, contrary to what one might assume, there are a lot of plants that prefer life in the shadows – and not because they are shy or unsightly. In fact, they are plenty of shadow-loving plants that will add green into garden corners. The following overview lists 16 great plants that are best suited for shady places. We have divided these shade lovers into annual and perennial plants.

Shade-loving plants: the 8 best annual species for your garden

Colourful blossoms and leaves that are full of life in shady places? These eight shade-loving, annual plants transform even gloomy garden beds into vivacious areas that will become a pride and joy of every gardener.

8. Annual shade plant: Coleus

The painted nettle or coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) lives up to its name. Its colourful leaves shine in many different hues from light yellow to red to a dark purple. Coleus is a real stunner due to the wild colour combinations that enrich the garden beds. At the same time, it is very easy to care for and does not require much attention. In sunny places, however, the vulnerable leaves of the coleus can burn easily, which is why it should be planted in semi-shade at the very least. The painted nettles thrive wonderfully in shady places, but there is a small detail to consider: the darker their location, the lesser is their bright leaf colouring.

7. Annual shade plant: Pansy

The garden pansy (Viola x wittrockiana) is gorgeous especially in spring. The pansy’s large flowers, which range in colours from snow-white to yellow to bright violet, make the plant one of the most loved flowering plants. Its low-maintenance nature also makes the pansy a gardener’s favourite. The plant will easily forgive if you take care of it in a ‘step-motherly’ way and it doesn’t get too much attention. Only the right location is of decisive importance for the small plant. The pansy prefers a slight shade. If it is exposed to the blazing sun, it quickly loses its strength and withers.

6. Annual shade plant: Lobelia

The lobelia (Lobelia erinus), also known under the names edging or trailing lobelia, has become a well-loved balcony flower in recent years. The reason for this is that even though the lobelia produces slightly more flowers in sunny places, it grows best in shady areas. Moreover, lobelias look wonderful when planted in hanging baskets or when grown next to other taller plants. Lobelias are also remarkable for their multitude of small, blue-violet, sometimes also white flowers, which bloom from May to September.

5. Annual shade plant: Jasmine nightshade

Although its name seems to suggest a connection to jasmine, the jasmine nightshade (Solanum laxum), also known as potato vine, is actually a close relative of the potato. The two plants share similarly looking large white flowers. The jasmine nightshade also resembles other nightshade plants in its choice of location: it likes to be warm and protected. This does not necessarily mean that it enjoys being in the full sun, though. The plant manages the best in a moderate shade. Additionally, it does not tolerate frost well. Therefore, it is advised to keep the plant at home during winter or plant it as an annual. Other than that, the jasmine nightshade is resilient and relatively easy to upkeep, just provide the plant with a climbing aid and prune it regularly, so that it does not completely devour your garden (this plant can develop up to 10 m long tendrils!).

4. Annual shade plant: Browallia americana

This plant is hardly known here in many parts of the world, so it mainly goes by its Latin name. Some English sources, however, refer to this plant as Jamaican forget-me-not or simply amethyst flower. Although it is relatively unknown, it has a lot to offer including a potential to be a magnificent summer garden addition. Its light purple flowers, reminiscent of the traditional forget-me-not we all know and love, appear in July and bloom tirelessly until the first frost. Thanks to its ability to thrive in shady places the Browallia americana is a great plant to grow in less sunlit areas.

3. Annual shade plant: Polka dot plant

If you are looking for boring, monochrome plants, this is not the right place. The polka dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya) has a vibrant colour and characteristic dots on its leaves. Due to its pretty white or red colouring and its interesting pattern, the polka dot plant has managed to become a beloved houseplant. It is not just restricted to being a houseplant, it can prosper outside too. It is low maintenance and resilient, but does not tolerate colder temperatures and is therefore best suited as a pot plant that can be brought into the house as necessary. The polka dot plant prefers semi-shady to shady locations. If it gets too much light, it can suffer burns. If, on the other hand, it receives too little light, its leaves become less vibrant in colour.

Hypoestes phyllostachya
This gorgeous spotted plant is simply eye-catching [Shutterstock.com/ Salamatdoh]

2. Annual shade plant: Busy Lizzie

Those who desire to have long and gorgeously blooming plants in their garden, will make the right decision with the industrious busy Lizzie or simply impatiens (Impatiens walleriana). This persistent plant blooms from May to October and even increases its flowering capacity during the summer. It brings joy not just because of its extended period of bloom, the flowers of this plant are radiant and stunning. In the light shade, the intense colouring of the flowers surprisingly increases and therefore creates an oasis of colour even in the dimmest spots of the garden. Keep in mind, however, that the plant does not tolerate the blazing sun. The direct sunlight can burn the sensitive leaves.

1. Annual shade plant: Fuchsia

She is the queen of the shadow-loving plants and one of the absolute favourites when it comes to balcony plants. Fuchsia works just as well in the garden, it manages well in areas without much light. However, contrary to what fuchsia’s love of darker locations might suggest, it is not strictly just a shade plant. Certain fuchsia varieties can also tolerate sunlight well as long as their environment and care are adapted to it. This plant differs greatly in appearance depending on the species. The fuchsia varies from the small Fuchsia procumbens, which feels most at home in rock gardens, to the Fuchsia excorticata, which grows into a magnificent tree with a height of almost ten metres. All varieties, however, have the graceful bellflowers in common, which make these plants all the more charming. The flowers of fuchsias, that are often two-coloured, range in the most diverse colours and often appear in hundreds on the branches of this plant.

Shade-loving plants: the 8 best perennial species for your garden

Would you like to permanently embellish your shady garden with colourful plants? The list below shows you eight shade-loving perennials that you should not miss.

8. Perennial shade plant: Alumroot

Tiny bell blossoms in white, pink or red – the beauty of the alumroot (Heuchera, also known as coral bell) can hardly be denied. The lobed foliage is the reason why alumroot is a favourite decorative garden plant. It beams in bright colours from green to red to violet and often also has an elegant pattern. The preferred location of the plant is directly related to the colour of its leaves. While yellow-leaved and green-leaved varieties prefer shade or semi-shade, red-leaved varieties should be moved to a sunny area so that their leaves are as intensely coloured as possible. However, even yellow and green-leaved varieties should not be left completely in the dark, as their flower production can be hindered by an extreme lack of light. The alumroot grows best in moderately shady to sunny areas.

7. Perennial shade plant: Hosta

Hosta (Hosta) not only charms with its hanging bellflowers, but is additionally stunning because of its unusual leaves. The heart-shaped and columnar leaves of the hosta are colourful and appear in cream white, steel blue or various shades of green, but are also usually decoratively patterned. These characteristics are the reason for this plant’s popularity as a house plant. But it can also be grown in the garden and is amazing for Japan inspired gardens and shady areas. Hostas also make great potted plants because they are extremely resistant as long as they are not exposed to the blazing sun.

6. Perennial shade plant: Lungwort

A beautiful plant carpet, which not only enchants with pretty flowers but also with decorative leaves? This is the exact description of the lungwort (Pulmonaria). With a maximum height of 30 centimetres, this rather small plant is the perfect ground cover for shady garden beds. The lungwort feels especially at home under deciduous trees or shrubs, because here it receives enough light for its flowers during the early spring and is additionally protected from strong sunlight in summer. But even in permanent shade the lungwort usually gets along well. From March to April the red, violet, blue and (rarely) white flowers appear and are among the first messengers of spring. Some varieties even change their flower colour within the flower which makes them a unique resident in gardens. But even after flowering, lungwort is not to be underestimated. Many varieties have white-spotted or silver-grey leaves, which are also extremely decorative.

lungwort in bloom
Lungwort is one of the most decorative shade loving plants there is [Shutterstock.com/ EQRoy]

5. Perennial shade plant: Helleborus

The genus Helleborus is widespread from Europe to Asia with 15 to 25 species as well as countless varieties and cultivars. This genus is widely adored by gardeners. The early flowering makes them sought-after garden flowers. The Christmas rose (Helleborus niger), which as the name suggests blossoms around Christmas time, is the earliest bloomer out of this family. Between February and April, the lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis hybrids) and the dungwort (Helleborus foetidus), which exudes a slightly unpleasant smell, flower. Almost all Helleborus species are characterised by dark green foliage and beautiful flowers, which make them extraordinarily stunning, especially in the snow. Since they also prefer shady places, they are perfect for spring in the shade garden.

4. Perennial shade plant: Astilbe

Bright, feather-like flower panicles from June to September: hardly any other perennial shrub blooms as impressively as Astilbe, which funnily enough is also known as the false goat’s beard. Depending on the variety, the upright standing plants reach a height of 10 to 100 centimetres and flower in a colour spectrum from white to carmine red and violet. But it is not only the inflorescences of the Astilbe that have an embellishing effect. If you leave the flowers on the plant, beautiful fruit clusters develop, which decorate the garden in winter.

3. Perennial shade plant: Foamflower

These plants definitely live up to their name. The garden beds with blooming foamflowers (Tiarella) look almost like sea foam. The countless small flowers in white or pale pink, that bloom from May to August, appear in grape-like structures on the plant. The foamflower grows fast and can spread quickly but only reaches a maximum height of up to 30 centimetres. It thrives wonderfully in the shade and is extremely easy to upkeep. For these reasons it is fit to grow as a decorative ground cover under bushes and trees. In contrast with other flowering shrubs, the foamflower is more impressive and can adorn shady areas underneath other plant life.

2. Perennial shade plant: White trillium

Beautiful white flowers and up to ten-centimetre-long leaves – the large-flowered white trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) is certain to captivate anyone. But also other members of the Trillium plant genus, colloquially also called tri flowers, are in no way inferior to their big sister. Both the impressive flowers and the three bracts, which protrude almost horizontally from the stem of the plant, can be found in all species and make them a welcome decoration for the garden. The white trillium prospers in shady places and it particularly likes growing as a neighbour under deciduous trees. What is more, the white trillium is anything but care intensive. Quite the contrary, once it has grown, it needs very little care and is very hardy. Only in hot summers does the plant require regular watering as it does appreciate droughts.

1. Perennial shade plant: Bleeding heart

Easy to maintain, romantic, extravagant – the Asian bleeding heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis) is due to its extraordinary flower shape a one of a kind stunner in the realm of plants. As the name suggests, the shape as well as pink or white colour of the flamboyant flowers are reminiscent of a heart. This dreamy appearance is further enhanced by the arching overhanging shoots, each with almost a dozen flowers. What makes the bleeding heart even more conspicuous is that it is both robust and beginner-friendly. In a shady, sheltered places, the shrub needs to be fertilised every two years or so and watered on very hot days exclusively – more care is not necessary.

The 20 most beautiful groundcover plants

The 20 most beautiful groundcover plants

Easy to maintain and beautiful – groundcover plants are an indispensable part of every garden. Find out about the 20 most gorgeous groundcovers here. Large garden beds that look magnificent but do not require much maintenance? That sounds like an unattainable dream but it is…

Natural aphid control: 10 homemade remedies

Natural aphid control: 10 homemade remedies

What’s the matter, is something bugging you? No need to fret, these ten household remedies eliminate the annoying aphids – without any chemicals. Aphids are terrible pests: it can seem as though these insects appear in the garden overnight. They weaken the plants and, as…

How to eat a pomegranate: cutting & deseeding

How to eat a pomegranate: cutting & deseeding

Opening pomegranates properly is an annoying task for many. This trick makes cutting and removing seeds from pomegranates as easy as pie.

Hobby gardeners keep asking us about the best way to eat the fruits of the pomegranate. But cutting and opening the pomegranate is no task for the weak-hearted. In this article, you can find out how to remove the seeds cleanly and without much mess with detailed instructions and helpful pictures. In addition, we have included a video which illustrates the individual steps.

Eating pomegranate

The bright red to pink fruit of the pomegranate originates from West and Central Asia. Over time, however, the Mediterranean region has also developed into an area where this fruit can be cultivated. Today the pomegranate can be enjoyed virtually worldwide. Especially at the start of the pomegranate season in early autumn, the question of how to cut and open the fruit in the right way arises. How can you slice the fruit without spilling the juice all over the place? How to take the healthy seeds out of the pomegranate – without making a giant mess – is described below.

Before cutting open the pomegranate

Firstly, it is advised to use a cloth and perhaps a kitchen apron. Pomegranate juice is rather difficult to remove from textiles. A sharp (but not too large) knife is also a prerequisite for a successful opening of the fruit.

Before making the cut, hold the pomegranate securely in your hand. This is a preventative step so that you do not injure yourself. Somewhat older pomegranates sometimes have a very hard skin, on which even sharp knives can slip off more easily, so be careful when cutting.

Cutting open a pomegranate: instructions

1. Make a circular cut to remove the upper part

Start the cut on the upper part. The incision depth should be about 5 mm so that the small individual fruit chambers are not punctured. During the cut, turn the fruit piece by piece with the other hand. Then you can carefully lift off the ‘lid’ of the pomegranate.

2. Make side cuts on the pomegranate

Now, search for the dividing lines (the white mesocarp) of the individual segments. Most pomegranates have 4 to 6 fruit segments. Make a cut on the underside of the fruit along the separating layers. Repeat this step for each of the segments.

3. Open the pomegranate

Now you can carefully open the fruit. Simply remove the white part in the middle of the fruit with your fingers.

4. Remove the pomegranate seeds

The beautiful, garnet-red, sliced fruit is ready before your eyes. The fruit chambers can be easily removed with a finger or a small spoon and the pomegranate seeds are out.

Alternative method: You can also fill the sink with water and then take the individual pomegranate seeds out under water. This method helps avoid the unpleasant spatters of pomegranate juice.

Using pomegranate

With this trick you can easily cut and open the pomegranate. What you do with the healthy fruit then is entirely up to you. Pomegranate seeds can be used as an ingredient in all kinds of dishes. For breakfast, you can eat the pomegranate seeds in muesli or yoghurt, for example. The fruit can also enrich salads with its crunchiness. In Southern Europe and the Near and Middle East, pomegranate juice and pomegranate syrup are an essential part of the cuisine. Pomegranate syrup is also great for refining salad dressings, sandwiches, wraps and falafel. It is evident that there is a great variety of recipes that have the pomegranate included as one of their ingredients.

And the pomegranate is also very healthy. For example, it is rich in the mineral potassium and iron and also contains the B vitamins. Regarding its caloric value, there are about 83 kilocalories (kcal) per 100 grams in pomegranate.

To conclude, the pomegranate is definitely a great addition to any cuisine and now you know how to open it easily.

Top 10 bee-friendly plants

Top 10 bee-friendly plants

Certain plants are not only beautiful but they also provide ample food and suitable habitat for bees and other beneficial insects. We have assembled a list of the top 10 most bee-friendly plants for you. This overview should help you turn your garden into a…

Top 10 raised bed plants

Top 10 raised bed plants

Raised garden beds can be found in many gardens. But which plants are best suited to be grown in raised beds? Find out more here. Raised garden beds have been somewhat of a garden trend in the recent years. It doesn’t matter whether they are…

Types of hydrangeas: best hydrangea varieties for your garden

Types of hydrangeas: best hydrangea varieties for your garden

This article gives an overview of the most beautiful types of hydrangeas: from Endless Summer to Annabell and countless others, these are our favourites.

The genus Hydrangea consists of a large number of different species. All hydrangeas have a shared origin from the continents of America and Asia. Hydrangeas are deciduous shrubs, which means that they are covered with leafy foliage in summer and they lose the leaves as winter approaches. The star among hydrangeas is the Hydrangea macrophylla, which originates from Japan and is commonly known as the French hydrangea or the bigleaf hydrangea. Its characteristic inflorescences are either spherical but can also be flat and shaped like a plate or peppered in various degrees with the large ornamental flowers. Interestingly, these flowers are actually mock flowers and are sterile.

The flowers that actually propagate the seeds of hydrangeas and are used for reproduction are much smaller. They are clearly visible in the centre of the plate-flowered hydrangeas. Other hydrangea species can also form panicle-shaped inflorescences. The growth height of hydrangeas is just as variable as the flower shape. Some species of these shrubs can reach impressive heights and seemingly touch the skies. The growth height varies from the minimum of 1.5 m to 10 m maximum.

Hydrangea species and their most beautiful varieties

The following is an overview of the most notable species and their best varieties within the genus Hydrangea. From the popular bigleaf hydrangea to the exotic Japanese tea of heaven hydrangea, we compiled a list of all of the notable hydrangeas for your garden.

Bigleaf hydrangea – Hydrangea macrophylla

The bigleaf hydrangea is widely beloved by the gardeners. The colour spectrum of the decorative mock flowers ranges from white to pink to red. With provided aluminium-based fertilisation and the right pH value, pink and red varieties can be transformed into blue or violet-flowering hydrangeas thanks to the natural pigment delphinidin. A little problematic, however, is the fact that this species will form its flowers for the next year in the previous autumn. This makes pruning a bit challenging and requires special measures. Despite that, with some new varieties this problem no longer plays a role because they are partially remontant. This means that they bloom again and again throughout the year, even on new wood. Some gardening stores and other sellers also offer the bigleaf hydrangea with long stems.

Ball-shaped varieties of bigleaf hydrangea

As the heading suggests, these bigleaf hydrangeas have ball-shaped inflorescences. Among the ball-shaped bigleaf hydrangeas, the variety ‘Endless Summer’ is adored by numerous gardeners.

  • Endless Summer: a particularly vigorous, remontant variety, which also flowers on the new wood; pruning to maintain form possible without problems, but not necessary; available in the colours pink and blue.
  • Kanmara: a variety series with particularly large spherical inflorescences; strikingly vibrant dark green foliage; suitable as a potted plant; flowers in delicate watercolour tones; available in the colours rosé, champagne, lilac, pink, pink and white.
  • Magical: a variety series with very diverse flower shapes; lively colour change of the flowers; greening flowers with the bloom; available in the colours white, pink, red and blue/purple.
  • Forever&Ever: a variety with an interesting colour spectrum of the flower; a remontant variety which also flowers on the new wood; rather small but numerous umbel-shaped inflorescences; available in the colours white, pink, red and blue.
  • You and Me Romance: a variety with rather flat-edged inflorescence; very large mock flowers; mock flowers are filled with several petals; available in the colours pink and light blue.

Plate-shaped varieties of bigleaf hydrangea

The plate-shaped inflorescences of these bigleaf hydrangea varieties are especially stunning.

  • Hanabi: has full and voluminous mock flowers; white star-like flowers; slowly growing; lacks resilience in winter.
  • Pirate’s Gold: has a few pseudo flowers on the edges; more striking is the yellow-green leaf variegation; available in pink.
  • Tiffany: has large pseudo-flowers on the edges; the small, fertile flowers fall softly; rich in inflorescences; available in the colours pink and blue.

Panicled hydrangeas – Hydrangea paniculata

As the name suggests, Hydrangea paniculata is a hydrangea with panicle-shaped inflorescences. Since they form their flowers on annual new wood, they can be pruned back either in autumn or spring before sprouting. A more thorough pruning is not a problem. This species in fact suits a more compact and strongly branched look. The usual colouring of these hydrangeas ranges from white to cream. As the flowering progresses, however, an interesting colour change towards pink or even an intense red can occur, depending on the variety.

  • Grandiflora: has particularly large panicles; as the flowering period progresses the colour shifts from green (budding stage) to white to pink in the stage of fading; vigorous growth.
  • Limelight: with large panicles; long-lasting green budding stage, followed by white to light yellow flowering; inflorescences can be dried well.
  • Little Lime: a demanding but beautifully flowering variety; compact growth; hues of colours from lime green to white to pale pink.
  • Phantom: its panicles are very large but compressed in length; compact growth; regular pruning required.
  • Wim’s Red: the flower panicles are very long and loose; white flowers change colour to strong red as they fade; expansive growth habit requires a lot of space.

Smooth hydrangeas – Hydrangea arborescens

Smooth hydrangeas stand out in any garden because of their huge round inflorescences, which they form in vast numbers. They are very robust and extremely hardy. However, representatives of the North American species tend to drop and hang their stems sideways under the weight of the large inflorescences. This may be a good reason to provide the plant with support. Smooth hydrangeas can easily be propagated from root cuttings as they form underground runners. The variety Annabell is particularly popular among the smooth hydrangeas.

  • Annabell: creamy white and greening when faded; very large umbel-shaped inflorescences; flexible in terms of light conditions at the site; thorough pruning recommended in spring.
  • Grandiflora: white flowers; vigorous growth; support of shoots required; very hardy in winter.
  • Hayes Starbust: the flower remains beautiful for a long time in the faded green stage; delicate, star-shaped pseudo-flowers; also vigorous in growth and resilient in winter.

Oakleaf hydrangea – Hydrangea quercifolia

A special feature of this hydrangea species is its characteristic oak leaf shaped lobed leaves. The flowers have a panicle-like structure. In autumn, both the striking foliage and the inflorescences are gorgeously hued. Just like Hydrangea macrophylla, the oakleaf hydrangea already forms its flowers in autumn. Generous pruning would endanger the developing flower.

Hydrangea sargentiana 

This species is in some languages, for example in German, also called ‘velvet hydrangea’ because of its thickened, elongated and velvety leaves. The woody shrub is very vigorous and should therefore be given a generous amount of space in the garden. Here, too, caution should be exercised when pruning because the flowering can be endangered. In an exposed location, winter protection measures may be useful, as this hydrangea may be sensitive to frost. The inflorescences are plate-shaped with large, sterile, marginal pseudo-florets.

Climbing hydrangea – Hydrangea petiolaris

The climbing hydrangea has, as the name suggests, a unique ability to climb when growing. Its white flowers are also plate-shaped with pseudo-florets on the edges. The foliage is similar to that of Hydrangea macrophylla. Pruning to shape the plant is not necessary. However, it can be beneficial if weak or dead shoots are regularly removed. This species also forms the flower buds in the previous autumn, so that protection from cold temperatures – especially during shoot growth – can be useful.

hydrangea petiolaris
Some hydrangeas can also grow as climbing plants [Shutterstock.com/ bevz tetiana]

Tea of heaven hydrangea – Hydrangea serrata

This hydrangea species is often confused with the plate-shaped flowering Hydrangea macrophylla varieties. This is understandable, as they have many shared similarities due to the identical geographical origin. However, the plate-shaped inflorescences of the tea of heaven hydrangea are much smaller. The height of the plant is also below that of the Hydrangea macrophylla. The compact growing species scores with an early beginning of flowering and a more pronounced winter hardiness. This makes it superior, because the tea of heaven hydrangea also plants the buds for the following flower in autumn. Pruning is therefore not advisable, especially as it has a small, well branching habit. Its flowers can also take on the colours white, pink and red and can be transformed into blue or purple by aluminium fertilisation and the appropriate pH value.

Once you have decided on one of the many hydrangea varieties, the next step is planting hydrangeas. All important information can be found in this article.

Evergreen climbers: top 7 for ideal privacy protection

Evergreen climbers: top 7 for ideal privacy protection

As the name suggests, evergreen plants do not lose their foliage even in winter. We have compiled a list of the best 7 evergreen climbing plants for you. Evergreen plants belong to every garden. They offer a dense, green foliage all year round and are…