ShadyGardens Blog

January 15, 2014

Edgeworthia, Rice Paper Plant: Fragrant Blooms for the Winter Garden

Edgeworthia chrysantha buds beginning to open
If you’ve been searching for something new, exciting, or unusual for your Winter garden, consider Edgeworthia. First of all, what could be more exciting than a plant that blooms in winter? No matter how cold it is outside, Edgeworthia will bloom in the middle of Winter. Plant it near a window so you can view the beautiful blooms from the comfort of your home. 

Edgeworthia’s Winter blooms are not only beautiful, but are also fragrant. Scent is often described as being similar to that of the paperwhite narcissus. However, I find the fragrance to be more similar to cloves. On second thought, plant Edgeworthia near the entrance of your home, so you can enjoy the fragrance of the flowers when you come and go. Or perhaps you could do as I did and get more than one.

Edgeworthia grows wild in China and is related to Daphne odora, and has even been called Yellow Daphne. Also known as Rice Paper Plant, Chinese Paper Plant, and Japanese Paper Plant, Edgeworthia is used to make rice paper. 

There are several species of Edgeworthia, but the most desirable is Edgeworthia chrysantha, since it is more winter-hardy and easier to grow. Edgeworthia chrysantha is a deciduous shrub with very fragrant spherical bloom clusters in late January into February. A large specimen of Edgeworthia chrysantha can be seen growing at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

Large elongated leaves are more than 3 inches wide and can be up to 11 inches long. The leaves which resemble plumeria, lend a tropical look to the garden in summer. Thus, edgeworthia contributes beauty and interest even when not in bloom. 

Silver buds form in late summer and early fall, growing larger and larger through the Fall, encouraging my anticipation and excitement. When the leaves are gone, the plant appears to be already in bloom. Then in early Winter, the buds begin to swell and resemble upside down sunflowers about 2 inches across. In mid- to late-Winter, the flower clusters begin opening from the outside in. Deep yellow tubular flowers attract pollinators who happen to be out on warmer days. In Georgia, Edgeworthia blooms in January or February, depending on the conditions for that particular Winter. Blooms last up to 6 weeks.

Edgeworthia chrysantha grows to about 6 feet tall and just as wide.

In China, Edgeworthia grows in full sun, but here in Alabama and Georgia, Edgeworthia chrysantha grows best in partial shade or filtered light. No hot afternoon sun.

Edgeworthia is hardy in USDA Zones 7-10, but Edgeworthia chrysantha tolerates colder temperatures and grows just fine in zone 6. 

Rich well-drained soil and regular water will keep your Edgeworthia plant happy. Be sure to water once or twice weekly during periods of summer heat and drought. Like hydrangeas, Edgeworthia will let you know when it is thirsty – the large leaves will droop and hang limp. With a good soaking of water, your plant will promptly perk up.

Edgeworthia grows rather quickly, and tends to send up new shoots from the base, forming a rounded shrub up to 6 feet tall. In Fall, leaves do turn yellow and fall off, but that just makes the plant ready to show off those extravagant Winter blooms. Attract attention and make your neighbors envious with this unusual and beautiful plant, Edgeworthia chrysantha.

November 22, 2013

Confederate Rose is Really a Hibiscus

Filed under: blooms, buy, Confederate, flowers, gardens, hibiscus, large, Mutabilis, nursery, October, order, pink, rose, September, Shady, ship — shadygardens @ 2:39 pm
Confederate Rose is a very tall perennial
that grows like a shrub in most of the South. Near the coast it will leaf out on old stems, but in most areas, the tops will die back, and the
plant will regrow each spring from the base.

Despite their popularity and
ability to thrive in the Southeastern United States, Confederate roses are not native to
the United States but come from China. They thrive in the South anywhere that they have
time to open their very late flowers before fall frost. This species is a
popular passalong plant not usually available in your local nursery
.

Height varies from about 8 feet in the northern parts of Georgia and Alabama to about 15 feet on the coast.

Confederate Rose is an eye-catching foliage plant even before bloom, with large, soft, gray-green maple shaped leaves. Large blooms four to six inches wide open in September or October. Both double and single flowering forms are available. It is the changing of the bloom color that gives the plant its botanical name, Hibiscus mutabilis. The blooms open as a very soft pink and darken gradually to a deep pink the third day after opening. When in full bloom, the plant appears to have 3 different colored flowers all on the same bush.

Confederate Rose grows best in full sun or part shade. Although average garden soil is fine, the plant will grow larger and bloom more in good fertile soil.  As with all plants in the hibiscus family, Hibiscus mutabilis needs regular water to grow and
perform well, but can withstand drought. Water whenever you see the large leaves droop.

Once winter frosts burn back
the foliage, the entire plant can be cut back to make the garden more tidy.
This can be done any time during the winter or early spring. Near the coast,
you can let the stems stay if you don’t mind the plant becoming very large,
since Confederate Rose will resprout from current branches where winters are
mild. Even when the plant is cut to the ground, it will become 10 feet tall by summer’s end. You cannot make this plant stay small and compact, no matter what you do. Confederate Rose is meant to be a flamboyant, voluptuous focal point in the garden. Make sure you plant it where the large size can be appreciated.


Sources for this plant: Shady Gardens Nursery.


July 18, 2009

Four Oclock: Fragrant Blooms for the Evening Garden

If you like fragrant plants, the old-fashioned Four Oclock will be one of your favorites. Small pink blooms scent the garden with their sweet perfume every evening during summer. Mirabilis jalapa is a shrub-like multibranched perennial plant that emerges each spring from a large carrot-shaped tuber. The common name Four Oclock comes from its fascinating habit of opening its blooms around 4 oclock in the afternoon. That alone is enough to intrigue me, since I have a natural interest in plants with unusual traits. Although it’s called Four Oclock, in our garden Mirabilis actually opens her blooms around 5:30 pm, perfuming the air right about the time it begins to cool off enough to sit in the shade on the patio.

Four Oclock is very easy to grow. Easy to please, four oclock can be grown in sun or shade. Our plants get morning sun and afternoon shade, but four oclock grows equally well in full shade with a reasonable amount of water. She’s not a water hog, but good soil with regular water will keep the plant looking healthy and green with plenty of those fragrant blooms. Just so you’ll know, plants in our shade garden get very little water, yet still bloom and multiply with profusion. Plants in the sun that receive occasional water perform just about as well as those in dry shade. The few Four Oclocks we have in dry sun are just surviving.

I can’t really describe the fragrance–it’s just a sweet, pleasant scent that invites me to relax outdoors. You might not notice the scent until your plant gets large with many blooms. And if you’re never outdoors in the evening, well…you’ll just miss out entirely.

Another important feature of the fragrant Four Oclock is that hummingbirds just adore it! The hot pink blooms are tubular and full of nectar for both butterflies and hummingbirds. You’ll further enjoy sitting on the patio observing the tiny creatures flitting about around the plants.

Four Oclock dies to the ground with the onset of winter in colder zones, but re-emerges again in late spring. Hardy in USDA Zones 7-11, mirabilis can be grown anywhere in the southern half of the United States.

I must tell you also that Four Oclock is definitely a reseeder. Toward the end of summer you’ll notice small black cannonballs on the plants and the ground beneath. Those are very viable seeds. If you’ve had no luck growing Four Oclock from seed, that’s because these very hard seeds need a cold treatment to break them. It’s best to plant them in fall, but most gardeners don’t think about it then and seeds often are not available in the big box stores at that time of year. You’ll have nearly instant gratification if you go ahead and purchase a tuber instead. Heavy black carrot-shaped tubers will send up a stem very quickly after planting in warm summer soil. Four Oclock tubers are available for summer shipping from Shady Gardens Nursery.

April 5, 2009

Florida Anise: Evergreen, Drought Tolerant, Deer Resistant!

Filed under: Anise, bloom, blooms, Deer, evergreen, Florida, garden, native, nursery, proof, red, resistant, shade, Shady, shrub, tree — shadygardens @ 3:04 pm


One of my favorite native shrubs is Florida Anise. Illicium floridanum actually makes a tree about 10 feet tall.

The evergreen leaves are dark and shiny. Very unusual red flowers appear in spring and have star-like petals. Once flowers fade, large star-shaped seed pods develop–very unusual.

Drought tolerant once established, Florida Anise is a good choice for the southern garden. Native to Florida and Louisiana, Illicium Floridanum is too tender for northern gardens as it is hardy in USDA Zones 7-10 only.

Plant in partial shade. Enjoys wet soil, if you have some, and can take more sun if planted in a boggy area.

If you find one growing in the wild, do not dig it up to move it to your garden since Florida Anise is a threatened native species.

Illicium floridanum is not the culinary Anise used as a spice–Florida Anise is poisonous if ingested, which is why deer won’t eat it.

Enjoying the same growing conditions as azaleas, camellias, and gardenias, Florida Anise is a good companion for them.If you’ve been searching for something a little less common than a camellia or gardenia, Florida Anise is perfect.

January 1, 2008

Daphne Odora: Rare Shrub for Winter Bloom

Filed under: aureomarginata, bloom, blooms, Daphne, dry, fragrant, garden, gardening, nursery, odora, pink, shade, variegated, white — shadygardens @ 2:29 pm

Daphne odora is one of the easiest shrubs to grow, yet is very difficult to find! Available with either white or pink blooms and variegated or solid green leaves, Daphne odora is probably the most fragrant shrub you can find. Not an overpowering scent, but a very pleasant one, described by some as being the scent of fruit loops, while others insist the fragrance is that of fresh lemons. What is perhaps most amazing about this shrub is that the blooms come at a very rare time for flowers–right in the middle of winter! Beautiful even when not in bloom, Daphne odora, despite its reputation, is surprisingly easy to grow. Daphne requires well-drained soil in shade. Give Daphne a try, and you’ll love it!


Daphne Odora Aureomarginata PINK

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