Justicia chrysostephana “Orange Flame”

from a distance ~ 2 weeks after pruning back
.. a few weeks after pruning, next to 6′ fence

This is a pretty easy plant to grow. I’ve had it in part sun – full shade and it happily grows and flowers all summer. Drought tolerant, but like most plants prefers damp, well drained soil. It starts blooming as soon as it leafs out and keeps blooming until well into winter.

It’s rated to 20’F but I find it dies back to the ground if winter temps go below freezing, and returns from the roots mid-spring.

There is also a yellow flowered variety, old Victorians claim there is also a pink variety

Loved by hummingbirds and bees

Grows rapidly
Grows 4′-6′ tall
Rated for zones 9b-11

Easy to grow from cuttings, plant in spring
( meh, perhaps not so easy, I haven’t had any cuttings take )

If you’re in the Houston area it can often be found at Master Gardener Plant Sales

Button Bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)

This is a deciduous shrub in zone 5 through 10. It blooms early summer with fragrant white spherical flowers. I’ve only seen it at the edge of wetlands growing wild.

The branches were used by Native Americans in arrows and stick games

Leaves contain glucosides, may cause skin rashes, severe toxin if ingested – keep from humans and pets

Sun to part shade
5′-15′ tall
4′-8′ spread
prefers wet soil, wetlands
Attracts butterflies, bees and hummingbirds

Easily grown from stem cuttings, challenging to grow from seed

Native to US

Callistemon ‘Little John’ aka Little John Dwarf Bottlebrush

Just planted bottlebrush April 2018

This is the compact Bottlebrush reaching 3′-5′ ( top photo ), the bottom two photos are of the larger form and were taken at Lady Bird Johnson Gardens in Austin. The red flowers are most common, there is also a pink flowering variety.

Protect from cold, it will sometimes return from roots after a frost.

Full sun, possibly drought tolerant once established, opinions vary. It prefers to be in moist soil.

Blooms when weather is warm, loved by butterflies and hummingbirds

Considered an invasive in Florida, also considered to be a good plant for bonsai.

Native to Australia, unclear if it should be in Myrtaceae family or Callistemons.

Propagate by cuttings

June ’18

Note: I also purchased several traditional Bottlebrushes (Callistemon) and placed them along fences to use to cover the fence. I have some in shade, full sun, a mix of both and dry and wet areas. So far they all seem to be settling in despite the late planting.

These can be kept trimmed as a hedge, let grow up as trees by removing lower branches, or shaped as a topiary.

I’ll add more photos and notes as they grow

Ligustrum japonicum aka Privet

Large shrub, growing to small tree size here in Texas, attracts birds, deer resistant, drought resistant, grows in sun or part shade, prefers damp soil. You can keep these short and bushy, make a hedge, grow them as small trees or use them for topiaries.

Native to Japan and Korea

Brought to US in 1800s for use as a hedge plant, became invasive in warmer parts of US. The wood was used for pegs, the berries for dye, leaves as an astringent. It makes a great nesting place for birds who will eat the berries.

Problems: Sooty mold, control with liquid dish soap mixed with water and sprayed on leaves

I liked it so much I bought 20 small plants on eBay, I’ll be running them along the fence out back. They shipped much later than I expected, today is June 14th, nothing should be planted between May 1st and Oct 31st, but perhaps I’ll get lucky and we’ll get a rainy summer? They are mostly still here, some are doing better than others. The ones getting the most water are happiest, yet some are in hard packed, bone dry dirt in the sun and they are slower growing but still here

Toxic see NC Ext Ligustrum japonicum

Cercis canadensis aka Eastern Red Bud Tree aka Judas tree

Medium light, medium soil moisture, low maintenance plant.

Zones 4-8

Blooms in March, deciduous, 20′-30′ tall, wide spreading branches

Attracts butterflies

Native to eastern US

Mature trees grow large brown seed pods especially in wet years

Member of bean and pea family

Problems:
Canker, wilt, dieback
Several insects love to eat this plant

Difficult to grow from cuttings, keep warm ~ 75’F if attempting to do so

Legend claims Judas hung from this tree

Pink Shell Prunus aka Ornamental Cherry

I had forgotten about this tree, it was so buried in deep shade in a very dry section of the garden. It has survived droughts, floods, frosts, and bright, hot Houston afternoon sun before the oak shaded it out. Despite this it’s about 12′ tall and about 6′ across. I think I picked it up at an Arbor Day Give a Way as a 12″ tall twig.

Last year I cleared out a lot of the overhead branches and it must’ve received enough sun to bloom, or the cold tripped it? Many fruit trees, even ornamentals, need several nights below freezing to flower and fruit. Be sure to check the number of ‘chill days’ needed on any fruit tree you buy. Only a few get enough nights below freezing in Houston to fruit.

Mine’s not an impressive bloomer, perhaps now that it has bloomed it’ll improve each year? I have seen many of these putting on impressive shows around town. I’m hoping with the added sun this one will too next spring.

Blooming occurs late Feb. early March

I highly recommend it. I’ll try taking a few cuttings in the fall and see how easy it is to propagate. I’d love to have a few more of these around.

Chinese indigo ( Indigofera decora )

I love this plant. So I planted him right outside my office window. However, it is far shadier than he would like. Indigo prefers part sun, but it can become invasive given too much sunlight. It will send out suckers and become very dense over time. It is often used as a ground cover in difficult forested areas.

Leaves fall off in the fall and return early to late spring depending on how much sun the indigo receives. It can die back to the ground in cold winters, but will return when the weather warms.

In time it will become a full bush with lots of flowers every summer. This indigo was planted last summer and is barely settled in this year.

It is not particular about the soil and is known as a good plant to try in difficult areas. It is a spreading shrub, so be sure to give it some room.

Once established it is heat and drought tolerant.

Indigo will reach about 3′ tall in full sun 1′-2′ otherwise with a 2′-3′ spread.

Flowering is on new branches.

It is a very, very slow grower.

This died back to the ground in the cold winter of ’09-’10 and didn’t reappear until late May.

I find them easy to propagate with cuttings.

In times of famine the seeds have been boiled and eaten or ground into flour.

Survived, grew and bloomed during the heat wave-drought of summer 2011.