Christine's garden Gardening Home page features Perenniels

Mexican Petunia – My favourite plant of the season

My favourite plant of this Summer season has been hands down, without contest, the Mexican Petunia (Ruellia brittoniana). I first took notice of this plant when I read about it on It’s Not Work, It’s Gardening (thanks Alan!) and then shortly thereafter I found them at the local nursery. I bought one, planted it and within days I knew that I wanted more … bought two additional plants and now I wish I had bought lots more as there aren’t any left.

I planted them as a trial in my “Gardenia Bed” (as I am looking for replacements for the Gardenia which I plan to move soon). During the hottest days of summer when everything else looks a bit limp, Mexican Petunia just does her thing looking all fresh, green and gorgeous. I planted two seedlings against a low wall I want to partially cover, and they have grown quickly and are getting the job done. They don’t flower profusely for me yet, but I don’t mind as it’s the foliage and form of the plant that I like. The flowers are a welcome bonus.

[one_half]Mexican Petunia[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Mexican Petunia[/one_half_last]

[one_third]Mexican Petunia[/one_third]

[one_third]Mexican Petunia[/one_third]

[one_third_last]Mexican Petunia[/one_third_last]

[one_half]Mexican Petunia[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Ruellia brittoniana[/one_half_last]

See? Very, very pretty. I think they will start flowering a lot more soon as the plants are getting bigger, stronger and have more buds now!

Alan’s intro which I read and motivated me to buy the Mexican Petunia is here: Enjoying the blooms. He does another post in which we see that Mexican Petunia are easily propogated by putting stem cuttings in water, so I know I should just take a few cuttings … but I’ll wait for the plants to get a bit larger before I remove any stems. Besides, its just to hot to do anything right now 🙂

Happy Gardening


Barbie's garden Gardening Home page features Perenniels

Hot Lips and Calibrachoa

I’d thought I’d get my new purchases in the grown this weekend and I managed to do this! Usually, I have them standing around in their seed bags or seedling trays for a week or two (some are STILL in their bag)  – not good! I humm and haaaaa to see where I should plant them. But this time  – when Christine and I went shopping to the “just one bag of compost” nursery – I already had a place in my garden that needed filling. So they went straight in!! And I have now learnt a valuable lesson. Shop when you have a place in mind. This prevents the stress on the plant and it can immediately relate to its new home and plant friends! Let’s see how they do in their new home!

Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’ Hot Lips Sage

Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’ was found near the Chiapas area of Mexico and was introduced by Richard Turner of the Strybing Arboretum in San Francisco, California. This is a unique bi-color salvia that has red tips and white lips. In the hotter months of summer it may have all red and all white flowers on the same plant due to warmer night temperatures, but when the night temperature drops in the fall the flowers will return to their bi-color state. This Salvia has a similar look to Salvia greggii except it has a finer texture and smaller leaf. Hot Lips Sage seems not to have some of the leaf spot and defoliation problems that you can get with the greggii’s during high humidity situations, great for use in borders and beds. Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’ can reach 30″ tall and spread up to 6′ at maturity.

This is a Hardy plant – Full sun with low watering requirements.


Calibrachoa is a genus of plants in the Solanaceae (nightshade) family. They are weak evergreen short-lived perennials and subshrubs with a sprawling habit, and they have small petunia-type flowers. They are found across much the same region of South America as petunias, from southern Brazil across to Peru and Chile.

Calibrachoa are closely related to the petunia. However on further examination it has been found that there are major differences in chromosomes, corresponding to external differences and fertilization factors that distinguished Calibrachoa from the petunias. Calibrachoa is named after Antonio de la Cal y Bracho, a 19th century Mexican botanist and pharmacologist.


Look how lovely they fit in my garden.

Happy Gardening xxxx

Christine's garden Gardening

Too hot to garden so we photograph

Its just way too hot in Cape Town today to do anything constructive in the garden. It was 38° Celsius (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) earlier when I checked although it felt hotter at lunch time, so it could have been closer to 40 earlier on today. I’m waiting for the sun to go down before I do anything. I was forced outside because Dexter spent the afternoon keeping cool in the pool. I need to supervise him or he destroys the creepy crawley (he seems to think its an alien being and it’s an ongoing battle in summer to keep him from destroying it).

I did take a few photos – amazing what you see on photograph that you don’t really notice with the naked eye. The bench in this front area needs to be sanded and varnished … very obvious in the photos, less obvious in reality. So its on the “to do” list along with a thousand other things …

I thought I would show you today how this patch looked before I cared and how it looks now. Its not fantastic – still needs work, but the whole garden is a work in progress so I’m not beating myself up over it.

Here is how it looked just after we planted in October. (The trellis is there to train the bougainvilleas upwards and hopefully eventually they will spill over the garage wall and pergola on the other side – that’s the hope!).

October 2010

This was taken on 6 February – a month ago. Looking a whole lot better already for just four months later.

6 February 2011

And here it is today (the back urn needs something in it – still looking for the right thing. I’m thinking something white).

6 March

It is all very green and none of the plants are flowering at the moment except for the “Mona Lavender” which is on the right (and of course the potted Petunias, but they don’t really count). To the left of the bench there is a lot of colour provided by the Sweet Williams which I’ve previously shown.

There are also a few Gardenias to the left and a Weigelia – both of which under-performed this year. I don’t know why. I gave them so much love and attention. I suspect the Weigela reacted to being re-planted from another position and I didn’t prune it correctly. But the Gardenias … I’m giving them one more year. I suspect it may be too hot for them here. It doesn’t seem that way because there is a big tree there, but its a narrow tree, and doesn’t cast a lot of shade so the gardening people mis-judge how shady the area is.

The Bougainvillea didn’t flower because it gets too much water. But I wanted growth this year. We’ll “neglect” them next year to force them to flower.

That’s all I can manage in this heat …
Happy Gardening (if you can)

Annuals Christine's garden Home page features

Sweet Alyssum

AlyssumWhen we had the “new” garden planted I was left with lots of bare patches to contend with whilst we wait for the plants to establish themselves. Although we put down bark-mulch (which is more attractive than bare soil), I still wanted to see some more colour, especially over the the December / summer months. So I decided to plant fast growing annuals, just for a few splashes of colour whilst we wait … waiting for the garden to grow is not quite like watching paint dry, but I’m not the most patient of people so some instant colour was called for.

This is the bed just above the pool from which we had to remove the Banana Tree. It looked really ugly after everything had been removed and in December we had the new plants planted there. Its a fairly shady area so Camellias and Star Jasmine and Carex “evergold” were chosen. And I was left with lots of bare patches! So I planted some petunias for instant colour. They’ve done ok, but the area is pretty shaded so the petunias have not done as well as the ones in the pots out back. Pretty, but nothing great. At the same time I planted Alyssum. They are such an unassuming little plant aren’t they? Hardly noticeable until they actually start growing. Today I was quite surprised to see how sweetly they are filling in the blank spaces without detracting from the other plants around them. And I have to add … they must be the easiest thing in the world to grow! I’ve done nothing to them. In fact, I’d forgotten all about them.

Here they are …

[one_half]With the Petunias & Carex evergoldAlyssum[/one_half]

[one_half_last]More PetuniasAlyssum[/one_half_last]

Christine's garden Home page features Miscellaneous

Pretty Petunias

PetuniasI love colourful annuals. I planted a few at the beginning of summer and most have given me a lot of pleasure. The Dianthus did well (and are still happily blooming) and the Petunias I planted in pots are doing great. In fact, I hardly water them, pay them very little attention and look at them go …

This one (on the left) is purple – they start out a pale blue / purple and then turn dark purple before they wither up and die. I’ve done very little dead-heading and yet they have still spread and grown very bushy, completely taking over the pots they were planted in. Their position is in the one area in the garden that has full sun – on my back patio.

White PetuniasTwo of the pots have white petunias and one has the the purple. Here are the white Petunias on the right. They have completely taken over and are growing up the tree that is behind the pot. I wonder what would happen if I watered them more often or, as all my books suggest, fertilised them every two weeks … I think we would have a mass petunia invasion on my patio.

I love annuals – even though they are short lived and need to be replaced after the season, they fill the garden with something fresh every season. Easy to grow and care for, I think I will always reserve some beds and areas in my garden for annuals.