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Hops, also known as Humulus lupulus, are a flowering plant native to Europe and western Asia. They are a popular ingredient in beer and have a bitter taste due to their inflorescences with white to off-white flowers that have a pleasant fragrance. Hops can also be used as a spice or herb, and their cone-shaped fruits are edible. In addition to their use in brewing, hops have several health benefits. They can help with sleep issues and have antimicrobial properties. They can also aid in digestion, lower cholesterol, and improve cardiovascular health.
Hops are easy to grow, but they do require full sun and regular watering, being careful not to overwater. Hops grows well in USDA Zones 4-9. Mature plants can produce several hundred cone-shaped fruits. The fruits of the plant contain antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that can boost the immune system and fight inflammation. This makes hops a popular ornamental plant as well.
Hops can be grown on a fence near an outdoor terrace, in a container with a tripod-shaped trellis, or over spring-flowering shrubs. They thrive in moist but well-drained, moderately fertile soil that is rich in humus. Hops die back in the winter but return each year.
Hydrocotyle leucocephala, commonly known as Brazilian Pennywort, is a small aquatic shrub native to Central and South America. It is hardy, growing to a maximum height of between 2 and 5 feet. This plant is extremely easy to care for and will thrive in either full sun or partial shade, with the option of being planted in either the substrate or as a floating plant. When planted in the substrate, the Hydrocotyle leucocephala likes to have the soil kept moist. In some cases, it can even be placed in a bog or aquatic environment.
This plant is beloved for more than just its ease of care. The broad, round leaves produce delicate white or off-white flowers, adding a touch of beauty to any garden. The Hydrocotyle leucocephala leaves are also edible and have a slight peppery taste that is used as a spice.
The Hydrocotyle leucocephala is hardy enough to survive in USDA hardiness zone 9-11. For areas with cooler weather, the plant can easily be maintained as a pot plant that can be taken indoors when the temperature drops. As with most plants, the Brazilian Pennywort should be watered regularly and fertilized when necessary, but the rest of the maintenance is minimal.
Very bushy and dense aromatic shrub up to 3 m in height. It is slightly succulent and has an irregular branch pattern. The stems are brown and smooth, except for the younger portions which are covered with glandular hairs and have a ruby tinge. The glandular hairs also cover both surfaces of the leaves and make them slightly sticky to the touch. The leaves are a bright green and are slightly heart shaped with the margin irregularly and bluntly toothed. The flowers range from white to lilac including some with pink flowers. The type of display which you will get depends on whether you have a male or female plant! Male and female flowers are borne on separate plants in spikes which differ in size and shape. The male flower spikes in profusion create more of the "mist" effect than the female flowers which tend to be more compact. The flowers usually appear when the plants are bare and are carried in the top section of the branches. The name ibosa was derived from the Zulu word referring to the aromatic leaves - they use this plant medicinally. The Zulu people have many uses for the plant including the relief of chest complaints, stomach ache and malaria. Inhaling the scent of the crushed leaves apparently also relieves headaches. The plant is frost tender and best suited to pot culture in colder regions. This is a rewarding garden plant which is fast growing - up to 80cm per year and which will flower in its first year. It grows easily in light, well drained and well composted soil. It prefers water in summer but not as much in winter, thus making it is a good water wise plant for summer rainfall areas. It should be pruned back hard after flowering to keep it neat and promote flowering. Plant in full sun, except in very hot areas where midday shade or light shade will be beneficial.
This interesting genus originates from the temperate to subtropical regions of East Asia and the Americas. It contains about 40 frost-hardy evergreen shrubs and small trees, grown for their handsome foliage and fragrant flowers. In older publications you may see the Illicium genus placed in the Magnoliaceae family. This is no longer correct as they are now placed in their own family Illiciaceae.
Star-anise (I. verum) from China and Vietnam is the source of a culinary spice and reportedly has medicinal uses. Illicium verum has a foliage and stems with a delightful anise odor that reminds of root beer with hints of licorice. The other species are toxic and are not a substitute for the culinary spice and flavorings obtained from Illicium verum, although they also have pleasant anise smell. Prefers partial shade or partial sun; soil should be moist.
See article about Illicium verum - Star Anise
Native to tropical Asia, this small shrub grows up to 2-5 ft and is known for its fragrant pink or white flowers.
Kaempferia galanga is an ethnomedical plant found in many regions of Southeast Asia, used for its nutritional and medicinal properties. The sand ginger shrub prefers to thrive in warm, moist climates, in regions such as USDA Zones 8 to 11. This plant enjoys partial to full shade, so it is not recommended for full-sun locations. When supplying light to the shrub, it is best to provide it with bright indirect sunlight. For growing Kaempferia galanga in colder regions, it is suggested to keep it as a houseplant in a pot that can be moved indoors and placed in front of a window. Moderately moist soil will keep the plant growing and blooming well. Water the plant when the top inch of the soil feels dry; during dry periods, increase waterings to keep the soil moist.
In terms of feeding, this plant benefits from occasional feeding with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer. When applying fertilizer, dilute the solution with at least half the recommended amount and apply it every 2-4 weeks during the summer. During the winter, reduce feedings or stop them altogether. As far as temperature is concerned, it is best to keep the plant in temperatures between 65-85F (18-29C). Use of a humidity tray and misting around the plants can help in providing the necessary moisture for the Kaempferia galanga.
The sand ginger shrub is a delightful addition to any garden, and it can be a useful herb for cooking and medicinal purposes. With proper care, this beautiful plant will blossom in any garden, providing lovely pink and white blooms that will fill your garden with a sweet fragrance.