Camellia sinensis is the plant you want for growing traditional tea leaves. Dried mature leaves produce black tea; young leaves yield a less acidic brew known as white tea. Allow plants to reach 3 to 5 feet before picking leaves, which you can do twice a year. Prune plants when they’re young to cause branching, which gives you more stems to harvest. Plants are winter hardy in Zones 8-10. Grow them in pots in other zones. Feed tea plants lightly—only in spring.
Undemanding and spectacular in bloom, lifesaver plant (Huernia zebrina) opens five-pointed star shape flowers with a dark red lifesaver rim. This is a succulent, craving low water and full sun. Flowers, which measure 1.25 inches across, open intermittently throughout the year.
The coffee plant (Coffee arabica) makes an ideal houseplant, not needing high light to grow and flower. Plants start blooming when three years old and usually in late spring and/or summer. Flowers fade to form green cherry-looking fruit that turns red when ripe. Inside are two coffee beans. In summer, place your coffee plant outdoors, gradually exposing it to sun.
In the garden, tomatillo plants grow 3 to 4 feet tall and sprawl up to 3 feet across. For easiest harvest, support plants with a large tomato cage to keep branches off the ground. If branches touch soil, they’ll root.
The urn plant (Aechmea fasciata) is one of the more common and popular bromeliads. Beloved for its pink and purple flower, the urn plant also offers green and silver banded leaves. Plants flower after reaching maturity, usually around the five-year mark. After blooming, the main plant dies, but you can transplant pups from around the base of the plant.
This annual weed thrives in shady areas with moist, fertile soil, but it’s adaptable and can also sprout in dry areas. Chickweed forms a low-growing crown of stems that spread and sprawl. In a planting bed, the stems crawl through perennials and annuals, showing up as far as 12 to 18 inches from the plant’s crown. In lawns, it usually shows up in thin grass with heavy, moist soil. For a small infestations, hand-pulling works fine. Try to get plants up before they set seed, which can number up to 800 per plant. For heavy infestations, look for herbicides that list chickweed. There is also a perennial chickweed that spreads by seed and stem or root pieces.
Investigate the variety of plant lights available to increase the rays your plants receive, especially in northern regions in winter. New light technology provides full spectrum rays from models small enough to fit on a tabletop.
"I chose to hang flower boxes on the windows and decorate the interior with succulents because they're not only easy to care for but also helped me achieve the natural look I was going for," says Sherrod of the importance of incorporating something living and green into your design scheme.
Individual blossoms on the flower spike of gas plant appear to have eyelashes, thanks to long, curling stamens. Gas plant offers a long flower season, from late spring through midsummer, and you can find varieties with blooms in shades of lavender, pink and red. Once flowers fade, seedpods form that linger into early winter and make a nice addition to autumn arrangements. Site this perennial where you want it (full sun is best), because it doesn’t transplant easily. Small seedlings tend to form around the mother plant, and those can be moved with little fuss. Deer- and rabbit-resistant plants grow 28 to 32 inches tall by 18 to 24 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 3-7. Good vase companions for gas plant: bearded iris, peony, bee balm and lady’s mantle.
Indoor plant fertilizers come in a variety of forms. You can find liquid fertilizers and powders that you mix with water, as well as slow release stakes and prills (small pellets). Do a little homework to make sure you choose the best fertilizer for your plants. For most foliage plants, general indoor plant fertilizers that are water soluble or slow release work fine.
For flowering, peony season occurs in spring, although the precise timing varies depending on the type of peony. Different herbaceous peony varieties also can flower at slightly different times. For planting, peonies’ season occurs in fall for bareroot plants and spring for potted ones.