Jun 24, 2010

Plant Of The Week

Popular as ground cover, the blue star creeper, botanically known as Isotoma fluviatilis, makes for an interesting plant on a landscape. It is favored over

many other creepers as it does not tangle and become a nuisance while pruning. Unusually shaped flowers that it bears, the blue star creeper is easy to grow and maintain.

The blue star creeper belongs to the genus of flowering plants Pratia, in the family Campanulaceae, and is native to Asia, Australia and New Zealand. The plant is quite low growing, no more than 15 cm in height, and has quite a spread, almost as much as you want it to have, up to 30 cm. It is a fast grower, that develops like masses of deep green evergreen leaves on spindly, delicate creeping stems. 

The flowers are six petaled, each tapered towards the end, and depending upon the species or the cultivar, may or may not have pistils. The flowers range in colors of white and shades of blue, purple, violet, and with the new developed cultivars, even a mauve and deep pinks. The flowers could be single colored, shaded, or streaked with any contrasting color, or shade of the same color. The size and shape of the foliage too depends upon the variety, but is always smooth.

Depending on the zone they are planted in, a blue star creeper will bloom almost round the year, even early winters, and through winters if they are mild. The creeper stops bearing flowers if the winters are too cold and frosty, and may even shed a few leaves.

Blue star creeper is divided either by dividing the root ball or seeds. Seeds for some odd reason are hard to come by, maybe their collection is a little difficult. Blue star creeper seeds can be collected from ripened and dried pods; allow the pod to dry on the plant itself. Crush the pod, and collect seeds in an air tight container. However, if you do get them, then sprinkle them on a moistened sowing medium, else stand the container in a bowl of water, until the top soil moistens. After the seeds are evenly distributed on the surface of the sowing medium, a light sprinkle of sandy soil may be done. Place a newspaper on the container, ensuring some gap between the container top surface, and the soil.

The seedlings should get place for sprouting. Keep moist and in partial shade, until seeds germinate; 7 to 15 days. Once the seedling reaches a six leaf stage, transplant them in ground, between rocks, along pathways and sideways, or in container and hanging pots. For root ball division, gently scrape all soil from it, and either using sharp shears or the force of your hand split the root ball. Plant immediately

The soil type is not an issue with the blue star creeper, just make sure it is well drained and well fed with organic compost with the pH balance maintained at 6.0 to 7.8. Soil could be sandy, loamy or even with more clay. Like the soil, they are not fussy about their light requirement, full or partial sun to shade, they grow and flower under all conditions. Probably the reason they make nice window sill plants. Water as per season, more when the creeper is in full bloom. As the plant blooms round the year, one can fertilize it every month, an application of liquid fertilzer will be more than enough to infuse more blooms. To prolong flowering, remove spent flowers regularly. Pruning is not very essential, but one can cut down extra growth once in while with a light prune. Protect the creeper during extreme winters, bring it indoors if growing in a container, or mulch around them, if inground. Left alone during winters, will also not kill the plant, it will simple show signs of growth when the sun shines.

1 comment:

Rue said...

I love a pretty groundcover!