I bought this endearing little plant about ten years ago. For me this is a truly charming plant. I adore its narrow green leaves, they may appear to be fairly ordinary but when you touch this foliage it’s a delightful surprise to discover that these leaves are sumptuously soft; the undersides of every leaf are smooth and silky, they feel like the softest velvet.
The Silver Birch (Betula pendula) is one of our most recognisable UK native trees with its glorious silvery-white bark and dainty green leaves. We’re not the only ones to have an affinity with Betula pendula, this stunning tree is a native plant of many countries in Europe and Northern Asia. Betula pendula is a deciduous tree, its leaves turn from green to a buttery yellow before falling in autumn.
Ranunculus flammula is an aquatic plant with beautiful shining-yellow, bowl-shaped flowers. This plant’s common name is Lesser Spearwort, but it’s very much like a lovely buttercup to grow in a pond! Ranunculus flammula can be grown in streams, ponds, lakes, or continually wet bog gardens; if you don’t have a pond, you could grow Ranunculus flammula in a container filled with rainwater.
Lepanthes aculeata is a mini miniature orchid species that produces bright and cheerful, red, orange and yellow coloured blooms. The flowers arise from the underside of a leaf; as the leaves are fairly upright they actually display Lepanthes aculeata’s flowers rather nicely.
I adore almost all Lepanthes species’ leaves, but I’m especially fond of Lepanthes aculeata’s foliage. These tiny leathery leaves are two toned: the top side of Lepanthes aculeata’s leaf is a lovely leafy-green colour, while the underside of the leaves are coloured in a very handsome tone of mauve and this side has a rougher bristly-looking texture.
Here’s another miniature orchid; this is Andinia schizopogon, an epiphytic orchid species that thrives in cool temperatures and humid growing conditions. In this orchid species’ natural environment, these plants can be found growing in the cloud forests of Ecuador and Peru.
Andinia schizopogon produces rather curious looking mauve-maroon, finely striped flowers that look rather whiskery! Plants can bloom at any time of year, given optimum growing conditions.
As the saying goes, ‘good things come in small packages’. To prove this adage, here’s a teeny tiny orchid: Trisetella hoeijeri is an absolute darling of a plant. An impossibly cute, exquisite beauty; I promise that this magnificent orchid will touch your heart, lift your spirits, and make you smile!
Trisetella hoeijeri is a mini miniature, epiphytic orchid species from Ecuador.
Yacon (also known by the botanical name Smallanthus sonchifolius) is a South American vegetable that produces large soft leaves and yellow flowers; it’s the large underground tubers that are formed at the base of the plant, which we harvest during autumn and wintertime. The tubers have an astoundingly firm and crisp texture. When they’re peeled and sliced, yacon tubers are semi transparent and have a very firm composition, at this stage they remind me a little of ice!
Maxillaria acutifolia is a small and compact orchid species from: Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Leeward Islands, Mexico, Venezula, Trinidad and Tobago. From winter to springtime, mature Maxillaria acutifolia plants produce these very cute yellow-orange coloured flowers, which are fragrant and have a nice scent. The blooms are held low down at the base of the plant, underneath the leaves; however the blooms aren’t completely obscured and the flowers can be easily admired.
Begonia maculata is a tender plant from South East Brazil. These interesting plants are grown for their stunning foliage, which is dark green in colour and liberally decorated with marvellous silvery-white coloured polka dot markings over the top sides of the leaves; this area of the leaf contrasts with the rich burgundy colouring found on the undersides of Begonia maculata foliage.
Platystele misasiana is a mini miniature orchid species that’s endemic to Colombia. In the wild, Platystele misasiana can be found in forests at around 200m above sea level. These orchids grow in Colombia’s cloud forests, where they enjoy cool, moist, and shady growing conditions.
This is an epiphytic orchid species with a naturally compact and bushy form. I often think of Platystele misasiana as being an orchid with a graceful air and poise, as the plants grow and hold themselves so elegantly.
Stelis tridentata is a miniature orchid species that grows as an epiphyte – instead of growing in the soil – this orchid grows upon other plants. In the wild, Stelis tridentata plants can be found growing upon trees in the rainforests of Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, and Costa Rica. Stelis tridentata grows in cloud forests, where these plants flourish in this humid environment.
Stelis stevensonii is a lovely miniature orchid species, which is endemic to Ecuador, where these plants grow in forested areas found at about 1600m above sea level.
This orchid species is epiphytic; instead of growing in the soil, in the wild, these plants can be found growing upon the branches of trees. In cultivation, Stelis stevensonii plants can be grown successfully in tiny pots filled with medium or large sized pieces of bark, or alternatively, plants can be mounted onto a piece of cork bark or wood.
Physalis peruviana is a tender, herbaceous perennial plant that produces absolutely delicious tasting orange berries, which are quite exquisitely wrapped in these gorgeous papery lanterns. Also known as Cape Gooseberries, Ground Cherries, or Inca Berries, Physalis peruviana is a lovely plant, with a slightly shrubby habit.
I find that Physalis peruviana plants don’t grow very tall. Physalis peruviana plants eventual height depends on the seed the plant was grown from, as well as the plant’s age, and the overall growing conditions the plant has enjoyed.
Goeppertia veitchiana ‘Medaillon’ makes a magnificent houseplant. This exotic beauty produces these absolutely gorgeous oval leaves that feature stunning patterns of exquisite variegation; they remind me of the mesmerising images I saw through my kaleidoscope, during my childhood. The undersides of this Geoppertia’s leaves are just as striking, with their deep plum coloured backing.
This plant originates from Ecuador, it thrives in the warmth inside our homes.
Pilea microphylla is a low growing tender perennial; it’s a native plant of Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and nearby countries. A very small-leaved plant, with leaves measuring just 1-2mm (0.04-0.08″) in size; at first glance, Pilea microphylla looks quite similar to mosses or ferns. This diminutive plant would be an ideal choice for an indoor fairy garden!
Plants thrive in a humid environment; Pilea microphylla is an ideal plant to include in a terrarium.
Callisia repens is a low growing, tender herbaceous perennial plant from Mexico, North, Central, and South America. Plants thrive in partially shaded conditions, in shallow, free draining, acid soils. This easy-to-grow plant readily adapts to a range of circumstances; tolerating both brighter and more shaded environments, as well as moist, humid, and drier conditions and neutral compost and soils; making Callisia repens a superb houseplant, thats hard to kill!
Chilli peppers (also known as chillies, chile peppers, and by their botanical names of Capsicum annuum, Capsicum frutescens, Capsicum baccatum, Capsicum pubescens, and Capsicum chinense) are a group of tender vegetables that flourish in warm and sunny conditions. Gardeners can grow green, white, red, yellow, orange, purple, black, and indigo, coloured chillies; they’re decorative and handsome plants that are nice to have around.
Sweet Pepper plants (also known as peppers, bell peppers, Capsicums, or by their botanical name of Capsicum annuum) are tender vegetables that thrive in warm, bright areas. When all risk of frost has passed, these vegetables can be grown outside in the garden, but until then the seedlings need to be grown in a warm, protected environment. In early summertime, try growing Sweet Peppers in containers on a sunny patio or planted in a South facing border.
Courgettes, also known as Zucchini (and by the botanical name of Cucurbita pepo), are tender vegetables that are very productive and rewarding to grow. Courgettes vary from one variety to another; you’ll find seeds of yellow courgettes (like my plant in the photograph above), pale forms of courgette that are such a soft green they’re almost white, as well as light green, very dark green courgettes, and striped courgettes.
Masdevallia polysticta is a miniature to small sized orchid species that hails from the cloud forests of Ecuador and Peru, where plants grow in very humid areas, in the mountains. An epiphytical orchid species, Masdevallia polysticta grows upon other plants.
It’s important that Masdevallia polysticta plants remain moist and never dry out; they can be grown potted or mounted onto a piece of cork bark or other substrate, but this orchid species requires continual access to moisture if it’s to succeed.