Sagittaria lancifolia is a native of the southeastern United States and further South. This is a useful and attractive pond plant with long arrow like leaves. The small white flowers are produced on long stems and, when they fall into the pond, small plantlets spring up. It prefers to grow in full sun and should not be planted too deep or it will slowly die. It is not salt tolerant.
In Louisiana, after oil spillages, in marsh areas where Sagittaria lancifolia was growing, the spillage had a negative effect on the plants and, after a short period, they recovered showing that where Sagittaria lancifolia was growing a polluted area could be left to recover without burning.
Sanchezia nobilis grows at the coast as a foliage plant. It has excellent coloured leaves and can brighten up any corner but it seldom flowers. It not an easy plant as it can’t take the hot sun and requires a lot of water. When growing well it looks good but it soon becomes leggy and has to be pruned to bring it back to a neat shape. It is easily propagated from cuttings. Watch out for mealy bug and other dudus.
Sanseveria is native to Africa, Madagascar and Southern Asia. It was named in honour of the Italian Pietro Antonio Sanseverino (in 1770 the spelling was changed from Sanseverinia to Sanseveria). There is a large variation within this group of plants which ranges from tough desert to the slightly tender tropical species.
Sansevieria is a very accommodating plant, tolerating low light, poor sandy soil and irregular watering. It is drought tolerant and will die quickly from too much water. In the garden it will grow happily where few other things will survive so use it to fill odd spaces and add height and colour to otherwise dull areas.
NASA states that it is one of the best plants for improving indoor air quality by absorbing toxins.
Sansevieria trifasciata hahnii
Sansevieria trifasciata Hahnii is a low growing plant reaching about seven to eight inches tall.
Sansevieria trifasciata Golden Hahnii
Scaevola taccada is native to the Indian Ocean and the Pacific. It is a bush that grows close to the sea, even exposed to salt spray. Because it is so saline tolerant it works well as a wind break. The leaves never scorch and it even manages to grow under Casuarinas too. It flowers all the time but the flowers are rather insignificant. The seeds can float in the ocean for up to a year and will still germinate as long as they are given fresh water. Scaevola taccada can be heavily pruned and the pruning’s make good cuttings.
Sedum morganianum or Lamb’s tails grows best where it can hang and show off the tails as the plant becomes established. The compost should be well draining and full of nutrients. It likes to grow in bright light but not full sun.
Selaginella uncinata is commonly called Spikemoss. There are approx 700 species of selaginella native to different climates. It is a primitive seedless vascular plant dating back around 410 million years and, although related, it is not a true fern. The plant has the ability to changes colour from green to iridescent blue which enables it to reduce the effect of strong sunbeams, filtering though the canopy.
If Selaginella uncinata is happy in the garden, it can become more or less a weed but, with me, I seem to kill it all the time. It is drought-tolerant but likes to be kept moist though not wet. Too much sun burns the leaves.
It is not certain where Sesbania grandiflora’s origins are but it certainly has a long history in the Indiam sub-continent. The name for Sesbania grandiflora, also known as Agati grandiflora, is named after Agastya, the revered Vedic sage, said to be the father of theTamil language, who lived between the 6th and 7th century BC.
The seeds germinate easily and the tree grows well and as a young tree it is attractive with the red parrot shaped flowers (they also come in white). As the tree ages it becomes less attractive because of the long seed pods dangling down the tree, a bit like socks on a washing line. It is best not to expect the tree to last too long and to keep replenishing the garden with new plants from the abundant seeds that are produced. The plant is tolerant of salt and loves alkaline soil.
Siphonochilus aethiopicus is derived from the Greek siphono meaning tube, and chilus meaning lip in reference to the shape of the flower. The specific name aethiopicus means from southern Africa.
Siphonochilus aethiopicus is a ginger and, after the rains, it can be found flowering profusely in the wild. When the dry season sets in, in the leaves wilt and die, leaving the plant waiting for the next bout of rain.
It has a tremendously attractive pink flower which opens before the leaves. In the garden it does very well in dappled shade and, because of receiving water, the leaves don’t die off as fast as they would in the wild.
Due to it’s medicinal value, the plant is over collected and is currently listed in the Red Data book of South African plants.
Solanum wrightii potato tree (name change)
Solanum macranthum, the Potato Tree, is native to Brazil. It is a fast growing tree and in the right situation can reach up to 15 feet in height. It grows best and is happier at higher altitudes so mine struggles at the coast, especially during the hot dry season. Having further researched this, I gather that it ‘does well in coastal areas but not direct salt wind’. Maybe mine is not getting enough water and feed.
Solanum macranthum is a show stopper and anyone coming to the garden stops and asks after it. The flowers open as a lavender colour and then fade to white. It blooms all the year round, so the tree is always covered with colour.
It is best pruned during the cooler time of the year and it will grow from cuttings or seed. Mealy bug and red spider-mite are a problem.
Spagneticola trilobata is another of the ‘weeds’ we enjoy in our garden. It fills spaces with it’s bright yellow flower. The problem is that once it has arrived, it can become invasive. It is listed amongst one of the hundred worst weeds in the world!
The Spathiphyllum wallisii or Peace lily originates from the bogs of Central America. It is one of the easiest plants to grow as long as its needs are met. They are very tolerant and nearly impossible to kill but, if they are not cared for, they will show it almost immediately. The leaves may curl and the tips will look burnt, or they will not flower.
They don’t require huge amounts of water although it is almost impossible to over water them. They are happiest in bright light but not direct sunlight, which harms them. They are hungry plants and best grown in pots, planted in rich compost. In that case they will need to be top dressed at least four times a year, and folia fed monthly. Eventually the plant will outgrow the pot, and will need to be re-potted. The plant may be split at this stage, making several new plants.
Spathiphyllum wallisii domino
The domino varietygrows like Spathiphyllum wallisii. It has variegated leaves which make it most attractive when not flowering. It is rather shy about flowering. We have had ours for about four years and this year is the first time it has produced any flowers.
Spathodea campanulata (Nandi Flame or Tulip Tree) is native to the tropical dry forests of Equatorial Africa and, rather sadly, has been nominated as one of the 100 “World’s Worst” invaders! It was first discovered in 1787 on the gold Coast of Africa.
This is a fast growing tree and one of the most beautiful to behold at the coast. It does not grow close to the sea although they can put up with some salt. We have two growing in the garden but both are struggling due to the coral, which prevents the tree from extending its roots. Given good deep soil, the tree grows into a huge specimen and flowers abundantly.
The Spathoglottis plicata is a tropical, terrestrial orchid. Once the plant is happy in the garden it will flower continually. In the wild it likes to grow near swamps and small streams. Under cultivation it must have fibrous compost – chopped up coconut husks work well. It needs plenty of water but not to the extent that the plant’s roots are sitting in soggy growing medium. It is fast growing and needs adequate nutrients to keep it happy. We have tried it in shade and direct light and find that direct light, not mid day sun, is the best.
Spathoglottis plicata is listed as “vulnerable” in Australia but in other parts of the world it is listed as an invasive weed!
Stapelia gigantea is a clump forming succulent that grows in poor soil with small amounts of water. It flowers continually, producing huge flowers, smelling of rotting flesh which attract flies for pollination. It is so easy to grow and increases at such a rate that lots go on the compost.
Stephanotis floribunda is native to Madagascar and grows well at the coast. It doesn’t need much special treatment apart for a strong frame to ramble over. It throws out flowers most of the time and, when the rains come, it puts on a real show. The seed pods look like small mangoes and take at least six months to ripen. Scale can be a problem. Propagation is by seed or cuttings.