Dianella nigra is native to New Zealand. At first glance it looks like a bulbous plant as it is clump forming with strap leathery leaves and insignificant flowers but the blue purple berries that follow are very attractive. Naturally, Dianella nigra would like to grow in wetlands. It is a tough plant that is drought resistant and thrives in most soils though a top dressing before the rains is beneficial. Propagation is fastest by dividing the plant. Mealy bug can be a problem.
Dieffenbachia is native to the New World Tropics and was named by Heinrich Wilhelm Schott, the Director of the Botanical Gardens in Vienna, to honour his head gardener, Joseph Dieffenbachia (1796–1863). Brazilians regard the Dieffenbachia with much respect as it ‘wards off the evil eye’. Dieffenbachia has extremely toxic sap and if eaten it may cause great pain, making the mouth and tongue swell so much that it may even inhibit speech – hence the name ‘Dumb cane’. The effects is seldom life-threatening.
They grow well in open ground or in pots but need to be in full shade to do well. They are largely dudu free. A yellowing of the leaves generally means the plant is hungry – top dress with a mixture of rich compost and manure or bone meal. Propagation is by stem cuttings. Lay the stem cutting, 1/2 long, buried on its side in soil with the “eyes” pointing upwards and it will start to grow.
Studies of the dieffenbachia have found that there are active ingredients within the plant that could be a potential treatment for cancer.
Dieffenbachia Exotica alba
The dracaena family consists of approximately 40 species which are tropical and mostly native to Madagascar and Mauritius.
Dracaena prefer partial to full sunlight, though green leaved forms will do well in shady locations. All are easily propagated from stem cuttings. If the leaves die at the tips; it is usually a sign of water shortage.
Dracaena aletriformis is one of the easiest to grow; even withstanding the salty sea breezes without any problems. It is not fussy about soil and is very drought tolerant. It is clump forming and if left to its own devices will form a large clump and grow tall so, to keep it in bounds, the tall stems may be cut off at ground level, giving room for new shoots. It is dudu free apart from a grasshopper that spoils the leaves. Propagate by cuttings which will root easily.
Dracaena fragrans is easy to grow and can be planted in a large pot or the open ground. It is a little fussier than Dracaena aletriformabout, not as drought tolerant and prefers dappled shade. Burnt tips to the leaves indicate a lack of water or wind burn.
Dracaena marginata is tall and graceful and can each up to 15 feet in height. It sends up side shoots and becomes an attractive clump. So far we have not been able to raise cuttings. I spite of several attempts, none have taken.
Dracaena reflexa is a small slow growing plant with richly coloured leaves, and rather insignificant flowers. Left to its own devices, it will become quite tall.
Duranta erecta is native to Mexico and South America. The genus name is in honour of Castor Durantes, a fifteenth-century Italian botanist.
This can be grown as a shrub, a climber, or a hedge and, if left to its devices, will grow into a small tree. It is a tough, drought resistant plant. Prune heavily before the rains to restrain the height and size of the plant. In Queensland and northern New South Wales it is listed as one of the top 50 most invasive species.
‘Dyckia’ is native to Brazil and other South American countries and was named in honour of the botanist Joseph Prince and Earl of Salm-Reifferscheid-Dyck (Salm-Reifferscheid-Dyck was a small County of the Holy Roman Empire, now in the North Rhine in Germany).
Dyckias are easy to grow and often mistaken for succulents, because they are so prickly and ‘enjoy’ the same lack of attention as succulents often receive. Unlike succulents they can’t store water so they survive drought conditions by hibernating but, in this state, they don’t thrive. For a Dyckia to be really happy it needs plenty of sun (though mine are in full shade yet still look very happy) and generous watering. Given these conditions they will flower and continue to grow. Unlike other plants in the bromeliad family, they do not die after flowering and, (a second difference) have a large root system.
Properly grown Dyckia will make a good ground cover as the ‘pups’ can be removed and re-established elsewhere. Remember though, they have ferocious prickles.
Dypsis decaryi is indigenous to Madagascar. The trunk forms a triangle shape, hence the common name Triangle palm.
Dypsis decaryi is fast growing reaching up to 20 feet. It is an easy palm to grow as it is not fussy about the soil, likes to grow in full sun, has low water requirements, and only needs an occasional top dressing of a mixture of compost and manure. However, it does not like to be transplanted. If the palm is happy, it will bloom all year round, It is monoecious (male and female flower are born on the same plant) and the fruit is edible.
Propagation is by seed which can take up to 2 months to germinate. (The palms growing in my garden have all been grown from seed).
formerly Chrysalidocarpus lutescens
Dypsis lutescens,the popular Golden Palm is native to the islands of Madagascar. It is one of the most popular palms because of its beautiful appearance and low maintenance.
This is an easy palm to grow as it is not fussy about soil and grows well in a pot though this soon becomes too small for this fast growing palm. It is drought resistant and is happiest in bright sun but it is extremely sensitive to salt.