Pachypodium lamerei is native to Madagascar. It is relatively slow growing, and grows outdoors, where it can reach up to 6 metres given a chance. Pachypodium laverei needs a fast draining rich medium, and likes to grow in full sun.
Pachystachys spicata comes from the rainforests of the Caribbean and South America. It does well in the garden, and with a little care flowers continuously throughout the year. Dead head when necessary. It should be planted in the ground, in dapple shade with an application of good compost and manure from time to time. It is fairly drought tolerant. Updated 10/9/2018
Pancratium zeylanicum, native to Asia and the islands of the Indian Ocean, is a beautiful small bulb that flowers after rain. The plant has glossy strap leaves and the flowers are particularly graceful. It does best in pots. After flowering, these bulbs don’t require a rest period, and should be slightly watered until the next rains. Updated 10/9/2018
Pandanus is native to tropical Asia but now is found growing throughout tropics worldwide. It is a genus of approximately 750 species. It is a slow growing, plant that is dioecious, (male and female flowers are produced on different plants); it flowers infrequently. The thick ‘prop roots’ are there to anchor the plant in loose sand. The roots emerge from the stem, just above the ground, this helps to keep the plants upright and secure. The plants grow in full sun, and they are drought tolerant. Updated 10/9/2018
Pavetta galpinii can be confused with Ixora, which looks much the same. Pavetta galpinii has long whiskers coming from the flowers, which last for a long time before the black berries (seeds) appear. It is not fast growing and though it does best in full sun, it also does well in deep shade. It is not fussy about soil and is fairly drought tolerant. Since we found our plant we have noticed it growing wild in several places including the Shimba Hills Game Park, Kenya. Updated 10/9/2018
Pellionia is native to Southeast Asia. They are not the easiest plant to get to thrive. They need high humidity and must not dry out, but they don’t like to be over-watered, so the growing medium must be free draining. Pellionias are an understory plant and dislike direct sunlight, easily getting burnt if exposed to it. They are easily propagated by leaf cuttings. Updated 24/12/16
Pellionia daveauana can be grown as a trailing plant, in a basket, or used for ground cover. The occasional flowers are small and insignificant. It is happiest in light shade, but can take some difused sun.
Pellionia pulchra is a little more demanding preferring to be pot-grown, shaded and away from direct light and given high humidity.
Pennisetum setaceum is native to East and tropical Africa, the Middle East and SW Asia. The Latin penna ‘feather’ seta ‘brist’ referring to the flowers that have long feathery bristles. It is planted in tall containers, these prevent the plant from becoming untidy, which happens when they are close to the ground. It is easy to grow and drought tolerant, even becoming invasive. In the garden if the clump looks tired, it is time to chop off its ‘head’, take it up, divide, and replant in fresh compost. It can be very decorative. Updated 10/9/2018
Pentas lanceolata is found in tropical Africa, Madagascar and the Arabian Peninsula. This is a low maintenance plants that performs beautifully with water, and full sun, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds.
Pereskia grandifolia, from northeastern Brazil, it is a cactus, but the flowers look like small roses and as roses do not thrive in this garden, this is a good alternative. Grown as a shrub it can become very large. It likes full sun, is not fussy about soil, and is drought resistant. The downside of this vigorous plant is that it has very sharp thin spines, that can penetrate any glove. It propagates easily from cuttings, which should be planted immediately without a drying out period, or rooted in a jar of water. Updated 10/9/2018
Petrea volubilis is native to Mexico and Central America, is named after Lord Robert James Petre, 8th Baron Petre, (1713-1742), from Ingatestone Hall in Essex, a patron of botany.
It is regarded as the best blue-flowering climber for the Kenya coast. It can be grown in a pot, or as a standard but then it does not flower as freely. It blooms on new growth, so should be pruned immediately after flowering, to encourage the next flush of flowers. Propagation is by hardwood cuttings, or seeds. Updated 10/9/2018
Petunia grow at the coast, but not easily, and not all varieties, particularly double flowering plants. The seeds germinate easily and with some extra care they can be brought into flower, flowering for months on end, in full sun, with plentiful water and occasional feeding. Updated 10/9/2018
Philodendron is a large genus of flowering plants with estimated 489 species and more are being discovered. The name is from the Greek word philo ‘love or affection’ and dendron ‘tree’.
They have extremely diverse growing habits and have been divided into three major groups, epiphytic, hemiepiphytic (seeds start in the canopy of trees, sending their roots into the ground) and seldom terrestrial, sometimes a combination. Some philodendrons extrude a special nectar to attract ants, the ants protect and provide nutrients for the plant, whilst the plant feeds the ants with the nectar.
The aerial roots of the Philodendron serve two purposes; the shorter aerial roots are used to attach themselves to their host; the thicker and longer roots, collect water and nutrients to feed the plant. The sex life of the Philodendron is also very interesting; reproduction is achieved by the means of a beetle. On many plants it is a specific beetle and in some plants the spadix generates infrared radiation to help the beetle to find it! Updated 10/9/2018
Philodendrons are so easy to grow, the are sometimes called “plants that you can’t kill”. Some are drought tolerant but they all perform better with a little water from time to time. They like to grow in the shade and make excellent house plants. All are toxic to animals and humans. Updated 10/9/2018
This plant has been with me for many years. It even followed me to Kenya! When it arrived it was about 10″ high – now it is over 15′ and flowers continually. I have tried to establish the correct name but this is as close as I can come. It has no special treatment, no extra water and is undoubtedly very happy. Updated 10/9/2018
Plectranthus scutellarioides, better known as Coleus is from the nettle family, but with no sting. It is happy with some shade although for the brightest colouring, the plants need sun. It grows well in pots or in the open ground. When young the plant should be well pinched to ensure a good shape and the insignificant flowers pinched off to prevent the plant going to seed; once it has set seeds the colours fade dramatically. Coleus should not be allowed to dry out, although too much water kills the plant. Updated 12/9/2018
PLEIOBLASTUS HUMILIS VAR
Pleioblastus humilis var is a dwarf bamboo, it is a grass. The rich green foliage gives a feeling of abundance, especially during the dry season, when everything else is turning brown. It is easy to grow and is happiest in dappled shade, but will grow in most locations. It should not be allowed to dry out altogether as it will die. It is not fussy about soils and will spread even to the point of becoming invasive. It does not like saline water. Propagation is by root division. Updated 24/9/2018
Plumbago auriculata is native to South Africa, the name is from Latin plumbum ‘lead’ agere ‘to resemble’ Plumbago auriculate can be used as a hedge, a climber left to its own devises. It is drought tolerant, and needs to be in full sun as it flowers poorly in the shade. There is a white variety which is not as free flowering. Cuttings are easy to strike. Plumbago auriculate is used to remove lead from contaminated soil. Updated 12/9/2018
Plumeria, species are indigenous to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. It was named in honour of the 17th century French botanist Charles Plumier, the common name “Frangipani” comes from a 16th century Italian Marquis who invented a perfume reminiscent of the Plumeria scent. There are seven species, and more than 300 named-varieties of Plumeria. Each species bears differently shaped leaves, with distinct forms and growth habits. Plumeria flowers are most fragrant at night. Although they have no nectar, the scent lures the sphinx moth to transfer the pollen from flower to flower in its fruitless search for nectar.
The rust Coleosporium Plumeria, is a serious problem. The best treatment is to pick off infected leaves carefully trying not to let the ‘spores’ float away. At the first sign of a problem the leaves should be sprayed with a fungicide and this treatment repeated as necessary.
As a sufferer from cold sores I felt I must share this piece of information. According to Mr. James Muthotho, a microbiologist with the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri), the plant has been shown to “virtually cure” the common cold sore “herpes zoster”. After cleaning the wounds, apply drops of Frangipani Sap /milk from the flower onto the wounds. Only use white and yellow flowers. The frangipani sap, Mr. Muthotho says, stops the itchiness of herpes zoster sores, healing them without leaving any scars. It also kills the intense post-treatment pain, and prevents recurrence, unlike the conventional drugs. I tried this and it works.) Updated 12/9/2018
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Plumeria obtuse, originally from Colombia. The leaves are rounded (obtuse), a glossy dark green and leathery. The thick succulent branches are often “knobby” The petals on a Plumeria obtusa flower are rounder than those of Plumeria rubra.
Plumeria obtuse ‘Dwarf Singapore Pink’
Plumeria obtuse ‘Dwarf Singapore Pink is a true dwarf plumeria, growing about seven inches a year. Apart from the fact that this is a dwarf plant, there is nothing much to say about it. It grows happily in the garden, producing flowers most of the time, but these are not very exciting. It is very prone to rust which is a real disadvantage.
Plumeria rubra was one of the many species first described by Carl Linnaeus, it was mentioned in 1753 ‘Species Plantarum’. It is more widely grown than P obtuse, and the flower colour range is greater and they more fragrant.
In ancient times the wearing of a lei represented wealth, royalty and rank, there are many different recipes when making leis. There is the Maile lei, a leafy vine, with sweet spicy fragrance and worn open-ended. Royalty preferred Ilima, using small orange blossom. It is also important to be aware of the etiquette surrounding leis. They are given for most special occasions, it is considered rude to refuse a lei, it is impolite to give a pregnant woman a closed lei, it brings bad luck to the unborn child. Open-ended leis are acceptable.
Plumeria pudica is native to Panama, Colombia and Venezuela. This has a different look from other plumerias, it is an upright growing plant with little sideways growth, the leaves are spoon shaped. It flowers abundantly and they are sweetly scented. Like most plumerias, it is easy to grow and is not fussy about soil. An advantage is that they don’t suffer from rust.
Polianthes tuberosa, indigenous to Mexico, is grown in a large pot (they don’t survive in the open ground) with rich compost, in full sun. With regular feeding, the plants will thrive and produce wonderful spikes of tubular, waxy-white, strongly scented flowers. The bulbs don’t like being moved, and should not be repotted too often. Updated 12/9/2018
Polyscias name comes from the Greek “polys” much and “skia” shade and was so named in honour of the English botanist John Hutton Balfour. There are 116 different Polyscias. They are easy plants to grow, being drought tolerant, and not fussy about the medium in which they grow. They make good background plants, filling corners, acting as wind-breaks, or giving height to an area.
Polyscias balfouriana is native to Queensland /Australia and Papua New Guinea. The species is named in honour of the English botanist John Hutton Balfour. It is an attractive tree or small shrub which, so far, has proved to be rather difficult to grow and very slow. It has had the best treatment and still sulks.
Polyscias filicifolia is an ever green, slow growing shrub like tree, with fern-like leaves. It is an easy plant to grow, is not fussy about soil. and is drought tolerant. We have these around the garden and they grow happily in shade or sun.
The Polyscias fruticose is an attractive small tree with variegated leaves. Ours grows in a pot that stands five meters from the sea front and yet it does not appear to mind the strong salt laden breezes. It receives the morning sun and is shaded from the mid day sun but otherwise receives no special treatment and is very happy.
Polyscias paniculata is a robust and a faster growing Polyscias. It is an evergreen tree that, if left un-pruned, can reach up to 6 metres. It is an easy plant to grow in the garden as it is not fussy about soil, is drought tolerant, and is happy in full sun or shade. Polyscias paniculata makes an excellent backdrop for smaller plants and is a useful wind break.
The Portulaca grandiflora is native to Argentina, southern Brazil and Uruguay. It has now spread worldwide. Its name in local languages usually refers to the time the plant is in full bloom; for instance in India it is called “nau bajiya” the 9 o’clock flower“ There are several very different looking flowers and all seem to have the same name.
This does well in any part of the garden but it needs full sun to flower and makes a colourful ground cover. It can be grown in the open ground,or in large pots where it will give great value. When it is grown in the ground, care must be taken not to let grass or weeds grow through the portulaca as it then looks a mess. Bee’s love the flowers, busily collecting pollen each morning. Mealy bugs are attracted too and this can be a problem. Remember the bees. If it is necessary to spray for the mealy bug; do this in the late evening. Another way to get rid of mealy but is to cut the plant back, so removing the dudus. After it has been flowering for several months, it is advisable to cut back hard, top dress, and give it a rest. Updated 12/9/2018
Portulaca grandiflora bicolour
Portulaca grandiflora bi-colour is common to coastal regions of Australia. These large flowers put on a great show.
Pouteria campechiana is native to Southern Mexico and the West Indies. It is tolerant of a wide variety of soils, even poor soil, and full sun but it dislikes drought. The fruit is edible but is not as palatable as mango, which it rather resembles. It is rare in East Africa and its Kiswahili name “Zaituni” means olives. Updated 12/9/2018
Proiphys amboinensis was named after the island of Amboina, now Ambon, in Indonesia. It is a bulbous plant that grows fairly fast, especially if planted in rich compost in pots and left undisturbed. It has almost circular leaves, resembling a Hosta and beautiful white, scented flowers. It grows best in shady sheltered areas, with some early morning or later afternoon sun. The Amaryllis caterpillar can cause a great deal of trouble. Updated 12/9/2018
Pseuderanthemum is native to Polynesia, the name is from the Greek pseudo ‘false’ and Eranthemun; this is the genus in which this family was formerly placed. They are useful plants in the garden, especially as they are practically indestructible. They can be planted as a stop-gap until something better is found, as a wind break for more delicate plants, to fill in gaps or make an informal hedge. They grow in full sun or heavy shade. They are drought resistant and not fussy about soil quality and don’t suffer from any of the nasty sucking garden insects. Grows easily from cuttings. Updated 12/9/2018
Pseuderanthemum atropurpureum has attractive colourful leaves. For the best results, keep it well pruned and don’t let the plant flower (these are rather insignificant).
Pseuderanthemum reticulatum is another favourite. It is a fantastic foliage plant, having bright lime green and yellow leaves. It requires full sun, though it behaves quite well in semi shade. The spikes of white flowers with pink centers are conspicuous. It will grow anywhere in the garden, even quite close to the sea front.
Pseudogynoxys chenopodioides is native to Mexico, Central America and the West Indies. It is a vigorous climber, with bright orange flowers. It needs full sun when it will flower freely. It grows happily everywhere and is propagated by seed. Updated 12/9/2018
PUNICA GRANATUM NANA
Punica granatum is thought to have originated in what is now Iran. Carbonised fruit has been found dating from the early Bronze Age. A dry pomegranate was found in the tomb of Djehuty, butler to Queen Hatshepsut. It was introduced into Latin America by Spanish colonists in 1769. In France, some plants are known to have survived for 200 years.
Punica granatum nana is a tough plant that grows in full sun and thrives in very little soil; its roots penetrate coral, it needs no special treatment or water even in the dry season. It is unfriendly with multiple spiny branches and is best placed in the vegetable garden. Updated 12/9/2018