The gardens of India can be called truly international. Many of the flowers that bloom in India throughout the year are familiar to gardeners the world over, including those that color the landscape during the winter months. Winter flowers in India include calendulas, cornflowers, foxgloves, pansies and violas. Other winter flowers are indigenous to India and perhaps less familiar to gardeners in other countries.
The delicate, five-petal, flowers of the Indian Asystasia (Asystasia indica) are white with touches of purple, and funnel-shaped. These dainty flowers bloom during the months of November and December. The Indian asystasia is a glandular herb and native to West Bengal. It is a fairly new plant species, dating from 2006. It has branched stems, and ovate, opposite leaves that are velvety in texture and sometimes feature a dark purple streak, complementing the flowers. This plant is a member of the Acanthaceae or Ruellia family.
The Assam Indigo (Strobilanthes cusia) features brilliant magenta flowers shaped like little bells, that hang from soft stems. These lovely flowers usually bloom during November and December. The assam indigo is a fast-growing shrub that is native to Northeastern India. It is a member of the Acanathaceae family. Interestingly, the ovate leaves of the assam indigo are substitutes for indigo in the fabric dyeing industry.
The Bread Flower (Vallaris solanacea) is native to India and Burma. It has fragrant, white flowers, shaped like small bowls. Each flower has five circular petals, and measures about 1-inch in diameter. The flowers bloom from December well into the spring, By definition, the bread flower is a climbing shrub with gray, spotted bark and very large, oblong-shaped leaves. It is a member of the oleander (Apocynaceae) family.
The tiny, cream-colored flowers of the Indian Olibanum (Boswellia serrata) usually bloom in January. This deciduous tree is endemic to India, proliferating on dry hills and slopes. The flowers form a marked contrast to the ash-colored bark and the pinnate leaves that characterize this small tree. The Indian olibanum normally grows to a height of between three to five feet. It is a member of the touchwood (Burseraceae) family.An interesting footnote: the Indian olibanum is the subject of scientific studies related to osteoarthritis and joint function.
The dense purple spikes of the flowering Bengal Pogostemon (Pogostemon benghalensis) look their best in December when this large herb species is in full bloom. The flowers form spectacular, pyramid-shaped clusters, blooming showily on shiny, purplish stems and branches with ovate leaves. The Bengal pogostemon is a member of the mint (Lamiaceae) family.
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