11 Plants That Start With J - Urban Agriculture

11 Plants That Start With J

Jacaranda Tree (Jacaranda Mimosifolia)

A tropical tree, the jacaranda’s branches are arched, and they form an umbrella shaped canopy, which means it’s an ideal tree for providing shade. Its flowers are purple, panicle-shaped, and fragrant, and its leaves are fern-like, growing up to 20 inches long.

In tropical environments, it grows quickly, often growing ten feet every year in its infancy. If grown outside of tropical environments, though, the rate of its growth can slow down considerably.

The jacaranda tends to be planted between fall and early spring, and depending on where its grown is considered deciduous or semi-evergreen.

Only jacaranda plants as mature as eight years or older will bloom, usually in late spring to early summer- although in warmer climates it can flower at any time of year. The plant is native to South America, and is invasive in multiple regions. 

Jack In The Pulpit (Arisaema Triphyllum)

Jack in the pulpit is a woodland perennial, and while it’s recognised as one species by some authorities, others consider it as three due to some small differences, most notably the leaves. The plant grows either one or two big glossy leaves, which are divided into three leaflets, and grow on stems up to two feet tall.

The large, hooded, cylindrical flowers grow on separate stalks, and are green with brown stripes. The formation from which the plant gets its name grows beneath its large leaves.

During late summer, red berries appear, which attract birds and mammals. Jack in the pulpit is low maintenance and while it can thrive in various conditions, it grows best in shady, moist, and seasonally wet areas. 

Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium Caeruleum)

A popular perennial for good reason, Jacob’s ladder bears attractive leaves and stems of blue flowers that bloom in spring and early summer. A very low maintenance plant, Jacob’s ladder leaves grow in arched clumps with pointed, long green leaflets.

The leaflets are where the plant gets its common name, because they resemble… yup, ladders! Its flowers are soft blue to blue-purple, with prominent orange-yellow stamens. Multiple flowers open at once, and as the new buds keep opening, this display can continue for several weeks.

Jacob’s ladder is often grown in gardens, but it’s actually only native to three areas in England: the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales, and Northumberland. It grows best in cool, partially shaded spaces, in soil that won’t dry out. It will struggle in spots that are dry and sunny.

Japanese Aucuba (Aubuca Japonia)

An evergreen shrub, Japanese aucuba can grow to between 6 feet to 10 feet, and has green and yellow-gold leaves that tend to be about eight inches long. The flowers are replaced with bright red berries in the fall, but only if a male plant is growing nearby.

Often, both the fruit and the flowers are hidden by the foliage. It’s an ideal plant for containers, and as a houseplant. They thrive in lots of shade; if they get too much sun their leaves will turn black.

Mild temperatures and well drained soil are the Japanese aucuba’s ideal conditions, but they can grow in most soil (even heavy clay) as long as it’s well drained. Insects rarely bother the plant, but there can occasionally be some scales. 

Japanese Blood Grass (Imperata Cylindrica)

A perennial plant, the foliage of Japanese blood grass is initially green with red tips, but goes on to mature to a blood red color for which it got its name. It tends to only grow to about two feet high, in clumping grass rather than spreading grass.

In their cultivated form they don’t have much invasive potential, but once they revert to green their chances of becoming a nuisance increase, as they get far more aggressive. Japanese blood grass is actually banned across half of the United States because of its potential for taking over native flora.

It’s a low maintenance plant with few common problems (it wouldn’t be nearly as invasive if there were a lot of common problems!), but it can struggle in spaces that aren’t moist and cool. If it gets too wet, the roots are prone to various kinds of rot.

Once established it is both drought resistant and tolerant of urban pollution. Your best method for reliably propagating Japanese blood grass is division. 

Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa Macra)

A member of the Hakonechloa family, Japanese forest grass is a slow growing ornamental plant that requires very little maintenance. They’re considered a semi-evergreen plant, although depending on where you live they may not survive winters.

Their ideal growing location is a partially shaded space with moist soil. There are multiple types of Japanese forest grass, and the most common is golden Japanese forest grass. Its colors are bright yellow but in the sun these leaves will turn closer to white.

As fall approaches, they’ll adopt a slight pink tinge around their edges. If the soil is kept suitably moist, caring for Japanese forest grass doesn’t need much care at all. 

Japanese Pagoda Tree (Sophora Japonica or Styphnolobium Japonicum)

A shade tree, the Japanese Pagoda tree grows frothy flowers whilst in season, and its pods are notably attractive. The tree is often referred to as the Chinese scholar tree, which makes more sense than its more common name, since it’s actually native not to Japan but to China (is it too late to change it?).

It’s a deciduous species that grows quickly and can reach up to 75 feet. The plant is often used both as an ornamental tree in gardens and as trees in the street (because it’s highly tolerant of urban pollution). In the latter kind of space, it’s grown in compacted soil, and struggles to grow more than 40 feet high.

Its leaves are bright green, almost like fern leaves, and are composed of between 10 to 15 leaflets. In the autumn, the foliage will turn an attractive yellow.

Flowers won’t bloom until the tree is at the very least a decade mature, but when they do, they’re upright, pea-like panicles of white at the tips of the branches. These flowers exude a pleasant fragrance, and grow to be about 15 inches. 

Jasmine (Jasminum Officinale)

A large semi-evergreen, jasmine boasts both a graceful appearance and a very pleasant fragrance. This plant, native to Asia, produces an abundance of clusters of three to five flowers, which are fragrant and just one inch wide. Its leaves are a rich green color, and they tend to have between seven and nine leaflets.

Blooming will continue from summer until first frost. It’s a fast grower that can reach up to 30 feet, and it does best somewhere between full sun and partial shade. Its ideal conditions are well drained soil of medium moisture, and a sheltered, warm space.

It’s mostly resistant to pests, diseases, and deer. It can be grown as a sprawling shrub, a groundcover, a vine, or in containers, and is ideal for coastal gardens. It tends to attract both butterflies and hummingbirds. 

Jewel Orchid (Ludisia)

Best known for its green, red, velvety textured leaves, the jewel orchid produces flowers of white or light yellow. The flowers only tend to bloom between winter and early spring.

They come from rainforest floors, meaning they don’t want much natural light- too much direct sunlight can do away with their colors, which are what makes the plant as notable as it is. They can be grown as houseplants indoors, and are easily propagated by simply breaking off part of a rhizome and planting it within regular African violet soil.

The process of growing jewel orchids is very different from what’s involved in growing normal orchids; they’re terrestrial, meaning they prefer to have their roots in soil (the aforementioned African violet soil is your safest bet for proper growth of this plant).

The jewel orchid requires a lot of humidity, and doesn’t really tolerate fluctuating temperatures. Its ideal location- fluorescent lights and steamy air- is actually the bathroom (unless your bathroom happens to be a rooftop bathroom, which it… probably isn’t).

This is surprisingly the perfect place for letting its deeply colored leaves grow without those colors fading. If the plant remains moist, you won’t have to be concerned with much extra watering. 

Joseph’s Coat (Amaranthus Tricolor)

An annual, fast growing plant of attractive colors, this plant’s foliage makes it a great option for edging or borders. This plant, also known as tricolor amaranth, summer poinsettia, and fountain plant (because sometimes three names just aren’t enough), is a low maintenance one.

It grows from spring to fall, and does well in both beds and containers. The leaves are what’s most of note with Joseph’s coat. They start out green and can grow up to six inches, eventually turning to bright oranges, yellows, and reds, as summer progresses.

They’re not very ornamental, by nature. Joseph’s coat is very low maintenance, and can withstand various conditions, like drought and varying types of soil. They should be planted following the last frost of spring, and its soil should have been mixed with some organic amendment, like compost. 

Juniper (Juniperus)

A shrub that requires little care (they never need to be pruned), juniper is considered by the National Wildlife Federation to be amongst the top ten plants for wildlife, because they not only provide food, but also shelter from extreme weather conditions and nesting sites for birds. They thrive in either full sun or partial shade. 

Caroline Roberts
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