12 Plants That Start With N - Urban Agriculture

12 Plants That Start With N

Nandina (Nandina Domestica)

More commonly known as heavenly bamboo, sacred bamboo, or Chinese sacred bamboo, nandina is best known for its colorful foliage and its red berries. It’s a small shrub, sometimes evergreen and sometimes semi-evergreen depending on its location.

During the spring, long white flowers grow on the ends of the branches. These flowers are rich in nectar, meaning they attract various pollinators, like bees. Following the flowers are berries, which are a shade of green before they ripen to a bright red.

The berries persist through fall and into winter. The foliage of the plant is initially purple, but with maturity will become a soft green, before becoming a purple or red-purple in the months of fall. It’s a very adaptable plant, and grows best either in full sun or partial shade. The best soil for nandina is moist, well drained soil.

Nasturtium (Tropaeolum Majus)

Nasturtium is an attractive and versatile flower. Not only can it be grown to lure away aphids from nearby plants (insects that secrete a substance which can rapidly become infested with black mold), it’s also fully edible (although you’re probably not very hungry after that last part).

They’re an easy plant to grow, and can be cascading, climbing, or bushy. They not only require no maintenance, but if anything they tend to prefer neglect; if the soil is rich and fertile, or you’re using a lot of fertilizer, nasturtium flowers are far less likely to grow.

The nasturtium plant can be grown in either hanging baskets or in window boxes, and this is where you’ll find them most. For catching aphids, your best bet would be shrub-type nasturtiums, but overall there are over 50 varieties of the plant.

All these varieties require the same conditions: full sun to partial shade, and soil that’s well drained but otherwise of poor quality. These are the conditions that will lead to the biggest blooms. 

Natal Plum (Carissa Macrocarpa Or Carissa Grandifolia)

A tropical shrub, natal plum is often grown for its fruits, whose cranberry-like taste is used in jelly and jam. Much like Indian hawthorn, this plant is also grown in the commercial landscapes of warmer climates. Its star-shaped white flowers and pleasant fragrance prove most popular in this regard.

The natal plum is in no way related to actual plums; it gets its name because its shape is similar, as is its color. Its leaves are a dark shade of green and leathery, and have a glossy sheen. The flowers, which feature five petals in the shape of a star, smell much like any other orange blossom.

They tend to be between one and three inches in length. It’s a plant that grows from moderately fast to fast, and will thrive most in the fall months or the winter months. It should take roughly two years to grow the shrub to maturity, at which point it will start producing fruits you can harvest. 

Needle Palm (Rhapidophyllum Hystrix)

Native to the southeastern United States, the needle palm plant is very versatile, and can be grown well in most types of soil, as well as varying degrees of sunlight. It’s a slow grower, but provides a handy green backdrop for a garden’s flowers.

All you really need to do for needle palm is to pick the ideal place for it, and watch it grow. Needle palm is a perennial shrub, and despite where it comes from, it’s quite the cold hardy plant. It grows several stems, whose needle points are where the plant gets its name.

It tends to grow to about six feet, both high and across. Its leaves are green and glossy, while its flowers are yellow, white, or brown-purple. It’s tolerant to drought, and can be grown in most conditions. 

Nemesia (Scrophulariaceae)

Short-lived perennials, nemesias are known for their fragrance and colors. They originated in South Africa, and their flowers can be a variety of different colors, usually red, orange, blue, pink, and white. Their centers are sometimes bi-colored.

They can grow compact and bushy, in which case they’re ideal in pots or as the front of a border, but they can also be trailing, in which case they’d be better suited to hanging baskets. For nemesia to grow it’ll need sun and well drained soil. 

Nemophila (Nemophila Menziesii) 

Nemophila, sometimes known as baby blue eyes, is native to the Baja area of California and the surrounding areas. It is also grown in many other states, though. Their flowers, white or light blue and full of pollen, are great for attracting pollinators like bees and butterflies.

A low-spreading shrub, nemophila grows in succulent stems, and can reach up to 12 inches in height. The soft hue of their flowers makes them fit in well in wildflower gardens.

They bloom in the late months of winter, in regions where the temperatures are moderate. The bloom can continue through late spring and into early summer. 

Nepeta 

Sometimes known as catmint, nepeta is a flowering perennial best known for its foliage whose aroma often attracts cats. Its leaves are green or greenish-gray, and summer through autumn they grow small blue or mauve flowers.

The flowers, stems, and leaves can all be eaten by cats- sometimes they even sleep amongst the plants. It also attracts pollinators like bees. Nepeta originates from countries in the Northern Hemisphere, and grows in full sun and free draining soil.

Its best months for planting tend to be spring and autumn. Because of their soft colors and low spreading growth, nepeta can be great for underplanting rose bushes, and tend to look best planted in groups. 

New Zealand Flax (Phormium Tenax)

Native to New Zealand, this perennial plant was once considered to be in the agave family, but now it’s seen as part of the Phormium family. They’re popular ornamental plants, and can reach up to 20 feet in height and 10 feet in width.

The foliage of New Zealand flax can be many different colors, including maroon, red, green, yellow, and burgundy, and the leaves of the plant are keel shaped. If grown in warm climates, New Zealand flax is relatively low maintenance, and is tolerant to the vast majority of diseases and insects.

The plant is named after its fibrous leaves, which used to be made into textiles and baskets. It often attracts birds, and is easy to maintain if sheltered from direct sunlight. 

Nicotiana

Nicotiana, a tobacco plant, is popular throughout the summer months. Their size and colors can vary, and the plants are ideal for mixed borders and container displays. They tend to make good cut flowers.

Nicotiana thrives most in well drained, moist soil, and in full sunlight to partial shade. There are certain varieties of nicotiana, like nicotiana alata, that prefer full sunlight. Their seeds should be sowed in early spring, after the last frost. 

Night Blooming Cereus (Cereus Peruvianus)

A cactus native to the Sonora Desert and Arizona, the night blooming cereus has multiple other names, including Princess of the Night and Queen of the Night. They tend to be grown as houseplants everywhere in the United States excluding the country’s hottest regions.

They’re a climbing cactus that can grow as high as 10 feet tall. In Arizona and places with similar climates, the night blooming cereus can be grown on a trellis. The plant takes between four to five years to start flowering, and initially only a couple will appear.

Over time the amount of flowers will increase, which is worth the wait; they’re particularly attractive flowers, and very fragrant. As you might have guessed, the flowers only open throughout the night. Once pollinated it produces a big, red fruit. 

Nodding Lady Tresses (Spiranthes Cernua)

Sometimes referred to as nodding spiranthes, this orchid can be found growing wild across central and eastern United States, as well as Canada. Their flowers are fragrant, small, and their colors tend to be yellow, white, and green. Once mature they can reach heights of about two feet.

They tend to grow in bogs, marshes, woodlands, and riverbanks, but also roadways and other disturbed habitats. The plant is easy to grow and can eventually grow into colonies. Removing nodding lady tresses from their natural habitat is actually illegal in certain regions. They grow best in consistently moist soil. 

Nolina 

Often referred to as ponytail or elephant foot tree, nolina is a small, very low maintenance plant. Their leaves are green and strappy, and they make for pleasant houseplants. While they prefer some sunlight, they can also grow in shade.

They shouldn’t, however, be placed in direct sunlight. The plant is native to Mexico, where it only grows in rocky, dry soil. When grown indoors they don’t need an abundance of water, because their tough leaves can’t evaporate much of it. If you own a nolina, it’s important to let its soil dry fully before you water it again. 

Caroline Roberts
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