Archive | May, 2011

Drumsticks

31 May

Drumsticks (Craspedia globosa), deciduous perennial, basal clumping growth, yellow ball-like flowers on long thin stems, best with regular water, full sun, great cut flower.

Craspedia globosa is a tufting perennial comes from heavy soils on the plains of eastern Australia (Queensland, New South Wales, Victorian and South Australia). It forms clumps of 12 to 18 inch tall foliage which supports two to 2 1/2 foot tall flower stalks that hold balls of small yellow flowers (they look like little tennis balls!) throughout the year. The foliage is covered with dense hairs giving the plant a silvery appearance. Plant in full sun and water regularly. Tolerates heavy soil. Hardy to about 20-25 degrees F. Flowers dry well for use in dry arrangements. Another common name used in Australia is Drumsticks.

Mexican Grass Tree

31 May

Mexican Grass Tree (Dasylirion longissima) evergreen shrub native to Mexico, slow growing to 10 ft., very narrow cylindrical leaves up to 5 ft. in length spread in all directions, full sun to part shade, very drought tolerant, deer resistant.

This is a stunning succulent if you have room for it.  Forming a dome of blue-green “leaves” that have a wonderful kineticism in any slight breeze. Give it room, it grows to 8-10′ wide & wouldn’t look right if its shape was marred by having to cut the leaves back. Both male & female plants have very tall (10-15′) flower stalks. Female flowers will turn a lovely russet color as the mature. Blooms in late Winter & bees enjoy visiting the flowers. After 50 years or so it will start to develop a trunk – this is definitely an “heirloom” plant that your grandchildren can enjoy. Can be grown in a pot for a good while, too. Great for gardeners in fire prone areas as it is considered fire-retardant. Not hard to grow as long as you provide good drainage. Native to Mexico.

Grevillea

31 May

Grevillea, evergreen shrub or small tree, fast growth, variable in size from 3 to over 20 ft., dense graceful upright to rounded growth habit, spikes of waxy pink to red flowers most of the year, best in poor soil, sun to part shade, drought tolerant, attracts hummingbirds, deer resistant, excellent foundation or screen plant.

The grevilleas are a remarkable and beautiful group of plants. The variability between species is incredible but characteristic to the Protea family (Proteaceae) of which they belong; the namesake of the family, the god Proteus was noted for his ability to change his appearance and form at will. Among the 270 or more species, almost entirely from Australia, the habit can be that of a large forest tree or a diminutive crevice plant. The color and structure of the flowers and leaf size and shape are so different in the many species that their relationship is often lost to the casual observer. Shared attributes that might be noted as common to the genus are that they are woody evergreen plants that usually have interestingly intricate and beautiful flowers. Grevilleas are planted for their floral and foliage display as well as ability to attract nectar-feeding birds to the garden.

As the plants are a diverse group, there are a wide range of conditions that they will grow under. The following generalized statements regarding the cultivation of grevilleas would apply to a majority of the plants in cultivation. Grevilleas flower best in sunny, dry locations although they will also grow in light shade. Plant in well-draining soil and be very careful of any fertilizers applied to these plants; many Grevillea, especially Western Australian species, are highly sensitive to phosphorus and the use of fertilizers high in this element can be fatal to these plants. They also do not like excessive watering and garden water tolerance or ability to grow near lawns will be exceptions rather than the rule. Regular pruning after flowering is recommended to enhance and rejuvenate flowering and plant growth. Most varieties are drought tolerant, as well as frost hardy down to 20 º F.

Pineapple Guava

31 May

Pineapple Guava (Feijoa sellowiana), evergreen shrub or tree, moderate growth to 10-15 ft. or taller, flowers have edible white petals with purple centers surrounding red stamens, edible fruit, full sun, drought tolerant, prune to shape as hedge, espalier.

Pineapple Guava is a South American native, and is the hardiest of so-called subtropical fruits. Normally a large multistemmed plant; reaches 18–25 ft. with equal spread if not pruned or killed back by frosts. Can take almost any amount of training or pruning (late spring is the best time) to shape as espalier, screen, hedge, or small tree.

Oval, 2–3-in.-long leaves are glossy green above, silvery white beneath. Blooms in spring, bearing unusual inch-wide flowers with big central tufts of red stamens and four fleshy white petals tinged purplish on inside; blossoms attract bees and birds. Flowers are edible and can be added to fruit salads or used for jams and jellies. Plant is drought tolerant, but give it regular water for best fruiting.

Fruit ripens 4 to 5 1/2–months after flowering in warmest regions, 5 to 7 months after bloom in cooler areas. Oval, grayish green, 1–4-in.-long fruit has soft, sweet to bland pulp with flavor somewhat like pineapple. The best way to harvest is to wait until first fruit drops, then spread a tarp underneath and give the tree a shake. Repeat every few days. Fruit is sometimes sold in markets; it may be labeled “feijoa” or “pineapple guava.”

Improved varieties ‘Beechwood’, ‘Coolidge’, ‘Mammoth’, ‘Nazemetz’, and ‘Trask’ are self-fruitful, although cross-pollination will produce a better crop. Single plants of seedlings or other named varieties may require cross-pollination.

Fan Aloe

31 May

Fan Aloe (Aloe plicatilis), evergreen succulent with tree-like growth to 6-10 ft., branching stems terminate with a fan-like cluster of leaves, sun, very drought tolerant, good container plant.

Primarily South African natives, the aloes range from 6-in. miniatures to trees; all form clumps of fleshy, pointed leaves and bear branched or unbranched clusters of orange, yellow, cream, or red flowers. Different species bloom every month; biggest show comes from midwinter through summer. Leaves may be green or gray green, often strikingly banded or streaked with contrasting colors.

Showy and easy to grow in well-drained soil in reasonably frost-free areas; need little water but can take more. Except as noted, give full sun in cooler climates, light shade in hotter regions. Where winters are too cold for all-year outdoor culture, grow in pots and shelter from frosts. Most kinds make outstanding container plants. Highly valued as ornamentals, in the ground or in pots.

Aloe plicatilis (Fan Aloe) is an interesting succulent shrub with gray colored stems that terminate with a fan-like cluster arrangement of the bluish-gray round tipped leaves. Old plants are typically 3-6 feet tall but others in cultivation have been noted to 8 feet. Plants from the wilds of the high rainfall areas of western Cape Mountains of South Africa are reportedly as tall as 15 feet. Each leaf cluster bears one erect 12″ tall unbranched inflorescence bearing an open terminal cluster of tubular orange red flowers in late winter to early spring. Plant in the sun, but away from the hottest afternoon sun and water occasionally during summer months. Hardy to about 23 degrees F. Old leaves drop cleanly away to exposed the attractive smooth trunk.

Shrub Begonia

31 May

Shrub Begonia (Begonia boliviensis), deciduous perennial, 2-3 ft. in height, profusion of long, fuchsia-like red-orange flowers open from spring through fall, sun to part shade, likes rich soil and even moisture, ideal for hanging baskets, containers, and cascading over walls.

Begonia is a large genus in the Begoniaceae family, with many tuberous or rhizomatous species. Probably this genus is best known for its showy tuberous hybrids that are summer growers, tender, and dormant in winter.

Begonia boliviensis is a tuberous species native to Bolivia. It has small orange-red flowers and can be grown as a pot plant. They do best in part sun and blooms prolifically during mediterranean-type summers if planted in the ground where they can reach 2-3ft (<1 meter) tall. Propagation is easy by cuttings. If cutting is taken during summer, it will form a thumb sized tuber by winter and will go deciduous like adult plants and return in late spring.

Island Bush Poppy

28 May

Island Bush Poppy (Dendromecon harfordii), evergreen native shrub, fast growing to 15 ft., rounded growth habit, large 2-3 inch bright yellow poppy-like flowers bloom profusely in spring, sporadically thereafter, gray-green foliage, drought tolerant, sun.

This species is found on Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, and Santa Catalina Islands off the coast of southern California. A wonderful native evergreen shrub clothed with glaucous-green oval leaves. An abundance of yellow (3 inches across) flowers cover the plant from spring into summer. Moderate growth rate reaching up to 10-15+ feet tall but typically grows to 6-10 feet by equal width. Situate in a location which receives full sun to part shade in well draining soil. Drought tolerant once established. Cold hardy to about 15-20° F.