Recovery

Last year at this time we had a few days of unusually cold weather. It got as low as 28 degrees for a few hours which is pretty rare. A few of my plants did not appreciate this dip below freezing.

Agave attenuata 'Ray of Light'

I really thought this Agave attenuata ‘Ray of Light’ was done for. All the leaves were mush. There was just one central leaf that wasn’t destroyed. I almost threw it away but something told me to give it a chance so for a few weeks I would bring it in at night when there were threats of frost. And then it went back into my plant ghetto and I pretty much forgot about it.

Agave attenuata 'Ray of Light'

Well I am happy to say that a year later it has made a remarkable recovery. I planted it out the other day in the new Protea and succulent border. Hopefully now that it is planted in the ground it will be a little more resistant to freezing weather.

Most of the buds got fried.

Aloe Moonglow was a huge disappointment. It was covered in buds for the first time and despite my attempts to protect it with sheets they were all limp the day after the worst frost.

Aloe Moonglow getting ready to bloom.

This year Moonglow is looking better than ever and has at least a dozen spikes. The forecast shows temperatures no lower than 42 degrees for the next week and hopefully it stays that way until at least February. And more rain would be appreciated as well. So far we are off to a good start this year but I wouldn’t mind it raining at least once a week from now until spring to help make up for the past three years of drought.

Planting Out Aloes

I’ve been revamping much of my garden recently. If you have been following along the past three years you will remember the initial installation and the updates over the years. Because I didn’t really have the time to care for it I had pretty much left it to its own devices. This worked out pretty well and I ended up with a lovely garden of native and mediterranean climate annuals. This style of garden is great because it is basically free (after the initial purchase of plants the first year) and looks great while it is in bloom. The downside is that when it is not in bloom it looks pretty wretched and it is actually pretty high maintenance to care for it over the long term if you want it to look nice.

I wanted a bit of a change so I decided to create a Proteaceae and succulent garden. This type of garden is ideal for my warm, dry, coastal climate. It looks good year round, needs very little water once established (once a month should do the trick), and for the most part is low maintenance (though the succulents will need to be lifted and divided over time and the Proteaceae will probably need replacing now and then. They like to die).

We had almost a week of rainy weather and before the storms started I quickly planted out most of the Proteas. We had a break in the rain today and I planted out some of the larger Aloes.

I’ve been collecting Aloes and other large succulents the past few years but they grow surprisingly fast in containers and need pretty regular potting up. It was time to put them in the ground so they can look their best.

Aloe speciosa (tilt-head Aloe) arrived from Annie’s Annuals in March of 2013 in a tiny four inch pot. (top row, second from the left)

Aloe speciosa in a 4" pot in March 2013

It has grown pretty dramatically the past year and a half and as of this morning resided in a ten inch terra cotta pot. Incidentally, I don’t recommend terra cotta for big Aloes. Very difficult to get them out without damaging them!

Aloe speciosa now ready to be planted in the garden

I bought Aloe marlothii from San Marcos Growers about two years ago in a one gallon pot. Now it is ready to be a dramatic specimen plant in the center of the border.

Aloe marlothii

They both look pretty great planted out. They don’t really need the big watering wells. But since the shrubs, perennials, and grasses do I think it looks better if everything is uniform. It also helps me a bit in not planting things too close together since I have been designing this garden on the fly.

Aloe marlothii and Aloe speciosa planted out in the garden

Aloe wickensii I have had for at least four years. Originally purchased in a four inch pot back when I lived in West Hollywood or maybe even Santa Monica.

Aloe wickensii

The new gardens are starting to take shape but they are still a work in progress.

View of the garden from the front.

 

 

Dioscorea elephantipes

Was going through old pictures in Adobe Lightroom and found this shot of my Dioscorea elephantipes when I first bought it almost six years ago. The great thing about digital photographs is they can help create a record of your plants. When you got them. How much they have grown.

Dioscorea elephantipes

Here are pictures of it now with a nice new flush of leaves.

Dioscorea elephantipes

Not the fastest grower perhaps but you can see there is a marked difference in the size and shape of the caudex.

Dioscorea elephantipes

A caudex is the base or stem of a plant and caudiciforms are plants with ornamental fleshy stems, trunks, or roots. The caudex of these plants is often the most interesting feature and they are usually potted to display them to advantage.  In the case of my Dioscorea it is dormant for at least half the year with no foliage at all. I would love to start a collection of caudiciforms but they are not easy to come by. Often rare and pricy in the trade. Your best bet to find them is often to grow the plants from seed or to visit cactus and succulent society shows or hunt online. So for now my Dioscorea will remain my only caudiciform.

Thanksgiving Macros

I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving. I took a few macros of some new Pelargonium and succulent blooms.

Pelargonium cotyledonis

Pelargonium cotyledonis doesn’t really have exceptional blooms but I like the light brush of pink that I didn’t even notice until I downloaded the photos.

Pelargonium cotyledonis

It is grown more for its green leathery foliage and its thick caudex forming stems.

Pelargonium laxum

Pelargonium laxum went dormant for a few months in late summer and early fall but recently leafed out again and started blooming.

Pelargonium acetosum

Most of the species Pelargoniums I bought are pretty simple to care for but Pelargonium acetosum seems a bit trickier. I wasn’t really sure it was going to make it but it seems to have stabilized and even started blooming. Nice big light salmon flowers.

Crassula barklyi blooming

My weird little Crassula barklyi have even weirder flowers. They are sort of sinister the way they burst through the stems almost like parasites bursting out of skin. The plants look like cute little buttons so I wasn’t really expecting this.

Crassula barklyi blooming

They come in pink and white. Creepy.

Lithops optica ssp. rubra

I have mentioned before that of all the mesembs I grow I am awful at growing Lithops. I just can’t seem to keep them alive for very long. So I am somewhat surprised that I have kept these Lithops optica ssp. rubra that I grew from seed alive for several years. I am not doing anything special. I just sort of ignore it. In fact I ignore it so much that I didn’t even realize it had bloomed until the bloom had long since passed and was just a shriveled little lump. Shortly afterward the plant split which is pretty exciting. There is still a pretty good chance I’ll kill it but in the future I will try to pay closer attention so I don’t miss out on any future blooms.