Sunday, August 31, 2014

New Agave: Agave x romanii 'Shadow Dancer'

Agave x romanii 'Shadow Dancer'.  I've never heard of Agave x romanii.  Supposedly x romanii is Agave filifera x A. mitis albidior.  Supposedly.  (A mitis used to be called A. celsii, if you were not sufficiently confused.)   This is said to be a dwarf sport version of that with some color variation.  Okay, whatever.  It looks a little 'Blue Glow'-y to me.  Just a little.  Read the stuff in that link.  Ocahui x attenuata is supposedly 'Blue Glow'. 

Whatever.  It's cute.
 photo new1634_zpsbd44e510.jpg
I repotted the little Agave immediately upon receiving it.  It arrived in a pot of what appeared to be sodden ground wood, not an ideal media for Agave roots.  The crown of the plant and the first two inches of roots were further encased in a solid tube of sodden peat, also not the very best thing for Agave roots.  What little plants can be rapidly grown out in for eight weeks in a controlled environment is not what they should be growing in long term.  The roots looked okay, but it was time for them to be out of decomposing sawdust.  

Speaking of long term in a pot, my Aloe re-survey posts worked--creating strong motivation to get poor Aloe suprafoliata out of its little pot and into the ground.  Just in time--I hope.  The root system didn't look so great.  It had been in the pot far too long. 
 photo new1625_zps7e07d267.jpg
It is under shade cloth cover for a few weeks, until the solar intensity subsides in mid-October, so it can settle in and grow some healthy roots--I hope...
 photo new1628_zps2b9077b5.jpg
The thought did occur that I need a real potting bench instead of my usual awkward arrangement.  Having a potting bench sitting unused--I'd be highly motivated to actually use it.  Repotting would be easy.
 photo new1631_zps7e2f7396.jpg
I'll put it on the list.  Motivation is no mystery.  We know what motivates us;  we just don't want to admit it.  Fear of looking stupid works great.   

Saturday, August 30, 2014

So You Want A FAST Narrow Screen Plant For Southern California?

Caveat:  not super cold hardy--sorry--thought it is claimed it will come back from the roots as far north as USDA zone 7.  Caveat: support is required for orderly vertical growth--sorry!  Caveat:  your experience may differ.  But I can say that this is the fastest narrow screen plant ever in my garden--from four inches to eight feet in six months.  I'll repeat that:  four inches to eight feet in six months.  Yep.  Iochroma 'Purple Queen'.  
The top of the wall is six feet tall:
 photo aafast1602_zpsc623c252.jpg
And Hummingbirds love the flowers!
 photo aafast1601_zps93e92977.jpg
Support mandatory:  this plant flops without it.  With support--nearly instant 8' narrow screen from a 4" tall plant purchased in a 3" pot at a big box store for $2.99.  If I hadn't grown it, I wouldn't believe it. 
The metal tower supporting the plant can be discerned by looking carefully.  The wire fencing is not part of the Iochroma's support.  
 photo fast1608_zpsea575161.jpg
Several sites advise giving this plant regular fertilizer for best performance.  I have not done so. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Rest Of The Aloes


Aloe dorotheae was dark red from stress when I bought it.  No stress for it here.  Found originally near the south bank of the Pangani River in Tanzania and transferred as a live plant in 1890 to the Royal Botanic Garden in Berlin.  
The small Aloe at lower right is A. harlana.
Aloe harlana comes from grassy slopes from around 5,000 to 6,000 feet in elevation near the village of Harla in the Harerghe Province south of the Great Rift Valley in Ethiopia.
 photo harlanaDorotheae1584_zpscdd2a930.jpg
Aloe broomii, unhappy in that pot.  It's in the ground now.  I discovered the pot was packed solid with roots, even though I put it in that pot only a few months ago.  I speculate this is one Aloe that puts out a large root system.
 photo broomii1569_zps53539467.jpg
Aloe deltoidontea 'Sparkler'.  A beauty.  Highly recommended. 
 photo deltoidonteaSparkler1568_zpsa4ed86ea.jpg
Aloe 'Seventy Five Percent Off'.  I have no idea what this one is--probably another ferox.  It was 75% off and looked in dire need of care so I bought it.  It was happy to be rescued.  As I become a somewhat experienced gardener, more and more I leave the near-death bargains at the shop, but this one called very clearly to me, so I answered.  
 photo unk1567_zps793d0cae.jpg
Aloe krapohliana is from an extremely arid area of the Karoo.  The flower is enormous in relation to the size of the plant.  It usually always dies away from its native home, according to plantzafrika.  I've had it over two years and have watered it exactly once.  Whereupon it rapidly grew several new leaves!  How can you not love that?
 photo krapholiana564_zps646c1b9f.jpg
The recent additions:  from top left, Aloe cryptoflora, A. castanea, A. ericacea, and A. x weediceae(?).  I just don't know about that last one.  Purchased at the SGV CS show at the Huntington a few months back.  I thought at first the label said A. tweediceae, decided later it said A. x weediceae, but can't find information on either.  Well, its shiny.  Isn't that enough?  
 photo cryptoflora1562_zpsa406bc18.jpg
Aloe 'Grassy Lassie'.  This was purported to bloom non-stop when it was first introduced.  Wrong!  I got it from a neighbor who was throwing hers out.  It's one of those plants you have but don't know why.  
 photo grassylassie1553_zps43c12bc9.jpg
Aloe cooperi.  Not doing well.  I've read several comments from the internet that all go something like this:  "Had Aloe cooperi.  It died."  Hmm.
 photo cooperi532_zps11e5d761.jpg
Aloe sinkatana.  This version has yellow flowers.  Good, reliable, low clumper.
 photo sinkatana1514_zps598365af.jpg
Aloe reitzii is a saga.  I've had this plant for maybe six years, and it's only started growing in the past six months.  It didn't like anything I offered.  What it wanted, I finally discovered, was plentiful water.  I had another, much larger reitzii given to me by a garden buddy--gall mite claimed that one.  
 photo reitzi1495_zpsdf6af034.jpg
Aloe congolensis, another recent acquisition.  Too recent to have any opinion about. 
 photo congolensis1496_zpsd34d12f2.jpg
This is a seedling.  I was so surprised to find an Aloe seedling in the garden I kept it.  Plain, but I like the toothy margins.  A flower may give hints of who the parent was, but so far no flowers. 
 photo seedling1500_zps4b072e0f.jpg   
Aloe thraskii.  This Aloe is touchy as Aloes in Southern California go--gardeners are warned not to let water sit in the leaves, (cover when it rains to prevent rot) as well as to shade it in extreme heat away from the immediate coast (the leaves sun burn).  In nature, it grows right on the beach in South Africa, so it wants coastal living (don't we all?).  When I first bought it, the stem was bent.  I thought it would probably snap, but it hasn't.  Growth has made the stem almost perfectly straight. 
 photo aloeThraskii1604_zpsaf761d1d.jpg
I'm absurdly proud of my A. capitata seedlings, fervently hoping they are selfs (pure capitata). 
They are huge compared to March:
 photo a3-9-4316_zpsca975d8b.jpg 
 Only a few capitata flowers fertilized, and those at the tail end of the bloom, which often indicates self-fertilization.  I'll know in about...ten years?  
 photo capitataSeedlings1572_zpsf30c9185.jpg
A. speciosa to finish up.  This tree Aloe has extremely beautiful flowers.  No, it has not bloomed yet.  "Speciosa" means "showy", or "beautiful".   I got this, along with Aloe castanea, at Annie's Annuals at last year's Fling.
 photo AloeSpeciosa1605_zps72f57dca.jpg
Oh, almost forgot 'Silver Fox'.  How many does that make?  Twenty more? 
 photo infra3534_zpsd0d787d2.jpg
The little nubbly bumpy hybrids are so popular, but except for 'Silver Fox', I skip them.  They belong in pots, and you know what I do to plants in pots.  I should be ashamed.  Actually, I am.

Update:  I forgot Aloe peglerae! 
 photo h2o420_zpsfd3f6c11.jpg
  2014:
 photo new1630_zps0834c6c0.jpg

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Twenty Nine Aloes Update

 Back in 2011 I did a post called "Twenty Nine Aloes".  I want to update that post with new pictures and comments about how the Aloes fared.  Aloes are listed in the same order as the original post.  I placed a soil scoop tool in most 2014 photos, to show scale. 

1. The 2011 Aloe striata had gall mite so I removed it, replacing it with another that is now nearly as large as the first.  I wondered if the first plant was hybrid.  I think this one is pretty pure striata.  If your plant has marginal teeth, it is probably not pure striata.
 photo striata1506_zpsfa3bfa80.jpg
2. Aloe 'Buena Creek', a completely undistinguished hybrid, also removed due to gall mite.  Not missed.
3. 'Blue Elf', now split into two pieces.  Nothing remarkable, but very reliable--it feeds the hummingbirds for several weeks each spring.
2011:  After a rainy winter it looked very blue:
 photo BloomMarch7185.jpg
2014:  After several dry winters, it looks--dry. 
4. A. hardyi.  Much grown, blooms every year.  Sunburns a bit--I wonder if I could move it to some afternoon shade.
2011:
 photo AloeHardyi6474.jpg
2014: 
 photo aloe1590_zps2dac2bae.jpg
5. A. arborescens 'Yellow Torch'.  Gall mite:  gone.  It had beautiful yellow flowers every September, announcing the start of the main Aloe blooming season, but I found the plant itself ordinary and won't replace it.  A Yucca queretoriensis took its spot on the slope.  
6. A. dichotoma.  Root rot.  Gone.  I miss that one.  Replaced with 'Hercules', which is much more tolerant of a rainy winter.  
April 2011:  Ohhhhh...
 photo DichotomaFallen8451.jpg 
7. A. plicatilis.  Much grown, gall mite.  I treated hammered the gall mite with systemic.  (Flowers removed, so they wouldn't poison bees.) This is one Aloe I don't want to lose. 
2014:
 photo aaloe1591_zps6d1c7a3c.jpg 
8.  A. vanbalenii.  Much grown, quite beautiful.  Elegant meaty swoops of tangerine-tinged olive.  Bold drama.  Can you tell I love it?
2011: right after a move in 2011.  It looked terrible.
A. vanbalenii photo ManyAloe7180.jpg
2014.  Better!
 photo vanbalenii1518_zps3411ff4f.jpg 
9. A. humulis(?)  Four clumps now, not one.  Needs irrigation, but too much and it rots. It's a handy filler for small blank areas.
2011:
A. iforgotii photo ManyAloe7179.jpg
2014.  Looks about the same as the above.
10. A. ellenbeckii.  Four clumps now, not one.  See #9
2011:
A. ellenbeckii photo ManyAloe7177.jpg 
2014:  this clump gets zero water.
 photo ellenbeckii1516_zps5109cb14.jpg 
this clump gets water:
 photo ellenbeckii1502_zpsd2b0618c.jpg 
11.  A tauri.  Gall mite; removed.  Should have tried surgery and systemic.  Now I know.
2011:  missed.
A. tauri photo ManyAloe7176.jpg
12.  A. camperi.  Healthy, rather boring.  It's grown a lot.
Aloe camperi, about 2010?
Aloe grenadensis? photo AloeGrenadensis5473.jpg
Aloe camperi, 2014.
 photo camperi1545_zps9c94cfa1.jpg
13. A. greatheadii.  Offsets aplenty.  Tough.  It's getting put in a lot of spots--I can always edit later.  For now, a good low empty space filler, filling more than ellenbeckii or humulis?
2011: it was a lone rosette back then.
A. greatheadii photo ManyAloe7174.jpg 
2014:
 photo greatheadii1499_zpsab4c5bd3.jpg
14 A. marlothii.  A favorite.  Grand.  That glorious candelabra of flowers!  The trunk is starting to form.
In January of 2011:
 photo Jan30x6642.jpg 
15. A. ferox.  Another grand tree aloe with a trunk beginning to show.  I've added at least two small ones recently as well.
2011:  ferox had already grown considerably by then.  I must have got that one in '10 or even in '09.
A. ferox photo ManyAloe7172.jpg 

2014: ferox on the left, marlothii on the right, baby ferox lower right.
 photo ferox1512_zps8793353f.jpg
16. A. megalacantha.  Blooms in gold about 9 months a year.  Two rosettes have become two 3' wide clumps.   Foliage nothing special.  Hummingbird brunch.

2011:  megalacantha is a bit spotted in adolescence, like humans.
A. megalacantha photo ManyAloe7170.jpg2014:  See what I mean?  Big and plain where foliage is concerned.  'Cynthia Gitty' is the spotted rosette with orange flowers on the right in this photo:
 photo aaloe1589_zpsc009e481.jpg 
17. A. 'Cynthia Gitty'. Blooms about 10 months a year.  One rosette has become a 3' wide clump.  Hummingbird obsession.
2011:  It was vigorous from the start:
A. 'Cynthia Gitty' photo ManyAloe7169.jpg
2014:
 photo gitty1509_zps3c000335.jpg 
18. A. gariepensis is doing fine despite a reputation for touchiness.  It's currently engulfed by a few other plants, must rescue.
2011:  This one really lives up to the low-water-needs reputation.  
A. gariepensis dabnoris photo ManyAloe7168.jpg 
2014:  rescue!  This is all I can see of it right now:
 photo gariepensis_zpsd4459287.jpg 
19. A. cameronii.  4' wide clump.  Dark burgundy red color in winter. 
2011:  Is that all it was back then?  Quick grower!
A. cameronii (supposedly) photo ManyAloe7167.jpg 
2014:  it greens up some in summer:
 photo carmeronii1508_zps4a6455dd.jpg
20. A. x 'Noblis' variegated.  Several clumps of it now, some non-variegated, others more variegated than originally.  Slow, but completely undemanding, though it needs a little summer irrigation.
2011:
A. nobilis (variegated) photo ManyAloe7166.jpg
2014: 
 photo noblis1526_zps68ad3c95.jpg
21.  A. brevifolia.  I really didn't have a spot for it--it belongs in a pot, really but I am so cruel to plants in pots.  I stuck it under a rose, where it's thrived, though slowly.  Good plant. Tough. It gets zero irrigation where it is.
2011:
A. brevifolia photo ManyAloe7165.jpg 
2014:
 photo brevifolia1556_zps3fbdd91d.jpg 
22.  A. suprafoliata.  Speaking of cruelty to plants in pots, this beautiful beautiful plant belongs in the ground.  Get to it!  The true purpose of this post may be to shame myself into putting this lovely into the ground where it belongs. 
2011:
A. suprafoliata photo ManyAloe7161.jpg 
2014:
 photo suprafoliata1563_zpsa4058432.jpg
23.  'Hercules' #1, in 2011 potted, in 2014, in the ground.  OMG!  I adore how this plant is described by experienced growers:  "For God's sake, don't water it."  This is one of those plants that has such a strong physical presence--like a mature oak--it seems unintimidated by the human species. 
2011:
A. 'Hercules' photo ManyAloe7159.jpg
2014:  Opposible thumbs?  Who needs them?
 photo Hercules1552_zpsc4c60a4a.jpg
23.2 'Hercules' in a pot, just potted up gave it a JUMP in growth.  Get it into the ground before it's too heavy to move.  Or be prepared to rent a crane. 
2014:
 photo HerculesInACup1582_zps778ca063.jpg
24.  A. variegata.  Said to rot the instant you overwater it, so I never water it, and it's been sad.  Started watering it, and it's looking vastly better.  As I have often said, my idea of drought-tolerant is something considerably drier than the Mojave. 
2014:
 photo variegata1505_zps5812ba4e.jpg 
25. A. microstigma.  See A. variegata.
2014:  Center plant.  humilis? to the left.
 photo microstigma1501_zps0b5b189f.jpg 
26. A. pseudorubroviolacaea.  My favorite species name.  It rotted soon after purchase.  Miraculously I was able to reroot it.  Languished in a pot.  In the ground it's now big, strong, gorgeous, and bloomed for the first time this past winter.
2012:
Worrisome black areas on stem 
2014:  p-r-v on the right.  That's thraskii on the left, subject for another post. Their silvery buddy is Maireana sedifolia.
 photo aloeThrask1494_zps078f5acb.jpg 
27. A. deltoidondonta var cadicans is apparently the wrong name for this beautiful Aloe, but that's how its sold.  A solitary rosette at first,  the rosette grows to maybe 10" (25 cm) and blooms, then it offsets.  The original rosette shrinks to about 3" (8 cm) and you end up with a clump of small rosettes that don't bloom.  Well, okay then. I had it in blazing full sun on the front slope where it came close to dying.  Now in shade most of the day with a few hours of blazing afternoon sun, it's completely recovered.  I need to split off a single rosette and see if it does what the first one did. 
2011:
Aloe deltoideodonta var. candicans photo ManyAloe7157.jpg 
2014: restored to health
 photo deltoidontea1472_zps57c3eeb2.jpg
28. A. 'Fire Ranch'.  Another hybrid for which I have developed little affection.  It's--okay.  Aloe is a genus that ,for me, the species are far more interesting than the hybrids.
2011:  The Limonium and ice plant added so much spring color.  'Fire Ranch' is on the left:
 photo AloeFireRanch7336.jpg 
2014:  It barely gets any water at all.
 photo fireranch1542_zps1a3333b6.jpg  
29.  A. polyphylla.  Is it an achievement that it is still alive?  I have it on a steep slope in mostly shade to keep it as cool as possible where I don't water it enough.  I saw it looking glorious in Oakland next to a frigging sidewalk, the definition of lethal reflected heat.  I'm going to move it.  If nothing else, I'm learning from it. 
2011:  I discovered when I took this out of the pot that it had no roots.
 photo Polyphylla7342.jpg 
2014.  Don't cringe, it has a root system.  If ever you imply I have a green thumb, I'll refer you to this photo:
 photo polyphylla1566_zps0a68db38.jpg 

The collection is now larger in number as well as size.  Grist for another post.
2011:  
 photo MulchAfter.jpg