Shade Lovers

Finding shady areas for plants can be a challenge if you live where the sun glares down with full force for months at a time.  Shade doesn’t have to be a totally dark area, but one where there is no direct sunlight.

In my case, that means covered porches or close to the trunks of large trees.  My porch areas can look messy because I also root many plants there.  Here are Coleuses, Old fashioned Geraniums, and an Aloe Vera.

Coleus may seem like an old lady plant; since I’m an old lady and it’s only been a favorite the last couple of years, that fits.  But it brings color in areas where flowers won’t bloom.

This one came from a cutting about four years ago.  Coleuses root easily in water and are great pass-along plants.

The lime green ones really brighten up a shady place.

This is an attempt at a fairy garden.  Problem is:  when you water, pebbles and other small articles tend to wash away or fall over.  Variegated Ice Plant has grown like wildfire.

A professional gardener for a public garden made the statement that neatness is more important than what you plant.  I disagree wholeheartedly.  And, let’s face it, it’s difficult to keep a garden weeded and cleared of debris when you don’t have a staff.  That’s my excuse.

Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) branches bend over and grow crookedly.  This one will definitely have to be cut back before carrying it into the shed for winter.  Maybe some friends would like a cutting?

The thorns are vicious.  This one came from a cutting about six or seven years ago.  Several cuttings have been made from the original planting and propagated and given away.

This was bought at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens.  It can’t take our cold winters, like many of the other plants shown in this post.  It also has sharp thorns.  I keep telling myself to toss it, but here it is after two years.

These three pots of plants have been here for years and years.  The Red Apple Ice Plant (Aptenia cordifolia) on the left and the Autumn Joy Sedum are perennial, and thankfully do not have to be toted into the shed for the winter.  These are succulents, so broken stems can be planted directly into potting soil.

The Purple Oxalis  is not cold hardy.

The Sedum will put on a show with pink flower clusters soon.

Pale pink flowers contrast nicely with the purple leaves of Oxalis, which is in the wood-sorrel family Oxalidaceae.

African Blue Basil  (Ocimum kilimandscharicum) is another new favorite.  The smell is wonderful.  It does not reseed but can be propagated with cuttings rooted in water.

To the left is another Autumn Joy Sedum, Kalanche on the right, and Asparagus Fern in the back.

Purple Heart (Tradescantia pallida) is an extremely hardy perennial ground cover.  As demonstrated by this picture, it spreads rapidly and should be contained.  This flowerbed is surrounded by a porch and a sidewalk on two sides.

The light pink flowers always show up white in my pictures.  The stems can be broken or cut and rooted in water.  Another good pass-along plant.

“You can lead a man to congress, but you can’t make him think.”  Milton Berle

Looking for Color

Winter conjures up a dull, drab, gray picture in my head.  So I’ve been searching for some color.

But, first, I want to sound a horn and shout hallelujah.  Today it rained.

That’s a major event for us.  Before today, we’ve received less than an inch of rain, all in small increments since September.

This Kalanchoe has been propagated so many times that I’ve lost count.  It originally came from my mother.  I plan to always keep one as a special memory of her.  This particular one I started in the fall, so it’s been inside for several months.

Oops.  My husband notice that I had the same picture twice, so I’m changing that, although it is the same plant.  Sorry.

During the darker days of winter inside, it tends to get leggy and flop over.  It’s propped up now.  It will go with many others for our Garden Club plant sale.

A Christmas Poinsettia still has some bright red.  I keep them inside until it’s warm enough to put them outside in the shade.  I had two ready to bring inside last year.  The first cold snap got them.

Although the grass is dead, this evergreen Cherry Laurel is covered in green leaves.  Love this tree.

Live Oaks are an important tree for central Texas.  This one is over a hundred years old.  In fact, it’s the reason we chose to build in this spot.

Live Oaks tend to grow out and the branches point to the ground.  So they need to be trimmed on the bottom branches every few years in order to walk under them.

This native Yarrow has white flowers and is evergreen.  The foliage on it is softer than many other Yarrows.

First signs of spring here are Daffodils and Texas Scarlett Quince.  The first Daffodil has opened with many others in the wings with flower buds.

The Quince buds are beginning to open.  Such a vivid red.  Spring is on its way.  Hooray.

There is color on many winter mornings if one gets up early enough, steps out into the cold air, and looks up.  Wow.

Thank you for stopping by to read this blog.  I appreciate comments and suggestions.

“Never do something permanently foolish just because you are temporarily upset.”  unknown

 

Counting the Days


Container gardening has become quite rage – with good reason.  Pots provide lots of options.

For those plants that don’t like the cold at all, pots are the perfect solution.  I enjoy tropical plants when it’s warm and carry them into a heated shed when the weather gets cold.

Sure, I like natives, but tropical Hibiscus is just so darn pretty.

The color of this tropical Hibiscus is dreamy.

And who can live without Bougainvillea?  They will live indefinitely in a container, if they are protected inside during the winter and watered frequently in the summer.

Flame of the woods, jungle flame, or Ixora (Ixora coccinia), a delicate looking tropical flower, has proven to be quite hardly as long as it gets taken inside for the winter.  All of these tropical plants love summer heat, which we have in abundance.

Desert Rose (Adenium obesum) can’t survive below 50 degrees and certainly not our unpredictable winters.

Orange Marmalade Crossandra’s bright flowers make it a scene stealer.

Plumbago (Plumbago Auriculata Escapade White) isn’t considered particularly tropical, but it can’t survive our usual low teens in the winter.  It does fine a little further south, but not here.

Some plants that need winter protection can be tricky to carry inside, like this prickly Elkhorn (Euphorbia Lactea Forma Cristate).  But trimming keeps them manageable to handle and creates passalong plants to share.

Another plus for containers is how versatile they are in the yard.  Move them around as needed for color in certain spots.  I’ve had this pot of Kalanchoe for more than 20 years.  As it grows, I just break off branches and root them.

I also use flowerpots for annuals that I don’t want to plant in the ground.  Petunias will live just as long in pots, if they’re watered enough.  They, too, can be placed around the yard for color and variety.

I’m getting antsy for spring, although it’s a month or so before any yard work can be done.   It will be even longer before pots can be taken outside.  But I’m still on a countdown for glorious spring.

“To find someone who will love you for no reason, and to shower that person with reasons, that is the ultimate happiness.”  Robert Brault

Pops of Color

As summer drags on with no rain, the field grasses are drying, so that’s a drab sight.   Some brightness in the yard is definitely needed.

Old fashioned Geraniums ignore the heat and keep on blooming, but they can’t handle full sun.

I got a start of these several years ago at a club plant sale and have kept several pots since then.  They’re easy to propagate by cutting off a stem and sticking it into soil.  Sometimes I remember to dip the stem in a rooting compound and sometimes I don’t.

Rose Moss(Portulaca grandiflorais) is another good old reliable.  This pot has been on my porch for about six years.  Every spring I question whether or not it survived the winter cold.  Then, just when I’m about to give up, they sprout and bloom.

When I think about how long some of these plants have been in the same pot, it surprises me.  This Oxalis Triangularis or Purple Shamrock (Oxalis regnellii var. triangularis) is probably 11 years old.

Every winter, it goes into the heated shed, so I don’t know if it would recover otherwise. Cold hardiness is zone 7 – 11, but I don’t trust the new 8 zone listed for us.

I think this is Antimima concinna, a type of Ice Plant, that is in the Aizoaceae family.  The Aizoaceae family is huge with over 1800 species and is mostly endemic to Southern Africa.

This has been in this pot so long that I don’t even remember where it came from.  This lovely small flower is another one that will return after a severe winter.

http://www.succulent-plant.com/families/aizoaceae.html is a good source for all these succulents that look so much alike.

Tropical Ixora (Ixora coccinea) grows in most tropical areas but is prominent in Asian tropical countries.  The leaves feel stiff.  The clusters of tangerine colored flowers last a long time on the stems.

Mine is in mostly shade but gets a shot of late afternoon sun.  About 12 years old, this plant is a winner in my book.

Gorgeous.

Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) is truly thorny, so it’s difficult to re-pot.  Mostly, I keep cutting off the long stems and starting new plants for plant sales or passalongs.  The stems need to harden a couple of days before planting.

About six years ago, I got a cutting from a friend.  The flowers last for months and are in a lovely color.  Native to Madagascar, they are tropical.

This spring I found a Thornless Crown of Thorns or Gerold’s Spurge (Euphorbia geroldii) at a nursery near Kerrville.  Whoopee.  It’s great to not dodge the thorns.

It is hardly to 30 degrees and likes semi-shade.  Mine gets morning sun and afternoon shade.  It will bloom just about year round, if brought inside during the winter.

Love it.

Finally, my Bougainvilla (Bougainvillea spectabilis)  is blooming.  Every year, I get impatient for this beauty to strut its stuff.

It needs lots of hot sun, lots of water, and some fertilizer to get it going.  The first time I saw this plant years ago on Turks and Caicos, I was smitten.  Even on those wind swept islands, it bloomed and flourished.

Such a beauty.

Hope some color is brightening your summertime.

“Credit is what keeps you from knowing how far past broke you are.  Debt is slavery of the free.”  unknown

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Surviving the Heat

The unrelenting sun is taking its toll.  Some things, like the Cone Flowers, are wilting faster than usual.  This is my fault because I haven’t done a good job of watering flowerbeds this year.

I read that the heavy rains in the spring work as a detriment when the inferno of summer comes because our plants are not accustomed to going from wet soil to dry.

surviving1Potted plants, like this Kalanchoe, that have the advantage of mostly shade survive fine.  They don’t mind the heat, just the sun.

surviving9A different Kalanchoe thrives outside in the shade.

surviving7Orange Marmalade Crossandra (Crossandra ‘Orange Marmalade’) or Firecracker Flower has done surprisingly well in mostly shade.  It, too, likes the heat and humidity, but not the sun.  No humidity here, so it must not be absolutely necessary for this plant.

survivingbIt definitely is an attention getter on the front porch.  Looks goods against the pot of Dusty Miller succulent.  This pot goes into the heated shed for the winter.

survivingcThe part of the stem just below the flower is the seed pods.  Each little point contains a seed of roughly the same shape.

survivingThis Desert Rose (Adenium obesumlso) needs winter protection.  Mine only seems to bloom right after it comes out of the shed in early spring.  They are known more for their trunks that are bulbous at the bottom than their flowers.survivingaMore pot plants:  pepper plant and Boston Fern to the back left.  The Woodland Fern on the right is in the ground.

surviving5Out by a shed is a Plumbago with white flowers, a Scented Geranium, a Crepe Myrtle with black leaves and a Mexican Oregano.

surviving6Mexican Oregano (Poliomintha longiflora) with pink tubular flowers.

survivingbbAn Orange Bulbine (Bulbine frutescens) from South Africa in a large pot with Purple Heart behind it.  In its native land, it grows in grasslands with well drained soil.  Further south in Texas, it does well directly in the ground.  Here it is an annual that must be protected in the winter.

survivingccThis rose, The Showbiz Rose, is in a pot because right now I don’t have a place available in a flowerbed.  It is a heavy blooming floribunda.

It was purchased at the nursery at Biltmore.  Really, I should never be allowed to walk through a nursery just to look.

survivingdBut who could resist this beauty?

Now that you’ve seen some of my plants in pots, is it any wonder that my husband dreads the end of fall and the beginning of spring?

surviving3Now to some easy care plants, like this New Gold Lantana.  Basically, put it in the ground and forget about it.

surviving4Mexican Petunias have finally become aggressive after about 10 years.  Easy as pie if you have enough space for them.

survivingeA skittish Cardinal enjoying seeds in the grass.  Usually, they bolt at the slightest movement.

surviving2I was rather late coming to the fad of grasses as yard plants.  But I do like Mexican Feather Grass (Nassella or Stipa tenuissima).  I’ve read that it can be invasive, but so far, that hasn’t been the case here.

“Misers are not fun to live with, but they are great ancestors.”  Tom Snyder

Easy, Breezy Plants

It rained off and on very slowly for the first three days this week.  We’ve received an inch and a third.  The bulk of the rainfall will be east of I 35 corridor.  Weather reports for us always includes that dividing line.  Just reminds us that we’re part of dry West Texas.

Monday night lightning and thunder storms with strong winds blew over a wrought iron cafe table, chairs, and bench.  But around the metroplex, serious damages to buildings, cars, and people occurred.

nearspring1Beautiful clouds and soft rain.  Sure glad I got some work done last week cleaning out flowerbeds.  Still a ton to do, but this is a nice respite.

nearspringeInside, this Kalanchoe is looking good.  This is a fail proof plant for just about anyone.  This particular one came from a friend a couple of years ago and started out as a tiny stem broken from the plant she had.

nearspringdGorgeous clusters of flowers.  When the weather warms up, it will go outside in a spot with indirect light.

nearspringcThis Kalanchoe I actually bought because its flowers have more layers of petals. I also bought one with white flowers.  A friend had told me that she bought flowers from this particular grocery store – Aldi’s.  So I checked it out and these were on sale.

Of course, they were dry and needed some TLC.  But they perked right up with larger pots and some much needed water.

nearspringfI keep snipping off stems of a Coleus and starting new plants for our garden club plant sale next month.  The original one came from a friend who is keeping an old heirloom plant from her mother-in-law’s family.

She has brought it inside during the winter for years and years and keeps potting new starts.  The cuttings are put into water to root.

nearspringgThis is another one from the original plant she gave me.  It’s looking leggy and needs to to be trimmed.  That makes the stems branch and be fuller as well as creating a new plant.

nearspringhThis came from the friend who told me about the grocery store plants.  It’s a Polka Dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya).  Whenever I can get out to the shed, I’ll repot it into a larger pot, so maybe it won’t needing watering so much.

It’s fun to have some really easy plants and some to share with others.

“Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the Government take care of him, better take a closer look at the American Indian.” Henry Ford

Autumn is Awesome

The cooler days and nights with highs in the 60’s has rejuvenated us all.  Plus a few misty days and overcast skies has relieved all plant life from being attacked by harsh sunlight.

So I’m taking a break from the Arkansas posts to show what’s happening in the yard.

fallyardbMost of the Bluemist Flowers have faded but these are full and fluffy – reminds me of tiny pompoms.

fallyard12Potted Bougainvillea’s colors have deepened and are a tropical delight to enjoy.

fallyard11Even the Russian Sage has more blooms.

fallyard10Some flowers are bravely hanging onto an old-fashioned Geranium.  Wind gusts have been high lately.

fallyard9Salvia Greggi in a pot provides bright color.

fallyard8Boston Ferns in the back with a large Kalanchoe in front are massed in a corner by the house.  In front is Coleus and an Airplane or Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum).

The Coleus came from cuttings from a friend.  I’ve already taken cuttings inside to create another pot next year.  They will root in water and still make a pretty decoration while doing so. Also, I may need them to start again next spring since I don’t know how well this will survive in the house this winter.

The Spider Plant has been in this pot for years.  They prefer to be root bound.  Everything in this picture was a pass along plant except the ferns.  And those come from the original two that I bought, which have been divided many times over the years.

fallyard7Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) has a few blooms.

fallyard6Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha) has lost most of its leaves but still has some wonderful velvet blossoms.

fall2yard5The one I had last year did not make it through the winter.  So I’ve taken some cuttings and hope they will root in case a freeze does this one in.

fallyard2Gray Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea incana) still has a few flowers, which surprised me.  I consider this was a hot weather bloomer.

fallyard3This little bee was flitting back and forth searching for an open bud.  Since this picture was taken many flowers have opened.

fallyard4Gray santolina or lavender cotton (S. chamaecyparissus) has some interesting characteristics.  It grows tight with little space between its branches.  I like the rounded shape and love the soft texture of it.  There aren’t many plants that I touch as I pass by, but this is one.

fallyard1Cooper Canyon Daisy (Tagetes lemmonii) has its main blooming in late fall with a less spectacular blooming in the spring.  It is drought tolerant and one tough cookie once established.

fallyardThis daisy is a Texas native that is found only in nurseries that carry natives.  I found it at Natives of Texas in Kerrville.  An odd quirk of this plant is its smell.  It stinks and reminds me of kerosene.  That made for bit of a smelly car on the way home from Kerrville.  But a plus is that deer stay away from it.

Cool days, some rain, and long lasting flowers make autumn, when we have it, special.

“Autumn’s the mellow time.”   William Allingham

Cooler Temps

Twenty degrees makes a world of difference.  From 95 degrees to 75 degrees recently has perked up everything.  It’s nice to have the weather match the calendar.

Also, we were blessed with six inches of rain.

coolautumn6Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) is a winner.  It was named a Texas Superstar by Texas A & M in 2011.  And that it is.

coolautumn7Pictures of the garden really points out flaws.  In this photo I noticed the Hackberry tree growing in the Salvia Greggi.  I have since cut it down.  Behind the salvia is hardy Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)  and several different rose bushes.

coolautumn8In front is Double Delight rose, then Tropicana rose with tall Knock-Outs in the background.

coolautumn5Purple Aster didn’t perform very well this year because it needs to be divided.  I’ve read that should be done in early spring.

coolautumn3The dead pods on the Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea)  are beginning to bug me.  I was leaving them as food for birds this winter.  But I decided to cut the heads off and leave them in the flowerbed.  Then the stems can be eliminated.  That way the birds can forage on the ground, and the dead plants are not an eyesore.

The Strawberry Gomphera (Gomphrena globosa) bloomed in the spring, hot summer, and now into autumn.  Even though they are small, their bright color gives a great bang for the buck.  They also reseed generously.

coolautumnaMexican Petunias (Ruellia simplex) are still going strong.

coolautumncThey don’t bloom with a great mass, but the delicate tubular flowers on the ends of tall stalks are pretty.

coolautumndCannas have revived with some red flowers.

coolautumneBlue Mist Flower (Conoclinium coelestinum) fuzzy puffs continue to draw butterflies.

coolautumnfA few flowers remain on Pink Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri), but leaves have dropped off.

coolautumnkDuranta (Duranta erecta) is a hot weather plant but has seemed to like the cooler weather.  Love it.

coolautumnmWhat is prettier than these clusters of tiny purple flowers?

Several potted plants still look good:

coolautumnhRussian Sage, Turk’s Cap, and Kolanche in pots provide some color.

coolautumniFinally, the Bougainvilla has a few blooms.  Don’t know what the problem is, but thes are the first flowers this year.  Probably didn’t fertilize it.

coolautumnjAfrican Bulbine’s (Bulbine frutescens ‘Orange’) flowers wave in the wind.  All of these potted plants will have to go into the shed for the winter.

hibiscusHibiscus is looking good.  The wet weather is agreeing with it.

hibiscus1Love the color of the flowers.

hibiscus2This tropical Hibiscus has been in this pot for eight years.  The beautiful flowers make it worth hauling into the shed each winter.

coolautumnoIce Plant will die back during the winter.  I used to always have a start inside, but it has come back from the last two winters, so that doesn’t seem necessary.

ContainerPlants1Purple Oxalis (Oxalis triangularis) or False Shamrock has been in this pot for years.

coolautumn1Last week I was working at the Brady Master Gardener’s Butterfly Garden.  I thought that Monarchs had already passed through this area, but I was obviously wrong.

coolautumn2I love Maxamillan Sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani) with lots of flowers on each stalk.  They grow in the bar ditches around here.

The cooler weather is great, but it also means winter will be here soon and flowers will be gone.  But winter is what makes spring so special.

“Holding a grudge is letting someone live rent free in your head.”  unknown

Easy, Breezy Blooms

Need some blooms inside in the winter?  There are several plants that fit the bill.

kolache2Kalanchoes are a diverse group of succulent plants.  Some are grown for their foliage, but others have gorgeous blooms.

What can be easier than Kalanchoes?  All they need is a little water once a week and some indirect sunlight.  The operative word here is “little” water.

During the winter, they prefer 45 – 65 degrees F  but will survive in the low to mid 70s.  As the weather warms, put them near a sunny window, and they will start to bloom.  Then in summer, they love the outdoors in a semi-shady spot with indirect light.

kolacheOnce you have one Kalanchoe, you can have many more because they root so easily when a stem is broken off and stuck in soil.  Just keep it slightly moist until you see growth.

kolache3Kalanchoe blossfeldiana or Florist’s kalanchoe has succulent leaves with small scalloped edges.

kolache4Snake plant or Mother-in-law’s Tongue or Saint George’s Sword (Sansevieria trifasciata) is a pass-along house plant.  Most people cannot distinguish between the two, but snake plant has green edges, while a Mother-in-laws’s Tongue has yellow edges.  But I can’t see either on this plant, so I don’t know how true this guideline is.

These are usually grown just to have something green growing in the house, but as you can see, this one has bloomed.

kolache5This is the second time it has bloomed.  Both times were within the last year.  It was a complete surprise to me, so I don’t know if it just got old enough or crowded enough to bloom.

I’ve read that they give off oxygen and are good for a bedroom.  Also, one person said it can split a pot with its mass of underground shoots.  They should grow to 3 or 4 feet tall, but a couple of leaves on mine are 4 and a half feet long.

It’s probably time to divide and share.  The most important thing to remember with succulents is not to over water.  Most need a small amount of water once a week or every ten days.

“Have your prayed about it as much as you’ve talked about it?”  Unknown