Sunday, May 26, 2013


Oh my gosh, my Gardenia is blooming!

Having landscaped for others for 22 years, I have never had luck with Gardenias.  They are tricky.  I tell everyone, if you move to a house with an established Gardenia and do nothing to it, it will thrive.  If you plant a new one, they die.  Five houses ago when I lived in Duarte there was a 7ft tall Gardenia right by the front door of the little cabin I rented.  I did nothing to it and it bloomed it's head off every summer.  I think it was a Gardenia "Mystery" or "August Beauty".  Like Azaleas, they don't like their roots to be buried and like acid soil.  Plants settle and bury themselves.  So you're supposed to plant them with the root ball sticking up out of the soil about an inch or two.  It looks a little funny at first.  I plant them high like one is supposed to but still they die.  So, I don't recommend them to clients any more.

Gardenia jasminoides has many varieties and is native to tropical Africa, Japan and China. The common ones we see here are G. Veitchii which blooms over many warm months and grows 3-4ft., G. Mystery which blooms all at once and grows to 8ft or so, G. radicans which is a dwarf, G. "August Beauty" which is similar to Mystery, and Gardenia thunbergii(a separate species than G. jas.) which has large single-petalled flowers, grows to 10ft and has a different sort of scent than the other Gardenias.

A few months after we bought this house my friend Jay brought me a Gardenia plant he said, "Because it was cheap at Home Depot and I couldn't resist". He always brings me plants. :-)   I'm thinking that I'm going to kill it even though I am a good gardener.  So, it sat in a pot for about 1, 1/2 years until I planted one of my last beds underneath our big Cedar tree last Fall. I unpotted the Gardenia and found there were 3 plants inside.  I separated them(ripped the roots apart) and planted all three; two under the Cedar and one by our Tangerine tree.  One died and the one under the Cedar bloomed today. It smells so good!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Tie Tape

Last week I opened a new roll of tie tape and it spazzed, meaning that a bunch of it came undone from the roll.  I didn't have time to roll it back onto itself.  So for a week I had it messy as I often use it on jobs and plants at home.  Yesterday we staked my little Eucalyptus tree.  I had to tie it anew.  The whole roll of tie tape came completely undone and ended up in a pile on the ground.   I tied up my tree and feeling frustrated went inside to re-roll my tie tape.  

It toom me 20 minutes watching tv to roll it up.  I even tied a loop around it so it wouldn't happen again.

So I thought I'd take this opportunity to explain the difference about materials with which one ties.    Stretchy tie tape above is best for plants.  Because it stretches, it moves along with the growth of a plant.  Metal wire even if it's plastic coated is not intended to support growing things EVEN IF IT'S SOLD IN THE GARDEN/NURSERY DEPARTMENT!!!   I can't tell you how many times I've seen metal twist-tie type of material cutting into a plant or tree trunk.  It will kill a plant!  When a plant grows larger, the wire cuts into it, not expanding like the stretchy stuff, therefore cutting off water flow and possibly ending in death of the plant!  

So, I hope this helps the next time you go to find a material with which to tie your plants.

If you have any questions, or comments please post here.  Sometimes I think no one reads my ✿❀✾ blog. Happy gardening!  

Saturday, May 18, 2013


I never wanted an Epiphyllum. They do have lovely flowers. But the plants often look crappy and are so heavy that they end up hanging sideways. And people who grow them end up having hundreds of them everywhere because they are so easy to propagate.

The word Epiphyllum comes from the Greek meaning "upon the leaf" as the flowers look like they come right on the leaf. They are native to Central America and the flowers come in all colors. Epiphyllum bloom mostly in Spring and Summer and like part shade. Under trees is a preferred habitat.

This Epiphyllum is called "Grand Falls". I saw it in bloom at Sherman Library & Gardens a few years ago. I was impressed at how compact it was. I would have bought one had it been available for sale. Instead I was forced to use the Grandma method of acquiring it ;-) Don't tell anyone. It took 2 years to grow and this is it's first bloom.

Let us hope I do not succumb to the Epiphyllum addiction of acquiring any more. One will do.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Lion's Tail

My Lion's Tail or Leonotis leonurus is finally blooming after about a year of being in the ground. I planted 3 of them. If you've been following along you know that I love orange! It's such a cheerful and bright color very much suited for our sunny SoCal climate. Another plant native to South Africa, Lion's Tail grows to about 6' tall. Research says it blooms summer into winter. But we're still in Spring here! Maybe try some orange in your garden.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Fortnight Lily or What NOT to Plant

Usually I post about plants I love or new plants that I think everyone might like.  This is not one of those posts. It's a post about what NOT to plant.  But of course feel free to plant whatever you want.  I'm just trying to save you some heartache, pain and frustration.  It is part of my job to tell people, "No don't plant that!"

This is Fortnight Lily or Dietes iridiodes  (Di-EE-teez  ir-id-ee-OY-deez).    Each flower lasts a day but they come in 14 day flushes.    It used to be called Moraea iridiodes but "THEY" changed the name. I HATE that!  It is native to South Africa, from where all the good plants come! You'd think it would play well with others coming from the good plant part of the world.   But NO!  Yes, the flowers are lovely and can make the plant look beautiful, like they have white butterflies around it.   But the plant gets brown leaves that don't let go!   If you've ever tried to clean one of these, you know how difficult it is. The plant fights with you!  The only way to clean it is to cut it way down. Then the plant looks stubby and horrible for quite a few months!  

I have removed this plant before only to have it keep coming back from seed!  And the plant is very heavy.  Because of its drought tolerant nature, the roots hold lots of water, making the plant tough and heavy(to move).  I used to plant Dietes iridioides and its sister Dietes bicolor(the yellow one) often until experience told me otherwise.

Happy Gardening!