Six on Saturday: Canna From Heaven

The weather was major news here again. After the only snow for most regions here since 1976, and the most flooding since 1982, torrential rain and more flooding was predicted for yesterday. Fortunately, the rain was not torrential enough to cause flooding. Prior to the rain, I was trying to plant what needed planting so that it would get soaked in well. I split and planted some overgrown Kaffir lily, and split and canned way too many canna. Flowering quince and queen’s tears provide a bit of floral color for this ‘Six on Saturday’.

1. Zayante Creek flowed under the deck to the right of this picture as 2022 became 2023. This was Thursday, a few hours before another flood was predicted, but did not happen.

2. Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Double Take Orange’, flowering quince, like many early spring and late winter flowers, got delayed by the very unusually cool and rainy wintry weather.

3. Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Double Take Orange’, flowering quince is a modern cultivar of a traditional flower. I am none too keen on modern cultivars, but I am fond of tradition.

4. Billbergia nutans, queen’s tears is an unimpressively palid and grassy bromeliad that blooms with these sillily pendulous flowers. Actually though, these silly flowers are cool.

5. Clivia miniata, Kaffir lily was recycled from another landscape, rather than Craigslist. It was crowded within a planter box, so now has more room to grow and be happy here.

6. Canna of various cultivars has become excessive! There are eighty-eight #5 cans of it! At least a dozen more are expected later! Most cans contain enough rhizomes for at least two cans; merely because there were not enough empty cans when I split and canned the dormant rhizomes. I should field grow them somewhere else. At least they will be pretty for this summer.

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:


Junk In The Trunk

It is exactly what it looks like; more Canna rhizomes. I am very aware that there are already too many Canna here. I grew them. I do not care. I saw these in a neighbor’s garden, and asked for a few copies. She told me that I only needed to dig them myself, as if that might be a problem. As she pointed out those that were migrating a bit too close to her home, I dug many more than I should have. Since she was so generous to share so many, I felt obligated to remove all that were superfluous. Besides, to me, they are not junk. I am very pleased with them, even if they are a bit excessive.

There are two cultivars, and perhaps seed grown rhizomes of one of the two cultivars. The shorter sort are ‘Inferno’, which is the same as ‘Tropicanna’ and ‘Durban’. Some Canna cultivars seem to develop several synonyms. Its bright orange bloom stands tall above distinctively striped and bronzed foliage. It gets about six feet tall, so is only the shorter of the two cultivars because the other is so much taller. Although it is one of the more popular cultivars, I only recently acquired a single can of it from Brent last year. I am pleased to grow much more.

The other cultivar seems to be comparable to the unidentified cultivar at work that resembles and might actually be Canna musifolia. It has similar scrawny orange bloom on top of very tall canes that I must bend over for deadheading. Because I did not notice them until after frost, I do not know how bronzed the foliage is, or if it is bronzed at all. The neighbor who gave them to me says that they are ‘lightly’ bronzed. The newly emerging buds seem to be green without any bronze. I will be pleased with any color, but simple green would be awesome! Some of these may have grown from seed, so may be slightly different from the original.

There were enough rhizomes of ‘Inferno’ for a dozen #5 cans with about four rhizomes each. There were enough rhizomes of the taller sort that might be Canna musifolia for sixteen #5 cans with about three very plump rhizomes each. That was after sharing some with others at work, and leaving some for a neighbor of the neighbor who shared them with me. I intend to take some to the Pacific Northwest before the end of winter, but canned them all because I do not yet know when I will leave. I can always remove some from their cans, or just take them in their cans.

Since they fit into the trunk more easily than a previous batch of ‘Wyoming’ and a cultivar that resembles Canna flaccida that I obtained from another neighbor, they seemed to be less numerous. However, the previous batch included foliage. These rhizomes lacked foliage, and were actually a bit more numerous. Regardless, I am very pleased with them, and intend to enjoy growing them. As I closed the tailgate after unloading them, I could see that Rhody did not share my enthusiasm.

Six on Saturday: 2022 Ends

The year ends with the day, but bad habits continue. I make no resolutions. I continue to collect too much seed, plug too many cuttings and divide too many perennials. Common weeds are not off limits. Canna were already too abundant before more were canned last week. More will be divided later! Cymbidium is not proliferating yet, but has potential to do so after bloom. For now, there is no need to irrigate any of this surplus, since the rain will not stop.

1. Lunaria annua, money plant or honesty, is not quite naturalized within unrefined but damp zones of our landscapes. We collect seed to toss where we think it should perform well. It has become a tradition. The name implies that it is native to the Moon, and that, like 2022, lasts only one year. These seed in key envelopes are for whomever takes them.

2. Canna ‘Australia’ are bloomed canes that I groomed from the downtown planter box, as seen last week. There are a dozen #5 cans of four canes, and six #1 cans of two canes! More pups must be thinned later! Also, I will soon dig even more cannas for a neighbor!

3. Bellis perennis, English daisy is naturalized in the vast lawn at Felton Covered Bridge Park. I have no use for it, but plugged a dozen solitary rosettes in with the Canna canes.

4. Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’, black elderberry should generate a bit of fruit without a pollinator, but is merely pretty here. I plugged a few cuttings because its darkly bronzed foliage works so well for our landscapes. Native blue elderberry produces plenty of fruit.

5. Cymbidium orchid is extending quite a few floral spikes. I have not counted them yet.

6. Morgan was reminded why no one craves his parking space. Rain is splendid though!

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

Spuria Iris

Spuria iris should be less rare.

Bearded iris are famously diversely colorful. Not much lacks from their floral color range. Spuria iris, Iris spuria, are quite different. Their floral color ranges only from purplish blue to bright white, all with prominent yellow throats. The least rare of this rare species is the subspecies carthaliniae, almost all of which blooms white. Seed is generally true to type.

Seed might be abundant without timely deadheading. However, propagation is easier by division of the copiously branching rhizomes. Such rhizomes are fibrous and tough, with comparably tough and wiry roots. They migrate to develop broad colonies, which should appreciate thinning every few years. They rarely get too crowded to bloom nicely though.

Spuria iris blooms for almost two weeks during late spring or early summer. Two or three flowers bloom in succession on stems that are nearly as high as their deciduous foliage. Leaves are elegantly narrow and upright like those of cattail, but get only about three feet tall. Carthaliniae subspecies defoliate later than others, which defoliate through summer, then foliate for autumn.

Pups Of A Horticultural Nature

Pups are copies of their parents.

Pups of the most familiar type are canine. Most are puppies of domestic dogs. Some are foxes or wolves. A few are seals, otters or various other animals. Garden variety pups do not get much consideration though. They develop into new progeny of plants rather than animals. Unlike animal pups, they are genetically identical clones of their single parents.

Pups of the horticultural sort generally develop from subterranean stems, such as corms, tubers or rhizomes. Most emerge from formerly dormant buds. Some grow adventitiously from roots. Pups appear as basal sideshoots against or close to their parent plants. They efficiently disperse their own roots to eventually survive as new and independent plants.

Most plants that produce pups are perennials. Some are so proficient with the technique that they grow into substantial colonies of genetically identical clones. For some, it is the primary method of replication. They actually prefer to replicate vegetatively than by seed. Some trees and woody plants do the same, but their clones lack the same classification.

For many perennials, propagation by division is merely the separation of pups from their parent plants. Most types of banana trees eventually generate a few surplus pups. Some types generate an abundance of pups to share with anyone who wants them. Separation of their pups is very similar to division of the smaller rhizomes of canna or lily of the Nile.

Individual rosettes of various species of Agave and a few terrestrial species of Yucca are monocarpic. In other words, they die after blooming only once. However, instead of dying completely, most generate several pups prior to bloom. Some produce pups excessively! Such pups can be difficult and hazardous to separate, but can replace their own parents.

Mediterranean fan palm is one of only a few palms here that generates pups. That is why it develops multiple trunks. Surplus pups can survive separation to grow as distinct trees. However, because of their densely fibrous roots, separation of intact pups can be difficult or impossible. Sago palms, which are not actually palms, are more compliant to division, even for rootless pups that develop on their stout trunks.

Six on Saturday: Rhody’s Roady

Rhody’s Roady is a topic that I wanted to brag about a while ago, but postponed because of Brent’s pointless pictures. Now, there are other more interesting subjects. Well, it was not exactly a horticultural topic anyway. Rhody’s Roady is merely his Buick Roadmaster. It is not actually described within the context of this Six on Saturday, and is only slightly visible in the first picture. However, it did take us on a road trip to the Pacific Northwest where we finally got to Tangly Cottage Gardening. I was supposed to deliver some canna there months ago! Half of these pictures show gifts that I received while there, including two very important items taken directly from their landscapes in town!

1. Cedar Lodge, surrounded by various cedars, pines, firs and oaks, is where Rhody and I stayed initially. Rhody is to the lower left of this picture. His Roady is to the lower right.

2. Western white pine and incense cedar seedlings were too compelling to ignore. These eventually would have needed to be grubbed out from a roadside berm, so came with us.

3. Ilwaco, in Washington, was our next destination. Tangly Cottage Gardening presented me with this potted ‘Coral and Hardy’ Watsonia, and the bagged red and orange cultivar.

4. Allium christophii and schubertii, which were grown for plant sales, were gifts as well! These are my first Alliums! I had postponed trying any for too long, so this is fortuitous!

5. White grape hyacinth may look like the dinkiest component of these gifts from Tangly Cottage Gardening, but happen to be something that I had been wanting for a long time!

6. Nickel the kitty reminded me that I should have taken more pictures. I met both Fairy and Skooter but somehow neglected to get pictures! More can be seen at Tangly Cottage.

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

Six on Saturday: More Bad Recycling (Even More)

This is the season for digging and relocating crowded or redundant plants. Most of them get recycled directly back into other landscapes, so that there is no need for the extra work of canning and storing them. Most of the daylily (#1) were simply relocated with only a few leftovers for canning. Bamboo (#2) and perennial pea (#4) were actually canned earlier in the year. Ponderosa lemon (#5) is a rooted cutting (which is ungrafted and therefore ‘on its own roots’) that I grew from a pruning scrap. I have no idea of what to do with it. I really should limit all these recycling projects to plant material that is actually useful.

1. Hemerocallis, daylily, migrated too aggressively, so needed to be removed from under benches and other perennials. More of another cultivar got dug where an old sewer pipe was replaced.

2. Phyllostachys aurea, golden bamboo, appeared within an unrefined landscape, and wasted no time migrating. It should have been killed and discarded rather than canned live for recycling.

3. Salvia mellifera, black sage, layered a few copies from an original specimen that was planted intentionally. It is native here, but unpopular. Some find the foliar aroma to be a bit too strong.

4. Lathyrus latifolia, perennial pea, is a persistently and invasively naturalized exotic species. In other words, it is a weed. I canned this and three copies of another, because they bloom white.

5. Citrus x pyriformis, ‘Ponderosa’ lemon, is not really a lemon, but is a weird hybrid of pomelo and citron. The fruit might weigh five pounds. What can I do with just one five pound ‘lemon’?!

6. Felis catus, Darla, only allowed me to get this picture by zooming in from a distance. She tolerates Rhody, but hates me. She protects cuttings and seedlings from rodents and perhaps birds.

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

Many Perennials Want Seasonal Grooming

Where frost is not a major concern, old canna foliage can be cut back as new growth develops.

Here on the west coast, autumn and winter weather is so mild that the native coral bells are already starting to develop new foliage on top of the old foliage from this last year. Technically, they are evergreen, so the old foliage does not need to be shed; but if it is not too much to ask, some types look better with a bit of grooming.

Other perennial plants that are from climates with stronger seasons and colder winters are not quite so evergreen. Many shed all of their foliage and are completely bare for at least part of the winter. Only a few, like cyclamen, are at their best through autumn and winter.

Dried watsonia foliage should be removed now if it has not been removed already. It is not so easy to pluck off like gladiola foliage is, so it should be cut off with shears. Because new foliage for next year develops before the old foliage of this past year is completely brown, it is often necessary to cut the old a few inches above the ground in order to avoid damaging the new.

The so called ‘evergreen’ daylilies can be even messier. New foliage is rather delicate, so it is easily tattered by the removal of old foliage. The ‘deciduous’ types may seem to be less appealing because they are bare for part of autumn and winter, but are so much easier to groom by simply removing all of the deteriorating old foliage as soon as it separates easily from the roots.

Deteriorating flowers can be removed from cannas; but their lush foliage can stay until it starts to deteriorate later in winter. Even if it survives winter, it should eventually be cut to the ground as it gets replaced by new growth in spring.

The many different iris have many different personalities. Most should be groomed sometime between summer and late autumn, although Dutch iris were groomed much earlier. Bearded iris that do not get divided can be groomed simply by plucking off big old leaves to expose smaller new shoots below.

Some dahlias bloom until they get frosted. Most though, are already finished. They do not need to be cut back all at once, but can be cut back in phases as leaves and stems dry and turn brown.

Iris Blooms Almost Any Color

Such cheerful colors are too easy.

Iris got its name from the Greek word for rainbow, because all the colors are included. There are thousands of varieties of bearded iris alone, to display every color except only true red, true black, and perhaps true green. (However, some are convincingly red, black or green.) Then there are as many as three hundred other specie of iris to provide whatever colors that bearded iris lack.

Bearded iris are still the most popular for home gardening because they are so reliably and impressively colorful, and because they are so easy to grow and propagate by division of their spreading rhizomes. Siberian, Japanese and xiphium iris are less common types that spread slower with similar rhizomes. Japanese iris wants quite a bit of water, and is sometimes grown in garden ponds. The others, like most other rhizomatous iris, do not need much water once established. Dutch iris grows from bulbs that do not multiply, and may not even bloom after the first year.

Iris flowers are so distinctive because of their unique symmetry of six paired and fused ‘halves’ that form a triad  of ‘falls’ and ‘standards’. The ‘falls’ are the parts that hang downward. The ‘standards’ that stand upright above are the true flower petals. As if the range of colors were not enough, the falls and standards are very often colored very differently from each other, and adorned with stripes, margins, spots or blotches. Many specie have fragrant flowers. Each flower stalk supports multiple flowers. Some carry quite a few flowers!

Some types of iris are so resilient to neglect that they naturalize and grow wild in abandoned gardens. Bearded iris are more appealing and bloom better with somewhat regular watering, but can survive with only very minimal watering once established. Some iris multiply so freely that they get divided after bloom, and shared with any of the neighbors who will take them. Newly divided rhizomes should be planted laying flat, with the upper surfaces at the surface of the soil.

Dividing Perennials Equates To Multiplying

Yuccas can get divided after bloom.

This seems like bad algebra. Horticulturally, dividing and multiplying really are the same. Division is the separation of crowded perennials into smaller but more numerous portions. It multiplies the number of individual plants. The smaller portions perform better than they did while crowded. Division is both a method of vegetative (clonal) propagation, and a form of healthy social distancing.

Many perennials are ready for dividing about now. They finished blooming through spring or summer, and are going dormant for winter. Some defoliate. Division is not so disruptive to them while they rest. Cool and damp weather keeps them hydrated. They can disperse roots and resume growth as winter ends, as if nothing ever happened. They should bloom right on schedule next year.

The most popular perennials grow for many years before getting overgrown enough to benefit from division. Some may technically never need dividing. They manage to perform adequately even as dense thicket growth. For some, division is primarily for propagation. Only a few perennials appreciate annual division. Perennials that bloom in autumn or winter prefer division in early spring.

Pigsqueak will bloom later in winter. Dividing it now with other perennials would inhibit and retard the blooming process. It will be ready for dividing before winter ends, so can settle in with the last winter and spring rain. The same applies to Japanese anemone, which might still be blooming now. Dividing these two perennials is typically for propagation or containment, rather than crowding.

Lily of the Nile and African iris do not need dividing often, but when they do, it can be a major chore. For moderate crowding, it is relatively easy to pluck many individual shoots without disturbing remaining shoots. However, it is typically more practical to dig bulky colonies, divide them into individual shoots, and then plant the shoots. African iris shoots work best in groups of five to twelve.

Lily of the Nile, with dividing earlier than later, disperses roots in winter, to bloom for summer.