Old fashioned trailing African daisy was becoming too common by the time it succumbed to the Big Freeze just prior to Christmas of 1990. Shrubbier and more colorful cultivars of hybrids with similar species, particularly Osteospermum ecklonis, are now more popular. Such hybrids mostly lack species designation because their lineage is very complicated.
Mature specimens do not grow much wider than two feet, so do not migrate as efficiently as old fashioned trailing African daisy. Since they are hybrids, they do not produce viable seed either. However, if pressed into damp soil, peripheral stems generate roots to grow as new plants that extend the collective width. They also replace deteriorating old plants.
Sporadic bloom may be almost continuous between a few profuse phases, with the most profuse phase between winter and spring. Only the coolest and warmest weather inhibit bloom. It can be difficult to shear overgrown plants between phases without ruining a few flowers. Floral color is pastel hues of purple, lavender, red, pink, orange, yellow or white.
More than a dozen species of Phlox are native to various ecosystems of California. They are generally uncommon within refined home gardens though. The more popular garden phlox, Phlox paniculata, is native east of Kansas. It naturalizes in some regions, such as the Pacific Northwest. Locally, it might self-sow only where it gets water through summer.
Garden phlox can get as high and wide as three feet. Some modern cultivars should stay a bit more compact. Individual flowers are only about an inch wide, but bloom with many others on dense panicles that are as wide as six inches. This richly fragrant bloom is red, pink, white, pastel orange or pastel purple, and continues for almost a month of summer.
As its potential for naturalization suggests, garden phlox is not particularly demanding. It appreciates good exposure, but can tolerate a bit of partial shade. It enjoys richly organic soil but can survive within soil of mediocre quality if it is not too dense. Regular watering sustains bloom, but established plants can survive with minimal watering after blooming. Propagation by division of large or overgrown plants while dormant through late winter is very easy.
In eastern North America where it grows wild as a native, garden phlox, Phlox paniculata, is modest but classic perennial that gets more than four feet tall with pinkish lavender flowers from late summer through early autumn. Modern garden varieties are mostly somewhat more compact with pink, red, light purple or white flowers. Many have fragrant flowers; and some have flowers with lighter or darker centers. Butterflies and hummingbirds dig them all.
Locally, garden phlox probably looks best with slight shade or among other lush plants, only because humidity is so minimal. Otherwise, it would be just as happy out in the open. In well watered gardens with rich soil, it sometimes self sows a bit, but rarely naturalizes continually enough to revert to a more natural (wild) state like it can in gardens on the west coast of Oregon and Washington. Garden phlox can be propagated by division of mature plants either after bloom in autumn or in spring.
Many species of Agave and Yucca should probably be more popular here than they are. Several are endemic to desert or chaparral climates. Once established locally, they may survive without irrigation. Occasional watering through summer only improves their foliar color and vigor. Except for gophers that might attack from below, not much offends them.
The primary deterrent to their popularity is their dangerous foliar spines. Many species of Agave and Yucca grow too large to not become obtrusive within compact home gardens. Consequently, their striking but hazardous foliage can be difficult to avoid. Fortunately, a few species such as thread agave, Agave filifera, remain proportionate to home gardens.
Thread agave develops rounded foliar rosettes that are less than three feet wide and two feet tall. Evergreen leaves retain silvery impressions of adjacent leaves. Although growth is generally slow, vigorous floral stalks may grow rapidly to ten feet tall during summer, to bloom during autumn. Pups begin to replace original rosettes prior to monocarpic bloom.
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.
Searching online for information regarding Canna can get discouraging for anyone who objects to the idolatry of Cannabis. It does not help that Canna indica is one of the more common species of Canna. Search engines seem to believe that they know more of what I want information about than I do. Well, I happen to enjoy my ten or so Canna. In fact, I grow way too many of them. Three cultivars are particularly numerous here, even after giving most of them away to friends and neighbors. If installed directly into a landscape, rather than canned, there would be enough for a row almost exactly a hundred feet long! That would be with one foot spacing!
1. Gophers ate almost all of three of the four original Canna here. I canned the surviving rhizomes within only ten #1 cans. All three cultivars are now generating vigorous shoots.
2. Canna rhizomes are so extremely discounted at the end of their season that I violated my rule that forbids the purchase of new plants. It is very late, but they are growing well.
3. ‘Red King Humbert’ rhizomes cost less than a dollar each. Three got canned into each of ten #5 cans. They only need to grow enough before autumn to survive through winter.
4. Canna flaccida, or what I hope might be Canna flaccida, was dug and recycled after it had started growing last spring. New foliage emerged through its damaged older foliage.
5. ‘Wyoming’ was recycled from the same landscape, and at the same inconvenient time. Like the others, it will recover prior to winter dormancy, and then be ready for next year.
6. Canna bloom is about as appealing as the foliage is. Ours bloom bright yellow, orange or red. Others bloom with pastel yellow, pastel orange, pink or very pale yellowish white.
While so many flowers are finishing their bloom and leaving their drying foliage behind, naked lady, Amaryllis belladonna, is just beginning to bloom, naked of any foliage. Clusters of a few to several bright pink flowers stand on bare stems about two feet tall. Individual flowers are about two and a half to three and a half inches long, and resemble lily flowers. Foliage only appears after flowers deteriorate, and lasts only until weather gets warm late in spring. The strap shaped leaves are about a foot to a foot and a half long. Through summer, the two or three inch wide bulbs are dormant and bare, and seem to be dead with their tops visible at the soil surface, but retain fleshy roots below. They should therefore only be dug and divided if they get too crowded or need to be moved.
It is not actually moss. It is of the same family as carnation. Of course, any distinguishing characteristics of its family are difficult to recognize. Iris moss, Sagina subulata, has such exceptionally fine foliar texture and diminutive bloom. Its slim leaves are not much longer than a quarter of an inch. its tiny white flowers are barely wider than an eighth of an inch.
Irish moss is a luxuriantly dense and richly evergreen ground cover for confined spaces. It works well within small atriums and big pots that contain sculptural plants that lack low foliage. It is a popular accessory for Japanese maple and citrus within tubs. Since it gets no more than two inches deep, Irish moss can fill in between pavers and under benches.
However, Irish moss dislikes how pavement enhances harsh exposure. Although it does not require shade, it appreciates a bit of partial shade while the weather is warmest after noon. Also, it craves somewhat frequent watering to compensate for locally arid warmth. Scottish moss is the cultivar ‘Aurea’. It is lighter chartreuse green, but otherwise identical.
Venice in Italy is an ideal situation in which to demonstrate the potential of ivy geranium, Pelargonium peltatum.Because garden space is so minimal, potted plants that cascade from balconies above the canals are quite popular. Ivy geranium cascades so splendidly that some eventually reach the tops of downstairs windows from their upstairs balconies.
Ivy geranium can sprawl over shrubbery to seemingly climb a few feet high. Otherwise, it is unlikely to stand much more than a foot and a half high on the ground without support. If cascading over the edge of a planter, upward growth may be only several inches high. In window boxes, it obstructs minimal sunlight. However, it may hang six feet downward!
Ivy geranium propagates somewhat easily by cuttings of the almost succulent stems, but not as easily as zonal geranium. Its lobed, rounded and quite fragile leaves are about an inch long and two inches wide. Sporadic but continual bloom becomes more profuse for late summer and autumn. Flowers might be white, pink, red, lavender, purplish or striped.
Once they get into the garden, montbretia, Crocosmia X crocosmiiflora, may never leave. They sometimes survive the demolition of their original garden to emerge and bloom in the garden of a new home built on the same site. Bulbs (actually corms) multiply surprisingly efficiently to form large colonies that should eventually be divided if they get too crowded to bloom. Ungroomed plants sow seeds that may be invasive.
The one or two inch wide flowers are almost always bright orange, but can sometimes be reddish orange, yellow or pale yellow. The branched flower stems are two or three feet tall or a bit taller, and stand nicely above the grassy foliage. The narrow leaves are about half and inch to an inch wide.