Identifying the light situations in our homes and the plants that will thrive within those conditions is one of the most difficult parts of caring for houseplants. Many times our homes are darker than we realize. As a general rule of thumb, low light plants will tolerate areas that are poorly lit, as long as the area remains bright enough to read in throughout the day.
The name succulent may be a bit deceptive – I assure you, these plants do not suck! At first sight, the spines of some agave and aloe might cause a fright, but don’t underestimate how easily they will dazzle your garden. A visit to the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden, Ruth Bancroft Garden, or San Francisco Botanical Garden will help seal the deal for cultivating, renewing, or inspiring your love of landscaping with succulents and cacti.
My love of roses was kindled as a child in my aunt’s rose garden some 35 years ago. I can still remember the intoxicating smell that would greet us upon arriving to her home. It was such a welcomed scent after traveling an hour, which felt like an eternity, during the heat of summer in our 1980’s Suburban next to my sweaty brother and sisters. Upon arrival, I would peel myself off the bench seat and head straight for those blooming beauties.
With names like Endless Summer, Incrediball, Vanilla Strawberry, Shooting Star, Pistachio, Fuji Waterfall, Snow Queen and Glowing Embers, who could resist the temptation to grow hydrangeas? There are over 70 species native to Asia and America, and over 700 varieties of this diverse group of plants, although not all are in cultivation. From two foot miniatures to eighty foot monster vines, there are plenty of styles, shapes and sizes to please any avid gardener and plant collector.
Whether you call them tuh-MAY-to or tuh-MAH-to, almost everyone has questions about how, where or what types to grow. We’ll start from the ground and work our way up.
Back in the mid 1970’s, in my teens, I got caught up the houseplant craze, and that is where my love of horticulture began. Actually, it became an obsession, as at one point I had collected anywhere from 100 to 150 houseplants and starts—crowding every space possible in my small bedroom. I was not the only one, as the novelty of new and exciting tropicals was embraced in every home and garden magazine for decorative purposes.
We are entering camellia season here in the Napa Valley. You may have noticed the swollen flower buds of these gorgeous glossy evergreen shrubs and trees. Soon we will be showered with a floriferous show put on by Camellia sasanquas followed by Camellia japonicas later in winter. Camellias are widely grown for their stunning cool season blooms, but serve as excellent evergreen screens, informal hedges, at the back of a mixed border or in containers.
Cactus and succulents are the ultimate water-wise and drought-tolerant plants for the landscape, with the added bonus of being easy care and low maintenance. Once established, cactus have an amazing ability to go without water for an extended period of time. Succulents can also survive without constant watering.
This striking plant is native to the southwest corner of Australia, a Mediterranean climate region with hot dry summers and mild winters, much like our own. The foliage is green and strap like forming a clump whose size can vary depending on the cultivar -from A. flavidus which can attain 3 to 4 foot clumps to A. rufus which usually stays under 2 feet .