Southern Bulb Co.: The Story Behind the Company

June 7, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under Flower Gardening


www.southernbulbs.com

Waterwise Gardening – 7 fantastic shrubs and vines for Southern California

March 14, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under Resources

In Southern California we have been in a drought for the past several years, and even in a good year we do not get much rain.

If you own a home in a drought prone area an easy way to reduce your consumption is to replace water hogging plants with plants that are healthy and look beautiful with little water. These plants should do well over most of the Southwest, but might not work in areas that get any more than a very light frost or significant rainfall.

Shrubs and vines are an important but often overlooked part of every garden.  They usually provide a greener softer look than plain fencing at the boundary between our yard and our neighbors.  They are also better noise absorbers than fencing alone would be.  The bushes on this list might go in front of a fence or be used in leiu of a fence.  The vines could grow on a fence or trelis, or fill in established bush adding contrasting leaves and flowers.

1.  Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea) are a family of vigorous growing vines with year round vibrant pink, purple, or white flowers.  The woody trunks that develop can support the plant.  However, they do tend to have an extremely irregular habit unless you are vigilant in pruing.  Bougainvillea have very sharp thorns on the trunk, so be very careful around this beauty.

2.  Jasmine Bush (Jasminum dichotomum or Jasminum sambac) the dense bush forms of jasmine are common throughout Southern Califonia for good reason.  They are an easy bush to grow, and they have a pretty white flower with a beautiful fragrance.  It’s probably best to buy this from a local nursery to get a plant that is suitable for your specific climate.

3.  Jasmine Vine or Star Jasmine (Jasminum multiflorum or Jasminum polyanthum) the vine forms of jasmin tend to be faster growing then the bush forms, and the and they produce even more of those heavenly smelling flowers.  A true vine, you will need to give this plant some support.

4.  Honeysuckle (Lonicera) the only bad thing about jasmine vine is that so many people grow it.  If you want an alternate, that is just as sweet smelling but different from jasmine why not try homeysuckle.  There are many many varietuies of honeysuckly, so this is another plant you might want to pick up at your local nursery to get somethig that is adapted to your area.

5.  Gardenia (gardenia) Gardenia are a large family of flowering shrubs with very showy white or yellow flowers.  This plant has the showiest flowers on this list, but would also need more care and water than the others.  Many forms are available, check your local nursery for what does well in your area.

6.  Oleander (Nerium oleander) oleander is a fast growing bush that will form a nice hedge with pink or white flowers.  This plant is very toxic, so do not plant it where children or pets would come into regular contact with it.

7.  Jade Plant (Crassula ovata) jade plant will form a hedge given enough time to establish.  While not the fastest grower or always thickest habit, this plant needs very little water and has a beautifully distinctive look.

Here are my gardening resources for California.  Most nurseries and garden centers on this list would carry these magnificent seven plants.  Alternatively, my listings of trees and shrubs would have specialty growers for these and other bushes and vines.

Waterwise Gardening – 5 fantastic plants for Southern California

March 12, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under Resources

Here in Southern California we have been in a drought for the past several years, and even in a good year we do not get much rain.

If you own a home in a drought prone area an easy way to reduce your consumption is to replace water hogging plants with plants that are healthy and look beautiful with little water.

These plants should do well over most of the Southwest, but might not work in areas that get any more than a very light frost or significant rainfall.

1.  Ice Plant (Carpobrotus edulis) is an amazing groundcover that you see all over Southern California.  While many take this plant for granted it is excellent at growing in the toughest areas such as hillsides that get no irrigation in the summer.  The plants have either a pink or yellow flower, so be sure to get a plant with the color flower you like.  While you can buy flats of this plant it makes more sense to start your own patch from cuttings that you can probably get from a neighbor.

2.  Red Apple (Aptenia cordifolia) is another amazing groundcover prevelant in Southern California.  It has a smaller leaf than iceplant, and covers more thickly.  Red apple will have small pinkish red flowers year round, which is where it gets it’s name.  Note that the flowers will attract bees, so you might not want to plant this where you would need to often walk through it.  Once established these plants should survive with little irrigation.  As with ice plant, this is an excellent choice to start from cuttings.

3.  Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia) are a family of beautiful clumping plants with a distinctive tropical looking yellow orange or blue flower.  The smaller varieties have the yellow orange, while the larger varieties have the blue.  Once established these plants should survive with little irrigation.  Propogate by dividing these plants which is some work (they do form a very dense clump) or by purchasig a small plant at a garden center.

4.  Gazania (Gazania) are a family of spreading daisy like plants.  This is a beautiful ground cover, but is not quite as tough as Ice Plant or Red Apple.  To look healthy throughout the summer they will need some irrigation.  The flowers come in a varitey of yellows, reds, white or purple.  Propogate by dividing existing plants, from seed, or purchase a small plant at a garden center and watch it spread.

5.  Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos) are a few beautiful clumping plants with distinctive red or yellow flowers.  The flowers have a slightly fuzzy appearance, giving them the name Kangaroo Paw.  To look healthy throughout the summer they will need some irrigation.  The habit is reminiscent of hemerocalis, and you can either propogate this plant by division or purchase a small plant from a garden center.

Here are my gardening resources for California.  Most nurseries and garden centers on this list would carry these magnificent five plants.

Time to Plant & Prune Fruit Trees & Roses in Southern California

March 11, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under 18

January is a good time to plant dormant fruit trees and roses for wonderful springtime color and fruit harvest. With Southern California’s normally mild winters, a variety of vegetable and berry plants will also do well when planted in January.

Plant dormant fruit and rose trees: Bare root fruit trees and roses may appear lifeless in winter but will grow heartily in spring and summer if planted now. Plant apricot, plum, apple, pear and peach trees, and all types of rose bushes. Add organic compost planting mix to the soil to increase soil aeration and to keep in moisture.

Plant California Native Vegetation:  Winter is the ideal time to plant California native vegetation. Winter rains give them a healthy start. Plant such natives as iris, Manzanita, sycamore, yarrow and Matilija poppy.

Prune and Pinch: Prune deciduous trees and shrubs and pinch back dead portions of perennial and annual flowers to keep plants looking fit. For roses, prune no more than one-half of new growth from the previous growing season. Pruning and pinching encourages new growth that will produce fuller flowers and larger fruit.

Plant Winter Vegetables: For gardeners who can’t wait until spring to plant a vegetable garden, cool weather vegetables are ready to plant in January. They include artichokes, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, peas, potatoes spinach and strawberries.

Extending the Life of Poinsettias: Poinsettia flowers will usually remain healthy into March. After March, cut back the stems to no more than eight inches tall. By June, new growth will begin. Keep the plant in indirect, natural sunlight and the soil moderately moist. When the weather warms, bring the plant outside and transplant into a bigger pot. Prune as needed so the plant is bushy. Flowers will begin to grow in October and reach their peak of beauty in November and December.