Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Criptic Cold Damage

Saturday morning as I walked around the yard I was surprised at all the new brown leaves on some of the plants in the garden. The low that morning was above freezing and the day turned out to be the warmest in weeks, a high in the 60`s and yet new brown leaves were everywhere!

The Rhapis excelsa at the front of the house had some brown spotting on the leaves that reached beyond the corner of the house. On the other side of the house my Cycas taitungensis that sits under the mystery citrus was heavily damaged. This same plant came through 18 degrees untouched while its more exposed sibling had about half its leaved burned.

Checking weather records for the previous week the coldest temp was 23 degrees a few days earlier, not enough to cause the new damage. I can speculate that it may have been the constant wind drying leaves pushed to their tolerance limits or it may be that the plants have been exposed to their maximum below freezing tolerance and are now beginning to show the damage.

The sago (C. taitungensis) was protected from the initial cold by the citrus, which is now losing leaves as a result of that cold. This more open canopy of the citrus tree may now be allowing the cold and wind to penetrate and Cycas taitungensis is very sensitive to drying winds in winter.

In the end this is all cosmetic damage, the brown leaves will be removed later this winter and the new growth will hide this winter sins.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

More Late Fall Yellows l

I do not want to deal with winter, so I`m continuing to writing about the final blooms just before 18 degrees did most of them in. This little guy had been blooming away for a couple of weeks before the cold burned the flowers off and yet the plant is almost undamaged. The name of this delight full little bromeliad is Aechmea calyculata. His home is under an old sasanqua along with many other broms being tested for cold tolerance and he is one of the best!

The plant carries an 8" tall yellow drumstick flowers on a 1' tall plant. It`s leaves are a dark green because to its extremely shady location. I plant my broms here to keep winter frost off the leaves to prevent burning, but this year the cold and extreme wind created havoc and left many plants scorched.

None of the bromeliads are dead just damaged but some will begiven to friends with warmer gardens. I plan to keep A. calyculata and devide it come warm weather.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Yellow Bells

Now that the weather has grown cold it is time for some summer memories of warmth and bright flowers. One of my favorite tropical plants is yellow bells (Tecoma stans)! This is one of the easiest plants to grow and gives so much for so little work.

Yellow bells have a cluster of one to two inch lemon yellow trumpets at the top of the stem. My plants always freeze to the ground but by Memorial Day are 2' tall and beginning to bloom. The blooming season last till the first killing frost and I then cut them down.

I must let you know they grow fast and get 6' to 7' tall! The common type from the wet tropics grow a number of tall stems that are wands capped with flowers. A more refined look is the desert variety Tecoma stans angustifolia. This type has smaller flower clusters but the plant is bushier and each stem branches more often for a fuller look. The leaves are much finer cut and shinier making the plant more garden worthy than the tropical type. Best of all it is less likely to set seed and thus is not loaded with 6" bean pods by the hundreds.

The picture is of the desert yellow bell!