Saturday, February 20, 2016

Rehab of Crassula perfoliata var. minor Sparks Meditation

The C. perfoliata var. minor on the front slope has never been happy; that south-facing slope is likely too hot or too dry.  The clump has grown and it has bloomed, but the foliage is always an unfortunate yellow.  Time to dig it up, clean it up, move it.

"The plants grow solitary or in small clusters on north-, east- and west-facing cliffs along dry river valleys. The average daily maximum temperature in the area is about 25°C (77F) and the average daily minimum about 10°C. Winters are cooler but frost is a rarity or absent. Rainfall occurs during winter and summer and ranges from 400 mm (15") to 500 mm (19") per annum. " -- PlantzAfrica  

Sounds perfect for this garden, so why does it look unhappy?  I pulled and replanted part of the clump nearby, in a spot that gets more water and receives mid-day shade from the stucco column flanking the driveway.  
Barely visible in the red circle, can't miss that yellow foliage:
The rest of the clump I split, removed dead leaves and stems, and stuffed into a pot to re-root. 
And please stop being so yellow!

The empty spot got another Aloe striata.  This Aloe has done well in the area.  A group of them, too, will be more striking.  Now that I study the area...oh, dear.  The other small Aloes there (ellenbeckii, 'Blue Elf', humilis(?) are as unhappy as the Crassula--it is also too hot or too dry for them.   Either more drip irrigation is needed or even tougher plants.  An additional problem for humilis has been rabbits eating the tips of the leaves.

Hmmm...yuck, and the scale of the little Aloes is also too small for the space...new Aloe striata added is circled in red:
Larger plants, additional drip irrigation.  Got it.  

Larger plants...Aloe brevifolia I am very impressed with.  Super tough.  I split the clump which had been in the Fall Project area and replanted it.  The rosettes are already growing.  In their original location they got no water at all--I wondered how they were surviving--yet they managed to avoid the phenomenon of dry leaf tips.  They are getting water now, and look even better for the rehab.  But large enough?     
Aloe greatheadii illustrates the dried-Aloe-leaf-tip phenomenon.  With little water, the plant survives, small and stressed.


 Consider the same plant with regular water:
 Fat and happy.  I have enough Aloe greatheadii for the space, but then again I have enough Aloe greatheadii, you know?  A handy, useful plant more than a favorite.  I'll meditate further.  

A great morning for garden meditation--two days after a modest rain, when the plants are washed free of dust and joyfully perky.  The roses are leafing out rapidly and dusted with dew, not dust.  

 Despite our so-far meager rainfall, the plants are making the best of it:


On this cool, dewy Saturday morning, even with another nasty heat wave predicted by Monday, one cannot help feeling optimistic and joyful among the plants.  The local meteorologist who dresses like a 40's gangster said last night that March, March may finally bring the generous rain we've been hoping for.  At this moment, even the area I've been cringing about, in early morning light, doesn't look all that bad.  

14 comments:

  1. Isn't it wonderful how nice everything looks? I think the little bits of rain we have been getting are timed perfectly to keep the plants happy. Your brevifolia looks great. Mine has dry leaf tips even though it is next to the house on north (shady) side. 'Blue Elf' also next to the house on the north side has worse dry leaf tips, but is putting out some very sturdy, very healthy sized flower stalks.

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    1. My 'Blue Elf' is doing the same. I took a photo but it didn't make the cut.

      Rain is magic. :) Need more!

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  2. It's remarkable how the garden responds so quickly to a little rain. I've wondered if my perception of the garden is really a reflection of my own outlook after the rain but, no, I swear, everything's greener and perkier.

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    1. It's my favorite time to be out there--it's almost like you can hear all the plants singing with joy. That, and no need to spot-water anything.

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  3. Maybe a nice big agave can give you the look you're going for? I've noticed most of them are less stressed by the sun than Aloes, at least in the desert. Gorgeous pictures!

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    1. I wanted to avoid anything with truly nasty spines too close to the street. A bit of a buffer. The Aloes are less dangerous. I was thinking of putting Agave 'Mateo' out there--it's fairly benign. 'Ivory Curls' found the area too hot.

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    2. You gave me a good idea, though--Aloe cameronii or Aloe 'Cynthia Gitty'--I could pull some rosettes off the clumps I have...thanks! :)

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  4. I think we look at our own garden much more critically than anybody else. I know I'm guilty of that.

    I think an aloe that thrives in the sun--like Aloe cameronii--would be great. In addition to the flowers, you'd also enjoy the beautiful leaves that vary between apple green and tomato red.

    I have a variegated A. brevifolia that I won in a raffle last year but never knew what to do with. I think I'll just stick it in the ground and see what happens.

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    1. I'll figure out something. I have a bunch of new Aloes from Arid Lands etc that need places. First thing I realized is I need more drip irrigation there--it's so hot and so dry.

      I'm very impressed with brevifolia. I think it was one of the very first Aloes I bought. It was under a rose right next to the street completely unwatered for years and years, forgotten, really. In the rehab of that area, pulling it out and moving it, I realized it's a gem. Enjoy that variegated version!

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  5. I'm alway amazed by how I can plant the same plant a mere 6" apart and one will thrive while the other will turn up its toes. From where I sit, your garden is looking mighty fine.

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    1. Same thing has happened to me, one plant thriving, one malingering. They are individuals just as we are.

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  6. May you get more rains! In the "making the best of it" picture, what are the pink flowers that look sort of like tulips? Don't be afraid to respond, "They're tulips."

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    1. We keep on hoping. I got really tired of hoping and gave up for a while. Now I'm rested up and can start hoping again. Yesterday the local weatherman said "The next chance of...uh...clouds...is Friday." Yep, we are reduced to getting excited about clouds.

      That picture was taken early early morning, those are Arctotis 'Pink Sugar'. They close when the sun goes down and open up again the next morning--it wasn't quite time for them to start opening.

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    2. :: Yep, we are reduced to getting excited about clouds. ::
      Can't have rain without 'em!

      Thanks for the ID; I was pretty sure tulips in SoCal would be an annual, and have to be bought pre-chilled, and that didn't seem like your usual approach. I didn't realize Arctotis opened and closed like that daily, and find the cupped stage very appealing. Except for the part where you have to get up so early to appreciate it .

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