- Author: Susan P Croissant
Parrot's beak (Lotus maculatus), aka Coral Gem/Pelican's Beak. Totally unrelated to the aquatic water lily (Lotus) Nelumbo lutea, N. nucifera. L. maculatus resembles L. berthelotti, both native to the Canary and Cape Verde Islands, with similar growing requirements. Though severely endangered on their native islands, they survive in cultivation.
This herbaceous, tender perennial (or warm weather annual vine) grows 8-12" high and is covered with silvery gray leaves and long, trailing stems up to 2-3 feet. 'Gold Flash' has bright yellow flowers with striking orange-red markings. 'Amazon Sunset' has bright orange red flowers. The pea-like flowers bloom in spring and early summer. L. berthelotti has 1" scarlet blooms in summer.
Can be effective as a ground cover cascading over walls and rocks (space 2-feet apart). But is BEST in a hanging container/basket as it might become an invasive, noxious weed. As a hanging plant, it is a striking addition to the garden. I noted this specimen immediately when I entered Gabriel's garden (Vallejo Garden Tour 2015) where he incorporates tropical and Mediterranean species.
In Gabriel's garden, Parrot's Beak hangs off the western fence in a corridor with other tropicals, while the eastern corridor holds Mediterranean plants. As it dislikes hot summer temperatures and may stop blooming, placement is important. Not only temperature-wise but also water-wise. This plant is best with even moisture. Too much or too little water causes foliage to drop. Further, where drainage is poor, it suffers root rot--hates soggy roots. Thus, a hanging basket (say, moss or coco-fiber) works well. As does fertile soil. It can also be grown indoors, offering year-round greenery and seasonal color. Try a south-facing window and move if it proves too hot.
Blooms better when nights remain warm. Dies back in cold weather. Pinching stem ends will promote branching. Prune dead, diseased, dying or damaged branches with sharp pruning shears and dispose of the removed branches. Feed every 2 weeks during spring and summer with water-soluble, all-purpose fertilizer or apply slow-release fertilizer once a year at the beginning of spring.
Propagation from stem cuttings or seeds indoors about 8-10 weeks prior to last front (usually will not produce flowers the first year). Examine regularly for spider mites, aphids, mealy bugs. If found, coat foliage and branches with horticulture oil or insecticide soap on a calm day when temperatures stay below 90°.
- Author: Maria X. Isip-Bautista
Growing up, I was lucky to spend many of my waking hours in our family garden. As an adult, I treasure these memories and credit this experience for giving me a respect for the natural environment, an understanding of where food comes from, and a love for gardening. My husband and I are now raising our two young kids, ages four and nineteen months, “in the garden.” This blog series will share our attempts, sometimes successful and other times not so much, at projects, crafts, and activities that we endeavor while simultaneously growing a garden and a couple of curious young humans.
This first project, Glass Jar Succulent Terrariums, is one that we undertook in preparation for our daughter's fourth Frozen/Dinosaur party. (She's an imaginative kid, as you can tell.) We thought they'd be nice giveaways for friends and family who joined us in celebrating. We also made one large one to use as a centerpiece for the table on the big day. Our kids loved helping with just about every step of this process!
For this project we used:
- Repurposed pint-sized canning jars (we'd received several boxes from a generous community member who wasn't using them any longer)
- Glass stones/marbles (bought at local dollar store)
- Small size pebbles/river rocks (local garden store)
- Cactus Mix (local garden store)
- Succulents (we used three varieties of Sedum)
- Plastic Dinosaurs
To prep, lay down some newspaper and layout/put into buckets with small scoops each of your materials. This makes it easier and slightly less chaotic when the kids start helping.
First, we put a layer or two of the flat glass rocks (we used all blue, in tribute to Frozen) at the bottom of each jar. Could also use regular rocks. This helps to ensure good drainage of your soil, which succulents appreciate.
Then, we added a thin layer of the small pebbles to fill in some of the gaps between the large rocks (to prevent all the soil from falling in the big gaps between larger rocks).
Next, we added a good couple inches of Cactus Mix, another thin layer of the small pebbles, and planted cuttings from the succulents. The Cactus Mix is a potting soil specially formulated for cacti/succulents, but you can also use plain potting soil. Be sure to plant a large enough cutting for the plant to be able to root and grow again fairly easily, and be sure to plant it deeply enough that it'll stand upright.
Lastly, we added decorative items. In our case, since we were having a Frozen/dinosaur party, this included blue colored glass marbles and assorted plastic dinosaurs. You could also add ribbon or raffia at the tops of the jars, or even paint the jars, if you're so inclined. That's part of what's so cool about these: you could use just about anything to decorate them depending on the theme you're working with- fairies, jungle animals, etc.
Be sure to lightly water your new terrarium. You'll want to keep the soil damp but not wet for the next couple of weeks while your succulents take root. In just a week or so you'll see roots sprouting and coiling through the soil. (This is also super cool for kids to watch!) We were sure to assemble these terrariums a couple of weeks in advance of the party so that they'd be well-rooted by the time we sent them home as favors.
Your plants can outgrow their jars fairly quickly, depending on the size plants/jars you use. You can replant them into bigger containers as soon as they look like they could use the space. Just remember to not overwater! Enjoy!
- Author: Lorraine Remer
Hands pulling weeds and feeling the varied textures Of tomato,kale and chard leaves
Eyes alight to the many shades of green, the yellow blossoms Of tomato, the white flowers of strawberry and lemon
Breathing in the fertile scent of damp soil, the fragrances Of arugula, rosemary, onion and roses
Listening to the buzzing bees and birds calling in the trees As the breeze sifts softly through the leaves
Tasting the first ripe strawberry, the pungent flavors of parsley And basil
While the sun warms my bare arms and my bare feet to root the earth I come alive with the garden!
- Author: Mike Gunther
Summer Has Arrived
Planted Veggies Growing Well
Please Be Water Smart
- Author: Nanette McKnight Shamieh
While sitting out in our beautiful spring/summer weather the other day…
enjoying my container garden…I saw what first appeared to be an overweight hummingbird. After some research, it appears to be in fact a white-lined sphinx moth. I wanted to share what I learned since I was curious if it was truly a friend or foe. Basically, just enjoy the beautiful winged moth as they entertain with their fancy flight of pollination.
Found this information on this minor pest:
There are several species of sphinx moths that vary somewhat from one another, particularly in color and pattern. More beautiful and larger than the average flying moth these species start out as moth larvae that are distinguished by a long horn on the back end. When fully grown, the caterpillar is 3 inches long, has a dark button where the horn used to be, vary in color, and have at least 6 diagonal white stripes down the sides. These sphinx moths are generally minor pest, appearing cyclically. Caterpillars feed on grape leaves, first causing small round holes and later consuming the entire leaf. Noticeable damage is uncommon and naturally occurring parasites normally control the pest.
Sphinx moths lay large green eggs singly on the upper surfaces of the outer grape leaves. Eggs hatch after 6 to 9 days. Immediately after hatching, a caterpillar eats a smooth round hole in the leaf and crawls through to the lower surface, where it continues to eat. Caterpillars feed on grape leaves for about 25 days. They then make their way to the ground and construct a smooth-walled cell in which to overwinter as pupae. First-generation moths emerge during the first half of May. A second brood of moths, much more numerous than the first, appears in early July and the greatest damage is done in August. A generation is completed in about 55 days, and in some years there are three generations.
More info on this beautiful flyer….
DESCRIPTION: WS up to 3.5" (90mm). Large moth, often seen hovering in front of flowers like a hummingbird. Hindwing is dark with pink band and white trim. Forewing is brown with prominent white stripe down length of each wing.
NATURAL HISTORY: This large moth often is seen hovering at flowers in the early morning or evening and may even be confused with a hummingbird. Caterpillars (green and black-striped, hairless, with a "horn" on the rear end) may be seen in large numbers migrating across roads, etc. during the monsoon summer time.
Even more info:
The Sphingidae are a family of moths (Lepidoptera), commonly known as hawk moths, sphinx moths, and hornworms; it includes about 1,450 species. It is best represented in the tropics, but species are found in every region. They are moderate to large in size and are distinguished among moths for their rapid, sustained flying ability. Their narrow wings and streamlined abdomens are adaptations for rapid flight. Some hawk moths, such as the hummingbird hawk moth or the white-lined sphinx, hover in midair while they feed on nectar from flowers, so are sometimes mistaken for hummingbirds. This hovering capability is only known to have evolved four times in nectar feeders: in hummingbirds, certain bats, hoverflies, and these sphingids, (an example of convergent evolution). Sphingids have been much studied for their flying ability, especially their ability to move rapidly from side to side while hovering, called 'swing-hovering' or 'side-slipping.' This is thought to have evolved to deal with ambush predators that lie in wait in flowers.Sphingids are some of the faster flying insects; some are capable of flying at over 5.3 m/s (12 miles per hour). They have wingspans from 4 to over 10 cm.