Monthly Archives: December 2014

Observations on the Cold: Leonotis, Salvia and Rhodocoma – Pot Culture & Hardiness

Leonotis menthafolia x 'Savannah Sunset'

Leonotis menthafolia x ‘Savannah Sunset’ after Christmas still displaying its robust foliage.

Monday – Dec. 29, ’14 – low 33° – high 43°

Tuesday – Dec. 30, ’14 – low 28° – high 34°

Here’s one of my little experiments of ‘neglect’.  Sometimes the pots are just too big and heavy to haul down to my basement storage, not to mention the limited space there, so I position them up against my house, under roof overhangs, out of the wind and rain.  Many things I grow in pots, can take a few degrees of freeze overnight, but when we are supposed to have a period of prolonged freezing, when highs are forecasted to remain below the mark, I haul many of them in, otherwise outside they stay.   Then, out they go when it warms back up above freezing to a protected spot.  The pots in question, the biggest/heaviest, have been out all winter so far, sequestered under the roof on our deck.  They were not pulled in or covered during the first substantial cold snap and I’ve been surprised so far.  This is Tuesday noon-ish and it’s 34deg.

The Leonotis menthafolia ‘Savannah Sunset’, zn 8a, a name recognized by Annie’s Annuals, my source, but known by others as Leonotis ocymifolia var. ocymifolia, looks perfect and is still blooming at 5 1/2′ tall !!! silly plant.  Last year, with our two significant winter cold snaps, I lost one of these in the ground in a sunny exposed site.  That one received infrequent summer water and so was probably stressed going into last winter.  This Leonotis ranges from Kenya south into South Africa in the eastern half of the continent so it is somewhat more expectant of summer rains.  It prefers well drained soils.  This one shares a pot with a Cuphea ignea, zn 8, 9 or 10, (hmmm what’s the dealio?) which too is still green and blooming along with an unhappy Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’, zn 9, not blooming and looking a little peaked, no doubt suffering from too much shade in addition to the cold/dry provided by the roof overhang. Continue reading


Eucomis: Pineapple Lilies– Exotic Looks/Common Tastes

This posting was first published in the HPSO Bulletin Spring 2010 and is here revised

Eucomis bicolor

Eucomis bicolor

South Africa is one of the most botanically rich regions of the world. Within its boundaries is the Cape Floristic Region (with 0.08% of the world’s land and 3% of all plant species), containing some 8,700 species, two-thirds of which are endemic, existing nowhere else in the world. It is one of only six such regions in the world. By comparison, the Boreal Floristic Region includes all of North America, Europe, and the northern portions of Asia and Africa, and is thus considerably larger. Each region has a distinctive “suite” of plants with particular families that are endemic to them. One would feel a familiarity when exploring anywhere within one’s own region. Outside it, you might feel the world was populated with the alien plants of other star systems. For example, forests are not to be found in the Cape (though nonnative species have been introduced and have spread); instead, these areas are characterized by heaths, proteas, and restios. Included in the region are 2,700 species of bulbs in 15 different families. These include gladioli, freesias, amaryllis, agapanthus, and many others, most of which would be unrecognizable to the average temperate area gardener. One such genus of bulbs is Eucomis. Continue reading