29 September 2012

September Lilies

With a lull in the garden, there are a few individual specimens of note at this time of year that do not have much story associated with them. But, I want to record these here for future reference.

The rain lilies (Zephyranthes candida) are in their second year. First found on a visit to the Dallas Arboretum, planted and reported last year [posted 2011.09.15], they survived the winter, and multiplied somewhat. I find that they only begin blooming in late summer and fall here, and they really do come out after rain. They seem to bloom in cycles - about every two weeks for a week with some precipitation.

These are the white variety, as some can be pink or pale cream-yellow. My leaves are not as substantial and grass-like as those in Dallas, - but are almost invisible during the summer. Flowers remind me of crocus when they pop out, and close up at night.

The belamcamda lily (Iris domestica) was started indoors from seeds obtained at the February seed exchange [posted 2012.02.12]. Three plants germinated; only one survived. When transplanted outdoors, additional seeds were planted in the garden with no results. I wish there were others to keep this lonely one company.

The 24-inch high plant (60 cm) successfully produced a number of blossoms with associated seed pods. The expectation is that they will open to reveal clusters resembling blackberries (it is also know as the blackberry lily.)

The perennial plant originates in China, and was formerly known as Belamcanda chinensis, but like many other plants, DNA sequencing indicates it to belong elsewhere in the plant kingdom - in the iris family. It was renamed. Current ongoing research centers on its possible use as a treatment of prostate cancer.

For The Record:
  • No fertilizer
  • Full sun
  • No serious pests/disease

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: pink cosmos, canna, mexican zinnia, zinnia, cosmos, zepharanthes,
    coconut lime echinacea

20 September 2012

So This Is Invasive

When looking into the information about my cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) this summer, [posted 2012.07.07] I ran across several sources that label it as an invasive species, especially on the U.S. west coast. According to the USDA Invasive and Noxious Plants List, California brands it as a noxious weed. Now I know why. The tall plant has some rather voluminous, nasty looking (although not very sharp) cauldrons of seeds. They dried during the summer and broke open, spewing thousands of silky, airy, floating seeds to populate my neighbors' yards. I can't wait until they find artichokes growing in their lawn next year.

I can see why this is considered an invasive in some parts with a seed dispersal system like this. One hopes for my sake that they do not easily germinate next year.

The cardoon plants were cut down after they went to seed last month. I was thinking it was an annual, and began planning for what could take its place next year. But after my week long vacation trip, I came home to find the darn thing is growing again! No, it is NOT an annual. I need to add its move to the fall chores list, since I will not keep it in its present location. One good point: I have lots of contributions for the annual gardeners seed exchange that I attend in late January.

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: pink cosmos, cosmos, canna, mexican zinnia, zinnia, acidanthera, coneflower
  • Harvested: 2 tomatoes, 1 cucumber

03 September 2012

One Potato, Too

I, too have one sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas,) in a pot. I've seen a lot of them growing around, mostly in pots. I was awed by the trials at the Dallas Arbotetum [posted 03.10.2010], and thought that if they survive the heat in Dallas, they would surely like the hot dry conditions on my east facing deck.

This year, I have two planters on the deck, one of them a first-timer. So on a lazy day at Home Depot, I picked up a few items to plop in - some mini yellow zinnias and a sweet potato vine. To say the vine took over is an understatement. I daily pinch off a few leaves to allow the zinnias to poke through for a little sun. But both plants appear to cozily get along in their asymmetrical arrangement.

I liked the vine color, with new leaves starting maroon gradually turning green. Gives a bit of interest since I don't have any 'thrill' included (Thrill, fill, spill.) And the 'fill' zinnias are well behaved and seem to be overwhelmed and surprised. I thought I had the colors looking good, and then yesterday: a shocker. There was a flower on the potato vine. I turned around the planter and snapped a photo for proof.

I have never seen one blooming. After an excited check on the internet, with thoughts of naming a one-of-a-kind plant that I discovered, it turns out that sweet potato vines do indeed bloom. They are related to the morning glory family (are very distant to the potato), and are a tropical plant originating in Venezuela or Central America.

The tuberous potatoes are edible but according to sources, most have a poor flavor or even a bitter taste. They don't grow from seed like morning glories, but from cuttings. Looks like the other cuttings I take from outdoor plants will have new company this winter.

Now there are a few more blooms, and I can find several buds. Trouble is, the bloom color throws off the careful planning for the planter color scheme.

For The Record:
  • Rich potting soil
  • Full sun
  • Small amount of slow-release fertilizer
  • Requires water and easily wilts in hot dry weather
  • No serious disease but some holes eaten in leaves

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: pink cosmos, cosmos, zinnia, canna, mexican zinnia, acidanthera, rudbeckia, salvia, nicotiana, asters
  • Harvested: 2 peppers