Green World All Around Us: Winter wonderland in the Botanical Gardens

This wasn’t the first year the botanical Gardens were under snow, but this year was incredibly beautiful because the depth of snow (not too much) left the silhouettes of most of these hardy plants visible while still making the gardens seem otherworldly, bright and oh-so-quiet.

While there isn’t much chance of snow again this winter, the next time it does snow, if you get out, bundle up and come down to the botanical gardens. You will see the gardens in a whole different, gorgeous dimension!

Hover your mouse over the photos below – some have extra information! 

Earthstone

Another Mediterranean Basin Garden denizen, this and the other Olive trees looked amazing, but like they could be in trouble from the weight of snow. With incredible flexibility, some branches bent almost in half, but no branches broke!

 

By Paul Rideout, one of two Pyramids, that portray local landscapes, in the California Garden. Snowy Arctostaphylos ‘Howard McMinn’ Howard McMinn Manzanita makes a perfect backdrop
Coastal Redwood
No flocking necessary: Sequoia sempervirens Coastal Redwoods in the California Garden
Chinese Redbud
And the award goes to… this Chinese Redbud Cercis chinensis ‘Avondale’ for the most beautiful winter silhouette in the gardens

The next time it snows, come and enjoy; the gardens are always beautiful!

Happy Gardening from Turtle Bay’s Horticulture Staff!

Lisa Endicott – Horticulture Manager

Email gardens@turtlebay.org for more information and/or questions.

Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Nursery: open to the public year-round Fridays and Saturdays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. Visit our interactive Nursery inventory list at www.turtlebay.org/nursery .

Green World All Around Us: After the Freeze – Beautiful Winter Foliage in the Botanical Gardens

Euphorbias
Euphorbia chariacas in the Mediterranean Basin Garden. Whatever the species, Euphorbias always have interesting foliage.

Every year I am more impressed at how beautiful the botanical gardens are in winter here at Turtle Bay. Plants with evergreen (ever-gray, red, etc.) foliage really come into their own as herbaceous plants succumb to winter freezes and start their dormancy. (Some herbaceous plants, such as ornamental grasses, have interesting dry foliage and/or seed heads that we leave up throughout winter for their architectural and ornamental value.)

Santolina chamaecyparissus
Santolina chamaecyparissus: A great plant for under oaks and on dry banks – terrific texture!

 

 

 
A majority of the evergreen plants in the botanical gardens come from mediterranean climate zones that share similar climates: rainy winters and warm-hot dry summers. These regions include the Mediterranean Basin (15 countries on three continents), Australia, California, Chile and South Africa. The plants from these locales share similar adaptions to survive sometimes soggy winters and occasionally blistering hot summers: gray leaves that deflect sunlight, waxy leaves that conserve water, plants with tiny pine-like leaves that also conserve water, plants high in oils (often fragrant, like lavender) that help block leaf stomata, or pores, when temperatures rise to prevent water loss, geophytes (bulbs) that bloom when water is available and die back in the summer. These are just a few of the adaptions that plants from these regions share in common. Plants with evergreen leaves are also often an adaption shared by many of these plants. Growing a whole new set of leaves every season takes energy and, most importantly, water.

coyote brush
Tough, beautiful natives: coyote brush Baccharis pilularis consanguinea and toyon Heteromeles arbutifola.

Why the foliage of many of these plants is just spectacular to look at, I don’t know. It’s probably one reason why many found their way into cultivated gardens in the first place. Beautiful, evergreen and heat and drought-tolerant; plants just don’t get any better! (Okay, maybe I’m a little biased.)

Acacia
Evergreen weeping Acacia Acacia pendula has weeping form and bright silver foliage.

Don’t miss this year’s winter foliage highlights in the botanical gardens – even better than last year! 

 

Acacia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agaves
Mexican natives: two hardy Agaves, big Agave americana in the background and petite Agave parryi in the foreground.

Put layers on and come see these cold-hardy, heat-hardy beauties and many others for yourself. The gardens’ winter hours are 8am to 5pm/dusk.

Happy gardening from the horticulture staff at Turtle Bay!

Lisa Endicott – Horticulture Manager

Email gardens@turtlebay.org for more information and/or questions.

Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Nursery: open to the public year-round Fridays and Saturdays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. Visit our interactive Nursery inventory list at www.turtlebay.org/nursery .

Green World All Around Us: An Ode to Versatile, Beautiful Deer Grass

If a Grecian urn deserves an ode (which it does) then I think something as gorgeous and seemingly timeless as deer grass also deserves high praise. (However you won’t find it here in verse!) Our native deer grass Muhlenbergia rigens is one of those beautiful, all-purpose plants that can thrive in most places; with the exception of constantly wet or very shady areas. For this, and its need for little attention (maintenance), it has earned my everlasting admiration.

Deer Grass
In the west Botanical Gardens parking lot, a stand of Muhlenbergia rigens Deer Grass are lit up in the evening light.

Deer grass can eventually grow up to 6’ wide and, including the seed heads, 4-5’ tall. In spite of its sort of ambiguous common name, deer grass is not browsed by deer; in the wild deer (does) can successfully hide their fawns by bedding them down in a stand of several deer grass. Other wildlife also utilize deer grass. For example: ducks build a nest under one of the deer grass in our nursery, and we often see quail families running from one deer grass to the next in the gardens at this time of year (a really adorable sight).

Deer grass is a very a low maintenance plant, not susceptible to most pests and diseases, and usually only requiring pruning once a year or even every-other-year (depending upon how many of the blades have died back), preferably in February. It can be divided in our area after frost has passed in the spring. However, seedlings do tend sprout readily in the spring with a lot of spring rain or overhead irrigation (not as much with drip irrigation). Seedlings can be transplanted easily in the spring after threat of frost, but an older, larger grass can be harder to dig out and transplant as the roots are very tough and fibrous.

At one point at Turtle Bay, years ago, there were several places (such as the slope on the west side of the Sundial Bridge) that lost plants because of difficult conditions. Deer Grass to the rescue! In fact, at one point after a few years (I’ve been here since 2002), I stopped saying out loud to Horticulture staff “You know what would really go well in that area?” because I would hear a loud chorus of “Deer grass!” in response. And while the answer wasn’t, and isn’t always deer grass, it’s a good choice for a myriad of garden situations.

Because deer grass is such a useful, easy-to-grow California native plant we keep it in propagation throughout the year in the Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Nursery. On September 24th the Fall Plant Sale will feature: drought tolerant and some riparian perennial plants including California natives, grasses, many unusual flowering plants, groundcovers and shrubs. Free gardening advice will be available throughout the day from Arboretum and Botanical Gardens staff and volunteers. Come early – some plants sell out fast! Member PreSale 9-11 a.m. (Memberships available at the gate) and Public Sale 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Sale includes a 20% discount for the public and a 30% discount for Turtle Bay Members!

Free admission to the Gardens all day.

Visit www.turtlebay.org/nursery for more inventory list

Turtle Bay’s McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Nursery – 1100 Arboretum Drive (Take N. Market Street, turn on Arboretum Drive. Take right fork in the road and park in parking lot on the left.) Enter Nursery through gate in parking lot.

Come and enjoy the many happy deer grass here at Turtle Bay on the grounds and gardens, as well as the arboretum!

Happy gardening, from the Horticulture staff at Turtle Bay.

Lisa Endicott – Horticulture Manager

Email Turtle Bay’s Horticulture department at gardens@turtlebay.org for more information and/or questions.

Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Nursery open year-round Fridays and Saturdays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm.: Drought-tolerant plants, including a selection of California natives and others, are available at the Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Nursery, Visit our interactive Nursery inventory list at www.turtlebay.org/nursery .

 

Green World All Around Us: Pollinator plants and new Pollinator Garden plantings

While there are literally hundreds of lists with pollinator plants out there, not all lists are created equal. The plants that will grow happily in our area for pollinators are not the same as the plants will grow well on the East Coast and vice versa.

In practice, knowing which plants will grow well in our area can be just as much a matter of trial and error as it is painstakingly researching plants and their zones in the Sunset Garden book and other sources. I’m here to help when it comes to pollinator plants that do well in our area.

Many of the angiosperms, or flowering plants, are pollinated by some creature, be it a bird, butterfly, bee, bat, mammal or insect, these pollinators are essential for spreading genetic diversity among the plant world. (While some plants can self-pollinate, cross-pollination often results in stronger plants.)

A large percentage of pollinator plants that you see in gardens come from the same families. For example: many favorite pollinator plants are from the mint family, daisy family, figwort family, etc. While that may sound a lot to keep track of, it becomes simpler if you look at it like this: All sages, lavenders, rosemary and mint are in the Lamiaceae or mint family. They’re pollinator plants for some creature or other. Daisies, asters, sunflowers, yarrow (look closely, each little flower in a cluster has a daisy-like structure)–if it looks like a daisy, it’s in the Asteraceae or daisy family. They’re pollinator plants. In fact, the mint and daisy families of plant have so many species between them that you could easily fill a garden with plants from these two families alone that would grow happily here. Sages for example, are in the mint family; it is estimated that half of the known species are native to Mexico. Not surprisingly, sages generally do very well here. Not all of the species in these families will grow happily in our climate, but that’s where area (ours) specific research comes in.

Habitat can be just as important as species selection when creating a pollinator garden. Water is an essential element in the garden as well as safe landing spots and cover. Also a safe distance (as in a tree limb) needs to be available for birds to retreat to from neighborhood cats if you have them.

Not to beat the drought-tolerant drum, but in the new Pollinator Garden plantings the majority of the new plants are drought-tolerant; my favorite attribute of any plants because once they’re established they have a much better chance of (happy!) survival in our climate.

Originally 32 species had been planted in the Pollinator Garden, but we had a large group of mother plants that were also pollinator plants in our nursery looking for a home, so we went a little over the top and added not only those plants, but species upon species until we ended up with 57 new species.

As ever, I really love a plant list with a purpose, so here is a list of 50 pollinator plants of the 89 plants in the in the newly flushed out Pollinator Garden in the botanical gardens:

 

  1. El Tigre
    Epilobium canum ‘El Tigre’

    Achillea filipendula Fernleaf Yarrow

  2. Achillea millefolium ‘Paprika’ Paprika Yarrow
  3. Achillea millefolim ‘White’ White Yarrow
  4. Aristolochia californica California Dutchman’s Pipe
  5. Baccharis pilularis ‘Twin Peaks’ Twin Peaks Coyote Bush
  6. Chitalpa tashkentensis ‘Pink Dawn’ Pink Dawn Chitalpa
  7. Epilobium californica ‘Gray Form’ California Fuchsia
  8. canum ‘Carman’s Gray’ Carman’s Gray California Fuchsia
  9. Epilobium canum ‘El Tigre’ El Tigre California Fuchsia
  10. Epilobium canum var. latifolium. ‘ Everett’s Choice’ Everett’s Choice California Fuchsia
  11. Epilobium septentrionale ‘Wayne’s Choice’ Wayne’s Choice California Fuchsia
  12. Eriogonum arborescens Santa Cruz Island Buckwheat
  13. Eriogonum fasciculatum California Buckwheat
  14. California Buckwheat
    Eriogonum fasciculatum California Buckwheat

    Eriogonum fasciculatum ‘Warriner Lytle’ Warriner Lytle California Buckwheat

  15. Hyalis argentea Olivillo
  16. Lavandula stoechas Spanish Lavender
  17. Lepichinia hastata Lepichinia
  18. Myrtus communis ‘Compacta’ Compact True Myrtle
  19. Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ Giant Catmint
  20. Oenethera elata ‘Hookeri’ Hooker’s Evening Primrose
  21. Pelargonium graveolens Rose Geranium
  22. Penstemon ‘Midnight’ Midnight Penstemon
  23. Phlomis fruticosa Jerusalem Sage
  24. Punica granatum ‘Wonderful’ Pomegranate
  25. Rosmarinus ‘Tuscan Blue’ Tuscan Blue Rosemary

(Just a little Sage-happy!)

  1. Hyalis argentea Olivillo
    Hyalis argentea Olivillo
    Hyalis argentea Olivillo
    Hyalis argentea Olivillo

    Salvia apiana White Sage

  2. Salvia clevelandii ‘Allen Chickering’ Cleveland Sage
  3. Salvia dorrii Desert Sage
  4. Salvia forsskaolii Indigo Woodland Sage
  5. Salvia greggii ‘Coral’ Coral Autumn Sage
  6. Salvia greggii ‘Playa Rosa’ Playa Rosa Autumn Sage
  7. Salvia greggii ‘Red Swing’ Red Swing Autumn Sage
  8. Salvia greggii ‘Teresa’ Teresa Autumn Sage
  9. Salvia involucrata Rose Sage
  10. Salvia jamensis ‘California Sunset’ California Sunset Jame’ Sage
  11. Salvia jamensis ‘Tangerine Ballet’ Tangerine Ballet Jame’ Sage
  12. Salvia leucantha Mexican Sage
  13. Salvia leucophylla ‘Point Sal’ Point Sal Purple Sage
  14. Salvia microphylla ‘Bezerkeley’ Bezerkeley Littleleaf Sage
  15. Salvia microphylla ‘Heatwave Blaze’ Heatwave Blaze Littleleaf Sage
  16. Tuscan Blue Rosemary
    Rosmarinus ‘Tuscan Blue’ Tuscan Blue Rosemary

    Salvia microphylla ‘Purple’ Purple Littleleaf Sage

  17. Salvia ‘Sally Greenwood’ Sally Greenwood Sage
  18. Salvia spathacea Hummingbird Sage
  19. Salvia uliginosa Bog Sage (moderate water is fine once established)
  20. Sedum moranense Red Stonecrop
  21. Sedum palmeri Palmer’s Stonecrop
  22. Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’ Angelina Sedum
  23. Teucrim fruticans Bush Germander
  24. Verbena bonariensis Upright Verbena
  25. Verbena rigida Rigid Verbena

Come and see these new plantings, not only for the plant species, but for reference of what an eventually very full garden looks like at the start. (In 2 or 3 years this garden will be literally overflowing with plants for pollinators.)

Because of several environmental factors, pollinators are on the decline. Your pollinator garden can make a difference!

 

Reminder: During summer the botanical gardens open by 7:00 am and stay open until dusk.

Happy gardening, from the Horticulture staff at Turtle Bay.

Lisa Endicott – Horticulture Manager

Email Turtle Bay’s Horticulture department at gardens@turtlebay.org for more information and/or questions.

Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Nursery open year-round Fridays and Saturdays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm.: Drought-tolerant plants, including a selection of California natives and others, are available at the Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Nursery, Visit our interactive Nursery inventory list at www.turtlebay.org/nursery .

Green World All Around Us: The Heat is On!

When temperatures rise in our area, it becomes evident relatively quickly which plants will power through the summer and which plants would walk themselves into the shade if they could.

If I was forced to choose favorite plants, I would say my favorites are the tough, interesting plants that don’t miss a beat here in the summer. Many of our native plants, as well as non-native drought and sun-tolerant ornamental plants that populate the botanical gardens and other plantings at Turtle Bay may only bloom in the spring, but they have something going for them that is more important than fleeting blooms. They have stamina. And low water needs!

While roses start to burn in the bud when temperatures climb and other plants with regular water needs have similar reactions, here are some of the many drought tolerant plants that thrive in our triple-digit summer heat:

California Garden
In the California Garden, Amorpha californica California False Indigo. A butterfly magnet in spring, this large shrub manages to look lush and verdant throughout the summer. Foreground: Muhlenbergia rigens Deer Grass and Salvia ‘Bee’s Bliss

In the Earthstone plantings (all CA native plants): Penstemon ‘Margarita BOP’ Foothill Penstemon. This evergreen native blooms all summer long (with a light shearing after each bloom flush fades).

Patch o’ Yarrow - Achillea millefolium.
In the California Garden – Patch o’ Yarrow – Achillea millefolium. Yarrow makes a good drought resistant mowable lawn substitute that only requires weekly water in summer (it can survive with much less water, but will not be as happy).

 

 

California Garden
California Garden – back, Arctostaphylos ‘Howard McMinn’ a well-beloved selection of a native coastal manzanita that also does well with interior conditions. Foreground: beautiful Muhlenbergia rigens Deer Grass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

South African Torch Lily
Light up your garden! South African Torch Lily Kniphofia citrina (and other spp.). With regular dead-heading (cutting back spent flower stalks to the base) these beauties can bloom several months from spring-summer. Kniphofias come in several colors: all are easy to grow.

 

 

 

Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’
Australian Garden – Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’ Many Grevilleas and other evergreen shrubs benefit from close pruning for the first 2 or 3 years after planting (annually) to encourage strong, dense branching. After that, let them grow into a more natural shape that only occasionally needs touch-up pruning.

 

 

 

 

Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’
Last of the seasons’ blooms on Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’. Blooming for these plants usually starts in mid-to-late February. Blooms are just icing on the cake for these reliably hardy, drought-tolerant, adaptable (grow in sun or shade) evergreen shrubs.

 

 

 

 

Rose Campion
See them while you can! An unassuming drought-tolerant Mediterranean Garden groundcover during much of the year, Lychnis coronaria Rose Campion steals the show in late spring – early summer. Chaste Tree Vitex agnus-castus in background: Chaste Trees are pollinator attractors and can bloom (purple flower spikes) twice or more during spring and summer.
Verbena rigida ‘Polaris’
While we propagate these plants on a regular basis, a happy accident started this planting by the greenhouse door at Turtle Bay’s Nursery. The light purple Verbena rigida ‘Polaris’ came up on its own. The Upright Verbena Verbena bonariensis and Tuscan Blue Rosemary were planted later. Facing south and in the sun all day this planting requires very little summer water and almost no maintenance.

 

Beat the heat! During the summer the botanical gardens open by 7:00 am and stay open until dusk. These and many more plants throughout Turtle Bay that not only survive but thrive during summer heat, await your visit.

Happy gardening, from the Horticulture staff at Turtle Bay.

Lisa Endicott – Horticulture Manager


Email Turtle Bay’s Horticulture department at gardens@turtlebay.org for more information and/or questions.

Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Nursery open year-round Fridays and Saturdays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm.: Drought-tolerant plants, including a selection of California natives and others, are available at the Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Nursery, Visit our interactive Nursery inventory list at http://www.turtlebay.org/nursery .

Green World All Around Us: Turtle Bay’s Arboretum & Botanical Gardens’ 24th Annual Spring Plant Sale!

24th Annual Arboretum Spring Plant Sale

Friday, April 8th, 4:00-8:00pm – Turtle Bay Members Night Event (Memberships available at the gate)

Saturday, April 9th, 9:00am-3:00pm – General Public Sale

Traditionally, heirloom tomatoes and other vegetables are a main feature of the spring plant sale! In addition, we have unusual, drought-tolerant, hard-to-find perennials, shrubs, and trees, as well as California native plants and ornamental grasses, all grown here in our Nursery and acclimated to Redding’s vigorous climatic conditions. Sale includes a 20% discount for the public and a 30% discount for Turtle Bay members. Check out www.turtlebay.org/nursery for the updated inventory list – which includes plant growing guides (just click on the name of the plant).

I just did the math and this is my 22nd Spring Plant Sale: first as customer, then volunteer and, for the last 14 years, staff member at Turtle Bay. Always exciting for plant people (the majority of people I know included!), purchasing plants from a botanical garden’s nursery is an opportunity to grow plants that you see as mature specimens growing throughout established gardens.

In our case, it is also an opportunity to grow a wide selection of drought tolerant plants, including native species in our California native sections (sun and shade). Even with substantial rain this year, our climate has very little rain in summer; drought tolerant plants are always a good pick for our area. They are also typically lower maintenance – added bonus!

I love sharing information about plants that grow happily in my v-e-r-y dry garden (I only watered three times last summer!), 99% of which I have purchased in past plant sales. My home garden is “Darwin’s Garden”- survival of the most drought-tolerant. I think it’s relevant to share first-hand experience growing plants in a really dry garden, because plants grow very differently, not only in different climates, but with different watering situations.

Below is a partial list of my happily dry plants (remember to water newly planted drought tolerant plants once a week, or as-needed, until established). These are also available at the 24th Annual Spring Plant Sale.

Now in the nurseryClick on each botanical name to go to a plant information page:

Agave americana Century Plant – Southwest US, Mexican native

Agave americana ‘Variegata’  Variegated Century Plant (at right) – Southwest US, Mexican native. All Agaves are “architectural” plants, perfect for single specimen garden highlights!

Amorpha californica California False Indigo – an exotic-looking, but very hardy, large CA native shrub with beautiful dark purple blooms

Atriplex lentiformis breweri Saltbush – A medium-sized CA native shrub with iridescent silver leaves

Baccharis pilularis subsp. consanguinea Coyote brush – a pollinator magnet, it is a dense, bright green evergreen CA native shrub with fine foliage. There are also dwarf forms.

Caesalpinia gilliesii Bird of Paradise (shrub) – South American native desert wash shrub with out-of-this-world blooms! In my experience, this plant typically re-blooms a couple of days after watering (many desert wash plants have this habit in common).

Centaurea gymnocarpa Velvet Centaurea – Large silver Mediterranean native shrub with textural, over-sized silver dusty-miller type leaves.

Chitalpa (xChitalpa) tashkentensis ‘Pink Dawn’ Pink Dawn Chitalpa – Fast-growing tree with a CA native desert species as one of its parents. Chitalpas sport beautiful tubular pink blooms on and off April-October!

Epilobium californica California Fuchsia – Brilliant orange blooms in late summer through fall highlight this vigorous CA Native groundcover

Eragrostis chloromelas – Weeping Love Grass – this South African native starts blooming in Spring and has decorative seedheads all season

Now in the nurseryEriogonum fasciculatum California Buckwheat – (at left) another pollinator magnet, this medium-sized CA Native blooms for months starting in spring.

Eriogonum nudum Naked Buckwheat -a diminutive CA native with blooms atop a slender stalk, that like all buckwheats, is a major attraction for pollinators

Euphorbia rigida Euphorbia -an adorable Mediterranean native groundcover Euphorbia with bright chartreuse-yellow blooms starting in February. Around the end of March the blooms fade to salmon color, looking attractive in bloom for several months overall!

Now in the nurseryHyalis argentea var. argentea Olivillo – South American native silver (with metallic sheen) shrubby evergreen plant that grows and blooms extremely well with almost no additional water in summer

Lobelia laxiflora Mexican Lobelia – Arizona and Mexican native (most drought tolerant in our area with afternoon shade) has red tubular flowers with yellow “lips”

Muhlenbergia rigens Deer Grass (at right) a CA native grass that looks good alone or en masse in large areas

Myrtus communis True Myrtle – a favorite evergreen Mediterranean native shrub with dense, pine-scented foliage

Myrtus communis ‘Compacta Variegata’ – Variegated Dwarf Myrtle – a Mediterranean native variegated little-leaf version of True Myrtle. Both types of shrubs benefit from early structural pruning to encourage dense branching.

Nassella (Stipa) tenuissima – Mexican Feather Grass – is a very attractive 2 foot Southwestern US and Mexican native grass that will joyously seed in a watered landscape. Fortunately these little grasses are easy to pull up and transplant (or compost) in spring.

Phlomis fruticosa – Jerusalem Sage – a Mediterranean Native large shrub that is usually evergreen. In the spring bright yellow whorls of flowers decorate the tops of branches

Phlomis lanata Jerusalem Sage – is a dwarf Mediterranean native shrub with similar, but much smaller, features of Phlomis fruticosa

Now in the nurseryPunica granatum ‘Nana’ – Dwarf Pomegranate (at right) – another Mediterranean native, this surprisingly tough drought tolerant shrub has bright green leaves, deep red/ orange flowers and mini-pomegranates!

Ruellia brittoniana – Mexican Petunia – a Southwest US, Mexican native (most drought tolerant in our area with afternoon shade). This vigorous grower has showy purple Petunia-like blooms, spreads by roots and tends to do best with winter protection. Mine grows up against my house and tends to be evergreen, blooming most of the year. In the open this plant is herbaceous (dies to the ground in winter), usually not making an appearance again until May.

Salvia clevelandii ‘Allen Chickering’ – Cleveland Sage – this CA native selection (natural cross between two CA native Salvias – clevelandii x leucophylla) is a favorite evergreen shrub. It has dense foliage if pruned annually and whorls of purple flowers in the spring. The scent of this plant is a surprise, like a cross between lavender and sage (both are in the same family, Lamiaceae) – it is just divine.

We hope to see you at the Spring Plant Sale!


 

Happy Gardening!

Lisa Endicott, Horticulture Manager

and Turtle Bay’s Horticulture Staff

Email Turtle Bay’s Horticulture department at gardens@turtlebay.org for more information and/or questions.

Along with spring and fall biannual plant sales, the Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Nursery is open to the public year-round Fridays and Saturdays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. Turtle Bay members receive a 20% discount. Visit our interactive Nursery inventory list at www.turtlebay.org/nursery

Green World All Around Us: Indoor Seed Propagation

Here at Turtle Bay we are fortunate to have a sizable greenhouse to start seeds. That’s not the case for, easily, 99% of gardeners. Propagation in your already climate-controlled home is a perfect alternative.

Last month, our indoor propagation class was a hit! We had adults and families who came to learn about propagating plants indoors. Late winter/early spring seed propagation is the next best thing instead of being out in the garden during inclement weather. You can propagate plants as a family activity or on your own, but either way there are lots of elements to indoor propagation; so, my advice is to start small. It’s easy to get carried away!

Begin with the seeds: seed catalogs and websites (oh joy)! For a plant person, old or new, hours spent pouring over seed selections is an adventure in itself. The vastness of choice is overwhelming. Seeds for plants with new attributes and old favorites alike are happily added to virtual shopping carts. Having a fixed seed budget (I really recommend doing this) and choosing plants that will realistically grow in your climate are two factors that help narrow down choices.

What are good criteria for choosing seeds and seed vendors? 

  • Have you purchased seeds from this vendor before?
    • Check reviews from previous customers on a 3rd party site. Thankfully, lots of gardeners share their experiences.
    • If you can’t find (positive) reviews of germination results for a particular vendor, only purchase a couple of packets your first order, to check if the seeds germinate.
  • Will the resulting plants grow in my climate?
    • Check the USDA or Sunset climate zone for your location.
    • What type of lifespan does the plant have? Check for each plant.
    • Plants are either annuals (live one season, set seed and die), biennials (the plant grows the first year, blooms the second year, sets seed and dies; like foxglove and hollyhocks) or perennials (may live several years to several decades, depending on the plant).
  • Do you want to collect your own seed for future propagation?
    • Make sure seed is mature (if not quite mature you can cut entire seed heads off and store in a paper bag until seeds ripen).
    • Label by name and date for collected seed.
    • Research specific seed germination methods for collected seed.

From personal experience, I know that indoor propagation is a great way to grow a larger variety of plants than you may have ever imagined possible. With patience and attention to seed germination recommendations, you can end up with a plethora of plants. With added light(s) and green things growing in your home, indoor plant propagation even helps with wintertime cabin fever!

Adjust the size of your propagation systems (below) to suit your needs. In fact, if you aren’t a confirmed plantaholic (you know who you are), start small. Either way, we all have to experiment with propagation. I like to think of my indoor propagation area in the winter as a cross between a greenhouse and a laboratory. It’s both challenging and fun!

Also from experience I know it’s good to let everyone in your family grow something. Something easy to propagate and grow will get them involved and bring smiles. Microgreens are super easy and satisfying. You just need space for a couple of half-flats, light, and regular water. Voila, success!

Tools

  • Designated seed storage: seedling flats, containers
  • Water-tight flats under seedling flats and containers, saucers
  • Fine-grade seed planting medium; soilless is best for indoors (easy to clean up). My favorite is coconut coir.
  • Small watering can (small watering cans are easier to control water flow)
  • Tarp (under growing rack/potting table)
  • Designated potting area or table
  • Large, low plastic container for potting
  • Card file or propagation journal

 

seedlings
Seedlings at different stages on propagation rack.

Large Indoor Propagation System

  • 48″x72″ Baker’s Rack
  • 48″ shop light fixtures (2 for each shelf)
  • 48″ fluorescent lights (1 warm and 1 cool for each fixture)
  • Nylon cable ties to attach chains to light fixtures (put hooks on end of chains to attach to baker’s rack)
  • Half flats, trays, pots, potting table, watering can, etc.
plastic domes
Use plastic domes or plastic wrap over seed flats before germination. It’s crucial to keep seeds evenly moist until they germinate.
tarp
A tarp under your potting area helps contain water, seed potting medium, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Light Sources

Some homes are blessed with plenty of natural indoor light from large windows, many are not. If you aren’t up for creating a propagation rack, there are other low-cost ways to increase the light in your home for plants.

  • Lamps with fluorescent lights and small seed containers put close to the light source can work well.
  • Seed trays should be about 4-6″ from artificial light source. (Seedlings may grow in lower light conditions, but their stems stretch, and the plants are usually weak).

Organic Help – if needed

High humidity levels and warm temperatures, while perfect for seed germination, are also the perfect environment for aphids, mealy bugs, scale, etc.–and fungus. Although more than one application of an organic product is typically needed, organic pesticides/fungicides are available that are safe for humans as well as plants.

  • You can find local, as well as online, suppliers for organic pesticide/herbicides.

Information Sources

  • Online university extension materials from throughout the country can be particularly useful regarding indoor seed starting because indoor climate is controllable.
  • Researching other gardeners’ experiences with seed of same species can also give you ideas about techniques you might not have tried before.
  • Some books are more helpful than others. Peruse or preview propagation books before purchasing.
  • Very thorough propagation book and supplements by N.C. Deno in public domain. Download from USDA site.
  • California native seed webpage

Have fun experimenting with seeds!

 

Happy gardening from the horticulture staff at Turtle Bay.

Lisa Endicott – Horticulture Manager

Email gardens@turtlebay.org for more information and/or questions.

Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Nursery: open to the public year-round Fridays and Saturdays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. Visit our interactive Nursery inventory list at www.turtlebay.org/nursery .