Amy Baumann is a gardener in San Dimas and works as a volunteer at the California Botanic Gardens in Claremont. He sent an email asking if I could recommend “books that focus on native plants in California and perform well in containers”. Although I couldn’t offer a title, we’ve published stories on this topic in this newspaper, and there’s an excellent discussion on the topic in the “Patio and Container Gardens” section by Pete Veilleux, and you’ll find it. on the California Native Plant Society website (cnps.org). There is also a list compiled by Theodore Payne Foundation (theodorepayne.org) on “Indigenous Plants That Are Happy in Containers”. Las Pilitas Nursery (laspilitas.com) lists more than 50 California natives recommended for full-day container cultivation, even when temperatures reach 95 degrees in the summer.
The truth is that virtually any plant can be grown in a container, so it stays healthy for years. In the Palace of Versailles near Paris, more than a thousand trees grow in containers, including orange trees from Spain and Portugal, as well as lemon and pomegranate trees, leanders and palms. These plants, some of which have been there for more than two centuries, are grown in special containers called Versailles boxes. Root pruning allows trees to be kept in containers of the same size for years. Specimens placed in a container are placed on a parterre or along the paths of a symmetrically patterned formal garden, but at this time of year they are taken to an orange house or greenhouse to provide protection during months of frosty weather.
Container soil is perfect, and it often happens that a plant grows happily in a container, but as soon as it gets into the ground, it begins to decline. The larger the plant, the greater the chance of success at planting, so experienced gardeners prefer the five-gallon plant to a one-gallon plant. A 15-gallon plant, when it comes to shrubs, vines, and trees, would be even better as long as the budget allows it.
Where the soil is poorly drained and for some reason you cannot properly modify it to take over the container plants you have just taken home, dig holes in the containers and plant the containers themselves with the plants growing in them into the ground. Plants will not need as much water as when their tanks are exposed to outside air. If they are slow growing, you can keep them in their containers in the ground for longer; plant them in the ground if you can already modify the soil properly. Where you are not sure which garden to place your best-acquired plants in, keep them in their container when you place them, a test may be to make sure you have given them enough sunshine or shade before deciding where to place them. away from them. in the ground.
The easiest Indigenous Californians to grow in containers are succulents: cacti, agave, yukka, sedum, and dudleya. It can reduce the frequency of watering compared to leafy plants due to their watertight leaves. The genus Dudleya, sometimes referred to as chalk, lives forever because of its sometimes lime-white foliage and lifespan of more than a hundred years, it is the most prominent succulent genus in Southern California. There are more than 40 Dudleya species in our area. Many are endangered, and many of them are found exclusively in the Channel Islands. They show up on the bare side of the rock walls as they drive through the National Forest of Angeles to Wrightwood. At the end of the Conejo Valley Botanical Garden in Thousand Oaks, you will also appear on a winding path as they grow and shine.
Where our local natural landscape is undisturbed, the Dudleys find a home. The home still appears to be in the most vertically oriented location within a mile radius. Simply put, reckless dudleys are happiest when stuck on a rock wall. I don’t know how they get there, but when you first see a nesting in the crevice of an earthen rift or granite wall, you get it completely unexpectedly. Typically a mass of rosettes or clumped succulent fingers, with silver-gray or baby-blue foliage, in its habitat, the dudleya exudes an aura of unreality. Dudley is rarely, but not at all, fully appreciated in a garden where there is usually only one in the often large collection of succulents. These other succulent species have their own unique characteristics, despite having a rather modest habitat compared to the dudley. To specify dudleys, find a way to place them on the side of the wall or fence.
There’s a reason rosette-forming dudleys grow the way they do. If water settles at the base of the rosette, the plant will rot. Therefore, they should be positioned so that any water that touches their leaves drips from them. Therefore, when watering, avoid getting their leaves wet. Nevertheless, dudleys are dormant in summer, so water sparingly, if at all, in warm weather.
Speaking of succulent plants that like rocks, I am grateful to Pete Veilleux of the California Native Plant Society for introducing me to rock clover (Lewisia cotyledon). Veilleux praises them for “their endless color variations, stunning leather-like rosettes, and very long flowering period,” and advises that “it is important to keep the soil in mind when growing beauties and plant them in larger pots every two years. they are in decline. ” I couldn’t find a local kindergarten where maids would be raised on a rock, but you can order them from a kindergarten (anniesannuals.com) located in Richmond, north of East Bay.
Rock girls belong to the family of cartilaginous species, so they are related to rose moss (Portulaca grandiflora), a colorful, succulent annual species that is now in bloom and is an excellent choice for containers and hanging baskets due to its abrupt growth habit. The stems and leaves of the common succulent weed, also known as the porcupine (Portulaca oleracea), are edible and are used in vegetable soups and salads.
Indigenous barons also make delicate container plants. One is the Nevin barberry (Mahonia nevinii), an endangered species that grows into shrubs over 10 feet tall with yellow flowers, red berries and small bluish-green and lanceolate leaves. The Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium) has larger leaves but is only six feet tall. Finally, the creeping barberry (Mahonia repens) is a ground cover with a height of only one foot.
As for the flower pot for the natives, Theodore Payne Foundation recommends a “cactus mix” containing perlite and slow-release fertilizer. After 4-6 months in a pot, it is advisable to apply another dose of the same fertilizer topically.
A warning about deciduous native plants is that they can also expire if left unattended during heat. To ensure they get adequate moisture and allow for a summer break, install an automatic drip system that delivers water to container natives while you are away.
Tip of the week: Palm trees are excellent container specimens, and the California fly palm (Washingtonia filifera) is a good example of this. It is the only palm native to California and grows in an arroyos palm oasis outside of Palm Springs. Chunky, smooth-bodied beauty, but growing slowly, and perhaps because of this, rarely, if not at all, seen locally. California cheerleaders are available in one-gallon containers at Theodore Payne Foundation Kindergarten in Sun Valley for $ 14.
The characteristic, ubiquitous Los Angeles palm trees seen in parks and landscapes are typically Mexican fan palms (Washingtonia robusta), also known as needle palms because of their thin trunks, which can reach up to a hundred feet in height. The so-called filibusts, which are hybrids of the two Washingtonia species, are growing in popularity because they grow rapidly without reaching the size of W. robusta while having the cold-tolerant ability of W. filifera.
When pruning Washingtonia, be careful not to get caught in one of the spikes along the leaf stalk. Having experienced such a sting in my own hand several times, I can attest to the paralyzing numbness of my entire hand that lasted for an entire week.