This small-scale ground cover just fits too well with my gardening style not to be on my wishlist. A shade and moisture-loving succulent, I can grow it with my rhododendrons! The foliage is nice enough, though nothing to write home about. The flowers are the main attraction, pendulous, tiny yellow urns tangling in chains from stalks that rise above the foliage. Plants like these are some of my favorites. They spend their off-times in quiet charm, not detracting from the rest of the garden with some unfortunate feature like an awkward growth habit, and letting the current players shine. Then when it's their turn, they do something unexpected and wonderful. Because of the threat of deer, I haven't yet added this shady succulent to my collection, though I've been thinking a container on a shaded deck might be the ideal way to grow it until I have a protected area to start a patch in the ground.
Indoors, I am rather fickle with succulents, again because they just aren't able to reach their full potential indoors during a dark northern winter. I have had a few aloes, crassulas, and other plants off and on over the years, but I almost always become dissatisfied with their growth, being either too slow (meaning they don't change enough and therefore don't hold my attention) or they become etiolated, stretching out in the meager winter light. The latter is my own shortcoming. Most people have trouble remembering to water their container plants. I used to have trouble holding back water from succulents in winter as much as I should, making them grow more than they should. Whenever I start to feel crowded by my house plant collection (yes, even I recognize when I've run out of space) succulents invariably are some of the first to go. They aren't happy and neither am I. If I lived in a warmer climate where they could stay outside, they'd probably have stuck around. Sansevieras are usually safe, as they can be a bit expensive once you start collecting beyond the regular S. trifasciata and they are mostly good performers in lower light. Maybe I'll make a post about my sanseviera wishlist one of these days (once I actually make one), but this time I have a couple other plants to share.
A few weeks ago, I saw a plant at Milaeger's Nursery coated in dense, coppery fuzz, the older leaves fading towards silver. The single specimen that they had for sale was covered in mealybugs, so I passed it up at the time, but I continued to see it in my mind. After some thorough internet sleuthing, I found a name for my mystery plant, Kalanchoe orgyalis, with the appropriate common name of copper spoons.
|Image courtesy of San Marcos Growers website.|
While I was trying to figure out the identity of Kalanchoe orgyalis, I stumbled across another Kalanchoe that I had seen before and lusted after, Kalanchoe rhombopilosa (sorry, no common name), and decided to officially add it to my wishlist.
|Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.|
Leaves like big silver scales with black markings coat the stems of this plant. Here's another Google image search for you to see more mesmerizing pictures of this amazing plant. Unfortunately, this plant apparently suffers from the same condition as many succulents, where the leaves fall off easily and make new plants. I don't mind the new plants, but leaves that break off easily can become a nuisance and leave the plant looking bare, which is why I've never grown burro's tail (Sedum morganianum) and many other succulents. On the other hand, this kalanchoe is much more spectacular in appearance than burro's tail. Once I get them, it will be interesting to see if they survive the next culling. I can see the Kalanchoe rhombopilosa surviving as a filler/weed in pots with larger plants, possibly even with the copper spoons, though I'm not sure what that combo would look like.
I'm also amassing a list of hardy and tropical palms that I want to grow, which has reached 31 total, only 6 of which are hardy to zone 8 (though there are more in that category to add). Naturally I don't expect to succeed with, or even order, all of them. I'll whittle the list down over the course of the winter until I have a final list of must-haves ready to order. Some of the hardy species are tried and true in the Pacific Northwest, whereas I've seen mixed reports for others. It will be an experiment to see which of the tropical species succeed as houseplants in my cool-ish home. I don't let it go below 60F, but I try to avoid the high 70s and even low 80s that some of these jungle palms would prefer. It may not be practical to try to grow these plants indoors, but how will I know if any of these drool-worthy specimens are worthy houseplants if I don't experiment? The ones that prove adaptable will be the practical ones. For a look at some of the palms on my wishlist, take a gander at these Google image searches:
Licuala mattanensis var. paucisecta (a.k.a. Licuala Mapu)
Chamaedorea metallica (something a little more familiar, perhaps)
Calyptrocalyx pachystachys (the mottled-leaf form
So those are some of the things I'm looking at to while away the winter doldrums (technically very late fall doldrums still). Some gardeners are lucky enough that they can order and grow things year-round, others fantasize about what they will order come spring, like I am. Either way, we all make wishlists. What's on yours?