ONGOING PLANT SALE IN ORINDA – BY APPOINTMENT

[The sale was a success! and a lot of fun. Thanks to all who dropped by. All the plants described below are still for sale — some, now, in limited quantities. Contact me at the email address in bold, below, if you’d like to visit and browse available plants.]

The above photo is from May 2022. This is the tropical portion of my backyard.

Yes, I have too many plants.

Watering all my container plants, especially, has become problematic — especially considering EBMUD’s new restrictions. I’m thinning the herd.

I’ll be selling select potted and bare-root vegetation in a cul-de-sac adjacent to the Ivy Drive neighborhood (Moraga/Orinda border), from 11:30am until around 1:30pm on Saturday, July 16. Email paul at dobiemeadows dot com for directions. There will be shade, just in case in turns out to be another 100-degree day.

I’ve propagated and raised the plants myself. They’re fertilized, in appropriate soil, and well-tended. I’ve been growing ornamentals, tropicals, natives, vegetables, and seedlings for myself and my clients for years, and have a California license to sell plants —  the side yards and backyard of my home have been transformed into a nursery!  I spend most Sundays working on seeds, cuttings, offsets, and propagation.

If these sell out, I’ll probably have more of most of them in another month or two; look for more sales as summer progresses.

Cash (exact change is always wonderful) and Venmo only, please.

No holds. First come, first served.

All plants (except cuttings and bare-root, as noted) are in either plastic or terra cotta pots. All pots included with purchased plants. Please bring plastic or newspaper or the like to cover your car seats/trunk.

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Here’s what’s available:

Aloe arborescens variegata / Candelabra aloe:

These are two feet to a bit over three feet tall. $25 to $40. They sell at places like Dry Garden, Bancroft, and Flora Grubb for $50 to $85. These are well-rooted cuttings from an enormous 5-foot tall, 4-foot wide potted plant I bought as a one-gallon at Dry Garden circa 1998 (!). I can no longer move the pot without a handcart and an assistant, so I’ve resorted to cutting off stems, callusing them off, and sticking in succulent soil. The cuttings thrive. The more sun you give it, the more variegated it becomes. It blooms reliably in late winter, and has survived over a dozen Lamorinda frosts with nothing but one layer of frostcloth when temps dip below 35. Can grow in the ground if you keep it near the house or establish it before a mild winter or two; corners with southwestern exposure are best.

Aechmea caudata: 

Two in pots; one each in plastic and terracotta) ($25 to $35), some bare root ($15 to $25). Beautiful, hardy bromeliad with sawtooth (ouch!) leaves and arching candy-corn inflorescences each spring. Will establish quickly and grow impressively in the ground. Has repeatedly survived winters in my backyard down to 25 degrees, but I cover with frostcloth when it gets below freezing. These are big, healthy offsets from a monster plant I bought from Kenny at Moraga Garden Center in 2015. They just keep growing and growing, until I have too many to manage. They enjoy dappled shade, but will take on dramatic coloring if given a little more sun (watch for leaf bleaching if they get too much light). Pictured: mother plant (not for sale) in the ground.

Vriesea fenestralis x Vriesea gigantea ‘Nova’ (?): 

That question mark denotes I’m not positive of the parentage. One thing I’m sure of — this is a gorgeous bromeliad, striking, and *huge*. These get 4 feet tall by four feet wide, and even bigger if you put them in the ground with good drainage in filtered sunlight. A decidedly dominant houseplant specimen, if you have the room — a conservatory focal point that will wow everyone who sees it.

Caveats: Leaf yellowing/bleaching will occur if given too much sun. Frost protection necessary under 35 degrees; I keep them near the house and cover in winter when the chill clamps down. I bought the mother plant in Kaua’i in 2006, and, it’s now too big to move…I’ve gotten at least ten healthy plants from pups. This is a prolific specimen! I have never had these flower, but they’re monocarpic — after they flower, they die. But they push out many pups before expiring.

Tiny, 10-inch offsets of these from Florida growers on Etsy and eBay go for $25 to $40. I’m selling these large (3 to 4 feet tall), established plants in terra cotta for $50 to $85. A bargain! Above photos are of larger plants, not for sale. Yours would be roughly 1/2 to 1/3rd the size.

Neoregelia cruenta

Much like the above two in care. Dark green, sawtooth leaves with red tips.

If desired, I can give a primer on how to divide and propagate the offsets/divisions of the above bromeliads. They’re easy. These grow in trees in their native habitat, and will do so in Lamorinda if you mount them in a crook and give them some frost protection in winter.

(Warning regarding Aechmea, Vriesea, and Neoregelia: these are hydrated by keeping water in the cups/”tanks”. Water the soil every 10 days or so — the roots are only for anchoring; no moisture or nutrition is taken up from the roots.  If kept outside, mosquito control may be necessary. I use BT granules (“Mosquito bits”) like the ones put in ponds and standing water).

Sauromatum venosum (common name: Voodoo Lily):

These perennial corms are tropical plants in the Arum family. In the fall they yellow, I cut them back, and stash the pots in a cool, dry place, and forget about them. In late April I take the pots out, top with compost and balanced fertilizer, put them in the sun, and water them daily. By June they put up beautiful, arching, lush foliage that sways in the breeze. Best in filtered light, but will also thrive in deep shade. In terra cotta, but glazed ceramic is recommended in order to keep them appropriately moist. Easy to divide the corms, and each year the plants get bigger, with more corms / sprouts. Can overwinter in the ground. Poisonous. Some pots have 3 or 4 individual plants; $15 to $25.

Nicotiana alata:

I have three. Tobacco family, white flowers; sticky, skunky leaves. These self-seed and will spread to nearby pots/ground, but they’re as easy to pull and control as they are to propagate. Two in terracotta, one in a plastic nursery container. In flower; stalks benefit from being staked, especially in windy locations. Poisonous (deer hate them). When they begin looking ratty/leggy, cut them back, fertilize, and they’ll come roaring back before November, when they go to sleep. $20.

Opuntia monocantha (variegated):

These are cuttings in 1 gallon plastic pots. Classic spiny cactus with a striking, mottled green / cream presentation. Folks online offer 4″ pots for $12. I’m selling the gallons for $7.

 

 

Also:

* Bilbergia nutans “Queen’s Tears” offsets. Easy; beautiful, multicolored firecracker flowers in late spring. Divisions, bare root (not potted as in photo). .25 cents per tank. These will grow in the crooks of trees in Lamorinda. See Bromeliad warning (above) regarding mosquitos.

* Various potted succulents, most VERY spiny/pokey, from 1 gallon to 5 gallon, various prices; all inexpensive.  Some will not have tags. Some may be barely rooted and require support, or can be picked up at a later date once established. I’ll help you load them into your vehicle; bring heavy gloves and maybe newspaper to wrap/hold/unload.

* Plus some other surprises! F’rinstance: small terra cotta pots ‘n saucers aplenty.  Other stuff!

Come and browse, or just drop by and we can geek out about cool plants.

Regarding Cynthia Brian’s August 19th Gardening Column in Lamorinda Weekly

I have a couple comments about this particular installment. I’m reluctant to even link to it, because some of it is just…wrong.

* Brian writes “If you planted a succulent garden earlier in the season, you don’t need to waste any water by running the irrigation system.”

This is a broad generalization that doesn’t hold true, in many instances. I’ve had clients tell me “I don’t know why that cactus died. I didn’t think they needed water.” Succulents are a deep and wide class of thousands of plants, with varying cultural needs. Most need supplemental water during the warmest months of the year, especially if they were recently planted, and/or are in containers. In mid-August we had several consecutive days of 100-plus-degree weather. Water your succulents, especially if they’re in containers. Water until it drains out the drain holes. And never plant a succulent in a pot that can’t drain.

* Later in the same piece, Cynthia states “orchids are trouble-free and undemanding. Just leave them alone, put an ice cube once a week in their container, and let them beautify your home.”

This kind of blanket statement drives me bonkers. The majority of indoor orchids like to be be very wet, then very dry, for the most part. The ice cube fallacy can kill orchids. Take your indoor orchids to the sink when they’re dry, and let the water run through them and drain out completely. Then let them dry out a bit, preferably outside, where there’s a breeze. If the nights are below 45 degrees, don’t leave indoor orchids outside. Never let an orchid sit in a saucer full of water, and no plant is going to benefit from having ice-cold water dribble across a small area of its rootball. Oh, and if your orchid was potted in soil when you bought it (as are most mass-market plants sold at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Home Depot, and the like), it will nearly certainly benefit from being repotted in bark, and fertilized regularly during the growing season.

As with any plant, think “nuance”. What’s best for one species (or family of plants) doesn’t necessarily work for others. Beware of general plant-care advice. If in doubt, research the particular plant online. Find out where it’s native, and what the conditions are like in its native habitat. If you have any questions, email me via the Contact link over there on the top right. I’m happy to help.

Cymbidium Repotting Season is Here

Are your cymbidium blooms fading? Or did they bloom at all this year? Were your cymbidiums potted in soil instead of bark? If not, has your orchid bark medium turned to mulch?

Regardless, now’s the time to consider dividing/repotting, and switching to a high-nitrogen, orchid-specific fertilizer through September. Need more details? Let’s talk. Contact me at paul at dobiemeadows dot com.

Growing Orchids Outdoors

A mounted Laelia orchid hanging from an arbor in Orinda.

What orchids can survive outdoors year-round in zone 9B / Sunset zone 14 — the conditions that distinguish our Lamorinda microclimates?

A select few can make it through our winters — and summers. Depending on where you live, most will need to be covered and/or moved closer to the house once the temperature goes below 40 degrees, especially when conditions are also wet.

Terrestrial orchids planted in the ground sometimes do better than those in pots, because they’re better insulated. However, orchids in pots drain better, because orchids with roots in standing water and, well, mud are not happy — especially in temperatures under 50. Pots also equal portability — being able to move an orchid closer to an outside wall of your home can make a big difference. The best place for a chilled orchid is in front of a sliding glass door, where the most radiant heat exists during the coldest hours of the morning.

Cymbidiums in pots are likely your best bet. But even they can suffer when the thermometer drops under 40, especially when they have flower spikes in mid/late winter. Over the past couple winters I’ve resorted to wrapping the buds in layers of paper towels enclosed by rubber bands, then covering the entire plant in frostcloth.

The question is often one of duration. One 38-degree night? Maybe okay. But two or three, with no fabric to protect the plant from frost? That could be a problem.

A Masdevallia hybrid in a teak basket.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve had good luck with mounted Laelias (although they can require extra effort to keep moist in summer) and, to some degree, Masdevallias. The latter, when in pots, will need to be kept fairly dry — most masdevallias can handle cooler temps, but not cold AND excessive moisture. Even cooler-growing species will need to be kept close to the house when the chill clamps down overnight.

There are other members of the Pleurothallid alliance (cousins of Masdevallias) that are more robust. Certain Restrepias, for example, do fine as long as (yes, again) they’re within a few feet of the house.

Another important element of raising orchids in colder climates is to stop fertilizing in late summer. It’s not wise to force new, tender growth when the nighttime temperatures are heading to the low fifties. I generally stop fertilizing in late September, with the exception of Cymbidiums — I switch to a 6-30-30 formula, especially if they’ve yet to develop flower spikes. If they do, I stop fertilizing completely.

I’ve been growing outdoor orchids in the Bay area for 25 years, and in the East bay for 10. Through experimentation and trial and error I’ve arrived at certain species and hybrids that can make it through the worst our climate can deliver. Contact me at paul at dobiemeadows dot com if you’d like to discuss which outdoor (and indoor) orchids can survive — and which can thrive — in our challenging conditions.