Spring 2024 Plant Sale

[updated Apr 7 2024]

Sales are ongoing, with new items being added often. Use the contact form to email regarding appointments, availability, or any questions. In-person shopping welcome by appointment; I’m near the Orinda / Moraga border.

I’m sold out of orchid divisions (Dedrobium, Pleurothallis, Dendrochillum) until I can divide, repot, and establish more plants. I’ll post info here when they’re available. You can also email me via the Contact link over there on the right, and I’ll add you to an update mailing list.
 
Aechmea caudata: 
Bromeliad. Bare root ($25 to $40). Happiest planted in the ground; thrive in pots, but will be needing division each spring/summer. Many offsets! Prolific “candy corn” inflorescences on long spikes. Strong indirect light is best.

Vriesea fenestralis x Vriesea gigantea ‘Nova’ (? parentage uncertain): 
Bromeliad; rare. $50. = Hardy to about 35 degrees; lower than that, cover with frostcloth and move closer to the house. No direct sun, dappled shade is best. I don’t recommend planting in the ground unless you live in Oakland/Berkeley, etc. Prolific offsets. Does not flower for me. Wonderful foliage plant.

Furcraea longaeva
Succulent. 4” seedlings $4.00. Grows into massive plant with Agave-type habit. Moncarpic.

Bilbergia nutans “Queen’s Tears”: 
Bromeliad. .25 each tank, or free with purchase.

Echinopsis chamaecereus (“Peanut Cactus”)
Succulent. 4” offsets $4.00.

Aloe arborescens variegata / Candelabra aloe:
Succlent. 5 gallons in plastic: $25 to $40.

Sauromatum venosum (common name: Voodoo Lily):
Arum (corms).$15 to $35 in various pots. Each pot includes at least 3 corms; most, more. These are dormant until June 2024. Keep sheltered and dry-ish until then.
 
Opuntia monocantha (variegated):
Succulent. $10 in terracotta. $7 in plastic.

Succulent offsets – various sizes and prices; inquire.

Licensed to sell nursery stock in Contra Costa County by the state of California.

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.

Welcome…

…and thanks for visiting.

I offer gardening, maintenance, and consulting services to customers in and around Moraga, Orinda, and Lafayette, California.

I have over 35 years of experience gardening and landscaping in Northern California, with the last fifteen years in Lamorinda. I’ve been working professionally since 2018. I specialize in native cultivars, pollinator gardens, organic vegetable gardening, and succulents, as well as orchids, bamboo, bromeliads and other exotics. I have significant experience with dividing and repotting orchids and bromeliads, water-wise landscaping, xeriscaping, drainage issues, seasonal pruning, fertilization, defensible space consultation / mitigation, gutter cleaning, brush clearing, and bamboo thinning / maintenance.

I’m licensed to sell nursery stock in Contra Costa County by the state of California. I buy, propagate, and raise well-tended native and exotic plants in my yard that I make available by appointment. The selection is of particular interest to orchid and bromeliad fans.

I look forward to working with you and collaborating on researching, creating and maintaining a beautiful, nature-inspired outdoor space.

* I’ll consider travel outside the Lamorinda area for longer-term / more extensive projects, especially if they involve habitat restoration and invasives removal.