February 2014

Strelitzia reginae
‘Mandela’s Gold’

Yellow bird of paradise

Nativity:

Kirstenbosch, South Africa

Growth Habit:

Growth Habit

Growing Requirements:

Bird of paradise plants are quite drought tolerant once established. Plant in full sun near the coast or partial shade in hotter regions.

Features:

This yellow-flowering form was created at Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden by careful cross-pollination of rare yellow flowers on the typically orange-flowering species.

Where at Lotusland:

At the top of the parterre in front of the wrought iron wishing well, adjacent to the circular pebble mosaics.

February 2013

Begonia luxurians

Palm leaf begonia

Nativity:

Brazil

Growth Habit:

This cane-type begonia grows up to 8 feet tall. Clusters of lightly fragrant white flowers appear from spring through fall.

Growing Requirements:

Grow in partial sun to shade in a protected spot; it will recover from light frosts. The palm leaf begonia requires even moisture to replicate its tropical forest home.

Features:

Distinctive leaves are the main feature of this begonia. They are palmately divided and reflexed, resembling miniature palms.

Where at Lotusland:

In the fern garden.

February 2012

Cleistocactus smaragdiflorus

Nativity:

Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay

Growth Habit:

This cactus grows as a multi-stemmed shrub. The plant is densely branching at the base producing many stems that are 2 to 3 inches in diameter with 12 to 16 ribs.

Growing Requirements:

Fast-draining soil and full sun are required. Water regularly through the hot summer months. Protect from frost.

Features:

The numerous narrow tubular flowers appear nearly year round. They are bright pinkish red with a yellowish green tip.

Where at Lotusland:

In the cactus garden.

February 2010

Magnolia X soulangiana

Magnolia bush

Nativity:

Cultivated origin

Growth Habit:

This magnolia hybrid may grow as a multi-trunked or single-stemmed bush. It usually grows 10 to 15 feet in height. Flowers appear in early spring before the glossy green leaves.

Growing Requirements:

While perfectly happy in our Mediterranean climate, this magnolia will also thrive in temperate climates. Regular water and rich soil produce good results.

Features:

The showy flowers are cup shaped, reddish purple on the outside shading to nearly white on the inside.

Where at Lotusland:

Several specimens grow in the Japanese garden.

February 2009

Agave attenuata

Nativity:

Mexico

Growth Habit:

This agave is among only a few that do not have sharp spines along the edges or at the tip of its leaves. The leaves are soft and light green forming rosettes up to four feet across. It often branches near the base of a stalk to form larger clumps. The inflorescences arch up and then toward the ground and individual flowers bloom in succession from the base to the tip over a long period. A blue-leaved selection (Agave attenuata‘Boutin Blue’) has erect inflorescences. Both types often produce many little plantlets along the spent flower stalk that will root on the ground if given the chance.

Growing Requirements:

Agaves are by and large desert plants. Their succulent leaves store water through dry periods making them extremely drought tolerant. Give them good drainage and a sunny or only slightly shaded site.

Features:

The bold rosettes of leaves provide a good accent plant in the drought tolerant garden. They even blend well with more tropical looking plants.

Where at Lotusland:

Outside the pink wall along Sycamore Canyon Road and lining the main driveway just inside the Sycamore Canyon Road gate.

February 2008

Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi

Nativity:

Madagascar

Growth Habit:

This succulent-leaved plant forms sturdy stems that are topped with clusters of nodding, bell-shaped flowers. They are an interesting shade of dusky rose that contrasts nicely with the bluish gray of the leaves. In winter, when the flowers are emerging, the leaves may also take on a reddish tinge because of the cold.

Growing Requirements:

This kalanchoe is readily propagated from stem cuttings or by simply sticking the base of a leaf in well-drained soil. Grow in full sun to moderate shade. It is very drought tolerant and requires no supplemental water once established.

Features:

The flattened leaves are scalloped along the margins and are often held at an optimum angle toward the sun, making the whole plant look two dimensional.

Where at Lotusland:

Growing at the base of the tall Kalanchoe beharensis plants near the bromeliads and succulents.

February 2007

Aechmea fasciata

Nativity:

Native to Brazil.

Growth Habit:

The vase-like rosette of leaves of this bromeliad is gray-green with a row of black spines along the margins. Plants produce bright pink inflorescences after several years. While the original plant will die after flowering, it will produce several offsets that may be removed and replanted. It is usually epiphytic in its native range, but adapts well to containers or raised beds outdoors.

Growing Requirements:

Grow Aechmea fasciata in bright shade either in a pot or in the ground with lots of organic material incorporated into the soil mix. Soil may be allowed to dry out between waterings, but maintain the central cup – made by the tightly overlapping leaves – full of water at all times. Fertilize every month or two with half-strength liquid fertilizer in the central cup.

Features:

This bromeliad is probably one of the best known and easiest to grow. It is regularly available in nurseries, home improvement centers and supermarkets.

Where at Lotusland:

There are a number of plants in both the upper bromeliad and lower bromeliad gardens.

February 2006

Euphorbia lambii

Nativity:

Canary Islands

Growth Habit:

A fast-growing shrub reaching to 7 feet tall and almost as wide. It initially has a single trunk which branches with age. Spreads by self-seeding.

Growing Requirements:

Grows best in full sun to partial shade, and while it is drought-tolerant, it requires some water during growth and flowering seasons. It tolerates different types of soil and can take light frost.

Features:

E. lambii bears rosettes of slender blueish-green leaves arranged on the ends of the branches. It produces large clusters of showy chartreuse flowers in early spring.

Where at Lotusland:

A planting of Euphorbia lambii is growing along with many other species of Euphorbia along the Main Drive.

February 2005

Blechnum occidentale

Hammock Fern

Nativity:

West Indies and Mexico through Central and South America

Growth Habit:

This clumping fern spreads rapidly by underground rhizomes. The fronds are 2-3 inches across and reach up to two feet tall.

Growing Requirements:

Hammock Fern grows best in partial sun to full shade, in moist soil. It makes an excellent ground cover.

Features:

The new fronds emerge a striking pink color which darkens to bronze then green at maturity.

Where at Lotusland:

Blechnum occidentale is planted throughout the Fern Garden.

February 2004

Candelabra Aloe

Aloe arborescens

Nativity:

South Africa

Growth Habit:

A clumping perennial with groups of stems spreading 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide.

Growing Requirements:

Shade to partial sun, moderate water. It can adapt to a wide variety of soil types.

Features:

A. arborescens is called “Candelabra Aloe” for its spikes of deep red flowers which bloom profusely through the winter months.

Where at Lotusland:

There are many specimens of A. arborescens throughout the Aloe Garden. There is also a planting along the Main Drive by the Sycamore Canyon gate.