Erica diaphana

Have I talked about Erica diaphana before? I can’t remember.  I love it because it is the first woody plant I have ever grown from seed. The seed was like dust, the seedlings so tiny that I ended up keeping them in a Ziploc baggy under lights for at least six months, so I am thrilled that I had several plants survive and even more thrilled that they lived long enough to bloom. I purchased the seed from Silverhill Seeds in South Africa and sowed them on 1/13/2012.

Erica diaphana

I have three of them in my plant ghetto which has become really overgrown. I just didn’t have the time to deal with it in spring and by summer everything had grown huge and rooted through their pots into the ground. I didn’t really want to dig things up while they were blooming so I kept putting it off. Now it is a jungle and plants are crushing each other so I already set up some new drip line and I am going to try to start salvaging plants. I hope I am able to save these Ericas and pot them up into larger pots without killing them.

Erica diaphana

I love that the flowers are sort of shiny and greasy looking. Beautiful but there is something a bit off about them too. Flowers that look like shiny plastic are neat.




Cool Plant of the Week!

Oh happy day!  My very first mesemb grown from seed to flower is Titanopsis primosii and so of course it had to be my cool plant of the week!

And at least five others have buds.  T. primosii is a South African mesemb with warty little leaves that camouflage it to look like pebbles or sand hidden among the rocks.

Here is a side view to show off the foliage.

Someone had asked with a previous mesemb seedling post if we could get a photo with something else for comparative size so here it is with my hand.  I have dainty little lady hands so the plant is quite small.

These plants were sown last June so they have reached blooming size in just eleven months.  The seed was from Silverhill Seeds from South Africa and the germination was exceptionally high.  I ended up potting up many more than I normally would have because there were so many in good shape I couldn’t bear to cull them.  They are kept in my very sunny seedling nursery under netting to protect them from quail and other birds (a good move as the quail circle this area like sharks and they seem to love the taste of ice plants which are also mesembs). I water them pretty regularly because they are in such small pots in a very sunny and warm spot but I am probably over indulging them and may try to separate out the succulents from some of the herbaceous seedlings.

Anyway as I have said many times before growing plants from seed is one of the most rewarding parts of gardening for me and getting a small succulent to flower from seed is particularly exciting for me as I have not really grown them for that long.  Definitely worth trying out if you have a very sunny window sill or small hobby green house.

Seedling Army

Back in my post on Monilaria moniliformis I mentioned that I was going to start some seeds of Monilaria pisiformis and that I thought the seedlings were going to be “super cute”.  Well what do you think?

Monilaria pisiformis 1 month old

Pretty cute right?  Pretty good germination too.  What am I going to do with all these Monilaria if they all survive?  I’ll have a tiny green army.

I’ve been very busy this month sowing seeds for the new garden.  Aside from my little succulent I also have seed going from Chiltern Seeds from England, some herbaceous plants from Silverhill Seeds from South Africa, I sowed seed from Plant World Seeds from England, a few batches of old seed I had stored in my freezer including some Clarkia seed from 2002, and Horizon Herbs from Oregon.  Right now I am also checking out Thompson & Morgan and Baker Creek Heirloom for vegetable seeds for my veggie garden.

I have a heating mat on my potting bench in the garage and once they germinate they come inside to the mud room.  Not the spiffiest of arrangements but it will do for now.  Once they get their first true leaves I’ll pot them up.  The weather has been warm enough here to bring them outside too.  At least during the day.

These Calceolaria fothergillii seedlings are so tiny I can barely see them.  Getting any seedling to blooming size is rewarding but something this tiny it will be doubly so.

Makeshift Potting Bench and Super Crazy Cool Seeds!

I’ve been wanting a potting bench for a really long time and now that I am finally in a house instead of an apartment I actually have room for one.  I do not, however, have the funds for one.  All my money is going into garden preparations. I’m going to have soil delivered next week and then the planting will begin.

But then I pulled my car into the garage this afternoon and had a revelation.

This shelving in the garage that I had stacked all my plastic and terra-cotta pots on would make the perfect makeshift potting bench.  Oh sure it isn’t sexy, but it is the perfect height so I don’t do any more damage to my back, hunched over on the ground.  So until I have the funds for something a little more attractive this will work nicely.   What are you all using?  A table?  The floor?  A proper fancy potting bench from a gardening catalog?  The other good thing about this is that I haven’t found the perfect one yet.

I christened my new makeshift potting bench by starting a bunch of seed that I ordered recently from Chiltern and Silverhill.

I ordered two types of Pelargonium and they both had these crazy corkscrew seeds.  I’ve read about this but I had never seen it before and didn’t realize it occurred in Pelargoniums.

Apparently some Pelargoniums and Erodiums have these unusual seeds.  The corkscrew actually drives the seeds into the ground as the seeds go through wet and dry periods.  Super weird.  These are either Pelargonium tetragonum or P. triste.  They both had similar seeds and I can’t remember which ones I took the pics of.

Anyway my list of seeds started are as follows (sowed 1/13/12):


  • Pelargonium tetragonum
  • Massonia depressa
  • Geissorhiza corrugata
  • Edmondia sesamoides
  • Androcymbium latifolium
  • Erica diaphana

Chiltern Seeds:

  • Scabiosa stellata ‘Sternkugel’
  • Helipterum roseum ‘Pierrot’
  • Clematis fusca var. Violacea
  • Didiscus caeruleus
  • Abutilon X suntense
  • Calceolaria fothergillii
  • Digitalis trojana
  • Digitalis obscura
  • Pelargonium triste

And finally I picked up a packet of Sweetpea ‘Beth Chatto’ at the giftshop when I was visiting the Beth Chatto Gardens so I sowed them today as well.

More seed are on the way from Silverhill and Plant World Seeds, the two vegetable garden plots on the west side of the house have been weeded, the lawn is in the process of being destroyed, and designs for the front garden are underway. I’ve been keeping pretty busy!

A Year of Cheiridopsis (and Silverhill update)

It has been kind of fun to go through old photos and old blog posts and see how they have grown over the past year.

Cheiridopsis cigarettifera at five weeks.

Cheiridopsis cigarettifera at 4 months.

Cheiridopsis cigarettifera at 6 months.

Cheiridopsis cigarettifera at a year old.

And news on my new Silverhill seedlings started on 1/1/12

  • Oophytum oviforme – germinated on 1/4/12
  • Mitrophyllum grande – germinated on 1/4/12
  • Monilaria pisiformis – germinated on 1/4/12
  • Muiria hortenseae – germinated on 1/5/12
  • Gibbaeum comptonii – germinated on 1/5/12
  • Stomatium alboroseum meyeri – germinated on 1/6/12
Once they start leaning for light I remove them from the zip loc bag and heat mat and put them in a north window for a few days and then they graduate to a west window for a while.
Rhombophyllum dolabriforme, Haworthia truncata, and Dracophilus proximus have shown no sign of germination yet.

Move Update!

Just wanted to let everyone know that the move went very smoothly.  The moving company (Elephant Movers if anyone needs some good movers in the Los Angeles area) packed my stuff so perfectly that I was completely unpacked by the next day at noon.

Here is a picture of my succulent collection in their new home. The first thing I did when I got here was hose off all the city soot! Eventually I would like to get a greenhouse but one project at a time.

Yesterday while the cable man was here I went out and took measurements of the yard so I can start my plans for my new gardens.  The first will probably entail killing off all the grass on the (huge) front lawn and bringing in new soil.  A reasonably affordable project with a bit of help and guidance from my friend Gabe.

In the meantime I started my last batch of mesemb seed from Silverhill Seed on 1.1.12!  Here is the list.

  • Stomatium alboroseum meyeri
  • Muria hortenseae
  • Rhombophyllum dolabriforme
  • Oophytum oviforme
  • Mitrophyllum grande
  • Monilaria pisiformis
  • Gibbaeum comptonii
  • Haworthia truncata
  • Dracophilus proximus

Today on 1.4.12 the Oophytum oviforme, Mitrophyllum grande, and Monilaria pisiformis have already germinated!

More updates to come!  But I have a lot of errands to run to get things set up here.  But so far I am very happy in the new place (so quiet!)


The Worst Blogger Lives!

I’m still the worst blogger. I don’t have time to post any England pics.  But I just wanted to post a quick update.  I’m feeling much better.  No fever since Wednesday and even that was very mild but best of all the headaches went away yesterday and so far I don’t feel like they will be back today.  So any brain tumor/meningitis worries are slowly diminishing and this hypochondriac is happy and relieved.

I’m still behind on the work I’m doing but I wanted to just do a quick post on the seeds I started last night.  I finally got around to sowing the succulent seeds I ordered from Silverhill Seeds in South Africa. Sown late last night 6/25/11 were Dactylopsis digitata, Titanopsis primosii, Euphorbia cooperi, Lithops optica v. rubra, and Cheiridopsis purpurea.

The seeds were sown in cactus mix. I mixed sand in the seed packets to help evenly disperse the fine seed and then enclosed them all in a zip lock baggie and put them on a heat mat. They should germinate pretty quickly.

The last succulents I sowed I was pretty successful with so I’m hoping these will be the same.

These little guys were sown on 1/16/11. From left to right they are Mitrophyllum dissitum, Lithops sp. mix, Frithia pulchra, and Cheiridopsis cigarettifera.

Look how cute the Frithia and Cheiridopsis are up close! Growing plants from seed is so satisfying. Getting them to live to blooming size will be even more satisfying.

Sorry for the quality of the pictures. I just snapped them quick with my phone.  And now I’m back to playing catch up.  Hopefully soon I’ll have some new seedling pictures to share and I promise I’ll get some England pictures up soon.