Plants of the Week: August 22

Plants of the Week: August 22

Kalanchoe thyrsiflora.DCA8

Kalanchoe thyrsiflora

Taking a trek on the gravel path from College Avenue towards the Cunningham House is only a short distance, but it is filled with many eye-catching exotic plants.  However, even among other fascinating specimens, Kalanchoe thyrsiflora takes the cake…the pancake.  Also appropriately known as the flapjack plant, Kalanchoe thyrsiflora grows succulent, pancake-shaped leaves in a rosette pattern up to 2’ feet tall with an additional 1-2’ foot spike of yellow, tubular flowers when stressed.

Like many desert plants, Kalanchoe thyrsiflora requires only minimal watering, full to partial sun, and well-drained, sandy, slightly alkaline soil.  If flapjack plant is left in full sun over a long growing period, the leaves might turn a deep red, which is not an indication of poor health.

It produces offshoots towards the end of its lifespan in order to continue on, but it can be grown from cuttings as well.  If you were thinking about making a xeriscape garden or just want a plant that invokes fond memories of a fluffy, sweet, syrupy breakfast, Kalanchoe thyrsiflora is for you!   Photo credit: D. Alvarez

Leymus arenarius.DCA1Leymus arenarius ‘Blue Dune’

I’m a texture guy.  If I can’t eat it (or like Kalanchoe thyrsiflora above, it reminds me of food), then I at least want to touch it.  Leymus arenarius ‘Blue Dune’ or sea lyme grass has a pleasant feel, and is also pleasant to look upon: stalks of pretty, bluish-green grass billowing in the breeze.  A perennial grass, Leymus arenarius ‘Blue Dune’ likes sandy, salty soil, full sun, and only mild amounts of water.

It can grow up to 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide per clump, but grows and seeds quickly, so dead-head the yellow, grassy blooms in the late-summer to avoid encroachment of other plants and cut it down in the fall.  The dried stalks make a lovely material for weaving baskets or can be used for thatching roofs.

Leymus arenarius ‘Blue Dune’ also has the ability to bind nitrogen near its roots to help resist soil erosion, and the plant itself is very disease resistant.  Come sea our sea lyme grass as you enter the Terry Shane Teaching Garden from College Avenue!  Photo credit: D. Alvarez

Abelia x grandiflora.DCA16

Abelia x grandiflora ‘Canyon Creek’

The John W. Nason Garden is my favorite garden at Scott Arboretum, as it is full of plants with interesting textures and colors.  One such plant is Abelia x grandiflora ‘Canyon Creek’, a lovely perennial deciduous shrub that produces attractive red and gold new growth.  It needs a moderate amount of water, moist, rich, but well-drained soil, and full sun to partial shade.

During mid-summer, Abelia x grandiflora ‘Canyon Creek’ produces clusters of light pink, bell-shaped, fragrant flowers.  As a member of Caprifoliaceae, Abelia x grandiflora ‘Canyon Creek’ has oppositely arranged leaves, and as the nomenclature would suggest, it is a hybrid between Abelia chinensis and Abelia uniflora.

It can grow up to 6 feet tall, and can be grown in your garden as a beautiful ornamental shrub or as a colorful hedge.    Photo credit: D. Alvarez

Dennis Alvarez
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