Papaver rhoeas aka Poppies

You see these often in Austin, it’s a bit too warm for them in Houston. They bloom in March each year. Poppies are annual but will reseed themselves. If you are purchasing seeds plant them in the fall after it gets chilly.

Seeds will survive in the soil for years, plants appear when the soil is disturbed exposing the seeds to some light. This is why they were so commonly seen near the trenches of WWI

Poppies produce prodigious amounts of pollen making them a great addition to a bee garden.

Native to Africa, extensively found throughout Middle East and the colder parts of Europe

Love vine sucks life from wasps, leaving only mummies


Early this spring, Rice University evolutionary biologist Scott Egan stood in a patch of live oak scrub habitat in South Florida and scanned the trees for something he’d never seen outside his lab — a wispy, orange vine twining itself around swollen stems or pea-sized growths on the underside of oak leaves.

Rice University bioscientists have discovered the first example of a parasitic plant attacking a parasitic insect on a shared host plant. Cassytha filiformis, also known as love vine, feeds off of galls, the natal chambers of parasitic wasps.

Egan needed visual confirmation of something he and his students noticed in the lab a few months earlier: love vine, a parasitic plant, latching onto and feeding off of not the tree itself, but the tumor-like growths made by his favorite insects, gall wasps.

“I went to spots where I knew that my gall-formers and the vines were, and I just blurred my eyes across the tops of the trees,” Egan said, re-enacting the moment he scanned the forest. “And, once you have seen it, you can’t not see it. I’m like, ‘Oh. It’s everywhere. I can’t not find it, on this branch, or on this one or this one.”

For Egan, who has spent 17 years studying gall-forming insects and logged thousands of miles collecting samples from oak forests across a dozen U.S. states, it was a revelation.

“I had never seen this,” Egan said. “But the fact that no one, as far as we know, had ever documented this was incredible because biologists have studied each of these — the vines and the insects — for more than a century.”

In ecological parlance, the find was a new trophic interaction between two species, meaning that one was feeding off the other. “Basically, you have a parasitic plant attacking a parasitic insect inside of another host, a host they share,” he said.

read more…source

Paper:
Botanical parasitism of an insect by a parasitic plant

Callistemon ‘Little John’ aka Little John Dwarf Bottlebrush

Just planted bottlebrush April 2018

This is the compact Bottlebrush reaching 3′-5′ ( top photo ), the bottom two photos are of the larger form and were taken at Lady Bird Johnson Gardens in Austin. The red flowers are most common, there is also a pink flowering variety.

Protect from cold, it will sometimes return from roots after a frost.

Full sun, possibly drought tolerant once established, opinions vary. It prefers to be in moist soil.

Blooms when weather is warm, loved by butterflies and hummingbirds

Considered an invasive in Florida, also considered to be a good plant for bonsai.

Native to Australia, unclear if it should be in Myrtaceae family or Callistemons.

Propagate by cuttings

June ’18

Note: I also purchased several traditional Bottlebrushes (Callistemon) and placed them along fences to use to cover the fence. I have some in shade, full sun, a mix of both and dry and wet areas. So far they all seem to be settling in despite the late planting.

These can be kept trimmed as a hedge, let grow up as trees by removing lower branches, or shaped as a topiary.

I’ll add more photos and notes as they grow

Ligustrum japonicum aka Privet

Large shrub, growing to small tree size here in Texas, attracts birds, deer resistant, drought resistant, grows in sun or part shade, prefers damp soil. You can keep these short and bushy, make a hedge, grow them as small trees or use them for topiaries.

Native to Japan and Korea

Brought to US in 1800s for use as a hedge plant, became invasive in warmer parts of US. The wood was used for pegs, the berries for dye, leaves as an astringent. It makes a great nesting place for birds who will eat the berries.

Problems: Sooty mold, control with liquid dish soap mixed with water and sprayed on leaves

I liked it so much I bought 20 small plants on eBay, I’ll be running them along the fence out back. They shipped much later than I expected, today is June 14th, nothing should be planted between May 1st and Oct 31st, but perhaps I’ll get lucky and we’ll get a rainy summer?

Toxic see NC Ext Ligustrum japonicum

Lonicera japonica ‘Halliana’ aka Japanese Honeysuckle Vine

The first mention of it in the US is in the early 1800s in Ohio. It was brought to US to use to control soil erosion. Later it became a popular ornamental plant.

Flowers open at dusk to attract hawk moths who are the main pollinators. While they are frequently visited by bees, bees tend to remove more pollen than they leave for pollination.

Propagate by cutting

Native to Russia and Central Asia, listed as invasive by multiple sources. Birds eating seeds do most of the spreading, to control, trim plants before seeds form.

Many components of the plant are medicinal and parts are edible (Foraging Texas), but the berries are poison. Near as I can tell almost every plant down here is trying to murder you so proceed with caution.

Aeonium arboretum atropurpureum “zwartkop”

New cutting late March 2018
New cutting late March 2018
Aeonium arboreum growing in a sidewalk garden in California

Aeonium arboreum ‘Zwartkop’ aka Black rose

The flowers are actually leaves, in older plants they can be as large as 8″ across. The true flowers are a bright yellow, and look like small daisies. I’ll post photos once it blooms. These just arrived this week.

The plant grows long stems with sparse clumps of rosettes. It looks like a small tree when fully grown (~3′)

I’m hoping to grow it in pots outside. It’s rated for zones 9-11 so it’s probably best grown as a house plant.

Grow it in full sun, well drained soil, same as you would for any succulent. Water it more in the summer, less in the winter, giving it a thorough soaking and letting it go almost dry between waterings.

Propagation is by cuttings in early spring. The two plants in the photos are cuttings, I’ve potted them up in wet soil, I’ll let the soil get drier and give them more light over the next few weeks.

The earliest mention of this plant I could find was late 1980s where it is mentioned as a houseplant or plant for warm, dry landscapes.

It’s in the same plant family as jade, Crassulaceae. It’s native to the Canary Islands where it prefers to grow on hillsides.

Cercis canadensis aka Eastern Red Bud Tree aka Judas tree

Medium light, medium soil moisture, low maintenance plant.

Zones 4-8

Blooms in March, deciduous, 20′-30′ tall, wide spreading branches

Attracts butterflies

Native to eastern US

Mature trees grow large brown seed pods especially in wet years

Member of bean and pea family

Problems:
Canker, wilt, dieback
Several insects love to eat this plant

Difficult to grow from cuttings, keep warm ~ 75’F if attempting to do so

Legend claims Judas hung from this tree