Puttin’ The Sass in Crass(ula) – Crassula falcata

Crassula falcata floral detail

|Close Up Crassula falcata in flower|

Lipstick cherry all over!  I’m loving the vibrant visual these flowers are giving.  They heat up the lens in such a succulent, sumptuous way.  This beautiful blast of color comes to us from a super cool, awesomely architectural succulent known as Crassula falcata.  This South African succulent is one you should know and one you should grow!  It is commonly referred to as the Propellor Plant, Airplane Plant, or Scarlet Paintbrush.  The later moniker refers to the amazing display of flowers that erupt from this sculptural succulent in late summer, which tends to be a time when things are fairly quiet in the drought tolerant succulent garden.  Crassula falcata’s flowers can set the scenery ablaze for almost a month.  It’s a delicious spectacle to behold.

Crassula falcata flower + foliage + form

|Crassula falcata flower + foliage + form|

The truly unique feature of Crassula falcata is its propellor-like foliage that looks as though it’s made of stone.  The leaves stack themselves in an angular fashion, one on top of the other, to create a stylishly sculptural display of cool graphic form.

Crassula falcata tends to grow slowly in an upright, semi-branchless, clumping form up to 2 feet tall and wide.  It does great in both full sun and light shade conditions.  It likes a well-draining, cactus soil mix and requires low amounts of water to thrive.  In hot locations, it looks best if it gets a bit more water.  As for hardiness, if you grow it outside, it’s hardy down to 25 degrees fahrenheit/-3 degrees celsius.

If you’re into succulents, this is definitely one for the collection.  If you’re into graphic design decor, this is definitely a cool candidate for some fashionable foliage for a container indoors in a bright sunny room or as a conversation piece out on the balcony, porch, or patio.

Posted in Inspiration, Plants, Style

My Cuppa Cobaea Overfloweth – Cobaea scandens

Cobaea scandens CU floral profile

|Cobaea scandens CU floral profile|

Are you feeling this?  Won’t you join me…in the purple rain?  As the above image hints…something vivid…something vibrant is making itself known.  Question.  Are you experienced?  Well, if not, welcome to the lush and luxurious world of Cobaea scandens,  commonly referred to as the Cup-And-Saucer Vine or Cathedral Bells Vine.  Here is a case of a plant that I absolutely love to grow.  Why?  Well, for me, it has been one of the easiest plants to grow and it really delivers what a plant-a-holic, such as myself, craves.  It’s got it all!

Cobaea scandens foliage + form

|Cobaea scandens foliage + form|

The foliage of Cobaea scandens forms on whip-like vining tendrils and stems of jungle green, with some bits steeped in rich warm color.  The foliage, itself, emerges in pistachio and rich pinot noir hues.  As the foliage matures, it settles on a sophisticated elliptical form that radiates a luxuriously rich palette of soothing green combinations.

Cobaea scandens bud + tendril + leaf

|Cobaea scandens bud + tendril + leaf|

In midsummer, papery lantern-like flower buds emerge from the fabric of its foliage signaling a forecast for an opulent outpouring of fantastical-floral-lusciousness .  The sepals of the flower open to form a saucer-like shape from which strong petals make themselves known and iris open to form a cup-like floret to accompany its saucer.

Cobaea scandens phases of flower

|Cobaea scandens phases of flower|

The results are stunning and can satiate even the finickiest of floral appetites!  The flowers are sizable, 4-5 inches, but not too big.  At first, as flowers open, they appear void of any color.  But in the day to follow the petals will blush in colors of pink and soft lilac. Then, usually, on day two after opening, the flowers are a flood of rich, vibrant purple color.  The color is so true and so affecting that you’ll be hard pressed to not fall under its spell of tropical allure.

Cobaea scandens can be treated as an annual vine in areas where temps fall below 25 degrees fahrenheit/-3 degrees celsius.  In temperate areas it will remain perennial. Vines can grow up to 25 feet long.  It can engulf a fence or trellis in one season and kick out an amazing display of flowers from summer through late autumn.  It likes full sun to part shade conditions, regular to fertile, well-draining soil, average water, and the occasional feeding of fertilizer.  In areas where it remains perennial, cutting back vines at the start of the following growing season can encourage bushier, lush growth.

I originally got a 4″ container start of Cobaea scandens from the amazing Annies Annuals.  Later on, I found that Botanical Interest have seed for it.  I also, hope to have a nice crop of it for sale next spring at The Plant Provocateur shop.  It is so well worth planting! Wait, what?  The Plant Provocateur shop.  What is he on about now?

 

 

 

 

Posted in Inspiration, Plants, Style

Give 2 Me Your Leather. Take From Me My Lace. – Alsobia dianthiflora

Alsobia dianthiflora petal detail

|Alsobia dianthiflora petal detail|

So lately, in my world, a hot topic has been super sexy houseplants.  I know that might sound a bit racy for some of you, but, I’m talking about houseplants that offer a little more than a lump of static greenery.  Now don’t get me wrong, there are some outstanding green foliage houseplants out there.  You just gotta know where to look. In my travels this summer, I stumbled across a plant that I don’t see too often.  Don’t know if you’ve met?  Everyone…this is Alsobia dianthiflora.  Alsobia dianthiflora this is everyone.

Alsobia dianthiflora floral profile

|Alsobia dianthiflora flowers|

In some circles, this gorgeous angel of elegance is referred to as Episcia dianthiflora and commonly in others as the Lace Flower Vine.  It is in the gesneriad family of plants.  You know some of Alsobia’s common name cousins…African Violet and Gloxinia.  When I first saw the fringe and frill of its dreamy, illuminating ivory flowers I was a goner.   So elegant yet so savage.  Be still my horticultural heart!  Alsobia dianthiflora comes to us from the climes of places like southern Mexico and Costa Rica.  It is a perennial plant that is replete with sumptuously soft, downy deep green leaves and produces stunning white trumpet-like flowers, whose petals are detailed in a filigree of white foxy fringe.  As an added bonus, for those who like to look a bit closer, the throat of each flower is delicately spotted with dreamy drops of violet color.

Alsobia dianthiflora foliage + flower + form

|Alsobia dianthiflora foliage + flower + form|

Alsobia dianthiflora likes bright, indirect light, shady spots, and can tolerate a part-sun situation outdoors.  It vines up to around 3 feet long if it’s happy and gets about 8″ tall.  It’s low and likes to stroll.  It likes to set its roots down in a well-draining, fertile soil and prefers regular water.  It’s hardy down to around 35 degrees fahrenheit/1.6 degrees celsius, if outdoors.  I keep mine on the porch and let it creep and sprawl its way around.  Looks so luxurious that way.  It also does well indoors and makes for one sexy houseplant.  So if you’re in the mood for a houseplant with a lush, plush, knight-in-white-satin kind of vibe… look for, find, and grow Alsobia dianthiflora. You can find them online here.  You might even find them at The Plant Provocateur. Huh?!  What’s that you say?  Stay tuned…

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Posted in Habitat, Plants, Style

Big Things Have Small Beginnings…The Plant Provocateur Store at Silver Lake Farmer’s Market

TPP at the Silver Lake Farmer's Market

|TPP at the Silver Lake Farmer’s Market|

Call me crazy!  Call me nuts!  The Plant Provocateur has taken the show on the road so-to-speak and set up shop at the Silver Lake Farmer’s Market in Los Angeles! Here’s my chance to see if you, the public, are interested in what your Plant Provocateur has to offer.  Every Saturday from 8am-1:30pm is my chance to welcome you face-to-face into the world of The Plant Provocateur.

Farmer's Market Palette

|Farmer’s Market Palette|

So here’s what’s happening.  I’m offering mostly stuff grown by yours truly in The Plant Provocateur Botanical Garden.  Having a shop gives me the opportunity  to meet you…the plant loving public, show off some amazingly beautiful stuff to grow, love, and obsess over, as well as, give people the opportunity to bring this type of beauty into their lives.  As one of my recent clients stated…Plants first, People second!

The shop is also the seed of, hopefully, an actual brick-and-mortar store to come. Right now, an actual store is just an idea…a little something I’m working on.  There’s a lot to do to make that happen but I figure the Silver Lake Farmer’s Market is a great place to start.  So, on a Saturday…any Saturday…this Saturday… come on down.  Check out what’s going on.  I’ll have plants, my Sunset Book – Sunset Outdoor Design and Build Guide: Container Gardening, and from time to time some super extraordinary botanically inspired products that you probably won’t find anywhere else.

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Posted in Food + Drink, Inspiration, Plants, Style

Tantalizing TriColor Sunset Supernova – Stictocardia beraviensis

Stictocardia beraviensis floral detail

|Stictocardia beraviensis floral flares|

Outside it’s hot, hazy, and humid.  My daily diorama is complete with blue skies and fluffy thunderhead tufts playing hide and seek behind the San Gabriel Mountains. Yep, summer in L.A. is in full swing!  The Plant Provocateur Botanical Garden is killing it right now with crazy cool flowers and fragrances.  One such standout is the Stictocardia beraviensis vine that is kickin’ out some tantalizing tricolor sunset supernovas.  Check it!

Stictocardia beraviensis bud + flower + detail

|Stictocardia beraviensis bud + flower + detail|

Isn’t the color ridiculous!?  So vibrant, so rich.  Très tropical!  Stictocardia beraviensis is commonly referred to as the Hawaiian Sunset Vine or Braveheart Vine. It is related to the Morning Glory vine.  Although there’s mention of Hawaiian in its common name, this vine comes to us from tropical Africa and Asia.  It’s a lightning fast growing/twiner that can cover a fence or wall in no time.

Stictocardia beraviensis tendril + texture

|Stictocardia beraviensis tendril + texture|

Stictocardia beraviensis can grow in sun or shade.  It outfits itself in gorgeous, luxuriously pleated, heart-shaped leaves.  Leaves in the shade can grow up to 1 foot wide giving off some serious tropical realness.  In the sun, leaves grow up to 1/2 that size but still cover their vines in a tropical tapestry of verdant voluptuousness.  Vines can grow 10 to 12 feet long.  From spring to fall, it produces dramatically dreamy, 2 to 3 inch wide, cup-shaped flowers that will remind you of the most beautiful hawaiian sunset.  Their ultra-vivid color will carry your senses away to a tropical island complete with tropical breezes, beaches of white sugar sand, azure ocean, and tall tiki glasses spilling over with Mai Tais.  Who’s with me?!

Stictocardia beraviensis bud + flower + foliage

|Stictocardia beraviensis bud + flower + foliage|

In warmer climates, this evergreen vine will even bloom in December and January.  It prefers to grow in well-draining soil, receive regular water, and is hardy down to around 30 degrees fahrenheit/-1 degrees celsius.  I find mine defoliates a bit when the temps drop below 40 degrees fahrenheit/4.5 degrees celsius but springs right back with a vengeance when the temps heat back up.  Also, big bonus for container gardeners, it does great in containers.  Wanna create a cool tropical vibe on your balcony?   Try growing this in a container and let it wrap its way around your railings or some trellis action.  In no time, you can have a tropical backdrop for the perfect ‘stay-cation’!

So, if you’re an exotic plant nut like I am, search the internet, look high and low for this super cool, super sexy vine.  It’s totally worth it!  Maybe one day, The Plant Provocateur might be able to offer some up.  Stay tuned!

Posted in Habitat, Inspiration, Plants, Style