If you enjoy the antics of hummingbirds, be sure to include a few Baja red fairy dusters in your garden. Their bright red, tufted flowers provide year around color and nectar, although the showiest displays are from spring through fall. Baja red fairy duster has ferny green foliage, and an open irregular form that lends itself well to natural landscapes. Mature plants might reach a size of 4 to 6 feet tall and wide. Baja red fairy duster can be used in full sun or part shade, and is tolerant of most soil types. Temperatures below 20° F can cause some twig damage. Any shaping or pruning should be done in the late spring,but be careful not to overdue it, as heavy pruning will inhibit flower production!
Baja fairy duster (Calliandra californica) is a must have for the desert garden. There is so much to love about this shrub.
Welcome to Ramblings From a Desert Garden…
Calliandra californica (Baja fairy duster), is an evergreen, woody shrub which is native to Baja California, Mexico. In Spanish, the plant is also known vernacularly as tabardillo, zapotillo or chuparosa. The flowers, which appear in early summer, have clusters of red stamens. The shrub is usually between 0.6 and 1.8 metres in height and has bipinnate leaves. The leaves have been described as “fern-like.” Leaves close at night time.
C. californica is cold tolerant to temperatures of 22 degrees Fahrenheit, though its roots will tolerate temperatures as low as five degrees Fahrenheit. It grows best in full sun. C. californica is very drought tolerant, needing only 10 inches of water every year. However, additional watering will encourage C. californica to bloom through summer and again in the fall.
Propagation of C. californica is done through “acid scarification” or vegetative cutting. Seed pods from this plant look like “snow peas” and when ripe, they explode. The pods are flat and about 2 inches long. After ejecting seeds, the curled open pods remain attached to the plant for some time.
C. californica attracts both bees and hummingbirds.
Along with many other legumes and leadworts (Plumbago), it is a host plant for the Marine Blue caterpillar (Leptotes marina).
In landscaping, it is suggested that C. californica is used in borders or foreground plantings, as an island accent or even in containers.
As a member of the pea family, Baja fairy duster fertilizes itself, so no fertilizer or soil amendments are needed for this relatively fuss-free shrub.
Vaccinium – Bearberry, Bilberry, Blueberry, Burren Myrtle, Cowberry, Cranberry, Craneberry, Crowberry, Dyeberry, Farkleberry, Huckleberry, Hurtleberry, Lingberry, Lingonberry, Partridgeberry, Sparkleberry, Whinberry, Whortleberry, Wineberry
Vaccinium /vækˈsɪniəm/ is a genus of shrubs or dwarf shrubs in the plant Family Ericaceae. The fruit of many species are eaten by humans and some are of commercial importance, including the cranberry, blueberry, bilberry or whortleberry, lingonberry or cowberry, and huckleberry. Like many other ericaceous plants, they are generally restricted to acidic soils.
Vaccinium macrocarpon (also called Large cranberry, American Cranberry and Bearberry) is a cranberry of the subgenus Oxycoccus and genus Vaccinium. It is native to North America (eastern Canada, and eastern United States, south to North Carolina at high altitudes).
Cranberries are a group of evergreen dwarf shrubs or trailing vines in the subgenus Oxycoccus of the genus Vaccinium. In some methods of classification, Oxycoccus is regarded as a genus in its own right. They can be found in acidic bogs throughout the cooler regions of the northern hemisphere.
Cranberries are low, creeping shrubs or vines up to 2 metres (7 ft) long and 5 to 20 centimetres (2 to 8 in) in height; they have slender, wiry stems that are not thickly woody and have small evergreen leaves. The flowers are dark pink, with very distinct reflexed petals, leaving the style and stamens fully exposed and pointing forward. They are pollinated by bees. The fruit is a berry that is larger than the leaves of the plant; it is initially white, but turns a deep red when fully ripe. It is edible, with an acidic taste that can overwhelm its sweetness.
Cranberries are a major commercial crop in certain American states and Canadian provinces (see cultivation and uses below). Most cranberries are processed into products such as juice, sauce, jam, and sweetened dried cranberries, with the remainder sold fresh to consumers. Cranberry sauce is regarded as an indispensable part of traditional American and Canadian Thanksgiving menus and some European winter festivals.
Since the early 21st century within the global functional food industry, raw cranberries have been marketed as a “superfruit” due to their nutrient content and antioxidant qualities.
DESCRIPTION:This group consists of about 450 species of evergreen and deciduous shrubs found over the cooler areas of the Northern Hemisphere and in the mountains of South America. Some kinds are grown for the beauty of their fall leaves and some for their attractive flowers and deliciously edible fruits. Many different names have been given to the numerous varieties that produce edible fruits, such as Blueberry, Bilberry, Cowberry, Cranberry, Crowberry; Farkleberry, Lingonberry, Partridgeberry, Huckleberry (not the true Huckleberry, which is Gaylussacia), Whortleberry, and Sparkleberry to mention a few. For others, check in the varieties section underneath the Blueberry varieties. The other varieties need basically the same care and soil pH as Blueberries.
Plant type: Fruit
Sun exposure: Full Sun
Soil type: Any
Soil pH: Acidic
The modern blueberry is a 20th century invention. Before the 1900s, the only way to enjoy these North American natives was to find them in the wild. Then, scientists started to unlock the secrets of cultivating blueberries, and we’re glad they did! Plump, juicy berries are now easy to grow in your backyard on bushes that are resistant to most pests and diseases, and can produce for up to 20 years. A relative of rhododendron and azalea, blueberry bushes are also an attractive addition to your overall landscape, offering scarlet fall foliage and creamy white spring flowers.
There are three types of blueberries: highbush, lowbush and hybrid half-high. The most commonly planted blueberry is the highbush. Most blueberry breeding has focused on this species, so there are many varieties that range widely in cold hardiness and fruit season, size, and flavor. See more about blueberry varieties below.
- Blueberries are picky about soil. They require one that is acidic, high in organic matter, and well-drained yet moist. pH should ideally be between 4 and 5.
- Bushes should be planted in the early spring. If available, one to three-year-old plants are a good choice. Be sure to go to a reputable nursery.
- Dig holes about 20 inches deep and 18 inches wide.
- Space bushes about 5 feet apart.
- Apply fertilizer one month after planting, not at time of planting.
- Mulch to keep shallow blueberry root systems moist, which is essential. Apply a 2-4 inch layer of woodchips, saw dust or pine needles after planting.
- Supply one to two inches of water per week.
- For the first four years after planting, there is no need to prune blueberry bushes. From then on, pruning is needed to stimulate growth of the new shoots that will bear fruit the following season.
- Drape netting over ripening blueberries, so that the birds won’t make away with the entire crop.
- Prune plants in late winter, preferably just before growth begins.
- On highbush varieties, begin with large cuts, removing wood that is more than six years old, drooping to the ground, or crowding the center of the bush. Also remove low-growing branches whose fruit will touch the ground, as well as spindly twigs.
- Prune lowbush blueberries by cutting all stems to ground level. Pruned plants will not bear the season following pruning, so prune a different half of a planting every two years (or a different third of a planting every three years).
- Do not allow the bush to produce fruit for the first couple of years. Pinch back blossoms, this will help to stimulate growth.
- Blueberry Maggot
- Powdery Mildew
- Blueberries will be ready for picking in late July-mid August.
- Don’t rush to pick the berries as soon as they turn blue. Wait a couple days. When they are ready, they should fall off right into your hand.
- Be aware that full production is reached after about 6 years.
- Blueberries are one of the easiest fruits to freeze. Wash, dry thoroughly, and pop them in the freezer in a plastic container with a lid or a plastic bag. You’ll have berries all winter long.
Blueberries are partially self-fertile, so you will harvest more and larger berries by planting two or more varieties. Planting more than one variety can also extend the harvest season.
Highbush (Vaccinium corymbosum): A six-foot shrub adapted from Zone 4 to Zone 7. For withstanding cold winters, choose ‘Bluecrop’, ‘Blueray’, ‘Herbert’, ‘Jersey’, or ‘Meader’. For big berries, choose ‘Berkeley’, ‘Bluecrop’, ‘Blueray’, ‘Coville’, ‘Darrow’, or ‘Herbert’. For flavor, usually the main reason for growing your own fruit, choose ‘Blueray’, ‘Darrow’, ‘Herbert’, ‘Ivanhoe’, ‘Pioneer’, ‘Stanley’, or ‘Wareham’.
Lowbush (V. angustifolium):For the coldest climates, lowbush varieties are your best bet, adapted from Zone 3 to Zone 7. These are the blueberries you find in cans on supermarket shelves. When fresh, the fruits are sweet and covered with a waxy bloom so thick that the berries appear sky blue or gray. The creeping plants, a foot or so high, are spread by underground stems, or rhizomes. They blanket the rocky upland soils of the Northeast and adjacent portions of Canada. Lowbush blueberries make a nice ornamental fruiting ground cover. Plants sold by nurseries are usually seedlings or unnamed wild plants, rather than named varieties.
Half-High: Breeders have combined qualities of highbush and lowbush blueberries into hybrids known as half-high blueberries. University of Minnesota introductions include ‘Northcountry’, a variety that grows 18 to 24 inches high and has excellent, mild-flavored, slightly aromatic sky-blue fruits; and ‘Northblue’, which grows 20 to 30 inches high and produces an abundance of dark-blue, nickel-size, somewhat tart fruits-just right for pies. ‘Northland’ is a half-high-3 to 4 feet-from Michigan, with bland, average-quality fruit.
Wit & Wisdom
In Ireland, baskets of blueberries are still offered to a sweetheart in commemoration of the original fertility festival of Lammas Day, celebrated on August 1.
Ceanothus thyrsiflorus, known as blueblossom or blue blossom ceanothus, is an evergreen shrub in the genus Ceanothus that is endemic to California. The term ‘Californian lilac’ is also applied to this and other varieties of ceanothus, though it is not closely related to Syringa, the true lilac.
C. thyrsiflorus can grow more than 6 m (20 ft) tall in its native chaparral habitat. Flowers vary from different shades of blue to close to white. It is popular with birds, butterflies, and other pollinators.
C. thyrsiflorus has been used in gardens extensively, and several cultivars have been selected. Popular garden varieties include:-
- ‘Blue Mound’ which can grow to 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) tall
- ‘Cascade’ which may reach 8 m (26 ft) of height
- ‘El Dorado’, a variegated cultivar with gold edge foliage and powder blue flowers
- ‘Repens’ which stays as a shrub around 1–3 m (3 ft 3 in–9 ft 10 in) tall
- ‘Repens Victoria’, forming a sturdy evergreen mound and most useful groundcover with powder blue flowers
- ‘Skylark’, a tall type with blue flowers (this cultivar has gained the Royal Horticultural Society‘s Award of Garden Merit)
- ‘Snow Flurry’, with white flowers
- California chaparral and woodlands
- California montane chaparral and woodlands
- California native plants
You guessed it — the California lilac (Ceanothus spp.) is native to California. Known also as blue blossom or mountain lilac, it is perfect for the gardener who tends to neglect the garden a bit. However, to ensure that your California lilac thrives, give it some care and attention, especially in the first growing season and during hot weather. Then enjoy its annual spring and summer display of colorful flowers for years to come. Most California lilacs grow well in U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones 8 through 10.
1. Water a California lilac one or two times a week with 1 inch of water for its first growing season. For more drought-tolerant varieties, such as Ceanothus thyrsiflorus, gradually reduce how frequently you water it during the second year; in subsequent years, water these varieties once every three or four weeks. Water other California lilacs, such as Ceanothus maritimus, about once a week, especially during hot weather.
2. Clip off blooms after they fade to keep the shrub tidy. Cut back new growth to healthy leaf sets while it is actively growing to control the shrub’s size. Do not cut branches that are more than 1 inch in diameter.
3. Fertilize California lilac every spring just as the leaf buds begin to swell. Use an all-purpose fertilizer, such as 10-10-10. Apply no more than the amount specified by the manufacturer, sprinkling it evenly under the shrub’s canopy, then water in the fertilizer with 1 inch of water.
4. Examine your shrub occasionally, looking for signs of insects and their damage, such as aphids on the underside of the leaves or browning leaf tips. Prune affected branches in small infestations to a set of healthy leaves and discard. Treat heavier infestations with an appropriate organic/natural remedy.
Things You Will Need
- Garden hose
- Pruning shears
- California lilacs do not like wet feet or standing water, so plant in soil that drains well.
- If your soil is rich in organic matter and your California lilac grows well without it, do not fertilize.
- Learn2Grow: Ceanothus Thyrsiflorus
- Oregon State University Extension Service: Blueblossom
- Monrovia: Ceanothus
- Washington State University: Ceanothus, Commonly Known as California Lilac
- Washington State University: Blue Blossom
About the Author
Melissa Lewis is a former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist. She has also written for various online publications. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
See Also ….
Gardenia is a genus of 142 species of flowering plants in the coffee family, Rubiaceae, native to the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, southern Asia, Australasia and Oceania.
The genus was named by Carl Linnaeus and John Ellis after Dr. Alexander Garden (1730-1791), a Scottish-born American naturalist.
They are evergreen shrubs and small trees growing to 1–15 metres (3.3–49 ft) tall. The leaves are opposite or in whorls of three or four, 5–50 centimetres (2.0–20 in) long and 3–25 centimetres (1.2–9.8 in) broad, dark green and glossy with a leathery texture. The flowers are solitary or in small clusters, white, or pale yellow, with a tubular-based corolla with 5-12 lobes (petals) from 5–12 centimetres (2.0–4.7 in) diameter. Flowering is from about mid-spring to mid-summer and many species are strongly scented.