Sunday, November 26, 2023

Native Plants. Part 4. Cultivars

Increasingly you see advocates for planting natives adding "do not buy cultivars." 

Cultivar is defined as "a plant variety that has been produced in cultivation by selective breeding." In the context of native plants, we are talking about wild native plants that have been grown and selected for desirable characteristics, perhaps a more intensely pink flower or resistance to mildew. 

red osier dogwood with variegated leaves
dogwood cultivar with variegated leaves

Breeding changes plants. Of course. A cultivar is not genetically the same as its wild relatives. Offspring are not the same as their parents. The key for using or not using cultivars is whether the changes in the cultivar cause insects that eat leaves or gather pollen and nectar from the wild variety to avoid the cultivar. 

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Lyon Arboretum, Honolulu

Lyon Arboretum of the University of Hawaii at Manoa provides a look at Honolulu quite different from the beaches. 

Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii
View of Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Grow Native Plants Part 3. Finding Natives to Grow, Continued

Bird and insect numbers in North America have dropped drastically in the last 20 years. Expert opinion says that to restore them, we have to rebuild their foods, providing insects for the birds and plants for the butterflies. Because most insects are specialist feeders, that means growing lots of the native plants they require. Planting milkweeds for monarch butterflies is an example of this. The requirement for specific native food plant applies to most native butterflies and moths. This has led to a push for everyone to grow native plants in their yards and gardens, a new experience for many people. Nurseries and seed-sellers are racing to keep up with the demand. And people are asking not just for American native plants, but native plants of the place they live, Fort Collins or Toledo or Thomasville. Local groups and national websites will provide lists of what is native in your zip code. Then it gets difficult.

Colorado columbines Aquilegia coerulea
Colorado columbines (Aquilegia coerulea) and golden banner (Thermopsis rhombifolia)

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Plant Story -- Handsome Maltese Cross, Silene chalcedonica

Maltese cross is a handsome red garden flower, easy to remember once you have noticed it. I learned it as Lychnis chalcedonica but properly it is Silene chalcedonica, although you can find it called Lychnis in many places still.

Maltese cross, Silene chalcedonica
Maltese cross, Silene chalcedonica