Sunday

New South Wales Waratah, Australia

Success! 3 of the 10 seeds I bought germinated and we now have 3 healthy seedlings. This is exiting! This got to be one of the most stunning cut flower there is. Lets see how well it does in Texas climate

It is a slender, erect shrub, to 3 metres tall and about 1.5 metres across. It has stiff, wedge-shaped and usually coarsely toothed, dark green, leathery leaves to 15 cm long. In cultivation they can grow to about twice the size.

The ‘flower’ is in fact a conflorescence that comprises, depending on the species, as many as 240 individual flowers. It flowers during spring, October to November. It is a bird-attracting plant, providing large quantities of nectar for a variety of honeyeaters.

SOIL:
These plants are most particular in their requirements as they are very subject to root rot.Grow in deep, sandy, extremely well drained soil, friable and of good texture, but not highly acid. A mulch of leaf mould or compost is beneficial and will keep roots cool in summer. If adding other soil to the site, always incorporate it into the existing soil, building a raised bed or mound.

CLIMATE:
Cold to semi-tropical. Moderately frost resistant.

ASPECT:
Adaptable to various situations. Suitable for either full sun or dappled shade.Waratahs flower better in full sun, but must be protected from strong, hot westerly winds.

WATER:
Water liberally during spring and early summer when new growth develops but once established it can withstand dry periods. Water during hot or dry spells. Never let the soil dry out completely.

FEEDING:
Responds well to application of light to moderate application of fowl manure, blood and bone, other organic or slow release general purpose fertiliser in spring to established plants only, followed by liberal watering.

PRUNING:
Prune back as soon as flowering has finished to ensure good flowering in the following season. Some pruning is achieved by cutting flowers. Pruning also overcomes the natural tendency of the shrub to develop a straggly shape.

PROPAGATION:
Seed or cuttings. Waratahs can be grown from cuttings but the more usual way is from seed. Fresh seed germinates in 2-3 weeks after sowing. Sow seeds in a coarse sandy mixture and transplant seedlings into individual pots of similar soil. Fresh seeds germinate readily but the seedlings are prone to fungal disease, ‘damping off’, which may be reduced by exposing the seedlings to full light. Some shading is necessary after transplanting. Water every few days until fully established, but avoid water-logging. Allowing seed to set is not recommended as it saps a lot of strength from the plant.


-(Update 3/30/2009 - 2 of the seedlings died, shriveled up without known reason- the remaining one is doing fine so far)
-(Update 4/03/2009 - The remaining seedlings died, shriveled up. The seedling does not like temperature change of any kind)

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Wednesday

Texas Olive Tree

This weekend we're going to plant a Texas Olive tree. The 3 ft plant we bought last year on a nursery plant special, survived the winter stay in the garage and is now with 5 ft in height, ready to be put in the ground. This heavy bloomer is a Hummingbird magnet. One of my plant friends has seen as many as 5 hummingbirds at once and that is very exciting news :)

Common name: Texas Olive, Wild Olive, Anacahuita, White Geiger
Botanical name: Cordia boissieri Family: Boraginaceae (Forget-me-not family)

Texas Olive is an evergreen tree, growing to 20 ft tall, native to North America. The tree spread to 10-15 ft. This small tree is very rare found and believed to be close to extinction.
The silvery green leaves have a velvety texture and the showy, white flowers appear all year round, given enough watering is available. Otherwise, the flowers appear from late spring to summer. Flowers are 3 inch wide, trumpet shaped, with yellow throats. The olive-like, white fruits have a sweet flesh popular with birds and other wildlife and, although edible to man, should not be eaten in quantities.

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