Gardening with Evelyn: Two of my favorite plants

Crown of thorns. My favorite succulent that blooms all year and keeps growing for years; The other is that wonderful burst of spring color called a Senetti Cineraria.

Succulents are wonderful but they usually don’t bloom all year, Euphorbia milii or crown of thorns for all of us everyday gardeners is a wonderful succulent-like addition to your sunny low water garden. They bloom every day of the year. Common ones come in red or a cream yellow. There are lots of new hybrids but they are a bit more difficult to grow. Native to Madagascar, they are called crown of thorns because they are thought to be the thorny crown placed on Christ at his crucifixion. The stems have short spiky thorns so watch your fingers. Water occasionally after it has rooted out well into your soil. Feed in spring and summer. Watch for all the usual pests but otherwise do nothing but enjoy the bright clusters of flowers. Year after year after year. Unless it freezes because this is a ‘frost tender perennial.

Nothing says SPRING like the blooming plant called Cineraria. The best of them is Senetti Cineraria. You’ll find it in garden centers everywhere right now. Brilliant blues, purples, pinks and whites. Big heads of tiny daisy-like flowers. Senetti Cineraria’s are special because you can trim off the first set of blooms and be rewarded with a second bloom. In the house, by the front entry or on the patio table. Keep watered and enjoy. Trim and rebloom then throw it away. Cineraria is an annual.

What? Throw it away? Time for a little learning lesson. The difference between an annual and perennial. It’s confusing and the plant labels don’t help.

An annual grows, blooms, set seeds and then dies. All in one year.

A perennial grows, blooms, set seeds and then does it again year after year, unless you kill it.

A “California Perennial” is a plant that will freeze in most of the country but here in our mild climate will bloom and grow for several years, unless it freezes.

Lots of your blooming garden plants are labeled annual but in our mild climate they become what I call a California Perennial. They will grow and re-bloom for several seasons before they are worn out and die. Many impatience and garden begonias are this way. Citrus, bougainvillea’s, hibiscus can freeze but they will usually come back.

Best hint: Know how cold your garden gets and always ask before you buy!

Storms from Alaska are cold. Storms from the Hawaiian Pacific are not. Listen to the weather man and if he says major freezing then cover up all those tender plants.

End of learning lesson and there is no quiz.

From Evelyn, Your Gardening Grandma.

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