torsdag den 4. august 2011

Drosanthemum speciosum

Drosanthemums are underused plants. Even for gardeners in a temperate climate they are excellent for use in large claypots on the patio. They are not hardy as many Delospermas and here up north the real challenge in growing them is to get them through the winter. The best position is a bright, cold but not frosty position with relatively dry air.

After winter they can come outside when there is no risk for hard frost. The good news is that a cold, dry night with temps down to - 4C does not harm them at all as long as day temperatures are above the freezing point. They dislike the combination of rain followed by frost.

They need plenty of water all summer and starts flowering end June, early July.

onsdag den 27. juli 2011

Delosperma as weeds...

Some forms of Delospermas are simply weedy. They are not as plants particular cold/wet hardy, but their seeds are and they germinate everywhere! One example is Delosperma cooperi. And all its hybrids or forms. The plant shown on the picture may in fact not be the real thing. This one behaves very well.

Other forms grows like maniacs and a seed can turn into a 1 squaremeter of a plant producing a zillion seeds. I even have them germinating and growing, if I led them, in my garden bog. In wet, peathy soil!

Another weed is Delosperma herbeum. Also not really cold hardy, but the seeds are. It does, however, grows the best inside the unheated greenhouse. It likes the heat.

When you grow plants, closely related to each other, often hybrids are produced. This next plant germinated this spring. Not Delosperma herbeum. Not Delosperma floribundum, but something in betwin...

Note the waterfilled leaves. We simply have had too much water this year...

onsdag den 20. juli 2011

Sundews and garden bogs

The bog...

Some of the most fascinating plants of all time and sure those who have done most for our understanding of science versus religion are the carnivorous plants. Of the many hundred species of sundews worldwide only a few are truly hardy. I have them.
The good news is that the species from Europe and North American are easy to cultivate. That is if you grow them in a climate similar to where the plants come from.

I grow them in two ways:

1. In pots. these are outside all year, exposed to the elements and both full sun in summer and all our winter frost. The pots stand in rainwater, sometimes as high as to the soil surface. The soil consist of the local sand, peat and mosses.

2. In my large artificial bog. Still, only used rainwater. Same soil recipe. More mosses and sometimes the water level is a few centimeters above the soil level. This does no harm to the plants.

The Species:

Drosera anglica. I have this species from both the US, UK and from mainland Europe. They are all easy going under my climatic conditions. There is a great deal of variation betwin the various locations but this is only interesting. On the picture can be seen the typical pots I use.

Drosera filiformis filiformis. There are two subspecies of this species. The northern ssp. filiformis and the southern ssp. tracyi. The latter are not at all hardy in Denmark. Drosera filiformis filiformis is also an easy species. Mine are from the Pine Barrens and fully hardy. They grow in the bog only. Flowering in medio to ultimo July.

Drosera intermedia is very widespread and I have numerios locations of it. Both from down south Portugal and Italy to Scandinavia, Eire, over New Foundland to the Cartolinas. All are easy and there is a great deal of variation among them. Especially the US, southern forms are larger in many ways. The species likes it very wet and in the bog they grow in water during rainy days. Contrary I recently found them wild in Denmark and these were growing rather dryish in humid but not wet sand.

Drosera linearis. According to the litterature this species if really difficult. Under my climatic conditions they are not. They grow just as easy as the other species. I think this is because of Denmark being up north and the long summer days more than low winter temperature. One observation though from this year after a really cold winter with a low of minus 21 celcius is that all plants including yearlings bloomed. This is the first time in 4 years any Drosera linearis plant blooms.

Drosera rotundifolia. The only species I have that really seems to like and survive growing in Sphagnum mosses. They also seems to need it really wet and an occational flooding is no problem for the plant. This species also shows a great deal of variation among populations especially in size. Who can find the odd leaf on the picture?

Winter causalities is always happening. I grow the various forms in small populations so they are always replaced fast or an appearently dead plants regrow from the roots. Besides these species I also grow the New Zealand Drosera arcturi but it is very small. It also survives minus 21 celcius.

The various hardy species interbreeds but the hybrids will be shown another day. They are interesting and sterile.

onsdag den 13. juli 2011

Galtonia viridiflora

I admit it, this is not a succulent. But I do work with other plants than succulents. Both other South African Alpines and mountain plants, red hot pokers, various bulbs and carnivorous plants. I will write about these as well here on the blog.

Todays topic is Galtonia viridiflora. In danish they should be called something like Grønblomstret sommerhyacint or translated Green Flowered Summer Hyacinth. My girlfriend calls them Tisløg or Urin Bulbs. Appearently my dog just peed on them not long before I first showed them to her... Nicknames are difficult to get rit off...

Anyway, they are rather nice bulbs from the Drakensberg, especially in Lesotho where they are distributed on cliffs and steep rocky slopes at an elevation around 2800m+. The plants I maintain are collected as seeds on either Naudes Nek or Sani Pass. For some odd reason I have lost this information.

They take 3 years from seed to seed. The good news about them is that they are very hardy and have done well at last winters - 20C with no protection at all. I grow them together with Delosperma, Kniphofias, South African Gladioli, Agapanthus etc.

søndag den 10. juli 2011

Echinocereus baileyi

Most of hardy succulent growers in the northern hemisphere grows some of these. The truly hardy Echinocereus. This one is collected in Oklahoma. The flowers are spectacular, the stem itself not. I grow it outside, close to a wall where it gets some shelter from rain. It is in bloom right now. Unnoticed by wisitors when not. Maybe I can pollinate it with something from the greenhouse and create some hardy hybrids that can spread in a carpet across the southern wall? It could be beautiful...

lørdag den 9. juli 2011

Delosperma obtusum

This name Delosperma obtusum L. Bolus has been in circulation for long. But no plant seems to have matched the description of this species.
However, in 2010 I got seeds from a plant collected in Marquard in the South Eastern Free State of South Africa. They germinated well and in early summer of 2011 the flowers appeared. They seems to fit with the description of Delosperma obtusum that are known from the city of Marquard.

The plant have withstanded a dry - 18C this winter with no ill effects and should be considered hardy. It is a very pretty species and I will be distributing seeds this year.

torsdag den 7. juli 2011

Smallest and biggest.

There are serverel candidates as the smallest of the hardy mesembs. Mossia is certainly small, so are the Neohenricias. However, the most beautiful of the smallest are Delosperma sphalmanthoides S. A. Hammer. Described in 1993 from material collected at Komsberg Pass, Southeast of Sutherland a 1500 m. To the best of my knowledge this is still the material we are growing today.
The Sutherland area is one of the coldest in South Africa with low temperatures to -15C. Komsberg itself experience temperatures down to - 12C but the species can take it much colder. It is in the genes.
The leaves of Delosperma sphalmanthoides are ideal around 12 x 2 x 2 mm. It resembles a species of Sphalmanthus from the same area therefore the name. (wanted; anyone who grows this Sphalmanthus? I want it!) It is self fertile but I dont think it has a very good seed set.
A very positive thing about it is that it is one of the most early flowering mesembs of the hardy section. Mine blooms in April even before the yellow Delosperma sp. Sani Top. I know that some Aloinopsis flowers even earlier in the US but not in my collection. We just dont get a sudden warm day in January!
It is not hardy outside in Denmark. But I just grow it in a large pot and place it in the unheated greenhouse in winter and keep it dry until spring.

The widest growing mesembs are found among the Delospermas. However, the tallest of the hardy are Ruschias. One that finally have decided to flower this year after 3 years from seeds are Ruschia putterillii.  It is found at rather high altitudes  in the Drakensberg area of South Africa and in Lesotho. Mine are from seeds collected at Naudes Nek. Naudes Nek pass is around 2900m and regular snow falls in winter. It grows on north-facing summit basalt cliffs, basalt sheets and gravelly slopes.
I have not tested the species outside here in Denmark but simply grows it in a very big claypot outside in summer and inside the unheated greenhouse in winter. A 3 year old plant is around 50 x 50 xm and 30 cm tall. It has been unimpressed with a dry -18C so far.

Opuntia fragilis in flower

It is not every day that Opuntia fragilis blooms. Not even in nature.
Anyway, one clone in my collection out of maybe 30 different have decided to bloom this year. One the other hand, the clone is very robust so maybe its just a hybrid with Opuntia polyacantha? It is collected in North Dakota and is extreamly hardy.

Unfortunately no other opuntia species is in bloom these days so no change to create any new hybrids for the garden. So I am left to simply enjoying the flowers ... (smile)

onsdag den 6. juli 2011


Yucca nana.

I finally found the time to sow the result of last years arranged lovelife betwin my yuccas. Here in Europe we dont have the yucca moth so all fruiting of the plants are either a rare selfpollination or the result of plantsmen wisiting the flowers late at night. Creating something really new is also becoming a rare event with so many people sending yucca pollen to each other from all corners of the western world.
However, I actually think I did create something really new last year. My Yucca nana from the Mill Creek area in Utah finally flowered after 10 long years or so. It was as it wasnt meant to happen and soon the flowerstem got a fungus attack. Pollen from it was weak but I managed to pollinate a good and interesting clone of Yucca flaccida with it. One fruit was formed! The Yucca flaccida is a form with very narrow leaves, lots of filaments and very interesting flowers.
Germination is slow though.

Yucca flaccida.

Another odd yucca was also flowering at the same time. Sown froms seeds collected at Yucca neomexicana in Colorado. The plant is clearly not that species, but maybe its a naturel hybrid. If so most likely (Yucca neomexicana x Yucca glauca).
Pollen from this one was also pollinating the Yucca flaccida and they have germinated in good numbers.

I think the future hybrids betwin these F1 hybrids will create something really exceptionel. Still heading for miniature plants, compact as Yucca nana and hardy as Yucca flaccida...

tirsdag den 5. juli 2011

Opuntia humifusa cespitosa

I was reading Lucas Charles Majures thesis: "The Ecology and Morphological Variation of Opuntia (Cactaceae) Species in the Mid-South United States" the other day. The species Opuntia humifusa has always interested me, not because I think its a good garden plant, its really awfull outside here in Denmark, but the various forms this species contains really needs a taxonomic treatment. Its seems for both opuntioids and yuccas that the eastern forms tend to be lumbed to a few species with a lot of variation and the western forms gets all the subspecies or even get ranks of species. Not sure why?

Anyways, the humifusa, pusilla and all their forms grows very well in my warm, humid greenhouse like they were more subtropical. And out there in the greenhouse, with a beautiful flower where L. C. Majures Opuntia humifusa cespitosa!

Majure lists it from Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky and Virginia. Also Missouri, New Your and Illinois.
My plants is from an old Hochstätter collection from Mt. Arabia in Georgia. Outside the official registration of the species.

It has produced a large clump and the flowers are really beautiful.

søndag den 3. juli 2011

Delosperma cv. ´John Proffit´ and ´Silverhill´.

Some of my favorite plants has always been those from the generas Opuntia and Delosperma. However, species concepts among these creatures are wide and crazy as life itself and often a name to a certain plant from these generas more represent an opinion or a way to understand life more than the truth about what is defining a species. In the end species concepts are artificial and are just humans way to define nature. Borders betwin species often do not exsist and what we call species exchange genes frequently in nature to evolve and adapt to an ever changing climate. Most plantsmen will also find that hybrids are of more value in gardens as they are more adaptable and often grow much better.

Finding a name to a new or an old plant is often not possible or the best one can do is to come with an opinion.
The diagnosis of most Delosperma are often incompleate and just represent one end of the extreame variation of a species. This goes for both cacti and mesembs.

For the plant named Delosperma cv. ´John Proffit´ no name ever came up. It was first collected by P. Kelaidis near  Matatiele at the east base of the East Cape Drakensberg. The plant was wonderful and very hardy but no latin name could be found that matched the plant. John Proffit was the Director of Denver Botanic Garden and he retired in 1999. The people at the garden wanted to name a cultivar after him and so the no-name plant ended up with a name.

The most correct name for the plant would be Delosperma sp. Matatiele, EC Drakensberg. Or a variation of that. However, often we get some very good and beautiful plants with no names and not even a location where they have been collected.

What to do?

We need the names. How could we otherwise talk about them or even distribute them?

This was what happen with my own Delosperma cv. ´Silverhill´. I got them as seeds just after the fear of a global total computer colapse was over. Silverhill distributed them as Delosperma lavisiae E Cape. Its was not that species and the location was... not really a location.

The plant was very nice and a good and hardy garden preformer that would even self sow in the lawn so I decided to distribute them as Delosperma cv. ´Silverhill´.

Recently a friend told me they fit the diagnosis of D. deleeuwiae. So I guess the name in the future needs to be D. deleeiwiae ´Silverhill`.

Delosperma alpinum and davyi and congestum and basuticum....

I cannot even remember where the name came from. Maybe because the plant seems to resemble the small Ectotropis?

P. Kelaidis first collected it in 1994 on top of Sani Pass. He says it grows on top of rock contrary to the small yellow Delosperma also found in the same habitat that grows in the more wet meadows below.
It has been distributed as Delosperma sp. Sani Pass 1, and Delosperma ´Hogan`. Recently also as Delosperma davyi.
The correct name still seems to be Delosperma sp. Sani Pass 1.

D. davyi is a compleatly different species, here is Hartmanns diagnosis:

D. davyi N.E.Br. in Burtt Davy 1926: 158; Hartmann ALOE 2001: 6; Holotype Davy 15149.
Shrubs with long, weak branches up to 50 cm long, lying on the ground or straggly in other bushes, often with elongate vegetative Branches with up to 5 leaf pairs; Leaves linear, upper leaf surface concave, lower rounded, basally a little wider, apically acuminate, up to 50 mm long; Flower appearing solitary due to much extended dichasia on each branch, petals white, only somewhat longer than the calyx lobes, filamentous staminodes white; Fruit light ochre, rims of valves on top very low, a little recurved, fruit base funnelshaped, broad, like the pedicel almost smooth, due to very low bladder cells, fringes on septa up to 0.2 mm broad, valve wings 0.5-0.6 mm broad; Ecology in crevices of dolomite rocks at the edge of riverine woods in broken shade; Distribution Vereeniging, Gauteng, South Africa.

One can only imagin how that name was associated with this small red species.

Even more confusion surrounds the yellow species found with it. It was first collected by Sean Hogan (note the last name) in 1991. It was later recollected by P. Kelaidis in 1994 on Sani Top. At first it was named D. congestum but that name also refers to a very different species.

D. congestum L.Bolus NM 1954: 270; Holotype Liebenberg 12957 (BOL).
Erect shrubs to 13 cm high, 12-15 mm long, herbaceous parts glabrous, shining, green; Leaves densely placed, ascending, acute, dorsally rounded, 12-18 mm long, to 3 mm broad and thick; Flower 3-7, flowers in narrowly placed, congested cyrnes, pedicels 2-5 mm long, petals white, withering lemon coloured, 4-6 mm long, 0.5-0.75 mm broad, filamentous staminodes white, anthers dark yellow; Fruit unknown; Ecology at c. 3 000 m altitude; Distribution Lesotho.

Unfortunetely this name has followed the plant through the nursery trade.

The plant has also been patented and distributed under the name Delosperma ´Gold Nugget`. But again, its the same plant, same collection.

In the attempt to find out what this babys name was, the name D. basuticum has been suggested and many have followed it. In Hartmanns treatment of the genus D. basuticum is defined like:

D. basuticum L.Bolus NM 1954: 318 ; Holotype Compton 152/49 (BOL).
Caespitose, c. 5.5 cm high, diameter 13 cm, herbaceous parts densely and finely papillate, Internodes to 3 mm diameter; Leaves glaucous green, rounded at the lower side, 15-17 mm long, to 3.5 mm broad and thick; Flower solitary, diameter to 28 mm, pedicel 10-15 mm long, bracteolate below or at the middle, petals pink, 5-12 mm long, 0.25-1.5 mm broad, filamentous staminodes present, filaments pale pink, inner ones white, anthers and pollen yellow; Fruit unknown; Ecology above 3 ooo m altitude; Distribution Lesotho.

Not really this plant!

Of this yellow high altitude species a white spot has occurred serverel times in cultivation. It has been patented Delosperma ´White Nugget´. Again, the same plant. Many Delospermas come in serverel color forms.

So, two species, many aliases and really no true identity. The good news is that they are really nice plants, and they are among the most cold hardy of mesembs. Taking -30C though the small red species needs a dry winter.


The genus Bergeranthus is a wonderfull genus and many species are rather temperature hardy. It contains of at least 10 species. I received a lot of new material this spring. As what usual happens with mesembs when exposed to too much warmth and too little light (as greenhouses in northern europe) they loose shape and turn into monsters.

I grow all my summer growing mesembs outside in the rather cool danish summer and here they get their good looks again so Im still waiting to id them or to have time to do so. I will use "Leaves of grass: a taxonomic revision of the genus Bergeranthus Schwantes (Aizoaceae)" by Anthony P. Dold, Steven A. Hammer and Nigel P. Barker. Suggestions to id are obviously welcome when I publish the pictures here.

Heres a form from Somerset East. I assume its Bergeranthus nanus.


Well, this is the first attempt to get online again after the death of my old website People seems to have missed the pictures of all the hardy mesembs and cacti. I´m not really sure about how the future for me on the internet looks like, but maybe this will work. A certain limitation for me is my rather poor english and the hopeless misspellings I seems to produce over and over again. I managed to divorce my old english language helper, but I hope I am at least understandable.

This blog will be mainly about hardy mesembs and some other south african plants that I grow here in Central Jutland, Denmark. The past two winters have placed us in a US Zone 6.

Todays first picture is actually not of a plant in bloom right now. Its a new form from Oxbow, collected at a 3000m point. Its more dwarfish than my old Delosperma ´Silverhill´. But as this its a spring bloomer covered in flowers in May and a month onwards.
I expect it to be fully hardy here but will most likely need a good drainage or being kept dry in winter.