Warm Winter Weather helps Western Growers
While the drought remains in full force statewide, here in San Diego these past two months have truly felt like the beginning of spring. In fact, I can only recall 4-5 times since November when I woke up to find ice on the windshield of my car. A big difference from 2 years ago when we had snow up on Palomar Mountain… that made a nice picture… you can check it out here. Nights bereft of frost and warm days have caused many plants in the nursery to flush as if it was late March.
Those of you who truck plant material out of California will be glad to know this mild winter has helped to speed up the growing process for many plants in high demand. This will therefore help the many growers in California bounce back from the infamous plant shortages of 2014.
You know the supply chain is at the bottom of the barrel when customers you haven’t spoken to in years start requesting an availability. So for the many in search of plants for spring, here is what is looking tip top for the month of March:
Caesalpinia mexicana – The flowers of Mexican Bird of Paradise traditionally drop off in the winter… but not this year. Normally we see this plant start blooming in the late spring so you can imagine our surprise to see our crops bloom continuously throughout these past winter months. At this time, there is a good supply of 5g and more on the way.
Cassia artemisioides – Our crops of Feathery Cassia are still in bloom, and surprisingly still in stock. They have only gotten better in the past month and will likely be gone soon as spring is right around the corner and this is the season when we see the most activity.
Ceanothus thyrsiflorus ‘Victoria’ (Skylark) – California Lilac is a favorite among water- wise California gardeners. For good reason too, the Ceanothus species is part of our California Chaparral so it loves our native soil and is accustomed to periods of extended drought. These typically bloom in early April but due to the unseasonably warm winter these too are in bloom already.
Ficus pumila – Creeping Fig is in good supply in both our Pauma and Trabuco locations. This fast growing evergreen vine is well known for its ability to self-cling on many different types of surfaces. It is often used in shady spots of the garden where sun-loving vines are unable to thrive. Widely used to grow up and over arbors, along fences and even to fill in wire topiaries. 1 and 5 gallon sizes available. Cold hardy to Zone 9.
Genista spachiana (racemosa) – Sweet Broom has always been a good seller in early spring. The plants are budding up nicely and by the time you read this they should be in full bloom. Our customers buy these by the truckload so it would be a good idea to get your orders in quickly. We have these in both the Pauma and Trabuco yards.
Ligustrum japonicum (lucidum) – Japanese Privet is in good supply in 1, 5 and 15g. The quality is very good in all sizes and will work for a retail setting or even for shifting stock. With the huge demand for hedge/screening material in the past year, we have seen an increase in sales on this particular item. Considered an evergreen, however in colder climates it does defoliate. Cold hardy between 0 and 10° F with protection.
Portulacaria afra – Elephant Food is native to the coastal and inland areas of South Africa. While it is susceptible to frost, it is well adapted to heat and drought. Widely used in containers and shaped to look like small trees. It is also a common hedge in areas absent of frost such as Phoenix, Arizona. The reddish stems and round green leaves contrast nicely along with the tree-like growth habit making this a highly valued succulent.
Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’ – Lady Banks’ Rose is a semi-evergreen vine native to China. Most commonly trained onto fences or arbors, it also performs well as a spreading shrub to control erosion on hillsides. The ‘Lutea’ variety is valued for its double-yellow flowers that distinguish it from the true species. Tolerates heat, frost and requires only low to moderate amounts of supplemental water once established. Cold hardy to Zone 6.
Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Prostratus’ – Creeping Rosemary is one of the most widely used groundcovers in the Southwest. Understandably so, as it grows from the coast to the desert and can handle temperatures as low as 15° F. It also gets by with low amounts of supplemental water and can tolerate a wide range of soil types so long as there is good drainage. Currently there is a good supply of 1 and 5g.
Salvia clevelandii – Cleveland Sage is a native to our county of San Diego and can be found growing on the slopes and foothills in the coastal sage scrub and chaparral habitat. This mounding evergreen shrub grows up to 6 ft. high and wide and is extremely drought tolerant. Typically this plant starts blooming in June… however, as you can see these too are blooming early. The bluish purple whorls combined with the fragrant leaves make this plant a superb seller.
Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’ – Hot Lips Sage is a relatively new item for us. An upright evergreen shrub, growing 2-3 ft. high and wide with flowers varying from bicolor red/white to solid red, pink or white. It is actually quite astounding to see the flowers change colors from week to week depending on the weather. Loves full sun and drought tolerant once established. Cold hardy to Zone 8.
Viburnum tinus ‘Spring Bouquet’ – We always sell a ton of these this time of the year. An evergreen shrub with an average landscape size of 4-6 ft. high and wide. Widely used for low hedges. Large clusters of reddish pink buds open to display a profusion of small white flowers from fall to spring. The flowers contrast nicely with the red stems and dark green leaves. Cold hardy to Zone 7.
Wisteria sinensis – Many people ask us how we are able to sell Chinese Wisteria at such a low price and the answer is simple… because we propagate them in-house. Our 5 and 15g crops are on the verge of blooming. It might be a good idea to bring these in ahead of time and let them bloom up in your nursery as the flowers typically don’t hold up well in transport. Although, if you do decide to wait rest assured we will do everything possible to maintain the integrity of the plants throughout the loading and transport process.
All signs point to a busy spring and it seems the only thing that will hinder one’s sales is a lack of inventory. Happy Spring everyone… Cheers!