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Messages - Leo

We could rewrite posts for Instagram.

Quote from: Bern on March 10, 2023, 12:02:07 PMHi Leo,

...nomenclature changes... of the palo verde trees.

Is your property ever visited by javelinas?  Do you ever encounter rattlesnakes or coral snakes on your property?  Do you ever have problems with scorpions getting inside your house?  I'm fairly sure that the stories of scorpion infested homes in Phoenix that I've occasionally heard here on the East Coast are overblown....
Sorry, I'm a bad biologist. These legume trees are all supposed by name changers to be Parkinsonia now, even trees in Africa. I began ignoring DNA work when Asclepiadaceae was sunk into Apocynaceae because of 1,500 base pairs total and I confirmed my intransigence when the type species of Acacia together with its closest relatives were moved into a brand new genus.

Javelina visit all the time. They are terrible pests. Imagine an animal that uproots things with aerial parts too spiny to eat. They will attack and injure severely if they feel threatened. Their stench is so foul they are almost always smelled before seen. I keep rocks and concrete blocks near doors to throw at them.

My neighborhood has king snakes (Lampropeltus getulus californicus), which eat rattlesnakes (Crotalus spp.) Rattlers are very common in the more desert areas but not in very urban areas. Our female rattlers seldom venture more than 6 feet / 2 meters from the burrow they were born in, so dense building extinguishes them. They lie in wait for prey to wander by. Males go out prowling widely, seeking food and cloaca.

Coral snakes are found almost only in the mesic southeastern corner of Arizona.

Scorpions are everywhere. For years I had none because it was such a dry neighborhood. Numerous neighbors have moved here from the lunatic asylum to the west and installed lush grassy landscapes, attracting plenty of scorpion food, so now we have scorpions. They fit through tiny cracks so it is almost impossible to exclude them from houses. A friend did his PhD work on their exoskeleton proteins, which effectively protect scorpions from contact pesticides. I have only seen a few in my house. Friends encounter them weekly or more frequently. One way to decrease the population is to go out in the dark with an ultraviolet light. They fluoresce brightly and can be squashed.
Current Photographs / Re: March photos
March 12, 2023, 11:13:44 PM
Quote from: David Pilling on March 09, 2023, 07:44:20 AM@Leo, we've had a wiki editors conference and think the photo and information would be a good addition to the wiki. Please add them.
I'll do so.
Current Photographs / Re: March photos
March 09, 2023, 12:27:29 AM
Moraea serpentina flowering on March 6, 2023. The container is a foam drinking cup 3" / 7.5cm in diameter and twice as deep. It sprouted many years ago from Silverhill seed, and has flowered every year for some years. Because the single plant produces one flower per year that only opens for a few hours, I haven't seen it often. This year I brought it with me while visiting family so I wouldn't miss it. The flower is sweetly fragrant at close range. Unfortunately I only have one, and it hasn't offset. I tried selfing it.

The background flowers are a purple line-bred Laelia anceps and an orange Kalanchoe hybrid from a Huntington plant sale.

The companion plant is Linaria maroccana. Winter annuals reseed in most of my containers, serving as watering indicators. Gene Joseph and Jane Evans of Plants for the Southwest/Living Stones Nursery in Tucson taught me that trick.

Should I put these on the Wiki? It was a cloudy and windy day so they're not great photos, but a view from the top isn't on the Wiki.

Quote from: Bern on 3/8/2023, 3:42:58 PM Hey Leo, Do you have any Palo Verde trees Parkinsonia florida or Parkinsonia aculeata on your property?  Do they get tall enough and have sufficient branches and leaves to provide shade for other plants in the summer? And do mesembs grow well for you in Phoenix?

Hi Bern, I'm going to ignore name changes and use old tree names for the species known colloquially as "palo verde" = Spanish for "green branch." Cercidium floridum and C. microphyllum are native here. They are slow growing and require only occasional thinning of lower branches as they die. Parkinsonia aculeata is a Mexican species but widespread here in landscaping. Unfortunately it is producing hybrid swarms with the natives, extending great distances from cities.

I say unfortunately because aculeata seedlings are prolific enough to be weedy, grow extremely fast, have weak wood that breaks easily in our summer storms, have numerous, large and very sharp thorns lacking in our native species, and are highly susceptible to attack by our two species of giant Palo Verde boring beetles. Root damage from these grubs causes them to blow over in storms. They are not long-lived. They do have larger and more beautiful flowers than our natives, produced sporadically all summer, whereas our natives flower once in spring. Aculeata wood has a peculiar skunky smell.

Aculeata passes all these undesirable traits to its hybrids, though sometimes the thorns are not inherited. When sawing a tree that looks exactly like one of our natives but grows too fast, the smell reveals its hybrid origin.

The native trees on my property have all died of old age since I bought it in 1986. The one P. aculeata blew over in a storm. I have allowed seedlings looking like our natives to grow in strategic spots for shade. I weed out anything resembling aculeata.

I will try to append photos of my house in 1986-87 and 2015. With the same mattock I still use, I planted everything not in the earlier photo. My property is along a major desert wash. Rather than soil I have rocks separated by dust, so shovels are useless.

I don't shade my winter bulbs. Our winter sun seems excellent for them. I am at 33 degrees North. I bring some into the house for summer.

Most mesembs do very well here in winter. But several native bird species will destroy them as soon as they are seen. They can't be grown outside a screened enclosure, which I still don't have. Some mesembs cannot tolerate our occasional night-time frosts, from -1C to rarely -8. Summer night temperatures are another barrier. We may have many weeks in a row of night lows over 30C/85 F. Many mesembs melt because they can't breathe. Those need to come into the house for the hottest part of summer.
PBS Forum Feedback & Help / Re: Email list and forum
March 08, 2023, 10:23:11 AM
If you want to see a plant board with photos, running on antiquated software, with a loyal following, take a look at .
User Profiles / Re: Shoal Creek Suculents
March 08, 2023, 10:18:13 AM
Very nice Euphorbia house.
Mystery Bulbs / Re: Freesia?
March 07, 2023, 11:17:48 AM
Thank you. I have some Freesias but I haven't grown all of them. This doesn't look like any other Freesia I've grown.

Each leaf is somewhat dull grey, with a very narrow, shiny and bright green midrib running down the center. The midrib doesn't feel raised but it is very narrow.

The tag in the pot saying Freesia may mean that was once in this pot. I wouldn't write just the genus on a label of freshly sown seed.
General Discussion / Re: Fertilizer and temperature
March 06, 2023, 12:33:33 PM
The nitrogen source matters. Unless it's in the form of nitrite or nitrate it takes a while for soil organisms to break it down. This can take quite a while during cold weather, or much less time during warm weather.
Mystery Bulbs / Re: Suspected Hippeastrum
March 06, 2023, 12:30:39 PM
Nobody replied... sorry. Yes, a hybrid Hippeastrum.
Mystery Bulbs / Freesia?
March 06, 2023, 12:17:06 PM
This sprouted long ago from Silverhill seed. Pack rats continually take labels. It is in a 3"/7.2cm diameter container. It is the most sensitive winter rainfall bulb in my collection to underwatering; if I forget once, it goes dormant for the season. This is about the longest I've managed to keep it in leaf, which is probably why it hasn't flowered. I tore the top, longest leaf while removing it from the bench for this photo.
Quote from: Bern on March 04, 2023, 04:41:53 PMDo you have shade structures or shade houses in your yard in Phoenix that allows your plants to withstand the summer heat and sunlight?  Do you use a drip irrigation system to keep your plants hydrated?  I know people who grow cacti and succulents in Arizona, but none of them describe themselves as gardeners.  What kind of plants do you grow in Phoenix?

Enquiring minds want to know!

Great questions... I have a patio covered with polycarbonate and shade cloth for many succulent and other plants in containers. In the ground people learn to use shrubs and trees as sun protection for smaller plants. I remind newcomer gardeners that this part of the Sonoran Desert, in comparison to many other deserts, gets colder in winter, hotter in summer, has less rain, and has rain both winter and summer. A common landscape plant here is the non-native Texas Ranger, a swarm of species and hybrids in genus Leucophyllum. We don't get enough rain to establish seedlings, but adults don't require irrigation. I permitted a lot of their seedlings, plus our native creosote bush, Larrya tridentata, to remain so I have a lot of shady spots for other things.

We average 200mm / 8 inches of rain per year, but it is highly erratic. 60% falls with thunderstorms in the summer monsoon between June and September, originating from the Sea of Cortez. The remainder falls gently with cool winter storms from the Pacific. A little snow falls about once in ten years.

I water plants in pots by hand. I have a drip system for my landscaping, and a soaking hose irrigation system for my orchard. Most of the landscape is mature enough to need very little water, so the drip is no longer on a timer. Very few irrigation system installers understand plants so I specified four zones: one for trees and shrubs, one for smaller plants that need more frequent water, one for desert plants that don't need supplemental winter water and one for desert plants that do need supplemental winter water.
This winter Metro Phoenix has seen typical nighttime lows, but our daytime highs have been much lower than normal. By early February it's usually warm enough to garden without a shirt. It's still too chilly for that. In the late 1980s there was a year when it was already 100 F / 38C the first week of March. It only got hotter.
General Off-Topic / Re: ChatGPT
March 02, 2023, 03:04:14 PM
I don't think AI chatbots need to be good at all. They only need to be good enough for people who won't check the response for accuracy.
General Discussion / Re: Plants in the News
March 01, 2023, 11:19:11 AM
I was visiting a brother who had a pot full of very narrow, tubular, blue-green monocot leaves. I asked whether they were chives. He responded yes. I plucked one and began eating, finding no chive taste. At the same time he said "Or maybe those are those tiny little daffodils." I spit it out and had no ill effects. I again told my brother why labels are useful.