Plants of the Week – October 22

Plants of the Week – October 22

I suspect the thrill of plant collecting, and returning with open-pollinated seed, is discovering the surprising variability of the seedlings that germinate. Such is the case with xMangave ‘Macho Mocha’. Our plant, currently growing with other succulents in a shallow planter in the Cosby Courtyard came from Plant Delights Nursery. The mail order company provides the following explanation: “On a plant exploration trip into Mexico, Carl Schoenfeld collected seed from a plant of Manfreda variegata. Only when the seedlings were grown was it realized that it had crossed in the wild with a nearby plant of Agave celsii, resulting in the very first xMangave. Each surreal-looking, 3′ wide clump of thick, rubbery, glaucous foliage is so covered with iron-purple spots that the clump looks burgundy purple.” Photo credit: J. Coceano


The stunning fall color of Pseudolarix amabilis is a sight to behold. The golden larch, indigenous to the coastal mountains of southeastern China, is a deciduous conifer. Soft green needles cloak the tree throughout the spring and summer, then transition to a vibrant golden-yellow in autumn. Pseudolarix means false larch as several morphological differences separate it from the genus Larix. The plant is particularly striking against a backdrop of the blue-green Pinus wallichiana. Photo credit: J. Coceano


Salvia leucantha ‘Midnight’ is one of several cultivars of Mexican bush sage. Plants reach 3 – 5’ in a growing season. Narrow, gray-green leaves provide indication that the sage, native to Mexico, is drought tolerant. Short days initiate flower bud development. Flowering continues until the first hard frost. The cultivar ‘Midnight’ differs from others in that the entire flower is completely purple with no extending white center. Photo credit: J. Coceano


Many Arboretum Assistants participated in an update, an educational session for our volunteers, on camellias. Of particular interest were the fall blooming camellias. Many are currently in flower throughout the arboretum. Charles Cresson, update presenter, shared tips for success: plant only in the spring, provide shelter from early morning winter sun and wind, and site in moderate shade if possible. Heavier shade is tolerated but will result in few flowers. The species Camellia sinensis var. sinensis is blooming in the Metasequoia Allee. Small white flowers cover compact plants which rarely surpass 6’ in height. Photo credit: J. Coceano

Josh Coceano
  • Jessica Lubell
    Posted at 14:30h, 26 October Reply

    Is the Salvia leucantha winter hardy?

    • Josh Coceano
      Posted at 09:41h, 30 October Reply

      We take cuttings of the Salvia leucantha each fall. They dislike the winter wet and heavy soils of southeastern Pennsylvania. With that said, we did have several salvia, Salvia microphylla and Salvia involucrata, survive the mild winter of 2011-2012.

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