Tropical Style

Southern California Gardener's October Checklist

Fall is prime planting time in Southern California. The nicely organized one of us are supposed to program all year long so they’re prepared to spring into action the instant the hot weather subsides (typically by mid-October). The shorter days, cooler nights and low-angle sunlight of autumn add up to lower water stress on new plants, while the still-warm soil enables roots to thrive. Prime planting season continues through January or so, when much-welcome rains (fingers crossed) give young plants an extra leg up. Keep an eye out for hot, dry Santa Ana winds early in the summer, however, and be prepared to apply extra irrigation to garden newcomers to prevent them from turning into shoe leather. See a sampling of fall planting selections below. Note: Considering that bare-root season is coming with the new calendar year, you can find a good healthy start for all these varieties and save…

Tropical Style

Fantastic Design Plant: Black Mondo Grass

In the soul of Black Friday, one of the most highly anticipated unofficial American holidays, this week’s plant select features — you guessed it — a black plant. Black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’) has gained fame as one of the most uniquely-hued and easy-to-grow plants on the market. Much like many perennial grasses, autumn is a great time to plant black mondo grass. Elect for well-drained, humus-rich soil for a positive planting. Botanical name: Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’; Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Arabicus’; Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Black Night’Common names: black mondo grass, black lilyturf USDA zones: 5-10Water necessity: Moderate to regular, based on climateSun necessity: Full sun to partial shadeMature dimensions:12″ tall x 12″ disperseTolerances: Drought Distinguishing attributes. Striking matte black foliage resembling a sea anemone immediately catches your attention and draws you to the plant. Droopy leaves reach 15″ in length, leading to an overall plant height of around 10-12″. While the…