New Plants? New Plants!

Last weekend I didn't do much in the garden, as I was focused on some projects around the house, but I did manage to hit the nearby nurseries to see what sort of late-summer bargains I could find. It was a bit early for one of the two nurseries, as they didn't have very many sales plants yet, but the other one had a bunch of red "sale" tags on all sorts of plants. Remembering that I still have a driveway full of plants, I restrained myself and only purchased a single plant.


Then I went back the next day and bought four more. "That's fine" you're probably saying, "late summer/fall is a great time for planting perennials, shrubs and trees...", but then you notice that I bought only tropical plants -- things that aren't cold-hardy and I'll need to overwinter in the garage or indoors. Yeah, I just created more work for myself.



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It's worse than that though: two of the five new plants are elephant ears, and if you look around my driveway you'll notice there's no shortage of elephant ears already. What was I thinking? Well, let's take a look at the plants and it will all become more clear -- there is some logic behind these purchases!

Here you can see the plants: a banana, some Colocasia, and some tropical Cannas:


The banana will be a nice contrast to the all-green variety I already have, and is so striking I couldn't resist:


That was the plant I bought on Saturday. Only $15, and there are several stems in here -- I can easily separate some of them and make more plants. (That's part of the justification: it's $15 for at least 3 plants, so that's $5 each -- a real bargain!)

It's labeled as "Blood Banana", Musa acuminata 'Zebrina'. Compared to the tags in the bananas I bought last year, I believe that this one is accurate.

These Cannas have such nice blue, upright foliage, and a beautiful flower:


Again, I couldn't resist. Canna 'Paton', not cold-hardy, so I wonder how big they'll get before I have to dig them up? I bought two of these at $4 each.

Finally, the elephant ears:


Can you tell that there are two different varieties there? Maybe this will help:


The darker one is Colocasia 'Black Magic' which I have a couple of small plants of already, but at only $10 for a jam-packed pot, it's a great deal:


I can divide so many of those "pups" off and make extra plants. They will be great for my overwintering experiments, and it works out to $2 per plant or less!

The other Colocasia is 'Pineapple Princess', and it has a few pups that can be removed as well:


I potted this one up first because it was going into a pot by itself -- I want it to gain as much size as possible before the end of the season. First though, time to take some divisions!

Cutting off the pups was simple with a knife:



With the easy one out of the way, I next tackled the 'Black Magic' which ended up being easier than I thought since it had so many "babies" that were at the edge of the pot:


The banana was next, and I could see a clear line for cutting off two of the pups:


From what I read it's important when taking banana divisions to get a bit of the parent corm (the thick, tuberous "root"), so I cut at a bit of an inward angle instead of straight down.


I got both of them out pretty easily, and the one even has a little pup of its own:


Each of those will go into its own pot, and once they stabilize and grow some more roots I'll probably give one to my neighbor who has a big bare concrete patio. (That is, it was bare until I put some of my large potted bamboos there recently -- instant shade and greenery!) Hopefully I did this correctly and they'll survive. (Note: it's been a week and they're doing fine!)

Finally, the Cannas. I could tell they were really pot-bound. Three clues: 1) Roots showing on the soil surface:


2) The sides of the pot were bulging:


And 3) there were lots of roots coming out of the drainage holes:


This was one instance where I had to cut the pots off. I usually try to avoid this, but in this case they were the flimsy pots that aren't easily reused anyway, so they'll go into the pot recycling container at the nursery.


Yep, that's a pot-bound plant all right! I'll have lots of divisions to use for overwintering experiments too, so the chances of having at least one of these survive the winter (indoors) is very good.

As I said earlier, only the 'Pineapple Princess' went into its own pot (except for all of the new divisions). The rest of these are being combined in a large container:


After potting I wasn't really happy with the look of it. It seemed too "untamed" if that's the right word. After looking at it for a while I realized that the 'Black Magic' was the problem, as I couldn't really see many of the leaves.  So I tied them together with some twine, and it made a big difference:


There wasn't room for the second Canna, so I put it into another pot along with one of the small 'Black Magic' divisions and some Plectranthus 'Lime n Cerveza' which has been looking for a new pot:


Not bad, and the Canna really gets the spotlight, but it's not as impressive as the larger pot:


This corner of my driveway is really quite tropical and lush now. When did that happen?


So even though I really didn't need more plants I got a lot of great deals on some beauties, and I'm very pleased with the results. More plants? YES!!

(Ask me how I feel in about two months though, when I'm scrambling to get all of these put away for the winter.)

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anne  – (August 20, 2011 at 12:40 PM)  

This post was perfect timing for me - I noticed a few days ago several babies on my Black Magic and was wondering what to do about them. I would like to pot one and grow it inside in the winter - think it would work?

Gerhard Bock  – (August 20, 2011 at 2:00 PM)  

I love all the plants. I would have picked them, too, if I had found them on sale. 'Zebrina' is stunning, and I really like the canna you got. I think its sleek and simple flower is more attractive than the overwrought ruffly flowers so common on hybrids these days. If you ever have enough rhizomes of that canna, I'd love one :-)

Janet  – (August 20, 2011 at 3:47 PM)  

I always try to buy plants that can be divided or propagate easily. Very satisfying isn't it?

Christine @ the Gardening Blog  – (August 20, 2011 at 4:49 PM)  

I love the leaves on the Canna (I haven't bought any yet because I'm not mad about the flowers) but the foliage is so nice I think I may succumb and buy some. That black magic is stunning. And the large container you put together in a word - stunning!

hearts_in_asia  – (August 20, 2011 at 10:51 PM)  

Oh dear, we gardeners are such suckers for green bargains! You sound exactly like me too, to be very moderate and only get one or two plants one day but then spend half the night thinking about the others you'd missed and go back the next day and go overboard.

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