Saturday, April 16, 2011

Foliage Follow-up…Cussonia paniculata

Cussonia paniculata, or Mountain Cabbage tree, is an evergreen tree from South Africa. Hardy to 20-25 degrees F it can grow to be 9-15 ft tall and 7-15 ft wide (that’s an amalgamation of the different sizes I find online). If I am remembering correctly the first one I saw was at the Berkeley Botanical Garden in 2009. Above is a picture from that day. Fast forward to my June 2010 visit to Dancing Oaks nursery. Not only did they have a large specimen on display with vivid new foliage... But they also had a few good sized plants for sale, of course I bought one. Here it is potted up and on the patio last summer. Since I wasn’t sure how the shade pavilion greenhouse would perform over it's first winter this one spent the season under grow lights in the basement, I didn’t want to lose it if the green house proved too drafty and cold. It has put on a huge amount of growth! (you can take the plant out of South Africa but you can’t take the South Africa out of the plant). Here it is today. It has put on significant growth over the winter, the "trunk" is a good 10" taller. Unfortunately it's also probably partly due to it's reaching for the "sun" (grow lights). Hopefully it can withstand the outdoor conditions later. The new leaves are drop dead gorgeous! And during my recent adventure through the greenhouses at Cistus Nursery I spotted their growing collection… No matter what the size from the smallest little plants like above, to a larger specimen (also at Cistus) putting on new growth like this… ...these are such cool plants with fabulous leaves! It even made the back cover of the most recent Annie’s Annuals catalogue If you are lucky enough to be living in zone 9 and up you really should be growing this plant. And if, like me, you are in a cooler zone…try it anyway!

12 comments:

  1. That new tinted foliage is gorgeous! I love your "Buy it anyway!" line...too true!

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  2. Stood right in front of that plant at Annies this morning , paused looked didn't buy. I already had 2 flats in the cart...oy !

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  3. Loree, mine is so painfully slow growing -- haven't had any new leaves all winter. Maybe it loves the humidity of your basement? I obviously need to fool around more with sun/shade and humidity.

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  4. Such beautiful color and texture. Wonderful!

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  5. A few years ago I would have tried it in a minute and even popped it in the ground. But after two cold winters, I will content myself to admire it from afar. Those ARE really pretty leaves.

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  6. I was just thumbing through the Annie's catalog and I saw this plant. Love the foliage. Your photos do it marvelous justice.

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  7. Quite amazing foliage--but does it need humidity? We don't have any here. :(

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  8. I think those gorgeous leaves look a little like extra-fancy oak foliage. What a lovely show-stopper - at all sizes!

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  9. I like your idea of focusing on one plant for foliage follow-up. Will you move it to a larger pot this year?

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  10. I'd buy it, although it would need the greenhouse in late December to make it through. But, that is nothing new with hundreds of other must haves that I carry over in the greenhouse each winter.

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  11. scott, glad you agree!

    ks, what were you thinking?!?

    Denise, really? I suppose you could be right, after all it's a mere 5 ft from the washer and dryer. How tall is yours?

    LS, it is!

    Pam, I watched a neighbor plant a huge beautiful Phormium today. I still lust after these beauties, but after three killing winters I just can't go there, unless it's CHEAP and I keep it in a container. So I completely understand.

    Thank you Grace!

    Hoover, I wouldn't have thought so...but I guess I do take humidity for granted here. It's just a fact of life.

    MulchMaid, "extra-fancy"...I'm using that one.

    ricki, I wasn't planning on it. I tend to under-size the pots and this one (to my mind) is still a bit large. Maybe next year. Or maybe you make a point and I should keep it happy?...

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  12. That is some fabulous foliage.

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