Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Favorite plant of the week: Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt'

Last week, in seeking a plant deserving of the title of my "favorite of the week," I came up with 3 possibilities.  Last week I chose Melaleuca thymifolia but this week I want to highlight Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt' (aka A. 'Mini Cog' or Little River Wattle), even though it could be said that the plant has already received more than its fair share of attention in other blogs as well as my own.  Still, now that I've placed one in a large pot where it's visible during every stroll through the backyard and also through the living room window, I have to give it its due and acknowledge that it's an admirable plant.  I certainly already have sufficient photos on hand to share.

I have 4 'Cousin Itt', which is amazing given that I was put off by the price of the plant when I first became aware of it.  Initially, it couldn't be found for less than $40; however, when I came across it at Sperling Nursery in Calabasas for less than half that price, I snapped up 2.  I later picked up another at full price.  I hadn't planned on purchasing more but, when I found one offered for $15 at the South Coast Botanic Garden's fall plant sale, I brought it home and put this one in a pot, where it appears to be very happy.

My newest Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt' has visibly grown in size since it was potted in early September



The other 3 are placed in the backyard border underneath one of our California pepper trees (Schinus molle).   The 2 purchased from Sperling were smaller than the other 2 at time of purchase and have never had the thick head of foliage 'Cousin Itt' is known for.  The third looks almost exactly as it did at time of purchase some 9-10 months ago.  All get some shade during the hottest part of the day but these 3 also have to deal with root competition from the tree.

The 2 Sperling purchases have lacy frameworks unlike the plants grown by San Marcos
 

This one, from San Marcos Growers, appears to be approximately the same size as it was when it was planted 9-10 months ago


Like their namesake, Cousin Itt of the Addam's Family, the plants welcome petting.  They're evergreen and hail from Australia.  They'll reportedly grow 2-3 feet tall and up to 4-6 feet wide.  They need well-draining soil and are heat and drought tolerant.  If grown in a container, San Marcos Growers recommends using a low phosphorus fertilizer.  They can tolerate winter temperatures in the 20-25 degree range and are suited to USDA zones 9a-11 (Sunset zones 16-24).

I've yet to see any sign of flowering, even in the oldest plants, which have been in the ground for well over a year now and could find no photos of the pale yellow blooms anywhere on the web.  However, with foliage this nice, flowers really don't matter.

Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt' is my contribution to Loree's favoite plants meme at danger garden.  Visit her blog to see her favorite of the week.

12 comments:

  1. Dang. I kept reading and scanning to find the appropriately tolerant Zone. 9b is pushing it here, I'm afraid. Maybe a houseplant in winter? Although 'Cousin Itt' is clever, I have to laugh at "Little River Waddle." Whatever the name, I can see why you love it. Very cool indeed.

    You're like me. Even if you've already got the plant you'll buy another one if it's nicely priced. We plant people are so endearing, aren't we?

    I'll send you thoughts of rain and cooler, winter-ish temperatures. And please send north some of your tropical warmth. :)

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    1. Too bad that we can't arrange an energy exchange, Grace - some of your rain for a little of our warmth (although you might not appreciate the Santa Ana winds that sometimes accompanies the warm temps). If your winter this year is any indication, I'm afraid that 'Cousin Itt" would indeed need protection in your area.

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  2. I have seen this plant on a few other blogs, and it has been growing in the back of my mind. Now you have brought it fully into my consciousness that I truly want It! The problem is that it probably would succumb to some of our coldest temps, so I would have to bring it in during the winter, and where will I put it? No greenhouse here, and the only room that gets enough sun is my husband's office, which already resembles a jungle during the winter. Surely he would not mind giving up a little more room for Cousin It.

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    1. Surely not! (Actually, I'm sure my own husband would object strenuously if I tried to store some of my plants in "his" space.) When the plant was 1st introduced, growers said it was hardy to 15F but San Marcos Growers have down-graded that hardiness to 20-25F.

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  3. Yay that you chose to highlight this, a plant that I admired from your previous posts. Not surprised you have four, if it's a good thing then why limit it to just having one? Looks so graceful and tactile!

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    1. Yes, but I'd planned to stop at 3. Oh well, as obsessions go, this can't be the worst one to have.

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  4. Such a cool plant! Like Grace, I scanned the post to get the hardiness info, only to see that it wouldn't be hardy here. Bummer. I could maybe keep it in a pot and overwinter it in the new greenhouse, but I also have to find a good spot in the garden for the pot during the growing season.

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    1. I'm very lucky not to have the need to cart plants in and out to ensure they make it through the winter, Alison. I never fully appreciated that until reading about the travails of winter care on the part of other garden bloggers. It is a very cool plant if you can find a space for it.

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  5. So beautiful! I was thrilled when I finally acquired mine, only to have it respond with a slow decline. Ah well, some things just aren't meant to be. In your garden though, it can be happy.

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  6. Hardly surprising that this is a favourite. As always with newly introduced plants they can be somewhat expensive.
    I can see why you love it, I think I'd be forever rubbing my fingers through that foliage.

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  7. We just bought our first one of these today! We fell in love with it at first sight! And yes, although the $40 price tag was steep, we just couldn't resist it.

    Heather (Concord, CA - zone 9B)

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    1. The prices are coming down, Heather. Down this way, I can now find 'Cousin Itt' in a 1-gallon size for half that cost. Annie's Annuals & Perennials in Richmond, CA (I don't know how close that is to Concord) also carries it in 4-inch pots for $10 or $11. (Annie's also offers mail order.)

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