Saturday, December 13, 2014

Do I need this?



Maybe.  I can't decide.  I saw Metrosideros collina 'Springfire' (aka as Ohia Lehua in Hawaii) on a recent shopping expedition with friends and backtracked to take a closer look at it.  Would I have looked at it twice if it wasn't for those wonderful orange-red flowers?  Possibly not, although there's nothing wrong with the gray-green foliage.




I DO still have a lot of space to fill in the front garden.  It's drought tolerant.  It's suited to my zone (USDA 10b, Sunset 23/24).  It can handle placement in full to partial sun so it would work in the area alongside Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' and provide that plant with a very nice color echo.  The biggest issue is its projected size.  Monrovia projects growth to 6-8 feet (1.8-2.4 m) tall and 3-4 feet wide, which is already pushing things a bit for the placement I envision, and, complicating matters, San Marcos Growers says that, left unpruned, it it can grow to 15-25 feet (4.5-7.6 m) tall and 6-8 feet wide, which is way too big.

But look at that flower:



Even the buds, which Flora Grubb's site describes as "kitten toes," are wonderful.  Can I resist?  Too bad Santa is already done with his shopping.


 All material © 2012-2014 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

24 comments:

  1. It would be hard to resist, especially with buds called kitten toes!

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    1. They do look like kitten toes - and I'm a sucker for kittens.

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  2. P.S. You can always prune it if it grows too big. Right? (Famous last words)

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    1. Right, although I do like to let plants grow as naturally as possible and keeping a plant to 6 feet that wants to be 25 feet bothers me a bit.

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  3. Yah, you need it cuz I like to look at it, flowers like fireworks. Just think of all the hummingbirds you'll get; matching colors, too with the rufous and the Allen's. Tee-hee.

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    1. Yes, I'd forgot to mention that the blooms attract bees, hummingbirds and butterflies - another point in the plus category.

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  4. The flowers to me look very similar to Calliandra/fairy duster. Why not just grow that?

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    1. In this case, what most attracted me was the orange-red color of the flowers. You're right that Calliandra eriophylla is more manageable in size but the flowers are a pinkish red, which wasn't the color I was looking for (and I have several C. haematocephala already).

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  5. Go for it... and a new pair of clippers.

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    1. I'm thinking maybe a go for it but find it another spot, Jessica.

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  6. I fell for this plant during my visit to Berkeley Hort, such a beautiful plant. You do need it. And the prunings will be great wreath material for future holidays...

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  7. Replies
    1. What is it that causes plant obsessions, I wonder?

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  8. There's always Valentine's Day...drop those hints or just buy it...the flower can't be passed up.

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    1. The truth is my husband never goes plant shopping - if he's forced to accompany me, he often sits the time out in the car and naps...

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  9. Of course you need it! You work very hard and you deserve the joy that these flowers will bring! Really, it would be a crime not to gt one of these right away!

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    1. A crime against plants - well, that just about settles it.

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  10. I have made it a rule the past year to read the projected size information on all my plant purchases more carefully. I am trying (TRYING!) not to buy anything new that will have to be pruned, even annually, to stay in its bounds.

    At the risk of running counter to all the plant purchase enablers already commenting, I say if you have a space big enough to give that plant its head, go for it. If it will simply become the "gotta-go yucca patch" of the future for you and your neighbors? Leave it at the nursery. I am certainly you can find other smaller delights that won't turn around and repay you by taking over an entire corner of your lot.

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    1. I really do like the plant but I'm thinking that keeping it pruned within an inch of its life to fit into the space I was originally thinking of would be tough on both of us. So now I'm thinking maybe I could put in off the patio in the side yard. I have to evaluate the impact to my husband's view, though - it wouldn't effect the neighbors so long as it stayed below 15 feet but it could alienate my husband, which would be even worse.

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  11. That plant had your name on it. You have to have it. Gorgeous. I wish I could grow it. And Texas Deb, this is never going to turn into a Yucca. A Yucca is yuccy even when young.

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    1. It's the flower color that grabs me. I have to take a closer look at the foliage. If we solve the Yucca stump problem, maybe I can plant it on the slope!

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  12. I have three of them. I love them, as do the Hummers. But yeah, Monrovia is a little conservative in their size estimates.

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    1. Even if I could keep the plant within the dimensions Monrovia projects, I think I'm pushing my luck in the space I initially considered. Now I'm evaluating other options. I hate to prune plants within an inch of their lives.

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