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Kalanchoe  succulent shrubs, perennials, biennials and annuals, native to tropical Africa and Madagascar. Many can be raised outdoors all year in California, usually as patio/porch plants but also as landscape subjects in the warmest locations. A few will tolerate cold, wet conditions if they are protected from severe frost. None are truly frost-hardy. Crassulaceae. rev 7/2017

beharensis    FELTBUSH, VELVETLEAF    at City Hall    felty leaf closeup    flowers    fun with leaves, Hortifair 2006, Amsterdam    a tender evergreen “shrub,” I don't know what else you would call it. Hortus Third says it can get to 12' tall, I have only seen freestanding specimens as open, picturesque subjects to about 4-5' tall. A friend in high school though had one scrawny single-trunked specimen trained all the way up against the wall over his front door entry and down the other side, with just a few massive leaves at the very, very end of the python-like stem. They didn't know what else to do with it when it started getting too tall. Very weird, but very striking. And just exactly the kind of wonderful specimen that only non-professional growers can produce, because they just let it do what it wanted to do. We pros would have cut that thing back and evened it out and fluffed it up and made it compact as soon as it started to stretch, and ruined it. This plant is used for its wonderful deep olive brown felty leaves and striking habit. It is one of the ultimate primeval looking dinosaur foliage plants, especially as the plant matures and the leaves get outrageously large, thick, felty, and brown. It is a good, tough indoor plant if you give it enough light, otherwise it stretches and turns pale. It will live outdoors anywhere it doesn't get any appreciable frost. Forms vary as to their fuzziness, our form is a good, heavy textured, dark brown selection. Flowers, when seen, are usually yellow green tubular things in branched clusters above the foliage. They are interesting but usually not showy. Must have good drainage! Madagascar.

'Fang'  at the Huntington   teething problems  a variant with short, bumpy "teeth" on the lower surface of the leaves. The leaves never get as large as the regular, parent form we grow, but they are lined with brown. rev 4/2010

fedtschenkoi 'Variegata'   variegation pattern   leaf-edge babies   complementary flowers  a very nice variegated form, creamy white and pastel yellow,leaves, and whole branches, often with pink edges, against blue grey, with a light show of pendant, tubular, pink-orange flowers on terminal stalks as well. Fall and winter bloom. Tender, protect from frost. Makes a good, easy, vigorous house plant. Best in containers except in frost-free areas. Sunset zones 9 (mostly shade), 17, 21-24/USDA zone 9a. rev 7/2017

hildebrandtii  SILVER SPOONS  silver-white leaves    orange flowers  this is a small, shrubby, rather open and very upright species that bears simple, silvery grey white to grey green leaves on rather long internodes. Light orange, tubular flowers are produced in relatively compact clusters in winter. Grow this for its wonderful, clean, fuzzy, highly reflective, silvery foliage. It does best in mostly full sun, with restricted watering, and with cutting back to generate more of the foliage for best effect. I don't have definitive reports on freeze damage, and don't have direct experience myself, but this is from Madagascar, and so probably won't tolerate temps much below freezing. rev 12/2012

'Katapifa Tarantula'   our first crop   image from breeder  double flowers! Deeply divided dark green leaves! All budded up! Grows to less than a foot tall, and a great foliage plant when not in bloom. Tender, protect from all freezing conditions. USDA zone 10. rev 2/2017 

orgyalis  COPPER SPOONS  furry leaves   container habit   flower detail   a compact, upright shrub to just a couple of feet high, grown for its luxuriant brown, tight fur on its large, simple, oval leaves which mature to grey green. Flowers are intense yellow and are initiated under short days. They are produced in short branched stalks held above the leaves. This is a great patio container or house plant. In its native range it can get to 4-5' but I have never seen it over a couple of feet high in California. It will only tolerate a moderate of freeze before burning down to the ground (or below). Madagascar. Zones 9, 16-17, 21-24 USDA zone 9. rev 6/2010

pumila   flowers    Cabrillo container    compact growing, felty grey white leaves with a whitish coating, light burgundy edges, and coarse marginal teeth. Low, to a foot or so tall and wide if you have the appropriately warm, frost free environment. But it makes a cute little container plant, or combo element, and the lavender pink flowers against grey are a classic combination. Madagascar. rev 2/2010

luciae (thyrsiflorus)    PADDLE PLANT, DESERT CABBAGE    paddle leaves    blooming plant at Quail Botanic Garden    well used    a tender subtropical perennial succulent, forming an upright plant to 2-3' tall with age and in favored locations. The curious, round, almost white leaves age to jade green but remain vertically oriented and stack into square, book-like arrays. With cold or strong sun, the leaf margins often turn ruby red. Flowers are greenish yellow, when seen. A strange, attractive foliage plant that is probably at its best in a container or as a featured subject with other foliage/succulent varieties. Likes it on the dry side, especially in winter. Won't take much if any frost. Full sun for best leaf color. South Africa. rev 9/2002

'Desert Rose'  cool   an improved form with brighter red leaf margins. rev 5/2008

'Fantastic'    ooh la la!  an incredible foliage plant! Big round, succulent leaves with green, creamy white, and red! Stays red all the time, the color is not a result of cold temperatures. Sun for best color, good drainage, not too much water. 12-24" tall and wide. Terrific in containers, where you can bring it indoors outside Sunset zones  23-24/USDA 10. rev 7/2012-Suzy Brooks

synsepala  WALKING KALANCHOE   young foliage, new flower spikes   grown for its broad, bold, dramatic grey green, opposite leaves, which eventually quite large relative to the scale of the plant. Purplish outer margins and barely toothed edges seen in juvenile disappears with maturity. Long, slender, 12-16" tall flower spikes each bear a clump of white flowers at the top, then eventually arch over and root into adjacent pots or soil. Grows to about 2' tall and 12-18" wide as a basal-branching clump. Madagascar, Comoros Islands. rev 7/2017

tomentosa   BROWN FURRY VELVETLEAF   plants   flowers  narrow olive green leaves are densely covered with brown fur. Leaf apices, and also soft, round terminal "teeth" are darker brown. Color is strongest in full sun but plants will take considerable shade, turning green in the process. Bell-shaped maroon to coral flowers are borne in spikes that hide against the foliage but the flowers are quite nice if you get close up on them. Plants grow more or less erectly to about 2' tall. Protect from hard frost. Madagascar. rev 8/2009

'Nigra'  dark outlines   leaves are fuzzy grey green and nicely outlined with fuzzy dark brown margins. Same small, dark coral-maroon, bell-shaped flowers on looooooong stalks, same short-day initiation, same frost protection. Best in containers, and can be easily cut back and kept in very small containers. rev 9/2017 

KIWIFRUIT and KIWI BERRY (Actinidia sp.)  fast growing, frost hardy deciduous vines that like rich soils, regular watering, and full sun. Plants will not bear until they switch from juvenile-class stems to mature/flowering wood. Refrain from cutting back horizontal branches until you see flowers. "Mature" wood means not only old in years, but farther away from the inherently and permanently juvenile-class tissue found close to the base of the plant. By cutting back too far you may induce growth from very old but still juvenile-class wood, which will not flower. If your plant won't flower and you suspect you have enough chill, and are pruning properly, then leave your plant unpruned one winter, and work with what grows from those branches. If it still fails to flower then you probably have a chilling issue. Siting the plant so it is shaded in winter will usually preserve enough daytime chill to satisfy dormancy requirements.

     Lost its label? Don't know whether it is male or female? I know of no way to sex them without flowers. Male flowers of all species have stamens only or stamens plus greatly reduced, non-functional stigmas; female flowers develop both stamens (a circle around the base of the style) and pistils (spread in a ring at the tip of the style), although the stamens can be reduced, or only partially developed, especially in those varieties requiring cross pollination. Most males will cross-pollinate other species, but often a specific male variety is better for pollinating a specific female variety due to better synchronicity of flowering, even within a species. Actinidiaceae. rev 6/2004

KIWI BERRY (A. arguta and hybrids) HARDY KIWI, RUSSIAN KIWI this very vigorous deciduous vine is grown for its heavy crops of small, grape-sized fruit (1-1 1/2" long) with smooth, tender skin. Flavor is kiwi-like, but 50-100% sweeter, and often preferred in blind taste testing to the common, larger, fuzzy kiwis. The copious quantities offset the smaller size, and they are so much easier to eat - you just pop 'em in your mouth! These are all much more cold hardy than the larger types, enough so that they can probably be grown about anywhere in California, including even the High Sierras. They prefer adequate moisture but tolerate lower soil fertility and are less harmed by drought stress than A. deliciosa varieties. All we've grown so far seem to be obligate long-day initiation, with flowering occurring in May. As both the common green kiwifruit (A. deliciosa) and the golden kiwifruit (A. chinensis) seem to be chill-initiators in our area in most cases males of those two species will not serve to pollinate these varieties, at least in our climate. USDA zone 4/Sunset 1-9, 14-24. Eastern Asia. rev 7/2017 

female (arguta)  (not currently in production)   fruit   we know this is a high quality, named selection - because they all are - but our source forgets which one exactly. None of us here really care that it is hardy to USDA zone god-knows-what, we just care that it is freely productive of small (1 1/2") , extremely sweet, smooth fruit that you can pop into your mouth like a grape. Just as fast as a regular kiwi, and just as big ultimately, but finer in texture. Needs our male ('74-32') for pollination. Full sun, regular watering, totally frost hardy. rev 7/2017

male pollinator ('74-32' arguta)  flowers  selected in 1974 at the old USDA Chico Plant Introduction Station. The best pollinator for all female kiwi berries and their hybrids ('Ken's Red'). rev 6/2020

‘Issai’ (female, arguta,  mostly self-fertile)    fall fruit     very close up of self-fertile female flowers    this is a self-fertile form, with typical green fruit. Crops will be heavier with a pollinator (especially A. arguta males). This form has a reputation for short life, which could be due to cold damage in colder climates, lack of chill in warmer in climates or a tendency to overbear itself to death. rev 7/2017

‘Ken’s Red’ (female)  plant  this very vigorous form is actually a hybrid with A. melanandra, a species which bears very dark, black-red fruit, both inside and out. The result is clusters of small, smooth fruits with deep red outsides and bright to deep red insides, and excellent flavor. It is a heavy bearer but needs to be pollinated with a male A. arguta or similar species (A. melanandra, A. cordifolia). Unlike A. deliciosa, the leaves don't exude a peculiar scent. Like most A. arguta types it is very cold hardy. For best results plant with shade from earl morning sun, which will usually serve to supply adequate chill. rev 6/2020

KIWI FRUIT   FUZZY KIWI  typical heavy-duty support, UCSC Farm and Garden   this just happens to be the national fruit of the Republic of China. Once mature (see intro section, above), pruning is as for grapes; flowers form at the base of branches which matured the previous year. If your kiwi fails to flower, whatever the species or variety, the possible reasons, in order, are: no mature stems yet (older, horizontal branches), not enough chill (breaks dormancy late and irregularly) or improper pruning. The selections and varieties listed below are sometimes offered. Often confused in naming with A. chinensis, which is similar but has more yellowish fruit, golden in some recent commercial releases, is often sweeter and less alkaloidal (soapy) tasting. rev 6/2020

'Matua' (male)  pollinator for females, especially well-matched for 'Saanichton.' rev 6/2020

'Saanichton' (female)  a new female variety developed in British Columbia, named for a town just north of Victoria, Vancouver Island. Has better cold hardiness, most valuable for those in more severe climates, but also this could be a good one for our coastal California locations. It supposedly ripens faster than 'Hayward' and does very well close to the waters of Puget Sound, which means of course a very a cool summer. Performance w.r.t. meeting chill requirements is still unknown. Reportedly it's a very heavy bearer. Green flesh, reddish brown fuzz. rev 6/2020 

‘Tomuri’ (male)  flower  a good pollinator for female A. deliciosa as well as apparently some other species. A late season male, one can pollinate up to 8 females if centrally located. rev 6/2020

‘Vincent’ (female)    fruit     nice new stems   close to the common kiwi fruit of commerce, but with stiffer external hairs and more tendency to fan. Still while commercially flawed it is a decent home variety, especially as it reportedly has a lower chill requirement than the agricultural variety 'Chico/Hayward.' The vine itself is rather ornamental, and features large, subtropical appearing foliage and wonderfully fuzzy, red new growth. I have seen leaves 10" across by 12" long on vigorous plants that were well fed and well watered. According to Roger Meyer, a rare fruit nurseryman in Fountain Valley, it is a very heavy bearer and needs to be thinned to size properly. Needs sun, ample water, good drainage, and fertilizing. China, Taiwan. rev 6/2020

Knaughtia macedonica 'Thunder and Lightning' PP 21437 (not currently in production)  intense flowers   a clumping deciduous perennial with really nice, strongly variegate foliage acting as a backdrop for the wild, intense cerise pink to deep true red flowers in summer. Against that foliage it can be hard to focus your eyes on the flowers. Only gets about a foot and a half tall and wide, including flower stalks. Mostly sun, average soils and watering, frost hardy. Sunset zones 1-9, 14-17, 21-24/USDA zone 4. Europe. Dipsacaceae. rev 8/2012 (not currently in production)

Kniphofia 'Dorset Sentry' (not currently in production) flowers   grassy, evergreen leaves, and big plump yellow flowers that rise on bronzy stems to 3' tall, long day bloomer. Orioles, those most sought-after, brightly colored birds, love these flowers dearly, as do  hummingbirds. Good choice for an accent plant or a mass planting. No wet feet in winter. Little water once established. Zones 2-9, 14-24/USDA 5. Liliaceae. Africa. rev 7/2017 (not currently in production)

'Echo Mango' PP21716   (not currently in production)  a breakthrough in Red Hot Pokers! Reblooming summer through fall, these brilliant, golden orange flowers eventually get 4-5' tall, bigger and better each year.This easy to grow perennial makes a nice cut flower. Sun, average watering. Sunset zones 3-9, 14-24/USDA 6. rev 6/2012-Suzy Brooks  (not currently in production)

'Echo Rojo'    (not currently in production)   red orange flowers      the biggest news here is that this variety will blooms and rebloom into fall, producing tall spikes of orange red flowers. Easy to grow in sun or part shade, moderate to little watering required when established. To 4-5' tall and clumping, bigger and better each year! Very nice in autumn bouquets. Sunset zones 3-9, 14-24/USDA 7.  (not currently in production)

'Nancy's Red' (not currently in production)    flowering   rich red flowers, heavily produced on a moderate sized plant, blooming late spring through early fall. Foliage is fine, grassy. To 24-30". Sunset zones 3-9, 14-24/USDA 6. rev 8/2010 (not currently in production)

northiae  (not currently in production)   in the landscape  if the tips and teeth of an Agave make your garden child unfriendly, here's a plant for you! Some long, soft, grey green, arching leaves, wide at the base and ending in a soft tip, and an evergreen rosette about 2-4' tall, 4-5' wide. The typical Red Hot Poker flowers are orange and yellow, only bigger, much bigger, on chunky spikes to 5' tall in the summer. Just the foliage is enough, so when it blooms it's a real show stopper. Sun or part shade. Average watering. Sunset zones 7-9, 14-24/USDA 6. rev 4/2012-Suzy Brooks

Koeleria glauca 'Coolio'    cool blue   an asterisk of spiky blue blades only 6-8" tall, to plant in masses, dot in gravel, or add a spark to a mixed container planting. Evergreen, clumping to a foot or more. Likes soil that drains well, sun or part shade, average watering. USDA 6. rev 5/2016-Suzy Brooks

Kunzea  evergreen shrubs and small trees with usually quite small, scented foliage and clusters of brushy flowers that appear to be mostly stamens. Very similar to bottlebrushes (Callistemon) but flower clusters are terminal and almost always globular or almost so, and thus appearing rather different. Most are useful for cut foliage, some can be used for cut flowers but they tend to drop stamens and in my experience won't last that long in the vase. They are a classy group overall, with many distinctive and unusually pretty forms. Myrtaceae. rev 5/2020

baxteri  CRIMSON KUNZEA  our tough mama plant   spectacular flower cluster   more    ornamental buds   the best known and most widely used of the genus in its native Australia, as well as one of the showiest. And "crimson" gets it right, a bright but deep, deep, classy red with whitish stamen tips populating the outer edges of big, round terminal clusters, all against soft, silky green, broadly needle-like leaves and chestnut new stems. Forms an open then spreading shrub or very small tree-like subject to 8-12' tall (our form) and usually blooms heavily in spring then intermittently through the year as cool spells wash through our area, especially in early fall. The buds and seed capsules are ornamental, both being rather large, spiky, dark burgundy purple things. But like all Kunzeas the pods drop as soon as the seed has shed, not long after flowering. Full sun to mostly shade, damaged by frost below 25F, sometimes higher, but our mother plant survived the record 1990 freeze, 19F and two weeks of sloooooowly crawling towards nights above freezing. It had morning shade then but was also only a young 1g can when planted, whatever you can derive from that. It exists today in 3/4 shade all year and doesn't seem to mind. It appreciates at least average to good drainage but it's relatively clay tolerant. It's also highly wind tolerant, being supple and open, needs moderate to little summer watering and overall seems not that demanding as a production variety. It even makes a decent container plant for a while if cut back a couple times a year. With carefully-timed pruning in the ground (after the primary spring bloom) it can be coaxed into quite showy flowering displays. rev 5/2020