Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The story of three RÖNNBÄRs

If you’ve ever been to an IKEA store, you’re familiar with their tongue-twisting, barely pronounceable, yet oddly evocative product names. We’re fortunate enough to live only 20 minutes from the West Sacramento IKEA warehouse, and our house is filled with assorted IKEA bookcases, tables, and chairs—not to mention kitchen gadgets, vases and knick-knacks. Can you say BIGARRÅ, BJÜRON, BLYGSAM? How about HASSELNÖT, JÄTTEFIN or ORÄDD? CHOSIGT, HJÄLTE or VÄRDEFULL? (We don’t have all those products, but I love the names.)

IKEA also carries a good selection of flower pots and some plants; most of them are for indoors, but depending on your climate, some of them are definitely suitable for outdoor use. I’ve bought many a succulent—a great price at $2.99—even though they are always unlabeled. And for the past year I’ve been buying RÖNNBÄRs.

RÖNNBÄR is not some cute Swedish relative of the polar bear but a generously sized terracotta pot (15” wide, 12½” high) that’s a steal at $5.99. Last year I painted a couple of them a dark brown using acrylic paint so they don’t stand out so much with their peachy color, but this year I’m too lazy so I’m leaving them as is.

I’d bought three RÖNNBÄRs a couple of weeks ago, and on Labor Day I repotted some plants that were ready for a more spacious home. The first was a cow horn agave (Agave bovicornuta) I’d gotten a recent sale at Three Palms Nursery out in the boonies west of town. I’d been wanting one for a long time but I’d never come across a decent-sized plant. The specimens at Three Palms were perfect.

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Agave bovicornuta and three brand-new RÖNNBÄRs

Cow horn agave comes from the mountains of western Mexico and almost always remains solitary, eventually forming a rosette up to 4 ft. wide (much less if confined to a pot). While it’s not particularly cold-hardy—apparently leaf damage starts to occur below 25°F—it’ll live on the front porch where it’ll be easy for me to cover it with frost cloth as needed.

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Agave bovicornuta after repotting. Usually I wouldn’t go from a 2-gallon nursery container to what is essentially an 8 gallon pot, but this specimen was getting root-bound, and cow horn agave is a fast grower when given regular water in the summer.

The second plant that went into a RÖNNBÄR is about as far removed from succulents as you can get. It’s a leopard plant (Farfugium japonicum ‘Aureomaculatum’) that had outgrown its 2-gallon container. With more room, it’ll become a handsome clump within a year. Although farfugiums aren’t supposed to tolerate heat all that well, ours have been doing great even with temperatures in the high 90s. I do keep them in the shade and never allow them to dry out. That must be the key to success.

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Farfugium japonicum ‘Aureomaculatum’ in its new RÖNNBÄR

And now you’re probably wondering what’s going in the 3rd RÖNNBÄR. As a matter of fact, nothing quite yet. I always try to have one in reserve in case I end up buying a new plant that needs a container that size. With many fall plant sales coming up, I’m sure that won’t take long.

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If I spoke Swedish, I’d conclude this post with some witty remarks in Pippi Långstrump’s native language. But since I don’t, I’ll simply excuse myself so I can enjoy our dinner of KÖTTBULLAR with POTATISMOS, GRÄDDSÅS and SYLT LINGON.

3 comments:

  1. What a coincidence, we've got three ronnbars here too, and they are very tough pots!

    Some of the Ikea names are rather funny, especially ones that gets lost in translation...

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  2. Don't laugh, but that little emblem of the hand on the inside of the pots? I thought that was my mouse cursor at one point and wondered why I couldn't move it. I have to stop reading this so early in the morning.

    You can *never* have enough pots on hand I've found.

    You can easily run out of room to display the potted plants or store the pots (in the winter) though.

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  3. Mark and Gaz, not surprised you've got some Rönnbär pots, considering that you like to shop at IKEA as well :-) I wonder why IKEA product names are always in CAPITAL LETTERS. That makes them look even funnier.

    Alan, I did LOL when I read your comment. That's the kind of thing that could happen to me. The hand emblem does look like a mouse cursor, so I can't blame you there!

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