Saturday, February 16, 2019

Rain is good—until it's too much

The biggest threat to our plants in the winter is usually the cold. This winter, the lowest nighttime temperature we've had was 30°F, as well as multiple nights right at 32°F. It's ironic, then, that something else has turned out to be the biggest problem—something we were begging Mother Nature for just a few years ago: rain.

In a region where the specter of drought is always a lurking presence, rain is a good thing. Until it isn't. In just the last few days, we've had flooding up and down California (Valentine's Day was the wettest day in Palm Springs in 76 years!), landslides, sinkholes, not to mention toppled trees and more minor incidents.

Nothing so dramatic happened in our little corner of the world. But considering we've had 12.5" of rain since December 1 (vs. 3.7" the year before),  I've become increasingly worried about rot from the excessive rainfall, especially after the 'Desert Love' incident. On Wednesday, I decided to grab what plastic sheeting I could find in the garage and drape it over some of the more vulnerable xeric plants in the front yard. I know it was more to make myself feel better than to effect any real rain protection for the plants, but sometimes that's all we can do.


The plastic did keep the rain off the covered plants but the soil underneath still got saturated.


Spikes poking through the plastic do make for a good photo:



The Mariachi dudes on the front porch didn't have a care in the world. After all, they were perfectly dry.


Quite a few potted plants are now crowded on the front porch, including the cacti above and the assorted bromeliads and yuccas below.


Chairs aren't for humans in the winter, they're to keep plants dry:


More plants huddled together near the front door. They're protected by the overhang above.


Another Aloe erinacea bites the dust. This one, mind you, was protected from the rain. I have no idea why it rotted. I've pretty much given up on this species.


Peeking out the front door—dry enough to venture outside and take some photos?


Not every plant dislikes the rain. There's plenty of beauty to be found.

Narcissus and spikes, an incongruous combo but that's exactly why I like it

Lachenalia aloides var. quadricolori finally getting ready to flower

Planted just last fall but already flowering like there's no tomorrow: Arctostaphylos 'Ian Bush'

Helleborus × ballardiae ‘HGC Pink Frost’, still alive after five years and prettier than ever

Grevillea 'Flora Mason'

Grevillea 'Flora Mason'

Grevillea 'Flora Mason'

Acacia baileyana 'Purpurea'

Abutilon 'Victor Reiter, surprising me with a handful of flowers. It's still a small plant, maybe 2 ft. tall now. I can't wait for it to get bigger so I can see the flowers better.

Lechenaultia formosa, a shrublet from Western Australia, has been flowering since the fall. Quite a contrast to the rotting ×Mangave 'Purple People Eater'!

The bromeliads I've left out all winter have surprised me with their hardiness. This is Vriesea fosteriana 'Red Chestnut'.

Neoregelia carcharodon 'Dragon'

How much longer will it continue to rain?




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15 comments:

  1. This is why I can't have some succulents in my very humid and rainy climate!

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  2. It's getting harder to determine what the weather will do these days. We went from the warmest winter on record to having the coldest Feb on record. Luckily you have plants that are thriving to make up for those that are not.

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    1. Yeah, I need to look at the big picture instead of the failures. After all, if every plant we buy lived forever, we'd never have room for new plants!

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  3. Here in the UK we're very anti-plastic. You provide the ideal antidote. The exotic plants are a big draw for me as just begin to see the spring ahead.

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    1. The plastic is actually drop cloth like what you use to protect the floor when you paint a room. I save old plastic for situations like this.

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  4. Yes rain does damage, but as soon as The Long Hot Dry begins, we'll miss it.

    That Vriesea and the Neoregelia sure are beautiful.

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    1. Of course you're right. Before we know it we'll be complaining about the *lack* of rain.

      I'm so happy with how these bromeliads performed, I may get some more.

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  5. If only we could have several dry days between each major storm! Our total since October 1st now sits at 15.75 inches, surpassing LA's "old normal" average of 14.93 inches, and even my sandy soil is saturated. I love your Lachenalia and Grevillea 'Flora Mason'.

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    1. There's no "normal" anymore. Either nothing, or too much too fast. All things considered, though, I must say I'm pleasantly surprised by how little damage there is, overall.

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  6. Sincerely sorry for your rotting plants 😞Yet you are still fortunate to have rain only; here we too have had one of those once in a life time horrendously stormy rainy winter for 10 weeks in a row without sun plus HALE the size of cherries which came in gusts at least twice a week: All agaves, aloes are ruined practically beyond repair; they look like colanders with black holes; a. attenuata leaves are shredded beyond words so are Strelitizia regineae, Ligularia, Ficus, Colacasia, Ficus lyrata, and alike thick and large leaved plants have no intact leaves left. Agaves will need couple of years to look their beautiful old selves again.
    Climate change is for real; in case some still don't believe it!
    With empathy & sympathy 🙃

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    1. Oh no!!! Hale is the worst. Even minor hail leaves marks. I can only imagine the damage from the kind of hail you had. I'm really sorry!

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  7. Same situation here in Phoenix. Of course less rain than you have, but lots more than normal. And it is going to freeze here where I live near the open desert early this coming week. UGH! I am just like you in that I have moved many pots under my patio to protect them, if possible. However, I have already lost some too.

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  8. I rain covered a few plants and groups of plants back in fall, along with my frost protection. In the last week we have had several hail events (poor Fred Ives) torrential downpours, Napa River flood warnings and an earthquake. Sure am glad to see your Broms sailed through, but that Mangave is a sad sight !

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