My desert rescue garden

I have a patio garden in the back and three plants near the entrance to my apartment.

Only one of my plants is not a desert plant. The others are cactuses or succulents.

I grew my saguaros (SWAH rohz) from seed, but otherwise I rescued everything else.

These first pictures are of my three small saguaros. These are about 18 years old. The size of the pots limits their growth. In nature, they grow up to twenty feet tall when mature.

On the right you’re looking at a Buckhorn Cholla (CHOE yah). I found it uprooted by a sidewalk. There was no disturbance of soil to indicate that it had simply toppled over. I left it where it was and only took it the next day. No one else was likely to retrieve it at that point. The plant on the left is a Firestick. Neighbors were pruning theirs and would have thrown away the branches. Two more branches took root, but they died during this past brutal, record-setting summer. The branches turn red, hence the name Firestick.

These two Agaves (ah GAH vayz) were bulbils hanging from a flower stalk. Bulbils fall off, and some lucky ones take root. The mother plant was growing near my patio. Landscapers have since removed the mature plant since it only flowers once, when it’s a couple dozen years old. Agaves are commonly called Century Plants. People claimed that they flowered only when they were 100 years old, a myth. They were probably called Sentry Plants. The tall, upright flower stalks — taller than a person — seemed as though they were standing guard. People heard ‘sentry’ and thought that the word was ‘century’, giving birth to its common name. See earlier posts about Agaves.

This next picture is of a barrel cactus. The Compass Barrel cactus is named Ferocactus cylindraceus. Ferocactus wislizeni, Fishhook Barrel cactus, looks the same to me. My sister found this cactus growing next to a wall on her property. It wasn’t a good place for it, so she had me take it home to be potted. This was about a year and a half ago. It would seem to have sprouted from seed.

The following cactus is a Beavertail Prickly Pear. Young prickles on the pads feel like fuzz and don’t penetrate the skin. This is not the case with the better known Prickly Pear (next). I’ve never seen fruits on a Beavertail. This one probably grew from seed. It was growing alongside a wall next to my parking lot — no place for any plant. Birds figure into seeding new plants. They eat fruits, seeds fail to digest, and come out in droppings. So where do you find bird droppings? Where the birds perch, such as on a wall or fence. If I hadn’t rescued this plant, landscapers would have discarded it if they noticed it.

I found a small detached pad from a Prickly Pear alongside its mother plant near my front yard. It would have also been discarded by landscapers if I hadn’t rescued it. I soaked it in water, and roots began to grow. I tucked the pad into soil, it took, and you see its new growth. It may not be able to grown larger in this small pot. We’ll see. Notice its vicious thorns.

I don’t know the identity of the following two plants. Both are succulents and are also growing near my front door. I believe that I water these too much. I may be killing the first one.

This Red Cedar stands out. Of the plants that I have, this is the only one that doesn’t belong in Phoenix’s climate. The realtor who sold us the condo gave it to us as a rooted slip. It was about four inches tall.

So now let me sit on the patio and sip a cup of hot tea with sugar. When summer comes, it might be iced tea.

Bird of Paradise still flowering in August

The Mexican Bird of Paradise shrub started flowering in May and is still in bloom in mid-August in Phoenix, Arizona. The shrub’s family grows widely in the subtropics and tropics of the Americas and is native to the Phoenix region, at least farther south in north-central Mexico nearby. It is a popular landscaping plant around where I live.