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, 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  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 (Actinidia sp.)  fast growing, frost hardy deciduous vines that like rich soils, regular watering, and full sun. 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: not mature (old) enough, not enough chill, or improper pruning. When pruning, be careful to not cut too hard, especially on young plants. "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

arguta   MINI KIWIFRUIT, 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 larger, fuzzy kiwis. The copious quantities offset the smaller size, and they are so much easier to eat, you can just pop 'em in your mouth. These are all much more cold hardy, enough so that they can probably be grown about anywhere in California, including the High Sierras and our far northeastern corner, the interior Basin and Range climates of the Modoc Plateau beyond Alturas. USDA zone 4/Sunset 1-9, 14-24. Eastern Asia. rev 7/2017 

arguta (female)   BABY KIWIFRUIT HARDY KIWI, RUSSIAN KIWI   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

arguta '74-32'  (male)   selected in 1974 at the old USDA Chico Plant Introduction Station. The best pollinator for all female argutas, and 'Ken's Red.' rev 7/2017

‘Issai’ (female,  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). It is very cold hardy, capable of being grown anywhere in California. Prefers adequate moisture, but tolerates lower soil fertility and is less harmed by drought stress than A. deliciosa. 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 an A. arguta male, though I've read that any male Actinidia, species or fertile hybrid, will work as long as it blooms at the same time. This selection is also ornamentally valuable for its attractive, neat green leaves, red petioles and red stems. Unlike A. deliciosa, the leaves don't exude that peculiar scent. Like most A. argutas, it seems to respond best to higher levels of chill. Simply site it with shading from the first couple of hours of direct morning sunlight and you should have good results. rev 7/2017

deliciosa  KIWI FRUIT, FUZZY KIWI  this just happens to be the national fruit of the Republic of China. The selections and varieties listed below are sometimes offered, and this species is often confused with A. chinensis, which are very similar but sweeter, less-alkaloidal tasting and often yellow-fleshed. rev 7/2017

'Matua' (male)  pollinator for females, best choice for 'Saanichton.' rev 5/2018

'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 fuss. rev 7/2017 

‘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 7/2017

‘Vincent’ (female)    fruit     nice new stems   close to the common kiwi fruit of commerce, but with stiffer external hairs and more tendency to fan. The reason it is the best variety for most California home gardens is that it has a much lower chill requirement than the grocery store 'Chico/Hayward' variety. 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 3/2007

Knaughtia macedonica 'Thunder and Lightning' PP 21437   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'  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 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'  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'   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  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
(not currently in production)

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