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The heat is on

August 22, 2014

I was grateful that I had a day of office work scheduled. It was too hot to even walk to the car today. When I got home, my weather station said it was 96 with a heat index of 108!  Even with the sprinkler system running, I have some wilting plants in full sun. The sesame seeds look a bit overwhelmed by it all, but by morning, they are usually perked back up. They are tall plants and the soil where they are growing is not the deepest or best.  Water is the buzzword these days.  Don’t even forget one day if you have containers in the sun, because it is hot and dry.

They say more of the same for the weekend, so if you do have some yard work planned, you better hit it early in the morning.

Here are the answers to the mystery plants for the week:

Mystery plant A – mystery plant a.aug18.23is a tropical plant called variegated tapioca plant or Manihot esculenta ‘Variegata’  (MAN-ee-hot es-kew-LEN-tuh).  It is reportedly hardy in zone 8, but if you want it to come back for sure, I would move it into a protected spot for the winter or take stem cuttings before it freezes.  In a frost free area, these can become small trees, growing 20 feet or more.  The more common one in production is solid green, but both the green and the variegated plant have the red stems.  It is also called cassava and is a staple in many parts of the world.  Cassava meal and tapioca are made by grinding the roots in water and then evaporating off the liquid which includes the cyanide compounds. Products made from the cassava root include yuca, tapioca pudding, farinha, starch, soaps, glue, sugar, alcoholic drinks, acetone and cyanide. All parts of the cassava plant are poisonous and must be processed by peeling, pressing or cooking before eating.  I am growing it as an ornamental. It was very slow to start growing this summer but now it is doing nicely.  The new leaves have more yellow to them, but as they age they turn white in the center.  It is a drought tolerant plant for full sun to partial shade.

Mystery plant B – mystery plant a.aug18.05is actually a repeat from last year.  This is the Harlequin tree or Clerodendron trichotomum (kleer-oh-DEN-drawn trick-oh-TOE-mum).  This non-native plant is a small tree or a large shrub.  This time of year it is covered in these star shaped flowers which have a wonderful jasmine type scent.  Following the bloom, the resulting fruits are pink and blue–quite stunning.  It grows in full sun.  The downside to the plant is that it spreads quite readily.  I  share suckering plants with friends all the time and it produces even more.  I was warned about this when I got it from a MG in El Dorado, but I really like the plant–it just needs a bit of maintenance.  This might work well in a large container. It had no winter damage at all even last winter.  It is supposedly hardy through zone 6.

Mystery plant C – mystery plant a.aug18.15

is a native small tree called a sweetbay magnolia – Magnolia virginiana.  It grows well in filtered sunlight and is semi-evergreen, losing most of its leaves each winter in central Arkansas.  The plant has a narrower growth habit than other magnolias and has sweet scented flowers in late spring.  The resulting fruits pop open to expose these bright red seeds.  It can be grown from seeds or cuttings.

Great job!

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