My collection of warm weather plants grows more and more every year.
Earlier this week, I visited my large hoop house, where I store most of my tropical plants over the winter months. In a smaller structure, I now house many more tropical specimens and just a few citrus plants. This year, we had to move the collections around to ensure all the plants are well protected for the season. With proper feeding and watering, and just the right temperatures, they have all been extremely productive. Oftentimes, when it is cold and dreary, it's comforting to visit these greenhouses to check on how they're doing.
Enjoy these photos.
This is a smaller greenhouse located next to the Equipment Barn. It used to contain most of my citrus collection, which has now moved next door to my more roomy vegetable greenhouse.
I have a lot of beautiful cycads, agaves, succulents, ferns, and other warm weather plants here. And, with proper placement, we are able to fit so many inside – without any of the plants touching.
This is a fan palm – any of several different kinds of palms with leaves that are palmately lobed, and resembling a fan. Fan leaves are typically circular or paddle shaped, or shaped like a portion of a circle.
Here is another fan palm. Most fan palm leaves do have divisions into segments.
This is called Araucaria araucana, or more commonly called the monkey puzzle tree, monkey tail tree, Chilean pine, or pehuén. It is an evergreen tree native to central and southern Chile and western Argentina.
It has strange leaves, a distinctive trunk and branches that emerge from the trunk in whorls. Mature trees may reach 150-feet in height and have a trunk diameter of up to seven-feet.
This is a Bismarkia palm, Bismarckia nobilis, which grows from a solitary trunk, gray to tan in color, and slightly bulging at the base. The nearly rounded leaves are enormous and are divided to a third its length into 20 or more stiff, once-folded segments.
This is an Agave stricta, well nicknamed the hedgehog agave. It is a succulent evergreen perennial, with rosettes of narrow, spine-tipped dark green leaves up to 16-inches long.
This giant Agave americana ‘Variegata’ often spends warmer months in my courtyard behind my Winter House kitchen. This dramatic succulent forms enormous rosettes of fleshy, spiky, blue-gray leaves, with a thick ivory band. This desert native originates from Mexico and the southwestern United States and is highly tolerant of heat and drought.
This Agave americana is underplanted with Helichrysum, the licorice plant, with elegant, silvery leaves.
Agaves are so beautiful, but keep them in low traffic areas, as their spikes can be very painful. And always wear gloves and eye protection when dividing because the sap can burn.
Here is a row of Agave desmettiana ‘Variegata’, the smooth agave because the leaves have no, or few spines along the edges. Although it can tolerate full sun and reflected heat, it prefers filtered shade.
I have several types of agave, including this blue agave with its beautiful gray-blue spiky fleshy leaves. Do you know that tequila is distilled from the sap of the blue agave?
Blue agave plants lend themselves well to container growing since their roots do not mind being crowded. This one has several pups at the base.
I also keep a group of sago palms, Cycas revoluta, in this enclosure. They are popular houseplants – pretty foliage and easy to care for, but keep them away from pets and young children, as they are also very toxic if ingested.
Prickly pear cactus represent about a dozen species of the Opuntia genus. All have flat, fleshy pads that look like large leaves. The pads are actually modified branches or stems that provide water storage, photosynthesis and flower production.
The staghorn is one of my favorite types of ferns, and probably one of the most unusual. The leaves of many are antler-like in appearance rather than like a typical fern’s foliage.
Staghorn ferns, in their natural environment, attach themselves to tree trunks, branches, or rocks and get their nutrition primarily from air and water.
To simulate the best subtropical environment, we try to keep the temperature in this greenhouse between 50 and 80-degrees Fahrenheit with some humidity.
Also in this enclosure, is this tall pygmy date palm tree, Phoenix roebelenii. This tree grows to about 10-feet tall. It is planted in a large container with another sedum ground cover. Phoenix roebelenii is a popular ornamental plant and needs little pruning to develop a strong structure.
Here is Camellia vernalis ‘Yuletide’ – such cheerful plants, especially during the dull, gray days of winter.
It has perfectly shaped, single, brilliant red flowers with golden stamens at the heart. These blooms can be three-inches wide, with glossy green foliage.
Camellia japonica should bloom through the winter, and is often called the rose of winter. It is the official state flower of Alabama and comes in thousands of cultivars with many different colors and forms.
I love this light pink camellia bloom.
This ‘Ponderosa’ citrus tree is usually the last pot to be stored in this hoop house before winter. I always keep it in the front just behind the doors.
Citrus limon ‘Ponderosa’ or ‘The American Wonder Lemon’ produces a thick mass of highly fragrant flowers, which become tiny lemons. Those lemons get bigger and bigger, often up to five pounds! I am so glad all these plant do so well here at the farm.