Tag Archives: Gardening

Elephant Food – The Plant

Mind the Freeze Warnings in the Desert

Last year I found one of my favorite plants, Elephant Food (Portulacaria afra). It has reddish brown stems and the leaves are a beautiful emerald green. When grown to a full bush they will grow to about 8-12 feet. BUT, they do not tolerate a freeze. This I found out the hard way.

When I purchased these from the local nursery I explained that I did not live in Tucson proper but a bit higher. Elephant Food will do just fine with a little cold, they said. Not to worry they said. This past winter was cold for the area (cold is a relevant term of course). According to my backyard weather station we went down to 25 overnight about 5 times. The Elephant Food kicked the bucket. It did look pretty good right after it was planted (to the right of the aloe).

This winter taught me that there were a number of plants that I thought would be fine with a little bit of cold. Aloe do not like the cold, and neither do mangave. The fairy dusters were a mixed bag (three died and two are hanging on by a leaf). I dug up the aloe and mangave before they were a complete loss, but I really didn’t want a house full of plants for the winter.

Now that it is April the temperatures with start to climb and I can put everything back outside. Well, after tomorrow night…it’s supposed to go down to 35 overnight. That’s cold for these parts!

#AtoZChallenge 2023 letter E
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Orange Tree Update

My orange tree is still alive and this year is a hopeful one. If you are just tuning in, the saga of my orange tree has been going on for three years now. In year one it grew one, lovely orange. Last crop there was hope for at least 10 oranges, but it nearly died because of spider mites. 2021 is a hopeful year for my dear orange tree.

I have raised the pot up out of the water catch tray in an attempt to ward off the mites. I am also restraining myself from overwatering. I think that was the trouble last crop…too much H2O. So far, so good.

Today, there is a mix of buds, blooms, and small berries. Because of this mix, I am hoping this crop will be more successful. My potted orange tree has been a learning experience so we’ll see how it goes.

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