Plants of the Season

Mar 25, 2020

Trees: Lemons. Meyer Lemons (Citrus limon 'Meyer Improved') are originally from China and are a cross between a lemon and mandarin orange. This is a dwarf lemon tree that grows between 6-10 feet tall and is ideal for the home garden producing somewhat less tart lemons nearly year round. The Lisbon lemon Citrus x Limon ‘Lisbon' is another lemon that is desirable for our area. It is about 8-15 feet tall and is native to Portugal. It is one of the most commonly grown here and produces good quality, juicy, large lemons with very few seeds. It is more cold-hardy than Eureka lemons and is wind and heat tolerant and prefers a full sun location. The main harvest of Lisbon lemons is in spring and winter, though, the tree produces fruits the whole year. I had two Eureka lemon trees over the years at my old homestead and they both succumbed to the occasional arctic cold fronts. I planted a Lisbon and it thrived despite occasional below freezing temperatures. For more information on the six lemon varieties that are adapted to California go to:

Perennial: Lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis) is a plant of partial shade and thrives in warm summers. It grows from a bulb, but the seeds and rhizomes can cause it to spread far if conditions are favorable. It likes soils that are silty or sandy, and moderately alkaline, preferably with an ample amount of humus. It is widely grown for its small, bell shaped, scented white flowers and ground-covering abilities in shady locations. It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit. All parts of the plant are highly poisonous so beware if you have curious kids. If ingested, even in small amounts, the plant can cause abdominal pain, vomiting, reduced heart rate, blurred vision, drowsiness, and red skin rashes according to Wikipedia which lists the toxic chemicals contained in this plant. However, the plant is very fragrant and it has been used in bridal bouquets of the rich and famous. For more information see:

Vine: Blue passion flower or common passion flower (Passiflora caerulea). There are about 400 species of Passion vine; some are used for food and some for flowers only. The flowers are attractive and very unusual. Passion vine is the unique food source for Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) butterfly larvae and it is a nice plant to have if you have room and love butterflies and bees. For more information on Gulf Fritillary in California see:, I planted two of them at my old homestead to shade a patio area for my wife's studio. I bought them in 4 inch pots moved them to 5 gallon pots and then planted them the following year. They covered the patio a year later and my wife ended up disliking this plant so do be careful where you plant this aggressive growing plant. In my new home my neighbor has several plants next door and I have to police my yard to remove seedlings that pop up although I have trained one plant to a small trellis since I enjoy the butterflies, bees and blossoms. I have to prune it frequently to keep it confined to a small trellis.