Tag Archives: Mediterranean Climate

Two time-lapse videos of Cycas revoluta producing new cones and new leaves

Canarius | Tuesday April 27th, 2010 |

A male plant producing a cone. Bees visit and collect pollen.

Development of new fronds growing on Cycas revoluta

Cycas revoluta is the most widely cultivated of all cycads.

This is the taxonomy:

  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Division: Cycadophyta
  • Class: Cycadopsida
  • Order: Cycadales
  • Family: Cycadaceae
  • Genus: Cycas
  • Species: C. revoluta

In the shop at Canarius.com you will find many species of Cycas and Cycads in general.

Mediterranean Climate

Canarius | Tuesday January 5th, 2010 |

Mediterranean climate is characterized by hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. This climate is found in the Mediterranean Basin, as well as in SW California, SW Australia, SW South Africa and Central Chile. All share the same rainfall pattern with a peak in the cooler season.

The Mediterranean Basin, between Southern Europe and Northern Africa is surely the best example of a typical mediterranean climate. There is a big termical difference between the North and the South. Northern latitudes are much cooler. Southern France is the Northernmost extension of the Mediterranean. It is not as hot as other areas but there is a very good climate, because of the protection of the Alps, that block the cold fronts from the North and keeps the cimate very Mediterranean. In the lower latitudes, on the Northern African coast, winters are much shorter and sunnier while frost is absent or very uncommon.

Exotic Gardens and Crops in Mediterranean Climates

Many subtropical species grow outdoors with minimal effort in coastal gardens of Mediterranean countries, in Southern Europe and Northern Africa. More than 50 palm species can take regular light frosts, exotic flowers such as Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia) and many Cycad species. Hundred of species of Cacti and Succulents can grow and bloom as long as they are kept dry in winter. Palm-like desert plants, such as Yucca and Dasylirion, thrive to perfection. Some tropical fruit trees can produce outdoors, such as avocado (Persea) and Feijoa sellowiana. Occasional frosts limit the spread of tropical horticulture in the Northern side of the Mediterranean Basin.

Aloe arborescens

Aloes from South Africa are used as garden plants in Mediterranean Climates

A warmer Mediterranean climate is found in the Southern Mediterranean, where winters are shorter and sunnier and frosts seldom occur. Some writers state these are Subtropical climates. Even some fully tropical species can grow in the better, warmer spots of Southern Spain and Portugal, the Balearic Islands, Sardinia and Sicily, the Greek Islands and the whole coast of Northern Africa have eccelent climates to grow exotics. Tropical fruits grow freely, as Mango, Annona and Avocado are produced commercially in various regions.

Persea Hass Cut

Avocado fruits regularly in many coastal areas

An impressive number of Palms and Cycads is kept by collectors. Many tropical flowers will winter outdoors. Bromeliads and Plumeria hybrids can be used freely as garden plants and Plumeria is the official flower of the city of Palermo, in Sicily. In lower latitudes, Cacti and Succulents are simply part of the landscape. Different species of Agave, mostly from Mexico, grow wild on the hillsides of Mediterranean Europe and Aloes flourish in pots and gardens. Large specimens will often enhance the garden of the villa, in the ground or in large pots. Southern Spain and Portugal are even sunnier, almost as Northern Africa so Cuban Royal Palms (Roystonea regia) and Royal Poincianas (Delonix regia) thrive in many coastal location, papayas will fruit with little effort.

Agave attenuata

Mexican Agaves thrive in Mediterranean Climates. These Agave attenuata are grown in Tenerife as ornamental plants.

Growing Tropical Plants in Cold Europe – Tips

Canarius | Tuesday January 5th, 2010 |

Tropical and Mediterranean garden styles are spreading through Europe. People are trying new species and new techniques to create exotic gardens in colder, northern climates. While many tropical species cannot survive cold winters, some can be replaced by subtropical species or tropical-looking hardy species. Tropical gardens are often rich in large leaved plants, such as palms and bananas. Mediterranean gardens are not so dense and lush, they rather show open vegetation, sculptured by wind and sun. Shrubs and trees are often enhanced by cacti, yuccas and palms from dry habitats.

Trachycarpus wagnerianus is a frost proof palm species

Trachycarpus wagnerianus is a frost proof palm species, hardy to about -18 C.

Canarius offers some tips to help growers in their tropical adventures:

  • Young plants are often less resistant to cold. If you are purchasing small sizes from Canarius, protect them in winter during a few years, especially if you are pushing the limits of your climate by introducing tender species.
  • Get protection from walls and canopy. Walls and buildings can stop the wind and release warmth at night. Even some large rocks on the ground can help. Canopy (a tree above) make a sheltered environment and helps to minimize the effect of frost or hail.
  • Sun in, wind out. Design the garden so that it can catch the sunlight from the South and trap the warmth. Keep it screened from the coldest winter winds.
  • Try the right speciesPalms and cacti are tropical plants but SOME palms and SOME cacti can grow in even in Northern Europe. Many tropical families or genera include a few species which are hardier than others, usually because their wild habitat is located at high elevations or high latitudes. Hardy Palms will take -18 or below! Canarius offers an excellent selection of hardy tropicals. Check our blog article Hardy Palms for Europe.

    Echinocereus  enneacanthus sarissophorus

    Cold hardy cactus. Echinocereus enneacanthus sarissophorus can take about – 20 C if kept dry.

  • All plants from dry areas increase their hardiness if kept dry. For example, many cacti can take freezes if kept dry. The same species might rot in warmer Mediterranean climates if left outdoors during the winter rains.
  • Desert plants in the garden do better on raised mounds. Palm-like plants from dry regions (Yucca and Dasylirion) and various cacti can take frosts to harder than -10 C (14 F). They will be even hardier if planted in a much drained site, such as a raised mound or in sandy soil.
  • Plants with underground stems increase resistance if mulched. Use abundant mulching during the coldest months. Heliconiabananas, Strelitziasugar-cane, gingers.
  • Use winter protections. All tropical plants will benefit from some protection, from cold, wind or hail. Plants from dry climates, such as cacti, succulents or desert palms might need a shelter for the rain. Learn about how to protect them. Cover them with anti-frost fabric. Build temporary shelters. Use plastic or bubblewrap, Check the temperature. Keen collectors use a number of materials and often provide some heating to the most valuable plants they grow outdoors.

    Yucca rostrata

    Yucca rostrata is a grey leaved beauty from American deserts. It grows into a palm-like frost hardy tree.

  • Think of pots. Move them in for winter. Some exotic plants, like cacti and cycads do very well in pots. Grow tropicals in large pots and take them to a protected place in winter. In many cases a sheltered patio, balcony or the southern wall of the house will be enough. Cacti and succulents will be protected from rain.
  • Cacti and Succulents will rest in winter. Many species can be grown in the North, as long as they are induced to rest during the long and dark months. It is possible to store resting cacti anywhere, as long as they are kept dry and above freezing. Some collectors store them in closets. Few succulents will grow actively indoors in house conditions, because of the lack of sunlight. Gasteria and Haworthia are some exceptions.
  • It is not all about temperature. Warmth is just one of the many needs of a tropical plant. The “Tropical people of the North” often focus too much on temperatures. Think of general horticulture, and think about irrigation, fertilizing, sunlight or shade, pest protection, etc. A well grown healthy plant will tolerate much colder temperatures than its weaker counterpart.

The new Cycads from China – Cold Hardy?

Canarius | Tuesday January 5th, 2010 |

Many new cycad species have been recently introduced in cultivation from China. Some species grow tall, while others are low, trunkless understorey plants. Most of them are from high elevation areas or inland regions, subjected to regular frosts. Some of them are bipinnate cycads with unique “double feather” leaves .

Developing bipinnate leaf of Cycas multifrondis

Developing bipinnate leaf of Cycas multifrondis

The new species of Cycas from China

The genus Cycas has a large number of species in China. Most of them have not been cultivated in the western world until a few years ago, and various new species have been only recently described by botanists. Many are from cold or cool regions. Most species come from Yunnan, which is an inland region of Southern China of very high biological diversity. Yunnan is highly populated and agriculture has taken over the landscape. Thankfully, most cycads occur on rocky and hilly areas which are somehow conserved. The mining industry is threatening some species. Collection of adult specimens for ornamental purposes is also a problem in habitat. In our shop you can purchase many of these species of Cycas, all reproduced from legally purchased seeds.

The Bipinnate Cycads

Some Chinese species of Cycas have bipinnate (double-feather) leaves. These are very graceful, unusual leaves, reminiscent of ferns and little else in the plant kingdom. Many bipinnate cycads are easy, fast growers like Cycas debaoensis. Some others are slow and difficult.

Only one species of bipinnate cycad was known in Europe since the early XXth century and this was Cycas micholitzii. In recent years the new species from China reached the market and achieved incredible prices in the world seed trade.

A bipinnnate cycad leaf

A bipinnnate cycad leaf

Cold hardiness of some Chinese species

Cycas debaoensis tolerated about -8 C (17 F) in California. It is an easy species, that grows back very fast. Collectors noticed that a heavy mulch improves hardiness.

Cycas longipetiolula grows well in cool and wet conditions and is hardy to short, light frosts of -2 C.  Adult leaves are incredibly ornamental and fern-like, to about 4 m (12 ft.) tall.

Juvenile bipinnate leaf  of Cycas longipetiolula

Juvenile bipinnate leaf of Cycas longipetiolula

Cycas multifrondis and Cycas multipinnata. Little or nothing is known about frost tolerance of these bipinnate cycas. Both are new and beautiful, fast, easy growing species. As we see, they prefer the cool, wet winters of the Canary Islands, rather than the hot and dry summer. Cycas multifrondis is especially graceful because of the wavy leaf margins.

Cycas panzihuahuensis is widely thought to be one of the most cold-hardy of all the cycads. It is grown outdoors in the United Kingdom. It takes about -9 C (16 F) and below. It will quickly come back if defoliated.

Cycas diannanensis is another frost hardy species. It grows at about 1200 m (4000 ft) asl, but the highest populations, known in the market as Cycas diannanensis Mountain Form, achieves 1800 m (5900 ft) asl. Once again, the species is so new to growers do not know how hardy it exactly is.

Cycas diannanensis underleaf

Frost-hardy Cycas diannanensis, from high mountains in China.

Cycas guizhouensis, from the province of Guizhou stands about -8 C (17 F). It is a small, robust cycad with flat, shiny grey-green leaves and narrow leaflets. It is native to Guizhou, Guanxi and Yunnan, in China, where it grows in scrubby open forests on steep limestone slopes. Cycas guizhouensis is an easy grower and does well in Mediterranean and warm temperate climates, as it can take moderate frosts.

Cycas guizhouensis easily grows outdoors in Mediterranean Climates. We ship these plants to Europe.

Cycas guizhouensis easily grows outdoors in Mediterranean Climates. We ship these plants to Europe.

All these species are new to many collectors and we will update the blog as soon as we learn more about their cold tolerance. We would like you to tell us your experiences with chinese cycads in your garden.

Try an increasing selection of chinese species in the Cycad section of our plant shop!

The Canary Islands

Canarius | Tuesday January 5th, 2010 |

The Canary Islands are an archipelago of volcanic origin, consisting of seven major islands, one minor island, and several islets. They are located in the North Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of the Africa, near Morocco and Western Sahara. They are part of Spain, as the autonomous community of the Canary Islands.

There is a mild, oceanic climate, spectacular volcanic landscapes, unique endemic nature and excellent Canarian Food and Cuisine.

The islands lived an interesting history, from the first aborigines, through colonial times, to the modern society and the recent decades of global tourism. Older architecture is well conserved on most islands and the city of La Laguna in Tenerife is a World Heritage Site.

Typical House in Tenerife, with a Subtropical Kentia Palm and Potted Cacti

Tenerife is the largest island, with about one million inhabitants; the island of Fuerteventura is the second in size, then Gran Canaria. There are two provinces: Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the capital city of the Western Islands and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria the capital of the Eastern Islands.

All the islands are volcanic in origin. All except La Gomera have been active in the last million years. The Teide volcano on Tenerife is the highest mountain in Spain and one of the largest volcanoes on an island.Coordinates are about Lat. 28°N and Long. 15°W.

The climate is oceanic and relatively mild. It is Subtropical to Mediterranean at lower altitudes and Temperate to Alpine at higher elevations, where conspicuous snowfalls occur regularly. The NE trade winds keep cooler summers and cause a major difference between the Northern and Southern slopes of the highest islands. Northern coasts are cooler, cloudier and rainier, while the South is drier, sunnier and warmer. Local climate can be very wet or very dry in some parts of the islands.

Two mango trees in the dry mountains of Southern Anaga, Tenerife.

Local nature is marvelous, endemic and endangered. Four of Spain’s thirteen national parks are located in the Canary Islands: Parque Nacional de la Caldera de Taburiente in La Palma, Garajonay National Park in La Gomera, Teide National Park in Tenerife and Timanfaya National Park in Lanzarote.

Fruiting papaya in the Canary Islands