Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Plants That Make You Feel Warmer...

As the sun drifts southward, its light and warmth blocked more and more each day by the ridges on either side of our valley, the certainty of approaching winter weighs heavily on this intrepid gardener. It's a day to go look at the different plants of Arum italicum growing in our garden. They have just unfolded their startlingly tropical leaves, which will somehow persist through our bitter winter; easily the most incongruous sight in our fall garden, looking like so many hot house philodendrons (a genus which is in the same family as arums).
If I were in California, I'd be writing about how to get rid of them, as they are terribly invasive in that Mediterranean climate, which mimics their native haunts. Here in not-so-balmy Iowa, they are docile pussycats, growing very slowly into showy clumps. I garden about as far north here in the midwest as arums will tolerate, and many gardeners in my same zone have lost them. Good drainage on our hill, and a southern exposure favor them here. Oddly, out of the half dozen states where Arum italicum has naturalized and is considered invasive by the USDA, two of them border Iowa; Illinois and Missouri (though I'm sure we're talking the very southern portions of those States). Still, I find this quite odd; why these two states and not dozens of others further south? It must be something in our soil.
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Ohmygoodness! I can't believe you posted these photos. I was ready to post photos of these same plants with the question... "What are these?"

Thank you. I thought perhaps I'd planted something like this, but didn't remember. ha.

So... what can I expect? They grew a bit last Spring and then died back. I thought they were goners.
I see your arums on your blog. they kind of sit there a year or two, then really take off, but here, at least, they seem to stay in a clump, and don't take over.
I live in San Antonio and am going to try them here. I expect it will be challenging.
It is not uncommon for temps to be 90 degrees during Feb and March. These high temps "blast the buds".
Hence, I don't think they will be invasive here.
I don't even know anyone who grows them here.
It will be interesting.
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